2nd Annual International Youth-To-Youth Summit
April 21-25th, 2016
The Youth-To-Youth Initiative (Y2Y) was founded on the belief that inspired action leads to change and with a mission to empower young people to be the change makers. In addition to providing around-the-clock support in project management and development of socially beneficial ideas through the ACTION HUB, Y2Y fosters information and experience sharing through their annual international summits bringing together young change makers from around the world. Having lived in Canada at the time of the first annual international Y2Y summit in Vilnius, Lithuania and thus unable to participate in 2015 I was extremely glad to have found myself in the heart of Europe, in Bratislava in 2016 and a mere overnight train ride away from beautiful historical Krakow in neighbouring Poland. Fittingly, I had already had the pleasure to meet and get to know the Co-Founder of Y2Y and Summit Coordinator, Ania Ankowska as well as several of the Summit’s panel moderators , speakers and workshop facilitators in 2013 at the Transparency International Summer School on Integrity (TISI) in Vilnius.
Thus, in addition to the 2016 Summit being an invaluable experience to learn from anti-corruption and governance experts, academics and practitioners from across Europe and beyond; to meet likeminded young professionals working in, involved in or simply interested in the betterment of the world and society we live in; and exponentially broadening my horizons in the topic area of transparency and public affairs, it also made for a wonderful opportunity to reunite with old friends and alumni from TISI 2013.
Educational highlights (my personal) and some disconcerting facts from the Summit, or in other words some interesting food for thought:
- Around the world, $20-40 billion is stolen by cryptocrats (WBG)
- “Corruption is almost a human tendency.”(Iason O’Dunnin, ACI, Ireland)
- Unfortunately, most government systems are set up in a way that encourages corruption (Mark Vlasic, Georgetown University)
- Fortunately, globalization and technological advances help reveal more instances of corruption (Kryszstof Izdebski, Fundacja ePaństwo (EPF))
- “Fifa is ruled by a culture of silos and intimidation.” (Bonita Mersiadez, Australian whistleblower commenting on the FIFA scandal)
- Whistleblowers have nothing to gain and everything to lose yet they are instrumental to identifying instances of corruption
- Matchfixing in soccer in Poland is not an uncommon phenomenon; quite the opposite (Benjamin Wheatland)
- “Youth mustn’t wait till it is their time to lead [and wear] the grey suits, [but rather] push themselves into positions of impact and action.” (Iason O’Dunnin, ACI, Ireland)
- Avoid negativistic wording and rephrase fighting corruption into “making the society more open [or] enhancing transparency”(Karolina Mazetyte, Y2Y)
- In the past in Zimbabwe corruption was unknown because people were taught from an early age that “the best values are honesty and ubuntu = I am because of you. But today the society has completely changed [whereby] absolute power corrupts absolutely.”(Dumisani Mthombeni, lawyer and activist)
- “Corruption comes down to the system, not the goodness of evil of people.” (Michal Klusek, Fundacia Stańczyka)
- “Anti-corruption is not glamorous. It has been reactive till now but needs to be proactive and create systems which will prevent the abuse of the system.” (Elena Panfilova, Vice Chair at TI)
- Corruption cannot be eliminated but rather minimized to a socially acceptable level. (Elena Panfilova, Vice Chair at TI)
To sum up, the thoughts that resonated the most strongly with my philosophy of less is more, microleadership, and leading by example are the three below:
- “Corruption is a virus and we must decide about what we can do ourselves on a small scale and locally.” (Karolis Granickas, Open Contracting Partnership)
- “If not you, then who? What I do every day matters.” (Ingrida Palamaite, TI Lithuania)
- “Where is my own personal place in the future of anti-corruption?” (Elena Panfilova, Vice Chair at TI)
“BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD” Mahatma Gandi
Inspired by all these powerful ideas and equipped with much new knowledge, I was invited to deliver a series of interactive and deliverables-oriented workshops on youth engagement in civic, public and eventually political life.
The purpose of the workshop was to recapitulate some of the main ideas expressed during the Summit regarding the importance of good governance and open responsive governments and to brainstorm meaningful ways in which to engage our youth in activities (not necessarily only government or politics related) that could and would engrave in them the qualities and values that would facilitate their development into responsible citizens of integrity and honesty.
The first part of the workshop looked at some of the key buzzwords associated with youth engagement, i.e. youth involvement, youth voice, youth in governance, and youth participation and included a discussion about the importance of actively engaging youth in volunteering, civic life and politics.
Before diving into the more practical hands-on portion of the workshop, we listed some already existing and mostly free initiatives on a global scale in which youth can participate such as World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community, the World Bank Group Youth Summit(s) as well as various international summer school programs.
- What are effective forms of engaging youth?
- What are the themes that resonate with youth within the scope of the Y2Y Summit’s thematic focus?
- What motivates youth?
Based on the answers to the three questions above, what are some concrete project ideas you think would have the potential to involve youth effectively?
From hosting interactive and engaging sessions at their school to raise awareness about the impact lack of civic participation has on the growth and development of democracy through blending music and story-telling to get the key messages across to our youth to encouraging young people to volunteer at the polls in their districts and regions during local or national elections, the discussions that ensued brought about stimulating and actionable ideas and (hopefully) in a small (micro) way set the stage for a brighter, more accountable and participatory tomorrow.