Young people unite at UN forum to shape future development agenda

NEW YORK: Young people from more than 1,000 youth organizations yesterday gathered at United Nations Headquarters to add their voices to the ongoing discussion about a new global agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

“This is about your future so it must be your agenda,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, a two-day event that kicked off on Monday in New York.

With 1.8 billion adolescents and youth around the world, young people face unique challenges in securing quality education, basic health and decent work, Mr. Ban noted. They also confront global challenges, such as climate change.

“There is a world of need out there, but also a world of opportunity. So I urge you to keep doing your part. Keep showing your leadership as global citizens,” he added, urging the youth participants to “keep making a difference.”

The Forum open as the United Nations and its Member States are working to craft a sustainable development agenda beyond 2015, the deadline for reaching the mainly anti-poverty targets set in 2000 when the MDGs were adopted. These negotiations must bear in mind that with half the world s population under the age of 25, the current generation of youth is the largest ever, and specific targets focused on youth should be integrated into any future development framework.

As part of their agenda, Youth Forum delegates will today deliver the “Global Youth Call” to Member States and Mr. Ban s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, spotlighting education, employment and entrepreneurship, health, peace and security, and governance as the thematic areas of greatest concern for them in the future.

More than 1.2 million young people voted in the My World 2015 survey, and participated in a crowdsourcing platform convened by UN agencies and partners, to voice their concerns.