UNDP Youth Envoy launches Youth Strategy in Tunis

AGORA moderator's picture

One in five people today are between the ages of 15 and 25.  This number is predicted to increase further, as many developing countries in particular will see steady rises in their younger population groups. Successfully including this growing group of youths in democratic processes poses great challenges, but also great opportunities.  To date, however, young people often find themselves on the fringes of the political process, with poor representation in virtually all parliaments.  

Recognising the need to better include young people in youth empowerment issues around the world, UNDP is reaching out through a new strategy.  On April 4th, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi together with Dr. Sima Bahous, Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and Director of the Arab Regional Office of UNDP launched the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) first global Youth Strategy (2014-2017) “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future,”. The launch took place in Tunisia, the country where three years ago youth stood up to demand a new contract between state and society – a movement that inspired the entire region and kicked off the Arab spring.

The youth strategy focuses on three main themes:  strengthening sustainable development through increased economic empowerment of youth; increasing youth civic engagement and participation in politics; and reinforcing youth engagement in disaster preparedness, crisis response, and resilience building in crisis and/or conflict contexts.

“I may be sounding too optimistic, but my message to the youth of Tunisia and the rest of the world is to learn the renewal of hope,” began Alhendawi his remarks to mark the launch of the global youth strategy. “But,” he added, “to be able to move beyond the stage of frustration, there can be no substitute for strong youth participation.”

The Envoy pointed out that he was surprised that the participation of young people in political parties post-revolution does not exceed 2.7 percent, or that participation in civil society does not exceed 6.1 percent. “The time has come for young people to move from the legacy of protests to political action,” he said, and called for a strengthening of the capacity of young people to respond to crises and shocks. He also stressed that the participation needs to happen not only for youth as voters, but also as candidates, both as a driving force for political action and as an opportunity for young people who found themselves sidelined after the revolution to overcome their frustration.

In light of these developments, AGORA has published a brief on Parliaments and Youth, exploring why it has proven difficult for young people to enter politics – and parliaments - and how can they be better supported.  

In addition, April's Arab Digest is focuses on 'Parliaments and Youth in the Arab States', outlining key challenges but also a wide range of promising projects and activities currently being carried out.  

For more information on the UNDP Youth Strategy and to download the full text, please click here.