The Global Youth Development Index and Report, an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat. ranks Britain as 4th overall in youth development out of 183 countries. The survey is a comprehensive study of multiple data sets covering 18 indicators, including literacy, mental disorder rates, political inclusion and voter engagement. The five domains of the study are education, health and well-being, employment and opportunity, political participation and civic participation.
The Commonwealth describes youth development as “enhancing the status of young people to build on their competencies and capabilities for life. It will enable them to contribute to and benefit from a politically stable, economically viable, and legally supportive environment, ensuring their full participation as active citizens in their countries.”
The Youth Development Index (YDI) highlights specific areas where countries can improve on the development of their youth. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland detailed the importance of the index.
“It brings together vital data on young people for analysis and to guide policies and projects for youth development in every country. The YDI and this report track the story of youth development in great detail. By showing where progress is being made, and also where it isn’t, they identify areas that require attention and investment.”
At a global level, civic participation and political participation recorded the largest improvements between 2010 and 2015. For Britain, these were its two highest ranking domains.
Angela Crawley, Member of Parliament (MP) of Lanark and Hamilton East, UK, stated, “Young people deserve to have their voices heard loudly and clearly. It is time all institutions of power recognise the value that young people can bring to elected office. We may be young, but we are engaged, and our eyes are wide open to the challenges and the much needed changes that can be made”.
There are continued efforts to encourage civic participation in Britain. Most recently, the government has established a new unit – The Inclusive Economy Unit within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – to encourage social investment and participation. The unit will work to support markets that prioritise social developments, financial prosperity and positively impact public services and social responsibility. The unit will collaborate with government institutions, civil society and businesses to improve opportunities for all.
Secretary-General Scotland highlighted the important role of young people in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The healthier and more skilled our [young people] are, and the more they play a recognised role in our societies, the more opportunities and freedom they will have to fulfil their aspirations and talents, and the more likely it becomes that we will succeed in achieving the SDGs by 2030”.
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