Shaping future innovators

“Empowering young people is crucial. Half the world is under 25 years of age. Young women and men everywhere want decent jobs. They want dignity. They want a greater say in their own destiny,” said the UN Secretary-General recently. Aimed at leveraging the potentials of youth, ECOSOC is arranging a Youth Forum on 27 March. “Innovate Your Future”, a major online campaign, is also launched today.

The number of young people in the world has never been higher with 1.2 billion being between the ages of 15 and 24. As a group, they are among those most affected by the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world today. Looking beyond these serious hurdles, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) aims to spotlight the possibilities available for the world’s youth to harness.

Science, technology, innovation (STI) and culture have the power to transform and improve societies. They propel and sustain development efforts by generating knowledge as well as technological and social innovations that meet the demands of nations across the globe.

In July 2013, UN Member States, policy-makers, civil society, academia and private sector representatives will meet in Geneva for ECOSOC’s high-level segment. “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs” will be the main theme for the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) this year.

To bring the voices of youth into these important discussions and to engage young people on how STI and culture can facilitate change, ECOSOC is gathering youth representatives, young corporate leaders and opinion leaders for a Youth Forum Event on 27 March. Arranged under the theme “Shaping tomorrow’s innovators: Leveraging science, technology, innovation and culture for today’s youth”, the event intends to bring attention to the potential of young men and women as problem-solvers, innovators and actors for development.

Innovating the future

The Youth Forum will highlight a range of topics including on girls and young women in science; youth as an engine for creative economy; and using social media to make ideas happen. Besides Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio and DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, other prominent speakers will include Hashem Bajwa, CEO of DE-DE, Matt Mahan, CEO of Causes.com, Mandë Holford, Co-founder of the World Association of Young Scientists, Internet activist and computer engineer Wael Ghonim and Mashable.com’s Chief Marketing Officer Stacy Martinet.

The event will also welcome to the podium 15-year-old Adora Svitak, an internationally published author, teacher, speaker, activist and World Food Programme youth representative. Ms. Svitak will set the stage for the day, following the opening remarks by the Secretary-General, who not long ago also underscored the importance of stepping up efforts for young people, saying “we must support them. And for that, we must step up our efforts. I strongly believe the priorities of youth should be just as prominent in our meeting space as they are in cyberspace.”

Ahead of next week’s event, ECOSOC, DESA and DPI are launching a social media campaign today – “Innovate Your Future” – asking youth to share their ideas and thoughts on how science, technology, innovation and culture can help shape a sustainable world. With the purpose of collecting comments and ideas from all over the world, a forum page has just been launched on the ECOSOC Facebook page: http://bit.ly/InnovateYourFuture

In addition to this forum on Facebook, several online and offline events are planned as part of this campaign, which will culminate in a Thunderclap on 1 July when world leaders gather in Geneva for the annual ECOSOC meeting. More details on this campaign and on the Thunderclap initiative will be made available on the Youth Forum event page after 27 March.

“I very much look forward to this event, to meet and be inspired by the voices of young people as they share their ideas for the future we want,” said ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio.

For more information:

ECOSOC Youth Forum: “Shaping tomorrow’s innovators: Leveraging science, technology, innovation and culture for today’s youth”

ECOSOC Facebook forum: http://bit.ly/InnovateYourFuture

ECOSOC on Twitter: https://twitter.com/unecosoc

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