With a mandate to empower young people and ensure their voices are heard, the Youth 20 this year is focused on the hard work and motivation of young people being a source of hope for the future
COVID-19 has marked the beginning of a devastating crisis for many people, especially youth. Many young people have lost their jobs or faced reduced working hours and job opportunities. They have faced disruptions in their education, with many schools closing and classes cancelled or moved online. All this has contributed to increasing inequalities in our societies. The crisis has created new problems and exacerbated existing ones. In this context, the G20 and its youth engagement group, the Youth 20, are important platforms where governments and civil society have a unique opportunity to shape the recovery by radically rethinking our societies’ economic and social principles.
This year, the Y20 has been chaired by the Young Ambassadors Society, with the support of the Italian G20 presidency. Founded 10 years ago with the goal of empowering young people and making their voices heard, YAS is committed to put young people at the centre of decision-making by building a bridge between youth and global political institutions under the auspices of the Italian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The things that matter
More than 100 youth associations were involved in the Y20 process, representing more than 1 million young people, to share their opinions and ideas on the G20 themes. We also partnered with major international organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, UNICEF, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and International Coffee Organization to host Y20 workshops and gather additional insights on the themes. We addressed issues ranging from sustainability and climate change to innovation and the future of work, from culture and education to equal opportunities. We shared our proposals with several G20 ministerial meetings focusing on health, culture, environment, employment and education.
Climate change and sustainability were among the main Y20 themes. In 2020 we surveyed more than 10,000 young people: 87% of respondents ranked climate change as the top priority that should be addressed by our global leaders.
At this unique moment in history, it is vitally important to rethink the principles of our economy and society to ensure a speedy transition towards a more sustainable, innovative and inclusive world.
The way forward must be supported by a modern education system that plays a key role in developing awareness of climate challenges. Schools and universities are important components in training people to be aware of and ready to address current and future environmental threats. At the same time, it is critical to make sure young people acquire the skills needed to promote sustainable, green economy models.
Scientific research and sustainable innovation should be recognised as fundamental tools to build awareness and address climate challenges; here the role of young people is crucial as creators of innovative solutions. We urge global leaders to continue supporting the promotion and creation of innovative start-ups, especially for young entrepreneurs in both developing and developed countries.
On the theme of ‘Employment and education’, we focused on the transition from education to the labour market. In particular, it is fundamental to ensure access for all to quality education at any level, both in person and online, despite gender, race and economic constraints. Unfortunately, quality education remains accessible to few, not many.
It is essential to foster stronger connections between prospective students and employers and at the same time to invest in education and social protection systems to help young people after they leave education or the job market. It is also very important for everyone to learn the skills necessary for the job market of today and tomorrow, in line with their passions and interests. Particular attention should be given to digital skills and science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and also green skills for green jobs.
On the theme of ‘Health’, we urge leaders to work towards universal health coverage, so all people have reliable, equitable and affordable access to culturally inclusive and quality healthcare and to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines, tests and equipment to fight COVID-19.
It is also important to increase resources and investments for mental health services and to counter the stigma and prejudice towards people with mental disorders through targeted communication and awareness-raising campaigns and mental health literacy promotion.
Despite all the difficulties of recent years, we are sure that the commitment, hard work and motivation of young people around the world are a source of hope for a more inclusive and cleaner future.