The Future we want, the UN we need: the future of multilateralism

September 9, 2020 / 10am – 12:30pm / Virtual Event






On 14 June 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 73/299 to commemorate in 2020 the 75th anniversary of the establishment of United Nations under the theme “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”.

The resolution emphasized the need to engage young people in all commemorative activities and decided to convene a Youth Plenary at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session and the President of the Economic and Social Council, in conjunction with the Youth Forum of the Council in 2020. The Youth Plenary, an inclusive, forward-looking, youth-driven global dialogue on the theme of the 75th anniversary of the UN, was to take place on March 31, 2020, followed by the ECOSOC Youth Forum, April 1-2, 2020.

The preparations for the UN75 Youth Plenary and the 9th ECOSOC Youth Forum were proceeding accordingly in early 2020, when the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Due to the impact of the pandemic and in order to safeguard the well-being of individuals, in line with guidelines by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Secretariat Crisis Management Team, it has been decided to reorganize the Youth Plenary and turn it into a virtual event to take place on September 9th  2020, from 10am to 12:30pm, while the ECOSOC Youth Forum is deferred to 2021.

Furthermore, as part of the overall objective of including the voices of young people in the UN 75 process, a virtual Townhall took place on 13 May 2020 with the aim of gathering youth input into the Member States Declaration for the UN 75th Anniversary, facilitated by United Nations Permanent Representatives of Qatar and Sweden, which is to be adopted at the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the UN 75 anniversary on 21 September 2020.

Similarly, as per the GA Resolution (73/299), youth representatives from the Youth Plenary will address the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the UN 75 anniversary on 21 September 2020, sharing a summary and outcome of the Youth Plenary.

Despite the revised format, the virtual Youth Plenary remains an opportune moment to support and amplify youth voices for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world as outlined in the priority area of the UN Youth Strategy: Youth 2030, which the UN Secretary General launched in September 2018 to strengthen UN’s position as not only working “for” young people but “with” young people.


The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the need for cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Our response will determine how fast the world recovers, whether we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and how well we handle pressing challenges: from the climate crisis to pandemics, inequalities, new forms of violence,  the rapid changes in technology and the shifting demographics.

But just when we need collective action more than ever, support for global cooperation has been flagging. In many countries, public trust in traditional institutions is in decline and relations between countries have been under strain. With multilateralism being called to question and the world becoming increasingly polarized, there is an urgent need to find an answer to the question: how can we renew the support for global cooperation and collective action in order to best respond and address the emerging trends and risks? 

As such, the UN75 virtual Youth Plenary will take its offspring from a normative discussion revolving around the value of the United Nations in a changing world. By inviting contrasting views to the center stage focus is placed on open debate and tolerance for differing viewpoints – in the true spirit of the United Nations. 



  • To discuss emerging risks, trends and opportunities of the multilateral system in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts.
  • To provide a platform for young people to engage in UN@75 discussions around the importance of global citizenship and international cooperation today, the future of multilateralism and young people’s role in shaping that future.  
  • To enhance discussion among young people on what is needed to shape a more responsive United Nations that best supports people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership in the future.
  • To enable discussions that will contribute to deliberations with policy makers (Ministers, Government Representatives, UN Leaders) at the GA high-level event on UN@75 on September 21, 2020.


The Youth Plenary will take place on September 9th as a virtual event, in which discussions are led and driven by young people. The Plenary will be transmitted live on UN Web TV and UN social media channels, with more detailed information to be shared in due course

Throughout the Youth Plenary, discussions will touch upon the seven thematic topics inspiring global conversations on UN@75, and the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic, namely:  

The event will be divided into five segments and will invite diverse youth speakers to share their view on the future of multilateralism, the role of the United Nations and the ideas and solutions they have for building back better in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and the start of the Decade of Action. Throughout the virtual event, young artists will be featured through pre-recorded performances. Youth audience from all corners of the world will be invited to interact through a live chat.


Organizers will collaborate with youth organizations, entities, and networks in this process, in order to reflect the diversity of formal and informal youth organizations and will include a gender balanced representation of youth from all regions and groups, such as indigenous youth, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI youth, young migrants and refugees.

Participants initially confirmed and invited for the original date of the UN75 Youth Plenary on March 31, will be invited.

Selection of speakers will be based on strong background in SDG related work and proven public speaking experience, while ensuring gender and geographical diversity. 





The Youth Plenary will be convened under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly and will be organized by the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth in collaboration with the Major Group on Children and Youth (MGCY) and the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYO).


As per the GA Resolution (73/299) youth representatives from the Youth Plenary will address the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the UN 75 anniversary on 21 September 2020, sharing a summary and outcome of the discussions.