The 2014 edition of the ECOSOC Youth Forum recently concluded with a strong endorsement from Member States for the Global Youth Call, which captures the aspirations and combined input of thousands of young people to the UN’s Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
The document, which represents one of the first instances of high-level policy around which youth advocates can rally, has been several months in the making and brought together moderators from UN and civil society organizations with young stakeholders in an online ITU-facilitated crowdsourcing initiative.
The global conversation on youth issues has, however, been happening for a lot longer, through online consultations such as the My World campaign, and physical consultations at local, national and international levels. A key challenge facing the moderators and those developing ‘the Call’ has been to balance the plentiful and diverse viewpoints expressed in numerous fora, in a succinct and concise document targeted at Post-2015 negotiators, primarily Member States.
These difficulties aren’t lost on the Chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG) – the primary negotiation mechanism – and the UN Secretariat which supports the drafting of the Post-2015 goals, as they attempt to whittle down 17 focus areas with potentially thousands of indicators into a realistic and measurable set of development priorities. While it’s important that the Post-2015 goals don’t leave anyone behind, it is hard to imagine any country that has the capacity to track and report on hundreds, let alone thousands of development indicators, highlighting the need for focused and concise wording.
One of the biggest opportunities for young people to help advance the UN’s sustainable development agenda is through supporting implementation and monitoring of the goals by national governments. Indeed, youth participation in national decision makingprocesses was a recurring theme throughout the ECOSOC Youth Forum, and while the Post-2015 goals will be primarily decided by Member States through intergovernmental negotiations, achieving them will be another matter entirely, and will require the dedicated support of young and old alike.
While participation in setting the actual goals may be limited in these final 18 months, as the UN Secretariat and the chairs of the OWG grapple to find consensus between Member States, the process has been informed by more than 2 years of consultations, dialogues and reports with diverse stakeholders representing vulnerable groups and the most marginalized. These inputs certainly haven’t been ignored, and as made clear by Mr Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary and Co-chair of the OWG during his address to the Forum, a key objective of the Post-2015 goals is to safeguard the needs of this and future generations of young people who will live in the post-MDG world.
During the event, young delegates were encouraged to think of actions and contributions they could make to help national governments accelerate the attainment of the Post-2015 goals, and hold their failures to account through monitoring and evaluation. The role of information and data were recurring themes, highlighting the importance of information and communication technology in empowering marginalized groups with knowledge and effective means of coordination. However, access remains a challenge, with some 60% of the world’s population still offline, connecting the unconnected has never been more paramount.
Join the more than 1000 youth-led organizations who have endorsed the Call: http://bit.ly/1j2Lv5z
Read the UN’s Press Communique from the final day of the forum: http://bit.ly/1hBGF4r
By: Doug Court
@DougiCourt is Focal Point for youth at the ITU and oversees the organization’s engagement with young people and academia.