Editorial By: Disha Banerjee Bhattacharya, WGG Intern Summer 2014
The United Nations Economic and Social Council held a Forum on Youth from 2nd-3rd June 2014. The forum was titled, “#Youth 2015: Realizing the Future They Want” and was held in the ECOSOC chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The purpose of the forum was to provide a space for youth to voice their concerns about and opinions on the Post-2015 Development Agenda so as to be able to influence the agenda to accommodate a more comprehensive set of goals aimed at improving the situation of youth around the globe and facilitating greater youth participation in the polities, economies and public spheres of the world.
The forum opened with remarks from H.E. Mr. Martin Sajdik (President of the ECOSOC), H.E. MR. Ban Ki-moon (Secretary General of the United Nations), H.E. John W. Ashe (President of the 68th session of the General Assembly), Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi (United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth). The keynote addresses were made by Ms. Brittany Trilford (Activist and Youth Advisor at CIVICUS Alliance) and Mr. Nik Hartley (CEO, Restless Development). The speakers all emphasized the importance of the youth as political actors for change and encouraged their involvement in their communities and in global forums as individual actors and as a collective bargaining body. The speakers also talked at length about including the youth in the formation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
H.E. Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma (Minister for Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Sri Lanka), Mr. Gabriel Laurence-Brook (Spokesperson of the Francophone Youth Parliament), and Mr. Alejo Ramírez (Secretary-General, Ibero-American Youth Organization) reported on the levels of youth participation in governmental processes and in civil society in their respective countries and regions – Sri Lanka, Africa and Latin America. They then facilitated dialogue amongst the youth and themselves on the areas that most affect and concern the youth.
Youth employment and entrepreneurship, education, health, governance and participation, and peace-building and stability emerged as the main areas of concern and were then discussed in-depth by the youth delegates in Break Out Sessions with a number of high level UN and state officials.
The Break Out Sessions provided the United Nations and its member states with a set of concrete ideas on the rights and responsibilities of the youth – from the perspective of the youth delegates – with regard to the aforementioned areas. One of the ideas suggested that gathered unanimous support from the youth delegates was the formation and implementation of development indicators for the youth in regards to progress made in the areas of youth employment and entrepreneurship, education, health, governance and participation, and peace-building and stability. The delegates demanded these indicators be established by the youth and then implemented and monitored by the youth in a formal capacity.
The forum concluded with a presentation of the consolidated document and reflections on the tasks and targets set to ensure youth issues are concretely reflected in all aspects of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.