Almost 60% of the population in the southern Mediterranean region is currently under the age of 30, and the number of young people under the age of 15 is forecast to increase by over 18% by 2020. 2.8 million young people enter the job market each year in the region. With an average of about 30% youth unemployment and around 50% for young women, the region has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. In this context, the the Union for the Mediterranean embraces the celebration of International Youth Day on 12 August, under the theme “Youth Building Peace”, to underline the urgent need to enhance the untapped capacities of young people for the socio-economic development and stability of both shores of the Mediterranean.
Youth is at the core of the UfM’s regional strategy. Under the active leadership of the UfM Co-Presidency held by the EU and Jordan, the UfM offers a unique platform for regional cooperation based on common strategies that represent the commitment of its 43 Member States to a regional agenda for peace, stability, inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Responding to the challenge, the new action-oriented Roadmap of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is centred on young people’s potential to promote stability and development.
In concrete terms, over 15 regional cooperation projects are endorsed by the UfM to empower youth. The activities range from promoting entrepreneurship and access to finance to vocational training, employability, mobility and social engagement. Of the 200,000 beneficiaries directly targeted by UfM-labelled projects, more than 100,000 are young men and women.
In the words of UfM Secretary General, Fathallah Sijilmassi: “It is unfair to limit our region only to the negative dimensions. It would be an injustice to the millions of Mediterranean young people whose daily achievements are remarkable in so many fields. They are the very people, in the South and in the North, who represent the best assets and success stories of the region. They must be at the centre of a positive agenda for the Mediterranean.”
UfM flagship projects specifically targeting young people include: