Young leaders from around the world gathered with representatives from the United Nations, civil society and partner organizations for the 2015 Time for Global Action Youth Forum.

The two-day Forum focused upon youth participation in shaping the future development agenda and addressing many issues today’s 1.8 billion young people face, such as jobs and education. The Forum was co-organized by the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Working with DESA, UNDP organized the Forum’s first session entitled, “Youth Engagement in the Transition from MDGs to SDGs.” Enormous progress has been made on the MDGs, such as significant reductions in poverty and increased access to education and healthcare, but many obstacles remain with more emerging issues that must be addressed.

World leaders have called for an ambitious long-term sustainability agenda to succeed the MDGs at the end of 2015, including a proposed set of SDGs. Expected to be adopted in September, the Post-2015 development agenda will seek to reinforce commitment to achieve all MDGs as well as break new ground with goals on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace and justice, among others.

“Young people are among the greatest assets countries have,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said during a special address at the closing of Forum. “The energy, enthusiasm, and innovation which comes with youth offers a huge demographic dividend to countries and to our world as a whole.”

The Forum featured brainstorming sessions, interactive speaker panels and discussions with Member States, providing youth representatives with an opportunity to voice their opinions, share ideas, and think together about specific issues of relevance to youth as well as the broader role of young women and men in enabling and promoting sustainable development.

With many UNDP representatives participating in the Forum, UNDP partnered with different organizations to raise awareness and give young people a platform. UNDP worked with the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa to hold a session focusing on Africa and youth. In addition, UNDP partnered with Restless Development for a break-out session on accountability and with Plan International for a break-out session on measurability.

“Please count on UNDP as an advocate for investments in opportunity for youth, and for full youth engagement in national and global processes,” Clark said. “It’s essential to include and empower youth so that they can play their full part in building stronger and more inclusive and sustainable communities.”

Eighty UN Country Teams joined with the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and DESA and others on the #youthnow global advocacy campaign around accelerating implementation of the World Program of Action for Youth and the inclusion of youth in the SDGs.

“Working together, I am confident that the UN system can help ensure that 2015 is a big opportunity for the world’s young people to play their full part in shaping a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable future for us all.”