(February 2010) Investing in youth helps achieve the Millennium Development Goals, promotes gender equality, reduces child mortality, improves maternal health, and combats HIV/AIDS. Yet calls for appropriate programs, services, and funding have gone largely unanswered and many of the world’s 1.2 billion youth are at high risk of unplanned pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections. PRB’s policy brief, “Investing in Youth for National Development,” considers the demographic significance of youth to national development and why policymakers need to pay attention to the reproductive health needs of youth. It examines the evidence that these three types of programs contribute to healthy youth, including examples from field-based success stories. Finally, it provides recommendations to advance policy and advocacy efforts to respond to the needs of youth as part of national health and development goals.

In this interview, James Gribble, vice president of International Programs at PRB and author of the brief, explains why investing in reproductive health for youth is critical to economic development, what types of programs have proven effective to address the reproductive health needs of youth, and what policies need to be put into place to strengthen outreach to youth.