Skip to main content

partnerships for success: ngos, youth and the un

DPI/NGO Briefing at United Nations Headquarters, New York. February 26, 2015
Reported by Fran Butensky and Joan Lurie Goldberg, ICJW Representatives to the UN, NY

We found this briefing to be a rewarding, positive and important experience on many levels: the high value of youth education, involvement and empowerment with responsibility at the UN and in communities worldwide; the passion, dedication and interest that young people today are contributing to secure a better future for themselves and civil society as a whole, and the acceptance and realization by colleges, world organizations, and society in general that young people today have a fresh perspective and vested interest in the world they live in.

There are now over 400 youth representing NGOs all over the world. A new sub-committee of the NGO/DPI Executive Committee has been established as a resource for young people to engage with UN officials. They are willing to listen and they want their voices to be heard.

The impressive bios of today’s panel and what they have to offer reinforce the fact that the future of our world may not be so bleak after all and that we can look forward to their future leadership to make positive changes for the next generation.
Prior to the panel, there was a video on how youth can contribute to achieving the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals – these are to replace the Millennium Development Goals beginning in 2016). There were numerous quotes from youth around the world.

Moderator: Dr. Bill Hunter, after 15 years in a variety of capacities at Lehigh University, is now Director of International Outreach and Lehigh Representative to the United Nations. He is responsible for establishing Lehigh as the 6th University in the world to attain United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) certification. He created the Ambassadorial Speaker Series, designed Lehigh’s UN Youth Representative program (that became the model for the UN NGO community) and is responsible for the creation of over 900 internationally focused educational, cultural and social programs for the Lehigh community.

Amanda Nesheiwat, currently works as the Environmental Coordinator for the town of Secaucus, NJ. She is a Commissioner for the town as well as chairwoman of their Environmental Committee. She is an organizer and environmental activist, passionate about sustainable development and combatting climate change. She was trained by Al Gore through his Climate Reality Corps as a climate reality leader, she was a youth delegate in conferences such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar.

Amanda is a recipient of the 2014 UN ATOP Peace Award for her work in environmental sustainability and was listed as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Hudson County, NJ.
 She started working 9 years ago to encourage youth to participate at the UN
 She wants to create a better future and feels that you can’t lift people out of poverty without educating women about health and their environment
 One must learn to participate which she did at CSW last year and had the opportunity to go to Rio for Rio +20
 In September, she was one of the organizers for the People’s Climate March and recommended that we look at www.theyouthreps.wordpress.com. (Have a look; quite a good example of how to use social media.)
 One UN youth observer can represent all of them

Viktoriia Brezheniuk is a Master’s student in the Comparative and International Education program at Lehigh University. She currently serves as a youth representative for the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, a DPI-associated NGO representing 27 women’s organizations in 17 countries on four continents. Among Viktoriia’s many accomplishments, she held the position of a Lehigh University/United Nations Partnership Project Manager and presently works with youth around the world organizing internationally- focused events for the Global Union, a coalition of over 50 student organizations. She has completed an internship with the UN Department of Public Information, NGO Relations and Advocacy Section. She participated in CSW58 and became involved with the Ukrainian Women’s Organization.
 The UN is willing to listen to what young people have to say so “let’s make our voices heard” on women’s rights and universal human rights.
 People will always be inspired by your actions not your thoughts.
 In the Ukraine, women’s groups recognize the importance of civil society.

Gabriela Taveras is a sophomore at the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations. She serves as a DPI/NGO Representative for the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic.
 She is involved with the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development.
 Her activism began when she was a 12 year old representative in a Model UN program.
 In the area of social media, she exemplifies her generation; has 4000 friends on Facebook and is engaged in other forms of social media as well.
The School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall was founded in 1998 and maintains close ties to UNA-USA. In January 2014, Seton Hall founded the Center for UN and Global Governance Studies.

Joy Ukaigwe is a Masters student at Columbia studying epidemiology. She focuses on facilitating the dialog between science and policy by using available data. She has a BS in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins and is convinced that science is relevant to the third world. She is currently a youth representative for ENDA Tiers Monde (Environmental Development Action in the Third World), an organization based in Dakar, Senegal. (During the panel it was mentioned that many NGOs based far from NYC could not afford a representative here if not for the youth representatives. Ms. Ukaigwe is a perfect example of this model.)
 She believes science can help influence policy
 As the ENDA representative, she shares information with the parent organization and advises them about opportunities for partnering with other NGOs.
 She is working to help get youth more involved with NGOs in implementing the SDGs.

An interesting item from the Q and A:
In answer to a question on how youth can become more involved with the SDGs, the panel recommended working with the My World campaign. And, it was noted that the millennial generation now outnumbers the baby boomers, so millennial involvement is crucial.