Trends in poverty rates vary across regions, with big declines in Asia but an increase in poverty in Africa.
In the panel’s view, the successful achievement by 2015 of many of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals will require that policy makers center their attention on adolescents (see Box 1-1).
They are also the first generation to grow up in a world in which there has always been AIDS and, at least in some parts of the developing world, the first generation with nearly universal knowledge of and access to some form of contraception.
This is the first generation to be covered during their childhood by the broad protections internationally recognized in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted in 1991) and supported, in many diverse local contexts, by the work of many international agencies as well as international, national, and local nongovernmental organizations.
However, that promise cannot be realized without certain legal rights and protections and supportive institutions, including good schools, a sufficient number of remunerative and satisfying jobs, the opportunity for community participation and political voice, the absence of discrimination, good nutrition and health, access to health services, and, for women, a choice about freedom from premature marriage and childbearing.
Barriers to mobility have lessened due to reduced costs of transportation and increasingly available means of transportation at the same time that greater access to information conveys news of a wider range of geographic opportunities for schooling, jobs, and marriage partners.
Adolescents and young adults whose lives are affected by these changes can be beneficiaries when they are prepared for them but can also bear their scars if they are not.
Those who do not feel the immediate impact of these changes will nonetheless be affected indirectly as the overall pace and pervasiveness of change continue to accelerate.
These broad statements capture only the average tendencies for young people in developing countries.
At the same time that young people everywhere are becoming part of a more integrated world, at least some people in every country are experiencing transitions to adulthood that increasingly resemble those that are typical of young people in developed countries.