AIYD Guiding Principles for Youth Development

The Guiding Principles for International Youth Development is the result of a collaborative effort by members of the Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD). The Guiding Principles reflect AIYD’s collective voice on effective practices for positive youth development across the sectors where we work.

Youth account for half of the world’s population (nearly 3 billion under the age of 30). Their enormous potential as leaders and innovators demands our support and significant investment. We must regard young people as assets and equal partners in addressing our world’s most pressing development challenges. In this context, youth development is about more than simply creating more skilled workers; asset-based approaches entail creating opportunities for young people that help them develop a sense of competence, purpose and empowerment.

The purpose of the Guiding Principles is two-fold. First, to establish a shared framework that better enables our community to critically reflect on our work as youth development practitioners and organizations. And second (and equally important), to advance the youth development sector by actively sharing knowledge, strategies and resources that support greater youth inclusion within, and across, development programs and policies.

No single organization can achieve these goals. Positive Youth Development by definition means that communities—entire societal systems—work together to include young people, and create a continuum of services and opportunities that enable them to grow into successful adults. This concept guides AIYD, and the Guiding Principles are our answer to that challenge.

How to Use the Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles are presented using the following categories:

  • Cross-Cutting Principles (e.g. gender, conflict, disability)
  • Youth Engagement
  • Youth & Learning
  • Youth & Economic Opportunity
  • Youth & Health

Each section includes a definition, several Guiding Principles, illustrative indicators for measuring progress, and a list of recommended resources. Several sections also highlight emerging areas of practice or research in youth development (e.g. adolescent brain development), or that provide a formal definition (e.g. gender-based violence).

As you read the Guiding Principles, keep the following in mind. First, the Guiding Principles are not standards—they do not provide a prescriptive or singular approach to youth development. The concepts illustrated here are drawn directly from our community’s experience working with youth programs in development settings around the world. They reflect collective wisdom, but also the need for a more nuanced understanding of the development needs of young people. Second, the Guiding Principles are not exhaustive; we regard the principles included here as a starting point for ongoing engagement by our members, colleagues and peers, policymakers and young people.

In the coming year, AIYD members will work together to strengthen and expand the Guiding Principles. We will consider how these principles apply to our own work, as well as some of the ways these principles can be adopted for more targeted youth advocacy messaging for different audiences and sectors. We will also host a number of external initiatives aimed at gathering a diverse array of perspectives to help inform the Guiding Principles. 

We invite you to join us. To learn more, contact (subject line Guiding Principles).