Today, August 12, we join the world in celebrating International Youth Day and honoring young people everywhere who act for progress, peace and prosperity.  In his video message commemorating IYD 2012, Administrator Raj Shah reminds us all that “with vision and passion, youth serve as vital change-agents in their communities and countries.”

As a global community, we face great shared challenges – poverty and unemployment, conflict, disease, climate change. With more than half the world’s population under the age of thirty, we know young people must be part of the solution.  This year, the UN themed this day “Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth.”  At USAID, we recognize that our success will come only if we harness the energy, talent, and opportunity in youth through innovation, participation and partnership.  In fact our forthcoming first-ever policy on youth issues is deliberately entitled “Youth In Development” to signal our commitment to young people as our partners and leaders.  Through our Development Innovation Ventures platform, we recently created a dedicated window for young innovators at home and abroad to bring us their ideas.

In addition to their ongoing activities to engage, support, and prepare young people, USAID Missions in all corners are marking International Youth Day with special events and activities.  In Jordan for example, youth gathered with USAID staff in Zai National Park for community service, learning, arts, and citizenship activities. In Kosovo, USAID officials joined the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports for a round table discussion with Kosovar youth that will inform the national government’s Youth Strategy, as well as our own Young Entrepreneurs Program.

While the sun will set on this IYD 2012, the spirit of partnership with and for youth will endure in our ongoing programs, policies, and dialogue.  Follow and engage with us at Youth Impact, on Facebook, and on Twitter using #USAIDYouth.

Dr. Nicole Goldin is Senior Advisor for Policy and Chairs the Agency’s Youth Policy Task Team