Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth

G20 conference highlights importance of decent jobs for youth in the rural economy

Participants of the G20 conference “ONE WORLD - No Hunger. Future of the Rural World” call for action on youth employment in rural areas and discuss synergies with the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth.

News | 03 May 2017
BERLIN (ILO News) – In the context of renewed concerns about food security, demographic changes and globalization, rural development and youth employment are at the centre of the international development agenda. There are 71 million young women and men unemployed globally and more than 152 million young people in emerging and developing countries working, yet living in poverty. The rural economy holds significant potential for the promotion of decent jobs and youth are catalysts for a rural transformation conducive to improved employment prospects and prosperity.

“The future of humankind will be decided in rural areas,” said Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, while addressing participants at the “ONE WORLD - No Hunger. Future of the Rural World” conference held in Berlin, on 27 and 28 April 2017. The high-level conference, linked to the German G20 Presidency, brought together over 600 actors from public and private sectors, academia and civil society, including 130 young people who presented and discussed concrete solutions to youth challenges in rural areas.

Throughout the conference, participants emphasized the critical importance of creating decent jobs and better prospects for young people in rural areas. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, stressed the need to embark on agricultural industrialization and value addition to transform rural economies in Africa. To support job creation for young people in rural areas, data-driven policies and good governance were essential, added Dr. Mo Ibrahim, entrepreneur and founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The Berlin Charter: a call for action to create opportunities with the young generation in the rural world

On 27 April 2017, conference participants handed over the “Berlin Charter” to Federal Minister Gerd Müller. The Charter relied on a highly participatory process that gathered ideas from youth and other key stakeholders and experts around the most needed actions to address rural challenges and shape the rural world positively for the young generations. It is intended to serve as a political impetus and guidance for decision-makers with a view to boosting their involvement in efforts to foster rural development and youth employment.

Through the Berlin Charter participants called on all national governments, the G20, the United Nations system, development partners and finance institutions, the private sector, civil society and youth to undertake additional and scalable joint efforts for creating new rural opportunities with a special focus on decent and attractive jobs for the young generation.

From Call to Action: The Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth

The Berlin conference offered a great opportunity to engage with youth and development partners in the context of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, launched by the ILO Director-General in February 2016. The ILO, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), organized a session to discuss the rural youth employment challenge and introduce the Global Initiative’s plan of action to enhance decent jobs for youth in the rural economy.

“The Global Initiative is the most comprehensive UN system-wide effort for the promotion of youth employment worldwide,” said Ms. Susana Puerto, ILO’s Senior Youth Employment Specialist. The initiative’s objective, continued Ms. Puerto, is to scale up country-level action and increased impact on decent jobs for youth through innovation and collaboration. Devised around a strategic alliance of multiple partners within and beyond the UN system, the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth is a unique cooperation platform to maximize the effectiveness of investments in youth employment and to assist Member States in delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Dr. Louise Fox, Chief Economist, USAID, and Nick Austin, Director, Agricultural Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discuss the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. © GIZ/Ralf Rühmeier
In her keynote remarks, Dr. Louise Fox, Chief Economist at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commended the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth for aligning and encouraging partners to join forces at country and local levels, thereby providing an effective operational platform to make a difference in the lives of young people. Country-level action needed to focus on rural transformation, continued Dr. Fox, and on scaling up evidence-based initiatives to empower youth in rural areas, in particular young women and adolescent girls.

Moving forward, Mr. Peter Wobst, Senior Programme Advisor at FAO, outlined concrete actions of the Global Initiative to support youth in the rural economy. He emphasized the opportunity to utilize the Global Initiative to translate the Berlin Charter and the G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment into action. Dr. Bruno Losch, co-director of the Center for the Study of Governance Innovation in South Africa and lead political economist at Cirad further elaborated on the importance of structural transformation to boost youth labour demand in sub-Saharan Africa. Decent jobs in agriculture, emphasized Mr. Nick Austin, Director, Agricultural Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, were needed for a sustainable rural transformation.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Puerto invited participants from the worlds of politics, the private sector, academia and civil society to join forces with the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth: “We cannot do it alone, but together we can achieve the scale and impact that is needed to transform rural economies into attractive and profitable venues where youth can grow, develop skills and earn a decent living.”

For more information and to explore collaboration with the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, please contact