*Originally published on http://www.youthcoalition.org  in August 2014

*Article by Kelly Thompson

The Post-2015 process is complicated and multi-faceted – so bear with me while I try to break it down.

Firstly, you might ask, what is so important about the year 2015? It’s not the Mayan apocalypse – that was 2012 – but it is a major year in the world of development; it is when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are set to expire.  The MDGs were adopted by 189 United Nations member states (aka countries) in 2000, outlining 8 key goals in advancing development worldwide. They tackled issues like poverty, health and gender equality. These goals are due to expire in 2015 and in recent years, people globally have been focusing on not only accelerating progress of the MDGs, but also on what will happen when the MDGs expire in 2015 – aka Post-2015 or #post2015 if you’re into social media.

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So what does this process look like?

Starting from the 2010 MDG Summit, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has been tasked with overseeing and coordinating the unfinished business of the MDGs Post-2015 and bringing this together with the sustainable development process coming out of Rio+20.

This is where the process gets particularly complicated

  1. Because it is bringing together two different development processes and
  2. Because it consists of various work streams.

The work streams are an attempt to ensure an open and inclusive process that will assess the needs and input of as broad an audience as possible.

A concise overview of the different streams can be found here.  The stream that has emerged as the most relevant in recent months is the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG). The OWG is a group of 30 UN member states that have met 13 times over the past year to develop a document with suggested goals, targets and indicators for Post-2015.

 The OWG also provided the opportunity for civil society to input into the process through the Major Groups.  Major Groups were developed in 1992 as a way for members of civil society to engage with and influence processes at the UN.  Major Groups range from issues like mining and research to the Major Group on Children and Youth.

The OWG recently concluded its negotiations and released an Outcome Document.  This document together with the outputs of the other working streams will all be combined and published in a synthesis report by the Office of the Secretary General by the end of 2014.

The process won’t yet be finalized following the presentation of the report; the outcomes of the report will go into intergovernmental negotiations with the aim of presenting the new development goals at the Post-2015 Summit to be held 21-23 September 2015 (tentative).

How are the needs of young people reflected in the process?

As it currently stands, the main areas where young people are mentioned in the OWG outcome document are employment and education. There has been strong governmental support for their inclusion and they will most likely stay.

In the area of health – and particularly sexual and reproductive health and rights, which young people have consistently advocated for – there is currently no language on the specific needs of young people and adolescents.

During the Post-2015 Youth Global Strategy Meeting that was held in Hong Kong last June, we as young advocates went through different youth statements on post-2015. Through our analysis, we found that a priority that emerged strongly in the statements was for the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized populations, including people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, people living with HIV, migrants and refugees. The outcome document does not currently place any focus on most of these populations.

How can young people play a role?

  1. Coordinate young people at the national level to advocate to your Minister of Foreign Affairs of what you would like to see included in the Sustainable Development Goals.  For example, ACT!2015 is an initiative of The PACT, a collaboration of 26 youth-led and youth-serving organizations working on HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). More information and an advocacy toolkit can be found here.
  2. Influence (and join!) your country’s delegation to the UN.  Google your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and find out who will be on the delegation to the Post-2015 Summit, contact them, meet with them and make sure youth voices are being heard. Some countries have UN Youth delegates; they work together with them to advocate for the needs of young people.  If your country doesn’t have a UN Youth delegated, advocate for the inclusion of at least one young person in their delegation!
  3. Advocate for the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes at the country level, including in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and in accountability mechanisms to ensure your government is following through on their commitments.
  4. Get involved with the Major Group on Children and Youth by signing up for their listservs and joining their activities.
  5. Keep an eye out for events on Post-2015. There will be national and regional consultations in the coming months.  There will also be advocacy and activities happening in New York.
  6. Follow @youth_coalition #Post2015 for updates on the process