Volume 18, No.06 - June 2014

Feature articles

Uniting for youth beyond 2015

“You have the energy to transform the world,” said the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi, encouraging youth worldwide to partner with the United Nations as the global community embarks on the road to sustainable development beyond 2015. The UN is working in many different ways to ensure that the voices of youth are heard. As part of these efforts, ECOSOC is hosting its Youth Forum on 2-3 June.

There are 1.2 billion young people in the world today. It is the largest generation of youth ever seen and the United Nations has made it one of the organization’s top priorities to partner with and for them. “The post-2015 development agenda is about building a better future. The future means youth. […] We need the participation, perspectives and passion of young people. Today’s youth are at the leading edge of innovative ways to amplify voices and share ideas,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event of the UN General Assembly recently.

“The post-2015 development agenda is about building a better future. The future means youth. […] We need the participation, perspectives and passion of young people”

UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon

For the third consecutive year, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is bringing together large crowds at UN Headquarters. Some 600 youth representatives from Member States, National Youth Councils, regional youth organizations and the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth are expected to attend the Youth Forum, which is hosted together with the UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi.

“The development agenda is all about you,” said Ahmad Alhendawi in his video message to young people ahead of the event. “You demand opportunities in terms of participation related to decent employment and education, and all that is your right,” Alhendawi added.

Engaging with and for young people

There is an impressive line-up for the two-day event arranged under the theme #Youth2015: Realizing the Future They Want. It will kick off with a performance by Lisa Russell, Spoken Word Artist. The ECOSOC President Martin Sajdik will then take the floor along with the President of the UN General Assembly John W. Ashe, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Brittany Trilford, Activist and Youth advisor at CIVICUS Alliance, who will deliver a keynote address. A number of other high-level youth representatives will also address the forum.

Ahmad Alhendawi will set the stage for the event, which will feature working sessions on themes including “Promoting Youth Employment – Creating Decent Jobs for a More Sustainable Future”; “Reports from global and regional Youth Fora”; “Advancing progress in Africa beyond 2015: A Youth Perspective”; and “Youth: The Future They Want Beyond 2015”. Youth representatives will have the opportunity to listen to and engage in interactive discussions on these topics. The event will be broadcast live via UN Web TV and participants will be able to share questions via social media through Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #Youth2015 and #UN4Youth.

“The development agenda is all about you. You demand opportunities in terms of participation related to decent employment and education, and all that is your right”

Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
Ahmad Alhendawi

Addressing youth employment and progress in Africa

Youth make up 25 per cent of the global working age population, but account for 43.7 per cent of the unemployed and they continue to be particularly affected by the weak and uneven recovery of the world economy. In 2013, almost 202 million people were unemployed, of which some 74.5 million were between the ages of 15 and 24. According to the International Labour Organization, the youth-to-adult unemployment ratio has reached a historical peak, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in parts of Latin America, the Caribbean and in Southern Europe.

Attacking global poverty requires policy-makers to put youth employment at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda. During the first part of the forum, a moderated conversation will address challenges, good policies, strategies, partnerships and programmes for creating decent jobs for young people, including in dynamic sectors such as jobs that promote sustainable development and new information and communication technologies.

The vital importance of addressing youth employment was also expressed by UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo at last year’s forum. “We need to take a serious look at how our education and employment sectors can work better together. We need to create more opportunities for young people to develop the skills needed for the labour market, through apprenticeship and on-the-job learning opportunities. We must nurture young people’s creativity and innovation,” Mr. Wu said.

Another part of the programme will address progress in Africa. While many African countries are off-track to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an outstanding and sustained effort across the continent has resulted in significant progress towards the MDGs since 2000. At the same time, the continent has witnessed new and recurring conflict during this period, which threatens development gains, the stability of the region and impacts youth disproportionately.

The forum aims to generate ideas and solutions to empower young people to promote a renewed commitment to ending violence in the region, and to shaping a comprehensive post-2015 development agenda that addresses the income, gender and rural-urban inequalities that persist in Africa.

“We need to create more opportunities for young people to develop the skills needed for the labour market […] We must nurture young people’s creativity and innovation”

UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
Wu Hongbo

The future youth want

More than 1.2 million young people have voted in the My World 2015 survey, conveying the priorities and concerns most important for them as the international community moves forward and beyond the 2015 MDGs target date. As part of the efforts of the Global Partnership for Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, launched by the President of the General Assembly and the UN Envoy on Youth, youth have also participated in the crowdsourcing platform aiming to consolidate the outcomes of national, regional, global and online consultations into concrete proposals for the post-2015 development framework.

“Despite significant progress made since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, the current generation of youth – the largest the world has ever seen – has been left behind. They are still denied the opportunities they need to realize their full potential,” stressed Ahmad Alhendawi, as the results were completed ahead of the ECOSOC Youth Forum.

Results, based on the specific priorities that youth have suggested through the crowdsourcing platform within the areas of education; employment and entrepreneurship; health; good governance; peace and stability, have now been consolidated into concrete youth-focused target areas, reflected in the Global call on youth in the post-2015 development agenda. These will also be discussed during the final part of the forum, which will seek to identify the next steps and the key elements of an advocacy strategy or “road map” to the 2015 Development Summit and how youth can partner with the UN system, civil society and the private sector to ensure its implementation.

“We must listen to young people. We must involve young people. From employment challenges to creating a sustainable future, it is crucial that young people’s voices are heard,” concluded Mr. Wu as he addressed the youth representatives that had gathered at last year’s forum.

For more information:

ECOSOC Youth Forum

UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi

The Focal Point on Youth in UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development


Celebrating public service excellence


Efficient public administration plays a vital role in advancing development worldwide. Putting a spotlight on public service excellence across the globe, the United Nations Public Service Forum, Day and Awards Ceremony, a global capacity-building gathering on public governance, will take place on 23-26 June in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

“The United Nations has long recognized the importance of good governance and efficient public administration. Current global consultations on the post-2015 agenda have further underscored their centrality to all development objectives, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message as the UN Public Service Day was celebrated last year, highlighting how the day “encourages countries to celebrate the contribution of public servants to society’s progress.”

The United Nations General Assembly designated 23 June as the United Nations Public Service Day and reiterated that particular emphasis should be given to the exchange of experiences related to the role of public administration in the implementation of internationally agreed goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.

Promoting innovative governance for sustainable development

Kicking off this year on the UN Public Service Day, the event will be held under the theme “Innovating Governance for Sustainable Development and Well-being of the People.” It is organized by UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the hosting Government of the Republic of Korea.

Over 1000 participants are expected to attend the Forum, including high-level United Nations officials and representatives of the Republic of Korea, as well as world leaders, ministers, senior government officials, mayors, civil society representatives, the academia, the private sector, and representatives from international and regional organizations.

Driver of development beyond 2015
The kind of innovative improvement in governance that will drive the last efforts to achieve the MDGs, pursue the post-2015 development agenda and achieve sustainable development, entails not only the design and implementation of innovative practices in public governance, but also a transformation of government’s role, functions, institutional frameworks and processes as well as human resource capacities and competences.

Experience has shown that governments that made progress in promoting transparency and accountability, and in providing equitable and effective service delivery have developed innovative ideas and practices, making use, whenever possible, of information and communication technology, and strategic partnerships.

“The United Nations has long recognized the importance of good governance and efficient public administration. Current global consultations on the post-2015 agenda have further underscored their centrality to all development objectives”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Honoring Public Service Award winners

The UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) will honour public institutions that have distinguished themselves in the following categories: Improving the Delivery of Public Services; Fostering Participation in Policy-making Decisions through Innovative Mechanisms; Promoting Whole-of-Government Approaches in the Information Age and Promoting Gender-Responsive Delivery of Public Services. The award highlights cutting edge innovations and recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on a competent civil service.

On the last day of the event on 26 June, the Awards Ceremony will be held, honoring 19 award winners from 14 countries. The winning projects which will receive the award include Sustainable Work in the Water Sector and Sanitation in Cameroon, Data Intermediation Platform of Spain, Mobile Seva of India, Transparency and Citizen’s Access to Information in Brazil, Children Working in Ankara Streets Project in Turkey, The National Contact Centre of Bahrain and Gender Responsive Budgeting in Morocco.

Since its inception in 2003, the UNPSA has been a valuable vehicle for facilitating the collection and adaptation of innovative practices in public governance. It instils a culture of innovation and exemplary public service through rewarding public institutions for their pursuit for excellence and creativity, recognizing that innovating and improving governance is a critical enabler for sustainable development. Adaptation and replication of innovations provides concrete solutions to governance challenges and can save governments significant resources and time. Nominations for the awards are open to public organizations of all kinds, including governments and public-private partnerships, in delivering public services.

For more information:

United Nations Public Service Forum, Day and Awards Ceremony


A home for the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda

Peacekeeping - UNMIS

“The high-level political forum on sustainable development will be the home for the SDGs and the Post-2015 development agenda. It is the place where the international community comes together to address and coordinate the entirety of sustainable development issues,” said Nikhil Seth, Director of UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development, ahead of the Forum’s second meeting on 30 June-9 July, which will be the first meeting under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council.

The theme of the Forum’s second meeting will be ‘Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda including the Sustainable Development Goals’. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the main United Nations platform providing political leadership and guidance on sustainable development. It was created at the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012.

It is convened every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly and chaired by the President of the General Assembly, and every year under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment and chaired by the President of ECOSOC.  It is a new kind of hybrid platform with its own distinct identity and 197 Member States.

Social, economic and environmental dimensions under one roof

An important role of the Forum will be to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development. At the inaugural meeting of the Forum last year, General Assembly President John Ashe highlighted this point: “One distinct benefit of the new forum is that it is designed to attract participation from representatives of all three dimensions of sustainable development, rather than chiefly from members of the environmental community. This is critical to ensuring that sustainability is a central modality to development and that it is mainstreamed into policy, planning and living,” he said.

The Forum is also to follow up and review progress in implementing sustainable development commitments and address new and emerging sustainable development challenges. Earlier this year, ECOSOC President Martin Sajdik said that “a transformative agenda for development will only make a difference if effectively implemented. This will be the role and function of the high-level political forum.”

“One distinct benefit of the new forum is that it is designed to attract participation from representatives of all three dimensions of sustainable development […] This is critical to ensuring that sustainability is a central modality to development and that it is mainstreamed into policy, planning and living”

President of the 68th session of the General Assembly
John W. Ashe

The preliminary programme of the HLPF envisions that during the second meeting of the Forum, 21 dialogues and a host of other events and presentations will take place along the following four tracks: From Rio+20 to post-2015; Regional dimension and countries in special situations; Shaping the forum beyond 2015; Science policy interface.

Host to a virtual Pacific-Caribbean town hall meeting

One of the moderated dialogues dealing with countries in special situations is expected to focus on small island developing States (SIDS). Entitled “Island voices, global choices:  promoting genuine and durable partnerships”, the dialogue will explore how to best build the resilience of SIDS and meet their unique challenges in the post-2015 development agenda, how to encourage genuine and durable partnerships for sustainable development in SIDS, and how to ensure effective implementation of the outcome document of the Third International Conference on SIDS taking place in Apia, Samoa, from 1 – 4 September. The dialogue may include a video link to a Town Hall meeting in Samoa and Barbados.

Doors wide open for Major Groups and other Stakeholders

The HLPF is the most inclusive and participatory process of its kind, bringing all States Members of the United Nations and States members of specialized agencies together. Through the major groups and other stakeholders format it provides participation opportunities for non-central state actors like no other UN process does. Major groups, civil society and other stakeholders will have various opportunities to contribute to the discussions at the HLPF, including morning sessions with the ECOSOC President and participation as panellists and lead discussants in a number of dialogues.

Anyone interested in sharing their views, messages or questions with participants at the high-level political forum can do so by tweeting or posting on Facebook using #HLPF. Selected messages and questions will be shared with participants at the Forum. More information about this can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP).

Sustainable development science as foundation

The Rio+20 Conference highlighted the importance of basing sustainable development policies on solid science including through a Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which is to bring together existing assessments and to strengthen the science‐policy interface at the HLPF.

In response to the Rio+20 mandate, a “prototype” report has been produced. It illustrates a range of potential content, alternative approaches and various ways of participation in respect to such a report. The prototype Global Sustainable Development Report will be presented by Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo at the Forum.

For more information:

High-level Political Forum

Global Sustainable Development Report