1 February 2018
ECOSOC Forum Calls on Youth to Accelerate SDG Action
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The seventh annual ECOSOC Youth Forum opened on 30 January 2018, on the theme, ‘The role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities'.

UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak said he has prioritized the engagement of young people in his 2018 events, and that he will convene a Youth Dialogue in May 2018.

31 January 2018: Opening the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, high-level officials stressed the importance of young people’s engagement in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Miroslav Lajcak said the youth dialogue he will convene in May 2018 will take forward many of the discussions and ideas arising from the ECOSOC Youth Forum.

The seventh annual Youth Forum convenes 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. During the opening session, Lajcak, reported that there are still over 70 million unemployed young people worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). He said nearly 40% of young workers are living in poverty, and labor force participation of young women is nearly 17% lower than that of young men. He noted that he has prioritized the engagement of young people in events his office will organize in 2018, including a high-level event on water in March, a high-level meeting on sustaining peace in April, and an innovative financing meeting in June.

Marie Chatardová, ECOSOC President, said the world has 1.8 billion young people, which is the largest youth generation the world has ever seen. She remarked that youth are critical in driving innovation and consumption choices for the SDGs, and highlighted the need to engage youth in policies and decisions. Noting that the Forum is the “biggest gathering of young people at the UN,” she called on youth to use the Forum to build strong networks and to plan innovative ideas to accelerate action towards the SDGs.

Youth do not want to be forever sidelined in other rooms, have their problems labeled as “youth” problems, or their solutions characterized as “exceptional accomplishments.”

Salina Abraham, President, International Forestry Students’ Association, outlined the importance of breaking down the divisions across sectors and ages. She added that youth do not want to be forever sidelined in other rooms, have their problems labeled as “youth” problems or their solutions characterized as “exceptional accomplishments.”

Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary‐General, called on youth and youth ministers to “make noise” in order to highlight the importance of youth engagement at the national level. She indicated that the average age of UN employees is 42 years old, and the current UN reform process is considering ways to become a “younger UN.”

Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, called for “breaking down the doors” to expand youth participation across UN discussions. She also remarked that the ECOSOC Youth Forum is the only forum that brings young people and youth ministers together, and the only one where youth ministers come together to deliberate on the 2030 Agenda.

In addition to the high-level opening segment, the Forum’s agenda also includes: roundtables on the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities, and means of implementation and financing youth development; a breakout session on each SDGs to be reviewed in depth at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF); and breakout sessions on regional concerns and priorities for meaningful youth participation in SDG implementation.

An informal summary of proceedings from the ECOSOC President and a summary document capturing key discussion outcomes should be made available to 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.’ It will review progress on SDGs 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). [Meeting Webpage] [Meeting Webcast] [UNGA President Opening Remarks] [UN Press Release on ECOSOC Youth Forum] [DESA News on Forum] [UN Press Release on Forum Opening] [UN Summary of First Day of Forum] [UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Remarks ahead of Forum] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]

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