FeaturedNationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 43

Youth Bulge: asset or liability

The International Youth Day is commemorated every year on August 12 to draw attention to the problems and challenges faced by the youth in today’s fast changing world. The idea for International Youth Day was put forward in 1991 by a group of young people who gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations. The Forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fund-raising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

Later, in 1998, a resolution proclaiming August 12 as International Youth Day was adopted by the first session of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth which was hosted by the government of Portugal in cooperation with the United Nations. That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly on December 17, 1999. The Assembly recommended that public information activities be organized to support the Day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth adopted by the General Assembly in 1996. The Security Council Resolution 2250 (December, 9, 2015) on Youth, Peace and Security represents an unprecedented acknowledgement of the urgent need to engage young peacebuilders in promoting peace and countering extremism, and clearly positions youth as important partners in the global efforts.

On the occasion of the 2023 International Youth Day, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu, announced that FAO is planning to establish a new Office for Youth and Women, to strengthen institutional coordination, overall planning and service work, paving the way for future development. Observed every year on August 12, the day offers a platform to honor the qualities of youth and the potential that they hold towards development of a nation and the world as a whole. The day also acknowledges the challenges faced by them and to eliminate the issues. A lot of contributions are made by young people towards community development, in protection of the environment and volunteering on various social projects.

The theme for Youth Day 2023 is: Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World. Today, the world is witnessing a green transition. We are gradually shifting towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly world which is important for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A successful transition towards a greener world will depend on the development of green skills in the population. Green skills include technical knowledge and skills that enable the effective use of green technologies and processes in occupational settings, as well as transversal skills that draw on a range of knowledge, values and attitudes to facilitate environmentally sustainable decisions in life. While green skills are relevant for people of all ages, they have special importance for younger people, who can contribute to the green transition at a rapid pace.

International Youth Day focuses on the difficulties experienced by the youth throughout the world. Most children are deprived of basic education and suffer from hunger and poverty which is a great obstacle to their growth. To secure their future so that they grow into promising youths, steps need to be taken without further delay.

Pakistan is a youthful country, with 63% of its 225 million people being young in age. But the potential of our youth has not yet been fully realized due to worsening economic conditions, poor education, poverty, lack of opportunities for employment and development and bad law and order situation. Over the last 70 years, the youth’s socio-economic, civil, political, and cultural rights have been violated by successive governments. The education sector is in a mess. Courses of studies are outdated. Over 20 million people are out of school. Disillusioned with the present state of affairs, youth are leaving the country in large numbers.

The destiny of the country lies in the hands of the youth. If supported and directed in the right way, the youth bulge can be a valuable asset for the socio-economic development of the country. The youth are our best investment toward a bright future through their vitality, energy, and innovative ideas. It is time we developed a comprehensive plan of action to educate them and equip them with skills needed in the 21st century.