UNDP calls for full engagement with youth to boost development

Jul 27, 2011

New York – The international community, governments and the private sector need to work more closely with people between the ages of 15 and 24 to build on their social commitment and support entrepreneurship.

Young people’s active involvement in volunteerism and social causes around the world was one focus of an event today on Corporate Engagement and Youth Philanthropy as Pathways to Development, wrapping up the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth, which took place in New York 25-26 July.

Addressing more than 300 young men and women from across the world, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the audience “to never lose their faith in the ability of individuals to make a change in the lives of others.”

“The noblest cause is that of advancing human well-being,” he added. “From the drought in the Horn of Africa and the Arab Spring, to addressing global challenges, we need the power of partnerships.”

“We need stronger, coordinated alliances with youth for a more sustainable and equitable future,” said Sigrid Kaag, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of Partnerships Bureau at the UN Development Programme (UNDP). 

“Innovation, fresh perspectives and an enduring quest for innovation begin with our ability to listen and learn from the new generation, especially in areas of social entrepreneurship, advocacy and social mobilization in an ever-more interconnected world.”

Nearly 70 percent of first-year United States college students in 2008 believed helping others is important. Also in 2008, 8.24 million young people in the U.S. were involved in voluntary work, an increase of 450,000 on 2007, according to the publication Volunteering in America, 2010.

Stressing the power of young men and women in shaping a new world, Monique Coleman, UN Youth Champion, said that “young people need to make choices that are sustainable, that have a positive impact on the environment.”

“The world needs new solutions to global challenges,” added Ban Ki-moon. “Yet, young people remain a great untapped resource and this is where new investments are needed.”

Fast Facts

  • According to Volunteering in America, 2010, 8.24 million young people volunteered in 2008, an increase of 450,000 more than in 2007.


  • 152 million young workers remain in extreme poverty in households living on less than 1.25 dollars per person a day -- despite working, source ILO, 2009.

  • In 2009, there were roughly 9,500 volunteers from 169 countries (62% from the developing world) who worked on over 14000 projects. Their ages ranged from 18-76 but the average age was only 31 indicating the large number of young volunteers, source UNV, 2011.

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