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Among the world’s 8 billion inhabitants, over 1 billion young people under the age of 25 live in developing countries, particularly regions directly on land and natural resources for sustenance. 

Global land restoration commitments can only be achieved with the active participation of youth, who have the power to transform their communities by leading innovative change.  UNCCD recognizes youth as key changemakers: from Mexico to Kenya, from Madagascar to the Philippines, UNCCD Land Heroes have proven the youth’s potential in spearheading sustainability initiatives. 

Young people bring invaluable assets to the global job market: their energy, innovation, talent, cutting-edge skills and creativity combined with passion for positive changes is the catalyst that helps countries to grow, innovate and prosper. 

Yet, the social and economic integration of young people remains an ongoing challenge in many parts of the world. Young people are three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. Those who work, often do so in the informal economy--in jobs with harsh conditions, low wages and uncertainty. And young women that make up over half of the unemployed youth are finding it harder than ever to close the gender gap. 

At UNCCD, we place youth at the center of our activities, working with countries to develop sustainable employment opportunities for young people, especially in rural areas, and to engage them in the implementation of the Convention. Creating green jobs in the land restoration sector is a viable solution that gives young people a source of meaningful and sustainable livelihood in their own communities. Giving young people access to eco-entrepreneurship opportunities unlocks the potential of land restoration to mitigate the effects of climate change and land degradation, while addressing forced migration, social unrest and political instability which results from high unemployment rates. 

The active participation of young people is key to developing strategies and policies that protect the health of our planet and secure natural resources for generations to come. Blending traditional and indigenous knowledge with youth-driven innovation creates a comprehensive approach to land stewardship. Engaging young people in sustainable land management fosters their connection to the environment, instilling a sense of accountability for its well-being.  

UNCCD is firmly committed to integrating young voices into global negotiations on the future of land. The UNCCD Youth Caucus is central to bringing youth perspectives to UNCCD Conferences of the Parties (COP) and other decision-making fora. More than 1,400 young people have been coordinating their work together for the last years promoting and ensuring their meaningful engagement in the UNCCD process.  

In the lead up to UNCCD COP16 taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2024, youth negotiators will receive in-depth training, enabling them to become future decision-makers on land and drought issues, well-equipped to lead future conservation efforts. 

Upcoming events

1+ billion

young people under the age of 25 live in developing countries

600 million

jobs for youth over the next 15 year can be created by transforming food systems and land restoration activities

Youth Fact Image. Girl riding a bike

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