The 5th Youth Forum on SDG Implementation takes place at a critical historical juncture where the world is struggling to respond to the multidimensional challenges of COVID-19. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked devastating socio-economic havoc on the global economy, hindering the progress on the achievement of the SDGs. While attention is currently focused on those immediately affected by the COVID-19, there are many indications that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting social, cultural, economic, political, and multidimensional impacts on the whole of societies, including young people, as highlighted by the Secretary General's Report "Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity".
The pandemic has upended the lives of young people from every region, obliging them to adapt to new challenges in health, decent work and employment, food and nutrition security, and social isolation and exclusion sectors, among others. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), approximately 17 percent of young workers (18-24 years old) stopped working during COVID-19. Millions of employees worldwide were impacted by job losses in the coronavirus-driven crisis. Young people have been forced to adjust to a "new normal" where social distance prevails, as diverse forms of distance learning are implemented to ensure the continuation of education and skills acquisition.
Despite being disproportionally impacted, youth around the world are coming together to respond to this crisis, demonstrating resilience, resourcefulness, and leadership while tackling injustice and demanding accountability. Young people are part of the solution, actively contributing to reduce the spread of the virus and mitigate the pandemic's impact. As torchbearers of sustainable development, young people are advocating for environmental action to drive transformative change at scale and leave no one behind. They are also the first to embrace new ideas and are pivotal to ensuring inclusiveness and equality in society, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They have shown that they can be a force for the development and drivers of innovation and progress at the local, national and global levels. Young people, as problem-solvers to find the solutions to the existential challenges in the future, shall be actively engaged in the SDGs Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030 and building back better.
Since early 2020, UNPOG has been working tirelessly to provide capacity support to developing countries to address the challenges of COVID-19 and engage the whole-of-society, including organizing the Annual Youth Forum on SDG implementation. Over the past four years, the Youth Forum on SDG Implementation has significantly evolved into a unique platform for young people to share their vision and elaborate their substantive contributions to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Against this backdrop, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG) through its Project Office on Governance (UNPOG) and in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) of the Government of the Republic of Korea and Incheon Metropolitan City Government, is organizing a 5th Youth Forum on "Leveraging Public Governance and Enhancing Youth Engagement to Promote Green, Resilient and Sustainable Recovery from COVID-19". The Youth Forum will provide an opportunity for youth residents in the Republic of Korea to share innovative solutions to the challenges and have an active part in pursuing the green, resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 within their communities and beyond.
As we embark on this recovery journey – and building a "better" world - from the COVID-19 pandemic, young people are invited to frame their discussions and share their views, experiences, and ideas on the recovery from COVID-19, including a special focus on the SDGs. In doing so, a number of cross-cutting issues will frame the discussion, such as fostering resilience, drive, creativity, and leadership in building a more sustainable, just, and inclusive world for all, leveraging science, technology, and innovation to address youth unemployment, promoting gender equality, engaging youth for climate resilience and accelerating the digital transformation to strengthen accountable and transparent governance.
The Youth Forum will provide a space for discussion on the importance of young people to advance the youth development agenda for potential inclusion in key processes and frameworks such as the COVID-19 recovery. The Forum will also facilitate discussions of youth empowerment to build a resilient society in the post-COVID era. The Youth Forum is expected to enable the youth to raise their voices and exchange ideas to accelerate SDG implementation and combat COVID-19.