The world population of youth, within the ages of 10-24 amounts to1.8 billion in a world population of 7 billion people, as documented by the UNFPA state of world population 2014. The effect of the emergence of a large population of youth depends on the manner in which a government regards their youth, which could either be as a liability that demands more resources or as problem solvers and change agents of the future.
89 per cent of the global youth population live in the less – developed countries. Since young people will live longer into the future than their elders, they are more likely to face the impacts of accelerating climate change and other environmental shifts, with accompanying risks to human well-being. While the youth population is on the rise, fertility rates are declining, hence the present population of youth will have to largely depend on themselves while shouldering the responsibility of the ageing population.
The youth has the ability to drive an economy forward and hence investing in the health, education and safety of young people would improve future productivity and economic returns. For instance, in the case of adolescent girls, the positive effects of investments would go beyond labour force participation and productivity as the improvement of the status of young women would lead to better maternal health and hence lower child mortality, and bring about an increase in reinvestment to households and communities.
Educating the youth is a fundamental aspect that would boost an economy towards growth and sustainability as it expands the capability of a child to participate socially, economically and politically. Providing access to quality education to young people across regions within countries would be the foundation in creating a skilled workforce that would steer a country to sustainable development. Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive education and services, for instance would minimise adolescent pregnancies and child marriage, leading to healthier birth outcomes and families thus leading to a stronger GDP growth. By educating the youth on climate change and other environmental issues would encourage them to participate in minimising the adverse effects of it while
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that over 75 million young people worldwide are unemployed and over 500 million youth live on less than $2 per day. Up to 60 per cent of young people in developing regions are not working, not in school, or are engaged in irregular employment. Creating livelihood opportunities and ensuring income-earning opportunities for young people is the sine qua non in the eradication of poverty but also to the achievement of sustainable development.
Climatic change decreases the availability of nutritious food and clean water, and destroys ecosystems and safe living environments. This in turn leads to malnutrition, ill health and migration, rendering youth particularly vulnerable. Food insecurity is likely to be particularly challenging for developing countries that are vulnerable to extreme weather events and that have low incomes and a high incidence of hunger and poverty. Reduced access to clean water due to droughts, for instance leads to health consequences such as malnutrition and dehydration. Poor health is one of the manifestations of poverty, curtailing economic growth and human well-being.
By being fully engaged, educated, healthy, productive and empowered to realise their full potential and enjoy their rights, young people can help decrease multigenerational poverty and can contribute effectively to the preservation and strengthening of their communities and national resources. Resources that were once required in the areas of malnutrition, for instance can be redirected into economic investments to spur productivity, build human and physical capital, and pursue innovation. A considerable amount of attention needs to be given in addressing youth issues in order to sustain the economy of a country as the sustainable development of a country largely depends on the wellbeing of the youth population residing in it.