The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, held on 30-31 January 2018 at UN Headquarters in New York, offers a unique opportunity for youth to voice their opinions, share ideas, and think together about what they can do to achieve sustainable development. 

The SDG Media Zone engages influencers, innovators and youth leaders in lively discussions on the sidelines of the Youth Forum. Watch the exciting panels from Day 1 below and check out more content from previous Media Zones on

Panel: Why the ECOSOC Youth Forum matters

Youth should be seen and heard

Everyone talks about the importance of young people, but has “youth”  become just a buzzword?  ECOSOC President Marie Chatardová and Jayathma WickramanayakeSecretary-General’s Envoy on Youthdiscuss why more than 700 young people are coming to the ECOSOC Youth Forum, where they intend to be part of the discussion, and solution, to efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “They’re not coming to complain,” said Wickramanayake, adding that the young people were here to show that they were talking action. “We don’t wait for an invitation.”

Panel: Decent Jobs for Youth 101 

Wanted: Decent jobs for 160 million youth

There are 71 million youth who are unemployed and 160 million youth who have jobs but who are living in poverty—the underemployed.  Susana Puerto from ILO and Abdelrahman Ayman of AIESIC—the largest youth organization in the world—are working to do something about that.  “We try to give youth opportunities, so they can be part of the solution rather than the problem,” says Ayman.  An example, Puerto, says, is when youth fixed a war-damaged water pipe in Sierra Leone, that led to immediate community benefits and economic development.  Point is, she said, youth need jobs that are paid, where they are protected, and receive benefits.


Panel: Bridging across the generations

Youth must lead action

They empower young people.  One woman is a pediatrician.  The other one leads a notprofit organization in Argentina. Both of them, Dr. Iyabo Ojikutu, and Ms. Eglantina Zingg, the head of Proyecto Paz Latinoamerica, agree that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and bring change, young people cannot depend on the government leaders. Youth must lead on the action, whether through engaging in their local communities or participating in activities that foster collaboration such as sports. Check out actions that you can take here.

Solutions Hour: Green Girls Robotics 

Robot building spurs big dreams

Eight teenagers from Minnesota, USA, showed their passion for STEM and shared what lessons they learned while working on the Green Girls Robotics Team: electronics-building, public speaking and business plan writing. They credit the fun they had learning how to build robots with fueling their desires to pursue engineering as careers, citing plans to work for NASA and in the theme park industry. If the girls seemed unnaturally poised, it’s because they’ve been working on robotics – not to mention smashing glass ceilings – since the fourth grade.

Panel: Women Leaders of the UN

Gender equality fuels all aspects of the SDGs

As the UN pushes for gender parity at its highest levels, its highest-ranking female, Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to gender equality as a crucial thread for the entire 2030 Agenda. “It’s more than Goal 5,” she said. “It’s a docking station for the other 16 goals. So whatever you do with achieving the targets of gender equality, you see it in every single other one of those goals. It really does pull them all together.” In addition, Under Secretary-General for Management Jan Beaglespoke about the need to do more for its young female employees, including improving career mobility and having zero tolerance for sexual harassment. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and Ursula Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, added their tips for young women breaking into a competitive job market: Take risks, aim high and believe in yourself.

Panel: Quality Education for Youth: Enriching the Present, Building the Future

Equal opportunities lead to more potential

UNICEF Special Advocate for Education Wang Yuan, a well-known Chinese singer and actor, discusses how to use quality education to implement sustainable development goals and build up urban and rural communities. “Quality education could initiate and develop your thought and spirit, improve and expand your horizons and knowledge,” says Yuan. Wang Yuan is devoted to promote equality education so that youth can get equal opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Panel: Dodging obstacles: Resilience is our strength

Sports has no gender

Evelina Cabrera, the Co-founder of the Argentinian Women’s Football Association, talks about the need to empower and recognize the contributions women have made in sports. Focusing on resilience to overcome any gender discrimination or violence faced by women, Cabrera believes that sports can help build confidence and empower women and girls everywhere to take charge

Panel: Arts & Advocacy: Launch of Picture This

Sony Pictures announces SDG short film contest

Do you have a passion for the SDGs AND the keen eye of a movie director? Your short film showcasing action for sustainable development could make it into the Picture This Festival for the PlanetMegan Boone, an actress on the TV show “The Blacklist,” announced the launch of the contest at the SDG Media Zone. To Boone, the SDGs are “absolutely THE most accessible and comprehensive form of communication” to promote sustainability to a wide audience. Check out the contest details here.

Panel: Positivity through adversity

Achieve your goals through positivity

“What will do you when you are in negative situation” Jeremy Cyrus Akihavi from the Starlight Foundation, attends ECOSOC Youth Forum to teach people what it takes to remain positive even doing difficult time in your life. Jeremy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Iymphoma and began chemotherapy in 2017. He has maintained positivity and an optimistic position throughout his personal life journey. “Don’t let negative situation let you down and use positivity to achieve your goals,” says Jeremy.

Panel: Harnessing The Demographic Dividend in Africa session.

Young people are assets, not a liability

According to the United Nations, Africa has the world’s fastest growing youth population. The continent will also be home to more than 70 per cent of the global youth labour force by 2030. But what is being done to harness the demographic dividend in Africa? Young leaders Hussein Ally Melele from AfriYan ESA (Tanzania), Gogontlejang Phaladi from Pillar of Hope Organization (Botswana), and Sara Yahya Mohammed from AIESEC (Ethiopia), talk about investing in and empowering young people to lead the movement for political, economic and social progress in Africa.