Y20: Still showing that you(th) can make a difference

By Shaima Hamidaddin

It’s estimated that around a third of the world is in some form of official lockdown, and many more are voluntarily self-isolating or social distancing as sensible precautions. Of course, incredible health workers and other vital workers all over the world are still active – saving lives and keeping the essentials of society running.

As responsible members of society, it’s important that we all follow precautions and restrictions, but it’s also important that we also try and keep our roles in society active too. As I outlined in the last blog, at Misk we’re trying to do just that. So, in a break from my usual blog, we’re going to be hearing directly from the two people at Misk running Y20 (since we’re all working remotely, it was even more of a pleasure than usual to talk to them): Othman Almoamar, chairman, and Sarah Alkhedheiri, Sherpa. They can update us on how they’re still committed to Y20 and unlocking its online potential.

Othman: “For all the challenges we’re facing, it’s imperative that we proceed with Y20. The values of Y20, and of young people around the world, are key to combatting coronavirus: a future-fit, tech-skills orientated mentality; resilience and agility towards change and disruption; and an interest in learning how to seize the initiative. Furthermore, our leaders are at the moment necessarily looking at the short-term – how to solve this crisis right now – but young people can focus on the long-term, and we absolutely need to be able to look ahead to future pandemics and other crises to be better prepared, save more lives, and – yes – more resilient.

Sarah: “We had the Y20 topics in place before this crisis broke, and they’re still relevant. But now there’s this shared global experience, like nothing in our lifetimes, and it’s bringing us together as global citizens to address this issue and others with new motivation.”

I asked how they’re proceeding with the working meetings, originally planned to happen face-to-face.

Othman: “Actually, the G20 already demonstrated some agility of its own by conducting a remote meeting. We’re letting them try out some of the technology to make sure it works OK! Most likely we’ll use a mix of existing platforms – Zoom, WebX – as well as some bespoke platforms we’ve got under development.”

Sarah: We’re really excited about these virtual meetings, but I think two things we’re concerned about are missing out on the opportunity to forge deeper connections that face-to-face contact brings, and also the chance to make unexpected links. The working meetings were originally scheduled to take place in parallel to other international gatherings – EcoSoc in New York, VivaTech in Paris, WEF ASEAN in Jakarta – and the chance for our delegates to make connections beyond the Y20 was something we were keen to push, just to get those additional perspectives. We are now going to use online platforms to gain thoughts and opinions from those who wouldn’t normally be able to take part in these kind of international meetings.

Othman: We’ll be opening a youth-led initiative competition. Young people all over the world – not just the G20, not just delegates – can submit their ideas and projects to help fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Y20 will choose the winner who will be able to attend the summit – assuming we can still hold it – and the idea will also be shared among the Y20 delegates to include within the communiqué and next year’s Y20.

We’re running out of space, but what do Othman and Sarah say to delegates and young people around the world?

Sarah: “Delegates have a responsibility. We’ve been posed a challenge and we’re overcoming it with agility, innovation, and commitment. Let’s approach drafting our Y20 communiqué to the G20 leadership with the same spirit.”

Othman: “Young people are optimistic about the future. We know this. Now this is a chance for young people to show that our leaders should feel optimistic about them. As we say: You(th) can.”

So, there we have it. The Y20 2020 is now very online – keep an eye on our various channels and join us in facing this global challenge. Until next time, keep yourself, your family, and your communities safe.


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