The Power of Youth : “Shaking the Present, Building the Future”

5 min readNov 29, 2018

It has been said that if you want to change the world reach out to youth.

The Conference of Youth (COY) and the Youth 20 Summit (a youth engagement group within the G20), provided a platform to exchange knowledge, build networks, and share experiences, perspectives, dreams and passions to promote a better world and to end poverty.

More than 1000 young leaders from the G20 countries that are not only “thinkers’ but rather “doers” and who are already creating a positive impact in their own communities participated in these events. The conferences produced critical youth policy recommendations that will be handed to the G20 presidential Summit in November and the 24rd Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP24) to be held in Poland, next December.. It includes recommendations on the future of work, one of the priorities of the Argentine G20 presidency, as well as education and skills for the 21st century, entrepreneurship and sustainability. Young leaders stated at the event “We are not on track to meet the aspirations outlined in the 2030 Agenda and associated frameworks, including deliverables of the Paris Agreement”. They demanded “responsibility and empathetic global citizenship education, including knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals framework into the national curricula.”1

Investing in young people is crucial if we are to achieve gains in the social, economic and environmental realms, leaving no one behind. To advance initiatives to boost youth empowerment and combat climate change, the UNDP in Argentina is partnering with Youth 20 and Social Innovation Warehouse to build and promote a Social Innovation Platform to scale and replicate successful projects. The platform will also allow governments and organizations to engage with each other and share knowledge and information that promote positive change. The first aim of the SIW is to be a space for young people around the world to showcase the projects they are developing to transform their community. Also, this project should support other young people, organisations and public sector representatives to develop and replicate projects inspired by young people’s solutions.

In the words of Agustín A. Batto Carol, Chair of the Youth20 Argentina “Creating the Social Innovation Warehouse and collaborating with UNDP was the first step of the road we are taking to foster innovation and empower young people worldwide. We have the largest youth generation in the history of the planet and they are changing the world as we speak! We need to work together and include them in the decision making processes so they can take part in the design of the present they live and the future they will face. Intergenerational dialogue will, without a doubt be a key to overcome the challenges the future of work will bring”. Moreover, UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and the World Bank are promoting inclusion and youth employment in Argentina. This initiative has already encouraged more than 70,000 young people to attend 13 job fairs, where training and meeting space were created with more than 400 companies, universities and civil society organizations. Young Argentinians, in all their diversity, were trained to understand the nature of the technological changes to better adapt to the new challenges imposed by the labour market and the future of work.

Young people, who represent a majority of the population in most developing countries, must play key roles across the world as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs and peacebuilders. Yet, they face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers, which prevents them from unleashing their full potential.

In Latin America approximately half of the population is young. This statistic that should provide the promise of a rich demographic dividend, which entails a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents.

However, half of the world’s poor are youth, below the age of 18, according to estimates from the 2018 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released by the UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). In Latin America and the Caribbean four out of every 10 young people between the ages of 20 and 24 have not completed secondary education and their unemployment rates are two to three times higher than those of the adult population. In addition, some 30 million young people in the region, about 22 percent of the total, do not study or work. Most of them, especially women, are engaged in domestic tasks and care tasks.

In Argentina nearly one in four young people is poor, and according to Argentina´s Catholic University (2018) this figure has risen 2 percent only in 2018, or put in other words, there are 8 million young Argentinians with some type of deprivation in their daily life. Moreover, the proportion of young people who do not study and do not work or seek work is greater among those who live in households with low incomes, who in turn are more dedicated to care tasks: 45percent of these young people take care of children or elderly people, even when they also work and / or study.2

That is why investing in young people, in all their diversity is crucial, particularly involving them in youth platforms to discuss global problems and to find and propose solutions is crucial to make them agents of true change.

Many decades ago Mahatma Gandhi said: “If we are to reach real peace in this world, we shall have to begin with children.” To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle climate change, we too shall have to begin with youth.

1 See Y20 Summit Cordoba Policy Recommendations available at

2 Source: INDEC, Encuesta Nacional de Jóvenes 2014.




UN Development Programme (UNDP) Latin America & Caribbean / Programa de la ONU p/ el Desarrollo (PNUD ) América Latina y el Caribe