Washington DC, United States of America, sixty per cent of the world’s population – a staggering 3 million people – is under the age of 25.

Last week, the Global Youth Forum in Washington DC provided a platform for representatives of this vast group to voice their opinions. The sheer number of children and young people make them a distinct focus within the development agenda, said Michał Rutkowski, Director External and Corporate Relations, World Bank Group at the close of the event.

Platforms for change

At a tangent event, Bill Reese, President and CEO, International Youth Foundation applauded the vitality, drive and passion of young people while drawing attention to the complexity of challenges they face.

“There is little questioning that trends in the impact of climate change, urbanization, migration and communication technology will affect young people and adults in unique ways,” he said.

The World Bank Group hosted the Forum in Washington DC from June 13 – June 15, with the aim to create a space where representatives from government and civil society organizations could come together to identify action priorities around the youth.

The priorities selected will be addressed by the international community as it works toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a set of internationally recognized targets for reducing poverty worldwide.

Holding governments accountable

At the Global Forum, young people spoke out by declaring their conviction that development in youth leads to development overall.

“If we could use the talent we have and invest in our own country and also have the support of organizations backing up the youth agenda, we’ll see development,” said @Habeeb_X. “We all have to put in our own efforts and trust our own potentials.”

“The quality of education fed to the child has to be reviewed to meet modern standards” says @Habeeb_X

More than 200 representatives of youth-led non-governmental organizations gathered to advise decision makers on priorities for the global youth development and to hold them accountable for the promises established in the SDGs Declaration, which created the SDGs targets.

Youth voices

The Forum also encouraged and built upon the active participation of young change agents. Each plenary session included the voices and views of young people, and elicited new ideas from young social entrepreneurs, global influencers and activists. Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, gave the keynote speech on the third day of the Global Youth Forum on the topic of youth in development as agents of change. The Envoy spoke about the need to change the narrative around youth and development to allow a space for creativity and innovative ideas.

Young representatives highlighted the need to recognize the role of the youth in national economic development plans. The Global Youth Forum 2016 has aimed to move the youth agenda forward by building a sustainable Global Partnership for Youth in Development, comprising entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, and civil society organizations who understand that young people are central to the development process. This Partnership will be the source for evidence, diagnostic and analytical tools for effective program design, and cutting-edge research required to understand how to overcome the enormously complex constraints and problems facing young people today.