12 August 2021

International Youth Day: Launching the Youth Recovery Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives. Yet, even before the onset of the crisis, the social and economic integration of young people was an ongoing challenge. Despite extreme circumstances, young people are fighting converging crises and reimagining a better future.

In 2020, the Global Shapers Community launched the Davos Lab to understand the changing views and expectations of the next generation on society, government and business. Shapers in more than 100 countries hosted 350 local dialogues and mobilized thousands of survey responses to shape a youth-driven recovery plan to address the world's converging crises.

To mark International Youth Day 2021, Global Shapers launch the Youth Recovery Plan featuring the insights and ideas of more than 2 million people. It features 6 principles for youth activism and 40 recommendations for a more equitable post-COVID-19 world.

Millennial Manifesto

The Millennial Manifesto is the world’s first attempt at redefining the parameters and efficacy of youth activism in a post-COVID world marked by greater examples of systemic inequalities. Global Shapers generated six principles to guide their actions and activism for a more inclusive post-pandemic future.

Uprooting systemic problems are particularly difficult for young people wrestling with challenges related to experience and credibility. The Millennial Manifesto acts as a guide providing timeless principles to sharpen their activism.

—Wadia Ait Hamza, Head of the Global Shapers Community

Youth Recovery Plan Highlights

The plan calls for stricter environmental policies, financial safeguards, increased access to technology and investment in programmes to support more young people getting into politics. These ideas from future global leaders are poised to become the “next normal”.

I am inspired by the countless examples of young people pursuing collective action by bringing together diverse voices to care for their communities. From providing humanitarian assistance to refugees to helping those most affected by the pandemic to driving local climate action, their examples provide the blueprints we need to build the more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable society and economy we need in the post-COVID-19 world.

—Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

In line with the UN IPCC Report, young people want a halt on all new coal, oil and gas exploration and development to limit global warming to the 1.5°C limit set out in the Paris Agreement. They call on financial institutions to avoid bankrolling or underwriting companies that seek to start new fossil-fuel exploration and development, and on firms to actively replace corporate board directors who are unwilling to wind down fossil fuels or transition to green energy sources.

They are also extremely worried about their financial future. They want to see a global wealth tax on assets worth more than $50 million to safeguard social safety nets and avoid austerity measures that disproportionately burden youth and the working poor. Almost half of the young people surveyed said they feel inadequately skilled and close to a quarter said they would risk falling into debt if faced with an unexpected medical expense.

Young people champion an open internet but are concerned about misuse. Half of the world’s population still lacks access to the web and many contend with internet blackouts. A $2 trillion digital access plan is recommended to close the gap, especially in a socially distancing world that increasingly relies on virtual interactions.

Young people believe we have a serious crisis in politics. They believe that the fractures that have come to bear in society are manifestations of an underlying political problem. Concerns about corruption and stale political leadership have become urgent priorities for young people if they are to keep faith in the political system. The survey found that young people would be more likely to trust a system run by artificial intelligence than humans. To fix the problem, they are calling for greater investment in programmes that help young progressive voices join government and become influential policy-makers.

The Davos Lab Survey shows that physical safety ranks as the greatest safety concern among young people, a potential function of the increased use of surveillance technology and militarized policing against activists and people of colour.

We need a society, economy and international community designed to care for all people, especially youth, who are the most important and most affected part of our global future. They are also the people who have the most innovative ideas and energy to shape a better world.

—Wadia Ait Hamza, Head of the Global Shapers Community

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Special thanks

A dedicated taskforce of Global Shapers and Alumni led the design and delivery of the Davos Lab and Youth Recovery Plan.

Special thanks go to our external collaborators: Impactscool, Realize Hub, U-Report UNICEF and the team at Catalyst 2030.

Many Global Shapers contributed to the Millennial Manifesto, survey translations and our communications plan. Find the full list of contributors in the report.