2019 ECOSOC Youth Forum

A cross section of participants at the breakout session where Victoria Ibiwoye, Executive Director of OneAfricanChild Foundation for Creative Learning (2nd from the left) was the moderator.

On the 8th – 9th of April, 2019, the President of the Economic and Social Council convened the ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York; a platform for young leaders from around the world to engage in a dialogue with United Nations Member States and to share ideas on how to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Youth Forum was held under the theme “Empowered, Included and Equal”, which aligned with the theme of the 2019 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”

The 2019 ECOSOC Youth Forum also parallels the HLPF in that it focused on the themes that will be reviewed at this year’s HLPF at the UN Headquarters in July. They include quality education (SDG4), decent work and economic growth (SDG8), reduced inequalities (SDG10), climate action (SDG13), peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG16), and partnerships for the goals (SDG17).


Victoria Ibiwoye, Executive Director of OneAfricanChild Foundation for Creative Learning and Youth Representative to the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, had the great honour of moderating the SDG4 breakout session. “Youth had a say in shaping the goals – and today we have even more of a role in achieving them – we are drivers of positive change. We have ideas and solutions because we see what is happening day after day in our schools, our universities and our communities. Education is the foundation for realizing all the other goals – for ending poverty, reducing inequalities and empowering people to participate in their societies.”, she stated in her opening remarks.

The breakout session on the Sustainable Development Goal 4, focusing on education and

lifelong learning for all brought together over 120 youth representatives from across the world. The objectives of this session were to:

  • Provide a platform for inclusive youth-centered discussion on the SDG 4, to be reviewed during the upcoming HLPF.
  • Address the challenges faced by youth in the field of education, focusing on the needs of most vulnerable and marginalized.
  • Emphasize the contributions youth can make to achieve the youth-specific targets of the SDG 4.
  • Highlight success stories, networks, and opportunities for youth development and engagement.
  • Develop a set of concrete recommendations for the acceleration of the progress on SDG4.

The youth-led and youth-driven interactive highlighted the transformative power of education, with a special focus on the role of education, inclusion and equality, skills for the 21st century and youth empowerment and inclusion. Inclusive education was recognised as a key driver of sustainable development, including for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and crucial for building peaceful sustainable and resilient societies. Yet, hundreds of million children, adolescents, and youth remain out of school or not learning. Among the most vulnerable and marginalized, 61% of the world’s refugee children are out of school.

Some of the key recommendations that came of the interactive session are:

  • Ensure the right to inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all learners.
  • Young people should have equitable opportunities to acquire skills for work and life through formal, informal and non-formal education, both hard and soft skills.
  • Youth should have to access quality and accessible training opportunities, such as internships and volunteering.
  • Education should be recognized beyond economic returns to enabling learners to be responsible agents of sustainable change and driving forces for social progress.
  • Governments should include migrants, refugee, and other marginalized groups, in the education systems and facilitate the recognition of their qualifications, skills, and competencies.
  • Teachers should be provided with trainings to be able to address diversity and hardship.
  • We call to support access to youth-friendly and right-based comprehensive sexuality education.
  • Education for human rights and global citizenship education should be mainstreamed to fight discrimination, xenophobia, and violence.
  • Finally, there should be more opportunities for active and meaningful participation of young people in decision-making processes in their communities, as young leaders.

Key messages of the session will inform the final statement of the ECOSOC Youth Forum, which will be made available to the ECOSOC High Level Segment and the High-level Political Forum in July and September 2019, that will bring together Heads of States and Governments to convene the first-ever comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


Read the presidential statement here



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