Today there are 1.8 billion people in the world between the ages of 15 and 35 — a quarter of the global population and the largest generation of youth the world has ever known.

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 In Africa, the young population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050.

Land and Youth

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Today, there are 1.8 billion people in the world between the ages of 15 and 35 — a quarter of the global population and the largest generation of youth the world has ever known. These young people are also the most educated generation ever. Young women and men are invaluable assets that no country can afford to waste. They bring to the job market their energy, talent and creativity together with cutting-edge skills and the motivation that enable companies to grow, innovate and prosper. However, the social and economic integration of young people remains an ongoing challenge. In Africa, the young population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment. And the young women that make up over half of the youth unemployed, are finding it harder than ever to close the gender gap. 

UNCCD COP14 Youth Forum
UNCCD COP14 Youth Forum

Young people can play a significant role in combating desertification if they harness the relevant knowledge, science and technology for their land restoration endeavors. Youth-oriented programmes should be inclusive, not limited to academia or young professionals but extended to young farmers and entrepreneurs, indigenous and vulnerable groups, such as young people with disabilities. Agro eco-tourism and other innovative approaches could bring young job seekers back to their communities, giving them an opportunity to create sustainable livelihoods while addressing the impacts of climate change, depletion of natural resources, waste disposal and land degradation. UNCCD is working to mobilize the youth to take care of land while creating a sustainable future for all.

Creating opportunities for rural youth remains a particular challenge. Countries have a critical choice to make: create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, and reap the demographic dividends of a young vibrant workforce or face the social unrest and political instability that high rates of youth unemployment may bring.

Youth speaking at UNCCD COP14 Plenary
Youth speaking at UNCCD COP14 Plenary

The secretariat is working closely with the Desertification Youth Caucus to support the engagement of the youth in the work of the Convention. Young people together with the secretariat and the respective host countries have organized two youth fora on the sidelines of the last sessions of the COPs to channel the input from young and future generations into the official outcomes of the COPs.

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