In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that August 12 be declared International Youth Day.
With a growing recognition that as agents of change, young people are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace and social justice, International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions.
The current generation of youth is the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative.
In Asia and the Pacific, there are some 717 million young people aged 15 to 24, comprising about 60 per cent of the world’s youth. Across the region large numbers of them have benefitted from social and economic development with youth unemployment at 11%, the lowest among all regions of the world. And secondary and tertiary education gross enrolment rates increase impressively each year.
Often in focus is the potential of the 65 million youth in Indonesia, a formidable force for national advancement and key to Indonesia achieving its global sustainable development goals. Forming 28 per cent of the population, this new generation of adolescents is increasingly well educated, socially mobile, and digitally connected.
Notably the country’s youth hold huge potential for Indonesia’s economic growth and a driving force of social progress through positive change, influencing future generations, their families and their communities in a meaningful way.
By giving youth the opportunity to share their concerns, especially around emergencies and climate change, and to identify solutions for the problems they face, they can be empowered to take advantage of opportunities, fulfill their potential and shape the future. Global youth also play an important role deterring and resolving conflicts and are key constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peace building efforts.
And by including Indonesian youth in sustainable development, the results have shown they are among the happiest in the world, according to a recent study conducted by the UK-based Varkey Foundation. The report was based on in-depth opinion polling by London-based research and strategy consultancy, Populus, on the wellbeing, priorities, ambitions and beliefs of more than 20,000 youths aged 15-21 years old in 20 countries. Its research found that Indonesian youth topped the list with a score of 90 percent and ranked the highest on emotional wellbeing with 40 percent having a “good overall emotional well-being.”
However the overall study revealed the concerns of youth as well: “Young people worldwide are passionate believers in the right to live the life that they choose, whatever their background, free of prejudice of all kinds,” said Varkey Foundation chief, Vikas Pota. “That said, they are also a generation that is deeply pessimistic about the future of the world and think their governments are doing far too little to solve the refugee crisis as an example — one of the greatest challenges of our age.”