Today one person in five is between the ages of 15 and 24 years. Altogether there are over one billion youth, mostly living in developing countries where they often represent a large share of the national population. The issues many of them face, including unemployment and lack of decent work, inadequate schooling and skills, poor health, HIV/AIDS, risky behaviours, violence and crime, represent tremendous social and economic costs to society, as much as they denote important failures to promote and protect the rights of young people, especially girls.
The importance of youth investments is not always clearly reflected in policies and programmes at country level. Moreover, some existing programmes may be promising but without rigorous evidence of their effectiveness. As policy makers consider measures to help young people make the transition into adulthood, they are often confronted with the lack of information on existing options, on what has worked well, and what are the opportunities for setting up and improving youth programmes.
In this context, demand for support from countries which endeavour to address the needs of youth is growing. The challenge lies in designing a range of effective interventions in resource-constrained environments. These interventions should clearly target the needs of the most vulnerable adolescents and youth and address fundamental gender issues. They should have with good implementation and evaluation plans.
It is essential to build future youth policy and support services on the lessons learnt through the vast array of existing youth development and networking initiatives including the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD).
The Academy on Youth Development is meant to offer a training and knowledge sharing platform for international and national actors concerned with youth development policies and programmes.