With 1.8 billion young people around the world 'the largest generation of youth in history' senior United Nations officials are marking World Population Day with calls for a renewed commitment to helping young people improve their lives and the common future.
"Action is urgently needed", UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, stressing that too many young people are denied a right to a quality education, a decent job and participation in the political life of their societies.
He expressed particular concern about adolescent girls who may face discrimination, sexual violence, early marriage and unwanted pregnancies.
"The solution lies in investment in health, education, training and employment for young people as they undergo the critical transition to adulthood", Ban underscored in his message carreid by the United Nations News Centre.
Half the world is under 25 years of age, nearly 90% of them in developing countries, according to UN figures. However, half of those employed from the group are either unemployed or in Ban’s words, "stuck in low-wage, dead-end jobs".
"I call on all with influence to prioritize youth in development plans, strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations, and involve young people in all decisions that affect them," the UN chief said. "By empowering today’s youth, we will lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future for generations to come." Young people are also speaking out for themselves, Ban said, noting that more than 1,000 youth organizations endorsed a Global Youth Call to recommend youth-focused goals and targets in the sustainable development agenda that will start after 2015, the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).