International Road Federation (IRF )

IRF Young Professional Leaders join the UN ECOSOC Youth Forum 2021

Members of the International Road Federation Young Professionals Programme (IRF-YPP) leadership team recently joined the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, held virtually on April 7-8, 2021.

Mr Shashank Misra (India), YPP Lead for Asia Mainland and Mr Tendekayi Marapara (Zimbabwe), YPP Secretary and Point Person for Africa, joined the two-day forum guided by the overall theme of the 2021 ECOSOC and High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development.

With the ECOSOC forum’s focus on sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, they postulate that the mobility sector needs to be highly driven by innovation and data.

“I observed that more people had appreciated the importance of numbers during this COVID-19 era. It is important that as we build better, we should strengthen our data systems,” Mr Marapara, who works as a civil engineer and a consultant, emphasized.

Mr Misra, on the other hand, stressed several challenges in the supply chain for the business sector and growth opportunities among the youth. “New business models and unique user experiences incorporating the youth as a stakeholder [have become an opportunity] in the mobility sector recovery… autonomous mobility and electric mobility have seen a push with major players increasing their investment [supported by] legislative processes increasingly aligning [towards it],” he shared.

Both young professionals believed that the forum provided a chance to create synergistic relations and learn from their peers and decision-makers who are tackling Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally.

“For any individual and organization, it is crucial to continue innovating to survive and grow during [the period of pandemic]. Innovation is not limited to technology alone but business model, collaborations and strategies for the long-haul,” Mr Misra, currently a social entrepreneur tacking SDGs 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13, elaborated.

Meanwhile, Mr Marapara focuses on road safety, particularly for SDGs 3 and 11, the 50 by 30 and safe and sustainable road infrastructure.

“The future belongs to us, but it does not end with us. There are more generations to come [and] basically, [we need] capacity development. Getting involved in online meetings, youth forums and webinars, [we] tend to learn more; thus, improving [ourselves],” he shared.

The ECOSOC Youth Forum, also commemorating its first decade, provides a global platform for a straightforward dialogue among United Nations member states and young leaders worldwide on solutions to challenges affecting youth well-being. It also serves as a unique space for young people to share their vision and actions and provide youth perspectives on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Mr Misra and Mr Marapara were appointed last January as part of the IRF-YPP Leadership Team for 2021-2022. Together with the other members, they are also set to meet in the 2021 IRF Young Professionals Summit toward the end of the third quarter of 2021.

Liesbeth CasierSenior Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Liesbeth Casier is a Senior Policy Advisor with IISD’s Economic Law and Policy Program. She works with the Public Procurement and Infrastructure Finance team on research and advisory services that involve innovation in public procurement. She also works on IISD’s Sustainable Asset Valuation. Liesbeth has advised governments in Bhutan, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, India, Morocco, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa and the Netherlands.
Liesbeth also works extensively with the European Commission, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on policy frameworks and the business case for sustainable infrastructure. She represents IISD at the OECD Working Group on Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement.
Liesbeth previously worked with UN Environment and started her career as consultant in auditing and corporate finance with a family-owned consultancy business in Belgium. Liesbeth has an academic background in political science and law.