UNDP Asia-Pacific Youth Empowerment: A Year in Review (2017)

10 January, 2018

This year, the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub has advanced the Youth Empowerment agenda across Asia-Pacific with great success. We have held 10 Youth Co:Lab National Dialogues across the region, and initiated new partnerships for the development of stand-alone national incubation programmes. Through the 2030 Youth Force and Case4Space projects, UNDP has been maintaining a strong presence in the youth leadership and human rights spaces in the region. And through our Youth, Peace and Security work, we have been offering young people a platform for constructive discussions on peacebuilding.

Youth Co:Lab, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Asia-Pacific youth entrepreneurship initiative, is positioning young people front and center in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges. Led by UNDP, Citi Foundation, Baoshang Bank and a host of network partners such as TechStars and MaGIC, the initiative aims to instigate, catalyze and sustain youth innovation through supporting the region’s youth-led startups and social enterprises. Youth Co:Lab also works closely with the region’s governments and leading firms to look at how the entrepreneurship ecosystem can be reinforced to enable young people to lead new solutions that meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Co:Lab thereby deepens understanding of youth led solutions to the SDGs, and elevates the role of young people and youth social entrepreneurs as development partners alongside government, private sector and social movements.

Have a look at our multimedia newsletter to learn more about UNDP's work for youth empowerment in Asia-Pacific in 2017

This year, the theme for International Youth Day is “Safe Spaces for Youth”. This refers to civic spaces, physical public spaces and digital spaces which allow

young people to engage in decision making, participate fully in their communities and interact virtually with others across borders. In order for young people to be able to effectively contribute to social and economic development, it is crucial that these spaces are inclusive of all youth.

In many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as in the rest of the world, youth are effectively excluded from decision making and political forums, and their access to and participation in public spaces is restricted. This is particularly true for young women and other marginalised youth, and further entrenches existing social tensions and inequalities.

Following this theme, the first section of this update will focus on stories of country office initiatives to build and sustain safe spaces for young people in the region, where they can freely express their ideas and participate in political and other decision making spheres.

In the second section of this update you will find a collection of stories that focus on skills development, entrepreneurship and innovation. These issues have started to receive attention in connection to youth empowerment, and they are strongly linked to the theme of safe spaces- facing unemployment, job automation and poor access to quality education and training, young people across the region often struggle to participate in their country’s labour force and economy. In order to do this, they need environments that enable and promote youth empowerment, and they need safe learning spaces that encourage creativity, innovation and independent thinking.

Finally, you will find two research publications launched by UNDP Country Offices in the past year on issues related to youth.