Adopted by the General Assembly in 1995, the World Programme of Action for Youth provides the policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the well-being of young people around the world. Member States have repeatedly requested the United Nations system to continue its coordination towards a more coherent, comprehensive and integrated approach to youth development, most recently in General Assembly resolution 68/130.

A United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP) was endorsed by CEB at its first regular session in April 2013. It provides a policy framework and guidelines for joint action by the UN system in five priority areas, including employment and entrepreneurship.  At its 28th session in October 2014, the High-level Committee on Programmes determined that the unprecedented employment challenges continuing to face young women and men following the 2008 financial crisis warranted focused attention on this aspect of the broader set of youth issues, and agreed to establish a time-bound task team on youth employment under the leadership of the International Labour Organization. This task team is to develop a proposal for a global UN system initiative on youth employment to foster system-wide cooperation, strengthen policy coherence and coordination, mobilize and engage external partners, and enhance linkages between normative and operational aspects of UN efforts for improved programming and delivery. The Initiative will build on the Youth-SWAP with a view to expanding joint action in response to the youth employment challenge, particularly at country level.