Discussing Youth Issues at the Y20 in Córdoba, Argentina

By Luisa de Simone

¡Hola! My name is Luisa De Simone and I was the EU Head Delegate to the Y20 Argentina 2018. From the 13th to the 18th of August 2018, Mark Coles and I had the honour of representing the European Union at the Y20 Summit in Córdoba, Argentina. As mentioned by Mark in his blog post, the Youth20 is one of the seven engagement groups of the G20, aiming at connecting young delegates and professionals from different countries with the world leaders. It is a unique opportunity for youth to influence the policy debate, offering concrete solutions and recommendations to tackle the most pressing societal and economic challenges.

After a week-long summit – that felt like a month-long due to an agenda full of events and endless opportunities to engage in lively discussions around the future of work, the issue of sustainability, the skills and education essential for the 21st century and the needs of entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals – now that I am back to Europe, there are three thoughts I would like to share with you.

As you might expect, the Y20 is all about youth. It is a genuine platform for young people to share their knowledge and showcase their talents. It was indeed a great opportunity for me to learn from incredible individuals creating tangible impact in their communities. To say it in the words of Ilona Dougherty, one of the keynote speakers, ‘young people’s brains are “wired for innovation”’. And certainly many young delegates and special guests proved it right.

If you fancy getting involved in the Y20, get prepared for a lot of talking. I very much enjoyed being one of the speakers invited to discuss about the future of work – and the future of workers, most importantly – questioning the paradigms and predicting the future alongside other distinguished guests from the private sector and international development. In the same way, a lot of talking on gender, social entrepreneurship, social protection, sustainability – just to mention some of the topics debated – was involved in the negotiations that led to the final policy recommendations. And let me guess… Even more talking will be required for the promotion of the final communique, keeping the delegates busy for the rest of the year.

Moreover, the summit is a genuine opportunity for finding a good dose of inspiration. Spending a week with a group of young people – most of them in their early twenties – meaningfully engaged to create a better world, is like a breath of fresh air. I believe that a sparkling combination of energy, alfajores (☺), curiosity and willingness to take on new challenges was the secret ingredient of this gathering and what made it very special.

Finally, I would invite you to learn more about Young European Leadership (YEL), the organisation that made this experience possible and that is effortlessly providing opportunities to empower young individuals from Europe and beyond. Will you be the next delegate? Check the website and do not miss your chance!

Shaking the Present… Y20 2018 Argentina

By Mark Coles

Hello! My name’s Mark Coles and along with Luisa De Simone I was lucky enough to be selected as YEL’s delegate for Y20 (Youth 20) summit in Cordoba, Argentina. I’ve been a long a long way, both metaphorically and physically…13,000km in fact, but having recently returned I was asked to share a few words on what has been a unique experience.

Rather than bore you senseless with chapter and verse, I thought it a good idea to outline what we got up to and some of my reflections now a little time has time elapsed. The Y20 is one of seven streams into the G20 group nations (the others with a focus on women, business, science, civil society, academia and labour) for which each country can put their own spin on the event when blessed with the presidency.

Our Argentine hosts were no different and wanted to give us a flavour of not only Argentina, but create a legacy through a suite of scalable social action projects that would ‘picked up’ and rolled out around the world by anyone wishing to do so. We also created a more ‘traditional’ communique that were lucky enough to take to Brussels to present to the G20 Sherpa team, and three other European Commission departments and visit community projects in Cordoba and La Perla, a concentration camp when there was Junta (military) rule in the late 1970’s.

The policy areas (Education, Entrepreneurship, Future of Work, Sustainability) we worked on were extremely broad and with such a vast array of talent attending the summit in the form of official delegates and special guests (we had everything from lawyers and PhD’s to social project leaders) had much lively debate on what our communique should include. Lesson One- compromise is key when there is a broad spectrum of views.

I could write a blog about each area, but rather than that, the three key themes and messages that jumped out for me from the week that we are passionate about is the step-change to sustainability, a levelling of inequalities, and inclusion of marginalised persons.

I’d argue the world is at a junction where there is an imperative need for the benefits of growth, technology and interconnectivityto be equally distributed. Not only between nations but also between societal groups within them- for too long the benefits have been shared amongst the few and the message is that this needs to change.

It was also evident we felt there needs to be more empathy in policy making…how can you balance this off against actionable delivery to retain legitimacy and public support? How can legalese become more empathetic? How can we change mindsets so issues are thought about through a broader lens rather than pure trade-offs or costs?

‘Social entrepreneurship’ was a phrase I heard banded around and I hope in a nice way it becomes obsolete. all entrepreneurship will have an inherent element of ‘social’. Companies and brands will have an existential crisis if they do not espouse this with the young global consumer of today.

The future of work is something that will affect us all and seems to be a sleeping giant problem- disruption to working conditions, equality and fairness create unrest … more companies and governments need to be engaged looking at the solutions.

George Bernard Shaw said all good ideas start as blasphemy and I think this is a license the youth at any point have … we are starting from no entrenched position, competition and national advantage still have a role and should be encouraged, but how can we shake the cart, do things differently, more equitably for a better outcome for all?

Everyone loves a video right? So if you like to find our more, one has been widely shared!

Thanks for reading!