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Our world is home to 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and the youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations. Governments around the world face the challenge of providing young people with jobs and opportunities that safeguard their futures.
In rural areas, home to a total of 600 million youth, the challenges are particularly complex. Constraints on access to land, natural resources, finance, technology, knowledge, information and education make it difficult for young people to contribute to the rural economy.
Few aspire to remain in rural areas and make a living out of agriculture. Too often, their only option is to migrate, either to urban areas or overseas.
Young producers, leaders and innovators
At IFAD, we understand that investing in rural youth is crucial for dynamic rural economic growth, and our portfolio of investments increasingly focuses on young people as a priority.
The potential returns of investing in young people are boundless in terms of food security, poverty reduction, employment generation, as well as peace and political stability.
Young people are better at taking risks, innovating and adopting new technology. These skills will be critical for reforming food systems and adapting to the global challenge of climate change.
Bringing young voices to the table
IFAD-supported projects and activities help young people access the resources, assets and services they need to be productive and have a positive impact on their communities.
We promote youth-sensitive development, incorporating the needs and aspirations of young people into many of our projects, and supporting innovative proposals and initiatives.
We also provide training and support to create rural employment and enterprise options that are appropriate for young people, in both the farm and the non-farm sector.
IFAD is also committed to increasing youth representation in domestic and policy processes, and to promoting the importance of giving young people a decision-making role.
This will allow young people to address the specific challenges they face, share their ideas, and enhance their social and political capital at both local and national levels.
Reflections on improving rural people’s nutrition: A conversation with 2021 World Food Prize winner Dr Shakuntala Thilsted
Nigel Brett, Director of IFAD’s Asia and the Pacific Division, interviews Dr Shakuntala Thilsted, Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish.