Fostering Youth Volunteerism to Counter Unemployment

UN promotes youth volunteerism development and peace at Asia-Pacific forum. Photo: UN ESCAP

29 October 2014 – The United Nations has helped set up a youth alliance committed to serving their communities through volunteerism in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than 80 million young people of working age are unemployed, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said today.

“Today we celebrate young people, while reaffirming our commitment to a better future for them and our future generations,” said the Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Shamshad Akhtar.

“Without youth playing an active role in the development process, we cannot progress or build the future we want,” Ms. Akhtar said. “Tapping youth potential is critical to shape our shared destiny, as they are a source of new ideas, talent and inspiration.

“A dynamic youth agenda is vital to ensure the success of post-2015 sustainable development,” she said.

According to ESCAP, 80 million young people of working age in the region are unemployed and in several countries youth are as much as seven times more likely to be unemployed than adults.

“Lacking sufficient economic and social opportunities, many of them are forced into high-risk and vulnerable forms of employment, while others have given up on the job search altogether,” ESCAP said in a press release issued today.

Recognizing these challenges, the United Nations brought 300 participants from all sectors of society and from over 40 nations together for a forum in Bangkok, Thailand, this week to enhance knowledge and strategies with regard to youth participation in the post-2015 development agenda, and to form cross-regional and cross-cultural youth service networks in the region.

Following these discussions, participants established the Asia-Pacific Peace Service Alliance, a group of partnerships made up of young people across the region committed to serving their communities through volunteerism.

Among the participants at the Bangkok Forum were representatives of Government agencies dealing with youth issues, civil society, development partners and the private sector, who engaged in lively debates and discussions on enhancing partnerships in the sectors of environment, health, disaster response, peace and development, entrepreneurship and education.

A post-forum report will be prepared and the co-conveners to summarize best practices, key findings, outcomes and recommendations to guide the further development of youth volunteerism across the region, ESCAP said.

ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. Made up of 53 Member States and nine Associate Members, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population. This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the five regional UN commissions.