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  • 8/4/2004

International Youth Day

August 12, 2004

Today's society is the youngest ever; almost fifty percent of the world's population is aged 25 years or under. But societies are also ageing. It is estimated that by 2050 the population of people older than 65 will have almost quadrupled, while the proportion of children will have declined by a third. By the middle of this century, the old and the young will represent an equal share of the world’s population.

This demographic transition is most visible in developed countries. Some European countries already deal with a negative population growth. The transition in developing countries will occur at a much faster rate than it has in developed countries. In many cases, the necessary infrastructure and policies to deal with the consequent developments may not be in place.

By choosing the theme Youth in an Intergenerational Society, the United Nations wants to stress the importance of solidarity between generations at all levels - in families, communities and nations. In the future, the interdependence of younger and older people will increase. Youth development is a prerequisite to meeting the growing care demands of older people and a condition for the development of society as a whole. The theme also commemorates theTenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Familycelebrated in 2004.

The United Nations' Program on Youth will celebrate International Youth Day 2004 inBarcelona atthe World Youth Festivaltogether with an expected 10.000 young participants, many NGOs and several UN agencies and bodies.

Here are some other activities taking place to mark International Youth Day from around the


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will issue a message marking the first observance of International Youth Day. The message will be read to the participants of the Model United Nations taking place at Headquarters from 11 to 13 August.

International Youth Day aims to promote awareness, especially among youth, of the World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond. The World Program of Action calls for action in 10 priority areas: education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, girls and young women, and full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making. It also recommends action at national, regional and global levels to implement the Program.

Youth -- defined by the United Nations as the age group between 15 and 24 years old -- make up one sixth of the world's population. The majority of these young men and women live in developing countries, and their numbers are expected to rise steeply into the twenty-first century.

The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by the young people who were gathered inVienna, Austria, for the first session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System. The Forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fund-raising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations. In 1998, a resolution proclaiming 12 August as International Youth Day was adopted by the first session of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, which was hosted by the Government of Portugal in cooperation with the United Nations (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998). That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/54/120 entitled "Policies and programs involving youth" (17 December 1999).

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