Closing 2016 Youth Forum, senior UN official says young people key to new sustainability agenda

President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Oh Joon. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

2 February 2016 – Marking the end of the two-day United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, the President of the 54-member body told hundreds of youth leaders that the event exceeded high expectations and that the time is now for young people to get behind global efforts to ensure sustainable development for all.

“We should aim high and we have the potential to reach ambitious goals,” Oh Joon said at the Forum's closing ceremony. “What else have we learned? The challenges the youth is facing are real,” he said.

Mr. Oh listed unemployment, poverty, climate change, and inequality as issues needing to be addressed through “a cross-cutting and interconnected approach.”

“This being said, solutions exist and there is a need for an inspiring commitment by all stakeholders to drive the 2030 Agenda forward,” he stressed, referring to the new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all UN Member States last September.

This year's Youth Forum, an annual event taking place for the fifth time, focused on how young people can support the goals worldwide. ECOSOC's President underlined that youth will play an important role in advocating for the SDGs so that people all over the world know about them. “This is a prerequisite to ensure that nobody is left behind,” he declared.

Meanwhile, a key message that emerged from the forum was the recognition that young people are not only key actors in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but they are also directly affected by the challenges the SDGs seek to tackle.

“One of these challenges is the prevailing employment crisis young people face all across the globe,” said Mr. Oh, delivering ECOSOC's President Statement. “As President of the Economic and Social Council, I welcome the launch of the UN system's Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth by the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, at the opening of our Forum.”

The 54-member body also highlighted key messages and recommendations that emerged from the Forum. These included not just working for youth, but with youth to promote the SDGs; creating participatory and inclusive political processes for all the diverse voices of youth to be heard; creating not just jobs but decent jobs for young people; and enhancing the quality of education and training for them to meet today's labour market needs.

Mr. Oh also highlighted that the level of engagement during this year's Youth Forum has shown that young people are ready to act to implement the SDGs.

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