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Celebrate International Youth Day!

By Richard Webster

Today marks International Youth Day - an annual worldwide occasion to celebrate young people. This year, we take a closer look at "Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward." 

Did you know that about 33 million youth under the age of 20 are on the move worldwide? They represent around 16 percent of the total migrant population. That is almost the entire population of Canada.

Of those 33 million migrant children and adolescents, 13 million reside in industrialized countries. This flow of young people is very relevant to the Canadian context; recently, we’ve seen media coverage on unaccompanied children arriving at our borders almost daily, seeking safety.

Very little is known about the unique opportunities and challenges presented to young migrants and other youth affected by migration. Decisions made about these young people don’t always consider their best interests or their views. However, the 2013 World Youth Report launched today, will help us all understand some of the concerns, challenges and successes experienced by these young migrants.

International Youth Day is also the time to reflect on the broader situation for youth in Canada, as many young peopleface barriers on their journey to adulthood. UNICEF’s Report Card 11 ranks Canada 22 out of 28 wealthy nations in terms of the percentage of young people aged 15 to 19 not in education, employment or training (NEET rate). This is a cause for concern as a high NEET rate has been shown to threaten the present and future well-being of youth, and of their nation’s social and economic progress.

How can we improve the opportunities for young people?  Share your thoughts with us below, or via social media.

We also want to know how you’ll be commemorating this special day. Send a description of your activities to youth@un.org for the chance to be featured on the UN’s website. Events will be held around the world.  

Together – with the insights and participation of young people – we can offer all youth the opportunities they deserve.

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