According to Youth Talks, the largest global youth consultation ever conducted, young people worldwide aspire to a peaceful future while aware of global realities. Youth Talks uses state-of-the-art A.I. technology to analyze responses, enabling contributors to answer open-ended questions and distilling 1 million uncensored contributions into rich, comprehensible and actionable insights.
GENEVA, Oct. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Higher Education for Good Foundation unveils the results of the Youth Talks initiative, the largest global youth consultation ever conducted. Engaging over 45,000 young individuals aged 15-29 from 212 countries and territories, it seeks to empower youth with a global voice and link them to decision-makers to bring about positive societal change.
Youth Talks is in collaboration with the UN-supported initiative, Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative of the United Nation Global Impact, and the Club of Rome.
- Peace is the top priority worldwide, followed by environmental concerns, particularly in regions like Africa and South America.
- Youth emphasize values and virtues in education, urging educators to transform teaching methods. Traditional core disciplines still matter, but the urgency lies elsewhere for young people, with the exception of China. This should be a wake up call to educators, who the world’s young people overwhelmingly think should be teaching much more about values and how we can live together better in society.
- Young people across the globe, especially in Europe, recognize the climate emergency, but this concern is less prominent in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.
- A divide exists between Western youth and their counterparts in the rest of the world on material concerns, unfulfilled dreams, and financial worries.
- Young people are ready for sacrifices, but disparities exist in how much and what they’re willing to give up.
The Youth Talks consultation reveals a fascinating array of opinions and aspirations among young people, challenging preconceived notions about youth. Youth Talks strives to provide a global voice for the young and connect them with decision-makers for positive societal change, through partnerships with over 50 organizations worldwide, such as the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), as well as top universities, world youth organisations, and political institutions. The new Youth Talks Ambassadors Network includes 2,300 young people from every region of the world who actively support and promote the project in their communities.
“Young people’s voices must be heard authentically and without any filters. By asking open-ended questions, we enable them to express themselves without limitations or pressure to conform to predetermined themes. The Youth Talks consultation embraces this approach, allowing young individuals to communicate their thoughts freely, uncovering fresh insights and showcasing the vast diversity of opinions within societies. Youth Talks serves as a groundbreaking global dialogue that connects the aspirations of young people with tangible societal transformation.” explains Marine Hadengue, PhD and Director of Youth Talks.
The voice of the world’s youth: an overriding desire for peace
Young people’s top wish globally is world peace (32%), surpassing environmental concerns. They strongly desire peace while fearing war and conflict. Although optimistic about a peaceful future, they’re aware of global realities. Peace is viewed as an essential aspect of well-being they hope never to relinquish.
Young people are unanimous on the urgent need to relearn how to live together and to build a society based on shared values, in a context where individualism and isolation often get the better of our humanity.
Redefining education: young people’s quest for a values-centric education
Youth Talks highlights young people’s emphasis on understanding, debating, and prioritizing values in education. They urge educators to transform teaching methods for harmonious living and interaction. Traditional disciplines still matter, but youth prioritize personal values (45%) and practical life skills, except in China. Schools therefore need to address 21st-century challenges and younger generations’ aspirations while maintaining academic relevance.
The varying climate priority across regions: a burning reality
When imagining the future, nearly a third of young people express deep concerns about environmental problems, although it varies in importance depending on the region. Europe stands out for paying particular attention to the environment (33 %) and expressing their desire to live on a healthy planet, free from both the problems of climate change and pollution. This concern is less prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa, where it is mentioned in only 15% of contributions.
The West vs. the rest of the world
Youth Talks found a clear and significant divide on some key issues between young people in the West and their counterparts in the rest of the world. Western youth appear more anchored in material concerns, those elsewhere seem driven by fears of unfulfilled dreams and unmet aspirations. Their financial situation is the primary worry of young people in the West: around 1/3 of Western participants mentioned it as their priority, compared with only 1/10 of the participants elsewhere in the world. Western young people also seem less prepared to give up material comforts to enable broader social progress: 25% of them mentioned it as something they were not willing to abandon, compared with under 5% of participants elsewhere. Young people outside the West worry more about having to give up on their ambitions, their identity, or their family and loved ones.
Sacrifices for societal progress: how much is too much?
Youth show readiness to sacrifice lifestyles and possessions for a sustainable, fairer future. However, they refuse to compromise personal relationships, ambitions, and well-being. This highlights the difficult balance between present needs and sustainable futures. In Europe for instance, 40% of young people are willing to curtail material consumption, while 28% resist such sacrifices. These tensions within our society are important and cannot be ignored by decision-makers.
Global and regional results of the Youth Talks consultation are available https://youth-talks.org/results/
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