ECOSOC Youth Forum

Young people demand decent jobs and support for their innovations at UN Youth Forum

Young people call for decent employment opportunities, support for youth-led solutions, and meaningful youth engagement in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development at the UN Youth Forum.

News | 25 April 2023
NEW YORK (ILO News) – The three-day ECOSOC Youth Forum — one of the key platforms for youth to share their ideas at the global level — was held in New York on 25-27 April 2023, the first in-person Forum since the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the largest and the most diverse young people’s gathering ever at the United Nations, with more than 800 young people attending in New York and almost 20,000 participating virtually.

The Forum provided a platform for young people, high-level government representatives, and other stakeholders to contribute to policy discussions by sharing their ideas, solutions, and innovations toward SDG implementation. It will connect with key United Nations processes and events in 2023, especially the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development under the Council’s auspices in July, and the SDG Summit, in September.

In her opening remarks Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, stressed: “All young people must be empowered to reach their full potential, have access to the resources needed and can contribute to decision making at all levels ‏— alongside their governments, and other stakeholders as equal partners and not mere beneficiaries.” The United Nations has taken important steps in that direction, she said, including through Youth2030, the system-wide Youth Strategy that guides the UN's efforts to strengthen its work with and for young people and more recently through the decision of the General Assembly to establish the UN Youth Office.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, addressing the Forum via a pre-recorded message, highlighted that “young people are key to building a better future” and pointed to the new Our Common Agenda policy brief calling for expanding and strengthening youth participation in public policy making and decision-making at all levels, to realize the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ILO supported the organization of the special ministerial session on “Youth-led innovations for decent jobs for youth” with a focus on SDG 17. The session, moderated by Maria Rodriguez Alcázar, President of the European Youth Forum, allowed Member States, youth leaders and key partners to share their experiences and strategies to boost employment opportunities, foster inclusion for the most disadvantaged youth and create impactful partnerships towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth.

Susana Puerto, Senior Youth Employment Specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO), opened the session by reflecting on the transformative power of youth-led innovations and inviting governments, the private sector and other stakeholders working with and for young people to renew their commitment to invest in decent jobs for youth through job creation, skills, entrepreneurship opportunities and rights.

The session had contributions from the governments of China, the Gambia, Namibia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It also benefitted from the experiences of global youth networks, young researchers, and young social entrepreneurs from across the globe.

Under the auspices of the Forum, the ILO co-led numerous side events focusing on the meaningful engagement of young refugees and youth in host communities, the promotion of digital skills for employment opportunities of young people in Africa, green jobs for youth, and leveraging youth thought leadership on global stages.

The ECOSOC Youth Forum concluded yesterday with the launch of the an insights paper, which consolidates the reflections and proposals from young people on the good practices, lessons learned, and ambitions for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.