On April 6, within the framework of the 10th Youth Forum of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) the NYCR held a Side Event «Unlocking the Potential of the CIS Youth in the Decade of Action». The event was held online via Zoom and gathered 80 participants — representatives of youth NGOs from Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Russian Federation, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.
The Side Event was held to promote more active involvement of young people of CIS countries in the global agenda, present successful experience of youth organizations of the Commonwealth in involving young people in the implementation of the SDGs, including the SDG Youth Ambassadors programme, and share best practices, as well as intensify youth cooperation in the implementation of SDGs in the CIS by expanding the network of partners, number and scale of implemented initiatives.
The panel discussion included stirring speeches from Grigory Petushkov, Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Russia, Deputy Chairperson of the CIS Council for Youth Affairs; Intigam Babaev, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Douglas Ragan, Programme Management Officer, Youth and Children Specialist at the Human Rights and Social Inclusion Unit of the UN-Habitat; Vladislav Kaim, Member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change; Steve Lee, Organizing Partner of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN MGCY); Arina Loginova, Coordinator of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth Division (SDSN Youth) in Russia; Nelya Rakhimova, Founder and CEO of Open School for Sustainable Development (Openshkola), coordinator of the Coalition for Sustainable Development of Russia (CSDR).
«Today we have all gathered together to lay the foundation for active participation of the CIS region in the global agenda, to give impetus to our cooperation and to develop new formats and areas of activity in order to strengthen youth cooperation on the way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda,» Grigory Petushkov said in his speech.
The interactive session gathered representatives of regional and international youth organizations, national youth councils, National Coordinators and SDG Youth Ambassadors from the CIS region. During the session young people shared their own experiences, expressed a variety of opinions on youth engagement in achieving the SDGs and outlined the challenges and tasks that youth CIS NGOs face when promoting the SDGs.
For instance, Tynchtykbek Bakytov, Youth Engagement Specialist at UNFPA Kyrgyzstan, Coordinator of “SDG Youth Ambassadors” Programme in Kyrgyzstan, spoke about launching the SDG Academy, to which 300 people applied and 20 of them were selected to participate. «Our programme includes a series of online trainings on the SDGs, thematic sessions with UN agencies, and trainings on developing social projects. We are now selecting the top 5 participants out of total 20 participants who will score the highest number of points. They will become SDG Youth Ambassadors in Kyrgyzstan,» he noted.
The SDG Youth Ambassadors also shared their successes. For instance, Nikita Rossov, SDG2 Youth Ambassador in Russia, said that he is launching his own TV show now, «My Profession», in which he talks about the professions in demand in his region. «Negotiations are now underway with the Russia-24 TV channel to include the programme in the broadcast schedule,» he shared his plans with the Side Event participants. Ayan Ismayilova, SDG10 Youth Ambassador in Azerbaijan, talked about her experience in implementing the «Better Together» project together with the European Association of Psychologists. The work was conducted with schoolchildren, and training sessions were prepared for them in the form of a game on five areas of inequality. «Start small. Because even if you inspire and change 10 children, an entire society can change, and it will be our merit,» she added.
Inspired by the NYCR our colleagues from Zimbabwe decided to implement the SDG Youth Ambassadors programme in their country last year and Jasper Mangwana, Chairperson of “Zimbabwe Youth for SDGs”, joined the interactive dialogue. «Meetings like this, webinars are an opportunity to discuss issues on many different levels. We will have many joint projects and initiatives in the future. We have to recover from COVID-19, and this requires our active actions,» he noted in his speech.
Azer Aliyev, Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Azerbaijan, and Roman Banar, Secretary General of the National Youth Council of Moldova, also delivered speeches at the session and shared their experience in implementing SDG projects. «We hold many campaigns and events to stimulate partnerships with certain segments of our community, and now we are determined to work together more than ever, with NYCR as well,» Azer Aliyev said.
Following the results of the Side Event, a number of proposals to strengthen youth cooperation were formulated. They included suggestions to hold the first CIS Youth Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals in 2021; continue making efforts to launch CIS Youth Network on the Sustainable Development Goals; collect data and prepare a joint plan of youth activities aimed at achieving the SDGs, set up a «database» of youth NGOs successful practices of the SDGs implementation; actively cooperate with the youth scientific community and many others.
Reminder: the 10th ECOSOC Youth Forum is taking place on 7-8 April 2021 under the theme «The Decade of Action: Sustainable Development». Since 2012 the Forum has been an effective platform for the leaders of youth ministries and agencies to work together on developing tools to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, and has been providing a unique opportunity for young people to express their opinions at the UN Headquarters, exchange ideas and reflect together on how young people themselves can contribute to achieving the SDGs.
So far about 60 Russian NGOs have consultative status with ECOSOC and the National Youth Council of Russia is the only youth NGO that has consultative status with ECOSOC among Russian youth NGOs.