There was a lot of talk surrounding the ECOSOC Youth Forum which took place on Monday June 2, 2014 and Tuesday 3, 2014 at the UN Headquarters in New York. These discussions focused on one clear mission: ‘mainstreaming youth in the post 2015 development agenda’. But, what exactly was the ECOSOC Youth Forum all about and why was it such an important milestone for global youth development and engagement?
The ECOSOC Youth Forum under the theme “#Youth 2015: Realizing the Future They Want” was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as part of the preparatory process for ECOSOC’s 2014 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), which is scheduled to be held in July, under the theme: “Addressing on-going and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains in the future”.
The forum was organized specifically to engage young people from every side of the globe, to form a collective voice and speak on issues which affect them, and to safeguard their future and that of their countries. Youth representatives from around the globe participated in dialogue sessions such as “promoting youth employment-creating decent jobs for a more sustainable future” and “Youth: The Future They Want Beyond 2015.” Youth delegates were given the opportunity to listen and engage in an interactive discussion among themselves and with member states on how they could be included in shaping the post-2015 development agenda.
There were several breakout sessions which gave participants an opportunity to further engage in more in-depth discussions about these thematic areas: youth employment and entrepreneurship, education, health, governance and participation and peace building and stability. These themes followed the structure of the Post 2015 Crowdsourcing Initiative which was organized by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, in partnership with other UN entities, international NGOs, youth groups and stakeholders, in an effort to promote youth priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. The outcomes from this Global Youth Call were further discussed in these breakout sessions and participants/youth delegates also outlined how they intend to maximize on the Global Youth Call initiative in their countries. Youth delegates were also urged to make recommendations on what further steps they can take to continue to advocate for youth inclusion and prioritizing youth issues in the Post 2015 agenda. These conclusions and recommendations will be shared with the council during the AMR in July.
Having attended the ECOSOC Forum, I saw firsthand the importance and benefits of this event on youth engagement and the mission to prioritize youth in the Post 2015 agenda. As a youth delegate, I was given a chance to engage in discussions with UN and other stakeholders regarding issues which affect youth in my country/region. Furthermore, I was able to share best practices for youth engagement in the Post 2015 Agenda. As a youth delegate, it is my duty to sensitize youth about the Post 2015 Agenda, share the discussions of the forum and create an action plan based on the needs of youth in my country.
Never before has the UN and its stakeholders presented so many opportunities for youth engagement. This year (2014) has presented so many opportunities for our collective voices to be heard. The ECOSOC Youth Forum was only of many opportunities for youth to speak on issues which affect them and make recommendations specific to their regions. We must take full advantage of all the attention we are getting; so start speaking up if you have not done so in the past…and remember…our future starts NOW!
To learn more about the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2014 and the Crowdsourcing initiative on youth in the post-2015 development agenda, visit http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/youth2014/ and http://www.un.org/youthenvoy/news/crowdsourcing-initiative-on-youth-in-the-post-2015-development-agenda-launched-today/