We have accepted the concept “peak oil” – the point where oil production goes into an irreversible decline. Now we are being asked to contemplate that we are also rapidly approaching “peak youth”, when there will be more young people than ever before in the history of the planet, and when young people as a proportion of the population will reach a maximum, before starting to drop.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reckons there are already 1.8 billion people aged 10-24 in the world. In its annual report it presents them as a great force for accelerated development and a better quality of life, but only if the demographic changes going on can be harnessed for good.
Mexico is a country that has been in the news a lot recently, especially because if its tragic war on drugs. But it is also the host country for this year’s World Youth Conference; an event that tries to shape global youth policy past 2015 and the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals.
Considering that almost 50 percent of the world population is composed of young people and children, this conference is crucial for shaping the future lifeline of society, particularly as young people are most affected by poverty. Unfortunately, this conference and this topic is not being taken seriously by a large majority of countries, especially in Europe. And so far, the conference has not been covered by western media.
This lack of interest for youth policy is clearly problematic. As the World Bank reports, better youth policies increases the GDP of a country significantly over the long term. It also helps to create a more stable and safe society.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, why have governments, and especially western governments, not started to address the problems of the generation that is and will be most affected by the crisis? As the ILO reports, the current generation of young people threatens to become a lost one, due to high unemployment rates and a lack of appropriate policy responses from governments.