About the ECOSOC Youth Forum

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum is an annual initiative of the President of the Council. It has evolved into a key platform where young people can contribute to policy discussions at the United Nations through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations.

As the main platform for youth to share their ideas at the global level, the Forum allows representatives of youth-led and youth-focused organizations and networks, youth advocates and other youth stakeholders to dialogue with Member States, and to explore ways and means of promoting youth development and engagement. Participants take part in brainstorming sessions, interactive speaker panels and discussions with Member States on the annual ECOSOC/High-Level Political Forum themes. Other gatherings held in the framework of the Forum, including side events, encourage participants to further engage with one another on a wide range of topics.

The value of the Youth Forum was recognized in the Secretary-General “Critical milestones towards coherent, efficient and inclusive follow-up and review at the global level” (A/70/684), prepared in response to paragraph 90 of the 2030 Agenda, recognizes the potential of the ECOSOC Youth Forum by stating that the High-level Political Forum could be informed by and benefit from several specific Economic and Social Council forums covering cross-cutting issues in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the existing forum on youth (para 31). The outcome of the Youth Forum in the form of its summary is therefore considered as an informal contribution to the HLPF and key elements are referenced in the annual Ministerial Declaration.

The Youth Forum was organized for the first time in 2012, initially as a half-day conference on “Creating a Sustainable Future: Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities”. The first Forum enhanced awareness on high youth unemployment rates, a theme that built on the momentum of the International Year of Youth (2010-2011).

The success of the Youth Forum and the subsequent demand by young people to actively engage led to a full day meeting in 2013 and subsequent Forums have been transformed into two-day meetings.  From 2014 onwards, the themes of the Youth Forum have been developed taking into consideration the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals contained in the 2030 Agenda, for Sustainable Development.

The main focus is the role of youth in the monitoring, review and the implementation of the Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In that context, the Youth Forum offers a unique opportunity for youth to voice their opinions, share ideas, and think together about what should be done to achieve the 2030 Agenda but also to how address the challenges they face as youth and the contributions they can make to achieve the youth-specific SDG targets.

Participation in the forum is by invitation where youth participants are selected by National Youth Councils, regional youth organizations, as well as youth-led and -focused organizations and networks affiliated with the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) and the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organisations (ICMYO).