Unlocking the potential of young people

Around the world today, young people are increasingly finding themselves being left behind, either because they are working for a low wage or because they are under- or unemployed. So how can the potential for this generation of young people be unlocked? This is where the Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Youth Forum comes in.

The sixth annual ECOSOC Youth Forum, held on 30 to 31 January 2017, will allow representatives of youth-led and youth-focused organizations and networks to initiate a dialogue with Member States. The sessions will feature SDG Youth Advocates, YouTubers and social media influencers and other young delegates. It will also include ministers, UN Youth Advocates, representatives from the Permanent Missions to the UN and many more.

The ultimate goal of the event is to explore ways and means of promoting youth development and engagement in a globalized society that is facing many challenges. One of these challenges is youth unemployment.

As more jobs continue to be lost to automation while wages remain stagnant or decrease, it becomes hard to deny the difficulties of youth unemployment. The Forum therefore takes place at a critical time in history— as the world struggles to respond to the negative effects of globalization. In fact, the international community is now witnessing a trend towards more widespread nationalism and isolation because of a global economy.

“You meet at a critical time for your future,” former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for the 2016 Youth Assembly. “Our objectives are ambitious but simple: a life of dignity, security and opportunity for all. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a tapestry of priorities for collective action for people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.”

The Forum will reflect the diversity of youth organizations. This includes balanced representation of youth from developed and developing countries, as well as ensuring representation from the rural, indigenous and the disabled community.

“To harness the power of young people, however, we must recognize the role of young people and their organizations, and encourage them to take action across all areas crucial for the implementation of the Agenda, including in politics, business, academia and civil society,” said ECOSOC President, Ambassador Frederick Shava, at the 9th International Young Leaders Assembly. “Our institutions must reflect the diversity of our constituencies”.

The meeting will be webcast and participants will be encouraged to share questions via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #Youth2030. In addition to the plenary sessions, the Forum will also feature an SDG Media Zone, bringing together editors, bloggers, content creators and influencers to communicate innovations, partnerships and discussions as a call to action for humanity to engage in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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