UNESCO for youth, with youth, by youth

Youth have the creativity, the potential and the capacity to make change happen – for themselves, for their communities, and for the rest of the world. UNESCO works with young people and is committed to accompany them to work together to drive social innovation and change, participate fully in the development of their societies, eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace.

UNESCO has engaged with thousands of youths to create change through its fora, built solid youth networks, reached young people to work on peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism, and is committed to empowering underprivileged youth by providing them with spaces to participate.

Youth Forum

The United Nations defines "youth" as persons aged between 15 and 24. However, this definition is flexible. According to the World Youth Report (2018), there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. The experience of being young can vary substantially across the world, between countries and regions, and ‘youth’ is therefore often a fluid and changing category. As such, context is always an important guide in UNESCO’s definition of youth.

We encourage engagement of youth in UNESCO’s action, from design to implementation and follow-up, in their communities through scaling up youth-led initiatives, and in the policy agenda through the integration of youth concerns and issues. To this end, UNESCO also encourages Youth Spaces, which aim to empower young people, foster and support their action, promote partnerships and ensure their recognition and visibility.

Global Youth Community
International Youth Day
Prevention of Violent Extremism through Youth Empowerment
Networks of the Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth)

Operational Strategy on Youth

Recognizing the force, creativity, energy, know-how and capacities of young people, UNESCO prioritizes its work with and for youth across all its programmes. It is guided in this by its Operational Strategy on Youth (2014-2021), which is the result of a long process of consultation, engaging young people and Member States. As such, it responds to global youth needs and aspirations. This serves both to consolidate and innovate UNESCO’s action on youth.

In line with the Agenda 2030, the Strategy is built on the premise that youth are key partners and actors for development and peace. It also provides the framework for constructive partnerships with and between youth organizations and youth-related stakeholders.

The Strategy puts forward three multidisciplinary and complementary axes of work, which incorporate the full range of UNESCO’s expertise in its fields of competence, namely:

  1. policy formulation and review with the participation of youth
  2. capacity development for the transition to adulthood and
  3. civic engagement, democratic participation and social innovation.
Operational Strategy on Youth

In line with the Agenda 2030, the Strategy is built on the premise that youth are key partners and actors for development and peace.

Young girl, youth

Youth Forum

The Youth Forum process is an essential part of the UNESCO Youth Programme. Since 1999 and until today, it has provided an innovative opportunity for youth to dialogue among themselves and with UNESCO, to provide orientations to UNESCO’s approach and to present their concerns and ideas to Member States through UNESCO’s General Conference, which is UNESCO’s highest decision-making body.

Young people come together every two years, and bring their collective energy, creativity and vision to the table. The UNESCO Youth Forum is shaped by and for youth, from the preparatory stages to the event itself at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France.

Through debate and discussion, youth draw up recommendations for action, reflecting the most pressing needs and concerns of youth today in the fields of UNESCO’s mandate.



Conclusions of the Youth Forum
22 November 2021
UNESCO operational strategy on youth 2014-2021


How to influence the development of quality physical education policy: a policy advocacy toolkit for youth
Policy brief #YOUTHWAGINGPEACE: A youth led guide on prevention of violent extremism through education
Youth and violent extremism on social media: mapping the research
Pub. with the support of IFAP