The international development community has been paying increased attention to the world’s young people and a number of funders are jumping on board to help the global youth population. The Clinton Global Initiative even named investing in youth as one of its major areas of focus at its recent Middle East and Africa Meeting. The meeting resulted in nearly 30 new commitments to action, with half of those commitments dedicated to the youth population.
So far, the overwhelming majority of funders—like Coca-Cola Africa and The MasterCard Foundation—have focused their collective attentions on offering training, education, and skills building programs in an effort to help young people find jobs. This is an especially important undertaking in Africa, where some 60 percent of the continent’s young people are unemployed. However, youth unemployment isn’t just about economic security and development; it’s a global security issue as well.
According to an article in the Harvard International Review, “...widespread unemployment among disaffected youth has fueled extremism, piracy, political instability, and poverty.” Disaffected and disenfranchised young people are more susceptible to falling prey to recruiters of militant, terrorist, and extremist groups. A number of countries with large youth populations are experiencing notable increases in violence and crime, which further fuels political and civil unrest. These political and social disruptions are widespread, but very few funders are paying attention.
One funder that is tuned in to how the global youth bulge affects security is the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Among other things, Carnegie worries that many national policymakers in the developing world just don’t understand the youth populations of their countries. How can you mount a preemptive bid to curb the number of young people turning to extremist groups if you don’t understand the population as a whole?
Carnegie recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Salzburg Global Seminar to come up with a blueprint and intervention strategy addressing the global security and peace implications presented by the global youth population. The hope here is to lay out and implement a plan that will inform policymakers to help them encourage their country’s respective youth populations to channel their energies in a positive and constructive manner.
The Salzburg grant is pretty representative of Carnegie’s wide-ranging International Peace & Security program, which addresses ways to end war, prevent conflict, and promote global peace. The Salzburg grant was awarded out of the International Peace & Security’s subprogram, Global Dynamics, which funds studies on significant changes within certain societies that display the possibility of serious civil disruption and political unrest.