Emerging Trends | ICT4SDG | Youth
January 13, 2020

Futurecasters 2020 Young Global Visionaries – youth bring their energy and their voice to ITU debates

By Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau

The first ITU Futurecasters Young Global Visionaries Summit wrapped up on Friday 10 January with a high-energy ceremony in the UN Assembly Hall at the Palais des Nations. What a stupendous three days it was!

At Wednesday’s opening, FerMUN 2020 Secretary-General Gessienne Grey asked the 700 gathered delegates from 23 countries: Do you dare to?

Over the next two days I followed the diverse discussions which occupied ITU’s full gamut of meeting rooms, and can confirm that these bright young students did indeed “dare to.”

Working through their eight Committees and two Youth Assemblies, they were creative and bold, crafting ambitious resolutions that sought to harness technology to overcome some of today’s biggest global challenges.

I loved the UNHCR Committee’s discussion around multilingual online learning interfaces that could ensure refugee children get the chance to continue their education while in transit camps.

The UNESCO Committee was on a similar wavelength, advocating for ethical frameworks to govern the way AI platforms could be deployed in learning, to promote education for all.

In our ITU Committees, delegates argued for international codes of conduct for digital financial services, to ensure more people are empowered through mobile money while protecting vulnerable individuals from unscrupulous conduct. Students also took on the very thorny issues surrounding online privacy.

The exciting, untapped potential of ICTs to help redress and mitigate the global climate emergency focused the minds of the UN Environment Committee.

This has been a watershed summit for ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, kicking off a new Global Youth Strategy that will ensure that the essential voice of young people is consistently included in our key debates and deliberations.

The threat of cyberwarfare and the need for international frameworks for de-escalating cyber conflict topped the agenda in the Security Council.

The ILO Committee considered the future of work in the digital era, and the need to help developing countries nurture digital skills and boost digital investment, while helping communities adapt to potential income loss linked to automation.

Financial support to help poorer nations leverage the enormous promise of e-health platforms and accelerate progress towards SDG 3 was one of the vital issues discussed by the WHO Committee.

And the ITU Youth Assembly on gender looked at issues of concern around online violence and harassment, and proposed the creation of a new organization dedicated to promoting gender equality in the tech field.

The debates throughout were rich, instructive, and insightful. All in all, our young delegates drafted and passed 45 Resolutions, and the knowledge and level of engagement they demonstrated exceeded all expectations. But for BDT, their value goes far beyond that.

I believe our effectiveness in bringing the power of technology to today’s global development challenges will largely define how successful we are in achieving the 17 SDGs.

Just as digital platforms are evolving at lightning speed, the disruptive effects of ICTs are also transforming our world faster than at any other time in human history. It is today’s youth who will both reap the benefits and bear the brunt of this transformation.

Already, a full half of the global population is under 30. Nearly half of all those young people live in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 40% of the population is now under 15 years of age. That’s already a huge youth demographic, and it’s still growing.

Our first ITU Futurecasters Young Global Visionaries represent the first true generation of digital natives. Their intuitive grasp of technology could be the game changer we need in our efforts to harness the power and potential of ICTs to accelerate progress towards global equality, and create the world we want.

This has been a watershed summit for ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, kicking off a new Global Youth Strategy that will ensure that the essential voice of young people is consistently included in our key debates and deliberations. Watch this space!

Watch Video by Doreen Bogdan-Martin Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

Watch Video by Florence Baudry, Director FerMUN.

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Futurecasters 2020 Young Global Visionaries – youth bring their energy and their voice to ITU debates

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