January 30 -31, Trusteeship Council, UNHQ
The ECOSOC Youth Forum 2017 held at the UN Headquarter in New York was focused on the ‘Role of Youth in Poverty Eradication and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World’. This sixth Forum brought together over 500 young people from youth-led and youth serving organizations, national youth councils as well as 50 high level government officials, including 25 ministers, making it the largest and most diverse ECOSOC Youth Forum thus far. The Brahma Kumaris was represented by two youths.
During the Main Plenary session, the President of ECOSOC rightly pointed out that social safety nets that increase access to food and better healthcare can help make globalisation equitable only if young people and their perspectives are included in the decision making process. While acknowledging the importance of youth involvement in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, the President of the General Assembly highlighted that youth must be at the forefront of innovation, agreements and policy making. The Secretary General’s envoy on youth emphasized that embracing youth’s talents is the greatest favour governments could do to themselves. Read more.
The Forum was organised around thematic sessions covering SDG 1 on poverty & decent jobs, SDG 2 on food & nutrition, SDG 3 on health, SDG 5 on gender equality, SDG 9 on infrastructure and SDG 14 on Oceans.
In addition to plenary sessions on the Means of Implementation and technology, implementation of SDGs was discussed in regional groups where young people from all over the world shared their experiences.
The issues raised included gender equality, access to education and technology, information security, social entrepreneurship, need for cross-linked solutions for complex challenges like resource planning, livelihood and safety. The discussion on SDG 2 concluded that harnessing locally appropriate technologies and indigenous knowledge is critical for promoting food sovereignty. It was discussed that national plans on achieving SDG 5 must also focus on sexual health and aim at mobilizing young men and boys too. The discussion on SDG 9 yielded that it is essential to formulate national plans for resilient infrastructure that are responsive to changing environments influenced by climate change, disasters, population growth, urbanization, economic fluctuations, and changing sociopolitical systems. To achieve SDG 14, it was proposed to establish a timeline and global treaty on plastics and micro-plastics. The role of technology in implementation of SDGs was discussed in detail in the breakout sessions.
The regional debates brought up most issues that were at the centre of young people’s concerns in the different regions like youth unemployment in the African working group, participation in decision making processes in Europe and North America, economic inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean, climate change and sea level rise in Asia and the Pacific, and the need for peace by the Arab working group.
The forum concluded that for our development efforts to be a success, we must work together in partnership; we must strengthen our mechanisms for meaningful youth engagement at all levels; we must leverage the power and innovation of young people to create a world of tolerance and respect for all and the planet, so that by 2030 we can truly say that no one has been left behind.
DPI/NGO organized a side event on ‘Education and Poverty Eradication: NGO Youth Leaders at the Forefront’ which you can view here.
I feel that the annual ECOSOC Youth Forum provides youth from different countries and professional backgrounds an opportunity to come together and discuss multi-cultural challenges. This Forum also provides us the chance to identify innovative solutions and learn from each other’s experiences. I also feel that using appropriate methods of inner reflection and meditation, allows for creativity, clarity and focus enabling youths to work together with people from different cultures and economic backgrounds. Moreover, this kind of practice guides and encourages young people in leading happier and less stressful lives. All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 days, including the side events this year and definitely wish to participate again next year. With the increased interest in youth overall empowerment, there will be progress and development globally.
(Report prepared by BK Raghav Chawla, Delhi)