Vienna (Austria), 12 August 2022 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is proud to recognize International Youth Day by celebrating the theme, “Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”. The theme this year emphasizes the need for action across all generations to accomplish the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind. In addition to highlighting these obstacles to intergenerational cooperation,
International Youth Day will also call attention to ageism, which affects both young and elderly people while having negative repercussions on society as a whole. Ageism can surface in healthcare, the workplace, and many other aspects of life. For instance, a systematic review in 2020 showed that in 85% of 149 studies, age determined who received certain medical procedures or treatments. 1 A study done by the European Social Survey, meanwhile, found that those aged 15–24 years reported experiencing the most unfair treatment because of their age: 55% thought that someone had shown them a lack of respect or had treated them badly.2 On this day, UNODC highlights its various commitments to empowering youth across its programmatic areas.
In February 2021, Ms. Ghada Waly, the Executive Director of UNODC, launched the UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 with three cross-cutting commitments embedded in UNODC’s programming, one of which was to empower youth. The goal of youth empowerment is to involve young people in problem-solving and to elevate their voices in decision-making processes.
To meaningfully engage youth, they must be involved at every stage of the program cycle. Initiatives should be implemented "with" youth as well as "for" youth to allow for co-creation in program implementation. UNODC seeks to strengthen its youth mainstreaming approach in order to accelerate youth empowerment processes across the organization.
UNODC has a variety of youth-focused initiatives outlined on the UNODC Youth website as well as a new Youth Empowerment Accelerator (YEA!) Framework. UNODC will strengthen ongoing and develop new youth mainstreaming actions to promote the meaningful engagement of young people in programmes and projects at the planning, implementation, and evaluation stages.
Alongside this umbrella Framework, there are various initiatives working for and with youth. For instance, the UNODC Youth Initiative aims to connect young people from around the globe and empower them to become active in their schools, communities and youth groups for substance use prevention and health promotion. This year they are celebrating a decade of the youth forum on the sidelines of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Additionally, the GRACE Initiative (Global Resource for Anti-Corruption Education and Youth Empowerment) brings to the international community knowledge and experience working with educators, academics, youth, and anti-corruption authorities to foster a culture of rejection of corruption. By focusing on young people, educators and academics as the epicentre of global sustainable changemaking processes, GRACE promotes education and meaningful youth empowerment as driving engines to renew and strengthen the international community’s efforts towards anti-corruption and it does so by developing materials, activities and projects for children and educators, young scholars and academics and finally targeting young people and their dedication to sustainable development, digitalization and social entrepreneurship.
In line with Our Common Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNODC is committed to work for, and with youth, to ensure a better future for all.