Realizing Youth Inclusion for a More Sustainable Asia and the Pacific

Book21 Dec 2017

Despite the tremendous impact young people have on society, they often face a multitude of institutional and sociocultural barriers in realizing their potential. Overcoming these challenges and barriers requires a deeper understanding of the complex situation youth are facing in becoming healthy, happy and productive citizens that actively participate in all aspects of the development process.

This report aims to broaden the understanding of these complexities by studying the findings revealed by a primary research project in six countries in the Asia-Pacific region, covering over 10,000 youth aged 18–24. The research provides a unique wealth of information directly received from youth talking first-hand about their situation, their concerns and their hopes. Motivated by requests of ESCAP member States, the report aims to provide insight into some of the most pressing issues that impact youth inclusion in social, economic and civic domains. The findings are derived from analysing data collected through a comprehensive questionnaire and a series of focus group discussions in 12 cities in the six countries. However, relevance of the findings extends beyond the context of the areas surveyed.

Throughout Asia and the Pacific significant numbers of young people are excluded from the impressive socioeconomic advances that have been made in recent decades. This report sheds light on these young people and how they differ from those who are more privileged. The findings reveal that gender remains a large contributor to inequality, often restricting access to education and employment, and participation in political activities. However, those of low wealth, ethnic minorities, certain castes or religious groups are in many cases even more excluded from such spheres, while also receiving fewer opportunities to increase social and human capital, including limited access to associations and the Internet.

The report considers the options many developing countries face as they seek to more effectively tap into the potential of youth and progress along the pathways delineated by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It further calls upon policymakers as well as other stakeholders to pay more attention to the evolving needs and aspirations of youth and work closely with them, for a more prosperous, inclusive and shared future.