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Meaningful Youth Engagement at the 2024 ECOSOC Youth Forum: On the Path Towards the Summit of the Future

Last update: 16 May 2024


At the 2024 ECOSOC Youth Forum, SDG4 Youth & Student Network members engaged in intergenerational dialogues, promoting youth-led solutions ahead of key global summits.


The ECOSOC Youth Forum, held at the United Nations headquarters in New York between April 16th and 18th 2024, provided numerous opportunities for discussions between Member States, civil society and youth. These intergenerational discussions were key for illuminating the ideas, challenges, visions, and youth-led solutions for policymakers and other stakeholders. It was also a time to pave the path for Y20 (ahead of the G20 in Brazil) and the Summit of the Future, where a youth day is foreseen for Friday 20 September 2024.


Hailing from the regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe/North America and Latin America and the Caribbean, 18 members of the SDG4 Youth & Student Network were in attendance and participated in plenary sessions, side events, high-level breakfast meetings with Ministers as moderators, speakers, facilitators, and rapporteurs. Below is a brief outline of several key sessions where young leaders of the network took the lead.


Youth Shaping Transformative Human Rights Education


The session on Digital Technology, Environment, and Gender Equality: Youth Shaping Transformative Human Rights Education was co-organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNESCO, UN Youth Office, and the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY). Moderated by Network member Taibat Hussain, with a keynote by Arissa Roy, the interactive discussions were facilitated by Barbara Beltran, Christina Williams, and Juliette Gudknecht. The discussion highlighted that human rights education is not just a moral imperative, but a necessary tool for building a more just and equitable society. The inputs from the consultation will feed into the action plan for the fifth phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, which will be submitted to the Human Rights Council for adoption in September. 


"What struck me most was the sense of empowerment and ownership that permeated the event. Young people were not just passive participants but active contributors, shaping the agenda and driving the conversation. It was a powerful reminder that human rights education is not just about imparting knowledge but about creating a sense of agency and responsibility."

Taibat Hussain


Bridging Education and Inclusion, Greening, and Peace


Youth and students were also invited to speak in two sessions led by UNESCO-IESALC. During the session on The Right to Higher Education of Students with Disabilities, Juliette Gudknecht, who recently wrote a book on autism, emphasized the importance of listening to those who are marginalized.


"Amplifying disabled voices in all forms of education is super important, especially marginalized ones. We need marginalized youth's voices to be centered, especially those who could not come to the forum due to the selection process, cost, and visa issues."

Juliette Gudknecht


Moazzam Syed, who spoke in the session on Greening Higher Education Institutions: Bridging SDG4 and 13, shared valuable insights on the importance of quality data in tracking progress towards the SDGs. He emphasized that the drive to provide evidence for national and international SDG targets requires us to work, learn, and research differently and focus on measurable impact to better translate new knowledge into action. 


The network organized a session titled “Dare Alla Luce / To Give the Light: Impetus and Skills for Peacebuilding and Justice”, which convened youth, academia, policymakers, and civil society in an intergenerational, engaging and open dialogue. Facilitated by network members Vivian Shaima, Max Amanu, Roberto Hernandez Juarez, Azra Hodzic and Musa Carew alongside other experts in their respective field, the breakout room discussions focused on how youth, teachers, families, policymakers, and community leaders can leverage their knowledge, skills, and competencies to promote peace and peacebuilding.


Throughout the week, youth and students were advocating for education as a foundation for all other SDGs while involved in important meetings for the planning of the Y20 Summit, to be held 10-17 August 2024 in Brazil, the Summit of the Future to be convened 22-23 September 2024 and COP29 planned for 11-22 November 2024 in Azerbaijan. The discussions at ECOSOC Youth Forum are just one step of many in ensuring the youth voice in these upcoming high-level meetings. Providing inputs into the Pact of the Future was another. 


If the ECOSOC Youth Forum - an event where youth such as Wendy Civil had conversations with Ministers, Christina Williams discussed the future for youth alongside the UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Youth Affairs and Felipe Gomez Gallo contributed not only to the discussion on Youth Climate Champion for COP29 but also to the planning of the Forum itself – serves as any indication, then we are indeed on a promising trajectory. 


This global gathering of young leaders sparked fruitful discussions that resulted in significant insights that members will carry forward to amplify youth voice, advance their work, and the work of achieving the 2030 SDG4 goals and targets.