Dutch visibility throughout ECOSOC Youth Forum

Between 16-18th of April 2024, the ECOSOC Youth Forum took place, attended by the Ambassador for Youth, Education and Work and a youth representative Kevin Eustatia-Palm. The Dutch delegation was present, visible, engaging, and energetic over the span of the conference; amongst others through organizing sessions and participating in panels organized by others.

Dutch Delegation during ECOSOC Youth Forum, with the Ambassador and the youth representative second and third from the left.
Dutch Delegation during ECOSOC Youth Forum, with the Ambassador and the youth representative second and third from the left.

ECOSOC Youth Forum

The ECOSOC Youth Forum – a United Nations (UN) event – is an important event for the Netherlands, whereas it’s a great opportunity for sharing the Dutch expertise surrounding meaningful youth participation.

Since this January of 2024, youth has obtained a prominent place within the UN landscape – a commitment strongly relating to the establishment of the UN Youth Office. The expectation surrounding this new youth branch are high, and new Assistant Secretary General Felipe Paullier puts his efforts into integrating meaningful youth participation over the width of the UN.

This was also visible, during UN conferences like ECOSOC Youth Forum. Since the Kingdom of the Netherlands is one of the pioneering countries in terms of meaningful youth participation and policy actions surrounding it, the presence of the Dutch delegation was important for sharing experience and knowledge surrounding youth and their participation.

Side events and interventions: the Netherlands throughout

Youth Representative Kevin Eustatia-Palm
Youth Representative Kevin Eustatia-Palm.

Capitalizing on the Dutch expertise, the delegation was visible throughout the forum, amongst others through different side-events. The Ambassador was invited to speak at an event of the African Union, attended by many different African ministers with youth in their portfolio. Learning from the Dutch strategy towards meaningful youth participation was central to his input, which was well received.

Besides the event of the African Union, the Dutch delegation hosted two well-visited side-events of their own, and provided engaging interventions in two plenary sessions.

Market place for UN organizations and youth representatives

One of the side-events of the Netherlands was co-hosted with UNHCR and UNICEF. A lively interaction between established UN branches and youth representative was facilitated in the form of an informal marketplace. Different UN organizations could present themselves to the youth representatives present at the forum, which provided both with a solid basis for future work.

Because, as Dutch youth representative Kevin identified, it’s rather hard to understand all the different UN branches and the work they do. Because of the market place, youth representatives were enabled to make the best out of there tenures as representatives; tenures often limited to one or two years.

Market Place for UN Organizations and Youth Representatives
Participants interacting during the market place.

Youth leadership in action: work for, with, and by young people in forced displacement

A second event co-sponsored by the Netherlands focused on youth in forced displacement. The event, based on insights from the PROSPECTS partnership, gave a podium to different youth activists and their work in refugee camps over the world. The Ambassador was part of the panel and commented on the inclusion of youth in the Pact of the Future. Additionally, he announced the participation of the Netherlands in the Global Compact for Youth in Humanitarian Action.

Ambassador of Youth, Education and Work Jurriaan Middelhoff
Ambassador of Youth, Education and Work Jurriaan Middelhoff.

Interventions in plenary sessions

Besides organizing and co-sponsoring side-events, the Dutch delegation also intervened in several plenary sessions.

Youth representative Kevin spoke during the plenary session Financing our future: Road to a robust climate finance system for present and future generations. He touched on the importance of meaningful youth participation when talking about climate change. Youth will evidently experience the greatest impact of climate change, now and in the future. Still, youth doesn’t have a ‘voice at the table’, something that needs to be changed.

Additionally, the Ambassador intervened in the plenary session Working with Youth as Full Fledged Partner.' The gap between formal education and the reality of the job market is overly evident, which was the focus of his intervention. Young people leaving their formal education institutions experience that their education isn’t fit for the jobs they aspire. Listening to youth is essential to overcome this, following the Ambassador, which is a corner stone of the Youth at Heart strategy.