Around seven hundred people attended the ECOSOC youth forum at the United Nations headquarters this 30-31st January 2017. The subject: The role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity in a changing world. This most pressing issue was to be discussed in the light of the 17 sustainable development goals from the 2030 sustainable development agenda.
The event brought together young delegates from almost every member state of the United Nations, ministers, civil society and youth advocates from all corners of the world. The plenary session was introduced by the President of ECOSOC, the President of the General Assembly and a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations. Plenary sessions, which mostly included interventions from high-level officials from the UN such the above mentioned and the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, later gave way to interactive round-tables that feature young delegates from member states and heads of ministries related to youth and education.
The interventions in the above described instances were enriching in terms of the inputs from the diverse experiences of states policies presented by ministers representing their governments, young delegates and representatives from international non-profits that were invited to participate in the plenary. It offered a clearer view of the complex, uneven and multifaceted landscape where the initiatives dedicated to generate inclusive processes of youth development are taking place; as well as the issue of how governments and civil society are approaching it. The statements and presentations during this instance allowed a glimpse into the greater challenges pertaining public policy in the wide range of components involving youth development: gender, education, job creation, health (particularly the issues of reproductive health and the difficulties of addressing mental health related topics across the sustainable development agenda), etc.
The breakout sessions that followed allowed for a much more varied group of stakeholders coming from the nonprofit sector to organize the discussions in smaller sets: Poverty reduction, food security, Health, Gender equality, Infrastructure and environment. In this second instance the implementation of initiatives on the ground was discussed though diverse panels that included state and nonprofit representatives. The first day these sessions were divided through a thematic scope and the second day through regional focus. This second instance of the forum created the space for relevant exchanges related to the nature of the challenges, for instance: around 42% of Latin-American youth from 0-14 years old are living in poverty, young population that is currently unemployed and outside of the formal education system, the multi-layered obstacles to promote youth development such as gender inequality, lack of comprehensive policies for LGBT communities, people with disability or ethnic minorities across the hemisphere suffering differentiated exclusion.