The Major Group for Children and Youth has a long and active history in sustainable development. We’ll tell you the story of how it all began and what we’ve been doing since.

Historical overview 

409c2d5299b174fcc56a1ffd77e26470The Rio Earth Summit in 1992 led to the development of Agenda 21, often referred to as the ‘blueprint for sustainable development’. Agenda 21 stated that broad public participation was fundamental to achieving sustainable development, and recognised nine major groups of civil society. These major groups are:


  • Children and Youth
  • Women
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Local Authorities
  • Workers and Trade Unions
  • Business and Industry
  • Scientific and Technological Community
  • Farmers

There were numerous outcomes to the Rio Earth Summit, and one of them was the establishment of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD), acting under the function of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), that was established to monitor progress on achieving the goals coming out of Rio.

The UN CSD is composed of 53 member states, observers such as UN members and organisations, regional commissions, and major groups. The major groups play an important role because they are the voice of civil society.

This is where the Major Group for Children and Youth comes in. Children and youth are widely recognized as an important part of civil society, with strong interest in protecting and preserving the planet’s resources. The past decade has seen a growing acceptance of the importance of youth participation in decision-making. Numerous actions and recommendations within the international community have been proposed to ensure that youth are provided a secure and healthy future, including an environment of quality, improved standards of living and access to education and employment.

The Major Group for Children and Youth have successfully engaged in the political process which has led to improved policy formulation, adoption, implementation and evaluation.

UN MGCY receives its mandate through Agenda 21, UN General Assembly Resolutions (such as 2013’s A/Res/67/290), as well as agreements with UN bodies and conferences.  Starting in 1992 with the establishment of the Major Groups system, UN MGCY has facilitated the participation of young people throughout the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) culminating at Rio+20 in 2012.  Since that time, the mandate has transferred to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), the enhanced successor body of the CSD, and expanded to the Open Working Groups (OWGs) and outlined processes.  

Youth facilitation is enabled through UN MGCY in eight external processes and five internal working groups.

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