“By the year 2015, there will be three billion people under the age of 25. They are the future…they are also the now”—James D. Wolfensohn, Former President of the World Bank (2003)

Nearly half of the world’s population is under 24 years old, and most young people live in developing countries.  Young people globally face multiple challenges including political instability, rising rates of unemployment, and mounting sexual and reproductive health disparities. However, a growing youth population also means a growing opportunity for change.  Young people are energetic, creative, and are often the leaders of change in their communities, but their voices have been historically missing from major policy and programming dialogues and decisions.  Young people have the potential to transform the social and economic fortunes of their communities, particularly in least-developed countries. Their contributions can enrich and inform policies, programs, and donor decisions. If we are to achieve lasting change in the health and lives of young people, we must engage young people themselves in development decisions. 

 In December, at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum (GYF), hundreds of young people from around the world will meet in Bail to develop global recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders on health, education, employment and livelihood, families and well-being, and fully inclusive civic participation. In preparation for this event, FHI 360, on behalf of the IYWG, together with the Youth Health and Rights Coalition are hosting a virtual discussion titled, “The Road to Bali: Engaging Young People in Meaningful Ways,” November 14‒15, 2012. During this exciting virtual event, delegates from the Global Youth Forum and international policymakers and donors will moderate a discussion on how best to ensure that young people’s voices and needs are included in international policy, programs, donor decision-making processes and civil society consultations. You can join the discussion by logging on during the event, or by pre-submitting questions via our website.

We hope that the issues raised during this forum will not only spark further conversation during the GYF, but also contribute to an ongoing global dialogue about the importance of youth engagement.

You can participate in the global youth forum—before, during, and after our e-forum—on Twitter at #icpdyouth or by registering as a virtual delegate.