Shaping tomorrow's innovators

Shaping tomorrow’s 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 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently. With the purpose of leveraging the potentials of youth in solving global challenges, ECOSOC is arranging a Youth Forum on 27 March.

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.

“The youth employment crisis is worsening: young people represent 40 per cent of the jobless worldwide,” said DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo as he addressed the Commission for Social Development in February. “This translates in numbers to almost 74 million unemployed young people, whose ranks continue to grow. These are not just mere statistics. Behind the numbers are lives affected, livelihoods lost and opportunities missed,” Mr. Wu added.

Looking beyond these serious hurdles, the United Nations Economic and Social Council aims to spotlight the possibilities available for the world’s youth to harness. There is a willingness among youth to take the lead in transforming societies. Their hunger for jobs, education and desire to engage in world matters has also put a growing spotlight on global youth issues.

The Secretary-General has given priority to working with and for young people in his 5-year Action Agenda and the international community is also looking to them as potential partners in designing effective responses to development challenges around the globe.

Leveraging the potential of young people

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 the high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). “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.

Organized by DESA in collaboration with UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, ITU, UN-HABITAT and with the support of “New York Tech Meet Up”, the forum will also provide a platform to discuss the development agenda beyond 2015. It will address barriers facing today’s youth, critical areas requiring special attention as well as appropriate actions to move development forward.

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, Mandë Holford, Co-founder of the World Association of Young Scientists, Internet activist and computer engineer Wael Ghonim and’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,” said Ban Ki-moon.

Prior to the event on 27 March, ECOSOC and DESA will launch a social media campaign calling all youth innovators across the globe to share their ideas for a sustainable future. More details to follow on the ECOSOC Facebook page as well as on the event page listed below.

“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,” says ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio.

For more information:
“Shaping tomorrow’s innovators: Leveraging science, technology, innovation and culture for today’s youth”

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