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youth Youth and Land

Today, the world is home to more than 1.2 billion youth; the largest number of young people to ever to have existed. These youth live, by and large, in cities and towns. In developing countries, cities account for over 90 per cent of the world's urban growth and youth account for a large percentage of those inhabitants. It is estimated that as many as 60 per cent of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18 by 2030.

It is evident therefore, that this urban "youth bulge" represents both a challenge as well as an untapped potential in moving land rights and tenure security agenda forward. Youth are increasingly mobile, social and creative in a rapidly transforming world. This means that the needs and attitudes toward land are changing too. High rates of youth unemployment linked to high levels of landlessness suggest a close correlation with youth poverty and access to land. Understanding the needs, experiences and perspectives of youth in relation to land is a precondition to strengthening youth and land interventions. It is also critical to appreciate existing research and policy as well as the gaps with regard to youth and land.


Land is not an "adult-only" issue

Youth is a transient phase and young people's relationship to land must be addressed in this light. Land is a limited and valued commodity which youth are often expected to access through adults, or wait for until they are 'old enough'. It is a resource base for basic human rights such as food, shelter and prosperity. Youth are also one of the preeminent users of public space; space which they often have little say over with regard to its development or usage.

Owing to the value attached to land in societies, it has often been guarded as an area where only adults can participate and influence. Land has more than a material or utilitarian aspect for youth. For many, their relationship with land is intertwined with their pursuit of identity, community and cultural expression. The socio-cultural meaning of land varies across the diverse categories of youth. It has different meanings to a young man or woman; if it is customary or indigenous land it is imbued with sacred or cultural dimensions and land means fundamentally different things to the young farmer, pastoralist or urban dweller. Youth is one of the largest demographics within numerous if not all vulnerable groups such as refugees, widows, street families, HIV positive and orphans.

Through a series of consultations1 and the global scoping study, Towards a Youth Agenda for GLTN, a knowledge base and gaps has been identified. There is a clear need for research on the youth dimensions of land, and a need to document youth-led strategies that identify and address land related concerns. In response to these gaps, GLTN and its partners have initiated a project that aims to build a solid knowledge base and develop tools for improving the youth responsiveness of land policies and processes.

Turning the growing awareness and knowledge around youth's engagement with land processes into appropriate response to youth's land related concerns is central for GLTN and the youth agenda. These tools and approaches are being developed through inclusive and participatory approaches to enable specific needs of young men and women to be captured appropriately.

Global Land Tool Network is committed to engaging with youth to identify the expression of youth needs and rights to land in order to support policy makers, land professionals and civil society to better improve the youth responsiveness of land tools.



  1.  How responsive is your land programme to the needs of youth? - (Eng 2015)
  2. Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria - Brief (ENG - 2015)
  3. UN-Habitat and GLTN Youth-Led Action Research on Land Commencement Workshop Report (Eng - 2013)
  4. What Land means to youth (Eng - 2013)
  5. Youth events at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2014 and World Urban Forum 2014 (Eng - 2013)

To get more information on Youth and Land or learn how you can engage in the tool development process, please contact our Youth Focal Point, Isidora.MarkicevicThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • 1Expert Group Meeting Oslo 01.2012,
  • Youth 21 meeting, Nairobi 03.2012,
  • Youth Assembly at World Urban Forum Naples 09.2012,
  • Youth and Land workshop, Casablanca 12.2012,
  • Youth events at WB and WUF 2014

Contact Info:

Location: Gigiri, UN Complex
Office: NOF South Wing Block 3
Telephone: +254 207623858
Email: gltn[at]

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