To date, there are more youth today than at any other time in human history – and a massive 717 million, or over 60 percent, of them call Asia home.
The youth’s unbridled energy, ambitions and creativity could drive innovation, growth and prosperity in the region. But issues, such as youth unemployment, girls and young women’s exclusion from education and employment, and vulnerability to disasters, threaten the potential of Asia’s youth from contributing to the development of the region.
The youth’s unbridled energy, ambitions and creativity could drive innovation, growth and prosperity in the region.
We recently marked the signing of a new 5-year partnership between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Plan International, reaffirming our joint commitments to uphold the rights and welfare of children and youth, especially girls and women, in the region. This partnership began in 2013 ensuring that children and youth were heard, engaged and empowered to act on issues that affected them.
In the four years that ADB and Plan International have worked together, we drew from our shared experiences to engage and promote the participation of children and youth in ADB operations. Youth are clearly more visible in and outside the ADB with specific roles and contributions to the global agenda; and projects with youth components have been piloted to demonstrate the capacity of youth in supporting the implementation of development programs.
What have we learnt from working with youth?
- Children and youth are at the heart of development. With the Global Goals fronting the development agenda, and 20 youth-specific targets spread over 6 key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and 65 out of 169 targets that reference the empowerment, participation and well-being of youth, any direction we take will certainly affect, and need to involve children and youth.
Fostering youth engagement and leadership in different initiatives has made youth’s contribution more visible and given them more opportunities to demonstrate their capacity to support development activities and mobilize communities. Youth bring value, efficiency, legitimacy and inclusion to what we do; and this ensures our work remains timely, relevant and yields the most impact for Asia.
- The best way to involve youth is to engage them as active partners in development. Plan International and ADB started with the shared belief that youth should not remain as passive beneficiaries but become active partners with roles to play and concrete contributions to development. Now youth are crafting and carving out meaningful solutions to the problems that they face. The evolving nature of engaging youth calls upon us to reflect and update the channels we use to reach out and involve them in our programs and activities.
Furthermore, it encourages us to collaborate on sharing and generating knowledge on youth. Knowledge-sharing events spotlight key technical areas that are of Plan International’s and ADB’s expertise. What we have seen in the past few years is that this component of the partnership opens doors for Plan International and ADB technical people to work together on initiatives and reaffirm their leadership in such subjects.
Letting youth represent themselves
In 2013, Plan International brought youth to participate in the 1st ADB International Skills Development Forum, and produced a call to action for their peers and other stakeholders to take concrete steps in bridging the gap between education and employment. In 2016, Plan International and ADB’s Youth for Asia incorporated youth elements into 26 projects within the Asian Development Bank.
Now, youth are active in more than 50 policy dialogues, capacity building activities and knowledge programs in 15 countries.
The best way to involve youth is to engage them as active partners in development.
Together, Plan International and ADB have made great strides within the Asian Development Bank to integrate youth in programs and activities. In spite of our individual strengths, we are only stronger through the partnership that has been forged.
With the new partnership, working with ADB will enable us to learn from youth together, and achieve our common goals and vision. We hope to continue to make youth initiatives visible and stronger, working for and with youth and channeling their energy, actions and motivations towards the achievement of the Global Goals.