In 1999, the General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
International Youth Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement. The commemoration will take the form of a podcast-style discussion that is hosted by youth for youth, together with independently organized commemorations around the world that recognize the importance of youth participation in political, economic and social life and processes.
2020 Theme: Youth Engagement for Global Action
The theme of International Youth Day 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
As the United Nations turns 75, and with only 10 years remaining to make the 2030 Agenda a reality for all, trust in public institutions is eroding. At the international level, against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized world, the international system of governance is currently undergoing a crisis of legitimacy and relevance. In particular, this crisis is rooted in the need to strengthen the capacity of the international system to act in concert and implement solutions to pressing challenges and threats (examples include some of the worst contemporary conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, such as Syria and Myanmar, as well as global challenges, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and climate change).
Enabling the engagement of youth in formal political mechanisms does increase the fairness of political processes by reducing democratic deficits, contributes to better and more sustainable policies, and also has symbolic importance that can further contribute to restore trust in public institutions, especially among youth. Moreover, the vast majority of challenges humanity currently faces, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and climate change require concerted global action and the meaningful engagement and participation of young people to be addressed effectively.
Join #31DaysOfYOUth, a social media campaign that will celebrate young people throughout the month of August, leading up and following International Day, to help spread the word and strike up a conversation surrounding youth engagement for global action!
This year’s IYD seeks to put the spotlight on youth engagement through the following three interconnected streams:
- Engagement at the local/community level;
- Engagement at the national level (formulation of laws, policies, and their implementation); and,
- Engagement at the global level.