Youth Lead the Way to a More Connected and Sustainable World.

Author:Wickramanayake, Jayathma
Position:Global Citizenship issue

Today our world is home to the largest youth population ever in history. There are currently 1.8 billion people around the globe between the ages of 10 and 24 and this number is expected to grow. Over the next 13 years, almost 2 billion young people will become part of the world's youth cohort. In most developing countries, children and adolescents already make up the majority of the population.

This demographic dividend represents the most valuable force that we have to shape a better world for all and gives us an unmatched opportunity to fast-track progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given their sheer numbers, engaging the world's 1.8 billion young people will be critical to building the sustainable planet we want. After all, every young person's life will be shaped by our success in achieving the SDGs.

But far from only building a better future with more opportunities for all, young people are already leading change in the world today, advancing sustainable development and opening pathways to new possibilities for engagement and connectivity around the globe.

Our young generation is not only the largest, but also the most connected in history. Worldwide, youth are nearly twice as networked online as the greater population. In developed countries, young people's use of the Internet is nearly universal, and in the least developed countries they are three times more likely than the general population to go online. As the most connected generation ever, they are uniquely placed to mobilize their collective strength to achieve the SDGs, to establish dialogue and build partnerships across countries and all sectors of social life--from politics to business, academia and civil society.

In bringing people together from different backgrounds, the Internet and social media are becoming instrumental thanks to the opportunities for connectivity and reach that they enable. Since youth are at the forefront of the use of technology, they are the best equipped generation and our best asset to lead this task and promote global citizenship around the world.

In the online sphere, young people are also the age group that uses social media most frequently. Overall, they are more likely to be social networkers than people aged 35 and older. This age gap is seen both in developing and developed countries alike. For example, 79 per cent of young Internet users in Germany use social media, while only 39 per cent of older users in the country do...

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