More than 500 youth advocates from around the world, youth ministers and civil society leaders, came together at the 7th ECOSOC Youth Forum last week. The ECOSOC Youth Forum is the largest official annual gathering on youth issues at the United Nations, and this year’s edition was about “the role of youth in building sustainable and resilient urban and rural communities”. Among them were delegates of the MAB Youth Forum, who are engaged in shaping the sustainable development of their communities.
During two days, youth representatives focused their attention on access to water, sanitation (SDG 6), and energy (SDG 7); sustainable and inclusive cities (SDG 11), sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12); sustainably managed forests (SDG 15); use of science, technology and innovations in facilitating youth engagement, development and resilience (SDG 17).
UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) supported the participation of four youth delegates to present the outcomes of the 1st MAB Youth Forum, which took place in September 2017. The MAB Youth Forum brought together youth representatives living or working in Biosphere Reserves, areas that are committed to developing solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use, to give them an opportunity to become active in the MAB Programme and to contribute to the sustainable development of their communities.
A side event on "MAB Youth - Committed to Sustainable Development" gave them an opportunity to share the results of the MAB Youth Forum and the impact it has had on their lives and local engagement. They explained the concrete steps that they are taking, together with their local community, to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. The Side event was organized with the support of the UNESCO liaison office of New York and the Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Venice.
The four MAB Youth delegates also participated in the thematic breakout session on SDG 15 ‘Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss’, co-organized by UNESCO.
The ECOSOC Youth Forum called on Member States to ensure that young people have the institutional and political space to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at country, regional and global levels. “The voices of young people can be amplified at the global level if they are included as youth delegates at the UN and if they are part of national delegations for the review of implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the High-Level Political Forum” said Marie Chatardova, president of the UN Economic and Social Council. The importance of holding their Governments accountable for such commitements, including through vigorous shadow reporting, was highlighted.
With its MAB Youth Forum, the MAB Programme has opened a new space for youth to engage with UNESCO and contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at all levels, to make a difference on the ground.