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The World Bank and Youth: Why Investing in Young People is Good Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Leon Galindo, Bolivia Aug 26, 2002
Child & Youth Rights   Opinions
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Increasingly around the world, young people are coming together to search for practical and creative solutions to problems they see around them or live n the midst of.

The International Community should invest--and PARTNER with young people. Children and young people simply should not have to suffer as much as they do any longer. Humanity has all it needs to put an end to the pain of its children, and harnessing the energy of youth means harnessing the single most miraculous and powerful natural resource and source of renewable energy known to us.

Young people want to act and partner now with those organizations in the establishment capable of working quickly, transparently, effectively, creatively, and in an open and trusting way to provide practical and real solutions to real problems. At the same time, a number of outstanding young people are willingly proving to their seniors and peers that youth are highly capable, responsible, mature, and effective actors in addressing issues of concern to them.

In addition to these reasons, organizations such as the World Bank and its clients—the Governments of the World--have an especially important role to play in opening up to, listening to, and partnering with, young people for these reasons:

(1) Young people are a critical portion of the World Bank’s current client base. Young people would better appreciate, and be able to contribute to their societies, if they new how many projects, and what proportion of total World Bank loans are targeted to—and actually reach—them as ultimate beneficiaries. (They are also taxpayers who will be paying back a greater percentage of today’s loans over their lifetimes than public officials in their late 40’s or 50s for example). Policymakers and young people alike may also want to know whether these amounts are proportionate to the size of the youth population vis-à-vis the total population. One assumes a truly human-centered approach to development would have investment in people, especially in children and youth, at its center.

(2) Indirectly, billions of dollars of current investments are going into crystallizing policies, programs, institutions, and social realities that dramatically affect young people today (some highly positive, some not so positive). In most nations, youth have little knowledge, and even less say, on how these investments affect their lives daily. The Internet and TV would be great tools to inform young people a little more on what is being done on their behalf (and how they can participate) as a lot is being done.

(3) These investment are locking in place structures that will continue, or in some cases, only begin, to affect the quality of life of today’s young people in 20, 30, 40 or more years time. By than, the potentially negative effect of some of the forces unleashed may simply be too late and too vast to reverse (availability of fresh water a prime example).

Because of the unparalleled magnitude of the trends and forces in play, more than ever in history, young people have the right--and the responsibility--to listen, learn, and ask for their voices and positions to be known. Particularly on those issues that most directly affect them now (such as education, health, poverty) and those that will greatly affect them in their lifetimes (sustainability, pensions, infrastructure).
Young people are one of the largest, most critical, and yet most woefully underrepresented segments of civil society. Among young people are some of the most vulnerable human beings in the world. Youth and children are disproportionately subject to poverty, violence, exploitation, and other forms of injustice that are simply no longer acceptable at the dawn of the 21st century when humanity has in its hands enough wealth, technology, and knowledge to do better.

The past decades have seen a student movement, a movement for gender equality, and an environmental movement. Humanity is now witnessing the birth of a youth movement, a first truly global youth movement. Young people have never been as informed or connected on a global scale as they are today.

May all segments of society work together in peace. May young leaders and members of this movement be powerfully committed to peace, respect, humility, and love as their unconditional guiding principles.


“Investing in children and youth – including street children – is not only a question about human rights and social justice, but also has potential economic benefits. Investing in street children is likely to have positive spill over effects (in terms of turning them into productive participants of society and preventing crime) whereas not investing in this groups is likely to have negative spill over effects (in terms of increased crime rates and poverty). The Bank has typically not focussed on this particular group of the poor up till now.”
Source: Forthcoming Report on Street Children in Central America, World Bank

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Leon Galindo

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Nguyen Thi Lan Anh |
Thanks Leon! I found it very helpful. A great source of information! There are lots of interesting figures in relations to young people. L.A.

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