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What is International Youth Day?

Today’s youth is the largest generation in history, which means it has never been more important to encourage and facilitate their engagement in legal, political and social issues around the world. It’s also a wonderful avenue through which young people in disadvantaged communities can be recognised for their contributions.

The theme for International Youth Day 2021 is ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’, with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.

What is the history of International Youth Day?

The United Nations celebrated its first ever Year of Youth in 1985. A decade later, a global forum known as the United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), which outlines a set of policies designed to improve the situation of the world’s youth. They designated 12 August as International Youth Day, with the first one celebrated in 2000.

Why is International Youth Day important?

International Youth Day is a day to celebrate the important contribution that young people make to our societies, and to ensure they are heard on issues of importance to them. 

Through youth education, engagement, innovation and entrepreneurial solutions, this year’s International Youth Day aims to provide a platform for young people to continue the momentum from the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum in the lead up to the high-level Food Systems Summit.

A key part of this is encouraging young people to get involved. The United Nations recognises the importance of engaging youth, not only so they can combat their own adversities and address the issues that are important to them, but so they can work together to combat challenges that limit disadvantaged communities and youth as a whole.

What is the role of young people in reaching the Global Goals?

There are three main reasons why this year’s International Youth Day is so important.

First, there are only 10 years to go until the United Nations 2030 Agenda comes to an end. Also known as the Global Goals, or the Sustainable Development Goals, this is a global initiative to wipe out poverty by directing the world toward a more sustainable economic, social, and environmental path. The Global Goals include 17 targets, and it is important that young people can take an active role in helping these initiatives have a positive impact in their societies and nations. Second, the United Nations has acknowledged that many people are questioning the legitimacy and relevance of governance. We are living in a difficult time, with some of the worst conflicts and humanitarian emergencies the world has ever seen, as well as new challenges like climate change and COVID-19. 

It’s essential that youth feel empowered to take action, speak up for things that are important to them, and make their personal contribution to global development.Third, International Youth Day is an opportunity to recognise that not all young people are afforded the same opportunities in life. Many face significant barriers, including poverty, access to education and healthcare, and grow up within disadvantaged communities. International Youth Day is an opportunity to recognise the importance of creating equal opportunities and development for all youth, no matter where they’re from, and to make sure their voices can be heard.

Why do we celebrate International Youth Day?

Without a doubt, the best part about International Youth Day is the opportunity to hear young people’s voices, and celebrate the contributions they make to their communities. It is a chance to address the legal and cultural issues facing young people, recognise their abilities, and encourage them to keep speaking up.

This year, the United Nations will commemorate International Youth Day with a podcast discussion, hosted by and for youth, along with independently organised activities around the world. It’s an invitation for young people to jump into discussions about political, economic and social issues.

You can also share your celebrations online and become a part of the global conversation around International Youth Day. Make sure you use the hashtags #YouthDay, #Youth4GlobalAction and #SDG16. You can also follow @UN4Youth on Twitter and the UN4Youth page on Facebook.

Now is the time for young people to think about their aspirations for the future, listen to the views of other young people around the world, and speak up about the governance they want to see in the future. They can make incredible contributions to their communities, their nations, and their world.

How you can help support children in poverty this International Youth Day

Every child should experience a childhood in which they are nurtured, protected and given access to opportunity. You can donate to where it is most needed, and your donation will be allocated across our child-focused projects on your behalf. Alternatively, sponsor a child in the spirit of International Youth Day and start your journey of change today. 

Your support will not only help a child in need, and their entire family, but extend the reach of International Youth Day throughout the year.

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