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Riyadh, 2 March 2020

  • Saudi Y20 team to bring the voices of young people to the G20.
  • Launch event brought young people together with government and UN officials.
  • In a Y20 first, a ‘Y20 Community’ will be built for grass roots engagement and to channel
  • ideas to the top table of international diplomacy.

Riyadh, 2 March 2020 – The Misk Foundation, in partnership with Ithra, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, yesterday launched Y20 at an evening event at its Riyadh headquarters attended by young leaders, UN and government officials, and the Kingdom’s G20 Sherpa. 

The Y20 is the most influential international diplomatic forum for young leaders, and the only officially recognised platform for young people to engage with the wider G20. It is one of eight official engagements under the G20 umbrella. 

At the inception day, the Y20 team set out its plans to make the Y20 an active and impactful channel between young leaders and the leadership of the G20 throughout the year. 

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. 


The Y20 team also announced plans for a youth-led network, comprising young delegates from G20 countries and stakeholders from the private sector, academia and civil society, to develop a series of policy recommendations – to be delivered in the form of a communiqué – for consideration, approval and activation at the G20 heads of state summit. 

They explained how these discussions will be informed by new research by Misk and actionable White Papers developed with knowledge partners as well as a new database, planned as Saudi Y20’s legacy contribution to future Y20s. 

The inception event began with a ‘fireside’ discussion between the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ms Henrietta Fore, and young attendees. They discussed how young people can shape a better future, and the support UNICEF was investing into the youth of today. 

In her welcome remarks, Sarah Alkhedheiri, the Y20 Sherpa and Initiatives Manager at the Misk Foundation, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for young people to engage with global leaders on the most pressing issues of our time, and also to engage with each other as responsible global citizens. I’m calling on young people, wherever you are, to get involved: The Y20’s now open. World leaders are ready to listen, it’s now up to us, our delegates, and young people around the world to speak up and make their ideas heard.” 

Building on these themes, Othman Almoamar, Y20 Chair, and Research Manager at the Misk Foundation, said: “Young people are an important demographic – they account for 50% of the world’s population, about 90% of whom live in developing countries. And while research that we have done at Misk points to youth being optimistic in general, they still face challenges in the education, employment, and global citizenship domains. In 2020 the G20 priority areas coincide with these challenges and they are working to address some of the most pressing issues faced today. At the Y20, we will bring young people’s voice from G20 countries and beyond to ensure that their ideas, solutions, and ambition are delivered to the G20.” 

The evening’s keynote speeches by H.E. Fahad Almubarak, Saudi Arabia’s G20 Sherpa; Ms Henrietta Fore of UNICEF; and Mr Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers, showed how Y20 is already bringing the voices of young people to the top table of international decision-making. 

Saudi Arabia’s G20 Sherpa, H.E. Fahad Almubarak, set out the importance with which the G20 regards the Y20 this year. Dr Almubarak said: “Meeting the Y20 cohort and hearing the solutions to 21st century challenges remains a highlight of any G20 presidency. In 2020, the Saudi G20 presidency is committed to engage with a broad range of civil society representatives.” 

Dr Almubarak spoke about how the G20’s priorities relate to young people, such as tackling the challenges associated with new patterns of work to ensure “future ready youth”. He added that the G20 would focus on financial inclusion. Dr Almubarak emphasized the role of financial inclusion in empowerment, saying: “access to financial services is a prerequisite for unlocking economic opportunities. The G20 agenda in 2020 will therefore focus on financial inclusion for youth, women and SMEs, complementing past presidencies’ efforts in this regard.” 

Dr Almubarak concluded by addressing the Y20, and wider global youth, by saying: “You are amongst the most educated, determined and inter-connected generation in human history, and you can impact change in the G20 and beyond. Over the next days and months, you have the unique privilege of representing your generation. In doing so you will help shape a global agenda to realize opportunities of the 21st century for all.” 

Addressing the young attendees, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “We believe there is simply no better investment in the future than an investment in today’s children and young people. After all, you’re tomorrow’s employees, employers, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.” 

Abdullah Al-Rashid, Ithra’s Programs Director, announced a first in the history of the Y20 – the building of a ‘Y20 Community’ of around 2,000 young people aged 18-30 from across the G20 countries with the aim of ensuring an impactful two-way communications channel between young people, the Y20 and the wider G20. 

He said: “This is an initiative designed to bring decision-making closer to the people, especially to young people. We intend to involve thousands of young people from across the G20. We want to create a vibrant online community which can discuss the most pressing issues and move us towards robust, workable, solutions and policies, or at the very minimum present foundations for coherent future policies.” 

The Y20 Community will be formally launched with an open call to young people on social media, followed by three tracks of engagement: an awareness-raising track with online content generated by Y20 community members; priority areas discussions in the form of weekly webinars and monthly meetups open to the public; and a youth priorities initiative – an open call for young people to share a 1 minute video setting out the most pressing issues and suggestions relevant to them. The outcomes of this process will be passed on to the Italian delegation for consideration in next year’s Y20. Mr. 

Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers, spoke of the importance of volunteering and emphasised that today’s youth have an important role in shaping the future. Speaking to the young people in attendance, he said: “Stop listening and agreeing that youth is the future, because youth is the present. No decision should be made without you. Do not wait for others to create an agenda for you.” 

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 finalised for consideration at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November.