Side Event at 2023 ECOSOC Youth Forum Highlights Importance of Multistakeholder Partnerships for Youth-Led Initiatives

On 26 April, 2023, UNU-IAS organised an online side event at the 2023 ECOSOC Youth Forum, showcasing the commitment of youth leaders to environmental sustainability. The event, titled ‘From Ideas to Action: RCE Youth Projects on Multistakeholder Partnerships’, aimed to promote a deeper understanding of initiatives developed by Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs). Presentations highlighted best practices from across the Global RCE Network to encourage youth participation in driving positive change. 

In opening remarks, Jyuri Michino (Programme Assistant, UNU-IAS) introduced the Global RCE Network, which aims to contribute to sustainable development through education and learning. Among many other SDGs, RCEs focus on SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals), promoting collaborative efforts through their multi-stakeholder regional network consisting of local communities.

Presentations were given by three RCE Youth Coordinators, beginning with Evance Ouya (RCE North Rift, Kenya), which focused on the role of youth in RCE South Rift and Africa in achieving the sustainable development goals. With the involvement of local administrations, school children, communities, and NGOs, RCE South Rift is making significant strides in climate action. Meanwhile, RCE North Rift has organised conferences, walks, and games to encourage climate action. Mr. Ouya emphasised that by adopting innovative approaches such as community forest associations, youth can play a vital part in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development goals. Oriana Silva (RCE North Texas, USA) shared an inspiring project called Sustainable Age - Student Journal, with its mission to promote sustainability and encourage academic writing. The project started locally at Dallas College but expanded to include students and professors from different universities across the US. Representing the youth team from Europe, Aukje Sina Zijlstra (RCE Fryslan, the Netherlands) discussed their collaboration with RCEs on various projects and their focus on connecting students with society and nature. By providing opportunities for learning and problem-solving, the team aims to empower youth to become agents of change. 

The Q&A session highlighted the importance of collaboration, youth participation, and amplifying the voice of young people in promoting sustainable efforts. In order to support youth-led initiatives, RCE youth highlighted the need for financial support, mentorship, training, and other resources. The discussion also focused on the importance of involving young people in fundraising activities and amplifying their voices to promote sustainability.

The event served as a powerful reminder of the potential of youth in shaping a sustainable future. By harnessing the opportunities provided by online platforms, attendees showcased their unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship. As the Global RCE Network continues to champion the voices of youth, their collective efforts are poised to create a lasting impact and pave the way for a greener and more sustainable world.

(Photo credit: UNU-IAS)