The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, held on 30-31 January 2018 at UN Headquarters in New York, offers a unique opportunity for youth to voice their opinions, share ideas, and think together about what they can do to achieve sustainable development.
The SDG Media Zone engages influencers, innovators and youth leaders in lively discussions on the sidelines of the Youth Forum. Watch the exciting panels from Day 2 below and check out more content from previous Media Zones on un.org/sdgmediazone. For a wrap up of Day 1 of the SDG Media Zone, please click here.
Youth saving lives
The UN says that in 2011, an estimated 14 million young people were forcibly displaced by conflict and disasters, and today, that number is much higher. How are young people mobilizing to help their communities and families cope with disasters around the world? Bubacarr Singhateh from Gambia’s National Youth Council Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group discusses how young people can make a difference through advocacy on disaster preparedness and by lending a helping hand to affected communities.
Panel: Cities of Hope for Youth
What do arts and football have to do with sustainable cities and communities (SDG goal 11)?
For Jessica Hutting who works with street children in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Ruxanda Renita, who represents youth at several local and global organizations, arts and sports are effective and inspiring ways to bridge personal passions with the achievements of the global development agenda in order to help urban youth strive for sustainable cities.
No time for helplessness!
Millions of children and young people today are on the move, whether they are migrants or refugees. Irene Yusiana Roba Putri, a member of the Indonesian Parliament and Nabela Noor, Youtube influencer and daughter of immigrants, have different experiences but have arrived at the same conclusion: welcoming migrants and refugees not only benefit them and the host country but also their country of origin. Millennials can be the generation to create a positive shift to help children and youth on the go. Considering the scale of the situation there is no time for helplessness and everyone has a role to play.
Panel: Tech and innovation
Low tech, high impact
Entrepreneurs and innovators from BioLite, Global Vision 2020 and Genusee believe that “technology is only good when people adopt it.” Providing low easy to use technology such as clean home wood stoves and inexpensive eye exams and eyewear, can change people lives – from helping to end energy poverty and inequalities to improving people’s access to better health care and education. Watch how their low-tech innovations are making a great impact in many parts of the world, from India to Mozambique to Uganda.
Last generation to end climate change
According to Steve Lee from the Foundation of Environmental Stewardship, today’s youth are the “final generation to change climate change.” His words are not far from the truth – for years the United Nations has been saying that young people are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it. In fact, the UN Environment Programme estimates that by 2050, with a projected increased global population of 9.7 billion, we would need the equivalent of almost three planets worth of resources to sustain our way of living, if our current consumption and production patterns remain the same. Unsustainable and unrealistic in countless ways. So what now? Listen to Steve and Shaquille Knowles from the Caribbean Regional Youth Council talk about what the global community is doing, especially youth, to address one of the most urgent problems the world is facing today.
Panel: Youth and Peacebuilding
Education is key to peacebuilding
Ms. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize winner from Liberia and UN SDG Advocate, talks about the importance education played in holding peaceful elections in Liberia. “It is important for us to constantly engage young people, not just in the current realities of our country, but also in the past history of our country,” she says, adding that engaging people in the history of every individual nation contributes to peace. Seeing young people discuss the Sustainable Development Goals with passion gives her further proof that partnerships are important in achieving the Goals since together, the sums of the Goals are the future of the new generation.
You know what’s sexy? Clean water
“Water is not the most sexy topic on the planet for young people,” said Asma Bachikh, President of the World Youth Parliament for Water, kicking off a discussion about SDG 6 on Tuesday. But Jo Franco, half of the popular YouTube travel vlog duo Damon and Jo, broke it down: “When you strip down the technical stuff, it’s very basic: we all need water. And we all need clean water.” Whether it’s on a beach in Thailand that Damon and Jo visited, or in a big city, water access needs to be improved everywhere. Shabana Abbas, President of the Water Youth Network, says the water from her tap in Karachi, Pakistan, was unreliable. Water is the most basic human need and more must be done to bring equal access to all people.
“1 billion reasons to include youth” in decision making!
Randriamitantsoa Safidinantenaina, National Coordinator Programme Messagers de la Paix Madagascar, Hellen Nomugisha, President of AfriYAN Rwanda and Mandiaye Pety Badji, CEO Paroles aux Jeunes Senegal have different backgrounds, origins and languages but they all agree on the importance of including youth in decision making processes. Young people worldwide represent a tremendous force of ideas, entrepreneurship, resilience and energy. They need to stand up for their rights, especially through social media, and take part in the discussions about their own future.
Seizing a more peaceful future
At the heart of the United Nations’ development agenda lies the need to empower young people to play a critical role in preventing conflicts and ensuring sustainable peace. Why? Firstly, young people can make invaluable contributions as drivers of a culture of peace and secondly, many of them – in fact more than 600 million – are directly affected by instability and insecurity, living in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Regine Guevara from the ASEAN Youth Volunteers Committee and Barik Mhadeen from the Wana Institute discuss why more and more societies around the world should recognize the role of youth as agents of change and critical actors in preventing conflict and building peace.
The Forum has ended. What next?
The ECOSOC Youth Forum may be over, but the work that young people are doing to make the Sustainable Development Goals a success will continue. The President of the UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak stressed that the Forum is not a one-time event, and added that young people were encouraged to return to their local communities and implement the ideas shared. Inga Rhonda King, Vice President of ECOSOC, praised the Forum for allowing young people to bring fresh ideas and solutions to the table. And according to Salina Abraham, Youth Coordinator of Global Landscapes Forum, even if the ideas at the Forum were not new ones, the discussions served as a strong reminder that the international community needs to continue to work to ensure the voices of young people are heard.