More than 50 percent of the world's population is younger than 30. This demographic is a potential driver of economic and social progress. It is also a potential challenge to stability and security. To play positive roles, young people must be informed, active participants in their societies--economically, civically, politically, and socially. The Office of Global Youth Issues leads the U.S. Department of State’s efforts on this front. As the Department of State conducts diplomacy in a transforming world, we encourage young people to play an important role in the decisions that affect them. By engaging youth as partners and listening to their ideas, concerns, and aspirations, we can empower young people to become changemakers.

Around the world, U.S. Embassies and consulates are establishing Youth Councils as a mechanism to partner with emerging young leaders to address our shared challenges. From Brasilia to Baghdad and Stockholm to Suva, diverse cross-sections of local youth--including students, innovators, civil society members, artists, and government representatives--are applying their entrepreneurial spirit by collaborating to create youth-led responses to concerns they face in their communities. They also provide U.S. diplomats with their honest perspectives on some of the major issues of the day, from the economy to elections. In December 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched the 50th Youth Council in Dublin, Ireland, a milestone that highlighted these councils as important channels of communication between young leaders and U.S. policymakers.

The 65 Youth Councils in existence are fora for informing policy discussions and U.S. diplomatic missions’ programming. Youth Council members drive the development of their own action plans on topics such as youth employment, civic and political engagement, conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, civilian security, and education by identifying issues and concerns that resonate with their peers and the local community. Full Text»