How the World Bank Engages With Youth

Students in a technical education program supported by the World Bank in Antioquia, Colombia.

Last week I spoke at YouthTalks, the annual flagship event of World Bank Group Youth to Youth (Y2Y), a community of young World Bank Group staff who aim to channel fresh ideas into the Bank's operations while empowering youth in development.

I spoke about how the World Bank engages with youth, the largest demographic in the world right now. In an auditorium at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., young professionals, recent graduates, and college students were eager to find out how the Bank is helping and working with them. As a young person from a developing country, I could relate to their challenges and frustrations.

To end poverty by 2030, helping youth reach their potential will be instrumental.

We know that Africa and South Asia have the highest concentration of youth.

"India must take advantage of having a young population. Never doubt the possibilities for this country," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to youth when he visited India in March. He asked them to build a company like Infosys and lift people out of poverty. While visiting Romania last month, Kim asked world leaders to invest in education to spur future economic growth.

Investing in youth and working with them is imperative because 43% of the world's population is 25 years or younger, and young people are shaping the present and future.

Africa alone has more than 200 million people ages 15 through 24. When I spoke with Shantayanan Devarajan, chief economist for the World Bank's Africa region at the time in February, he told me, "Africa is the youngest continent. The current youth of Africa are not only important for Africa but also for the world." When he interacted with Ghanaian youth via Google+ Hangout on Feb. 15 to talk about economic development, he told the online audience that "youth are doing a tremendous amount on their own."

That's true.

That's why the Bank is funding numerous projects to help youth use their passion and make social change. From helping to fight corruption globally to tackling sanitation issues in Pakistan to bringing them together to help fight violence against women in Latin America or South Asia, the Bank is working with youth worldwide to face global challenges while strengthening their prospects for the future.

The World Bank Group relentlessly engages with youth across the globe. On a daily basis, we use social media to engage, inform, and inspire youth in more than 100 countries and in over 10 languages. Overall, we engage with more than a million people via social media; 80% of them are from developing countries, and their typical age is 24. We know they are outspoken and educated and they care about good governance, jobs, education, clean water, and clean air. We know that the future youth want can only be achieved by engaging with them.

We also know that we could engage even better. Tell us in the comments what we could do to improve.

This post originally appeared in YouThink! - the World Bank's online space for youth to learn and discuss development topics. Follow YouThink! on Twitter.