In present times, with more than 3 billion people being less than the age of 30, we have the largest youth population in history. This group has the most significant potential to give direction to the ways in which our societies will be organized in the future. Keeping this in mind, August 12 was marked as International Youth Day to celebrate the contribution of young people in shaping the future of our world and focus on the issues that young people across the world face.

International Youth Day results from the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that August 12 be declared International Youth Day. This recommendation was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, thus bringing this day to fruition. 

The theme for this day changes every year, keeping in mind the essential areas that need contribution from the youth, and for this year, the theme is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.” The theme is a deliberate reminder of the need for adopting sustainable food production practices that will meet the requirement of a growing population. It emphasizes that any such shift in the system cannot be accomplished without the contribution of the young, who will hold the planetary resources in trust for our future generations. 

Role of Youth during Covid-19 

Covid-19 is a testing time for the world’s youth population. The pandemic has created a halt on the usual modes of education, work, and well-being, forcing the youth to adapt and innovate new ways of realizing their potential while simultaneously providing their services to their community. Young innovators are already responding to the virus through social impact innovation. Around the world, a number of initiatives are being developed to leverage young people’s efforts to generate and deliver support to at-risk populations or populations affected by the pandemic. Whilst most of these initiatives are on a voluntary basis (e.g., young people offering to shop for and deliver food to elders or at-risk people), they can also take the shape of social enterprises. Many youth-driven technology innovation hubs are supporting startups to develop effective solutions to address COVID-19. For example, CcHUB (an open living lab and pre-incubation space) in Nigeria is offering to provide financial, research, and design support for projects related to COVID-19. 

Youth from across the world, cutting across their regional and other identities, are forging networks virtually in order to build a more resilient world. Technology can facilitate in bridging the gap between the youth who share different backgrounds, and their learnings can be shared with each other. 

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Shristi Banerjee

Advocate, High Court of Jharkhand (India)

Global Representative (India)/ Roya Institute of Global Justice