The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, held on 8-9 April 2019 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.
Held on the sidelines of the Forum, the SDG Media Zone engages influencers, innovators and youth leaders in lively discussions on how young people are actively working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Watch the exciting panels from Day 1 below and check out more content from previous Media Zones on un.org/sdgmediazone.
Presentation: Climate Action through the ActNow.Bot
Tolu Olubunmi, an advisor to the United Nations, showcased a new UN initiative to catalyze individual climate action through the ActNow.Bot on Facebook Messenger. The Bot uses artificial intelligence to spur behavior change toward sustainable and environmentally friendly actions. Olubunmi stated “Every action you take matters, adding that if you feel passionate about reducing your carbon footprint but don’t know how to take action, the ACT Now.Bot can help. Go here to learn daily activities, log your progress, see what others are doing, and share your actions toward a greener tomorrow. “Together we have the power as individuals to confront climate change and build momentum.” Through daily action, you can help save the planet!
Youth leaders Jibike Faborode, Jacob Thomas, and Victoria Ibiwoye discussed the importance of equal and quality education for all. They support education that is gender-sensitive, inclusive, and empowers youth to work in a field they are passionate about. They emphasized the importance of activating youth power to achieve the SDGs and the need for youth to work with policymakers. All three panelists believe that curriculum needs to improve to prepare for a more interconnected, diverse and technologically advanced future. The youth leaders called for a global mindset and more empathy. They strive for ”A just and equal world” where “inclusion” is a priority.
Do young people have a say in the direction of the job market? Guy Rider, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, believes that youth have the power to shape the future of jobs and advocate their economic policy preferences. Rider called for equal access to education. Additionally, both panelists want to lower the skills gap in the global labor market, which is undergoing a rapid change. He believes it will be vital to have a labour force that is able to re-skill and up-skill, while youth will need to be able to transition from school to work. Rider took the opportunity to launch ILO’s My Future of Work Challenge – an initiative that calls on you to post a video describing the future of work that you want and to challenge three of your friends to do the same. All participants are encouraged to use #myFutureofWork on social media.
Madelle Kangha, Young Leader and Founder of Jumpstart Academy of Africa, explained that artificial intelligence is changing work as we know it and that adjusting skills is crucial for preparing youth workers. Kangha believed that social and emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills are increasingly valuable. Her program develops these skills to prepare African youth for work in the future. She urged for more private sector investment in Africa’s growing youth population.
Yolanda Joab, founded Island Pride as a climate change education programme to increase awareness and urgency toward climate action. Joab is tired of the lack of urgency on climate action— it’s not just about her future but also her children’s future. “I’m very hopeful because of the young people in this room”. Noura Berrouba from the European Youth Parliament mobilizes youth around critical issues regarding energy and climate to grow political movements. She pointed out that climate policies have been delayed due to special interests that have been given greater power than the interest of people. She stated, “We need a system change, which happens in politics.” She made it clear that youth movements make it clear to decision-makers that climate change must be addressed. “If politicians won‘t step up, it’s time to step aside.”
Sobel Ngom, Founder Social Change Factory, highlighted the need for youth to come together to co-drive change. Ngom sees strength in numbers for youth to drive the change they seek. He advised young people that “failing is a part of the process” and taking action will result in either success or an important learning lesson. Vibhu Sharma, Board Member of Generation Unlimited stressed the need to increase empathy and inclusion. Sharma called for more inclusivity and involving people with disabilities to fully participate in work, education, and in life.
Ashley Thompson and Stefani Christianti discussed their role in the SDG World Tour initiative to accelerate the progress of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Their team will sail around the world from Amsterdam to New York beginning in 2020. Thompson and Christianti will sail to 17 countries in two years to promote each of the 17 SDGs. They explained that a diverse group of people from all over the world will be able to join them as they sail around the world promoting sustainable development. Each stop there will be Innovation challenges and youth leaders who will be able to share their new ideas toward advancing the SDGs. “We invite all young changemakers to join us. For more information about the SDG World Tour go here.