Young people are valuable agents of change and around the world they are taking matters into their own hands and championing innovative solutions to accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
From 25 to 27 April, thousands of youth leaders from around the world are poised to gather at the 2023 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum. In person and online, they are bringing their solutions, recommendations, and initiatives, sharing their ideas for ensuring a sustainable future is possible for all.
The three-day event centres on accelerating the recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at.
“This year, the ECOSOC Youth Forum unfolds against a backdrop of complex global issues, including escalating geopolitical tensions, a relentless climate crisis, growing poverty, a push back against human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the gradual but uneven recovery from the pandemic.” said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
“Now, as much as ever before, it is critical that we position young people’s voices, expertise and innovative ideas front and center in our efforts to get the world back on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030.”
Key platform for youth voices
The Youth Forum is the main platform for young people to contribute to policy discussions at the UN, where they can voice their opinions, concerns, and focus on their innovative solutions to deal with the challenges the world faces.
Throughout the Forum, youth-led and youth-focused organizations have the opportunity to engage with Member States, policymakers, and key actors to promote youth development, address the challenges they face, and share their contributions towards realizing youth-specific targets of the SDGs.
The first Forum in 2012, initially aimed at raising awareness of high youth unemployment rates and explore solutions for better job opportunities. The Forum’s success and high demand for the platform led to its transformation into an annual gathering.
The 2023 programme focuses on issues key to youth and also monitors progress towards achieving the SDGs, offering a unique opportunity to truly engage young people on issues that matter to them.
Young people’s ideas, solutions, and innovations will not only contribute to policy discussions, but also complement other key intergovernmental meetings to ensure the participation of youth voices across all areas.
Towards COVID-19 recovery
Young people were uniquely vulnerable to the long-term socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, facing major disruptions to education, training, and employment.
Despite these obstacles, young people have shown resilience and demonstrated that they are crucial players in shaping a fairer and more resilient future.
Within that theme, the Forum will review progress on key SDGs on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).
New generation’s perspective
The event will feature talented youth speakers, high-level Government representatives, regional and multilateral organizations, and youth-led entities from all regions. The event will have plenary sessions, interactive and regionally based discussions, and dozens of side events which will take place virtually and in person.
During the gathering, young people will also share their recommendations and innovative ideas. The outcome of the Forum will be an informal summary document of the proceedings by the ECOSOC President and a Presidential Statement.
Shaping decisions and policies
Their ideas will feed into preparations for the SDG Summit, which will be held in September, to identify the ambitious actions needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
In the lead up to the Summit of the Future in September 2024, the UN Secretary-General is issuing a series of policy briefs to provide more detail on select proposals contained in Our Common Agenda. The Secretary-General released on Wednesday the third brief in this series, focused on meaningful youth engagement in policymaking and decision-making processes.
The brief highlights key proposals from the Secretary-General with a view towards ensuring more meaningful, diverse, and effective youth participation across intergovernmental decision-making processes at all levels.
Young Leaders for SDGs
Young people from all over the world will be attending the ECOSOC Youth Forum, including the new cohort of Young Leaders for the SDGs. Every two years, this flagship initiative recognizes 17 young change-makers who are leading efforts to combat the world’s most pressing issues and whose leadership is catalyzing the achievement of the SDGs.
“The 2022 class of Young Leaders for the SDGs represents an incredibly diverse, intersectional and inspirational group of young people who reflect the very best of global youth activism and advocacy when it comes to challenging the status quo and creating a better world for all,” the UN Youth Envoy said.
From fashion to climate, the youth leaders represent every region in the world and help young people worldwide in support of the Goals.