NEW: DFID Youth Agenda

 In News

The UK brings young people to the forefront of its development work with the DFID Youth Agenda.

The Department of International Development (DFID)’s Youth Agenda, announced this month, takes into account everything we at PCI have advocated for more than three decades, and even includes some approaches and strategies that are new to us.

DFID’s current aid strategy focuses on global peace, security and governance, responses to crises, global prosperity and extreme poverty. Its new Youth Agenda recognises that none of these goals, nor the UN’s Global Goals, can be achieved without young people.

Young people, after all, make up 25% of the world’s population. The UNDP says 90% of all young people live in developing countries, and DFID notes that 42% live in countries where DFID works. Tragically, 75% of those young people living in developing countries are unemployed or in informal employment, and more than 500 million live on less than $2 a day.

Marginalised, young people can remain trapped in poverty spirals. But if young people are empowered, they can become the changemakers that can alter the course of their communities, countries and the world.

DFID’s Youth Agena will:

  • integrate young people into their programmes, enabling them to deliver programmes on the ground,
  • support their ability to influence and challenge the social norms of their communities, and
  • ensure they have a chance to get their voices heard by desionmakers, lobby governments to create and improve initiatives and have the access to information to do so.

We’ve heard these kinds of objectives before – the challenge is how to pull them off successfully. But DFID not only outlines its practical (and replicable) implementation plans, it’s altering its organisational structure to ensure they’re effectively incorporated.


A new Youth Team will work with policy teams and colleagues across the department, and partnerships with organisations from the development sector to the private sector will be built.

Youth-led research will fill an evidence base that looks into what approaches and programmes work and don’t work. And young leaders and those passionate about development will be supported and given the chance to participate in DFID’s work.

Abroad, DFID’s country offices will create Youth Advisory Panels and employ young staff (so keep your eyes open for graduate and internship schemes).

They will also review all their current and future programmes through a ‘youth lens’ to ensure they meet DFID’s Youth Agenda requirements. Finally, these local offices will work with young people directly by creating opportunities for them to participate in DFID’s projects.

So what are the elements of this Youth Agenda that are new to us here at PCI? The answer is DFID’s ‘lifestyle approach’, which understands young people less by age and more by the defining moments of their personal growth, from finding a job to becoming a parent.

The lifestyle approach means the Youth Agenda can be easily tailored to different cultures and contexts, giving DFID workers a better understanding of both a young person’s experience and their wider community.

This makes sense, as the more people are able to understand one another, the more we can work together to achieve peace and prosperity.

We’re excited to watch the progress of DFID’s new Youth Agenda. Having served on panels at the International Development Committee, we hope sharing of our decades of experience working with young people made a difference.

It would be a wonderful thing if frameworks like the Youth Agenda became standard procedure in development approaches across the world.

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