Between 1-2 February, the 5th edition of the ECOSOC Youth Forum brought together young representatives from civil society and youth led organizations, UN representatives and Ministers of Youth or government officials working on youth to discuss young people’s role, particularly in connection to Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17.
This year’s Forum was the biggest since the creation of the event in 2012 with over 900 participants, 51 delegations from different member state capitals and 28 Ministers for a total participation of 129 member states. The WFUNA Youth Network was present with a delegation of 4 Youth Representatives: Ms. Clarissa Benoni (UNYA Italy), Ms. Elisabeth Resch (UNA USA Georgetown Law Chapter), Mr. Hillary Taylor (UNA Uganda), and Ms. Gabriela Taveras (UNA USA).
The ECOSOC Youth Forum was officially opened by the President of ECOSOC H.E Mr. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava. It was also the first appearance of the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in UN youth event and although he was not able to attend personally, he did send a video message “specially to the youth representatives” attending the Forum.
The opening session continued with a Ministerial Round Table moderated by the outgoing UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi followed by breakout sessions on the SDGs that will be reviewed during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The day concluded with a panel examining the role of technology in advancing the SDGs. WFUNA Youth Network representative Mr. Hillary Taylor had the opportunity to ask about the efforts to be undertaken to engage young people digitally and provide more appealing narratives than those put forward by extremist groups.
The day started with regional breakout sessions (Africa, Europe, North America and other States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Arab Region). After these sessions, a panel focusing on highlighting voices from the field focused on showcasing innovative youth led activities that support implementation of the 2030 Agenda. WFUNA Youth Network representative Ms. Gabriela Taveras had the opportunity to address the panel and shared a story of hope and at the same time cautioned us not the relax our efforts in truly including young people in implementing the SDGs.
In the closing session, the President of ECOSOC gave a statement summarizing the discussions of the previous two days with a final exciting moment as the entire audience gave a standing ovation to outgoing UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi for his work in raising the youth agenda.
WFUNA Youth Network delegation