Nadler Endowment Helps Send Elliott School Students to UN Youth Forum

photo: United Nations general session
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
March 20, 2015

On February 2, hundreds of young people from around the world gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York for the 2015 UN Economic and Social Council’s Youth Summit. One of those gathered was Elliott School freshman Abriana Bernstein.

“The experience was incredible, simply sitting in the huge conference room being surrounded by people that spoke different languages,” said Ms. Bernstein, who was part of a delegation of 20 students the Elliott School nominated to participate in the event. The students received support from the Nadler Endowment in Leadership and Governance to help cover their travel and accommodation expenses.

The forum, an annual summit established in 2012, provides a platform for youth to engage in dialogue with representatives from UN member states and to contribute to policy formulation on economic and social issues. This year’s theme was “Managing the Transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals,” and it focused on the role of young people in the post-2015 Development Agenda.

“You are part of the largest generation of youth in history,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told the delegates during the opening session. “All of you are here at a crucial time for people and our planet. Ours is the first generation with the potential to end poverty, and we are the last generation to tackle climate change. We don’t have any time to lose.”

“It may be very hard for you to see what is happening beyond your [national] boundaries. There are so many people who are hungry, who are thirsty, who are sick, and who cannot go to school. They are your brothers and sisters. This is why the UN is promoting sustainable development,” he added.

The event featured expert panel presentations, brainstorming seminars, and discussions with member-state representatives on topics such as gender equality, youth participation in Africa, and financing sustainable development.

“I was most interested in the panel that discussed youth in Africa and learned a lot about the complexity of women's issues within Africa and the need to include men in the movement,” said Ms. Bernstein. “I started to understand the political language that is used in order to satisfy different countries’ interests and to pass policies.

I also learned that these [development] goals are long-term investments and take a long time to happen and to be effective. But having the conversation was a really good start.”