Youth are joining together to address shared challenges, including gender inequality, world hunger, social injustice, and climate change.
The 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum provided many examples of what happens when youth lead the way in partnerships from the initial planning stages to the final phase.
By Feliciaa Baldner
As the global pandemic affected the world in various ways and hindered many initiatives, the world’s youth have not slowed down. On the contrary, they have joined together to address shared challenges, including gender inequality, world hunger, social injustice, and climate change.
The 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum was a testimonial to this fact. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum is an annual initiative that has evolved into a critical platform where young people can contribute to various discussions at the United Nations through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. It is a place where they can integrate their viewpoints into action for change, such as sharing how they believe Covid-19 recovery plans should be structured. Furthermore, the ECOSOC Forum provides a space of inclusion by offering interpretation in the following languages: English, French, Swahili, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.
Regardless of the Forum being virtual this year, youth worldwide shared their thoughts and opinions with world leaders to be engaged in decision-making processes. From young females in STEM to youth advocates targeting climate change, the numerous sessions and panels were configurated of youth representatives from diverse backgrounds with strong-minded goals.
These individuals were not complacent with the status quo. They kept striving for change; whether it was proposing policy changes to ensure the inclusion of marginalized groups or aiding in making education programs further accessible for students in rural areas, they were passionate about the possibilities for change and the need to act now.
A session that stood out to me was titled, “Harnessing Partnerships, Resources and Science: Working Together to Get things Done.” It was the perfect meeting for youth looking at establishing their own foundation, organizing an event or fundraiser, or simply wanting to take their initiatives and ideas forward.
This conference revolved around youth collaboration and efficiently using your resources to focus on SDG 17. This Sustainable Development Goal emphasizes shared responsibility and asks everyone to participate in a global partnership to achieve all the goals on the 2030 Agenda. This session was on getting started at any level and innovating an idea or inkling into global change. Six speakers from different sectors illustrated how they carried out their mission by fostering innovative or unique partnerships and advocating for their causes through means such as social media. Topics such as taking the critical steps to form an effective partnership and using that relationship to empower young people to contribute to the SDGs were discussed.
I appreciated that the speakers stated that all young people could collaborate based on their expertise and employ their strengths towards their chosen initiative. The session also outlined the responsibilities within a partnership, which comprise but are not limited to: personal and team management philosophies, marketing and business strategies, and financial goals. This conversation highlighted that it is necessary to give youth spaces and to meaningfully engage them in intergenerational dialogue. An example of a youth campaign that began during the onset of the pandemic was brought up. This campaign was developed and led by youth who did not shy away from stigmatized issues such as mental health, especially during the pandemic, and received positive results from their peers and community members.
The 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum provided many examples of what happens when youth lead the way in partnerships from the initial planning stages to the final phase. As a young individual, I was inspired to join my peers and take action. As a citizen of the world, I was also glad to see that the leaders of the future are already taking action.
This article was written by Feliciaa Baldner, Kelvin High School, Winnipeg, Canada.