UN International Youth Day: Promoting civic engagement in a pivotal year

“In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.”

-Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Message for International Youth Day 2015

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12: In a momentous year for concerns about both the environment and youth—nations around the world are elevating young people and recognizing their crucial role in a sustainable human existence. It’s the United Nations’ International Youth Day.

From New York to the Philippines, from Cuba to Qatar and through India, events aim to engage youth in politics, economics and decision-making. The 2015 theme, “Youth Civic Engagement,” arrives on the 30th anniversary of the first International Year of Youth and two decades after the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth. Today, the World Programme of Action for Youth plays prominently in UN youth development efforts, increasing opportunities for young people to actively participate in society. Live events, videos, Twitter exchanges and more mobilize youth objectives.


Today, the world holds the largest generation of young people in history. Yet as the world rapidly develops and changes, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has voiced the need for young people in both decision-making and the execution of programs and solutions. Social media have allowed immediate sharing of ideas and global communications on grassroots levels.

In December of 1999, the UN General Assembly endorsed the recommendation that August 12 be declared International Youth Day. Later, the World Programme of Action for Youth was created, intending to highlight specific areas of priority such as education, health, hunger and poverty, environment, drug abuse, participation, conflict and intergenerational relations.


UN Headquarters: On August 12, events will be underway at the UN Headquarters. Learn more here.

Organizing an event? Communities, schools, clubs and more can find ideas for celebrating International Youth Day in this toolkit. Events can be registered by sending a email to [email protected].

Looking for an event? Check out the official International Youth Day activities map.

Interested in the IYD Digital Surge? Between 9 a.m. EST and 3 p.m. EST, join the Digital Surge, using #YouthDay and #YouthNow. Click here for details.

Searching for inspiration? Inspiring quotes that celebrate youth, spoken or written by world leaders and UN Officials, will be on Twitter @UNYouthEnvoy.

Global Young Leaders in Times Square: From August 3-August 17, a video featuring the faces of youth making a difference in their communities will be featured on the LG screens in Times Square, in New York City.

Who is the Envoy on Youth—and where will he be on IYD? The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, will speak at a Youth Forum in the Philippines on International Youth Day 2015. Alhendawi will also join 1,000 young people for the country’s Youth Day celebrations, meet with government officials and exchange ideas with youth advocates from civil society organizations that represent marginalized sectors.

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