Home » General » Amid Rising Global Discontent, States Must Partner with Young People to Create Equitable Future, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council Youth Forum

Convening amid a backlash against globalization, expanding economic inequality and marked shifts towards nationalism and isolation around the world, the sixth annual Economic and Social Council Youth Forum opened to hundreds of Government representatives and youth delegates today with an urgent focus on the role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity.

Speakers opening the two-day event stressed that the world’s 1.8 billion young people had been disproportionately affected by rising inequality brought about by rapid technological innovation, and continued to face unemployment, discrimination and exploitation.  Many stressed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — with its concrete targets and promise to leave no one behind — must serve as a unifying roadmap for all generations, in sharp contrast to the “bans and walls” proposed by some world leaders.

Council President Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe) said the broad participation in the Forum was a sure sign that people “have not given into despair and cynicism”.  The 2030 Agenda was a blueprint for action “by and for the youth”, as it sought to achieve lasting prosperity while preserving the Earth for coming generations.  He underlined a number of priorities in that context, including boosting investments in education, putting in place social safety nets and promoting sustainable production and consumption patterns.

Secretary-General António Guterres, addressing the meeting via videoconference, issued a broad appeal to youth delegates gathered at the Forum as well as those following through social media from around the world:  “We want to hear from you — tell us how the United Nations can see the world from your perspective and address your concerns.”  Noting that his Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, was approaching the end of his term of office, he thanked him for four years of dedicated work in elevating youth issues on the global agenda. 

“When youth are left out of the equation, the results speak for themselves,” said Mr. Alhendawi.  Recalling that the 2007-2008 global economic crisis had resulted in high youth unemployment, protests, and finally, radicalization and violent extremism — raising questions about how to address young people’s concerns — he emphasized the need for everyone to do more for youth and to engage with them in candid discussions.  Young people were central to everything the United Nations did, he added.

Echoing that sentiment, Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) said the Forum had become a dynamic, innovative and essential fixture on the United Nations calendar in just a few short years.  Emphasizing the relevance of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change to the Forum’s current focus on poverty eradication, he said the best chance for achieving a sustainable way of life lay in ensuring that young people were fully engaged and empowered as innovators in those development processes.

Keynote speaker Trisha Shetty, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SheSays, representative of the Major Group for Children and Youth and member of the United Nations Young Leaders, declared:  “We must be acutely aware that every minute we are losing young lives to violence and discrimination.”  Noting that the 2030 Agenda offered a holistic road map forward — in contrast to bans and walls — she said the 17 Sustainable Development Goals should also serve as a template for young people to demand accountability from their Governments.

Hisham Bin Mohammed Al-Jowder, Minister for Youth and Sport Affairs of Bahrain, also delivered a keynote address, stressing that young people’s “enthusiasm, dynamism and drive” must not be wasted.  Recalling that their hopes and ambitions had been instrumental in designing the Goals, he said it was now crucial to create young leaders in fields ranging from science to sports and music to social work.

During an interactive round-table discussion on the role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity, a number of Government ministers responded to questions from youth delegates as well as from the moderator, Mr. Alhendawi, who pointed out that the Forum’s discussions would feed directly into the Council’s High-Level Political Forum on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.

The cross-cutting nature of youth issues was underscored by the presence of a range of Government ministers, not just those responsible for youth affairs, he said.  Among those represented were ministers for education, human resource development, equal opportunities and foreign affairs, many of whom described national efforts to empower youth, support their development and institutionalize their participation in decision-making.

The topics discussed ranged from the importance of intergenerational dialogue and the creation of local youth councils, to the provision of education and other services, to the massive flows of young refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.  The heads of a number of youth organizations and major groups also participated, calling in particular for more financing to support young people as the “custodians of the future”.

Also today, the Forum held six breakout sessions on the Sustainable Development Goals to be reviewed under the High-Level Political Forum in 2017, as well as a second round table on the role of technology in the implementation of the Goals, moderated by Erhardt Graeff, PhD Researcher at the Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab.  The discussion centred on young people’s contributions to addressing developmental challenges.

The Youth Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 31 January, to conclude its work.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the broad participation in today’s meeting was a sure sign that people around the world “have not given into despair and cynicism”.  Indeed, there was a readiness to respond to the clarion call, made through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to leave no one behind.  “Your presence here tells me that you recognize that years of collaborative action, through the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and other development goals have resulted in tangible progress toward poverty eradication,” he said.  However, global prosperity had been uneven, with inequalities rising.  Today, the very ideas of globalization and international trade were viewed by many with a sense of unease and anxiety.  In particular, the world faced massive migration flows and youth unemployment.  “As 2017 dawned, many were asking what went wrong.”

However, there was an alternate direction available through implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which he called a blueprint for action “by and for the youth” as it sought to achieve lasting prosperity today while preserving the Earth for coming generations.  “We must ensure that economic growth is as inclusive as it is sustainable,” he stressed, adding that the failings of the current models must be addressed.  Social safety nets could help spread the benefits of globalization more equitably, and investment in education — which should be relevant to the needs of the labour market, unleashing both creativity and innovation — was critical.  Noting that climate change was among the biggest challenges, he called for increased investment in sustainable consumption and production, and policy actions to promote innovation in those areas.  “Youth have a special stake” in implementing the 2030 Agenda, he concluded, stressing:  “this will be your world”.

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressing the Forum via videoconference from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, emphasized that millions of young people continued to struggle to find work, and suffered from violence and discrimination — even in places where peace prevailed.  He urged youth around the world to help steer the United Nations.  “We want to hear from you — tell us how the United Nations can see the world from your perspective and address your concerns,” he said, thanking the Envoy on Youth for his work in elevating their issues on the global agenda.

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said that within a few short years, the Youth Forum had become a dynamic, innovative and essential fixture on the United Nations calendar.  The focus this year could not be more fundamental to poverty eradication efforts.  Poverty affected young people disproportionately, with 156 million youth around the world living in extreme poverty, he said, a number that could grow amid automation, digitization, slowing economic growth and environmental destruction.  Emphasizing the importance of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said the best chance for achieving a sustainable way of life lay in ensuring that young people were fully engaged and empowered as innovators in development processes.

He called for young people to be part of inclusive new partnerships involving Governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector that would drive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  They must also help shape new ways to run economies, do business and manage labour markets so that those systems were based on principles of sustainability and equality, and featured access to education, health and decent green jobs.  In addition, the Youth Forum should be strengthened so that young people were heard and could help shape policies.  Young people today would, as adults, inherit the success or failure of the 2030 Agenda, and he called on them to bring their energy, passion, idealism and ideas to the task of implementing the Goals.

AHMAD ALHENDAWI, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, said it was heart-warming to see young people gain recognition during three “waves” that included the 2007-2008 economic crisis, which had resulted in high youth unemployment, protests in 2011 and then radicalization and violent extremism, which had made the world question how to deal with young people.  He expressed hope that another crisis would not be required in order to discover young people’s role in development.  “When youth are left out of the equation, the results speak for themselves,” he said, emphasizing the need for everyone to do more for youth and to engage with them in candid discussions. 

Recalling that this was his last week as Youth Envoy after a four-year term, he said it had been an exceptional journey that had enabled him to see the centrality of youth in everything the United Nations was doing.  Sixteen indicators in the 2030 Agenda related to youth, while Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security had benefitted from contributions by the large youth peacebuilding movement.  Indeed, Governments were better off when they listened meaningfully to youth and struggled when they did not, he added.

He urged young people to be a source of hope, saying: “We make progress when we don’t underestimate our power, or the power of showing up, when shared values are under attack.”  Young people around the world were remarkably similar, but the situations in which they found themselves were linked to access to opportunities.  Youth today were the most connected generation in history, but they were also dealing with the most interconnected challenges.  Recalling the 1985 film Back to the Future, in which the future was set in 2015, he said young people were “here right now”.  Expressing his belief in the United Nations and the multilateral path to peace and progress, he encouraged youth delegates to take time, learn and speak with representatives of Member States who were also attending the Youth Forum.

HISHAM BIN MOHAMMED AL-JOWDER, Minister for Youth and Sport Affairs of Bahrain, delivering a statement on behalf of Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, said the world’s 1.8 billion young people between 10 and 24 years old had become ever more essential in shaping the future.  Their hopes and ambitions had been instrumental in designing the Sustainable Development Goals and it was now critical to provide them unconditional guidance and limitless opportunities.  Young people must be empowered and become leaders in all fields, from science and sports, to music and social work.  He urged recognizing that without young people’s participation, implementing change would be near impossible.

“Their enthusiasm, dynamism and drive should not be wasted,” he stressed, outlining ways that Bahrain had encouraged opportunity for young people, including through partnering up with the United Nations.  The private sector was also empowering young people from different cultural backgrounds through novel and creative means.  Recognizing the role of various sectors and the importance of promoting a global culture that invested in and involved young people, he emphasized that good habits formed at a tender age.  It would not be enough to simply talk of empowerment behind closed doors.  Rather, conversations must happen everywhere and nations must commit to believing in young people.

TRISHA SHETTY, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SheSays, representative of the Major Group for Children and Youth and member of the United Nations Young Leaders, described three cases of child rape and murder in which her team was currently involved in her home country, India.  Among those were the sexual abuse and murder of a young woman in her home, the rape of a four-and-a-half-year-old child by her neighbour and the discovery of the dismembered body of a three-year-old girl.  “We must be acutely aware that every minute we are losing young lives to violence and discrimination,” she stressed, adding that the many challenges facing people around the world disproportionately affected young people.  Millions of young people faced violence, discrimination and the effects of climate change, she said, emphasizing that “these statistics are not alternative facts”.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals offered a holistic road map forward, she said, in contrast to bans and walls.

It was critical to build the resilience of the most vulnerable — including women and youth — and to safeguard their environment.  They must fight for a seat at the table that went beyond “tokenism” by investing in youth parliamentarians and through programmes such as the Special Envoy’s Office’s “Not too Young to Run” campaign.  “You had better step up,” she said, calling on Government representatives present in the room to advocate more strongly for the youth that could vote for them.  Better policies were also needed at the national levels, she said, recalling that marital rape had yet to be criminalized in her country and that those who advocated for a change to that policy were sometimes termed “western-imported feminists”.  More data, disaggregated by age, were needed, and young people needed to use the Sustainable Development Goals as a template to demand accountability from their Governments.  “We will get up, lace up and show up to fight to make our existence known,” she concluded.

Interactive Round Table on Role of Youth in Poverty Eradication

The Council then held an interactive round-table session on the theme “The role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity”.  Moderated by Mr. Alhendawi, it featured Government ministers and other high-level speakers from around the world.

Mr. ALHENDAWI, opening the discussion, said the Council’s annual Youth Forum offered the most institutionalized setting for the United Nations to join together with young people, as it would feed into the discussions of the Council’s High-Level Political Forum on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  The cross-cutting nature of youth issues was underscored by the presence today of various Government ministers, not only ministers for youth.

IGOR CRNADAK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to a question on how youth issues were being brought to the international stage, replied that young people were critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Almost 90 per cent of young people lived in developing countries, and many lacked access to adequate education, health systems or employment.  Bosnia and Herzegovina had worked to help youth hold their Government accountable, and was bringing youth perspectives to the fore at the local, national, regional and international levels.  The region had seen much cooperation, including in the area of intercultural development, which was especially critical given its turbulent past.  However, “we need more active participation”, he said, including through non-governmental organizations, youth groups and at international forums such as the United Nations. 

NIELS CASZO, President of AIESEC International, asked by Mr. Alhendawi to describe progress made on youth issues, said many young people still lacked a decent understanding of global issues, especially the 2030 Agenda.  Asking participants whether they felt all their peers understood the Agenda and its 17 Goals — to which not one delegate raised his or her hand — he stressed that the work done for and by youth so far was “just the tip of the iceberg”.  His organization’s “Youth for Global Goals” project had reached out to millions of young people, thousands of whom had taken action in their communities.  However, despite many good intentions by Member States, funding for such work remained a challenge.  “If we say young people are the custodians of the future, we need to give them more support through funding,” he said.

SHRI BIREN SIKDER, State Minister for Youth and Sports of Bangladesh, asked how his country was engaging youth in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, explained that in Bangladesh people between the ages of 18 to 35 represented one third of the population.  The Government believed they could play a vital role, and that it was its duty to provide young people with proper guidance and institutional support.  He described a number of programmes in that regard, adding that there should be several platforms at the United Nations to engage youth in the formulation of global policies.

DALJIT B.K. SHREEPALI, Minister for Youth and Sport of Nepal, asked how his country aligned its national youth policy with the Sustainable Development Goals, discussed the work of the National Youth Council.  The Government had linked its various youth development programmes with the Goals.  For example, special programmes had been put in place to address gender violence, girl trafficking and domestic violence, while other important policy initiatives sought to enhance the status of youth in Nepal.

ALEXEI PALAMARCHUK, Acting Head of the Federal Agency on Youth Affairs, Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, to a question on how to promote the Goals at the nineteenth World Festival of Youth and Students, explained that the event, to be held in Sochi from 14 to 22 October, would bring together youth from around the world who had different views, but were united in their determination to create a better world.  Organizers were planning a number of round tables, parallel discussions and lectures on education, the environment, security, economic growth and other topics.  He invited the Youth Forum to participate in the festival and looked forward to support from the United Nations. 

JOÃO PAULO REBELO, Secretary of State of Youth and Sport of Portugal, responding to a question about how his country was setting the stage for the implementation of the Goals, said youth policies interacted with all ministries, from education and employment, to health care, the environment, citizenship, communities and political participation.  Portuguese young people engaged with the Economic and Social Council, as well as with the European Union’s decision-making processes and Ibero-American dialogue, and with the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community.  Portugal, along with Senegal and the Republic of Moldova, planned to present a resolution to the General Assembly’s seventy-second session on the empowerment, participation and integration of youth in decision-making.

AZAD RAHIMOV, Minister for Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan, asked how his Government would engage on youth issues, said Azerbaijan was working to mobilize young people to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health, education, gender and employment.  It was working with partners to ensure that targets were achieved before the deadline, he said, drawing attention to a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to raise awareness of the Goals among young people.  Also, the Youth Foundation was working on thousands of youth-led projects, worth millions of dollars, he said, adding that “investing in youth domestically and abroad is a smart investment”.

CARIZA SEGUERRA, Chairperson of National Youth Commission of the Philippines, responding to a question about how his country’s national youth policy engaged young people in the implementation of the Goals, said youth comprised 30 per cent of the Philippines’ population.  Among other things, its youth policy defined the duties of local governments in addressing young people’s political, cultural and civic rights.  As part of its Chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2017, the Philippines had also worked to align its youth policies with those of the group, as well as with the 2030 Agenda.  “Youth will help realize the [Goals],” he said, calling for adult-youth partnerships at all levels of Government and creation of more youth councils around the world.

MAX TREJO, International Youth Organization from Ibero-America, asked to relay information from the group’s recent summit, responded by drawing attention to his organization’s “Pact for Youth”, which had been agreed with 22 Ibero-American States and established 23 actions to help young people.  “This shows that in our region actions are stronger than words,” he said, warning against “resting on our laurels”.   More work was needed to implement those agreements, targets and indicators, requiring efforts by United Nations agencies.  Underscoring the importance of civil society organizations in engaging young people, he said more efforts were needed to mobilize Governments, monitor implementation of the 2030 Agenda and address related gaps.  “Today, some Governments want to build walls,” he said, stressing that “now is the time” to not let history repeat itself.

SAMANTHA O’BRIEN O’REILLY, youth delegate from Ireland, asked how many Governments, in drawing up national implementation plans for the Sustainable Development Goals, had sought the input of young people.  If young people were to put their energy into building sustainable societies, they must be empowered to do so.  The 2030 Agenda would be achieved by cooperation, not by command.

KAREN ELLEMANN, Minister for Equal Opportunities of Denmark, was asked by a Forum participant from Tunisia to share her country’s best practices regarding young people and closing the gender gap.  Replying, she said the recipe was clear — everyone had the same rights, and thus, everyone had equal opportunities in Denmark as well as equal responsibilities.  On a global level, she emphasized such challenges as domestic violence and honour-related crimes, stressing that Denmark would continue to push for full sexual and reproductive health rights until all women and girls could decide freely over their own bodies.

SAMANTHA MARSHALL, Minister for Social Transformation and Human Resource Development of Antigua and Barbuda, described her country’s efforts to promote youth and women in leadership positions.  Since 2014, there had been an equal number of female and male senators, she said, including the country’s youngest-ever female senator, who was around 23 years old.  She emphasized the need to sensitize the public about the Goals and ensure that women and girls understood them. 

SOLVEIG HORNE, Minister for Children and Equality of Norway, to a question about youth education and youth employment, said it was her Government’s goal to increase access to work.  It sought to reduce the proportion of young people lacking jobs, education and training.  She described a number of programmes that Norway had put into place, including one that would provide mentors for those aged 14 to 23 who were in danger of dropping out of school or work.

Ms. WU, speaking on behalf of the Major Group for Children and Youth, asked the representative of the United States a question related to access to secondary education and the large burden of student loan debt often seen in his country.

ANDREW RABENS, Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues of the United States, responded that access to quality education was among the most critical challenges around the world.  “We need to prevent the lottery of birth determining one’s prospects in life,” he stressed, calling education the “great equalizer” and a springboard for young people to pursue their passions and create opportunities.  The United States was working to guarantee equal access to education early in life and ensure that it prepared young people for knowledge- and innovation-fuelled jobs. It was estimated that nearly half of young people now entering grade school would one day enter industries that did not yet exist.  Thus, it was crucial to better understand the labour market, align education with emerging opportunities and keep the costs of higher education down.

Mr. ALHENDAWI, noting that some 6 million school-aged refugees were currently registered with the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), then asked Akif Cagatay Kilic, Minister for Youth and Sport of Turkey, how his country was tackling the fundamental rights of young refugees during the present crisis.

Mr. KILIC agreed that Turkey had seen a “shocking” number of refugees — nearly 3 million — from neighbouring Iraq and Syria.  As the provision of education and other basic services was a big challenge, it was critical to prevent young refugees from becoming a “lost generation”, he said.  Refugee children took part in the Turkish school system, with thousands enrolled in the country’s universities.  The Government was also carrying out a number of important social inclusion programmes.  “We need to give opportunities to youngsters who are eager to take part in the world” while also helping them keep their traditions alive in the face of the great challenges, he said.  It was the human responsibility of all people, including through the United Nations, to give young refugees a chance at a better future.

Ms. ILLES, Deputy Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs of Hungary, asked to describe her country’s efforts to reduce youth unemployment, said that rate had recently fallen to under 12 per cent — below the European Union average.  Hungary had developed a multilateral approach to help young people transition from education to employment.  Family and children were a top national priority, she said, drawing attention to such projects as the Youth Guarantee Programme, which aimed to support young people holistically.  Mr. VOLOM, youth delegate from Hungary, then took the floor to emphasize the importance of intergenerational dialogue.

CHRISTOPHER DEKKI, International Movement of Catholic Students PAX-Romana, addressed a question about national efforts to help youth entrepreneurs to the Permanent Representative of Kenya.

MACAHRIA KAMAU (Kenya) responded that, with young people comprising more than 30 per cent of his country’s population, youth issues were a major priority.  Kenya had established a Youth Enterprise Development Fund to support young entrepreneurs in start-ups and business expansion, provide skills training and create access to employment abroad.  It had distributed loans, on soft terms, to more than 1 million young Kenyans, and helped them develop links with large enterprises.  Among other things, the Fund was also fostering access to affordable commercial infrastructure and helping young people to win tenders for the provision of goods and services to county governments.

Mr. ALHENDAWI then drew attention to the central role played by youth in the recent peace agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) group. 

JUAN CARLOS REYES, President of Colombia Joven, said young people had been especially active after the Cartagena Peace Agreement was rejected by a small majority in October 2016.  They had risen up to stress the importance of ending the war, and as a result, generated the climate necessary for the Government and the FARC to return to the negotiating table and adjust the peace agreement.  Youth organizations, in particular, had worked to influence Parliamentarians to endorse and implement the agreement.

DESSIMA WILLIAMS, Special Adviser to the President of the General Assembly for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, noted that today’s discussions would contribute to the High-Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals that the Economic and Social Council would hold from 10 to 19 July.  She described the work of “two fabulous young women” — one, from Morocco, who was using art to help people embrace the Goals, and the other, from Guinea, who had established an organization to promote the Goals.  She also emphasized the importance of the United Nations outlining a set of values, including justice, equality, non-discrimination and leaving no one behind.

Interactive Round Table on Role of Technology

In the afternoon, the Economic and Social Council Youth Forum held a panel discussion on the “Role of technology in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,” moderated by Erhardt Graeff, PhD Researcher at the Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab.  The panel included the following speakers: James Powell, U-Report Global Lead, United Nations Children’s Fund; Zoe Carletide, U-Report Manager, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts; Nevena Vukasinovic, Secretary-General for the Organisation Européenne Non-Gouvernementale des Sports (ENGSO), Belgrade Initiative for Digital and Public Diplomacy-UN MGCY Science Policy Interface Platform; Zain Habboo, Senior Director for Digital and Multimedia Strategy, UN Foundation; and Jake Horowitz, Founder of MIC and young leader for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. GRAEFF, introducing the panellists, said that one of the most exciting opportunities for youth was technology, yet too many young people lacked access to digital tools and other infrastructure necessary to leverage technology.  In some places, information was simply shut down and misinformation was rampant.  Today’s discussion would focus on the contributions of young people to addressing developmental challenges and equipping youth with skills.

Mr. POWELL underscored the need to exploit the most connected generation in history through bold and innovative ideas.  The tools to reach millions of people now existed even in hard to reach places, ensuring that people who had never been part of the development process could now be involved.  To reach the most marginalized people, technology would have to be affordable.  Partnerships between the private sector and civil society must focus on empowering young people and youth organizations.  As the digital world could be a dangerous place, it would be critical to ensure a safe space for young people to express themselves without fear of repercussion. 

Ms. CARLETIDE said U-Report supported and empowered millions of girls to share their challenges, views and hopes.  U-Report allowed UNICEF to collect qualitative data in a quantitative way.  Noting that the current poll on the website had garnered some 4,000 responses on incidents of sexual violence, she said many reported that sexual violence against girls and women was worsening, and remained a major barrier to women securing their full rights and well-being.  It would be critical to work together to build a future where everyone felt safe, she added.

Ms. VUKASINOVIC said there were ongoing debates over whether technology had had a positive or negative impact on societies.  The answer was both:  Technology had become so prevalent that it was difficult to measure its impacts; however, it remained the key driver of sustainable development.  To reap its full benefits while minimalizing its negative impacts, technology and innovation must work hand-in-hand.  Digital literacy would help provide decent jobs for youth.  Enhancing young people’s meaningful participation would also empower them to shape their future.  “I refuse to be left behind,” she said, emphasizing that action meant shared engagement and that young people were the best catalysts of hope.

Ms. HABBOO said the UN Foundation was a big believer in media partnerships as a means of raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on print and digital-only media.  In 2014-15, it had observed a 228 per cent increase in English-language media coverage of sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. HOROWITZ described his experience with a high-school friend in launching a news company that would appeal to millennials and become “the next CNN”.  It was time for youth to show that it had a voice.  The power was with the people and the current generation must go into the streets and make their voices heard.

The panel then took questions from the moderator and others in the Forum on such topics as creative storytelling methods, reaching youth in areas of low Internet penetration, partnerships with the private sector, localized languages and the use of social media to radicalize young people.

Mr. HOROWITZ responded that everyone today had a mobile phone and understood how to go live on social media.  He recalled how social media had been used a few months earlier to draw attention to Native American issues during protests at Standing Rock against pipeline construction.

Ms. HABBOO said that, whatever the platform, when someone discovered the story they wanted to tell, and to whom they would tell it, then the story would tell itself.

Ms. CARLETIDE added that voices would more easily heard when people joined or helped to build a community.  That was especially important for marginalized people.

Mr. POWELL said that in areas of low Internet penetration, face-to-face interaction remained valuable if conducted with goodwill and enthusiasm.  He also noted the creation of innovation funds by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF in support of youth innovation.

On social media and the radicalization of youth, he said he viewed the issue as a battle between good and bad information.  Social media companies had a responsibility and they were clamping down.  However, ignoring young people’s concerns was what drove radicalization.