Stand Up for Sustainable Development Goals, Activate Peers, Families, Communities, Says Secretary-General in Message to Economic and Social Council Youth Forum

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the 2023 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, held in New York and virtually from 25 to 27 April:

Excellencies, colleagues, dear friends, welcome to this Forum, especially the young people gathered here.

My message to you is simple.  Our world needs you more than ever.  From climate change to conflicts… to poverty and inequalities… to the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are slipping out of reach.

Developing solutions to these challenges — side by side with young people — is the driving force of this Forum’s discussions.  It’s the reason behind the new UN Youth Office that will be fully operational this year.  And it’s at the heart of the UN policy brief launched last week on “Meaningful Youth Participation”.

The brief responds to what young people have been telling us for years:  That you feel ignored by decision makers — even when you’re at the table, and that you’re left out of the decisions that affect you the most.

The policy brief puts forward three core recommendations.

First — it calls on Governments to expand and strengthen youth participation at all levels of decision-making.  This includes establishing a dedicated youth consultation mechanism in every country in the world, and a global standard on meaningful youth participation.

Second — it calls on Member States to ensure that youth engagement is at the heart of UN decision-making processes, and to strengthen critical avenues for youth participation, including this ECOSOC Youth Forum.

And third — it calls for the establishment of a standing UN youth town hall process and other measures to ensure diverse, effective and representative youth participation across all that we do.

At the same time, we need young people to lend their energies, ideas, innovations and talents in the preparations for September’s SDG Summit. The Summit must become a turning point in the race towards the SDGs.

The world is counting on leaders to arrive with concrete commitments.  This includes clear ambition on tackling poverty and inequality.  As well as support for a massive stimulus package to ensure that all countries — not just those with the biggest check books — can invest in SDG progress.

So today, I urge you to stand up for the SDGs.  Activate your peers, families and communities.  Let’s shape a better future.  Let’s do it together.

For information media. Not an official record.