Y20 discusses youth empowerment — challenges, solutions and next steps

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RIYADH — The Y20 Engagement Group, organized by Misk Foundation, in partnership with Ithra, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, hosted the first working meeting this week in a virtual session bringing together delegates from G20 nations, international organizations, and guest countries.

The session saw youth delegates for the Youth Empowerment priority area from around the world come together to discuss the issue under the Chatham House Rule. They presented their research findings from within their own countries to feed into wider policy recommendations.

These recommendations will be collated by the Y20 team and will help inform the communiqué to be presented to the G20 after the Y20 concludes in October.

The working meeting began with a welcome from Othman Almoamar, Y20 chair and research manager at the Misk Foundation, and Sarah Alkhedheiri, Y20 Sherpa and initiatives manager at the Misk Foundation.

Following this, the Y20 Youth Empowerment Task Force, represented by Nahar Aldrees, senior program associate at Misk Foundation, and Nora Alharthi, leader of outreach programs at Ithra, showcased the output of the Y20 boot camp, which convened local and international youth in January 2020.

Many themes mentioned by the delegates were also stated by young people in the boot camp.

Y20 thought-partners the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) then led a brainstorming discussion with the delegates on youth empowerment and leadership.

Delegates then discussed challenges to youth leadership, noting in particular lack of opportunity, but also the importance of youth leadership, highlighting the different perspectives young people offer, their adaptability to a rapidly changing world, and the simple fact that young people are the leaders of tomorrow.

Almoamar said: “We were really pleased with this first working meeting of the Y20. It is an exciting opportunity to be sharing this platform with youth delegates all over the world and hearing their inputs.

“Yet, it is also a great responsibility — youth’s challenges today are further exacerbated by COVID-19 and it’s up to us to make sure we fulfill the promise of this platform by amplifying youth voices and ideas to ultimately see our leaders implement youth-led solutions.”

Over the course of the meeting, each delegate was given three minutes to summarize their findings, priorities, and recommendations, with more detailed information submitted in writing to the Y20 secretariat.

The interventions included a range of ideas as diverse as the delegates themselves, covering the importance of access to education — particularly at the secondary level — to ensure young people have the skills they need; of removing the stigma around youth leadership, ideas, and participation; and the need to focus on initiatives, policies, and ideas that are realistic and can achieve real-world impact — particularly in the current challenges the world faces from COVID-19.

A number of common themes emerged, particularly around using technology to develop a global, online platform for young voices alongside the importance of ensuring diversity and ending discrimination.

To this end, a number of delegates expressed their hopes that positive impacts generated by the Y20 would spread beyond the G20 countries to ensure benefits to young people the world over.

Saudi Arabia’s Y20 team have chosen to focus their activities around three key themes that complement the broader G20 goals: Future fit — preparing for the future of work and entrepreneurship; Empowerment — developing agile and dynamic future leaders; and Global citizens — promoting proactive, culturally sensitive problem solvers.

Officially launched in March, the Y20 is among the most influential international diplomatic forums for young leaders, and the only officially recognized platform for young people to engage with the wider G20.

It is one of eight official engagement groups under the G20 umbrella. The Y20 team is planning further activities during 2020, culminating in the Y20 2020 Summit in Riyadh from 12-18 October at which the Y20 Communiqué will be finalized for consideration by the G20 leaders. — SG


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