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Supporting Youth Engagement, Participation and Social Innovations in Southern Africa

Young people between the ages of 16 and 35 account for the majority in Africa, and the United Nations projects that by 2030 the youth population would have grown by at least 42 percent. This makes the continent the youngest in the world, opening considerable scope for Africa, including the SADC region, to harness youth’s contribution to the achievement of the Agenda 2030. For this to happen, measures need to be taken to promote youth’s civic engagement and participation, and to tap into their social innovations. 

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) and the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) are calling for partnerships and funding in support of two flagship initiatives they are eager to roll out in close partnership with youth organisations in the SADC countries – AfriNet – “Giving Voice to the SDG Generation. Engaging Young Women and Men as Partners for Development in Southern Africa”; and Harnessing Social Innovations for Youth Development and Transformation in Southern Africa. 

Access project summaries here.

In Southern Africa countries, many youth organizations are leading a wide array of new social practices that aim to meet social needs in a better way than the existing solutions, resulting from, for instance, new working conditions, education constraints, or challenges in community development or health. The tensions between a favourable innovation climate and extreme social challenges, especially for youth, create an environment where many innovation opportunities have an implicit social impact. These social innovations include new products, services, models and practices that involve new social collaboration, make use of the ICTs, and at the end of the day modify the way citizens engage with their communities. 

UNESCO and SARDC aim to highlight and promote the unique and substantial contribution of youth in the SADC development context, especially in the Decade of Action towards 2030. To do so, the two institutions have worked hand in hand with youth organisations in the region to document the experiences, share and incubate ideas, broaden institutional partnerships, and ultimately scale up youth-led initiatives as a system-wide contribution to sustainable development. 

How Can you Engage? 

From January to March 2021, an online campaign is being conducted with the partnering youth organizations and networks, in order to rally for wide partnerships with national, regional and international development institutions. 

We are ready and eager to engage and team up with you. Your partnership is what we need. Your ideas, energy, and innovation power is what the world needs.

Prof. Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa

Engage in sharing the videos of the campaign with your networks using the hashtags below, attend the UNESCO/SARDC Webinar on Youth Social Innovation that will be announced in the course of the campaign, and reach out to us for more dialogue and exchanges on possible avenues of collaboration!



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