What is the ECOSOC Youth Forum?
The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum is one avenue for youth participation in the international development agenda. Held each year since 2012, the Forum provides an opportunity for students and young professionals to voice their opinions and ideas, share their challenges and lessons learned, and collaborate with other groups and individuals on sustainable development, particularly on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus of the 2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum was on the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities. From 30-31 January 2018, six Water Youth Network members (Jenny Hagen, Leah Pope, Maryellen Hearn, Robert Sakic, Sara Alonso and Shabana Abbas) participated in the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum in New York City, USA! This is the first international forum WYN attended after its appointment as Global Focal Point (GFP) for SDG 6 within the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY).
Outcomes from the ECOSOC Youth Forum contribute to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), at which SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, and 17 will be reviewed this year. The ECOSOC Youth Forum also serves as an excellent space for young leaders across all SDGs to meet, identify common interests, and share lessons learned with one another.
How was WYN involved?
WYN members participated actively in the preparation and execution of the Forum. We co-organized the breakout session on SDG 6, which included serving as moderator, presenting on interlinkages between SDG 6 and the other SDGs, and a presentation highlighting concrete examples of the importance of connecting young people to achieve SDG 6. WYN members delivered a scheduled intervention in the formal roundtable session, and presented on the interlinkages between SDG 6 and 7 in a side event. Additionally, WYN participated in an interview in the SDG Media Zone. During the formal roundtable, WYN highlighted the contributions of young people in the upcoming 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia. See here the video of the statement made by WYN.
Outside of the scheduled sessions, WYN members wore a number of hats. We represented the organizational position as GFP for SDG 6, WYN member Sara Alonso Vicario also carried the role of Regional Focal Point (RFP) for Science Policy Interface (SPI) with MGCY, and WYN member Leah Pope lead WYN representation in MGCY’s Disaster Risk Reduction team. We spoke with other nonprofit leaders, member state representatives, youth delegates, and private industry actors about WYN’s past successes, current activities, and future plans.
What was the overall impression?
In general, the WYN team members found the event to be a strong introduction to youth engagement in UN processes, that it was a valuable opportunity to meet partner organizations face to face, and to establish new contacts and potential partners across the globe. Speakers and participants picked up a phrase to encapsulate the essence of this year’s Forum: “Make noise”. This was echoed throughout the event, encouraging young people to get involved and shake things up!
As noted above, the next chapter to follow the formal outcomes of the ECOSOC Youth Forum would be to keep tabs on the HLPF in July 2018. One of the most direct ways to contribute is to get involved in your country’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) process, particularly for SDG 6. If you are a youth-led group working on SDG 6 and would like to contribute to VNRs, get in touch with us!
More generally, we encourage all readers to reach out to us and share your thoughts on how you want to get engaged in the following opportunities: