World leaders unite under new initiative to provide quality education and training for young people

Generation Unlimited seeks to get every young person prepared for future employment by 2030

Generation Unlimited
24 September 2018
Five leaders stand together, holding a Generation Unlimited sign.
Former President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Kim; SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, António Guterres; President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore; and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Lilly Singh

World leaders at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly have launched a new partnership to get every young person into quality education, training or employment by 2030. Generation Unlimited will tackle the global education and training crisis currently holding back millions of young people and threatening progress and stability.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; President of Rwanda Paul Kagame; World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union, Ms. Federica Mogherini; UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore; United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake; Unilever CEO Paul Polman; UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh; and global pop group BTS were among the global business, education and youth leaders behind Generation Unlimited who united at a high-level event at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to launch the partnership.

Members of BTS make heart symbols with their hands, together with Lilly Singh and Henrietta Fore.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh stand with supporters BTS at the United Nations. © UNICEF/UN0237876/Nesbitt

Without urgent investment in education and skills training, the rapidly growing global population of adolescents and young people – which will reach 2 billion by 2030 – will continue to be unprepared and unskilled for the future workforce. And with more than 200 million young people of lower- and upper-secondary school age currently missing out on school, instead of contributing to equitable progress, young people – especially the most disadvantaged – could face futures of compounding deprivation and discrimination.

Generation Unlimited – which forms part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth 2030 Strategy – will complement and build on existing programmes that support adolescents and young people. The partnership platform will focus on three key areas: secondary-age education; skills for learning, employability and decent work; and empowerment. A Youth Challenge taking place in 16 countries worldwide this year calls for applications from young people to create solutions that will support the three key pillars of Generation Unlimited.

UNICEF video

“All our hopes for a better world rest on young people,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “The world is home to the largest generation of young people ever – 1.8 billion. Sustainable development, human rights, peace and security can only be achieved if we empower these young people as leaders, and enable them to unleash their full potential.”

“Your role begins with reminding us that what has been achieved, as meaningful and difficult as it was, is still not enough. We still have to aim higher and go farther. What is needed is focused and consistent implementation. We must also take advantage of the things we can do quickly, that require only political will. Whatever we want as Africans for our continent, we will have to fight for it. Africa’s prosperity will be built through patient work and commitment. African youth, own our collective future, through technology, entrepreneurship and above all, our dignity,” said President of Rwanda Paul Kagame.

“When we invest in our youth, we are giving them equality of opportunity, a chance to achieve their aspirations, and a better economic future,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “If countries prioritize investments in human capital, they can transform the future for their economies, families, and millions of young people whose dreams are only matched by their will to achieve them.”

“Let’s make this happen: make sure that every young woman and man finds their place in society – through education, training or a good job – by 2030. This is Generation Unlimited, and I am proud the EU is part of it with UNICEF,” said High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union, Ms. Federica Mogherini.

“The change in demographics the world is experiencing, coupled with fast-moving technological advances, presents a critical moment in history. If we act wisely and urgently, we can create a skilled cohort of young people better prepared to create sustainable economies and peaceful and prosperous societies. Young people may represent 25 per cent of the global population, but they account for 100 per cent of the future. We cannot afford to fail them,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“With the UN Youth Strategy providing an umbrella for the UN’s work with and for young people, one of the first new actions is launching the Generation Unlimited partnership. I am excited to see how Generation Unlimited will roll-out as a tool to implement the UN’s system wide strategy on youth,” said United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake.

“Today we have the largest generation of youth in history – a powerful force for change. 84 percent of millennials are convinced they have a duty to make the world a better place, and many already are. Through Generation Unlimited, we aim to ensure no young person is left behind by helping to empower them so they can create a bright future for themselves and generations to come,” said Paul Polman, CEO Unilever.

“We in Africa know that we have a critical window of opportunity in building better futures – either we capture the demographic dividend and unlock the human capital of our societies, or we face a lost generation and stagnation. The stakes could not be higher. That is why I strongly encourage my peers to play a full and active role in supporting Generation Unlimited,” said Tony Elumelu, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation.


UNICEF video

“I've seen firsthand that listening to and learning from young people is one of the best ways to collaborate on creative solutions and address the challenges they face.  When empowered to share their voices, they have so many innovative and creative ideas. I'm endlessly inspired by this generation and am committed to do what I can to help them achieve a brighter future,” said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh.


UNICEF video

“In our LOVE MYSELF campaign, we talk about the meaning of true love. We encourage every young person to find the love from within themselves and spread that love to others. We think the mutual support from youth to each other is the first step to show love,” said UNICEF global supporters BTS.