What we can learn from the 2021 Youth Progress Index – EURACTIV.com
They are vastly under-represented in decision-making, much more likely to face a future of economic and environmental insecurity, and already suffer from declining mental health. Yet young people make up a significant portion of the world’s population: in 2019, there were approximately 1.2 billion people aged 15 to 24 living on the planet. According to the UN, this population is expected to reach just under 1.4 billion people by 2065.
The European Youth Forum, in collaboration with Social Progress Imperative, presents the second edition of its Youth Progress Index (YPI) live on June 10. It shines a light on the lives of young people in more than 150 countries around the world, following an innovative methodology focused exclusively on social progress rather than purely economic indicators.
He finds that while 65 countries have improved their performance in youth progress over the past decade, young people face increased barriers to accessing their personal rights, including freedom of expression and religion, rights policies, access to justice and property rights for women.
While the fallout from Covid-19 and the climate crisis are expected to impact their lives and opportunities more than other generations, the aim of the index is to serve as a practical tool to help leaders and decision-makers to implement policies and programs that address the challenges that generations face and lead to faster social and sustainable progress.
Or, as UN Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake writes in the foreword to the Index report, it “gives concrete indications on some of the key areas for improvement, taking into account the megatrends of the world. climate change, the digital revolution and a retreat from civic space. And as you will see from reading this report, this only partly concerns financial resources. More than anything else, these are political choices ”.
The aim is that, through the report and the Index, policymakers and activists learn more about the progress that can be made in their own country – and act accordingly.
“The launch of our new Youth Progress Index comes at a critical time. While the consequences of the pandemic have left young people facing enormous challenges and threats to our well-being, steps must be taken to help our generation access our rights, ”said María Rodríguez Alcázar, board member administration of the European Youth Forum. “This invaluable source of data gives policymakers a unique insight into the lives of young people country by country and real evidence of best practices that will allow us to ‘build back better’, independent of GDP. “
The index considers the term “young” to include all individuals in the transition period from childhood to adulthood – a specific range which may be longer or shorter depending on the local social context. While young people should be seen as a specific group to be targeted with specific policies and programs, certain subgroups of young people – including women, members of the LGBTQI community, and young people with disabilities – tend to face other challenges.
In view of this, the index has tracked the advancement of youth well-being and the performance of countries in areas such as education, health care, housing and environmental sustainability. It uses globally available datasets dating back ten years around three main areas: basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunities for reaching their full potential.
It also focuses on outcomes rather than inputs: for example, it measures the health and well-being achieved by a country’s population, rather than government spending on health care.
All the countries considered were ranked according to their YPI score. Here is what came out.
All the Member States of the European Union are in the first 47 positions in the world ranking, with Denmark and Finland in second and third positions, after Norway. Bulgaria was the worst-off EU country. This means that, compared to the rest of the world, EU countries generally offer a fairly good quality of life for young people, and young people in Europe are more likely to have their rights exercised.
Yet they still face challenges in areas such as personal safety, environmental quality, personal freedom and choice, and inclusion. Overall, the analysis demonstrates a strong relationship between respect for fundamental freedoms and civic space in general, and the advancement of young people: a link that must be kept in mind as the global authoritarian retreat against democratic participation continues.
Countries with higher per capita income levels generally perform better – although countries with similar GDP levels, such as Portugal and Lithuania, may have very different results in youth progress – demonstrating that improving the quality of life of young people is more a matter of precise political choices, rather than money.
However, when the Youth Progress Index is adjusted to reflect the country’s achievements in environmental sustainability, a grim truth is revealed. Many of the top-rated countries progress at a disproportionate environmental cost. While contributing the least to the problem, lower tier countries – mostly located in the Global South – are disproportionately suffering from the impact of the climate crisis.
Ultimately, the report argues that we should rethink the way we view progress: “should we view something as progress, if it has such a negative impact on the future of our planet and on the well- to be the future of the very generation we are studying? ? “
Join the Youth Progress Index online launch event! Registration is open via Eventbrite.