ECOSOC Youth Forum – Day 1

By Jamie Judd

Regional breakdown sessions

With the lack of inclusion of young people at the heart of decision-making in many countries, and the youth demonstrations across Europe being addresses by few governments, one could have well expected the atmosphere at the ECOSOC Youth Forum to be one of futility. Instead it was anything but. The conversations in the regional breakdown sessions demonstrated a hopeful manner, and were attended by a wide range of young people -- schoolgirls missing days of school to participate; young members of the UN secretariat and even the youngest ministers and ambassadors of Member States. The diversity of backgrounds and experiences added much and helped shape the messages that came from the discussions to best represent the world's youth. Furthermore, while there was a concerted push for increasing youth representation in decision-making, the response from member states' governments was admirable, with Education and Youth ministers being present to take on board the views they were being presented with.

The discussions in these groups sought to tackle many issues, from those affecting young people such as age-based discrimination, to challenges that young people are in a position to help resolve, eg migration, as well as topics that they will have to tackle in the near future, such as challenges and benefits that come with the advancement of technology and the increasing use of automation. 

The discussion and debate was also lively in the focused session on climate change, with participants calling for the necessary steps to be taken by governments such as phasing out of pollutants and the establishment of institutional frameworks to guarantee that the young generation that will face the effects of climate change can have a place at the table to be included in discussions on what can be done to stop it. In discussing wider societal calls for change, young people not only recognized that the most important step that can be taken by the private sector should be a commitment to climate neutrality by 2040, but also committed themselves to lead the way in making personal changes to their diets and methods of transport, as well as by leading public outreach and engagement efforts in their home communities. This last point also show the overall mood of the session: whatever their potential may be as the leaders of tomorrow, young people are also doing their part to help lead the way today.

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