Why young people matter

Young people are most affected by the persistent problems facing the world, and yet are frequently overlooked as a resource. As the largest, most energetic population, young people can and must be part of the solution.



The Opportunity: Are we approaching Peak Youth?

The world has more young people than ever before, but for how long? Are we approaching Peak Youth?

Have ever-increasing numbers of young people made the world complacent about fulfilling their potential?

How does the world need to change to make the most of this moment? What will happen if we don’t?

  • In the past 50 years (1965 -2015), youth population more than doubled (115% or 126% depending on how we define youth.
  • In the next 50 years, it will grow only slightly (14-16%).
  • After that, it will start to shrink.

In this critical moment for youth, people and planet, Restless Development believes that the challenge of Peak Youth can no longer be ignored. We are calling for politicians, businesses and opinion formers to come together with young people to explore the answers to these questions together.

Sign up to our mailing list to hear more about how we will be asking the questions that matter in an era of Peak Youth. Tweet us your thoughts on the questions to our Big Conversation on the hashtag #WeAreRestless.

The Definition: What do you mean by young people?

Around the world, the terms “youth”, “adolescent”, and “young person” are interchanged, often meaning the same thing. Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. The most common international definition, used by the United Nations and the World Bank, defines youth as between the ages of 15-24; however, at a national level, youth is defined in some countries from as early as 12 years, to as old as 40 years.

Restless Development does not use a fixed age range to define “youth.” We recognise that youth refers to a phase of life when a person moves from a time of dependence (childhood) to independence (adulthood). As a default, we use the term “youth” as individuals aged 15-24; however, we are flexible to the specific national contexts within which we work. We use the broader term “young people” to describe all children, youth and young adults up to the age of 30.

Youth-led development refers to our approach to development; driven and guided by young people and youth, drawing upon their energy, creativity and skills to create positive change. This is done on a small and large scale, and implicitly values young people and youth as an asset for society.


Global youth population