Youth highlighted the importance of investing in children and youth as cross-cutting priority, the need for disaggregated data to show spending on youth priorities, and the necessity of involving young people in partnerships including, public-private partnerships.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, expressed hope that the HLPF Ministerial Declaration will recognize the contribution of the ECOSOC Youth Forum and make it a formal part of ECOSOC.
31 January 2018: Participants at the 2018 UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum called for engaging youth in monitoring and implementing the SDGs, including through countries’ voluntary national reviews (VNRs), using more accessible language on the SDGs, and fostering development of skills that are relevant to the future of work, among other priorities.
The seventh annual Youth Forum took place from 30-31 January 2018, in New York, US, on the theme ‘The role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities,’ and focused on youth’s contribution to the implementation of the SDGs. Participants also called for providing sufficient space for youth participation in decision-making processes related to youth’s life and their future, and providing capacity building and peace building programmes for youth.
After a high-level opening segment, the Forum consisted of: roundtables on the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities, and means of implementation (MOI) and financing youth development; a breakout session on regional concerns and priorities for youth participation in SDG implementation; and breakout sessions on each of the SDGs to be reviewed in depth at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). These SDGs are: 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 15 (life on land) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).
The roundtable on the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities featured several Youth Ministers. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) noted that her country has launched youth councils to connect young people to decision-makers at all levels of government and Youth Circles to shape innovative solutions for global challenges, while preparing a Youth Empowerment Strategy. Cameroon said his country has a Youth Parliament and will host an International Festival of Youth on the SDGs in February 2018. Cyprus adopted a National Youth Strategy that includes the SDGs and targets at its core, with young people and other stakeholders being involved in its preparation. Bulgaria, as the current President of the EU Council, announced the EU Youth Conference in April 2018, adding that it is in the process of developing a youth strategy. Ukraine said it has a Pact for Youth 2020 that seeks to create partnerships between the business and education sectors to facilitate young people’s employment.
Participants in the roundtable on MOI and financing youth development highlighted: the importance of investing in children and youth as cross-cutting priority; the need for gender- and age-disaggregated data to show spending on youth priorities; and the necessity of involving young people in partnerships including, public-private partnerships (PPPs).
In the breakout session on SDG 6, youth participants stressed the need to be involved in providing support to communities for creating water-related mechanisms. They highlighted the importance of education, as knowledge empowers action on a local scale. Participants also addressed the need to put pressure on businesses, as consumers, to adopt a triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial).
Youth participating in the breakout session on SDG 7 underlined the need to actively promote the benefits of the Goal, as well as to ensure that youth are presented with job opportunities in the renewable energy sector. During the breakout session on SDG 11, participants noted the need for affordable housing for youth and for access to mechanisms for reporting on gender-based violence. They also discussed ways to increase youth political participation in the decision-making processes.
Participants in the breakout session on SDG 12 called for “building bridges” between those who produce and waste food and those who need that food, as well as between the rural and urban communities. They also discussed the need for finding the right mix of incentives and regulations for SCP. Other issues addressed by the breakout session included: ways to use technology to allocate the food more efficiently to reduce both waste and hunger; reforming education systems to transition from knowledge-based education to an education that allows innovation from a young age; and facilitating youth participation in the discussions on monitoring trade.
During the breakout session on SDG 15, youth emphasized the importance of local knowledge and of both formal and informal education for protecting the environment. Other ways envisioned as essential for engaging youth included creating jobs around SDG 15-related issues and increasing consumers’ awareness. Youth participating in the breakout session on SDG 17 underscored the need for ensuring quality and affordable access to knowledge on science, technology and innovation (STI) for youth, as well as for fostering skills development.
During a session on regional concerns and priorities for youth participation in the SDGs implementation, participants outlined, on Africa, that there is not enough political will and commitment to fight corruption on the continent, and expressed commitment to ensure greater use of advanced technologies. Gogontlejang Phaladi, Founder and Executive Director, the Gogontlejang Phaladi Pillar of Hope Project, Botswana, remarked that youth representatives at the ECOSOC Youth Forum will report back to their government and “refuse to be silenced” for decisions to be made for and about youth.
Delegates recommended that governments lower the age at which young people can run for office.
On Europe, North America and other States, delegates recommended that governments lower the age at which young people can run for office, and engage young people on decisions related to the 2030 Agenda. Luis Alvarado Martinez, President, European Youth Forum, announced that a Youth Progress Index, seeking to measure the quality of life of young people, which will be launched in 2018.
On Latin America and the Caribbean, participants noted the importance of entrepreneurship. They called for: ensuring access to the labor market; for avoiding youth involvement in drug trafficking; and reducing inequality. On Asia and the Pacific, youth representatives and other stakeholders outlined the need for more local solutions, action at the grassroots level, and embracing resilience through partnerships. On the Arab States region, delegates asked the UN to continue working with governments to ensure youth engagement on processes related to refugees and development.
During an interactive roundtable on MOI, Paraguay said the President appointed several 26-year old ministers, in line with his priorities to empower youth to design policies and innovate at all levels. Indonesia announced the launch of the national SDGs Youth Hub, which will be a hub for knowledge exchange, collaboration and partnerships between stakeholders. Nepal highlighted the need for youth-focused budgeting. Senegal said the government is investing 42% of its national budget in education. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN Habitat, announced the establishment of a global network of urban youth councils aimed to support youth in contributing to global decision making.
During the closing session, Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, announced that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will publish a Youth and the New Development Agenda report in 2018. Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, expressed hope that the HLPF Ministerial Declaration will recognize the contribution of the ECOSOC Youth Forum, and also make it a formal part of ECOSOC.
The outcomes of the Forum will be an informal summary of proceedings from the ECOSOC President and a summary document capturing key discussion outcomes, which will feed into the 2018 session of the HLPF. The HLPF is scheduled to take place from 9-18 July 2018 on the theme, ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.’ [Meeting Webpage] [Meeting Webcast] [UN Summary of First Day of Forum] [UN Summary of Second Day of Forum] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Opening Segment] [UN Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]