‘Innovation is key to new global development agenda’ – UN youth summit

12 September 2013

Young people from across the world who took part in a United Nations conference in Costa Rica have called on world leaders to support innovation and technology as methods to advance broader development, drive positive change and bring citizens closer to their Governments.

Over the past three days, some 700 young people attended the BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit, convened by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in San José, and more than 3,000 followed the conference online and contributed their ideas from 43 hubs or workshops in 25 different countries using social media channels.

Young participants urged Governments to provide more flexible, dynamic and open means of governing to reach more people more easily than presently possible. They emphasized that the key to a successful development paradigm will be innovation and asked for education systems that equip students with not just theoretical knowledge, but with a practical mix of marketable, innovative and relevant skills needed to compete in the global digital economy.

Participants also highlighted the role of information communication technologies (ICTs) to improve health care, stop environmental degradation, and improve preparedness and recovery from natural disasters.

“Young people nurtured in a world of technological innovation have demonstrated at BYND 2015 that ICTs are the driving force to meet future sustainable development goals,” said the Secretary-General of the ITU, Hamadoun Touré.

“Their engagement in the Global Youth Summit – the hundreds who made the journey to Costa Rica, and the thousands who connected from remote hubs around the world – ensures their inclusion in the most important decisions of the 21st century. After all, today’s youth will inherit the world tomorrow. And they will be our future leaders.”

The BYND 2015 Declaration Youth Declaration was the result of the summit, and the document will be presented today to the President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla, who will take the collective message of the world’s youth to the General Assembly later this month.

“The key to a new global development agenda is innovation,” say young people in their Declaration, which underscored that old methods and systems are poorly suited to the transformed and interconnected communities we live in today. “We call on Member States, civil society and the private sector to foster innovation to build the future we want.”

According to the ITU, over 1,000 ideas were generated on the online platform designed specifically for the conference, where youth voted around 15,000 times and provided more than 12,000 comments. In addition, tens of thousands of people joined the conversation via social media with a combined reach on the micro blogging platform Twitter of over 16 million. The online conversation took place in 74 languages. Education, health and access to ICTs ranked as the highest trending topics.


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