The two-day event featured brainstorming town-hall sessions, interactive panels and discussions with Member States, providing youth representatives with an opportunity to voice their opinion, share ideas, and to think together about specific issues of relevance to youth in the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The international community must see the youth not as objects, but as subjects and drivers of change that should not be side-lined from political processes”, said UNCTAD Secretary – General Mukhisa Kituyi.
“Young people and youth-led organisations need to have the space, recognition and means to participate in discussions, translation and implementation of the 2030 agenda into local, national and regional policy ”, said Omar Hernandez Arauz, the UNCTAD Youth Network member.
Ahead of the 2017 ECOSOC Youth forum, the UNCTAD Youth Network launched online discussions on “ Poverty alleviation and youth employment”, to raise awareness, gather views, experiences, concerns and recommendations on key issues of discussion to be tabled in New York, including other SDG related discussions.
Participants at the Forum welcomed the UNCTAD youth initiative that put youth at the heart of the 2030 agenda and highlighted key challenges namely investment in education, skills development, including on entrepreneurship, stressing on the links to the job market opportunities.
“With a clear idea of key topics of interest to the youth, there is no better opportunity than now to step up and engage with the 2030 Agenda , support its implementation and hold all stakeholders accountable,” added Omar
The discussions were solution-oriented and led to recommendations with regards to policy, action and partnerships, with a particular emphasis being put on finding innovative ways and providing adequate space for the participation of youth in decision-making processes at all levels.
Several speakers highlighted the importance of creating or reinforcing formal frameworks that can make young people stakeholders rather than mere targets in policy-making. A certain number of policy areas were highlighted for urgent action, namely employment, education and technologies.
One of the key messages that came out of the event was the need to ensure youth inclusion and engagement at all levels and in all processes that affect them, including in the design of national plans.
Through a thematic breakout session “End poverty in all its forms and create decent jobs for youth”, the international forum spotlighted the importance of prioritizing the creation of decent jobs for youth in a changing labour market, including “green” jobs and opportunities in agriculture and industrial development, with special attention to youth in the rural economy and fragile situations.
“The SDGs are a universal agenda for “transforming our world.” To achieve this transformation, we must rethink the approaches and involve the youth at all stages”, said Dr. Kituyi, emphasising that Governments must recognise the value of collaborating with young people as partners and establish clear and explicit pathways for their meaningful participation from the outset for a meaningful implementation of Agenda 2030.
The outcome document of the 2017 ECOSOC Youth Forum will be presented at the high-level political forum on sustainable development in July 2017 to be convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council under the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”