Greater investment in youth vital for future Asia-Pacific economic development
Policy guide for youth goes digital
Bangkok, 5 October 2011 – UNICEF and the Asia-Pacific Interagency Group on Youth called on regional governments to focus greater energy on Asia-Pacific’s 1.1 billion young people, which they say are vital for the region’s future economic development.
Speaking at the launch of a new policy guide Investing in Youth Policy, UNICEF’s Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Anupama Rao Singh, said the policy guide makes a strong case for governments to put young people higher on the policy agenda.
“The sheer size of the youth population in Asia and the Pacific means investing in this new generation will better harness their energy and skills. This is absolutely vital,” she said.
Booming economic growth has meant that the majority of young people in the region are now better able to participate productively in society. However, widening economic and social gaps have also left many others suffering from extreme poverty, gender inequality, limited access to education, poor health, disability, inadequate housing, and exploitation.
Investing in Youth Policy features practical examples on how to develop effective policies and carry out programmes to help young people realize their full potential and support their transition into adulthood. The guide is being made available as an online flip book (www.investinginyouthpolicy.com), with links to key documents, videos and other resources, to make it more accessible for policy makers, civil society and young people.
Investing in Youth Policy features a number of positive policy initiatives from Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, the Pacific, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Viet Nam. These cases highlight the importance of meaningful engagement with young people to ensure policies match their needs, and that accurate data is available to ensure policies are properly targeted.
The Asia-Pacific Interagency Group on Youth highlighted that accurate data is critical in order for policy makers to better understand the risks and vulnerabilities faced by youth and to target appropriate resources effectively.
“Harnessing the potential and energy of the huge numbers of young people across Asia is key to the continent's growth, but we need good data on vulnerable young people that captures the full picture – numbers of poor girls, unemployed boys, ethnic minorities, or youth living in rural areas on subsistence, or on city streets,” said Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia. "By understanding their distinct and varying needs we can then know how to respond."
“Young people need to be increasingly seen as a resource, rather than a source of problems,” Rao Singh said. “They are capable of developing innovative solutions – helped by their greater familiarity with new technologies.”