It seems that the mindset of my friends roughly reflects the views of youth worldwide. From Nepal to the United States, young people are increasingly mindful of how their behavior impacts the planet.
Today, the world has the largest youth population in history. There are more than 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and 90% of them live in developing countries.
Find out where the world's youth lived in 2012.
Have you missed an appointment to doctor, school or work due to lack of transportation?
It can take up to two hours to find a taxi in some South African cities. A team of young entrepreneurs launched a new mobile app to help commuters locate taxis and improve the average commute.
Watch how Aftarobot, a mobile app is revolutionizing transportation in South Africa:
Students in a technical education program supported by the World Bank in Antioquia, Colombia.
I spoke about how the World Bank engages with youth, the largest demographic in the world right now. In an auditorium at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., young professionals, recent graduates, and college students were eager to find out how the Bank is helping and working with them. As a young person from a developing country, I could relate to their challenges and frustrations.
Youth Forum Breakfast, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: Bamidele Emmanuel Oladokun / World Bank
In 2011 African heads of state met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Union Summit. It was held under the theme: "Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development." The main aim of the gathering was to deliberate on Africa's youth which is growing faster than any other continent. More than 200 million people in Africa are between ages 15 through 24.
“Africa is the youngest continent. The current youth of Africa are not only important for Africa but also for the world,” said Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist for the World Bank’s Africa region. Young people are usually the ones who lead innovation and are a source of labor force of any economy, Devarajan added.
Photo: Farida Parveen is a successful entrepreneur in Manikgong district, she was destitute until taking a loan to start a small poultry farm. © 2011 CGAP contest.
Youth are particularly vulnerable to economic problems. They often don’t have access to financial services due to lack of education and employment. Governments are aware of this and are working to find solutions.
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What can be done to help African youth improve their prospects for a brighter future?
The first step might be to understand the challenges they face.
Recently, Microsoft Chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates wrote a terrific piece in the Wall Street Journal on why we need to measure the world’s problems to solve them. “You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal…,” said Gates.
Students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) play in the Wolfensohn Atrium.
There are days when your faith in humanity is not only restored but strengthened. Today was one of those days.
On a sunny afternoon in Washington, D.C., young students from Afghanistan showed off their musical talent in an orchestral performance at the World Bank.
I was inspired and excited to see the group of musicians, aged 9 to 21, who had travelled so far from a war-torn country to perform. As someone who grew up during a decade-long civil war in Nepal, I can in some ways relate to their hard work, persistence, and determination to excel despite all odds.
Can art change your vision for the future?
During the third week of January on a chilly Tuesday evening in Washington, D.C., young artists from the South Asia region gathered in the Wolfensohn Atrium of the World Bank for an exhibition of Imagining Our Future Together, a group exhibition organized by the World Bank to feature works from 25 young South Asian artists. Their art reflects their hope to make South Asia a more united region.
Last week, on my way home from work, I met a young man raising funds for a charity. He stood outside of a subway station and as part of his pitch, he asked, "if you could have any superpower, what would it be?" I offered the same answer I have been giving my children for years. "I have a superpower. It's reading." I suspect this both annoys and inspires my children. Given that annoying and inspiring are among my favorite parental duties, I rather like this answer.
Since then, a few things have happened that are making me want to revise my response to that young man.