Y20 summit gives platform for voice of global youth

RIYADH: The three-day virtual Summit of the Youth 20 (Y20) engagement group of the G20 concluded on Saturday with a call on the world’s biggest economies to sustain efforts to empower the youth.

A communiqué prepared by the Y20 delegates included the following key policy recommendations to G20 leaders:

• Reform educational frameworks for upskilling the young workforce;

• Develop an entrepreneurial mindset through accessible resources;

• Representation, participation and inclusion in decision-making bodies; and

• Environment sustainability and combatting discrimination

Y20 Chair Othman Almoamar handed over the communiqué to Saudi Minister of Education Hamad Bin Mohammed Al-Shaikh, for him to pass on to the G20.

The Y20 Summit is one of eight official engagement groups under the G20 umbrella. It brought together a diverse range of speakers including Y20 delegates from around the world, the UN secretary-general, senior executives from leading corporations, NGOs, academic institutions, leaders from major intergovernmental organizations and pro-youth celebrities.

During the online ceremony on Saturday, Y20 Chair Almoamar said: “Within the Y20, we have completely changed the game this year. We looked at how to be innovative in a time when COVID-19 has created more restrictions than anything we’ve faced before.”

He noted that the “really tough advocacy work” of the delegates had resulted in at least one policy being accepted by the G20.

Speaking to what he termed “one of the most resilient generations ever… the future torch-bearers” he added that “we need to make sure that young people actually have a voice and are heard at the tables of decision-makers”, concluding that “you cannot wait for the world to come with their changes, you need to change the world yourself.” 

Earlier in the day, in a keynote speech, Saudi Arabia’s Y20 Sherpa Sarah Alkhedheiri noted that “nobody becomes a global citizen – we simply all are already global citizens.”

Speaking about how young people can become a “community of active global citizens” she urged young people to “take action – start where you are with what you have, and build from there.”

Alkhedheiri concluded that the Y20 delegates have “shown us the perfect example of active global citizens from all around the world.”

During each day of the Y20 Summit, the participants explored a different key theme that has been a focus of Y20 delegates throughout the year, and that complements the work of the G20.

Triple Olympic Gold winner Usain Bolt took part in a video Q&A with young people from around the world.

Bolt noted that “young people don’t have a voice” and urged that we “focus and believe in them, build them up, to make sure the world will be in safe hands.”

He noted the importance of young people gaining a good education.

As with the first two days, leaders from the United Nations spoke on Saturday.

In a session on sustainable recovery, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN Habitat, noted that “one small step is to envision a better normal.”

Hiroshi Kuniyoshi, Managing Director and Deputy to the Director General, Directorate of External Relations and Policy Research, UNIDO, spoke of his concern that “almost 80% of youth employees are employed in informal jobs – zero hours contracts, temporary jobs.

They don’t have any social protection and the COVID-19 crisis is forcing the majority of young people to become further disempowered and disenfranchised.”

The summit was the culmination of work by the Y20 throughout 2020. The work of the Y20 began with a Y20 Inception event in Riyadh in March, which launched the group’s plans to be an active and impactful platform between young leaders and the leadership of the G20.

The Y20 working task forces prepared several white papers that explored key issues in more depth and developed a set of recommendations that G20 leaders should take to mitigate specific negative effects that COVID-19 is causing young people globally, particularly relating to education and the labor market.


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