The United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum 2015 was held from 2-3 February 2015 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Even the snowy weather couldn’t stop this wonderful event to be happened. This year’s theme was “Youth Engagement in the Transition from MDGs to SDGs: What will it take?”. The two-day event brought almost 700 young people and representatives from worldwide on a single platform. The forum has been happening since 2012. The objectives of the event were to provide young people a platform to engage in dialogue with the member states from MDGs to SDGs, to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), to focus attention on the importance of gender equality and identify recommendations for the ECOSOC ministerial meeting in July.
On the first day, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Martin Sajdik warmly welcomed the participants. During his remarks, he emphasized the power of young people with the great examples of Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and Malala Yousafzai. ” With 1.8 billion people, youth and adolescents represent one quarter of the world’s population. Youth constitute the force of change for our societies.”
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations in his remarks said, “Without addressing youth’s issues, we will be unable to address the world’s problems. 2015 is not just another year, it is a chance to change the course of history. You must be bold, visionary and a global citizen. Be an agent of change. We should create more jobs and support young entrepreneurs.”
The Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi said, “Young people are the ones who are going to carry the heavy lifting of the post 2015 development agenda. They know what it takes to innovate and they know exactly how to mobilize the resources in their communities. They know how to teach us to learn how to think of a better future and to hold their governments accountable”
The Youth Envoy then set up the stage for the sessions. There were key-note speeches followed by sessions on managing the transition from MDGs to SDGs and the commemoration of the WPAY.
During the sessions, everyone wanted to raise their voices and came up with brilliant ideas to address the outstanding issues. Everyone was happy to meet fellow young people. With bright eyes, stunning ideas and passion to do something, the young people dreamed for a better today and future together.
On the next day, the meeting was kicked off with a keynote address by a Youth Activist. There were two sessions organized on Youth in Africa and Gender Equality. There were outstanding contributions from the young people and member states were ready to answer the questions. The Forum closed with a session dedicated to national, regional and global processes. Youth participants had an opportunity to build upon these processes by offering concrete and practical recommendations on how young people will contribute to the shift from the MDGs to the SDGs.
Throughout all the sessions organized in the forum, the participants had an incredible opportunity to engage themselves in an interactive discussion among themselves and with the representatives of Member States.
I would like to applaud the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon because of his great interest to work with the young people to address the world’s crucial issues. For the first time in the UN history, he appointed the Youth Envoy who is working tirelessly with the young leaders around the globe.
I think the ECOSOC forum was a great learning experience. Young people are equipped with the skills and experiences and with infinite talent which will change the destiny of our planet. We all belong to each other. We all can guarantee a better future to our generations by uniting and collaborating with each other. Let’s be the partners in this CHANGE we want to see in the world.
The young people have no other choice but to get involved for the people and this beautiful planet. We are not only leaders of tomorrow but we are the leaders today. It’s time to unite our efforts. This forum has a clear message for our leaders that we are ready to stand with you for a sustainable, inclusive world with a dignity for all. We will not only help but we will be on the driving seat to make things happen.
Check out an interview with the UNSG Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi:
By Syed Mahmood Kazmi
This article was also published at the UNICEF’s Voices of Youth here.