By Gabriel Risk Martins, GenUN Fellow for the West Coast
The World Youth Conference 2017 is an annual conference put on by the International Youth Committee and other international organizations. This year the Conference was held in Belize City, Belize and brought together 250 youth leaders from 46 different countries under the theme “Globally Running to 2030, Becoming Sustainably Strong.” The attendees focused on giving a voice to the youth through a deliberation on how to make the post-2015 development agenda a reality. This involved four days of panel, round-table discussions, workshops, and musical and cultural presentations of various community, national and international youth-related issues and sustainable development.
The focus of the Conference being the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the attendees worked on ways to better implement policies and actions that would help give guidance to policy makers and international leaders across the globe about youth perspective in the process of achieving all the 169 targets of the SDGs. To do so, all delegates worked throughout the four days to draft the Mahogany Declaration. Myself and other two UNA-USA members (Ormond Derrick and Aileen Sainz) had the honor to be selected to the drafting committee and got to learn many different perspectives from leaders across the globe. All participants had the opportunity to choose one of three areas of focus that encompassed a portion of the SDGs (Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World; Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies; and Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality). This allowed participants to provide their most effective feedback in their specific area of interest and knowledge. Drafting the declaration was a very inspiring and educational process and one of the best experiences I have ever had.
In addition, this experience provided us with the opportunity to meet many SDGs leaders, including the Prime-Minister and the Economic Development Minister of Belize, and the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy of Belize in Belmopan.
Participating in conferences of this magnitude is an example of great opportunities that being a UNA-USA member can expose you to. Real opportunities to not only advocate and create change in the local and international level, but also to meet like-minded young people all over the world that are fighting to do just the same.