International Youth Day 2016

Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production through Decent Work for Youth

“Access to productive and decent work is the best way young people can realize their aspirations, improve their living conditions and actively participate in society,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Statement | 12 August 2016
On this International Youth Day, we focus on “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.

Young women and men are shaping our future and have the potential to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Today we celebrate their leadership in ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. However their creativity and leadership hinge on opportunities to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, a key transversal goal of the Agenda.

Access to productive and decent work is the best way young people can realize their aspirations, improve their living conditions and actively participate in society. Decent work for youth strengthens economies and creates a cadre of young consumers, savers and producers.

There are many examples of young people taking a leading role in finding and implementing sustainable solutions, while addressing the youth employment challenge.

Take Oren Tamba from Koindu, a town in Sierra Leone that was decimated by the civil war. In 2012, he offered an enterprise solution that would transform clean water production and consumption through sustainable and responsible practices. Oren trained 12 other youth in borehole repair, water purification, packaging, business skills and soft skills. He marketed the service and the communities welcomed the idea. With support from the ILO, Oren’s business idea became a formalized youth cooperative. Today, after four years of operation, the cooperative continues bringing clean water to Koindu and across the border in Guinea and Liberia, while enhancing youth’s livelihoods and opportunities for a better, more sustainable future.

Oren is just one of millions of young women and men who in their quest for decent work have enhanced employment prospects for their peers while improving consumption and production patterns around them. Their innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and resolve are already making a positive difference on the day to day lives of many, with better access to basic services, sustainable infrastructure, and solutions that foster resource and energy efficiency.

Decent work for youth emerges where rights and opportunities converge. It guarantees that young women and men can raise their voices and exercise their leadership, today and tomorrow.

The ILO is committed to promoting the expansion of employment opportunities for young people everywhere. It is a formidable task that requires collaboration, action and know-how.

Today, on International Youth Day, we are launching the What Works in Youth Employment knowledge platform, a resource designed to improve understanding of those policies and actions that work to improve labour market outcomes for young people.

Building on our 2012 Call for Action, this knowledge platform draws attention to key intervention areas that are addressing the youth employment challenge, including: skills training, entrepreneurship promotion, employment services, subsidized employment, employment and economic policies, and rights for young people.

The platform is a knowledge anchor of the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, which aims to expand action and partnerships on youth employment and shape global investments for youth, ensuring that youth have the opportunity and choice to build their skills and transform their energy and ideas into products and services that foster a cleaner and more sustainable planet.

There is now enough collective experience to show what works. We know that young people have the dynamism, will and resolve to shape a better future for all. What we need now is policy action and collaboration across the board to scale-up investments in youth employment. This is indispensable if we are to achieve our collective ambition of poverty eradication and a sustainable future.