The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organization. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also the parent organization of ESCAP, of which CSAM is a regional institution.
On 7 and 8 April 2021, the 10th Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum was held virtually on the theme of “A Decade of Action: Building a Resilient Recovery.” Convened by the H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC and co-organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), the event was attended by nearly 20,000 young people around the world, which marked the largest youth-focused event in UN75 history. This year, Ms. Wing Yu (Carter) Cheng, a former Economic Affairs Intern and Programme Facilitator of the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (CSAM), received the Centre’s nomination to attend the Forum as a representative of the younger generation working in the UN system and a young leader of multiple youth networks, including the Peking University Yenching fellowship programme as well as the Bai Xian Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Network.
To accommodate the attendance of nearly 20,000 youth delegates, this year’s forum was carried out primarily in forms of virtual panel discussions, keynote presentations and break-out session discussions. Beginning with the opening remarks given by H.E. Ambassador Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC; Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the General Assembly; Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; and Ms. Anika Jenne Dorothy, Executive Director of the Green Congress of Kenya, the first day of the forum featured panel discussions on the themes of “Young people in the driver seat to build back better” and “Achieving the SDGs with and for youth” as well as thematic breakout panel discussions on “a people-centric response”, “accelerating action for the planet”, “prospering and thriving”, “inclusive peace”, and “harnessing partnerships, resources and science.” The second day of the Forum then featured regional breakout sessions, which carried out in forms of panel discussion and presentations, with government officials, experts and youth leaders, as well as general panel discussions on the themes of “Addressing the long-term consequences of COVID-19 for vulnerable youth groups” and “Celebrating a decade of the youth forum.” The event was concluded by the closing remarks by the President of the Economic and Social Council; Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; and Ms. Melati Wijsen and Ms. Isabel Wijsen, Founders of Bye Bye Plastic Bags and Founders of YouthTopia.
Commemorating its 10th anniversary, the 2021 Forum engendered three overarching outcomes, including (1) the review of the Youth 2030: The UN Youth Strategy; (2) the launch of the Youth 2030: Global Progress Report 2021; and (3) the founding of the UN Youth 2030 platform (https://www.unyouth2030.com/), which includes an extensive set of guidelines and toolkits for stakeholders (i.e. governments, youth and UN Country Teams) to further the implementation of the UN Youth Strategy in different priority and thematic areas.