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Youth Day Insights: Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

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International Youth Day is a day to celebrate the role of young people in the world and to raise awareness about the issues and challenges they face. The United Nations declared 12 August as International Youth Day in 1999, following the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in 1998.

The theme for International Youth Day 2023 is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World”. This theme reflects the need to equip young people with the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes that will enable them to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society.

Pakistan is a country with a large and growing youth population. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pakistan currently has the largest percentage of young people ever recorded in history. 64 per cent of the total population of Pakistan is below the age of 30 while 29 per cent is between the ages of 15 and 29 years. This demographic dividend can be a great asset for Pakistan if it is harnessed properly. However, Pakistan also faces many challenges in providing quality education, employment, health, and civic engagement opportunities for its youth. Many young people in Pakistan are illiterate, unskilled, unemployed, or not in education or training. They also lack access to recreational facilities, media, information and communication technologies, and green skills.

Pakistan can learn from the objectives of International Youth Day by recognizing the potential of its youth as partners in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and by investing in their empowerment and participation. Pakistan can also learn from the theme of International Youth Day 2023 by promoting green skills development among its youth and by supporting their involvement in the green transition.

Enhancing the quality and relevance of education and training systems to include green skills in the curricula and pedagogy is important. This can help young people acquire the technical and transversal skills that are needed for green jobs and green entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, providing access to information, guidance, and resources on green skills and careers for young people should be the way forward. This can help young people make informed choices about their education, employment, and life paths.

Creating an enabling environment for youth-led innovation and action on environmental sustainability can also develop the opportunities for youth. This can involve supporting youth networks, organizations, and initiatives that are working on green issues and providing them with platforms, funding, and recognition.

It is also significant to engaging young people in policy-making and decision-making processes on environmental sustainability. This can involve consulting with youth representatives, inviting youth participation in relevant forums and events, and ensuring that youth voices are heard and considered.

By learning from the objectives of International Youth Day, Pakistan can benefit from its youth bulge and contribute to a more sustainable world.

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