Some preconceptions are universal. Whether in Europe, South America, East or South Asia, in urban or rural areas, pretty much everywhere I have been I have heard young people explain why they dislike politics, either because it is boring or because they believe all politicians are corrupt. Did they – did you? – ever wonder what the world would be like if there were no policies, and no policymakers? Think about it.
Making policies is not just about sitting at a desk, writing reports and chatting with bureaucrats. It’s also about trying to make tangible positive changes for all.
Last month, the World Bank invited seven bright young professionals from Africa and Latin America – leaders in their various areas of work – to attend the German Marshall Fund's Young Professionals Summit 2014 (YPS) in Brussels. The goal was to give these "leaders of the next generation" an opportunity to engage with senior opinion shapers and decision makers, and learn about their experience. They were part of a group of 90 high-potential young professionals from all parts of the world – Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia – brought together by GMF and its partners, including the World Bank, to debate the challenges of making policies that could have a real positive impact and make change happens.
Young Professionals pose with World Bank staff.
As she was asked to be the moderator of a session on Inclusiveness as Smart Foreign Policy, Andrea Azevado, one of the young professionals invited by the World Bank, took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of addressing vulnerable groups such as the disabled, the LGBT community, and women when designing policies aimed at alleviating poverty. The relevance of disability rights was further advanced by Medi Ssengooba in a debate on the priority issues for the leaders of tomorrow.
The five other Bank invitees – Chikondi Precious Chabvuta, David Riveros García, Christopher Chakwana, Amanda Ngwenya, and Adiam Hagos Hailemicheal – also contributed to the discussion by sharing their developmental perspectives, including the need for the international community to address the impact greenhouse gases emitted by rich countries has on developing countries, and the importance of ensuring that measures taken to promote sustainability such as tree planting do not come at the expense of food production in the developing world.
Aside from the YPS, the seven young invitees (learn more about them) were brought together with representatives of European youth organizations and EU and UN officials working on youth-related issues. During this roundtable, they discussed the role that young people can play in ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The main output of this discussion was summarized by Adiam Hagos Hailemicheal, a young professional from Ethiopia: "Today’s youth are responsible for ending poverty in the next 15 years. We are the ones who are going to lead countries and organizations towards development goals, the ones defining the world’s fate. […] The achievement of these goals highly depends on whether or not our generation is able to make a change.”
Gathering these inspiring young people – in Brussels, but also in Washington, D.C. on April 10, and in Tunis on April 1 – could translate into great hope for the future. Whether they advocate for better access to education, for gender equality or for environment issues, all these future decision-makers, who are already playing game-changing roles, are contributing to finding solutions to fight inequalities and boost a shared prosperity.
"Engaging with these inspiring young leaders today is critical to the Bank Group's goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity by 2030," said Massimiliano Paolucci, head of the World Bank office in Brussels.
Now, let me ask you something: What will be YOUR contribution? Share your ideas in the comments below or on Twitter #TakeOn.Read more about young policymakers who are taking on global challenges:
Four inspiring youth leaders in D.C. to take on poverty
YPS 2013: Diving into the heart of making development policies