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Youth Engagement: Why Is It Important?

The young generation is powerful and influential in society. According to statistics, nowadays, young people whose age are between 10 and 24 have reached 1.8 billion. That is a massive group of people, but the reason is more than just the numbers. They are more active in the political stage and global talks through a variety of channels. The global youth engagement rate has reached the highest ever in history.

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Why is youth engagement important?

Youth are effective change-makers if given proper rights to participate. The discussion of global issues, such as healthcare, poverty, human rights and inequalities, strengthens their abilities, shapes their world views, and affects their attitudes and thoughts. The processes of engagement and meaningful talks equip them with better problem-solving which will eventually help them become effective leaders.

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Youth is leading the discussion in all fields in this century, including climate change, global health, LGBT groups, justice, etc. What they think and decide today will not only affect their own lives but also the rest of the world. Meaningful youth engagement increases the sense of ownership and attachment for young generations in the community, which develops positive relationships with others and builds deep emotions with caregivers. Youth who have participated in community talks will be more likely to play a decisive role later in their life.

Youth engagement is also seen as more sustainable and effective when solving global and local challenges. Their innovative ideas drive social changes and generate positive outcomes. Their participation promotes larger-scale conversations and social participation as well. Engaging young generation in decision-making can build social cohesions in conflict-affected areas.

As highlighted by “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, the multiple-level engagement of the young generation is enriching and empowering “national and multinational institutions and processes”.

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What makes youth engagement difficult?

However, many barriers hamper the participation of young people. Due to the fact that many young people are living in low-income nations, few opportunities are available for them to participate and approach decision-making. The lack of willingness in attending traditional participation activities is because the topics are not attractive and many engaging activities fall into tokenism. They may think the participation process long and boring. Races and gender inequalities are also factors that impede participation. The accessibility to information and the lack of appropriate engagement platforms are blocking their way to participate as well. Thus, the vast majority of young people are unable to participate in global talks and have no chance to voice and contribute in the social arena. Next week, I will talk about how to empower the youth and meaningfully engage them in society.

About The Author

Yunyue Peng

Master student in Nature Management at the University of Copenhagen, focusing on public participation and citizen action in nature conservation and sustainable development.