Massive Youth Voices Echoed and Succeeded at the UN Civil Society Conference in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY (TURKISH JOURNAL) – Nishat Mirza – “Youth participation at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference gave us Inspiration and Hope,” says the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UN PGA) Maria Fernanda Espinosa during her speech at the closing ceremony of the conference, which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 26-28, 2019.

Nishat Mirza and the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UN PGA) Maria Fernanda Espinosa in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At the conference 50 percent participants were youth. Months leading to the conference youth from around the world joined the conference planning committee who organized events, chat series, and talks at their local communities on SDG 11, Community Building. The theme of the conference was Inclusive Society and Communities, while the youth declaration focused on Climate Action.

“During the 68th UN Civil Society Conference closing ceremony, over fifty young people represented thousands of youth from around the world through the reading of the Youth Climate Compact. Thousands of youth from around the world, from China to Somalia, Colombia to Pakistan, worked together to consult, draft, and revise this document in the months leading up to the conference. It is emblematic of the unwavering passion for climate action that youth have, and the fact is that we are united in this cause,” says Earlene Cruiz, one of the Youth Subcommittee members who actively contributed to the final draft of the Salt Lake City Youth Climate Compact.

United Nations Department of Global Communications (UN DGC) Youth Steering Committee Co-chair Annie Dang says, “we were so ecstatic that #UNCSC2019 drew participation from young people all around the world. From classrooms in China to fields in The Gambia, youth gathered to discuss these issues and provide their input. We are extremely proud of the document that resulted from so much consultation and consensus-building. The Youth #ClimateCompact has the potential of becoming the quintessential galvanizing tool of our time, inspiring countless people of all ages to unite in action. The true work has only begun. Please join us!”

Hawa Diallo, Chief of NGO Relations at DGC says, “She has been inspired by the dedication of young people, their hard work is taking the United Nations close to youth around the world”.
Ms. Diallo first started the DGC Youth Steering Committee (YSC) in 2016 after a very successful youth participation at the 66th DGC conference in Gyeongju, South Korea. The committee is made up of youth from NGOs, aged between 18 to 32, who are champions of spreading the Global Goals in their communities. I am one of the members of YSC, and I have traveled the world as a youth Representative of Voices of Bangla and continuing my journey in speaking to youth around the world on community building and Sustainable Development Goals. Our committee has created a youth movement that is clearly noticed throughout the UN.

On an interview at Salt Lake City, I was fortunate to ask the PGA few questions regarding her role in engaging young people in decision making. She is the first President of the Assembly to include youth in all her meetings. The main theme of the conference was Inclusionary Society, when asked what are the challenges she had to face to bring youth to the table and give them a voice, she answered, “young people are part of the solution”. At the United Nations, we have a very strong Youth Envoy, and Agenda 2030 strategy that already includes youth. In the Permaliant of Humanity where top notch scientists, and specialist come to the table to discuss humanitarian issues, we need young people. Ms.Espinosa says, “every time I suggested including young people, let’s bring the youth and let’s hear from them, I heard over and over again, sure bring them to the table.” She didn’t only want them to be participants at the event, but also take part in the discussion with the Heads of the governments, with their Ministers and at High level UN meetings to discuss Inequality, Poverty of Middle-Income countries and the challenges they face. “We want to hear the voices of young people to discuss violence against women, we want to hear from young people working on the Peace Process.
“Sometimes young people are seen as a challenge, a problem, but you actually are the solution,” she added.

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