The 10-19 age group is a unique window of opportunity for well-being, health and development, through a person's life.
Yet globally, 1.1 million adolescents are dying each year from preventable causes. Millions more are suffering abuse, injury and ill health - or failing to reach their potential. During times of crisis, as with Covid-19, it’s worse.
In failing adolescents the whole of society is losing out. And we jeopardise efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
Young people themselves have joined forces with major international agencies, civil society and Governments to call for an accelerated global response.
We call for action on three priorities:
Engage adolescents in all legal, policy and programme processes that affect them, by:
Develop strong multisectoral, whole-of-government policy approaches that truly address adolescent health and well-being, by:
¹ This is in line with the objectives of ‘Youth2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy’ and the agenda to accelerate progress on the SDGs in the Decade of Action 2020-2030.
The UN H6+ Technical Working Group on Adolescent Health and Well-being, including representatives of PMNCH, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Major Group for Children and Youth, UN Women, World Bank, World Food Programme and WHO have developed an agreed Definition and Conceptual Framework for Adolescent Well-being.
As agreed by the young people and experts across the world, adolescent well-being is achieved when ‘Adolescents thrive and are able to achieve their full potential.’
It covers any and all issues in our lives. This includes good health (both physical and mental health!), nutrition, education, employability, connectedness, resilience, safety and security, protection from violence, which all contribute to our own well-being.
Academics, researchers, policy makers, programme implementers and young people have examined policy and programming implications related to adolescent health and well-being through a series of fifteen background papers. The fifteen background papers summarize the key policy and programming issues that must be addressed by programmes that aim to promote adolescent well-being.
To advance the adolescent well-being framework in policies and programmes, key partners are working towards a Global Forum for Adolescents in 2023. This aims to drive impact at the country level by serving as a commitment-making milestone for policy shifts, programme redesign and enhanced financial investments for adolescent programmes and services.
We are calling on donors, governments, UN agencies, civil society, academia, youth-led and youth-serving organizations to sign-on to the Call to Action.
To sign up, please click here.
#Adolescents2030 takes inspiration from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our ambition to achieve a better world for all. This is a social media campaign for adolescent well-being, driven by the Call to Action for Adolescents
The campaign aims to engage, mobilize and empower YOU to:
To find out more, please click here.
There are now 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide and this number will increase until 2050. Nearly nine out of ten adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries. The health and well-being of adolescents, now and in their adult lives, depend on their education, skill development, employability and access to high-quality health services. Adolescents also need a supportive environment that helps them to stay healthy and empowered, embrace gender equality norms and claim their rights.
Investment in adolescents delivers the “triple dividend”. This means improving health and well-being now, enhancing it throughout the life course and contributing to the health and well-being of future generations.
On top of this, a thriving adolescent population fuels economic growth helping to increase productivity, decrease health expenditure and reduce inequities across generations.
Every adolescent has the right to a safe environment – including the right to food, water, housing as well as physical security – and also the right to claim education, skills and competencies.
Also, every adolescent should have self-esteem, a sense of agency and be able to make meaningful choices. This includes the capacity for self-expression and self-direction appropriate to their evolving capacities and stage of development. Every adolescent should have the capability to be socially, culturally and civically active. And equipped to contribute to change and development in their own lives and communities.
Vital areas include: identity - feeling comfortable in your own self and with identity(s), including physical, cultural, social and sexual identity; purpose – every adolescent having a sense of purpose, desire to succeed and optimism about the future; resilience – being quipped to handle adversities both now and in the future, in a way that is appropriate to a young person’s evolving capacities and stage of development; and fulfilment - feeling that they are fulfilling their potential now and will be able to do so in the future.
Adolescents are entitled to information and services that meet all their needs. This includes information and services relating to noncommunicable diseases, injuries, healthy eating and nutrition, mental well-being, risks of tobacco and other substance abuse, physical activity, social support and the cultivation of healthy relationships. Provision of these should be consistent with adolescents’ evolving capacities, and free of stigma and discrimination, and should uphold their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
And adolescents face multiple barriers in accessing the knowledge, information, health-care services and commodities they need.
Most of their health and well-being issues are preventable or treatable, but appropriate care and services for adolescents are often either inadequate or absent. In addition, many service providers do not fully understand their needs. Age-specific challenges can be exacerbated by gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, location, education level, poverty, marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity, and migratory status, among other factors.
Adolescents have not benefited from the reduction in mortality seen in younger children. While deaths in children under five halved during the Millennium Development Goals period, reduction in adolescent mortality has stalled. Each year there are over 1.1 million adolescent deaths. Major contributors include road traffic injuries, suicide, interpersonal violence, HIV/AIDS and diarrhoeal diseases as well as ‘maternal conditions’ as a contributor to mortality for adolescent girls.
Achieving the SDGs including universal health coverage (SDG Target 3.8), requires keeping adolescents informed and healthy, so they can survive and thrive both now and in adulthood, as recognized in the United Nations Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. However, to fulfil the promises of the SDGs, further support and commitment are required to deliver for adolescents, especially those most at risk of being left behind.
² Sheehan P, Sweeny K, Rasmussen B, Wils A, et al. Building the foundations for sustainable development: a case for global investment in the capabilities of adolescents. Lancet 2017; 390: 1792–806.
American Academy of Pediatrics Child Health Initiative Fondation Botnar
GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children
Global Partnership for Education International Federation of Medical Students Associations
Inter-Parliamentary Union Mentor International NCD Alliance
Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health Population Council Plan International
Save the Children UNAIDS UNFPA UNICEF UN Major Group for Children and Youth
United for Global Mental Health UN Youth Envoy World Health Organization
Australia Belize Costa Rica India Jamaica
Kenya Mexico Morocco Netherlands
Oman Peru Portugal
Australia BelizeCosta Rica
India Jamaica Kenya
Mexico Morocco Netherlands
Oman Peru Portugal