Youth Engagement in the Transition from MDGs to SDGs: What will it take?

In July 2015, Member States, policy makers, civil society organizations, representatives ofacademia and the private sector will meet in New York during the high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to address the theme of the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on “Managing the transition from MDGs to SDGs: what will it take?” The entire ECOSOC systemwill consider this theme throughout its work during the 20142015 cycle, including the Council’s subsidiary bodies. It will also be the focus of informal events of the Council, including the Partnerships and Youth Fora.

To bring the voice of youth into this discussion, ECOSOC will convene a Youth Forum on 2-3
February 2015 on how to maximize the engagement of young people in the transition from
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The
Forum, which will precede the 53rd Session of the Commission for Social Development
(CSocD)will be organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the Office of the United Nations’ Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, in collaboration with members of the UN Inter-agency Network on Youth Development.

The ECOSOC Youth Forum, which was launched in 2012, provides an annual platform for
youth to engage in dialogue with Member States on a range of issues of interest to them.

Since 2012, the Forum has become a space where young people can contribute to policy discussions at the United Nations through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. Past Youth Fora have discussed youth employment, science, technology and innovation and the post 2015 development agenda. Regional and global level Youth Fora have also fed into the ECOSOC Youth Forum.

Youth and Development
With 1.8 billion young people aged 10-24 in the world, young people are central to development efforts. Close to 90 percent of the world’s youth live in developing countries, where they often make up the largest proportion of the population. Barriers to education, poor living conditions, and lack of decent work– the global youth unemployment rate was estimated at 12.6% in 2013 by ILO – have worked to marginalize many young people and contribute to intergenerational conflict dynamics in many societies. Young women and girls frequently experience additional disadvantage and gender-based discrimination thus limiting their ability to be actors and beneficiaries of development.

The input of young people is essential to devising sustainable and targeted measures to
foster more inclusive practices of decision-making and deliberation on sustainable
development issues. Strong institutions and effective governance are essential for the
transition from the MDGs to the SDGs. Creating space for youth in all their diversity to shape
this transition, including through democratic institutions, participation in policy development, decision-making, implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation, is key to the success of a transformative sustainable development agenda.

The Conferences and Summits of the 1990s, including Environment and Development,
Social Development and Population and Development reached a new consensus on the
need to put people at the centre of development. These paved the way for the World
Programme of Action for Youth (1995), which set out 15 priorities areas to advance youth
development and is considered the blueprint for youth development work at both the national and international levels.

The 20th anniversary commemoration of the WPAY coupled with ongoing work towards the
development of a post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development create a
strong opportunity for the ECOSOC Youth Forum to take stock of progress and gains made
within the broader development framework of the UN, while focusing on how young people
have been and continue to set the agenda and framework for the Sustainable Development
Goals.

The findings and lessons learned from other related processes such as the 20-year review of
Cairo Programme of Action on Population and Development which took place in 2014 and
the upcoming 20 th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action in 2015, in particular as they relate to young people, including young women and girls, will feed into the preparations of the Youth Forum.

A Youth Lens
Many important gains have been made in the 15 years since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, however, significant gaps remain. As the international community gears itself towards the establishment of a development framework beyond 2015, young people’s involvement is more crucial than ever.

A child born the same year as the birth of the Millennium Development Goals (2000), will
become a youth and celebrate her 15th birthday just as the MDGs expire. Throughout the
Forum, discussions will be framed to look at what gains have been made for a child born in
this period, and what her prospects as a youth will look like beyond 2015.

While the MDGs did much to improve levels of child survival and children’s enrollment in
primary education, the numbers of young people – particularly young women and girls –
completing secondary level education remain stiflingly low. Success in reducing the rates of
infection of HIV and AIDS in children and those over 24 years of age have not been met with the same success rates in the youth cohort. Globally, young women aged 15-24 have HIV infection rates twice as high as young men, and account for 22% of all new HIV infections. As the Forum examines the shift from MDGs to SDGs, it will also examine the impact of development efforts as a child moves into adolescence, youth, and beyond.

In doing so, the Forum will discuss ways in which young people can and are helping to
manage the shift from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) and importantly, ways to ensure that the needs and priorities of all youth are at
the centre of the future development agenda and its implementation. The Forum will highlight persistent gender gaps and ways to overcome those in the new development agenda.

Visit the official Forum website