Let’s unleash youth potential


The aspirations of young people around the world need to be at the core of our political, social and economic development debate. Protecting and fighting for youths’ equal rights, particularly in developing regions, contributes to a fairer and more sustainable development. On the International Youth Day, the EU highlights the importance of giving voice to the young people and empowering them to better address the challenges of the future.

The vast majority of the 1.8 billion young people are living in low-income countries, many affected by conflict. They have a key role to play in preventing and resolving conflict, countering violent extremism and building peace. In 2015, the United Nations reached this conclusion giving birth to the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250).

In 2018, the EU organised the first-ever Youth, Peace and Security international conference in Brussels. This was an opportunity to listen to young people on how to consolidate policies in these areas. Constant work with partner countries, multilateral institutions, and with young people and their organisations supports the implementation of the agenda on the ground.


The EU has created extended networks of young people from Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, Asia and elsewhere. These networks – such as the African Union – European Union Youth Cooperation Hub or the Young Med Voices - provide open channels of communication to discuss global issues, and to connect young people and leaders from the EU and from our partner countries.

The expectations of young people have to meet with concrete actions. Presently, the EU is conducting close to 30 crisis prevention and response actions on four continents to strengthen youth resilience and to promote youth peacebuilding.

Education and skills development

Granting a more significant role to a younger generation means preparing them for a better future. Over 600 million children are not learning or developing basic skills, which leaves an ample room for improvement. There is a common responsibility to ensure that the next generation has access to education and for that, it is needed innovative thinking and new ways of connecting and learning from each other.

For more than 30 years, the Erasmus programme has opened opportunities for millions of young people from Europe and beyond. The current European Commission has shown the interest in increasing the budget dedicated to the programme. One aspect that will allow international students to more easily reap its benefits is Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange, a ground-breaking project enabling youth in Europe and the Southern Mediterranean to engage in meaningful intercultural experiences online, as part of their formal or non-formal education.

The Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange creates a safe online community to encourage and promote intercultural dialogue, employability and citizenship, and to strengthen the youth dimension of the EU neighbourhood policy.

Developing youth skills and promoting education reforms contribute to tackling the issue of youth unemployment. The promotion of digital skills has been an interesting challenge taken by the EU, as showed in the project AfricaConnect, which aims to establish a high-capacity regional data network for research and education in the entire content.


Addressing the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic

The impact of the pandemic in many regions of the world is being disastrous and it remains to be seen what would be the medium / long term consequences in those regions hosting a vast percentage of the younger population. The Team Europe package is the EU immediate response with an amount of EUR 36 billion to assist our partners around the world.

At the same time, it is also possible to see the impact of empowering young people through skill-development in some of these regions. Faisa Muhammed Abusa is 21 years old and is now sewing more than 30 masks a day to protect the community in Miaduguri, Nigeria.

‘It took me just one day to learn how to make face masks because UNICEF already trained us on how sew school uniforms’ she says. The facility where Faisa is working is now capable of producing 1,500 face masks and 700 bars of soap every day. These young adults are capable of taking advantage of the skills acquired to protect their communities, whilst bringing income home to their families.


Abusa is one of the 1,100 young participants in an ongoing vocational skills empowerment project initiated by UNICEF, in partnership with the Borno State Agency for Mass Education (SAME), with funding from the EU. This project proves how multilateral cooperation generates concrete results.

Kicking the ball of integration

Reaching out to the youth and contributing to a healthier and more united development can come in many forms. The EU Delegation in the United Arab Emirates has become a supporter of the Ecole Française de Football (EFF) in the country. More than 280 boys and girls compete in both national and international tournaments, promoting diversity and inclusion.

“The EU is known around the world as an entity of unity, working hand in hand, and achieving peace and stability, and that is what football does, it promotes peace and unity,” said EFF Ambassador Jordan Vieira. His career in football, spans 40 years, leading him to coach the Iraqi national team and winning the 2007 Asia Championship.

“During the two weeks of competition, it was the least violent time in Iraq, as people focused on football” adds Mr. Vieira. “Sports like football help promoting peace and unity”.

Young people are the main stakeholders of future-oriented investments. The context of pandemic, but also of climate change and the need for digital transformation has to take into account the voices and desires of younger people who will live with the consequences of present actions.

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