On 1-2 February 2016, over 800 young leaders from around the world, along with high-level national and international policy makers, convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the 5th ECOSOC Youth Forum, the largest turnout for the Forum yet, that has been convened annually over the past years.

The forum provided a platform for young people to engage in dialogue with member states and other stakeholders on concrete commitments and actions to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and discussed how youth can be involved in its implementation and follow up.

For those who missed it, here below are some highlights:

Source: https://goo.gl/WO5awU  

The 2-day event opened with an inaugural speech by H.E. Mr. Oh Joon, President of ECOSOC. “Young people all over the world face a world where inequalities are high, where destinies too often depend on gender, race, social status or religion”, he said, “but each and every one of us can be an advocate and a catalyst for change”.

Following his remarks, Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, encouraged the audience to consider the SDGs as a declaration of inter-dependence. In order to achieve the goals, all voices must be heard. “Far too often young people have been side-lined from decision making… This situation must change”, declared Mr. Jan Eliasson in his statement, adding “you are not objects, you are subjects”.  

The opening session of the Forum was also marked by the launch of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, which was introduced by Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labor Organization. This ambitious system-wide initiative aims at creating new opportunities for young people by means of a unique partnership including governments, the UN agencies, businesses, academic institutions and youth organizations.

Watch the video and learn more about it:

 Source: https://goo.gl/56wPVb  

The opening remarks by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, challenged 10 common misconceptions of youth programming. In addressing these mistakes, he called for enhanced participation of youth in decision-making processes and solicited youth inclusion at all levels.

Finally, writer and activist Samar Samir Mezghanni delivered a passionate keynote address focusing on the notion of power.  Ms. Mezghanni said, “In this room, I see power. Not deriving from the place that is hosting us, but from the accumulation of the actions that each one of us took to fight poverty, support education or combat diseases.”

Here below is the photo gallery showcasing some noteworthy moments:      

    2016 ECOSOC Youth Forum

 

An inclusive and interactive approach

This year, the ECOSOC Youth Forum focused on interaction, and the plenary sessions provided space for lively debate and ample opportunity for interactions both from member states, a large number of which participated with Delegations that had joined from their capitals, including 21 led by Ministers, and youth representatives.

Furthermore, breakout sessions were specifically designed to actively engage the audience and launch the discussion on youth issues and youth engagement in the SDGs from a regional angle, as well as from a thematic perspective, covering education, employment, poverty and inequality, health, peace and inclusiveness, climate change and gender equality.

The breakout sessions identified key recommendations that will contribute to operationalizing the SDG framework and engaging young people as active partners in its implementation.

The Forum concluded with a Presidential statement that can be accessed here: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/president/statement_2016/youth_forum-presidential_statement_2016.pdf

A summary of the Forum will be presented at the ECOSOC’s high-level segment in July 2016.

Do you want to learn more? Watch the UN WebTV’s coverage of the forum! http://goo.gl/VWtiuz