The NMC 1st World Youth Meeting for Sustainable Development held in Bari, Italy is soon coming to an end. While it is great to meet young and motivated people, at the same time, I now realize the persistent hypocrisy of these types of conferences. The NMC’s goal (I think - it was vaguely explained), through this first event, was to inform policy and dialogue on sustainable development through a series of action plans written by young participants after an 8-hour workshop.
The next time you hear your parents or elder siblings groaning about having to go to work, you can lecture them about how lucky they are (while preferably standing at a safe distance). Here’s some fodder for your sermon:
Last week I was attending another student conference on the financial crisis—these are exciting times for economics students and you have to pardon us for having so many conferences on it! It was certainly very informative and enjoyable.
Over the weekend, I read an article in the New York Times that really struck me. It's about a recent survey of 1,226 young people in Pakistan (ages 18-29), which shows that most of them are very worried about their futures. They also stressed that there is a dire need to invest in education, employment and to tackle corruption.
On the last day of the World Bank Meetings, UNDP Turkey organized a session on the 2009 Human Development Report, titled “Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development.” The panel had some great speakers, including Kemal Dervis, former UNDP Administrator and current director of the Brookings Institution.
“A resounding success. We have had open, honest, and frank discussions, making this year’s session most fruitful.” So were the words of the President of the World Bank/IMF Group Board of Governors. I picked up a rumor that the Prime Minister will be addressing the plenary session this morning and made my way to the grand hall. It seems I am early but just in time for the closing remarks.
While I’ve yet to meet an actual youth delegation, there are still a number of young people here. Interns, assistants, conference support, information desks, coffee, photocopying, mic running, IT support, and of course depending on your definition of “youth,” active members of NGOs.
My first day at the Annual Meetings, and it’s a good thing I’m here early. Security is tight and traffic is backed up. Still, delegates can be seen happily chatting away as they wait to pass through the metal detector, the press is photographing the lines, and meetings are being planned for lunch. A thermal camera screens us as we are cleared through.
It’s not like I was expecting apathy, but in any case it’s not what I got at all. The World Bank meetings are well-known, and opinions are pointed. Perhaps it’s because of a recent shoe-throwing incident aimed at IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Khan at a pre-meeting university seminar. Perhaps it’s because of the protests organized around the city (activists can be seen handing out flyers and the police running drills). Or perhaps it’s simply a collection of pointed opinions on all things political, economic, or cultural.
Today the day starts early. The morning is dreary, gray sky, a sprinkling of rain…but that’s more than likely to change as the day continues. I’ve just arrived in Istanbul, not the capital, but Turkey’s commercial, financial, and transportation hub nonetheless. The airport has welcome signs to the IMF-World Bank meetings for all the international delegates expected this week. I smile as the passport officer greets me. I’ve been living abroad for nearly a year, and it’s always nice to visit.