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?
Thanks for reading!