Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Closing statement for ECOSOC Youth Forum, ‘Shaping tomorrow’s innovators: Leveraging science, technology, innovation and culture for today’s youth’

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to be at the closing of this second ECOSOC Youth Forum, and to hear some of the key messages arising from today’s event.

On behalf of DESA, I wish to congratulate all of you for a productive meeting. I look forward to learning more about the outcomes of today’s event in more detail.

I also congratulate the President of the Economic and Social Council, H.E. Mr Osorio, for a successful event, and for his initiative to make such Forums a recurring feature of ECOSOC’s work.

Indeed, events like today’s are crucial for the work of the United Nations. We have just heard Mr Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. We welcome the priority he is placing on ensuring young people are better enabled to participate in the work of the United Nations. We are also pleased that the Secretary-General is stressing the importance of working with and for young people in his action agenda.

These initiatives, together with today’s Forum, are testimony to the role young people are commanding in the work and processes of the United Nations.

For the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, your work and your voice are critical. DESA, in its capacity as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, has been working with its inter-agency partners in helping develop the Secretary-General’s UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth. This is also done in close cooperation with the Envoy on Youth. Together, this ensures enhanced cooperation and collaboration on youth issues across the entire UN system.

We also carry out a number of activities that ensure youth participation is at the core of our work. A few examples include the UN youth delegate programme, and the publication of our interactive World Youth Report. We do this.  Why? Because you represent the largest number of young people the world has ever known. You matter. 

Ladies and gentlemen;

As a social group, youth is greatly impacted by economic, social and sustainability challenges. As has been clear from the discussions today, youth employment continues to be one of the most critical challenges in this context.

High levels of youth unemployment, increasing difficulties faced by young persons in transition from school to work, and the deteriorating quality of employment available to them are a major concern to us all – and of course, to you in particular.

But, we have one tremendous resource at our disposal to help tackle this challenge.  And that, again, is you. Young people have proven time and time again that they are powerful innovators of new and creative ideas.

Today we got a snap shot of some of the innovative ways young people are advancing in technology, science, and culture. For initiatives like these to grow and continue, we need to work to create more and better environments for innovative entrepreneurship. We need to facilitate young people’s access to credit so that these ideas and innovations can come to life.

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.

Ladies and gentleman;

In all this, 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, that you are part of the dialogue, and that you are part of the solution. Your work here today is vital and must be carried forward.

Thank you.