2019 Y7 Call to Action

The Young Diplomats of Canada delegation, Melanie Rodriguez, Head Delegate, Anjum Sultana, Communications Coordinator, Ross Anthony McDonach, and Marissa Fortune  represented #Canada at the Y7 France Summit in Paris, France.

For one week, 44 delegates representing youth from the African Union, Canada, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America came together to develop recommendations for a #FairFuture in the lead up to the G7 Summit in Biarritz for France's G7 Presidency. In the face of growing resistance to multi-lateralism, the Y7 continues to demonstrate the importance of working in global partnerships to address the common challenges facing our world. 

Read the Call to Action here.

The Y7 also launched an extraordinary call to action encouraging immediate action on the deteriorating human rights situation in Sudan.

As the lead organizer for the 2018 Youth 7, YDC is proud to see momentum continued into 2019. We remain committed to supporting further youth integration within the G7 in 2020 and beyond! 

2018 YDC Annual Report

The Young Diplomats of Canada is pleased to share the 2018 YDC Annual Report. The report highlights some of our success and growth over the last year. In 2018, YDC sent delegates to the Y7 Summit in Ottawa, the Y20 Summit in Cordoba, Argentina, the OECD Meetings in Paris, France, and the World Bank and IMF meetings in Bali, Indonesia and the World Trade Organization Public Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. YDC representatives, through intensive consultations with grassroots organizations across the country, develop and present policy recommendations directly to global leaders including the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Canadian Ambassadors, and members of Canada's civil service.

Looking ahead to 2019, we plan to build on the momentum we gained in 2018 and expand some of the programs, training and events we have offered in previous years.

Delegation Report: YDC Delegation to the 2019 World Bank / International Monetary Fund

Executive Summary


The Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) delegation to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings of 2019 travelled to Washington, DC to partake in the official meetings as well as attend events as part of the Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF).  Further, the delegation had the opportunity to engage in fruitful bilateral discussions with a variety of actors, including state representatives, Canadian missions to international organizations, and a number of teams and groups at the World Bank and IMF. 

Over the course of the week, the delegation split their time between discussing the burgeoning issues of today and the important role youth have to play in enacting lasting change during informative bilateral meetings, while sitting in on a variety of panels dealing with topics ranging from the future challenges of fintech’s implementation in capital markets to discussions about the economic and social impacts climate change and sustainability. A favorite panel discussion was at the IMF, between Pinelopi Goldberg, Chief Economist of the World Bank, Laurence Boone, Chief Economist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Gita Gopinath Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund who discussed gender inequality. From this session, there was a clear takeaway that regardless of which economy or country one comes from, there is still work to be done.  An overarching theme tying together all the delegation’s experience was the importance of diversity in international cooperation, bringing different perspectives and strengths to the table when crafting solutions to the issues at play.

Key Sessions Attended


The YDC delegation started their time in Washington D.C. at the Canadian Embassy by meeting with Jennifer Loten, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the Organization of American States (OAS), and her team. She shared with us the reality of her work, the different diplomatic challenges she has to face, and discussed the dynamic between representative at the OAS. She and her team were kind enough to exchange with us on different ways that the youth is and could get involved in the OAS. The team also gave us insight into the upcoming events and votes that were relevant to their work.

The delegation had the chance to meet with Dr. Maryse Robert, a Canadian from the province of Quebec that now acts as Director of Economic Development at the Organization of American States. Dr. Robert offered a great insight into her tenure, and what led her to be there, and also discussed the practical challenges of multilateral diplomacy. She answered the different questions we had on upcoming challenges in fund contribution, and the different ways for the Organization to ensure economic development with a limited fund. Dr. Robert also discussed The Young America Business Trust; a nonprofit international organization that works in cooperation with the OAS, to promote social and economic development of young people around the world.

The delegation ended the first day by meeting with Brett Hamsik, Economic Policy Advisor, and with Bryan Koontz, Border and Law Enforcement Officer at the State Department. This meeting allowed us to exchange on Canada-US diplomatic relations and economic development, but also to observe the dynamic at the US State Department. This meeting led us not only to ask questions, but also to answer many. The meeting became more than being solely on Economic Policies and Border Security, but also about the place of youth in politics, global American politics and the challenges mainstream media pose in their work, and about the changes in Canadian legislation and the implication for the US.

Day two marked the first official day of the Spring Meetings and our bilateral meeting with Christine Hogan, the Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean at the World Bank and a few members of her team. We began the meeting discussing the diverse constituency she represents and her impressive, yet diverse career path that lead her to the World Bank. Emphasized themes of the discussion included post-crisis adaptation and resilience building, alongside the existing continuous efforts towards risk mitigation. We were happy to see the strong female representation in the room and thoroughly enjoyed the enriching discussion with fellow Canadians.

The team started day three off with a bilateral meeting with Katie Ross, an Associate at the World Resources Institute Climate Program. The Climate Change focus at this meeting was a topic of interest for many of this year’s YDC delegates. The discussion began with an overview of the World Resources Institute; its presence world-wide, donor funding and the seven major concerns it deals with, which include: climate, energy, water, oceans, cities and forests. Ms. Ross illustrated the importance of reducing emissions on a global scale, rather than on a country-specific basis. She put emphasis on the fact that long-term strategies to reduce emissions through a variety of tools were most effective in reaching the criteria illustrated in the Paris Accord. The discussion briefly touched on different countries involvement in the Paris Agreement that is causing some doubt in the 2030 target. To conclude, Ms. Ross provided a very interesting perspective on climate change and was very frank about the cruel reality it poses to many parts of the world.  The delegation thoroughly enjoyed this meeting; some delegates were even interested in possible future careers at the World Resources Institute, particularly in Ms. Ross’ area of expertise.

The delegates started day four by meeting with Assistant Director Paul A. Cashin and his team who manage the Asia-Pacific department for the IMF, focusing on India, China and Japan which are currently contributing to 2/3 of global growth. We began the meeting by discussing each country at length, touching on their strengths and weaknesses. Common themes amongst the countries were population augmentation, increased contribution to global GDP, youth unemployment rate, and the informal labour market linked to gender inequality. However, the region becomes more challenging due to the broad disparities existing between India and Japan. Each team member specializing in a certain region of the Asia-Pacific concluded that demographics is the single biggest challenge facing the region at this point in time. Dr. Cashin and his team were very knowledgeable and incredibly generous with their time. To conclude a fascinating discussion, the YDC team was able to grab an excellent photo in front of the Spring Meetings 2019 sign at the IMF.

On day 5, the delegates had the chance to attend back-to-back meetings with two divisions of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a Trust that uses evidence-based, nonpartisan analysis to solve today’s issues and challenges. The first meeting, with Pew’s Environment portfolio, focused on international oceans issues. The issues discussed ranged from the preservation of oceans mangroves to the human and economic challenges posed by illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. In the second meeting, with Pew’s Government Performance program, program analysts from Pew discussed their work on a variety of areas including retirement security, student loans, and state fiscal health. Delegates were able to ask questions on the future of work and its implications for pensions and student loans, and how states and localities took a variety of responses to municipalities experiencing fiscal distress.

On Saturday and Sunday, the delegates participated in a range of Spring Meeting seminars. The highlight of the weekend was an event on inequality, hosted by Christine Lagarde and featuring the chief economists of the World Bank, the IMF, and the OECD. In addition to the academic rigour and thoughtfulness the economists brought to the table, the gathering was historic for the fact that it was the first time in history that the chief economists of all three institutions were women. This data point may be stretched to serve as an indicator of future trends in gender equality and diversity in the workplace, and was an optimistic note upon which to end an inspiring and eye-opening week.

Delegate Reflections

Catherine Giles

I was initially drawn to the YDC after hearing extremely positive feedback from a former delegate of the organization. I proceeded to follow YDC on various social media platforms and always admired the amazing opportunities it presented to young Canadians. Eager to participate myself, I applied for the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington and was honoured to represent Canada abroad. Currently studying global governance, economics and public policy, I found the Spring Meetings to be a perfect opportunity to apply my studies in a practical manner. The entire experience was a privilege, and I am extremely grateful to have had such an enriching experience so early on.

The week began with a bilateral meeting with the Canadian mission to the OAS. The ambassador and permanent representative of Canada, Jennifer Loten, as well as other present representatives, gave many words of wisdom regarding potential career paths and how they arrived at their current position in Washington. As a student interested in a future in the Canadian foreign service or an international organization, I found this opportunity extremely beneficial in determining next steps for the future. The numerous bilateral meetings throughout the entire week broadened my perspective regarding job prospects in my areas of interest for when I graduate.

Currently researching climate change and migration, I was particularly interested in this year’s focus on climate change, featuring various panels and discussions highlighting differing perspectives from smaller, more vulnerable states affected by climate change compared to fiscal giants that are less involved and affected by its impacts. Moreover, I believe our delegation had a tremendous opportunity to discuss and share the youth perspective on climate change with important officials at the IMF, World Bank, as well as PEW Charity Trusts and the World Resources Institute. It was very apparent that climate change is on the agenda and the week gave hope for the future.

My highlights included the friendly encounter with Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde and Canadian Finance Minister, Bill Morneau. Furthermore, I was particularly fond of the strong female leadership we saw throughout the conference and bilateral meetings.  We concluded the week with a fascinating panel consisting of chief economists of the IMF, World Bank and OECD, all currently represented by women, discussing the future of gender and economic equality.  

To conclude, the Spring Meetings were certainly enriching, educational and gave a reassuring outlook on future global cooperation towards a common goal of climate change mitigation, economic and gender equality and embracing and dealing with the technological future that is rapidly approaching.

I would highly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in monetary and fiscal policy or a career in the Canadian foreign service. The YDC is a phenomenal non-profit organization which provides youth with the opportunity to expand their specific skillset through real-life experiences in a variety of different realms while allowing delegates to advocate for Canadian youth both at home and abroad. I can attest that representing Canada internationally as a youth leader is a unique experience and I am extremely thankful for the learning opportunity it provided, for the valuable connections I have made in Washington, as well as within this year’s delegation which stretches across Canada.

Émanuel Grenier-Benoit

When I first applied to be a YDC delegate, I didn’t really know what to expect. As a delegation representing Canadian youth at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund 2019 Spring Meetings, I was wondering how welcome we, our ideas, and our perspective would. I was convinced of the importance of our presence there but was eager to see the reactions of bankers, industry leaders, and government officials upon meeting us. I recognized the occasion to attend the WB and IMF Spring Meetings as a remarkable opportunity, but I had no idea how much of a learning experience it would be for me, and most importantly, not necessarily in the way that I anticipated.

As a delegation, we had to make choices from the beginning, even before being on the ground in Washington D.C. Where would we put our focus as a delegation? With the support of the YDC organization, we had significant leverage for a privileged access to organizations, funds and WB/IMF officials that gave us the option to arrange bilateral meetings with them, but, on the other hand, the Meetings offered many interesting talks with specialists from all over the world that we could attend as well. We succeeded in making these not mutually exclusive, and I think that the choices we made, the fact that we organized ten bilateral meetings, and also attended to nearly all the talks that were of interest to us, made for a charged, but memorable week.

From my point of view, participating in so many bilateral meetings was the most essential part of the week. These meetings really gave us a chance to learn as a delegation, but also an opportunity to discuss ideas, and challenges of interest to us, with different officials. I was surprised to see how interested and eager to exchange with us these officials were. It was also interesting to observe firsthand the place and role of Canada amongst all of these organizations. All these meetings provided me with a profound understanding of the ideology and workings of the various organizations, their reality and challenges, and it also gave me a valuable glimpse of the dynamic of foreign affairs and international work. This privileged time with all these remarkable individuals provided us with the opportunity to lead these meetings, and to see all the questions we had answered, but also to receive advice on different ways to get involved or to reach our goals.   

Throughout the week, I read, listened and talked, about a panoply of different issues. The World Bank and the IMF talks covered a great variety of subjects from important innovations in technology, crisis and emergency funds, types of assets, inequality, gender, climate change, to the way to approach projects and to solve issues. I heard many inspiring speakers and the Meetings allowed us to have a proximity that offered the possibility to discuss and exchange with them. Our attendance in Washington D.C. gave us the occasion to be heard and the event, the YDC organization, provided us with the setting to have a voice to the right individuals. This is easily one of the most valuable elements of the week. “You have to be there to have an impact,” said Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the WB, when discussing the importance of being on the ground and working in fragile States. This statement also applies in the resolution of global problems, and that is why our presence was essential if we aimed to achieve anything.

I will say that it was a privilege to be part of a delegation as passionate, qualified and interesting as the one that attended the 2019 Spring Meetings. Valuable relationships and friendships were built over the week, and I definitely get the feeling that our mutual passions and interests will make our paths cross again in the future. I could not have hoped to live this experience with anyone else.

On a final note, I was surprised to leave Washington D.C. more hopeful than I first arrived. To see all these experts, officials, and leaders in their fields urging for change and involved provided me with an inspiring image. However, the desire to act will not change the situation, and we must see a real and tangible change to achieve anything. If this does not happen, I know that our delegation, the youth, will force this change and that we will not be alone in this endeavor.

Shannon Hazlett

I currently work as an Associate at Longview Communications and Public Affairs, where I focus on political risk assessment, corporate financial communications and government relations. My work and understanding of the financial sector inspired me to apply to the Spring Meetings at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Additionally, as a Canadian youth interested in politics and government relations, it was important to me to attend these meetings to build relationships and ensure Canadian youth voices were included in the conversation.

Being a representative from Calgary, Alberta, I frequently brought a Canadian perspective that focused on our country’s supply and demand of energy. One of my key interests was understanding the broader, North American knowledge of Canadian energy. The bilateral meetings were an opportunity where I was able to discuss this topic and learn from high-level officials.

There were many takeaways from both the Spring Meetings and our bilateral meetings, but what I found most valuable was the opportunity to meet with high-level officials, such the Ambassador of Canada to the Organization of American States. In our bilateral meetings, senior officials were very interested in hearing the Canadian youth on a variety of topics. These themes included environmental impacts, the encouragement of more youth voices at summits, and gender inequality.

This experience provided me the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a variety of senior officials within the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization of American States to name a few. Not to mention, the chance to work alongside other Canadian youth, pursuing a common goal on behalf of our delegation. One of the reasons I believe our delegation was so successful was due, in part, to the diverse backgrounds and perspectives we each brought. I definitely recommend this opportunity to any Canadian youth, the experience was invaluable.

Maha Ali Khan

With the onset of globalization and exponential technological advancement, the 21st century has brought increasing complexity to issues we face as members of an international community. However, these same factors have brought with them an enormous potential for both collaboration between nations and the scale on which we as individuals can be part of making change. This was a concept I saw echoed over the course of our engagements during the Spring Meetings.

As an accounting and finance major, my academic focus was a deeper understanding of not just technical concepts and applications, but how the daily work and operations of businesses and institutions alike contributed to the global economy and capital markets. Through internships at KPMG LLP in as an auditor specialising in financial institutions and a rotation in global tax, I gained exposure to accounting and finance in practice on the international stage. As an Analyst within the Global Middle Office at BMO Capital Markets, I have built on that knowledge. Coupled with a strong interest in international governance and law, I have also taken a special interest in the regulation and global cooperation when it comes to this post-2008 financial crisis space. While it was the idea of engaging with world leaders and pioneers on topics like these that initially pushed me to apply to be a YDC delegate, I was incredibly glad to see that - in addition to discussions more grounded in the core financial and economic topics that form the basis of the Spring Meetings - there was also a host of events that explored the economic and financial dimensions of issues like gender equality, sustainable development, and resilience building. These were complemented by the insights provided by those we met with during our bilateral meetings – from a variety of backgrounds and fields, tackling a broad set of issues from many different angles, with a common goal of shared economic prosperity.


One session in particular that stood out for me was Sir David Attenborough’s one-on-one with Christine LaGarde, the Managing Director for the IMF, the topic of which was balancing nature and the global economy.  Sir Attenborough noted the grave consequences that would result from inaction on climate change and preservation issues – after this somber moment, Ms LaGarde asked us if we had hope, and Sir David was amongst the first to put up his hand. “And why?” He said, “Because young people understand these situations better than they have ever done in my life time. And young people today are saying to those of us who’ve got hands on power: ‘Do something and we will support you’. That’s why I have hope.”

As a young person, the overall message was very impactful to me – one of caution and realism as we go into the future, but also one of optimism tempered with a focus on solutions and engagement. The opportunity to attend the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings has been an incredible opportunity to learn and broaden my horizons, and to grow through engaging with the ideas and perspectives of my fellow delegates. As a young individual interested in advocacy and international affairs, I am thankful to the YDC team for creating this platform and highly encourage other youth to get involved.

Michael Sarty – Head Delegate

It’s one thing to read about foreign affairs, institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, and global leaders like Christine Lagarde and Gita Gopinath – it is another thing entirely to be thrown into that world and experience it in person. That was the opportunity afforded to myself and the five other delegates representing the Young Diplomats of Canada at the 2019 World Bank / IMF Spring Meetings. Now, having spent a month reflecting on the experience, I can say with confidence that our team thrived in this challenging environment.

Our schedule consisted of the Spring Meetings themselves (the seminars that were open to Meeting participants) and bilateral engagements on the margins of the Meetings. My personal favourite seminar was “Debt Vulnerabilities and Development Needs in Lower-Income Countries”, which featured Ministers of Finance from Bangladesh, Chad, and Zambia, as well as representatives from key international finance institutions. As a student and practitioner of policy, when I attended the seminar I was struck by how little I knew about public debt and the financing needs for development. The seminar underscored just how important public financing is to development, and the tangled web of actors who play a crucial role in the financing process, from private institutions to large multilateral lenders. Since attending this talk, I have sought to augment my understanding of this issue by taking a public finance course online.

The bilateral meetings were a tremendous opportunity for personal engagement on a variety of key issues. Depending on our interlocutors (a group which included representatives from the Organization of American States, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the State Department), our discussion topics could range from Canadian foreign policy to poverty reduction strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. I think my personal favourite meeting was with representatives from the IMF. Their command of the challenging breadth of monetary and fiscal issues facing the nations for which they were responsible (India and Japan) was formidable. I was also struck by how the senior economists (the Missions Chiefs) stepped back during the meeting to allow their younger, junior economist colleagues take the lead in providing an overview of their countries’ key issues. It is impressive and reassuring to see significant international institutions like the IMF prioritize the development of their junior officials.

I was also deeply impressed by the capabilities and experiences of my fellow Young Diplomats of Canada delegates. I did not know what to expect going into the Meetings, particularly given that we all came from various backgrounds (government, private, academic) and were only meeting in person the night before the Meetings began (or, in Shannon’s case, the morning of the Meetings!) It quickly became apparent that all that didn’t matter, as everyone in the group was hard working, passionate, and amicable. It was inspiring for me to work alongside such a talented group of individuals who were willing to give up their own time and money in order to participate in the Spring Meetings. I am deeply grateful for having worked so closely alongside them.

Delegation Report: 2019 Canada Youth Summit

Delegation Report

Prepared by: Matthias Leuprecht

Executive Summary

The inaugural Canadian Youth Summit was an important step in finalizing Canada’s Youth Policy, which was officially released during the Summit. The two day conference brought together a diverse group of young Canadians to talk about the most pressing issues facing Canadian youth today: Health and Wellness, Employment and Innovation, Skills & Learning, Gender Equality, the Environment and Climate Change as well as Leadership, Social Impact, and Democratic Participation. Each discussion topic was opened by a keynote speaker and structured breakout sessions to develop policy recommendations followed. Canadian Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister himself were present for a large portion of the conference and frequently engaged in discussions with delegates. The recommendations from the breakout sessions often overlapped and drew from other sessions, demonstrating the interconnection between the topics discussed.

Key Sessions

Employment and Innovation, Skills & Learning

The Employment and Innovation, Skills & Learning breakout session was opened by a keynote from Kendal Netmaker, who spoke about his personal story of reaching higher education and the opportunities that presented itself to him as a result of mentorship. This opening guided my breakout session discussion to focus on how we can provide access to economic opportunities for Canadians who have historically faced barriers from fully participating in the Canadian economy, and in particular women, Indigenous peoples and Canadians who live in rural communities.

Ideas floating around the breakout session included providing grants to young people, in particular in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. In 2016, women accounted for only 20% of total enrolment of accredited undergraduate engineering programs (Engineers Canada), and Indigenous Canadians accounted for only approximately one percent of total enrolment (Engineers Canada). A specific policy recommendation revolved around equity. It was to provide these groups with increased grant, bursary, and scholarship opportunities, in additional to travel and housing bursaries for Canadians from rural communities to attend higher education institutions in STEM fields.

Moreover, it was recommended that the Government of Canada investment in outreach opportunities focused on encouraging equity seeking groups to pursue higher education in a STEM field, given girls often make the decision to pursue higher education in a STEM related field as young as 11 years old. The breakout discussion also agreed that further barriers must be removed within STEM work places to encourage more women to continue to pursue careers in STEM after receiving formal education.

Leadership, Social Impact, and Democratic Participation

The Leadership, Social Impact, and Democratic Participation session was opened by Caro Loutfi of Apathy is Boring where she focused not only on the need for increased civic participation, but also about the importance of increasing democratic representation. This guided the breakout session discussion where the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould was present and had a robust discussion on electoral reform with many of the Youth Summit delegates. Topics of discussion included lowering the voting age and finding ways to reduce barriers for more equity seeking individuals to participate in the democratic process. However, the most notable recommendation was to provide more resources for young people to participate in the democratic process. With an increasing number of ways to participate in the democratic process, whether that be through social media, summits (such as the Youth Summit), or even participating in events with a political party, young people will need to resources to be included in those processes, whether it be by means of financial support or mentorship opportunities.

Environment and Climate Change

Meredith Adler of Student Energy opened the discussion about the Environment and Climate Change by broadly encouraging young people to play an active role, not just in their personal lives, but also in their professional to take action against climate change. She also encouraged creating intergenerational cooperation to have youth actively be part of climate solutions.

The breakout session delegates agreed that young people want to actively participate in the transition to a green economy, but there often lacks resources to young people to be full participants. To ensure increased participation, the delegates recommended that Canada invest in training programs for green jobs and partner with academic institutions to create work-integrated learning opportunities for individuals to be maximize their participation in the green economy. Discussions also focused on how we can create youth participation the climate policy process by providing spaces for youth people to contribute to policy discussions at all level of Government within Canada and by representation at the international level. It was suggested that this could be most effectively done by creating intergenerational cooperation, and including all generations in discussions regarding climate policy.

Personal Reflection

As a young person active in public policy discussions, I found the delegates of the Canadian Youth Summit represented Canada’s diversity and the Summit was effective in bringing diverse perspectives together to have thoughtful discussions about how to improve the social, economic, political, and environment state of Canadian youth. I was impressed by the amount of time Ministers and the Prime Minister himself spent at the Summit. This allowed young people to have long and detailed discussions about policy topics in small groups within their breakout sessions: a rare occurrence and one which I feel is instrumental in having young people positive effect change in public policy.

However, I was disappointed by the structure of the Summit and breakout sessions. The limited amount of time allotted to the breakout sessions to form policy recommendations in some cases hindered discussions and left delegates rushed in collectively making recommendations. That said, the facilitation of the breakout sessions effective in generating discussion.

The service activities were an important part of the Youth Summit and allowed delegates to put the discussions in which they were participating into perspective by supporting initiatives designed to help the most marginalized populations in Canadian society. It also forged the opportunity for delegates to connect on issues outside of the general structure of the breakout session and hear about how taking direct action can lead to small, but necessary changes in Canadian society.

Overall, the inaugural Canadian Youth Summit was a learning opportunity for everyone involved. It successfully brought together young people from across Canada to forge necessary policy discussion, while leaving room for improvement in years to come.

Click here to read Canada’s Youth Policy

DELEGATION REPORT: Toronto Global Forum 2018

Regulating a World in Disruption

Toronto Global Forum 2018

The leading issues discussed throughout the Toronto Global Forum involved barriers from regulation. Many of the panels explained that the Canadian marketplace suffers due to the strict regulatory requirements for goods entering Canada. Furthermore, panellists explained that inter-provincial trade in Canada becomes unnecessarily difficult due to a lack of regulatory harmonization. The Supreme Court of Canada improved the financial sphere of inter-provincial trade earlier in 2018 by passing a ruling which would allow for a multi-provincial regulatory body for securities. Martha Harrison, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault, explained during “A New Trade Map for the Americas” panel that increased regulation have been helpful for financial markets but have hindered trade through redundant requirements for those looking to enter the Canadian marketplace. This sentiment was echoed throughout the conference.

 During “The New Cannabis Economy” panel, the development of regulations for cannabis was also discussed. Mrs. Harrison explained that Canada is currently in violation of certain international treaty obligations due to the legalization of cannabis. Canadian foreign policy places international treaty compliance at a high priority and therefore Canadians may need to lobby at the World Health Organization for cannabis products to be recognized as legitimate medicinal products. She also explained that Canada is reliant on other jurisdictions following with legalization in order to engage in trade. Canada may become a leader to change the perception of cannabis at an international level.

 

Concerns Regarding Brexit

On December 12, 2018, Theresa May was subject to a Vote of No Confidence amidst the chaos with Brexit. Throughout the 12th, attendees of the Toronto Global Forum were updated in between panels with information regarding Brexit and the status of the vote. Issues regarding trade with Europe were specifically discussed during the “A New Trade Map for the Americas” panel. The panellists explained that Canada had negotiated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to include Britain, meaning that Canada and Britain could maintain their existing trade partnership regardless of the outcome from Brexit. Zornitsa Kutlina-Dimitrova, a Senior Economist of the European Commission, stressed that Canada would need to brace itself for global repercussions from these changes. She continued to explain that Canada should continue to nurture relationships with the European Union (EU).

Throughout the conference, various panels discussed details regarding similar values that are shared between Canada and the European Union. Canada and the EU have shared values for trade and social issues, which has recently become a factor while negotiating trade agreements. Between Canada and the EU, the free-trade partners agree upon the need for a rule-based multilateral trading system and the inclusion of progressive values. Panellists explained that the inclusion of progressive values can be a priority only in trade negotiations where these values are shared and should not become a priority when engaging in negotiations if this is not the case. Canada and the EU prioritize each other as trade partners, and it is fundamental that the two regions continue to maintain relations in light of any future changes.  

DELEGATE REPORT: World Bank & International Monetary Fund 2018

Annual Meetings of the World Bank & International Monetary Fund 2018

Delegation Report

 

 

1.     Executive Summary

The Young Diplomats of Canada delegation spent a week in Bali, Indonesia, for the 2018 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The delegation not only attended the sessions of the meetings, but also participated in the annual Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) and in several bilateral meetings. The Meetings included a number of sessions on current risks and challenges in the global financial and trading system and outlined some tools for addressing these problems. The most engaging sessions of the Forum offered a chance for participants to contribute their own thoughts and ideas, including the public consultations on the International Financial Corporation’s Nine Principles for Impact Management.

 

On the sidelines of the meetings, we also had a chance to initiate conversation with Carolyn Wilkins, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. Ms Wilkins was kind enough to then introduce the delegates to Finance Minister Bill Morneau. These encounters, and an evening the delegation organized with other young delegations attending the Annual Meetings, were some of the highlights of the whole experience.

 

2.     Key Sessions and Bilateral Meetings

Session: A Conversation with the IMF's Managing Director on the Global Economy

Delegates attended a conversation between Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Martin Wolf from the Financial Times. The session began with a discussion about the Managing Director’s risks and worries and included frank exchanges on the IMF’s role in financial problems around the world. When discussing the economic recovery in Europe, she admitted that some mistakes had been made, but said that attendees should not give up on Europe despite the continent’s challenges. Ms Lagarde made a case for the continued importance and relevance of the IMF, including as a potential mediator in disputes between emerging economies like China and other developed economies.

 

Event: Public Consultations for the IFC Principles for Impact Management

During the Annual Meetings the IFC conducted part of its public consultation for a set of nine principles for impact management. These principles are intended to develop a consensus for the management of impact investments. The impact investment lifecycle is broken into five stages: strategy, origination and structuring, portfolio management, exit, and independent verification. These principles are not intended to be prescriptive. Instead, they are designed to guide organizations as they prepare their management processes, and to signal to investors that the management framework is sound.

 

Bilateral Meeting: Ms Carolyn Wilkins, Bank of Canada

Ms Wilkins was a speaker on the Empowering Women in the Workplace panel. Following the panel, we introduced ourselves to her and she agreed to sit down for a bilateral meeting. During the discussion, we spoke with Ms Wilkins about the IMF’s downward revision to global growth projections. While the IMF indicated that the cut rate was due to tension in the international trading system, Ms Wilkins was of the view that Canada is insulated from some of these concerns. She cited the recent agreement of the USMCA as a rationale. Ms Wilkins also downplayed the likelihood of a recession. In our discussion, we also spoke with Ms Wilkins about the role of cryptocurrencies and other disruptive technologies, as well as economic issues affecting Canadian youth today.

 

“Commonwealth Dinner”: Meeting with other youth delegations

One of the highlights of the week in Bali was a dinner meet-up on Monday, October 8 with youth delegates from two other Commonwealth countries. The YDC delegation joined an evening organized by Global Voices, the Australian youth delegation, and the Aetearoa Youth Leadership Institute from New Zealand. The evening was a really good chance to catch-up with other young people during a summit event that was dominated mostly by establishments and established professionals.

 

3.     Delegation Reflections

Aysha Nesbitt, Head Delegate

I applied to be a YDC delegate at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings with the hope of gaining a greater understanding of how international organizations recognize their role in development and how they manage the tension of differing, but equally important, priorities.  A near-impossible task to accomplish in 5-days, I scoped this goal to complement my masters research, which is broadly focused on how to mobilize both public and private capital into investments that target measurable positive social, economic and environmental impacts. When we received the final schedule, I was pleased to see the amount of sessions that focused on this topic; however, I was skeptical as to whether the sessions would provide a diversity of thought and experience on the subject.

The Meetings have always naturally catered to the major stakeholders in international finance but, as civil society organizations demand for more seats at the table, there is a growing need to understand the implications the decisions and policy suggestions that the World Bank, IMF and other international stakeholders have on countries, states, and even the individual. Unfortunately, the Meetings did not provide a space for this type of honest discourse to occur. The deliberate separation between World Bank and IMF meeting attendees and civil society organizations encouraged a separation of thought – banker vs. activist, private sector vs. public sector. This separation not only prevents honest and actionable discourse from occurring, but it also reinforces the privileging of certain sectors and the silencing of challenging voices. 

Disappointed by the lack of representation on the panels, I was therefore exceedingly excited when the International Finance Corporations announced they were holding public consultations for their newly drafted “Principles for Impact Management.” Public consultations provide a tangible way for individuals and organizations across sectors to involve themselves in the discussion. The objective of these principles is to establish a common framework on how to manage impact investments by gaining a market consensus on subjects of taxonomy, asset class and more. The nine principles aim to provide a robust management system for the investments lifecycle, which is broken up into five stages: strategy, origination and structuring, portfolio management, exit, and independent verification. As stated, the principles are a framework and, as such, each asset owner and asset manager will differ by type of investor and institution. In doing so, the principles help assure investors that impact funds are managed in a robust fashion. Seeing as financial experts created the original framework, it is my hope that the public consultations provide an opportunity for “impact” groups to contribute to the final framework.

Beyond the personal gratification that the Principle’s gave me, because I admittedly got too excited at the thought of analyzing and providing feedback on them, the decision to hold public consultations quelled the skeptic in me. It reminded me those steps, albeit small-steps are being taken to include more voices, perspectives, and experiences. And, in order to achieve the goals that these institutions have promised, we must continue to hold them to high standards, be critical, and ask for more.

On a final and personal note, I was incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by such an inspiring delegation. With a wide-range of backgrounds, I believe I witnessed, on a small-scale, the learning that occurs when diverse experiences and knowledge are given a space to collaborate. It was through them that I witnessed how YDC empowers young minds to challenge, reflect, and lead.

 

David Boroto, Communications Coordinator

The World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two of the leading and most influential international organizations who focus on financing global development. The Annual Meetings bring together their officials, as well as bankers, industry leaders, government officials, ministers of finance and development, academics and civil society to discuss the most pertinent issues facing the global community today.

I applied to the Young Diplomats WBG and IMF Annual Meetings delegation as a young Canadian infrastructure engineering student with an interest in global development, curious to find his place in this sector. My goal at the Meetings leverage the opportunity at hand to meet with world leaders whose primary focus is to oversee the social and economic development of the global community. Recognizing my privilege to attend the Meetings, I also aimed to ask tough questions and return to Toronto with tangible learnings to share with my community of like-minded social change-makers. As well, as Communications Coordinator for our delegation, relaying our experiences as a delegation to young Canadians at home through social media was a focus of mine while in Indonesia.

Prior to attending the Meetings, I met with friends and colleagues to broaden my perspective of the WBG and IMF, as well as gain input as to what questions I should be asking and what key issues I should look out for. Though, at the end of the day, I walked into the Meetings with limited expectations or preconceived notions about either organization. My experience at the Meetings was very informative, to say the least. I learned much about the World Bank, the IMF and the development sector in general. Particularly, the opportunities and avenues available to me as youth seeking to work in development became much more clear. As a student studying infrastructure engineering, I benefited most from the many sessions and discussions surrounding infrastructure development and financing in the context of the development sector. Quite honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of discussions surrounding infrastructure. In that vain, the Meetings elucidated a path forward for me to blend my two passions for infrastructure and international development in my career.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP) were a particularly interesting and relevant topic in the field of infrastructure development strategy and financing at the Meetings. In an attempt to fill the $18 trillion infrastructure spending gap, the WBG and IMF look to the private sector to unlock the extra funding required to meet our global infrastructure needs by 2040. PPPs aim to partner governments with private sector firms to share the costs of funding and operating infrastructure projects. However, from the civil society perspective, PPPs are recipes for disaster, leading to inefficient spending, budget overruns and power imbalance between the public and private sector. Having learned about the strengths of PPPs while working in the private sector here in Canada, it was interesting hear of their application in a global context. The Meetings highlighted the challenges of implementing such a strategy in international projects, particularly those in low to middle income countries with emerging economies, and for me, a potential avenue to explore my interest.

On top of the panel discussions and workshops, the bilateral meetings held by our delegation had an immense effect of my experience and learning. Recognizing the valuable and informative meetings held with Martin Spicer, Director of Blended Finance at the International Finance Corporation, and Peter MacArthur, Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia, amongst other individuals, the meeting I most want to highlight was with Mahmound Mohieldin, World Bank Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda. The meeting with Mr. Mohieldin was highly beneficial, given his expertise in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In my advocacy work with Engineers Without Borders Canada, the SDGs are a central part of the conversations with Members of Parliament. Mr. Mohieldin informed how I aim to approach my role for the remainder of the year as I promote the SDGs within Canada and lobby the federal government to take a leadership role on the global stage in implementing the SDGs.

Overall, as a youth, my mind was expanded with new schools of thought and approaches to global development. Specifically, for me, the Meetings brought to my attention new ways to tackle global development and potential career paths moving forward. Engaging with professionals whose careers are devoted to enhancing the global community and ensuring that no person gets left behind was truly stimulating and motivational. A common, empowering theme in each discussion I had was the importance of youth in shaping the world we aspire to live in. And with that, I would be remiss not to mention the learning and growth I gained from the five other youth delegates with whom I attended the Meetings. The diversity in experience, backgrounds and perspectives of our team lent itself well to thoughtful and challenging debate, and interesting conversations. I am truly thankful for the relationships built in Indonesia and am excited to see where all my fellow delegates take their promising careers.

 

Corinna Ha

I initially applied to be a YDC delegate to the Meetings solely to learn more about the way international organizations prioritized and addressed issues. To be perfectly frank, I was skeptical of the value that youth delegates could bring to such a large-scale conference where the most important decision-making sessions would be partitioned off into invite-only meetings. Instead, I was more interested in fully immersing myself in a week of high-level discussion among some of the world’s most influential economic and development policymakers to understand the way in which they think about issues and identify top-of-mind solutions.

Although these organizations regularly and relatively transparently publish their log of activities, most of these publications are jargon-heavy; paired with their high volume, the IMF and World Bank’s actions become difficult to digest, especially for a younger population that has not been accustomed to the nuances of these topics. As such, my goal was to understand the most prominent conversations entertained today, and report back to my Canadian peers in a more digestible manner. Attending a wide variety of sessions and sitting down with individuals whose careers are devoted to these topics directed me to the most important points and allowed me to understand them in a way that would be relevant to Canadian youth.

Approaching the Meetings with this objective to purely learn proved to be useful for a research project I serendipitously came across at my home university, McGill. Due to my involvement with the Meetings, I was given an opportunity to work with a professor on her narratological analysis of international organizations’ language and its implications on member states’ actual economic policies and national ideologies. At the Meetings, my goal was to produce qualitative data on the rhetoric and narratives used by the IMF and World Bank, gain a sense of the organizational cultures, and speak with key stakeholder groups, including civil society organizations, member state central bankers, and IMF and World Bank staffers. Such an opportunity was invaluable to our research and I am grateful to have had an opportunity to explore my academic pursuits.

Having now had time to reflect on this experience, I do concede that youth representation at these Meetings did, in fact, have an important impact. While policymakers we met with did not by any means change their views nor directly integrate our delegation’s perspectives into their immediate work, I see youth participation in these conversations as a long-term investment. We hold those currently in positions of power accountable by merely showing our presence and establishing ourselves as active stakeholders. Additionally, by bringing together a diverse group of young Canadians with complementary skills and experience, we created a platform where we could debrief with, and learn from, each other. Some of the greatest learning I gained from this experience was through conversations with the delegation and mutually challenging each other’s views. In essence the impact of youth leadership lies in the power of representation and collaboration. Attending the IMF and World Bank Group Meetings in the capacity of a YDC delegate truly harnessed these powers. 

           

Simon Lavoie-Perusse

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the 2018 YDC delegation to the Annual Meetings of the World and the IMF, which convened this year in Bali Nusa Dua, Indonesia from October 9-14. The meetings brought together central bankers, ministers of finance and representatives of the private sector and of civil society organizations. As a graduate of Université Laval’s master’s degree in international studies who is currently working for tax policy at the Department of Finance Canada, I found this experience to be very relevant to my interests and also to the work I currently do as a public servant.

A lot of the talks at the meetings focused on the road to implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030 and the progress that has been done to date. It is estimated that to reach these goals by 2030, a hefty $6 trillion annually would need to be earmarked for this purpose. In 2017, the total official development aid (ODA) around the world was $146.6 billion, representing two thirds of all the external finance to least-developed countries (LACs), according to the OECD. With total ODA nowhere close to be enough to finance the SDGs, it was interesting to hear experts and government officials discuss financing alternatives to keep the SDGs alive. Among some of the potential alternatives, increasing domestic revenue mobilization capacities, notably through more efficient taxation systems, and increasing attention to tax justice to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance have been recurring themes in many of the discussions I attended. As a tax policy analyst at Finance Canada, with a background in international relations, I was therefore pleasantly surprised to hear about the many links between my work in taxation and the world of international development, as well as the role that these two fields can play towards getting us close to meeting the UN SDGs.

An important highlight of my experience as a YDC delegate at the Annual Meetings was also the opportunity to meet with high-level officials from Canada and from international institutions. Being able to meet and to share your perspectives with a Canadian ambassador, a senior official at the World Bank, a deputy governor of a central bank and a finance minister, among others, was a unique and enriching experience for our youth delegation. The discussions we had revolved around a variety of theme, including but not limited to climate change, disruptive technologies, fintech, infrastructure, monetary policy, financial inclusion and public-private partnerships. In all the discussions we had, the people we met were very curious and eager to meet and to hear from our delegation, which was a very positive sign that global leaders are attentive to what matters to the new generation of leaders.

Finally, but not the least, this experience allowed me to meet and to exchange with a great group of promising young individuals that formed our YDC delegation. Each of them had a different expertise and background and brought unique perspectives on the many issues discussed during our meetings. Therefore, I can conclude by saying that I not only learned a lot from the experts and officials at the meetings, but also from my fellow delegates with whom I had the chance to share this experience with. I would definitely recommend this experience to any Canadian youth with an interest in international issues. 

 

Pierre-Alexandre Renaud

Ten years after the financial crisis, the world is still recovering with more tumultuous times on the horizon. Whether it is about the next recession, climate change, disrupting technologies and the future of work, our societies will change in the next decade and have important impacts on young Canadians. This brought me to apply to this year’s YDC delegation to the WB and IMF Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia. Not only were the themes appealing, but there are also not many forums where the central banks and the finance ministers of 189 member states convene to discuss economic issues. I believe it is in the interest of Canadians, and especially the younger generation, to understand the challenges the world is facing.

The Annual Meetings had something special this year. Even though it was my first meetings with the high financiers of the world, our delegation knew this would be an eventful and not business-as-usual week. First, the Meetings were hosted by Indonesia, on the paradisiac island of Bali. A drastic change from the usual autumnal Washington, D.C., where the meetings are hosted two out of a three-year cycle. For the eighth time since 1947, the Annual Meetings were back in Asia. The change of scenery, however, did not bring a change in the topics discussed at the Meetings

The main theme of this year’s Annual Meetings were about “disrupting technologies”, but conferences included subjects such as empowering women, youth, future of work, climate change and impact financing. The first thing I realized is the challenges we face in Canada at this moment are the same challenges every other nation is facing. For example, taxation in a digital world is an enormous issue in every country. Last Spring, the Canadian government faced criticism in his decision of not taxing Netflix and instead reached a deal with them. The Indonesian Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani, explained on a panel the difficulties of taxing these technology giants. Taxation was a surprisingly, interesting and important topic.  

Moreover, we met with the Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, Carolyn Wilkins. During the Meetings, the IMF released their global growth forecast, which was cut by 0.2 percentage points to 3.7%, the first time in two years the forecast is reduced. The IMF cited trade tensions as the reason for the cut. Ms. Wilkins reassured us that the Canadian economy is healthy and trade disputes are being resolved, as with the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Even if several speakers on the panels mentioned the possibility of a recession in the short term, Ms. Wilkins explained that no economic indicator is pointing in that direction. We also discussed the disruption of new technologies on monetary policies and its potential use in our society, like cryptocurrency and blockchain. Once again, almost very central banks are facing the same challenges with loose monetary policy while the economic cycle matures, and new technologies shaking traditional financial institutions.

Back in Montreal, I want to share with my fellow Canadians this incredible experience. We live in a world in transition, what the World Economic Forum titled the fourth Industrial Revolution. However, every nation is facing the same challenges. International organizations such as the IMF and WB are more important than ever in order to enhance cooperation and financial stability.

 

Anumeet Toor

My motivation to attend the Annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings stemmed from my interest in global finance and international law. As an undergraduate student, my academic background in finance and global politics combined when I began questioning how financial risk was managed on a global scale, particularly after the ripple effects of the 2008 financial crisis. I continued to conduct research on the Basel Accord to gain an understanding of the multilateral management of global financial risk and how financial crises could be mitigated through mutual global cooperation. Now, ten years after the financial crisis, I was eager to attend the meetings and learn more about the current state of the global economy and which sorts of measures were being implemented and suggested to avoid widespread issues in the future. The issues of global financial risk were topics which were discussed throughout the meetings and I was able to learn about how current financial leaders are providing reliable suggestions to avoid issues, both on the topics of financial risk and also on new risks generated in the unfamiliar field of financial technology.

In terms of global financial risk, I was able to learn from the Future of Finance panel that the global economy is currently able to withstand financial shocks within the amounts of 2 to 3 Trillion USD. The focus on FinTech and mitigating the risks of cyber-attacks was also extremely relevant given the global shifts to online platforms for trade and finance. I believe that the IMF and WB have a strong grasp on upcoming potential issues and are preparing policies and recommendations to help all nations navigate these upcoming technological changes, which will be unavoidable in the future of the global economy.

In terms of international law, I was hoping to learn about the potential of future tribunals being established by the IMF and WB. I understand that the World Trade Organization offers member countries the opportunity to engage in their Dispute Settlement System (DSS), which effectively acts as a tribunal to resolve issues arising from disputes within international trade agreements. The DSS of the WTO provides member nations with the opportunity to use a structured legal forum to resolve their trade disputes in a quantifiable and rational manner. In terms of the IMF and WB, the tribunals which are currently offered solely focus on internal issues within their respective organizations. Thus, one of the major questions that I raised while attending the annual meeting was whether or not either organization would be able to provide a similar platform for the opportunity to resolve global financial disputes on an international scale. In our meetings with various IMF Advisors and Economists, it was explained to us that the IMF was not heading in a direction to allow for a formal tribunal to be established to resolve tensions that could arise from international lending between nations. However, during A Conversation with the IMF's Managing Director on the Global Economy, Christine Lagarde addressed a question regarding increased tensions between China and other nations by explaining that the IMF was willing to act as a forum to resolve these disputes. Although there are broad disparities between tribunals and resolution forums, it seems feasible that the IMF/WB could eventually develop on a long-term basis into an international legal arena which would allow for the resolution of global financial disputes by adopting the practices currently used by the DSS at the WTO. As the speed, amount, and frequency of global financial exchange and trade continues to rise it seems likely that a formal tribunal may be needed and eventually formed in the future.

Throughout the week, we were fortunate to use our platform with YDCA to reach out to several individuals. I was pleased when Carolyn Wilkins, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, took the time to hold a meeting with us when we introduced ourselves after the conclusion of the Empowering Women in the Workplace panel, which she partook in as a speaker. During our meeting, the team collectively asked questions regarding the state of the Canadian economy and issues affecting Canadian youth. Mrs. Wilkins addressed our questions and provided us with more information on the Bank of Canada. The team was also fortunate to introduce the YDCA organization to other individuals including Canada’s current Finance Minister, Bill Morneau.  Throughout the meetings, the need to include youth was a sentiment echoed by several individuals, including Dr. Jim Yong Kim. He explained during the Bali FinTech panel that the participation and involvement of youth will continue to bolster the global economy, especially as the use of technology in the field of finance increases steadily.  

I truly believe I would not have had the same experience if I had attended without the support of my colleagues and the YDCA team. The diversity in our academic backgrounds and experiences allowed all of us to add unique meaningful contributions during our discussions with leaders, and amongst conversations within our team. The connections provided to us through YDCA were also invaluable. I feel extremely privileged to have been able to partake in this experience and I look forward to using my position as a young leader to help the fellow members of my generation, both in Canada and throughout the globe.

DELEGATE REPORT : OECD Forum 2018

YDC Delegation to the OECD

May 28 to June 1 2018

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Young Diplomats of Canada’s Youth Delegation to the OECD Forum 2018 comprised of a diverse and dynamic cohort of young leaders from across Canada. The delegation traveled to Paris in late May 2018, and participated in a week of intensive bilateral meetings with academics, diplomats, national governmental institutions and international organizations. The delegation attended two conferences in total: OECD Forum 2018, and The International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean. This years delegation, additionally organized a social networking event with other youth delegates attending the OECD Forum 2018, and hosted delegates from New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina.

 

Bilateral Meetings:

The delegation was invited to meet with over 7 organizations, as well as, multiple international policy professionals:

1.       France Strategie: an institution connected to the French Prime Minister whose objective is to contribute to determining the main policy priorities for France. Delegates met with Dr. Clement Dherbecourt and discussed France’s exploration of inheritance taxation measures as a means to redistribute wealth and ensure that it is not concentrated in the older generations, as is the case presently.

2.      Permanent Delegation of Canada to the OECD: the delegation met with Ambassador Michelle d’Auray and Darren Rogers, a Foreign Service Officer working at Global Affairs Canada and leading Canada’s participation on the Development Assistance Committee. Delegates had the chance to gain and in-depth understanding of Canada’s role and participation at the OECD and acquire a better understanding of the internal governance structures of the OECD. This was a particularly impactful meeting, as delegates had the chance to engage with Ambassador d’Auray who has had a diverse and interesting career in the Canadian public service, in addition to breaking numerous glass ceiling, paving the way for women today.

 

3.      Martina Buchal: a global youth ambassador. The delegation had an enriching discussion about the importance of youth advocacy and the most effective means of ensuring youth voices are taken seriously. Delegates additionally had the opportunity to ask professional development questions and learn more about how to carve out an international career.

 

4.      Etalab: a French government institution mandated with managing the policy of opening, sharing, and making public data more accessible in and effort to establish France as an open government. The delegation spoke with Dr. Amelie Banzet and her colleagues about the efforts the French government is taking to improve data sharing and accessibility. Delegates working the the Government of Canada found this meeting to be particularly useful as a means to contextualize the Canadian government’s open government efforts through an international comparison.

 

5.      UNESCO: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization dedicated building peace through education, the sciences, and the promotion of culture. The delegation met with Frederick Russel-Rivoallan, a Canadian working at UNESCO for over 20 years and Nicolas Dimic the Deputy Permanent Delegate to The Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO and gained a fuller understanding of UNESCO’s role in international peace-building and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. Delegates were additionally treated to an extensive tour of the headquarters and were privy to admire the tokens and art given to UNESCO as representations of countries’ commitment to the work of UNESCO.

 

6.      Canadian Embassy in France: delegates met with Maeve Vidal and Vincent Klassen, and discussed Canada’s diplomatic priorities in relation to France, including the implementation of CETA, the Canadian participation in the Organisation de la Francophonie, and coordinating Canada and France’s subsequent G7 presidency agendas. Delegated also had the opportunity to learn about the rigours of a diplomatic career.

 

7.      Quai d’Orsay: delegates met with Arnaud Mentre and Lucas Pisani, officials response for bilateral France-Canada relations. Delegates had the opportunity to discuss France’s priorities in relation to Canada and to learn more about Quebec’s bilateral engagement with the French Government through The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

 

8.      OECD International Migration Division: delegates met with Dr. Thomas Liebig and discussed the OECD’s work with regard to global benchmarking of migration policies. Delegates has the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how governments leverage the OECD’s comparative research and how it impacts national policy making/ policy reforms.

 

9.      Dr. Marie-Cecile Naves: delegates met with Dr Marie-Cecile Naves, a former political advisor to the Minister of Education and vice-president of the European think tank Sport et Citoyenneté. They talked about the role of sport at school as a tool to break stereotype, promote gender equality, and enhance integration.

 

Conferences:

LAC Forum: In 2018, the OECD announced the addition of Columbia as a member country, in addition to Lithuania, increasing OECD member countries from 34 to 36. In the wake of these recent changes, the 10th annual LAC Forum was an important event highlighting the need for regional dialogue and cooperative economic policy making. Welcoming remarks were given by Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of Economy and Finance. Attending this event was a great way for the delegation gain exposure to more diverse and non-European centric policy discourse. A highlight for the delegation was having the opportunity to ask a question to the panel on ‘Nurturing economic growth by promoting a more inclusive and sustainable globalization’. The delegations’ question touched upon Canada’s trade agreement with Chile and the efforts the agreement made with regard to protecting female labour standards.

OECD Forum 2018: After having discussed the emerging challenges responsible for fragmentation and distrust within society during last years OECD Forum, the theme of 2018’s OECD Forum moved from diagnosis to action. In that spirit, the conference reflected on the question of #WhatBringsUsTogether, with an emphasis on examining the three interconnected policy areas of inclusive growth, international co-operation, and digitalization. Engaging with this question, the delegation developed a podcast and highlighted various panels and issues raised at the OECD Forum 2018. In particular the podcast reflects on the implications of the issues raised at the conference on youth (see Part 2).

The key address at the conference was the speech by President Emmanuel Macron who spoke about the importance of multilateralism, and the need for international dialogue as a means of tackling the most pressing global challenges of our time, including climate change, digitalization, and international terrorism. His message was one of encouraging multilateral engagement between states, maintaining the efforts made by the international community since the inception of the League of Nations and warning the audience not to fall prey to the false allure of isolationism and nationalist sentiments. His words aptly summarized the ethos and underlining message of the OECD Forum 2018 and articulated a normative vision for international cooperation going forward.

 

2. KEY FORUM SESSIONS ATTENDED

The OECD Forum 2018 was focused on three interconnected issues: 1) International Co-operation, 2) Inclusive Growth, and 3) Digitalization. Panels at the conference were aligned with these three broad themes and the delegation recorded a podcast reflecting on them, brining in the youth perspective to specific issues raised at the OECD Forum 2018. Below is a high-level summary of the themes discussed during the podcast:

 

1.      International Co-operation:

Trade

With the recent emergence of anti-free trade and anti-globalization sentiment across the globe, most recently exemplified by United States President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, what is the future of trade in the context of international cooperation? Will it head in the direction of a decline in international free trade agreements? How should free trade agreements (FTAs) be remodeled to address the needs of 21st century multilateralism

In this segment, delegates discussed the aforementioned questions, and brought both Canada- and New Zealand-based perspectives to the table. Delegates drew a crucial link between trade and inclusive growth, and to that end, presented the future of trade as one that focuses more heavily on including chapters on labour standards, gender, and the environment, and enabling them with robust enforcement mechanisms. Delegates also grappled with the idea of “selling” the benefits of free trade to young voters and whether the recent globalization backlash is justified.

Drawing upon the statements made at the Future of Trade panel by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on the future of trade, delegates pointed to the importance of holding governments accountable when drafting future FTAs and acting upon current agreements. Delegates also drew upon ideas brought forward during the Violence Against Women and Women in Development panels at the Forum, particularly in the context of the implementation gap that exists in trade, and how policy can endeavour to narrow that gap.

 

2. Inclusive Growth:

Democracy and Voter Participation

Over the past few years, western democracies have seen the rise of populist movements in political discourse. A trend that results, according to some experts, from the rise of cynicism regarding the democratic process and the loss of citizens’ trust in public institutions. Are democratic institutions no longer serving their purpose, or are citizens’ expectations of government workers unrealistic?

The Idea Factory on High intensity Democracy gave the opportunity to the participants to specifically address the systemic causes behind this new phenomenon, including, instant access to information through social media, the appearance of ineffective decision-making, the rise of inequality and the feeling of exclusion,. Participants additionally discussed various initiatives taking place around the world to address distrust in the system, such as the use of blockchain technology in a referendum in Colombia to enable Colombians living abroad to vote or the user centered voting pilot in California aimed at increasing voter turnout, two examples that are both discussed on the podcast during this segment.

The panel on The Future of Democracy in the Digital Age addressed the challenges facing democracy with the centrality of social media and how representative democracy can maintain its legitimacy. According to the panelists, the principles behind democracies, which are the power to enact and enforce law and judgements on a delimited territory, are completely incongruous with the cross-border nature of digital. Hence, governments do not have control anymore on the mainstream message; digital technology connects dissenting or opposing voices which were once largely relegated to the local, and creates multiple echo chambers. While social media may be seen as a threat to democracy, as outlined in this panel, digital technology may also be an opportunity to reach out to youth through the e-voting process, a topic touched upon by the delegates in this segment.

 

Housing

How to solve the Canadian housing crisis is at the top of minds for youth across Canada, and in particular in housing scarce cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. With higher than ever housing prices and Canadian private debt at over 267% of GDP, the highest in history, for most young people the Canadian housing situation has become unbearable. At the 2018 OECD Forum, the Housing panel and the presentation on Housing Integration focus on precisely this issue. In this segment of the podcast, delegates discussed the panelists’ assertion that policy makers need to reconnect with individuals affected by the housing situation to go beyond an understanding of the problem in order to develop impactful policies.

In addition, as access to affordable housing for young people becomes increasingly difficult, both in terms of the number of people renting and the cost to rent increasing, governments alone cannot meet the demands for housing. Public-private partnerships will be key to ensuring housing security in the future.

Moreover, delegates in this segment discuss the role of the federal government and the possible creation of a pan-Canadian framework to tackle the rising costs of housing across the country. With provinces individually implementing different policy measures, the issues of high housing prices is shirted from city to city rather than being nationally addressed.

 

The Skills for the Future of Work and Digitization

In the final segment, delegates discuss what the skills of tomorrow will look like and take into consideration the impacts of digitization on shaping the future of work. The discussion is launched by comments from the OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurria, on the immense potential of digitalization and its “offsprings” - social networks, artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things and more – which are rapidly changing the facets of our societies and economies. In the opening panel Gurria discussed how these are bringing cascading progress, however, they also are changing the way individuals interact in society, possibly impacting our values and transforming the nature of work by threatening our jobs: it is estimated that 14% of jobs in OECD countries are at high risk of being automated.

The delegates discuss how digitalization will disproportionately impact youth and how young professionals will have to bear the brunt of becoming more dynamic in the way skills are acquired. Some panels at the Forum discussed this in detail, in particular, the panel on The Future of Work and the panel entitled Human-Machine Relationship: Towards Singularity?, amongst others.

The latter panel included Rob Nail, CEO and Associate Founder of Singularity University, who discussed why he thinks university and college degrees should “go away entirely” since they are insufficient mechanisms to equip next generations with the right skills for the future of work. He argues that degrees largely came from the industrialization of education where the main point of education was to obtain a job. Further, he asserts that the concept of a “degree mentality” is obsolete since the jobs of tomorrow are more dynamic and the skills required are changing quickly. Delegates dissect his arguments in this segment and discuss the possibility of universities offering certificate program options as a policy solution to address the increasing need for dynamism and flexibility in the acquisition of skills.

Delegates conclude the segment by sharing some advice offered by the panelists on The Future of Work Panel to millennials feeling disenchanted with the state of their work environment and their job prospects: “find a job that uses your hand or your personality or start your own company”.

 

3. DELEGATES REFLECTIONS

Tatheer Ali, Head Delegate

In applying to the Young Diplomats of Canada’s Youth Delegation to the OECD Forum 2018, my primary motivation was to gain a more in-depth understanding of the policy discussions taking place at the international level. Given the OECD’s role in benchmarking and comparative analysis, I was eager to learn about best practice initiatives being implemented by states to tackle the most pressing issues of our time. Additionally, having recently completed my graduate studies at the University of Oxford with a cohort of diverse and international students, I wanted to replicate this learning environment by attending a conference which promised diverse perspectives and global comparative analysis.

The Forum, in part lived up to this promise. The panel topics were interesting and engaging and, though all panels aligned to the three thematic topics of the conference (international cooperation, inclusive growth and digitalization), they offered varied angles from which to explore these issues. What I felt was lacking from the conference was provocative discussion from the panelist. The most intriguing comments at times came from those asking questions. Panelists rarely disagreed, and certainly not in great measures. The panelists themselves also lacked diversity in their composition. While certainly more women were represented, there was stark lack of people of colour and youths on panels.

A personal take-away for me, as a policy analyst working on issues of migration and an advocate for migrant integration, was speaking with UK Member of Parliament Seema Malhotra, following the panel on migrant integration. We had a great discussion on the integration challenges facing migrants in the UK and some of the parallels which can be observed in Canada. Another personal highlight of the conference was speaking with Andreas Hollstein, the Mayor of Altena, a small town in Germany working on fostering refugee integration and building support for refugee inclusion in German society. It was a pleasure learning about the work Altena is doing under his leadership and to share Canada’s experience in refugee integration.

I was pleased and grateful for having been asked to be the Head Delegate and to ave the opportunity to lead this year’s delegation to the OECD Forum. While the experience of attending the Forum and the bilateral meetings was a phenomenal learning opportunity, the ability to lead a dynamic, engaging group of young leaders was the most rewarding part of the experience, and what I believe will best serve in supporting my future professional and personal goals. There was an immense amount of work that went into planning for the event, as well as post-conference reporting. I learned a lot about being a leader and my particular leadership style, about delegating and trusting ones’ team, and how rewarding it is to see the team succeed.

To other young Canadians I would say the opportunity to engage at the international level, to be at the decision making tables, and to have your voice heard is vital. Following the conclusion of the Forum, the Canadian Youth Delegation hosted various other youth delegations including those from Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. We also had the opportunity to speak with a YDC Alumna, the Y20 Head, and the Secretary General of the EU Youth Forum. Engaging with other youth leaders was an enriching experience and reinforced the power that youth voices have in advocating for youth issues when we demand a platform and utilize the ones available to us. To ensure global leaders are listening to youth and taking our input into account, we need to be present, visible, and active.

 

Celine Caira, Communications Coordinator

Attending the OECD Forum 2018 enabled the Youth Delegation to bring the views of young Canadians to the global policy discussion, particularly on critical issues related to international cooperation, inclusive growth and digitization. The group was an extremely cohesive and supportive team, working in a truly collaborative and resilient fashion for the duration of the week in Paris. Over the course of the week, we engaged global leaders from different sectors about the conference’s issues challenging them to think about their implications for youth, from OECD staff, Members of Parliament, Ambassadors, fellow youth leaders and even a former Prime Minister.

Attending the OECD Forum was an invaluable networking opportunity. On a personal note, attending the Forum was significant since it is one of my dreams to work for the OECD in the future and I have had close ties to many OECD Staff through personal contacts and job applications. Attending the Forum allowed me to visit the OECD for the first time, and meet some individuals whom I corresponded with but had not yet met in person. Another highlight of the conference was bumping into Innovation Fellow and former World Bank senior staff member Paul Cadario. As a Cadario Scholar myself, Mr. Cadario’s generous support and mentorship enabled me to more closely focus my research at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance.

As someone who currently works for the United Nations’ Innovation Agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the conference brought up very pertinent discussions about both the positive and negative implications of digitization. For example, it is estimated that in the next 10-15 years, millions of Canadian jobs could be lost to automation as a result of increased technological innovation. While the Canadian government is aware that in order to help Canada unlock its potential as a global leader in innovation we must invest in a dynamic and modern workforce, the OECD Forum was critical in addressing the issues related to implementing this policy goal. As both a leading economic and social policy institution and global convenor, the OECD Forum examined how big data can help to identify and deter corruption, and how digital transformation can be central to civic trust. These discussions leveraged existing policy research from Member Countries to help OECD members and global partners embrace and harness the inevitable changes a digital world will bring. Canada, both federally, provincially and as a member of the OECD, clearly understands these challenges, and is at the forefront of embracing the innovative potential these transformations will bring.

Message to Future Delegations - The importance of speaking up as young Canadians and global citizens to bring young voices to the policy discussion cannot be underestimated since ultimately as the leaders of tomorrow we must hold current leaders to account for their decisions today. I would highly recommend young Canadians from around the world to apply to one of the many enriching opportunities provided by the Young Diplomats of Canada.

 

Sarah Bérubé

Représenter la jeunesse canadienne au Forum de l’OCDE a été une expérience professionnelle d’une richesse incroyable. Faire partie de la délégation m’a en effet donné l’opportunité de vivre, l’espace de deux jours, la réalité d’une conférence internationale où des personnalités aux parcours tous plus diversifiés les uns que les autres se rencontrent pour discuter des grandes questions qui animent le débat international. Les deux jours ont ainsi été une effervescence d’idées et de débats qui ont enrichi ma réflexion personnelle et professionnelle.

 

Je n’ai donc pas été déçue puisque c’était une des principales raisons derrière mon application. Bien que j’avais eu la chance de travailler dans des représentations du Québec à l’étranger, je n’avais jamais expérimenté la réalité d’une conférence internationale. Le Forum de l’OCDE m’interpellait particulièrement puisque les rapports et bonnes pratiques produits par l’organisation sont un outil central dans le cadre de mon travail d’analyste de politiques. Non seulement le Forum piquait ma curiosité personnelle, mais je trouvais également que c’était une flèche fort utile qui s’ajoutait à mon arc professionnel.

Cette expérience n’aurait jamais été aussi riche sans la présence des autres délégués. J’ai découvert des personnes intelligentes, passionnées et créatives qui cherchent à faire une différence dans la société. L’équipe était soudée et nous avons travaillé ensemble au succès de cette semaine bien remplie. Sur une note plus anecdotique, nous avons eu de nombreux échanges stimulants et ce, dans tous les décors possibles et imaginables, passant du Château de la Muette au métro de Paris à un studio de radio étudiant.

Deux expériences m’ont particulièrement marquée: la session au Forum de l’OCDE pour l’Amérique latine et les Caraïbe (LAC Forum) ainsi que la rencontre bilatérale avec Etalab, et ce pour une raison principale: le changement de perspective sur des questions récurrentes dans les discussions internationales. À titre d’exemple, une intervenante du LAC Forum a courageusement dénoncé la culture de rente et de privilège qui prévaut en Amérique latine et qui constitue la base même de la corruption et des inégalités, résultant ainsi en une perte de confiance des citoyens envers leurs institutions publiques. Le service Etalab, pour sa part, travaille déjà, et de façon assidue, à s’assurer de la transparence des algorithmes utilisés par les institutions publiques françaises dans un souci de redevabilité envers les citoyens. Le fait d’interagir avec les personnes qui amènent un vent de fraîcheur de par leurs idées et actions dans un environnement international où les mêmes arguments sont continuellement ressassés constitue une source profonde de motivation pour la jeunesse.

Et je crois que ce serait mon conseil à tout jeune qui serait tenté par une expérience au sein d’une délégation de JDC: saisissez cette opportunité pour ouvrir vos horizons à une multitudes de nouvelles idées et initiatives, pour rencontrer des personnes inspirantes, pour enrichir votre propre vision du monde et, finalement, ressortir d’une telle expérience grandis et motivés pour entamer les changements qui sont nécessaires.

Matthias Leuprecht

As much of the world is becoming increasingly divided and constantly changing, the Young Diplomats of Canada offered me the opportunity to share my voice in the crucial public policy conversations that will disproportionately affect young people. Given that I’m studying international economics and interested in pursuing a career in public policy, both the OECD and the Forum were of interest and relevance to me. However, I applied to the Young Diplomats of Canada, with few expectations. With previous experience representing Canada abroad through athletics, I was looking for another opportunity to represent my country, but as it relates to public policy and my passion for including young people in public policy development.

The Forum was an eye-opening experience, both in recognizing policy potential, but also noticing where conversations still need to be started. Whether it be High-Intensity Democracy, the Demographics of Politics, Housing, or the Economic Outlook, I attempted to bring the perspective of youth to every session I attended. I felt the effects of public policy tools on youth were often considered despite a lack of representation from the perspectives of youth on the panels. This was interesting, because panelists mentioned the need to connect with people affected by public policy measures, particularly with marginalized populations and housing, an issue that disproportionately affects youth. Other panels also discussed the role of youth involvement in civil society and the different ways youth are engaging politically apart from voting. For me, this begged a larger question that was discussed in depth on the Demographics of Politics panel: what is the role of young people in democracy? My simple answer: not just to engage, but to actually vote, and in large numbers.

The friends I made within the delegation and the connections I made throughout the conference were incredible. The positive reputation of the Young Diplomats of Canada allowed the delegation to have discussions with policy influencers where we would have otherwise not had the opportunity. On a personal note, having the opportunity to network with OECD supporters and staff at a young age exposed me to many new professional opportunities. Moreover, as an undergraduate student, this experience allowed me to gain access to premier economic development research and policy materials which I otherwise would have been inaccessible. The experience gained has not only contributed to my aspirations to pursue a career in public policy, but has motivated me further to have an influence not just in the future, but now.

Having the opportunity to represent Canada abroad is a privilege that is offered to a select few young people. Ergo, representatives of Canada have the responsibility to be the voices of young Canadians by taking opportunities to speak up in policy discussions and advocate for the inclusion of other voices that may not be present. It is important to not just think about who is in the room, but also who is not. I have always approached these opportunities not as a great prize, but a great opportunity and I encourage everyone to do the same.

 

Garima Karia

I applied to be a representative of the Young Diplomats of Canada to the OECD because I hope one day to be a diplomat in the Canadian foreign service. This opportunity seemed like the ideal forum for me to experience the ins and outs of representing my country in a diplomatic space, while also broadening my understanding of multilateralism and the many ways in which diplomacy takes place on the ground. I came out of the OECD Forum with a reinforced desire to continue representing Canada in capacities similar to this one because I found the Forum itself, as well as the bilateral meetings we attended at the podcast we made, to be both enriching and stimulating.

Personally, I took away a great deal from the International Economic Forum on Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) that our delegation attended on the first day. As I hope one day to work in Latin America, this day-long conference was a unique opportunity for me to hear Latin American government officials, policymakers, and key decision-makers discuss and debate the future of work in Latin America, as well as the hopes, dreams, and issues with many Latin American economies. A recurring theme during the LAC Forum was the growing distrust felt by young people towards governments in LAC countries. This motif, and the angles at which the panelists discussed it, prompted me to ask a question (in Spanish) to a female-dominated panel at the forum. The panel had been focussing on youth and trade, and I questioned them about the intersection of gender and trade, drawing Canada’s free trade agreement with Chile as a case study in my question. This was memorable for me because the delegation had encouraged me to ask the question, and I felt very proud to not only represent the Young Diplomats of Canada in that space, but also share a commendable effort by our government with the entire room. This experience assisted me in solidifying my future goal to work on Latin American economic policy by exposing me to a myriad of perspectives from the region, but it also allowed me to network with diplomats from various LAC countries who approached me upon hearing my question.

The theme that I engaged with at the Forum was “inclusive growth.” I was able to attend a number of Forum sessions that focused on gender-based analyses of current issues such as violence against women, women in tech, and trade, and by engaging in these sessions, I gained a better understanding of how to translate my knowledge of intersectional feminism into tangible policy recommendations, as well identify crucial roadblocks, such as the divergence of cultural norms between OECD countries, and countries in general. I was able to bring these discussions to our bilateral meetings, and ask our Canadian representatives at the OECD and the Embassy for example, about their take on gendering issues of multilateralism, and how Canada can do more than it already is in an effort to shape global policy.

 

Message to Canadian Youth

Having the opportunity to represent Canada internationally as a youth leader was nothing short of an absolute privilege. As a first generation Canadian and a woman of colour, I was proud to see more voices like mine at the OECD forum. I learned the most from the other youth activists I met during my time at the OECD, and I encourage young people everywhere to connect and engage with young people around the world in dialogue about the future of policymaking, because while many deem us the “leaders of tomorrow,” we are, in fact, the leaders of today.

DELEGATE REPORT: WB/IMF SPRING MEETINGS DELEGATION 2018

Executive Summary

The Young Diplomats of Canada delegation to the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings, held April 16th to 22nd, 2018 in Washington, D.C., comprised Sohaib Ahmed, Carolyn Gaspar, Claire Robbins, Jordan Storozuk, and Matundu Loic Veza. The delegation attended 26 meetings in total, starting April 17th and ending April 21st. These meetings were chaired by the IMF and the World Bank, as well as arranged independently of the conference. Prior to the IMF/WB Spring Meetings, the delegation was counselled by YDC executives (Ross Linden-Fraser and Nicholas Schiavo) on how to proceed. In preparation for the meetings in Washington, D.C., the delegation participated in several meetings with the Government of Canada and the Embassy of the United States of America. Originally, most delegates were scheduled to arrive in Washington on Sunday, April 15th, but due to an ice storm in Ontario several delegates were delayed, and meetings were rescheduled.

Nonetheless, the 2018 YDC 2018 Spring Meetings delegation considers attending the World Bank and IMF meetings an overall success. The plethora of information received, and the key meetings attended both internally and externally, provided an exceptionally rare look into the workings of an elite and talented group of experts, leaders and individuals that is not typically accessible via normal channels. Valuable insights were also gained through attending seminars involving Christine Lagarde, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Carolyn Wilkins, and Jim Yong Kim, to name solely a few. The seminars, panels and discussions at the 2018 Spring Meetings were wonderful opportunities to further our personal and professional growth.

 

Key Themes

Key themes of particular interest to the delegation included big data and machine learning, digitalization, financial technology (fintech), market development, oil and gas, the future of education and work, and women’s empowerment. Specifically, this delegation was interested in bridging the gap between the youth of today and the jobs of tomorrow through policy and collaboration. However, many questions came to mind during the Spring Meetings:

  1. Where is the economy heading in the near future?
  2. What are the leading experts’ thoughts on cryptocurrency?
  3. What is the role of automation in the future of work?
  4. What kinds of skills do young people need to acquire in the face of a changing economy?
  5. Are Canadians struggling to adapt to changes in needed skills and education?
    1.  If so, what are some potential solutions to this issue?
  6. How does the engagement and preparedness of Canadian youth for upcoming challenges compare with international counterparts?
    1. What's similar and what's different?
    2. What can we do to improve youth engagement?

The delegation found that the future of work in the economy was a major theme at the Spring Meetings, specifically focusing on automation and machine learning. From the many panel discussions, it is evident that repetitive tasks in manufacturing and customer service industries are moving rapidly towards automation. In the coming decade, the job market will transition to value skills such as critical thinking, coding, and other interdisciplinary skills. Experts and leaders emphasized the importance of education and training systems in giving youth the opportunity to develop these key skills. 

Fintech, or financial technology, was another major theme at the meetings. However, many remained confused about fintech as a concept, and about applications of digital ledger technology (DLT) and cryptocurrency; speakers emphasized the problems associated with regulation of cryptocurrency, and the steps that governments and private corporations need to take to ensure safety, growth, and utilization of these technologies. In contrast to other major themes, investment is strongly affected by geopolitics, specifically crises in the Middle East, China’s growing importance in the world, and upcoming elections (in this case, American midterm elections). Like other developed countries, the United States is interested in investing in emerging markets because of an increased rate of return.

As well, discussions on human capital were especially revealing. The sessions hosted by the World Bank focused on human capital, women’s empowerment, big data, universal health care, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through a variety of panels, the discussion touched upon legacy skills, or investing in people across their lives, as the basis of a sustainable framework for public policy and community development. We learned that sustainable community development involves building local capacities through partnerships with local institutions, such as governments, healthcare institutions, and education stakeholders, to develop social solutions. 

The World Bank Group (WBG) implements policy through collective impact work across sectors. Specifically, the WBG is making significant investments into human capital, again focusing on underdeveloped nations as well as the empowerment of women, girls and youth. However, issues continue to arise during management of human capital projects, and stem from a range of causes, including non-compliant governments, corruption, fragility, and a lack of resources, capacity, and coordination between key stakeholders. In order to overcome these challenges, building meaningful relationships and enhancing real-time data access would be of use. As an example, effective mapping of the social and health inequalities within neighborhoods through social networks could not only help locals visualize issues, but also lead to increased engagement on solving them.

Bilateral meetings organized by and for the delegation provided an opportunity to learn about a range of issues. Meetings prior to the week in Washington were scheduled to help the delegation understand Canada’s relationship with the United States and the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as the Canadian government’s efforts towards solutions for large-scale issues. Other meetings in the American capital revealed Canada’s involvement in the World Bank and IMF, Canada’s efforts in NAFTA negotiations, and Canada’s role in the international crises in the Middle East and Latin America. During these valuable meetings, the delegation learned how Canadian officials are managing the shift in the American-Canadian relationship within the context of the current American administration.

 

Delegate Reflections

Sohaib Ahmed, Head Delegate

I was initially compelled to apply for the YDC’s WB/IMF 2018 Spring Meetings delegation when I stumbled upon the opportunity on Facebook; having previously been told that YDC’s leadership team was very reliable and well-versed in diplomacy-related projects, I felt that the Spring Meetings would be a wonderful way to learn from people who understand diplomacy perhaps more so than I do, while bringing the experience that I do have in running a successful business centered on key global-development issues (i.e., the future of education and work in the context of digitalization), engaging with research and policy across several disciplines, and leading or advising non-profit initiatives to the table. 

The experience I had at the Meetings was, in a word, enlightening. The WB/IMF-organized meetings, external meetings, and meetings we ourselves planned, both in Washington and online, all engaged us in innovative discussions; I especially appreciated the fact that key WB/IMF stakeholders, as well as key governmental representatives, frequently engaged in one-on-one, transparent discussions with our team, demonstrating the negotiation skills they use so frequently to mediate international affairs, and trusting us with even sensitive information if they felt that it would be conducive to our growth as young policy and diplomacy professionals. Whether or not our team will eventually center on precisely the same issues these key individuals discussed, the methods of reasoning and diplomatic engagement that they demonstrated to us will be constructive to us, regardless of our career paths. Certain key themes discussed at the Meetings also resonated with the work I am already doing. For example, there appeared to be a consistent focus on engaging with Indian and African markets, rather than, perhaps, markets in the West; the work I am doing as COO of 99point9 is also ultimately geared at engaging youth around the world, so the fact that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are working to enrich the same demographics I am focused on helped me reaffirm that my professional direction is sensible, and has since helped me translate the information I received from the sessions into my own work. As another example, while there was a large focus on job market automation at the Spring Meetings, I noticed that this automation wasn’t always discussed within the context of its consequences for education, just as fintech, big data, and machine-learning weren’t consistently linked to the enhancement of education systems; I also noticed that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were likely very interested in building education systems, given that my suggestion that I could aid in the development of an online WB/IMF meeting engagement platform during our meetings was well-received, and given that one central theme of the Meetings was effective development and use of human capital. This gap in the metaphorical “literature” – i.e., the fact that organizations are aware of technology, and want to facilitate education and stakeholder engagement, but are not as yet using technology to do so – is a gap I’m working to address, and my participation in this delegation has shown me that there is indeed a need for ameliorated digitized engagement that isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s thinking, speaking systemically.

Finally, being a delegate with the Young Diplomats of Canada reinforced several key skills within me. For one, as Head Delegate, I was responsible for arranging logistics, delegating tasks to other delegates, and doing my best to ensure that our team was unified; I very much enjoyed working with our group, and furthered my ability to manage stressful situations. Experiencing Washington, D.C. – its pace, its sights, and the ways in which resident law enforcement, for example, engaged with visitors – also helped me understand how the community immediately surrounding the federal government of the United States operates, if only anecdotally. Finally, I am hoping to apply what we learnt via the Spring Meetings to my own youth-targeted initiatives, which will, hopefully, center on raising awareness of what we learnt at the Meetings, involving US and Canadian media in projects, interviewing key stakeholders and engaging large corporations in a continued discussion of key World Bank/International Monetary Fund themes, and helping other Canadian students engage with leadership opportunities like YDC delegations in the future!

 

Carolyn Gaspar

I applied to be a delegate for the YDC at this year’s World Bank Group/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings to learn about global development and to network with like-minded young professionals. I was particularly interested in the sessions related to big data, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and access to universal healthcare. I was interested in attending these meetings as I have received an Honours Bachelor of Arts, Specialized Honours in Psychology degree from Lakehead University. I am currently nearing completion of a Master of Health Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan, as well. My current research experience, both in Saskatchewan and at home in Thunder Bay, centers on developing a continuum of supports for children and youth most marginalized to succeed, emphasizing early childhood education. It was important for me as a young professional to learn about community development on a global scale, and how my work can influence others but also have experts in the field influence my work. 

Attending this year’s World Bank Group/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings allowed me to learn about the implementation of the UN SDGs, globally. Key discussions I attended were on women’s empowerment, big data, and building human capital. To fix society’s social ills, everyone has a role to play, from community members to parliamentarians. Big data is useful in measuring, monitoring and tracking the progress of social issues as well as heightening awareness based on the information gathered. For example, one panelist at the session on big data discussed how community members were passive consumers of health care, and were bystanders to the fact that a social ailment was prominent in their neighbourhood. However, through social networking, health professionals were able to map out the number of cases of that ailment based on geographic location, and thus influence help-seeking behaviour among residents. As community-engaged researchers, we need to be able to assess the need of the community in innovative ways to demonstrate the necessity of change. Although the UN SDGs are endorsed globally, it was interesting to see that more local approaches were similar across nations; these emphasized meeting with the locals, and engaging in conversations to understand the challenge at hand. If there are poor education outcomes among girls, despite the government's investments in making education accessible or permitting girls to attend school, we need to ask them why: What are the barriers and challenges you continue to face? To influence change in behaviour, we need to ask individuals and communities themselves how to best effect change. This is the mantra I follow in my research, and often, the peer-reviewed literature does not emphasize the importance of relational accountability in community development. However, in these meetings, one could often see how countries were using technology to put mechanisms in place (e.g., big data) that facilitated increased understanding of community need, and how these countries engaged with citizens through social media to build human capital. A significant take-away for me is that we need to invest in people to achieve a more equitable world through authentic and meaningful engagement. 

My attendance at the Spring Meetings allowed me to network with researchers in the field of community development and allowed me to lend my expertise on the development of a methodology for a research project undertaken in the United States funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation. Further, through this opportunity, we were able to network with young professionals working in Washington, D.C. to learn about their career aspirations. This opportunity was life-changing, and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel with my peers and meet emerging leaders in their respective areas.

 

Claire Robbins

On our first day at the World Bank / IMF Spring Meetings, our delegation had the chance to sit down with Christine Hogan, Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean, at the World Bank. At one point during our meetings, Ms. Hogan, sensing our excitement to get started attending sessions, accurately described the Meetings as a sort of “Disneyland for globally minded young people”. 

The sessions were indeed exciting, especially for a generalist such as myself. I had the opportunity to attend a range of events, notably including a panel on how the World Bank was adjusting to meet the Paris Climate Agreement, a discussion between Christine Lagarde and Michael Bloomberg, and a session on making financial technology more inclusive. Among many others, these sessions allowed me to build on what I’ve learned about these topics through my own research, but in a far more interactive and up-close way. 

By far though, the highlights of the Spring Meetings were our YDC meetings with Canadian officials working for the IMF, World Bank, and Canadian Embassy in DC, and the Canadian journalists we met. It was incredible to hear about the important work they are doing representing Canadians, and I was especially interested in hearing about how the World Bank is encouraging Canadian companies to take leadership roles in global corporate social responsibility. I also loved speaking with Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail D.C. correspondent, who answered our questions about the media climate in D.C., and how he interprets US news for a Canadian audience. 

For myself, the greatest value of these meetings lay in being able to observe and take part in the discussions surrounding the intersection of civil society groups, domestic and international bureaucrats, corporate executives, and journalists. Being able to be present at the nexus of these global leaders was truly inspiring, and it was a great privilege to represent young Canadians at these discussions.

 

Jordan Storozuk, Communications Coordinator

I was motivated to apply for the Young Diplomats of Canada in order to have the opportunity to attend the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings at this early stage of my career. I was enthusiastic about learning from international policy-makers, leading experts, and world figures in Washington, D.C. Previously, I had followed delegations on social media, and admired the calibre of those selected as YDC ambassadors. As I was curious to learn more about policy-making for the international economy, I was thrilled to be attending the Spring Meetings. 

Canadian youth have few opportunities to observe and meaningfully participate at official international conferences – not just the youth versions. I feel like we now have a better chance to amplify the voices of Canadian youth because of our ability to attend high-level international conferences in the YDC delegation. In the delegation, each individual brought complementary strengths and perspectives, whether in health sciences or indigenous issues, digital financial assets, opportunities for youth empowerment and leadership, climate change and the energy resources sector, or politics and governance at the national and international levels. The ability to learn from each other and challenge or question our own perspectives was extremely valuable. 

The experience itself was both incredibly enriching and exhausting. I wished that I had a time-turner in order to attend the many fascinating sessions occurring simultaneously. In my view, the meetings fulfilled their idealistic role as a platform for international cooperation and the sharing of best practices between experts, policy-makers, public servants, journalists, civil society actors, and other delegates. Throughout the conference, I was stuck by presence of a common idea emphasizing the importance of investment in people to manage the future of work. This idea involved a dizzying number of options, including investing in skills, education, health, poverty, social inclusion, and more to ensure that people are prepared for the unknown. 

I can already tell that attending the Spring Meetings on behalf of the Young Diplomats of Canada will have a beneficial impact on my future career. The YDC experience reminds me of the importance of building a network and considering new perspectives. This shared experience has allowed me to not only create connections and friendships within the delegation and alumni network, but also benefit enormously from hearing these people’s thoughts during the meetings and candid moments. There is nothing like having another person’s differing experience and insight to better understand complex issues. I was lucky to be surrounded with ambitious, friendly, idealistic, pragmatic, diverse, and driven people during my time representing the Young Diplomats of Canada in Washington, D.C. 

 

Loic Veza

I had the opportunity, from April 16th to 21st, to join a group of young, engaged, and bright Canadians to assist the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). Prior to YDC, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science, and I then went on to obtain a master’s degree in international relations, with a concentration in international law. In both my degrees, I had the opportunity to learn about the Bretton Woods institutions. However, they still were a black box for me, and from my discussions with other colleagues, I understood that this was a shared impression. The Spring Meetings helped me understand how these institutions function. We even had the opportunity to visit the newly opened Museum of the World Bank, where we had a presentation on the Bank’s history and evolution. 

Reflecting on my experience at the spring meetings, the first thing that comes to mind is the Young Diplomats of Canada delegation with whom I attended the meetings. Spending time at the spring meetings with these four Canadians was a wonderful experience. I met with young and dynamic Canadians who represented different Canadian provinces, were sons and daughters of immigration, worked in different policy areas, and had different perspectives. Together, we were able to discuss the same problem, but with different perspectives. This unique blend of people made my experience more enjoyable and instructive. We were able to challenge each other on topics we had heard the previous morning or afternoon in a respectful way. 

Throughout the week, I was astounded by the access we had. We had this opportunity to listen to the thought leaders of global policy. As a group, we attended the major seminars where Christine Lagarde, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Kim Jim, and others were exchanging views. I personally attended seminars on the new digital economy, economic diversification, the future of jobs, and gender equality. The quality of the speakers, the questions asked, and the discussions raised were unique. Furthermore, the rooms were full of delegates from civil society, governments and the private sector, from all over the world, bringing us perspectives distinct from solely Canadian ones. It was actually very interesting to discuss the Canadian perspective, to see what works, and to see what could be improved. We were lucky enough to have precious encounters during the meetings, which resulted in our making several unexpected visits. For example, we had a very lovely visit to the Capitol, dinners with fellow youths living in the US, and insights we might have not had without these encounters. 

A valuable lesson learned regards the work done by our different representatives in the WB Group, the IMF, the Organization of American States, and at the Canadian Embassy. We do not appreciate enough the behind-the-scenes work done by all these representatives, especially in these times of uncertainty both political and economic. We had very candid conversations about their everyday work, the Trump presidency, the new Washington, the Canadian voice in Washington, gender equality, the future of work, and the new digital economy. I cannot thank all these representatives enough for their honest conversations. 

Overall, I highly recommend this experience to any Canadian youth who wishes to better examine the IMF and WB. It is also an incredible opportunity to meet with thought leaders, fellow youth, and Canadian representatives in Washington, and to learn from peers in the delegation. I was not sitting at the table, but I was in the room, and I feel as this opportunity gave me the insight, confidence and experience to succeed.

DELEGATION REPORT: 2018 YOUTH 7 SUMMIT

Executive Summary

As Canadian delegates to the Y7, we had the privilege in representing Canadian youth interests, needs, and concerns in the formal youth contribution to the G7 process. Since the Y7 values of inclusion, diversity, and equity should be matched with the value of transparency, we have produced this report to outline the delegate experience (and the challenges) of the Y7 Summit.

 

Delegate Process

First, we identified the gaps in our diversity: Where does our knowledge, experience, and privilege give us expertise? What do we lack in knowledge or experience, and could this disadvantage others? From there we took an Indigenous consensus building approach and were able to identify the delegates who would best serve each theme of the Summit, and which population groups were necessary for us to consult in our youth consultations.

We engaged in pre-Summit negotiations online using Slack with all other Y7 delegates. As we completed expert and youth consultations, we were able to direct the pre-Summit negotiations in an informed way that included Canadian interests.

In Summit negotiations, each delegate advocated for Canadian interests under all themes. In the final day of the Summit and after having an opportunity to discuss the recommendations with the G7 Sherpas, head delegates identified the priority recommendation from a list of four that were submitted from the themed negotiations.

With the aid of the YDC team, the Y7 Call to Action was released and all Y7 delegates will advocate for it leading up to and following the 2018 G7 Summit.

 

Summit Themes

Gender Equality

Consultations for gender equality involved policy makers, civil society groups, and youth (including those who are LGBTQ+). The Canadian delegation strategy on this theme was to take leadership on progressive, inclusive, and feminist policies.

We were successful in advocating for those policies partly because the Canadian government has already taken concrete actions towards gender equality and thus serves as an example. However, we had to be careful not to project our values onto other Y7 delegations.

Climate Change and Environment

The policies our delegation pushed for reflected ambition and boldness: we asked our G7 leaders to save all bodies of water through immediate action on plastics, innovative protective mechanisms as well as an international accord on the sustainable management of water, as well for a clear roadmap for decarbonizing the G7 economies.

The choice to prioritize the protection of water over decarbonization was a difficult but strategic one given the current international political context and the momentum for action on plastic pollution.

Future of Work

At the Summit, Canada together with the members of the future of work group devised one key policy recommendation that eventually became Canada’s top priority: to have data privacy recognized as a human right.

The recommendation was audacious in acknowledging that human rights should comprise privacy that includes the full ownership of personal data, even when data would be used and modified for profit. The Y7 believed there is no reason for anyone to be a second-class citizen when it comes to data privacy.

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity

During the Y7 2018, it was evident that successful efforts were made to meaningfully and critically engage with inclusion, diversity, and equity. From an organizational standpoint, the Summit created a space where all delegates could remain true to their own perspectives; Indigenous culture, history, and realities were discussed at length with Indigenous people, who had the opportunity to lead how those discussions and how they were represented; there was gender parity amongst all delegations; and delegates truly reflected a diverse set of life experiences, identities, and skills. These organizational features translated into what was produced from the Summit, that most importantly being the Call to Action. In negotiations, ideas of non-binary gender identities, or the realities of racialized, Indigenous, and marginalized people, were by no means second guessed, ignored, or downplayed. We all recognized this as being a unique--and quite promising--trait of our generation.

The Canadian delegation also thought it was of foremost importance to recognize our privilege as well as our duty to represent the voice of Canada’s youth who did not have a seat at the table. Indeed, while the Y7 delegates were individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, we recognized that international exposure and post-secondary education seemed to be a common denominator amongst all delegates. Many times, it was emphasized that the people in the room were carefully selected and represented the “cream of the crop” of their countries’ youth.

International youth engagement indeed presents a conundrum: it is assumed that a certain level of skills is necessary to partake in it, but that same selectivity leads to participants representing a relatively narrow segment of society. We tried to address this both before and during the summit, by consulting with a wide array of stakeholders and by asking ourselves how our policy recommendations would affect vulnerable populations, most notably through a GBA+ approach.

With the disconnection of the global elite highlighted as a potential cause to recent key political events, it seems more urgent than ever to break the social silos in which diplomacy traditionally takes place. There is no group better than youth to address this issue creatively and inclusively, especially since the future of international cooperation as well as our societies’ cohesion are at stake.

Role of Youth in Policy

Another theme that came up time after time around the Y7 Summit was the role of youth in policy. Seeing such high levels of political engagement at the Y7, as a formal engagement of the G7, the delegates felt a sense of empowerment. Indeed, we observed many foreign delegates commenting on how surprised they were at the level of engagement demonstrated by our policy makers.

During our delegation’s interactions with key individuals and organisations, we presented ourselves not only as passionate students of a certain topic, but also as individuals with unique insights from our youth perspective. We stressed that young people are also leaders of today and we see things differently than other generations. One comment that was made was that among the group of Sherpas, there were more named Peter than there were women. Meanwhile, there were more female than male head delegates among the youth delegates. There is a generational gap, especially in international relations and policy; having youth perspectives and inputs during the decision making process is essential in ensuring a smooth transition of influence to the leaders of tomorrow.

Design Thinking

The Canadian Y7 delegation would be remiss to not mention the distinctive structure and methodology of the Y7 Canada Summit negotiations. The Summit team incorporated “Design Thinking” as part of their vision for Y7 youth diplomacy. The methodology that flows from this is largely used for product development in the start-up and tech scenes, but proved beneficial in our negotiations as well. Design thinking, in fact, steered us to work more collaboratively instead of adversarially. This was beneficial given that, after all, the intent of the “negotiations” was to provide strong, consensus-based solutions to the G7 leaders, rather than to merely advocate for our national delegation’s positions all the way through.

The Summit’s discussion structure included three key components: (1) pre-Summit discussions online via Slack; (2) in-Summit open plenary thematic discussions and breakout duo group work sessions; as well as (3) in-Summit head delegate discussions focussing on refining and final structuring. The bulk of the negotiating transpired among the theme delegates as part of the second structural component. Broadly, the theme delegates from each of the G7 countries were tasked to agree upon four future vision statements that were each followed by a “S.M.A.R.T” action (i.e. policy recommendation) which we wanted G7 countries to achieve by 2024. S.M.A.R.T is the mnemonic acronym that offers criteria to guide the setting of objectives, in this case being: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. In the development of these future visions and S.M.A.R.T. actions, the members of the three thematic working groups partook in three separate negotiation sessions in which we had four major instances where we huddled to form consensus.

The first set of negotiations entailed the presentation of each delegation’s theme priorities. Using the traditional post-its and flip charts approach, each delegate then aligned our individual priorities on a graph based on two factors: importance/relevance and urgency. From there, together, we reviewed the graph to decipher what were four collective priorities considered by all delegates. These collective priorities were determined based on where the post-its were placed on the graph. When we discerned the main priorities, we then voted on the final four as part of the first consensus round. For example, in the future of work group, the final four priorities selected were: social security, lifelong learning, positivity and opportunities of future technology, and inclusiveness and accessibility. This working group initially had nine priorities, but these were eventually whittled down with the help of the graph plotting exercise.

Equipped with the four priorities, the working groups then formulated a future vision statement for each priority during a brainstorming session in which, initially, each delegate again made suggestions using post-its and affixed them onto four separate chart papers, each connected to one of the four agreed-upon priorities. Eventually, the post-its on each sheet were clustered based on similarities and a second consensus round was issued in order to agree on the future vision focus for each of the four priority areas.

We then separated into pairs and assigned ourselves to one of the priority areas to formulate a statement describing the future vision, based on the post-it contributions placed on the chart paper. After some time, the pairs later presented the draft future vision statement in plenary and solicited feedback from other members of the working group. This led to a third consensus-seeking vote to confirm the future visions developed for each of the four priorities. To take one example from the future of work group, under the priority of “lifelong learning,” the following future vision statement was developed:

“We, the youth of the G7 member countries, believe that, in light of the 4th Industrial Revolution, people of all ages need to be provided with a lifelong access to quality education with up-and reskilling opportunities and a special focus on creative and critical thinking, soft skills and entrepreneurship.”

As part of the second round of group negotiations, which occurred on Day 2, delegates individually developed several S.M.A.R.T. action ideas for each future vision using the post-it method. Then, the duos took the commentaries and formulated draft statements. Again, in pairs, we presented the draft S.M.A.R.T. action statements in plenary and solicited feedback. With this feedback, we went back again in pairs and created a final draft statement to be voted on.

With the third and last round of negotiations, working groups partook in a final discussion and agreed on the second draft of the S.M.A.R.T. actions. As an example, for the future of work’s priority of “lifelong learning,” the S.M.A.R.T. action developed was: “We urge G7 member states to launch national re- and upskilling schemes for individuals whose jobs are particularly at risk due to technological disruption. A common framework of standardized skills for the future of work should be agreed upon by member states [...].” After, the groups then went into a final consensus voting period on the document draft which was later presented to the head delegates for deliberation.

The well-thought, very organic and collaborative methodology implemented for the Y7 negotiations was very effective. Most international summits, such as the G7, employ structured debates and rules of order that in many instances are time-consuming, and may not be fruitful in getting creative juices flowing or building a team atmosphere necessary to ideate collective solutions. Often, this translates into rigid, hierarchical and often adversarial ways of consensus building. The Y7 Canada Summit demonstrated a novel, step-by-step approach to policy development that allowed for greater interactivity and constructive consensus-building that should be considered for other summits and high-level engagements.

 

Delegate Reflections

Larissa, Head Delegate

Being of Indigenous and African diaspora ancestry, it makes me angry to not see my culture or identity embodied in bodies at national and international decision-making tables. As a woman, it makes me frustrated to see the disproportionate dominance of male power-holders upholding patriarchal systems. Identifying as an activist and being an involved community member, I am tired of our needs, concerns, and interests being criminalized and reduced to dehumanized headlines. As a young Canadian, I am apprehensive that politicians and CEOs do not take our environment and our future seriously enough.

Now, being a mother to a beautiful, thriving one-year-old daughter, I can’t just feel- I need to act.

This is why I applied to the Y7 Summit. After contemplating for several days, an overwhelming sense of responsibility to my predecessors who created the opportunities I enjoy today, to my people, and to my daughter overcame me and I applied half an hour from the deadline. As I reflect on my experience with the Y7 Summit, I could not hold more gratitude in my heart for the guidance I received that day.

Serving as the Head Delegate of the Y7 Canadian Delegation has been deeply rewarding on many levels. As an anti-racism policy and Indigenous researcher, the Y7 Summit offered real-life experience where I had the opportunity to advocate for and negotiate policies in a space where we could actually influence national and international commitments. This experiential learning has given me a significant advantage as I now apply to policy jobs, fellowships, and competitive programs. Even as the Y7 Summit ended- and eventually following the G7 Summit- I have opportunities to be involved in high-level political events and meetings; I have even been invited to Paris this November to speak on the Y7 Call to Action! The process not only of creating, but of promoting the Y7 Call to Action has in itself presented valuable opportunities to educate the public, draw attention to the issues behind our policy recommendations, and meet with all levels of politicians and stakeholders.

For me personally, the most rewarding aspect of the Y7 experience was having the opportunity to speak on issues Indigenous, Black, and other marginalized communities face within Canada and other G7 member states. And not only speak, but to see these issues influence and become embodied in the text of the Y7 Call to Action. For example, consciousness of the diversity of gender identities and sexualities, and the unique adversities some may face, the Call to Action explicitly vocalizes those issues in the Gender Equality recommendation on gender-based violence. As another example, the Climate Change and Environment recommendation on water protection was developed on the backs of arguments, knowledge, and concerns raised by Indigenous water advocates. Environmental racism and water insecurity disproportionately affect women, Indigenous, and racialized people, and with 99% of all Canadian freshwater sources not being protected by any policy or legislation, I have great confidence that we can enact equitable change through our recommendation.

You’d always rather ask yourself, “Where would I be now had I not applied?” rather than “Where would I be now had I applied?” Had I not applied to the Y7 Summit, I would not have my most significant professional experience to date. I would not have a new international network of amazing friends. The voices of the people I advocated for may not have made it to the negotiating tables. There are so many "wouldn't have" circumstances had I not overcome my self doubts and applied for the Y7 Summit, so if there is anything I want to close this reflection off with, it is always, always, apply.

 

Aaron, Future of Work Delegate

The Y7 Canada Summit was a very formative experience that allowed me to be at the frontend of diplomacy and acquire a taste of what it’s like to be a diplomat. It led me to experience the day-to-day interactions and responsibilities of a diplomat: carrying out consultations, developing and advancing national priorities, relaying back information on negotiations to other members of the national delegation, negotiating ideas and wording, finding common ground with foreign delegations, advancing priorities formally and informally in bilateral and multilateral settings, networking, working with lobby and interest groups, media relations, site visits, etc. Being a Y7 delegate undoubtedly allowed me to wear all sorts of caps and this was by far the most valuable part of this YDC experience. Once one takes on the position, you realize in no time that diplomatic work can be fruitful but extremely arduous and tiring; a good diplomat, after all, has to quickly grok a wide variety of challenging subjects, hold intelligent conversations about them, and figure out creative ways to provide for both sides’ interests. As a diplomat, you’re always on the go and have to ‘be ready’. It’s exhilarating.

The pre-consultations we undertook as members of the Canadian delegation were valuable and memorable part of my experience. It showed me the importance of the issues we were dealing with for everyday Canadians and that these issues were very “real”, in the sense that there were stakeholders who had a vested interest in ensuring certain issues were being discussed at the table. Of course, many of us realize that these matters always impact people in some way or form, but as delegates we were able to obtain a vastly different perspective when we heard very personal stories of how young people were struggling to find employment, indigenous people were unable to meaningfully gain from the technological dividends, etc. This makes the task of a delegate all the more important and critical, and indeed onerous.

Some of the other highlights of my experience as a Y7 Canada delegate also included calls and meetings with high-level contacts, such as the G7 Policy Team, Ministers, Canada’s G7 Sherpa, among others. The meeting with the G7 Policy team was particularly eye-opening as we had a chance to gain an insider understanding of the inner-workings of international policy negotiations – i.e. what sorts of topics were being discussed, what were points of agreement and contention between countries, how member states were able to circumvent points of contention to appeal to broader areas of agreement, etc. One case in point was climate change. A key tactic Canada used in finding agreement with the US specifically was to focus on the health of oceans rather than on climate change as a whole. Canada appealed to the US reminding the country that it had been recently affected by major weather storms and many US cities are situated on the coast, making ocean protection a national security issue. Yet there were still areas that proved conflictual as Canada holds the social and economic empowerment of women in high regard, whereas the US wishes to focus especially on the economic domain.

Negotiations were a final area of learning and growth for me. Albeit tedious and exasperating, it taught me the importance of linguistics, semantics and language in general. While focus on content tends to be important, words individually carry a whole lot of meaning and choosing the right word can be critical in international negotiations. It can also give a sense of where an individual is coming from and, consequently, we can come to understand how national experiences shape positions. And while it may seem trivial, what we call for or propose through the use of specific words is extremely important and knowing which words to include that convey a sense of importance or urgency to an issue (i.e. "cooperation" versus "agreement") is something we all need to be trained on (at the same time, we must also realize what words have been left out of a text, and why). Negotiations at the Y7 have taught me that words shouldn’t just be thrown around. And especially in an international negotiation context, they hold a lot more weight and, of course, considerable repercussions.

 

Caroline, Climate Delegate

After living abroad for more than two years, I applied to the Y7 as a way to get involved and exercise leadership in public policy discussions in Canada. The experience turned out to be much more.

Partaking in the Y7 gave me hope in our collective future, and also empowered me to believe that my voice, and the voice of youth, deserves to be heard. Discussing the most pressing issues of our time with a group of diverse, brilliant, but also extremely grounded, fun and kind youths, and preparing to do so by consulting by different stakeholders representing diverse sectors of Canadian society was more than just about policy or international relations - it was a human experience. We shared our honest hopes for a better future and worked together, without judgment and in a collaborative spirit, towards change that we deeply believe in. The whole process was intense and extremely work-intensive, but I am certain that every single delegate who was there would agree that it was one of the most amazing experiences of both their personal and professional lives.

Negotiating on climate change and the environment in a context where certain head of states are in denial of global warming was not easy, but I am proud of how hard our climate theme group fought for what we believe in. As a Canadian, it was particularly important for me to leave space for Indigenous perspectives, especially on the topic of water protection, as their communities suffer disproportionately from water contamination, even if not all G7 countries are home to Indigenous peoples.The shared sense of responsibility we have towards the future of nature and of our planet, as well as towards the future of the vulnerable populations - women, people of colour and Indigenous peoples - who already are most affected by the environmental crisis is something I wish all current policy-makers would see.

Youth diplomacy is an exercise that I feel extremely privileged to participate in, and I do believe that international policy-making is an extremely exclusive process. I was happy to realize that this is something the Organizing Committee, Young Diplomats of Canada and my fellow delegates were also conscious of, as illustrated by the consultations that were held prior to the Summit as well as our focus on thinking of the consequences of our policy recommendations on vulnerable populations and the people who did have a seat at the table. I cannot wait to see how we continue to improve how we address this important consideration in the future, and this is something I will be personally thinking about a lot.

I am looking forward to see how our G7 leaders will act on our recommendations, which we put so much thought, effort and passion into. While the outcome remains to be seen, the one thing I am sure about after this experience is that only good things can come from more youth participation in the public policy process. I had always told myself that I would run for office later in my career, but I now feel a sense of urgency to do it as soon as possible. More than ever, I feel empowered and responsible for our collective future.

 

Chris, Gender Equality Delegate

I applied to the Y7 mainly because I wanted to meet, network, and learn from youth leaders from across the world. I must admit that I had low expectations for the impact that our summit will actually have on the G7. However, I was pleasantly surprised and inspired by the dedication of the youth, the YDC team, and Canadian decision makers to make our voices resonate at the G7. It was without a doubt the most well-organised and empowering event I have ever attended.

One moment that particularly stuck with me was during a discussion on data collection to address gender equality. My understanding had been that the government should collect data on "diversity" factors so that we can implement policies to ensure that marginalised groups are empowered. However, the delegates from several European states responded that such a notion is inherently discriminatory and that we should take a colour/religion/etc.-blind approach instead. I had no idea that this policy was the case in many European countries and this made me question my own stance towards equality, affirmative action, and data collection. Moments like these, when my entire perception of a topic is challenged, is when I learn the most. The Y7 provided plenty of these wonderful moments.

Back in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Even now, that is still the case. Yet, the Y7 summit opened my eyes to the opportunities within IR, policy, and politics. Interacting with the cohort of brilliant young professionals working in those fields taught me more than any university textbook or lecture could. I am now carefully considering diplomatic services as a career, a thought I never would have had without this experience.

YDC Annual Report 2017

2017 was a wonderful year for YDC - our executive has grown with wonderful additions, our participation and engagement rates have soared like never before and most importantly - we have made our mark on the foreign policy stage, be it within Canada or at the international level. Would you wish to know more? Read our 2017 annual report here

We also have a French edition, you can read it right here!

Report: Inclusive Cities Summit Outcome

Pledges to Progress: Implementing the New Urban Agenda in Toronto

In August 2017, YDC partnered with UN Habitat and The World Urban Campaign among others to put together the Inclusive Cities Summit. 

 

Executive Summary

The vision articulated in the New Urban Agenda is nothing short of transformational. Launched in 2016, the New Urban Agenda calls on the global community to collectively build a future where cities and other human settlements are sustainable, inclusive, safe, prosperous, and healthy. In August 2017, the Inclusive Cities Summit gathered a diverse group of stakeholders from across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with one overarching question in mind: How do we implement the New Urban Agenda in Toronto? Organized around the Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) model, the discussions were focused on five key themes: the future of local democracy and governance; accessibility and mobility in a connected city; resilient and sustainable cities for the 21st century; building a healthy and prosperous city; and closing the affordability and fairness gap.

The two days of discussions were directed towards identifying concrete and practical actions and strategies that can help turn the pledges contained in the New Urban Agenda into tangible progress for the GTA and other Canadian cities. This report distills and presents these ideas, highlighting both enduring challenges and ways forward in each of the five themes.

 

Key Messages

1. Toronto’s diversity is its strength. To effectively implement the New Urban Agenda in Toronto, it is crucial that the City finds more ways to leverage its diversity for better collective outcomes. This can include measures ranging from improving civic engagement processes, to amplifying all of the City’s voices, to increasing accessibility to the City’s amenities and services.

2. Consultations for the sake of consulting are not useful. Toronto needs meaningful consultation processes, which include follow-up mechanisms that inform citizens of what progress has been made using their input, and justifications for why certain decisions were made.

3. Toronto needs people-centered planning. Policies and programs should help Toronto work together as a cohesive unit, while striving to close affordability and fairness gaps and leaving no one behind. Indicators and tools for measuring progress and planning future initiatives should focus primarily on the impact upon residents.

4. The city should leverage all the tools at its disposal to incentivize behaviour changes that increase sustainability and resilience. Using these incentives and other tools, sustainability and resilience programs should, wherever possible, also help deliver on goals of inclusion, poverty reduction, health, and other key objectives.

5. Toronto should set its sights high and use the best cities as benchmarks for performance. To improve in every area from health to transportation to employment to accessibility, Toronto should continuously look to and learn from cities around the world that are performing at the highest level. A complacent or ‘good enough’ attitude is unacceptable and insufficient for securing the best future for the City.

Read the full report here.

Report: Analyzing the Y20 and G20 Outcome Documents: Comparing the Present and Future of Progressive Policy

By Sandra Morrell Andrews, YDC Delegate to the 2017 Youth 20 Summit
Originally published by Youth20 Germany at: https://y20-germany.org/y20-g20-comparative-analysis/

The Youth 20 Dialogue

From June 2nd to June 8th 2017, over 70 young delegates representing 23 countries and eight international organizations gathered in Berlin to discuss matters of policy and cooperation under the auspices of the overarching themes of the German G20 presidency: building resilience, improving sustainability, and assuming responsibility.

It is the hope of the delegates of the 2017 Youth 20 Dialogue that leaders from around the globe will prioritize and meaningfully include the perspective of young people in policy decisions, recognizing that the youth of their countries are critical partners for progress.

The contents of this document reflect the different nationalities of the delegates, drawing upon their diverse and valuable professional, academic, and cultural experiences. Their efforts clearly illustrate that young people possess the requisite competencies and dedication to address our most pressing issues in a collaborative, inclusive, and progressive way. Most importantly, the recommendations referenced in this report communicate their greatest aspirations for a more secure, prosperous, and equitable world for all people.

This report was made possible thanks to the generous investment of the German government.

Executive Summary

In July 2017, the G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Hamburg, Germany. On the agenda were 15 pressing issues of consequence for people across the globe: Global Economy, International Trade, Employment, Digitalization, Climate and Energy, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Women’s Empowerment, Displacement and Migration, Countering Terrorism, Anti-Corruption, Health and Wellbeing, Food Security and Agriculture, Taxation, Partnership with Africa, and International Financial Markets. Commitments related to these topics were included in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration, as well as in 15 official agreed documents.

One month prior to the Hamburg Summit, the Youth 20 Dialogue (the official youth engagement group of the G20) was held in Berlin. Topics deliberated by the delegates and incorporated into the Y20 Position Paper included: Global Economy, International Trade, Employment, Digitalization, Climate and Energy, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Women’s Empowerment, Displacement and Migration, Countering Terrorism, Anti-Corruption, and Health and Wellbeing.

The aim of this report is to comparatively analyze the 11 common topics covered by the Youth 20 Dialogue and G20 Leaders’ Summit. It seeks to methodically establish the scope of each topic; highlight concerns identified in the Y20 and G20 meeting documents; critically compare each group’s commitments, recommendations, and communiqué content, while also noting the contrasts and similarities in approach; and finally, contribute additional brief contextual details that are important to consider for the given topic.

Global Economy

Summary and Scope of Findings
In this topic, the Youth 20 Position Paper and G20 outcome documents reflect a fairly similar approach. The main differentiation is in the detail of proposed plans that each go into, as well as in the focus on macroeconomic policy by the G20 and attention to both the macro and micro level by the Youth 20 Dialogue.

Problems Identified
Within the G20 Leaders’ Declaration it is acknowledged that growth remains weaker than desired. There is reference to the need to “promote greater inclusiveness, fairness, and equality” (pg. 3). Further, in the G20 Action Plan “weak productivity growth, income inequality, and ageing populations” are cited as major issues (pg. 2). Within the Y20 Position Paper the remnants of the global economic crisis and “lack of youth involvement in the global economy” (pg. 4) are identified as major issues. The Position Paper also highlights youth outside of employment and education as depressants for economic growth.

Comparative Analysis
In the context of this issue the outcome documents of the G20 and Y20 echo each other closely. They reference similar concerns stemming from inequality and weak growth as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. Both recognize the need for inclusive growth, stability, and fairness in the global economy. Both groups have offered monetary and fiscal policies to support economies, in addition to fair and modern taxation, job creation, global exchange rate commitments, and growth strategies as remedies.

Whereas the G20 Action Plan also goes into detail about the need for structural reform, the Y20 does not. Further, the G20 Action Plan goes further to put forward short, medium, and long-term plans to support the global economy with country-specific examples.

Overall, the G20 documents appear to take a more macro-level approach than the Y20. In addition to macroeconomic policy, the Y20 explicitly discusses the need for countries to support the sharing economy as well as micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) growth. The Y20 Position Paper also expressly recognizes youth as catalysts in generating sustainable global growth, while the G20 documents do not.

Notable Considerations
From the youth perspective, it is reasonable to see a greater attention to the microeconomic dimension, as youth tend to be most impacted by these policies; for example surrounding regulation of the sharing and gig economy or with policy toward micro and small enterprises where young entrepreneurs are most likely to be affected.

International Trade

Summary and Scope of Findings
On the theme of international trade the Youth 20 Position Paper and G20 Leaders’ Declaration identify very similar concerns, as well as the importance in more equal distribution of the benefits of trade. Consequently, the policy solutions identified are also very similar, with a greater emphasis by the Youth 20 Dialogue on the ways to combat the widely recognized problem of protectionist sentiment among the population through local solutions.

Problems Identified
The G20 documents highlight a need to fight protectionism and unfair trade practices, recognizing that the benefits of international trade have not been widely felt by everyone. The Youth 20 Dialogue also identified these problems, adding that a lack of trade literacy and lack of proper resource distribution are contributing to “diverse challenges” (pg. 6) related to international trade.

Comparative Analysis
Both the Youth 20 and G20 view international trade as being mutually advantageous and a vital aspect of sustainable global growth. Based on their similar evaluations of the opportunities and problems surrounding the topic of international trade, the G20 documents and Youth 20 Position Paper acknowledge the importance of a number of the same solutions including: more inclusive trade for all, elimination of unfair trade practices, a respect for the rules-based trading system under the auspices of the WTO and OECD, the need for greater transparency in trade, and more robust implementation of international standards related to labour and environmental frameworks.

The Y20 Position Paper differs in its call for more extensive labour market reforms with attention to MSMEs and the need for greater trade literacy to combat protectionism and inform people about the benefits of international trade. Further, while the Y20 document does, the G20 Leaders’ Declaration does not discuss the need to reduce trade costs for exporting MSME, nor does it call for more flexible labour markets that allow workers (including women and youth) greater access to work across borders. Again, the leaders’ document appears to deal with the topic in a macro level, mentioning multinational enterprises but not the local population that the Y20 recognizes as needing greater disbursement of the benefits of international trade.

Notable Considerations
Recommendations contained within the Youth 20 Position Paper focus on the tangible means to address the particularly evident issue of protectionism spurred by growing nationalist sentiment around the world.

Employment

Summary and Scope of Findings
Employment poses a point of significant synergy in the comparison of Y20 and G20 outcome documents. There is a near unanimous acknowledgement of the problems related to the state of current and future employment. Interestingly, both groups put forward youth-specific policies to minimize the skills gap and lack of decent work, though to varying degrees.

Problems Identified
In relation to employment, the G20 Leaders’ Declaration and Youth 20 Position Paper acknowledge that the current and future worlds of work are being reshaped by digitalization. Both documents discuss that there are general challenges regarding the necessary skills of workers, their access to adequate social protections, as well as decent working conditions.

Within the Youth 20 declaration however, there is a noticeable variation in its acknowledgement of the dire situation facing over “70 million unemployed young people” (pg. 9) whose unemployment rate is approximately three times higher than that of adults. The G20 fails to appreciate this disparity in unemployment and underemployment faced by the world’s youth population.

Comparative Analysis
Areas of agreement include the need to effectively educate and train people throughout life for the future of work, with an emphasis on developing the necessary skills that employment currently and will demand in the future. In promoting decent work opportunities for the labour market the G20 and Y20 mutually recognize vocational education and training, as well as quality apprenticeships, with emphasis on opportunities for young people. While the previously identified areas of consensus apply to combatting the employment issues of youth, the G20 fails to deliver comprehensive solutions to the challenges of modern work. Conversely, the Y20 provides greater details into the measures needed to address modern employment.

Significant areas of digression include the Youth 20 call for the recognition of qualifications across borders, national skills recognition systems for skills acquired outside of formal education and training structures, the need to respect labour rights of migrant workers, universal social protections for employees regardless of the type of work, and the abolition of unpaid internships.

Notable Considerations
The work of the G20 Labour and Employment Group, specifically the Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeships is specifically acknowledged for its contribution to youth employment. This is a particularly pertinent topic for young people, and while the G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment is welcomed, the wider issue of youth unemployment and underemployment around the world remains a significant concern.

Digitalization

Summary and Scope of Findings
Digitalization is a very broad and interdisciplinary topic that encompasses numerous areas; including trade, employment, education, security, and governance. In this topic the G20 Leaders’ Declaration and youth document employ diverse understandings of how digitalization impacts policy generally, with some notable areas of overlap.

Problems Identified
With digitalization being such a far-reaching theme, there are many ways to characterize the problems that are associated with it. In the context of the G20 and Y20 however, there is overlap in understanding the basic challenges: bridging the digital gap toward greater connectivity and realizing the shift in skills and employment.

For the Y20, additional challenges associated with the theme include the “absence of an international legal framework” (pg. 11) on the internet, in addition to the danger automation poses to young people in the labour market. In the case of the G20, major issues included addressing the gender digital divide as part of the “#eSkills4Girls” Initiative, and to a certain extent cyber security as outlined in the G20 Action Plan.

Comparative Analysis
Of five recommendations put forward by the Youth 20 Dialogue, four were echoed within the G20 Leaders’ Declaration. There is a strong sentiment that countries must ensure universal digital access, promote digital literacy and skills, strengthen security related to the use of information and communications technology (ICT), and see that digitalization is leveraged to improve public administration and service delivery.

Interestingly, whereas the Y20 took a very strong stance on net neutrality and the unacceptable practice of censorship and restriction on the internet, the G20 leaders’ document fell short of explicitly decrying repressive online controls. Instead, it reaffirmed support for the “free flow of information while respecting applicable legal frameworks” (pg. 6), leaving the extent to which the internet is controlled up to each state’s policy and regulation. A further difference in approach is seen in the G20 identifying the important role of digitalization in E-commerce, SMEs, and start-ups, three areas where young entrepreneurs are often concentrated. These areas were not addressed by the Y20.

Notable Considerations
Given the fact that digitalization is such a broad topic there are a number of additional discussion points that can be explored further, including contemporary debates on the emergence of artificial intelligence, and how digital technologies are being weaponized by state and non-state actors.

Climate and Energy

Summary and Scope of Findings
Climate and energy are pressing issues that are having significant effects on the world - this is firmly emphasized by both the Y20 and G20 through a number of congruent recommendations.

Problems Identified
Climate change is identified as a premier issue by both the Youth 20 and G20 documents. While the youth explicitly say that climate change is an anthropogenic phenomenon, the G20 does not. Further, Greenhouse gas emissions are viewed by the G20 in the Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth as something to mitigate in the goal to limiting warming to “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels” (pg. 1). This aspect of the issue is not discussed by the Y20, which does not reference greenhouse gas emissions specifically.

Comparative Analysis
In general, there are many points of agreement between the Y20 and G20 regarding how to address climate and energy. These converging views involve stressing that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and should be honoured, investing in innovation and technologies for renewable and clean energy, aiding developing countries secure clean energy sources, active monitoring of international climate change agreements, and the removal of fossil fuel subsidies. While the Youth 20 Position Paper recognizes the need for market-based solutions, taking a strong stance that “the right to pollute has a cost” (pg. 15), it fails to acknowledge that tackling climate change presents an important opportunity for sustainable growth and job creation in the way that the G20 explicitly conveys. Moreover, on addressing the issue of adaptation amidst a changing climate, the G20 outcome documents lend a greater attention to infrastructure investment and shoring up risk reduction both financially and in vulnerable communities.

As an overarching approach, the leaders’ document approached the topic of climate and energy from a high-level policy dimension - focusing on investment, infrastructure, agreements, and partnerships. The Y20 took a more blended view of the issue, focusing on the macro level policies discussed, in addition to the importance of sub-state actors like cities and youth organizations in implementing the terms of international agreements. The youth also put forward recommendations that reach the local level of societies. These include the reduction of large-scale livestock production; development of a circular economy in relation to waste management; as well as the education, awareness, and participation of citizens in combatting climate change.

Notable Considerations
The topic of Climate and Energy cannot neglect references to the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement. In this case, the Youth 20 vehemently condemned the withdrawal of any state, citing that there must be punitive effects to counter any such decision. Though the G20 document did not go so far as to suggest severe measures as punishment, it did reinforce the steadfast commitment to the Agreement by all other countries, reiterating the need for full implementation.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Summary and Scope of Findings
As a successor of the Millennium Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda represents a significant and universal framework for all countries. Though differing in their approach toward including youth in the Agenda, the Y20 and G20 documents present complementary considerations for the future of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Problems Identified
Though not explicitly outlined by the Y20, the main issue identified with the 2030 Agenda is that states may not fully recognize it at the premier “social contract” (pg. 16) to structure their interactions. Additionally, with ambitious and integrated targets that are on a deadline, there are implicit concerns raised in both the G20 documents and Youth 20 Position Paper that without aggressive commitment and awareness raising the Agenda may not be fully achieved by the year 2030.

Comparative Analysis
The huge significance of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals are first and foremost acknowledged in both the G20 and Y20 documents. There are a number of synergies identified with respect to seeing robust implementation of the 169 sub-targets: intense collaboration with stakeholders, the central role of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the crucial need to finance the Goals in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and in education.

Apart from areas of overlap in commitments and recommendations, the youth declaration focuses on greater inclusion and transparency in implementation; for example, by youth participation within Major Groups and Other Stakeholders and Youth Delegate programs at the HLPF. The Y20 Position Paper also discusses the need for effective and accessible SDG monitoring systems. Within the Hamburg Update: Taking Forward the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the leaders take a differing but very comprehensive approach, instead examining a number of themes related to the 2017 G20 topics through a cross-cutting SDG lens. Collective actions, work streams, and G20 supporting documents are all outlined in the Hamburg Update to illustrate an integration of the Agenda in all facets of policy architectures.

Notable Considerations
By design, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs apply to all priorities identified by the 2017 German presidency. Within the G20 Leaders’ Declaration all four overarching themes (Sharing the Benefits of Globalization, Improving Sustainable Livelihoods, Assuming Responsibility, and Building Resilience) include at least one reference to the Agenda. Similarly, the Agenda and its corresponding Sustainable Development Goals are referenced in a number of topics within the Youth 20 Position Paper. This trend illustrates a willingness for countries to take up the Agenda as a crosscutting framework, though this must be matched with aggressive implementation of all 169 subtargets.

Women’s Empowerment

Summary and Scope of Findings
The empowerment of women and girls is fundamental to the realization of sustainable and inclusive growth. The Y20 and G20 outcomes addressed many persistent issues related to this topic, like gender based violence, employment discrimination, and the gender gap in STEM to determine how to empower women around the world.

Problems Identified
Recognizing that gender “equality is a human right” (pg. 18), the Youth 20 Position Paper clearly identifies the global gap in access to opportunities and decision-making power for women to be a massive problem. This problem manifests disproportionately in economic and political spheres. Both the G20 and Y20 assert that women need to see a full realization of their rights, but that there is more to be done in the realms of employment, education, financial access, social protections, the economy, and in eliminating all forms of violence against women.

Comparative Analysis
Presenting remedies to address women’s empowerment, both the Youth 20 Position Paper and the G20 Leaders’ Declaration pursue a people-centered approach to policy, balancing the macro and micro levels. Both groups’ documents are in general agreement that to empower women countries must: ensure equal access to the labour market and financial services, eliminate employment discrimination, reduce the gender compensation gap, provide women protection from violence, provide quality education and training (with emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM subjects), and ensure social protections.

The significant differences rest in how the Y20 and G20 address the means of securing women’s empowerment. The Youth 20 Dialogue suggests STEM scholarships, human rights and gender sensitive education, flexible work arrangements, tax credits, potential use of quotas, and robust access to sexual and reproductive health services as means to secure empowerment for women and address the many persistent barriers. Examples contained in the G20 outcome documents focus more on women’s economic empowerment, putting forward a need for greater access to digitalization and ICT for equal participation in the digital economy, in addition to efforts to bolster women’s entrepreneurship. Significant resource mobilization has been committed to these fronts, as laid out in the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative and the G20 Initiative “#eSkills4Girls:” Transforming the Future of Women and Girls in the Digital Economy.

Notable Considerations
Though not exhaustively, gender equality and women’s empowerment has been mainstreamed as an overarching theme throughout the G20 Leaders’ Declaration penetrating: Employment, Financing, Digitalization, Agenda 2030, Partnership with Africa, and Displacement and Migration.

Displacement and Migration

Summary and Scope of Findings
The impact of displacement and migration on populations can have long-term development impacts socially, intellectually, culturally, psychologically, and physically. To address these recognized challenges the Y20 and G20 outcome documents have very different policy approaches with little overlap.

Problems Identified
It is stated in the Youth 20 Position Paper that “one out of every 133 people worldwide” are displaced, being either a refugee, asylum seeker, or internally displaced person (pg. 21). Both the Y20 and G20 documents are in unanimous agreement that the world is facing historic levels of migration and forced displacement of people. Factors like political, social, and economic conditions, as well as conflict, natural disasters, and human rights violations are causing this trend. This situation is exacerbated by the smuggling and trafficking of persons across borders. The G20 leaders acknowledge there are a number of complex challenges (pg. 14).

Comparative Analysis
Within the Youth 20 outcome document, the focus is primarily on refugees and asylum seekers due to their particularly vulnerable status. The G20 document covers displacement and migration generally. Both the Y20 and G20 seek to address the root causes of displacement. To do so, the Youth Dialogue urge for the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 2250, the Paris Agreement, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The G20 seeks to address the root causes through joint global efforts and aid to fragile countries.

Whereas the G20 Leaders’ Declaration gives support and recognition of the “express sovereign right of states to manage and control their borders” (pg. 14), it does not compel a greater number of states to establish fair, transparent, and accessible asylum, refugee, or migratory pathways to ensure that displaced populations have safe routes. This differs greatly from the Youth 20 recommendations which urge countries to: define the status of climate refugees, agree on clear guidelines for fair and just asylum procedures, create legal channels for people to seek safe passage, and to share responsibility in welcoming refugee populations with appropriate levels of support. On this topic G20 documents primarily applaud countries for voluntarily accepting displaced populations, while the Y20 looks toward facilitating greater inclusion and safer passage for those fleeing instability or persecution.

Notable Considerations
This topic has become increasingly politically sensitive, especially with a number of ongoing refugee crises in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Migration can be very polarizing, and the policy approach contained within the G20 Leaders’ Declaration is indicative of the likely great difficulty in garnering consensus and clear commitments from all states.

Countering Terrorism

Summary and Scope of Findings
The ongoing threat of international and domestic terrorism is undeniable. Both the Y20 and G20 outcome documents include reference to the need to effectively combat the issue, but there is moderate consensus between their policy positions.

Problems Identified
In the Hamburg G20 Leaders’ Statement on Countering Terrorism, the leaders strongly condemn all terror attacks, referring to terrorism as a “global scourge” that must be eliminated (pg. 1). Specific concerns that the leaders address include: the return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), vulnerabilities in aviation security systems, terrorist financing, and the underlying conditions in society that terrorists exploit. It is interesting to note that none of these problems are identified within the Youth 20 Position Paper. Rather, the Y20 considers the main problems to be: lack of global citizenship education, lack of political cooperation, lack of information sharing, and the danger of isolation as a catalyst for radicalization.

Comparative Analysis
When examining the differences in approach between the leaders’ statement and Y20 document it is evident that the former’s solutions focus almost entirely on addressing the macro level. The Y20 tends to put more emphasis on the micro level of policy. For example, the prominent three areas outlined by the G20 address enhancing government-government cooperation and commitments, fighting terrorism financing, and countering radicalization on the internet. All three are examples of big-picture policy goals that tend to neglect the individual or local aspect of the issue.

In the case of the Youth 20, its recommended policies are more focused on the micro level, with local and individual considerations. Global citizenship education plays a significant role in the concept of creating a digital platform as a means of countering extremism; combining civic engagement, government resources, polling, security advice, and incentives to remain committed. The Y20 recognizes that the only way to successfully combat terrorism is through “close collaboration at the local, national, and global levels” (pg. 23). The G20 document mentions the role of civil society and other stakeholders in its agenda to eliminate terrorism, but it does so only briefly and in the very last clause. Both the Y20 and G20 present comprehensive policies, but at different levels of the policy discussion.

Notable Considerations
Countering Terrorism is not included as one of the themes addressed in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration. Throughout the document, terrorism generally is only referenced in the preamble and with respect to International Tax Cooperation and Financial Transparency.

Anti-Corruption

Summary and Scope of Findings
Corruption, a practice that is detrimental to socio-economic development, is cited by the Youth 20 as costing countries an estimated 2% of GDP annually in the form of bribery alone (pg. 25). Both the Y20 and G20 commit policies to combat the issue, with the youth focused more on transparency and engagement with civil society, and the leaders on numerous robust mechanisms to hold perpetrators accountable.

Problems Identified
There are a number of problems defined within the discussions of corruption in the Y20 Position Paper and official G20 outcome documents. As a multi-faceted issue, the Y20 regards the main problems to be the ability for corruption to thrive when citizens lack knowledge of political participation and decision-making, as well as limited transparency and access to information on government and country practices. In its comprehensive series of outcome documents (G20 Leaders’ Declaration, G20 High Level Principles on Combatting Corruption Related to Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products, G20 High Level Principles on Organizing Against Corruption, G20 High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons for Corruption, and G20 High Level Principles on Countering Corruption in Customs) related to corruption, the close relationship to organized crime and terrorism is seen as a major problem, in addition to the losses from: taxation, legal international trade, investment, and public funds.

Comparative Analysis
In the G20 High Level Principles on Countering Corruption in Customs it is recognized that “corruption can be combated effectively only as part of a comprehensive strategy that is adapted to national and local contexts” (pg. 1). This sentiment is reflected by both the G20 and Y20, though through differing means. The Youth 20 puts forward solutions to: increase civic access to government practices and information related to business and contracts, publicly list individuals and entities linked to corruption, implement peer-review mechanisms within the Anti-Corruption Working Group, and centralize country commitments to fighting corruption in an accessible G20 portal. The strategy identified by the G20 is far more comprehensive, and focuses on the high level policy and regulation that can be employed to curtail corruption in relation to: government contracts, large sporting events, in wildlife trafficking, and customs regulations in both the public and private spheres. The G20 documents also compel countries to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, an element not considered by the Y20. Broadly, the G20 takes a more nuanced approach to the issue in a number of areas, while the Youth Dialogue considered a narrow civic-minded approach to anti-corruption.

Notable Considerations
Corrupt practices affect all countries to some extent, and the commitments outlined in the outcome documents position G20 countries to be role models in fully implementing their own Anti-Corruption Action Plan. This is a challenge however, as many countries experience corruption and bribery as deeply entrenched practices in the public and private sector.

Health and Wellbeing

Summary and Scope of Findings
Global health and wellbeing is a topic that every country has a stake in ensuring, and G20 countries have a crucial role to play. On this theme, the Y20 and G20 note their priorities, with the G20 focused on physical health of populations, global health institutions, as well as preparedness. With attention to physical and mental health considerations, the Y20 includes a rights-based analysis in its policy recommendations that the G20 lacks.

Problems Identified
On the topic of global health there are a number of challenges facing countries everywhere. Between the Youth 20 Position Paper and G20 Leaders’ Declaration some of the shared, primary concerns include: cross-border health emergencies, emergency preparedness and responsiveness, and cooperative action to ethically develop the health workforce. Each document goes further to specify other problems. The Y20 further identifies mental health as well as harmful and unhealthy products, whereas the G20 specifically notes that diseases like Polio and Tuberculosis need to be eradicated, in addition to antimicrobial resistance and its growing threat to public health.

Comparative Analysis
A very strong point of convergence between G20 commitments and Y20 recommendations is in the premier role of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations as venues for establishing standards and cooperation on global health issues. Both the Youth Dialogue and the G20 Leaders’ Declaration also call for bolstered international funding to address emergency response and preparedness, sustainable global health capacities, and affordable access to medications. There is a substantial difference in the manner that the topic is further addressed by the Y20 and G20.

The Youth Dialogue utilizes a rights-based understanding in its recommendations. This includes its recognition of health as a fundamental human right rooted in universal health coverage (UHC) that ensures access to healthcare is de-linked from socio-economic and legal status of a person. The Y20 goes further to insist that countries recognize sexual and reproductive health rights and accessible services for the disabled and those with chronic health conditions as vital components of the right to UHC. This varies significantly from the contents of the G20 Leaders’ Declaration with respect to strengthening health systems. While there is a recognition of UHC as a target of the 2030 Agenda, the document fails to position universal coverage as a fundamental right for all people. Rather, the G20 document focuses more on greater collaboration on global health issues through multilateral fora as well as research and development. The latter of which is supported through the creation of a new ‘R&D Collaboration Hub’ for clinical research and development.

Notable Considerations
The absence of the inclusion of mental health and wellbeing in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration is in sharp contrast when compared to its inclusion by the Youth Dialogue. This omission, especially in light of the Y20 statement on the “burden of youth including mental health” (pg. 27) is indicative of the persistent bias that plagues discussions surrounding mental health.

References

Group of Twenty. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 Hamburg Action Plan. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 High Level Principles on Combatting Corruption Related to Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 High Level Principles on Organizing Against Corruption. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons for Corruption. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 Initiative "eSkills4Girls." Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: Hamburg Annual Progress Report on G20 Development Commitments. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: Hamburg Update Taking Forward the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017. ———. Annex to G20 Leaders' Declaration: Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. G20 Leaders' Declaration: Shaping an Interconnected World. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.
———. The Hamburg G20 Leaders' Statement on Countering Terrorism. Hamburg, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017. Youth Twenty. Y20 Germany Position Paper. Berlin, Germany: Group of Twenty, 2017.

About the author

Sandra Morrell Andrews endeavors to incorporate a global perspective in everything she does. She has travelled to over 35 countries and is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia where she completed her degree in International Relations and Political Science. As an International Development Management Fellow at the Aga Khan Foundation East Africa in Nairobi, Morrell focuses on empowering youth and civil society toward Sustainable Development Goal 8 (decent work and economic growth). As a fierce advocate for youth in the world system, she has spoken around the world about their role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and decision making. Morrell is a true internationally-minded young leader- time zones and borders are no limit. She has represented young people six times at the United Nations and has held positions with both Global Affairs Canada and the U.S. Department of State.

In August, she was a keynote speaker at the International Climate and Eco Camp in China, organized by the government’s National Development and Reform Commission. Morrell also served as Canada’s first Youth Delegate to the UN High-Level Political Forum and as Canada’s Delegate to the Youth 20 Summit. Outcomes of these engagements include her delivery of recommendations to Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Trudeau. With multiple publications, Morrell has been internationally recognized for her research on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and has won a number of leadership awards. In early 2018 she will begin working for the United Nations Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support in New York. Having worked in political, trade, and development streams, her greatest desire is to continue having a dynamic career that helps contribute to a more peaceful, equitable, and inclusive world.

DELEGATION REPORT: 2017 WB-IMF Annual Meetings

Executive Summary

This October, Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) sent five leaders to Washington DC to attend the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings and Civil Society Policy Forum. While there, the team had the opportunity to learn about the most pressing issues facing today’s global economy and the most significant challenges and opportunities concerning the 2030 sustainable development agenda. In these conversations, they were honoured to represent Canadian youth and present their thoughts and questions to experts from all sectors.   

The delegation spent five days attending sessions at the Policy Forum, the World Bank and the IMF. At the IMF, they attended a number of sessions on the future of the labour sector, which included sessions that focused on the technological innovations that will change labour markets, the skills needed to adapt to these changes, and the socio-economic impact of these innovations. Delegates attended sessions arguing the importance of liberal arts, artificial intelligence (AI) and Automation, and what these topics mean for young people today.

At the World Bank, a number of themes emerged throughout the meetings, which included financing for development, the role of women in ending poverty, and contributing to the Sustainable Development Agenda. The 2030 Development Agenda is an aspirational set of goals, targets and indicators that for many countries, even Canada, seem out of reach. During the meetings, delegates gained a much better sense of the practical challenges and effective solutions that have developed since the goals were set in September 2015.

While in Washington, the delegation was also able to set up 11 bilateral meetings. They met with World Bank and IMF staff, Canadian representatives, as well as individuals involved in the third sector. At the World Bank, they met with Dr. Mohieldin, the Senior Vice President of the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations Relations, and Partnerships. Dr. Mohieldin provided them with insight into some of the challenges in achieving the development agenda.  They also discussed Canada’s role in addressing these current gaps. They also met with Laura Tuck, the Vice President of the Sustainable Development Agenda, with whom they discussed current environmental challenges and the Bank’s approach to solving such complex issues. At the IMF, they had a chance to meet with policy advisors, as well as director from Finance Canada, to discuss the future of labour, given technological innovation.

Furthermore, the delegation met with the Hon. Marie Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister of International Development and la Francophonie, and hosted a live-streamed session. The delegation also had a chance to learn about Canadian relations with the Americas during their meeting with the Ambassador, Deputy Ambassador, and Canada’s ambassador to the Organization of American States. Similarly, in speaking with Globe and Mail Correspondent, Adrian Morrow, the team had the chance to learn more about American politics and Canada’s connection to them, including a discussion on NAFTA.

Outside of these formal institutions, the delegation also had the chance to meet with John McArthur from Brookings Institution, Ryan McMaster from the Gates Foundation, and Priyanka Divecha, from International Youth Leaders Assembly. All meetings  provided unique and valuable insight into the sustainable development agenda and Canada’s role in achieving these global goals.

Key Forum Sessions

Climate change panel.JPG

“AI, Automation and Work: Is this time different?”

James Manyika is Director of the McKinsey Global Institute. During the panel “AI, Automation and Work: Is this time different?”, he spoke about McKinsey’s approach to determining the extent to which the labour market is affected by automation, both now and into the future. Between 1993 and 2007, one third of productivity growth can be attributed to automation, and given the positive impact on GDP, this trend is likely to continue. The North American continent is particularly in need of growth in automation, due to an ageing population and lack of a promising labour market. According to Manyika, Canadians are becoming more reliant on productivity rather than labour market growth to continue driving GDP upwards and improving quality of life. Regarding the “future of work”, McKinsey’s approach involves breaking jobs down into tasks and activities, rather than looking at specific jobs as a whole. They analyzed over 800 categories of jobs involving over 2000 activities, and they looked at 18 different capabilities that would be required to do those jobs (thinking, logic, fine motor skills, grasping something, etc.), and what they found was that today, only 5% of jobs are 100% automatable, and 60% of jobs are only 30% automatable. As automation continues to grow though, we will need to rethink income sources and economic systems, and we will also need to invest in infrastructure, human capital development, education, and life-long learning. Although there will still be work for everyone from policy makers to manufacturers, we need to stop resisting the inevitable, and begin creating effective change to make sure we manage these transitions smoothly - if we want to avoid the jarring societal shock that happens when technology leaps forward and we are not ready for it.

“Augmented Intelligence: Human + Machine = Amazing”

The interesting thing about the recent technology revolution has been its ability to tackle different problems across different industries using the same methodology. Smart machines that have been taught to detect differences in data sets, outliers and unique targets represent opportunities in data analysis and data mining that could yield new information. This was further emphasised and highlighted in the Augmented Intelligence session hosted by the IMF, session where attendees were presented with a storytelling piece on IBM’s Watson, a smart computer that is capable of filling multiple roles within different sectors. Watson was first developed to compete against reigning Jeopardy champions Kat Jennings and Brad Rutter, in a bid to build the world's first smart system. Having won the competition, Watson was further developed and “taught” to become a researcher and expert on virtually any topic. It was taught to conduct literature review on the latest oncology treatment, saving physicians time. It was taught to navigate the Internet and resources to identify a user's favourite recipes, it was taught music, language, history, navigation, and education, to name a few. Watson was developed to learn algorithms and patterns that could then allow it to make recommendations and decisions on future queries.

The session presented at the IMF was highly relevant and a good indicator that older institutions are ready to take part in the conversation on technology. However, these conversation and discussions cannot be complete without the applied researchers who are involved in the development of these systems. Providing a grounded and academic perspective on the future of AI and machine learning is equally as important as the storytelling aspect. Without an understanding of the scientific method involved in experimental work or an understanding of the fact that Watson is currently an isolated event (not a mass production project) we are left with an unproportionate picture. Mass production of smart machines or Watsons is far off into the future. We are currently discovering an ability to influence and direct machines towards large databases, with the intent of extracting and identifying new information. This new information will allow us to make better decisions, more informed strategies, and in the long term, solve some of our most difficult challenges.

“Catalyzing Women’s Financial Inclusion”

We know that increasing women’s financial inclusion is not only the equitable action, it makes economic sense. This session began by noting that if India achieved gender parity, it is estimated that its GDP would increase by 27%. Despite this, there is a need for better data in order to evaluate the gender gap, and advocate for closing that gap. Tessy Vasquez Baos, an Economist with the IMF Statistics Department, presented data from the Financial Access Survey, which is the first global database gathering gender financial data. Using the case studies of Peru and Brazil, she explored some of the emerging trends in economies with more inclusive growth. Inez Murray, CEO of Global Banking Alliance for Women, expressed the need to look for other ways to gather this information in order to create policies that focus on more inclusive growth.

“Challenging Business as Usual: A Conversation Between Jim Yong Kim and Hamdi Ulukaya”

On the first day of sessions, the delegation took part in a conversation between the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim and Chobani’s Hamdi Ulukaya, where they discussed the public and organizational policies that led to the success of his business (and guide his current philanthropic work). Both noted that the rise of social enterprises have created a generation of entrepreneurial leaders actively challenging the notion of “business as usual.” They focused their discussions on three key policy issues: microfinance, income inequality, and forced displacement. Ulukaya noted that the Small Business Administration loan he received to start his business was absolutely essential. Access to capital for entrepreneurs (particularly females in developing nations), was also a big theme at the meetings. Ulukaya has received much public attention for how he treats his employees. He is especially aware of income inequality and has examined countless companies where the business was thriving but its employees were not reaping the full rewards of their labour. It is for these reasons that his plants pay workers approximately twice the minimum wage of the surrounding area. Recognizing that a living wage alone might not be enough to ensure the shared prosperity of the company and its employees, Ulukaya has made approximately 10% of the company available for profit sharing. Finally, while Ulukaya has dedicated much of his philanthropic efforts in tackling forced migration around the world, his business efforts are most intriguing. During the session, he urged corporate leaders to think beyond a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy and instead focus on doing what is ethical,  not what is strictly necessary. He critiques businesses that he perceives are doing far too little to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.  

“Pass or Fail: Are Countries Doing their Education Homework?”

The promise of education is being realized by far too few around the world and the panelists recognized that there is still much work left to do. Three themes framed the conversation: accountability, leadership capacity, and funding. First, Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, outlined his country’s approach in implementing strict accountability standards that impact students, parents, teachers, and the broader community. While these ideas are rooted in older scholarship and may not necessarily be sustainable, it is important to note the cultural and development differences between Rwanda and Western education systems. Wendy Kopp, CEO and co-founder of Teach for All, was a welcomed voice on the panel, as she discussed building up the leadership capacity of teachers and local communities. Often overlooked, sustainable education systems require thoughtful leadership that focuses on whole-system change to ensure that all students have access to quality education. Finally, Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International and Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Minister of Finance spoke strongly about the importance of funding. It is clear that education around the world isn’t being adequately funded and until government budget allocations, like Indonesia's, become the norm (the recommended 20%), good education outcomes will be increasingly hard to achieve.

“Place for Liberal Arts in an Algorithmic World”

The impact of advanced technologies on labour markets was a hot topic at the annual meetings, and the importance of STEM education was reiterated throughout the week. Less common however, was the discussion on where humanities and social sciences fit into today’s labour market. Scott Hartley, an author and venture capitalist, took the opportunity to speak about this divide.

Having studied social sciences at both Stanford and Columbia, Scott does not fit the characteristic profile of someone working in the tech sector, yet he has worked at Google, Facebook, and number of other Silicon Valley ventures. How? Diversity of thought is an asset at any organization; for companies that design machine-to-human or human-to-human technology, it is just as important to have sociology majors as it is software engineers.

The jobs of the future will require us to ask the right questions, work with machines to make ethical decisions as well as logical ones, and to bring human thought to a complex world. STEM education may sit on a pedestal today, but Scott envisions a future where HEAT (humanities, engineering, arts, and tech) is on the pedestal of tomorrow.

“Towards 2030: Trends, Opportunities, Challenges and Policies for Inclusive Growth”

The future of growth will not be like the history of growth. In the past, labour markets in developing countries have followed a predictable pattern of movement from agriculture, to manufacturing, to organized services; this model of industrialization to deindustrialization has held true for decades - but today’s economy is breaking the cycle. With increased automation, countries are beginning to deindustrialize sooner, leading to a rapid-reduction of low-skilled jobs and an increase in the demand for high-skilled labour - thereby creating a crippling labour gap. Not only does this lead to a decline in domestic productivity and economic growth, but it also tends to magnify inequality, allowing the wealth of few to grow at the expense of others. This is where the discussion of inclusive growth is most relevant.

Dani Rodrik from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard opened this discussion, and other leading experts weighed in, drawing on their experiences with international development. Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard emphasized the importance of continued education and government engagement with workers across sectors. James Manyika echoed his thoughts, but emphasized the importance of trying to close the gender gap in today’s labour force - especially in developing countries. Lastly, Gayle Smith from the ONE Campaign underscored the role of overseas development assistance in providing education. The verdict was that inclusive growth is absolutely possible, but first we must recognize that the solution to inclusive global growth, for women, for the impoverished, and for the unemployed, takes collective effort and perseverance.

“Youth Dialogue: A World Without Work”

The importance of youth voices and perspectives was highlighted throughout the IMF and World Bank meetings, particularly when discussing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was apparent that youth contributions and opinions mattered in the overall conversations, and that there was a strong desire (across all levels) to include young leaders of tomorrow. The unanswered question that remained however, was how to include them. The Youth Dialogue session was an excellent panel discussion on the future of labour, technological impacts and how young people can adapt to the changing work landscape. Interestingly, one of the SDGs is to ensure decent work and economic growth, as such it came as no surprise that the Annual Meetings were keen on engaging young people.

The Youth Dialogue session touched on a number of issues. Scientist turned entrepreneur Komal Dadlani touched on the importance of recognising opportunities. The founder of Rekindle Learning Rapeland Rabana echoed this sentiment, but also highlighted against becoming an entrepreneur for the sake of it. Lee Rainie, Director of Pew Research Centre, touched on the changing hiring landscape, while Professor Enzo Weber highlighted the urgency needed to solve the youth unemployment crisis, noting that “when you can’t get a job the first time, it will consistently follow you.” Although the panel was efficient at highlighting the key issues surrounding youth employment, what was missing was a call to action or a potential roadmap for the future. This was mentioned seldomly, only through a presentation of a smart computer named Rachel, capable of conversing with users from an emotional perspective. Machines will come to dominate, and play a role within the future of work, but how that might look like or how this would impact youth employment still remains an unknown factor.

 

Meetings Attended

David Hart and Rebekah Young - Advisors, Canada Office, International Monetary Fund

Antoine Brunelle-Côté, Finance Canada’s Director of International Policy Analysis

One of our first meetings was with Finance Canada’s office at the IMF. We met with Rebekah Young, David Hart, and Antoine Brunelle-Côté to discuss the Canada’s role as a G7/G20 country. We learned how the Canadian office is involved in macroeconomic issues and fiscal policy development, but we also learned how they advocate for gender equality, climate policy, and inclusive growth in the work of the IMF. For many years, the IMF was a “closed-door” institution, laser-focused on monetary policy. Only in the 1990s did it begin to change. New issues came to light that originally were out of their purview, and it became increasingly clear how these institutions needed to adapt and evolve in order to remain relevant.  It was really interesting to discuss this transformation with the advisors and hear them address where the World Bank and IMF still need to develop and shift.

Jennifer Loten - Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the OAS, Government of Canada

The Organization of American States (OAS) contributes to building a stable foundation for the Inter-American Human Rights System in support of diversity and pluralism. Ambassador Loten and her team support multilateral action in the Americas to advance global sustainability goals, promote democracy, and foster economic growth and opportunity. Our discussion covered three realms: diplomacy, healthcare, and gender equity.  In the area of diplomacy, we learned that Canada is able to set up meaningful conversations that matter with other countries based on our values. Our ability to connect with nations, facilitate dialogue, and advocate for results-based management and operations are some of our key strengths in the OAS. Canada’s role within the Pan-American Health Organization is also important, as we not only have a lot of money invested in treatments for vaccinations, violence against women, and mental health, but we play an essential role in the strategic management of the funds and resources themselves. Finally, Ambassador Loten advocated for gender equity (particularly in positions of leadership), and outlined the advantages of an approach to governance that respected the richness of experience that comes from both men and women. This conversation gave us a great deal to think about and we took home several insights that will inform both our professional and community work.

John McArthur - Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, The Brookings Institution

We met with John McArthur and Krista Rasmussen from the Brookings Institution to discuss Canada’s role in international development and the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs). Our conversation started out discussing their latest article entitled “Even Canada needs breakthroughs to reach UN global goals”, which points out that despite our advanced level of development, Canada is still not fully on track to accomplish any of the SDGs. Over the course of our discussion, we touched on the fact that when ranking their priorities for government spending, Canadians put international aid at the bottom, and when you combine that with negative perceptions of foreign aid, increased military spending, and other socio-political factors, it’s not surprising that we haven’t reached the internationally agreed-upon goal of contributing 0.7% of our GDP to international foreign aid. There’s no question that Minister Bibeau, Prime Minister Trudeau and many others in government are contributing their voices towards multilateral cooperation and foreign aid, and this is a very important factor to consider.  However, we are also still in need of more precise metrics to measure our progress towards the SDGs. Moreover, the Canadian government needs an effective way of informing the public of the benefits of foreign aid, in order to get the necessary resources. Our final question for the Brookings team was on youth involvement, and whether our impact was real or minimal. The response was extremely positive. We were told to always engage and participate, and that the first steps towards creating effective change is having a seat at the table. Debates will happen, and people will disagree with us, but it’s up to youth to challenge the beliefs of decision-makers, since the SDGs require support from every age group. Furthermore, by 2030, it will be us who have the decision-making power. As members of the youth community, we create our own future, so it’s up to us to take every opportunity we get to have our voices be heard, because the more we do, the more we gain the ability to contribute, rather than remaining marginalized characters.

Laura Dorling, Marie-Eve Desrochers, and Umesha de Silva - Advisors to Christine Hogan, Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean at the World Bank

At the World Bank, we had the opportunity to connect with three of Christine Hogan’s (Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean at the World Bank) advisors at the World Bank - Umesha de Silva, Maria-Eve Desrochers, and Laura Dorling. Going into the meeting, we wanted to answer two questions: (1) what is Canada’s role in global development at the World Bank? and (2) what is the role of youth and how can young people become more involved?

Answering the first question, we learned that Canada is a key partner in bringing together the public and private sector - both in terms of capital and capabilities. As the World Bank has become increasingly focused on using disruptive technologies in international development, the role of the Canadian private sector has grown exponentially. With that, Christine Hogan’s office looks for technology and products that can be utilized in developing countries, and specifically in World Bank projects. For Canada, being proactive on this front is also being impactful - something invaluable in and of itself.

When it comes to the role of youth, we heard a diverse array of answers that were echoed at other meetings throughout the week. Namely, youth should actively send suggestions, push leaders to think critically about issues that matter, and be patient, but persistent. These actions have a greater impact than most young people likely realize. Our greatest takeaway from this meeting came with the last comment from Marie-Eve: “Just by being here, being interested, and being engaged, you will have an impact.”

Laura Tuck - Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank

Our objective in meeting with Laura Tuck was to learn more about how the World Bank Group approaches sustainable development, what its priority areas are, and Canada’s role in climate change and resilient infrastructure. Ms. Tuck urged us to carefully consider how we define “sustainable development” and note that banks’ priorities for the last 2 years have focused on: Agriculture; Climate Change; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience, Transport and ICT; and Water. That being said, approximately half of her department’s efforts are focused on climate mitigation and response and adaptation out of sheer necessity (i.e. the bank’s responses to natural disasters). It is here that Canada and our Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Catherine McKenna, are great partners with the World Bank Group. Our country’s leadership on issues like carbon pricing and blended finance ensure that we are doing our part to create a more resilient and sustainable world. However, there are still policy-based and political challenges that remain. How do we navigate the tenuous line between closing down coal plants and protecting the workers of that industry? Our meeting confirmed that we do not possess the answers to these questions - yet. However, with the use of technology, metadata, and analytics, Ms. Tuck assured us that the World Bank Group, in partnership with developing and developed countries, are actively working on projects that support the broader economic, environmental and social resilience of communities around the world.

Mahmoud Mohieldin - Senior Vice President for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, World Bank

Mahmoud Mohieldin described the three key areas of the Bank’s work: finance institution, data knowledge and implementation, and how each of these areas connect with his work on the 2030 Development Agenda.  In discussing the role of the bank as a financial institution, he spoke about the need for private sector involvement and to desegregate financing.  He highlighted private-public partnerships as being an area where the Bank can be doing much more. When he spoke about implementation, he focused on the need for localization of the goals, and the case of Colombia in particular, where each community is assessing their own needs at a grassroots level and considering the SDGs in deciding where to invest. When we asked him about Canada’s role in achieving this agenda, he spoke about the opportunity for Canada to set an example through its plan for financing the SDGs, that other countries can use as a template.

The Honourable Marie Claude-Bibeau - Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Government of Canada

We had the chance to meet with Minister Bibeau to discuss Canada’s international development work. During the live-streamed meeting we asked her about Canada’s feminist international development policy and heard about the gap Canada is filling through its support of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).  She also spoke about Canada’s efforts to include youth in its development policy, particularly in Africa, where there are 200 million people aged 15-24 - it is essential for development, peace and security that these young men and women have equal chances of opportunities.

Priyanka Divecha - Program Coordinator, International Young Leaders Assembly

We spoke with Priyanka Divecha to learn more about the International Young Leaders Assembly, which is a program she is involved in, which unites youth from all over the world. The program is similar to Young Diplomats of Canada’s delegations in some ways, but its structure is more complex, as it encompasses youth from all corners of the globe. It was great to hear more about the program, as it seemed like an excellent opportunity that some of us may be interested in pursuing in the future. She also discussed the complexity of involving young people in these types of events. She spoke to us about her own experience at the ECOSOC Youth Forum, where they had a discussion around the participation of youth and whether it is tokenizing, as well as the possibilities surrounding young people and their involvement in the organization.  

Ryan McMaster - Canada Relations Lead, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

During our meeting with Ryan McMaster, we discussed Canada’s International Assistance spending and the gaps that currently exist. We discussed the role of private, public and nonprofit sectors in working to fill this gap, the progress that has been made, as well as what still needs to be done. Ryan was able to provide us with a unique perspective, drawn from his experiences working directly with the Canadian government, the CSO community, and private sector partners. The common thread through the conversation was that there is a lack of political will within Canada to support international assistance.  Ryan also spoke about the Gates Foundation’s work in supporting innovation and technological solutions to development challenges, particularly in the health sector.
 

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Delegate Reflections

JASON

My application to attend the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings was important for two reasons. First, the invitation represents the culmination of two years of professional growth in policy work pertaining to all orders of government. I could not pass up the opportunity to wrestle with the policy issues that impact the sustainability and overall prosperity of the developing world. Second, as a community-minded individual already representing organizations like the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers and the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada), my hope was that the trip would expand my social network in ways that facilitate greater collaboration in finding solutions to the world’s complex problems.

My interdisciplinary background and professional consulting experience were invaluable at the Annual Meetings. The World Bank Group has learned that governments alone will not be able to meet the conditions set by the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, there is a great need for the bank to leverage private sector capital (both operationally and financially) in concert with the public sector and civil society organizations. It is my hope that my interdisciplinary research will uncover the key leadership characteristics needed for these partnerships to build capacity and sustain their system-level innovations.

The biggest benefit I received was mentorship and support for my research in meetings with extraordinary individuals from Canada and around the world. They advised me on potentially joining the foreign service, ways in which my policy knowledge could be leveraged within government, and broadened the potential applications of my work. I hope to promote this opportunity to the International Relations program and broader graduate student community at my home institution so that they can apply to this competition themselves. The University of Calgary is filled with diverse and talented individuals (many of whom I’ve taught), who should pursue this opportunity to represent their country on the world stage.

MERYAM

Coming from an academic and scientific background, it was such an interesting and illuminating experience to learn about Canada’s foreign policy role and the importance of data for validating results. As a graduate student and a follower of the scientific method, data has always been paramount to forming conclusions, as such it was exciting to see institutions such as the World Bank and IMF highlight the importance of data in driving decisions. I am excited to see the role that technology will play in solving some of the world’s toughest challenges, especially with regards to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). After meeting with Vice President of the SDGs, Mahmoud Mohieldin, I believe that it is important for Canada to contribute in the success of these goals, not only from a national level, but to also lead by example and encourage international involvement and active participation.

Taking part in these sessions, I was able to observe female executives and their experiences. As Christine Lagarde noted: “a sense of humor and some confidence has helped me along the way”. Gender dynamics within the professional workplace was particularly important to me, and I believe highlighting the inefficiencies related to bringing more women to senior leadership positions is necessary. Having spent sometime researching and writing about the “leaky pipeline effect” that most professional women face, it was interesting to observe them thrive in the field. Diversity is paramount to the development of global policies, and all professionals (i.e., policy makers, law makers, academics), should be invited at the table when developing respective guidelines.

Finally, it has been a great learning experience overall, being able to meet with other delegations from across the globe. Learning about other people's hopes, aspirations and obstacles has given me the opportunity of experiencing this conference from a global perspective.

ERIKA

My motivation in applying to participate on this delegation was to ask questions around the 2030 Development Agenda and Canada’s role in achieving it. After working in the international development sector for a few years I am all-too familiar with some of the challenges of implementing the goals. I wanted to attend the meetings to raise those difficult questions. What I found during my experiences at the Bank was pleasantly surprising. Much of what I wanted to raise was already on the table. At a few points during our trip, we heard Bank staff, among others say, the Bank is not what it was in the 1980s. The World Bank Group is keeping up with where the world is going, with a critical eye on how it can contribute to shaping the world for the better. It was reassuring to see that climate change was the theme of many conversations; that the role of women and girls was brought up time and time again; and that innovative financing was on the top of everyone’s minds. I was also pleased to find that in representing youth voices, our participation felt meaningful and valued.

This experience will, without a doubt, greatly impact my future goals and career ambitions. My time in Washington has already opened up unexpected doors for me and I’m confident that it will continue to do so. To have the chance to sit in a room with experts from every corner of the world was an incredible opportunity. Through bilateral meetings and sessions, I had the chance to discuss my research interests and receive guidance and mentorship from global leaders.

Now it’s time for Canada to fit itself into these development efforts so it can continue to act as a leader on the global stage. It is essential that youth are involved in this process. My message to other Canadian youth would be to continue to engage globally, push Canada to do the same, and to demand a seat at the table. Your voice matters and the experts want to hear from you.  

BEN

The World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings were a one-of-a-kind experience that I am extremely grateful I was able to participate in. I have been deeply involved in startups, tech, and entrepreneurship for my entire professional life, so the public sector was something that was completely foreign to me. I’ve always been interested in global issues and youth involvement, but I never officially studied political science or international development, so when I heard about Young Diplomats of Canada, I saw it as the perfect way to gain firsthand insight into the public sector, increase my knowledge and understanding of global issues, and drive youth involvement. The other major reason that I was extremely motivated to apply was that I’ve come to believe that to truly effect positive change, the strongest and most effective means of doing so comes from cross-sectional partnerships between public and private sector.

The experience was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Not only did I learn way more than I had even thought possible, but having these side meetings and really spending time with these prominent civil servants was extremely inspiring. I look forward to taking the lessons learned both from them and from the larger panels or talks, and applying them to my professional life.

My biggest takeaway was the sheer volume of work that still needs to be done to achieve gender parity, and more specifically, what the economic factors are in this situation. I always knew that gender equality was something that needed to be worked on, but the IMF, World Bank, McKinsey, and others gave talks that truly broke down each and every aspect to make it absolutely clear how urgent an issue it is. Since returning home, I have spoken with several female entrepreneurs in Toronto, and look forward to working with them on some initiatives to increase women’s involvement in entrepreneurship. There was several other meaningful takeaways around subjects ranging from climate change to artificial intelligence, but I think the another topic that was extremely impactful was around youth involvement. We were treated with the utmost respect from everyone we met with. Our voices were heard, our opinions were acknowledged, and I felt that we were given much more than just a seat at the table. It is extremely uplifting to know that these prominent political figures have no illusions about what the future holds, and that over the next 20 years, it will be us who will be gaining the decision-making power, and it will be up to us to continue on the missions that they have started now, like the 2030 sustainable development goals. I hope to return to the annual meetings and go to other global political events in the future!

GRANT

As someone with a keen interest in economic development, public and private markets, and international affairs, the opportunity to attend the annual meetings of the World Bank (WB) and IMF quickly caught my eye. It is one thing to follow the work of an institution from afar, but it is another to be present and see things firsthand - I applied to be a YDC delegate for precisely this reason.

Attending the annual meetings was an incredible personal and professional development experience. In the past I have had the chance to engage with trade organizations, political bodies, and academic institutions, but never all at the same time on the world stage. See, the annual meetings provided an unparalleled forum for discussion and networking: I attended roundtables hosted by world experts, met with the best and brightest Canadians in Washington, and had dinners with other youth delegations from around the globe. Before travelling to Washington D.C., my scope of experience and interest had largely been limited to Canada, but my perspective and interests have since expanded to an international scale.

As far as takeaways, I learned three things: in international development, the secret to getting ahead is getting started; for young people, simply being at the table is half the battle in having your voice heard on the world stage; and for Canada, our global reputation as a trusted, respected nation is something to be proud of and build on in all that you do.

DELEGATION REPORT: 2017 WTO Public Forum

DELEGATES
Eashan Karnik
, Head Delegate
Helen Hanbidge, Media & Communications Coordinator
Katie Wynen
Louis Gauvreau
Sebastian Muermann
Lauren Webber

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


This September, Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) sent six young leaders to Geneva, Switzerland as members of the YDC Delegation to the World Trade Organization’s Public Forum 2017. This three-day forum brought academics, parliamentarians, trade spokesmen, and corporate & civil society representatives from around the globe to discuss major trade issues and present solutions. The YDC Delegation consisted of: Head Delegate, Eashan Karnik; Media & Communications Coordinator, Helen Hanbidge; Katie Wynen; Louis Gauvreau; Sebastian Muermann; and Lauren Webber. This diverse group of young Canadians hold professional backgrounds in trade policy, climate action, food security, finance & investments, and global affairs.  

With over 100 workshops and working sessions held in the span of the 3-day conference, the delegation attended a variety of panel discussions on topics that covered everything from international trade issues, to the effects of specific industries in select countries. After an initial plenary session that opened the Forum, attendees were free to join the many sessions offered which provided insight and elaboration on issues facing trade today. The diversity of our delegation is obvious in the array interests evident in each delegate’s session selections. Some panel discussions, such as those conducted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the WTO, were attended by the entirety of the delegation and live-streamed on social media. During breaks, the delegation congregated to discuss topics and thoughts on attended sessions. 

Prior to arriving in Geneva, our delegation discussed connecting and engaging with Canadian youth to hear their thoughts on trade as to better represent them at the WTO. A survey was created by the Media & Communications Coordinator which was distributed to several networks for maximum exposure. The findings of this survey were analyzed to show where the interests of Canadians lie regarding issues facing the economy, indigenous groups, women, and the environment. This analysis was used, in connection with the knowledge gained from the sessions, to create recommendations for the WTO and YDC.  

In addition to attending the sessions, our delegation had the opportunity to meet with Ambassador Stephen de Boer of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the WTO. After an initial breakfast meeting with Canadian diplomats, lobbyists, and foreign service workers at the Mission’s residence, the delegation joined the Ambassador for a private discussion on issues facing Canadian trade as well as youth participation at the WTO. During the Forum, individual delegates took the opportunity to meet with various representatives in organizations such as United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations in Geneva, as well as delegations from other nations. 

The successes of this delegation included having the opportunity to meet with the Canadian Ambassador to the WTO, as well as being able learn more about international trade and its effects on local populations and under-represented groups. The delegation shared challenges on securing high-level meetings, seeing transparency and value in certain areas of the WTO’s governance, and being strategic in sessional attendance. While delegates found value in attending the Public Forum 2017, recommendations were made for improvement for future delegations to the WTO. 


KEY FORUM SESSIONS ATTENDED

Session 2: “How Trade Can Help Achieve Sustainable Development Goal #5 - Gender Equality”
Session 2, on “How Trade Can Help Achieve Sustainable Development Goal #5 - Gender Equality,” offered an interesting analysis of the amendment to the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which added a chapter acknowledging the importance of incorporating a perspective on gender to trade agreements. Indeed, during some trade negotiations, there is increasingly a move towards the consultation of women’s groups and the inclusion of chapters on gender. However, as Counsellor Don McDougall of Canada’s Permanent Mission to the WTO highlighted, there are also issues with gender-based data collection and analysis related to trade. Other panelists, including Leslie Griffin of UPS, argued that regardless of whether chapters on gender are included in free trade agreements, women should be able to more easily identify their businesses as women-owned. Ultimately, to truly achieve Sustainable Development Goal #5, it is important that women be included in all conversations on trade and not just those that explicitly relate to gender.

Session 17: “Will Protectionism Trump Inclusive Trade? Why protectionist policies are on the rise in the developed world and the potential impact on the international economic system.”
Aside from a not-so-subtle play on words, this session was an objective and critical analysis of protectionist sentimentalities and their relation to trade and the economy. By investigating specific nations and their relationship with protectionism, the panel was able to enlighten the attendees with a holistic demonstration of the challenges that stem from isolationist trade practices. Protectionist policies may seem valuable to those within the nation, but their impact on trade systems and relief systems abroad must be considered and confronted. With globalization affecting the global economy, protectionist policies may reverse the tides of cultural and economic intersectionality. This session was a particular favourite as it addressed a leading and highly controversial issue with an academic lens that provided the audience with lots to ponder.  

Session 18: “Trade Policy: Unlocking opportunities for women”
In light of Canada’s focus on feminist foreign policy and gender-based analysis, gender-focused sessions and particularly those considering best practices in considering gender impacts in trade were among the most valuable sessions of the WTO Public Forum. The first, Trade Policy: Unlocking Opportunities for Women (moderated by Canadian ambassador to the WTO Stephen De Boer) focused on the idea that including women in international trade is beneficial to economies as a whole. While there were debates as to how best to implement this idea (including questioning whether standards are set high enough to ensure they have an effect), the overwhelming consensus was that governments and advocates need to fight against an unwillingness to act and convince practitioners and businesspeople that increasing female participation in trade actually increases “the size of the pie” to be shared through trade.

Session 40: “Can gender-sensitive trade policies hinder the spread of anti-globalisation movements”
Building on these ideas, a later session on gender-sensitive trade policies co-hosted by UNCTAD and the Government of Sweden discussed best practices in considering gender in making trade a tool for sustainable development (and building toward UN Sustainable Development Goal #5, increasing Gender Equality). Simonetta Zarrilli of UNCTAD presented their organization’s gender toolbox, a set of questions and exercises that allow policy-makers to ask “what would happen to women if a given trade policy were implemented?”. By considering the direct effects of trade decisions on vulnerable and underrepresented groups like women, trade agreements and domestic policies can better determine how to mediate these effects and work toward more inclusive trade policies.

Session 43: “Out of the Box: Innovative Partnerships for Inclusive Trade”
Inherently, the World Trade Organization’s mandate is to encourage partnerships between states and other stakeholders to increase economic growth. In Session 43, the panelists discussed unique partnerships developed by some organizations to make trade more innovative. As Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre described, trade should do three things: 1) Be more transformative; 2) Generate sustainable shared benefits, and; 3) Integrate social, economic, and environmental considerations. This means, according to the panel, that any partnerships for inclusive trade should guarantee decent work and ensure benefits to trade are shared by all. To achieve this kind of radical transformation, there should be systemic partnerships between businesses, governments, and other stakeholders who work together to provide leadership on more sustainable and inclusive trade.

Session 72: “The Truths About Regional Integration: NAFTA as a Living Example of the Benefits and Challenges of Regional Trade Agreements”
This session was particularly insightful as it shed light on a current and controversial trade topic heavily affecting Canadians and our North American neighbours. With speakers from Mexican non-profits and think-tanks, the panel addressed how regional trade agreements can bring forth challenges in tandem with any benefits. Focusing on the meat, textile, and aircraft industries and how NAFTA has impacted them, the speakers discussed how future changes in the NAFTA agreement can solve issues. While talk of improvements was littered throughout the session, unsurprisingly, the bulk of the panel remained resolute on the idea of NAFTA remaining the primary trade agreement between the three nations.

Session 74: “Testing the legitimacy of global trade: What works, what needs work?”
In Session 74, on the legitimacy of global trade, there was significant discussion around new technologies and their effects on the trade policies. From ecommerce to intellectual property, markets are changing and states need to have better domestic policies to benefit from them. During this panel, the Young Diplomats of Canada delegation was able to discuss how cooperation and collaboration can drive capacity-building for SMEs and even for developing countries with Anabel González, a Senior Director with the World Bank Group. As one panelist concluded, “It’s not very fashionable, but multilateralism is something we need [to improve the legitimacy of global trade].”


SURVEY ENGAGEMENT AND ANALYSIS


Prior to attending the 2017 WTO Public Forum, the Young Diplomats of Canada circulated a survey to learn more about the priorities and interests of young Canadians with regard to trade and international policy. This data was used to help inform our priorities as a delegation, particularly with regard to the questions asked in key sessions and meetings and in the sessions we chose to attend as delegates. 

As a whole, participants demonstrated a desire for more open trade agreements and relationships for Canada. Participants were also concerned with the intersection of trade and environmental and social concerns, with particular attention paid to inequalities and environmental considerations. This proved an informative way of learning more about the priorities of the many young Canadians who were not able to attend the Public Forum and, with more time to engage, would recommend similar engagement in the future. Over the course of the week leading up to the WTO Public Forum, here is what participants shared with us:

When asked what issues they think are of greatest importance to Canada today, 67.8% of participants ranked environment and climate change among their top concerns. 

When asked about their priorities for Canada in trade, the top three answers were “ensuring trade agreements include environmental considerations”, “increasing free and open trade”, and “increasing trade relationships outside of North America”.

When asked about their top concerns in trade and economics, nearly fifty percent of respondents selected either addressing socioeconomic and income inequality (28.8%) or job availability and stability (20.3%).

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In terms of the composition of survey participants, respondents ranged broadly in age (with Canadians between 18 and 30 targeted) and represented numerous regions of Canada (with a majority responding from Ontario). Respondents were largely students or employed full time, and respondents represent a variety of minority or underrepresented groups.

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RECOMMENDATIONS

1. A constant theme of the WTO Public Forum was the challenge of promoting trade and its benefits in an increasingly protectionist world. And yet, youth, who will be the ones most impacted by the development of trade policies and trade agreements, are very rarely included in conversations about trade policies.

In order to better engage youth in the development of trade policy, international organizations like the WTO, governments, and other stakeholders should:

  • Ensure that youth voices are included in events like the WTO Forum and Ministerial Conferences;
  • Further develop initiatives like ‘Business Women in International Trade’ to support historically marginalized groups that have not always been a part of the development of trade policies;
  • Increase engagement with youth on social media through technologies such as livestreams;
  • Continue collaboration with educational and business communities to ensure the benefits of trade are more adequately understood, and;
  • Allow delegates representing youth and other marginalised groups input on trade negotiations.

2. The WTO Public Forum has consistently gathered leaders and representatives from around the world. The panels, workshops, working sessions, and plenaries hold discussion on the future of trade and how it can be improved. While the Forum primarily serves as a method of educating the public and creating transparency, having such a diverse group of individuals representing various countries and perspectives creates a gold-mine of knowledge and debate. 

With this in mind, the WTO should utilize the discussion held during the 3 days of this Public Forum to build a Comprehensive Report that:

  • Addresses trade issues affecting the global market;
  • Discusses potential solutions that address these issues;
  • Consolidates and analyzes the panels and discussion that took place at the WTO during the Forum;
  • Provides recommendations and improvements for future Forums.

DELEGATION REPORT: 2017 YOUTH 20 SUMMIT

Photo credits: Bundesregierung / Steffi Loos

Photo credits: Bundesregierung / Steffi Loos

1. Summary of Clauses

Over the course of the Youth 20 Summit, Canada’s delegates were integral parts of the
Working Groups for Climate and the 2030 Agenda. Both spoke on behalf of their Working
Groups at the Federal Chancellery, delivering policy recommendations to Chancellor
Merkel.


Under the 2017 German G20 Presidency, a total of fifteen topics were identified as
priorities to be discussed. Over the course of the 2017 Youth 20 Summit 73 delegates from
31 countries convened in Berlin to discuss eleven themes under the broad topics of
Assuming Responsibility, Building Resilience, and Improving Sustainability. Each of the eleven
themes were negotiated and presented in the final Communiqué, as well as to Chancellor
Merkel, and the Canadian delegation finds the following six areas to be priority for the
youth population in Canada.


Climate & Environment
 We stress an absolute commitment by all countries to the Paris Accord and firm
condemnation of the American withdrawal from the agreement. We recognize that
climate is an urgent priority that requires action.
 We recognize the need to empower and employ market-based solutions to
environmental problems when appropriate. States must be aware that the right to
pollute has a cost. The fight against climate change should be compatible with the
development of efficient solutions, including carbon emission trading, the removal
of subsidies for oil and gas industries, and punitive taxes.


2030 Agenda
 We believe that states must incorporate the Agenda’s framework through formal
and non-formal education systems. This includes embedding the SDGs in curricula
for children, civil society programming, and through youth trainings.
 We acknowledge that the core function of the HLPF is to openly monitor and review
progress and that states should be open and transparent during their National
Voluntary Reviews. Further, countries should include official UN Youth Delegates
and co-authors at all stages of the process.
 We urge states to create SDG monitoring system by establishing national indicator
frameworks that clearly and publicly communicate a country’s progress toward the
Agenda 2030.


Empowering Women
 We see a great need for young women and men to better reconcile work-family
responsibilities through integrated policies that range from childcare facilities and childcare subsidies, to parental leave schemes that enable and encourage men to
increasingly contribute to care and family work.
 We want to ensure that educational curricula for both girls and boys include human
rights and gender sensitive education, along with essential skills for economic
empowerment including leadership, problem-solving, financial literacy, self-esteem,
digital literacy, and entrepreneurial skills.


Digitalization
 We consider the absence of an international, universal legal framework on the
internet including management and rules regulating the conduct of states and non-
state actors in cyberspace to be concerning.
 We urge states to commit to universal digital access for all, especially among the
population in developing states. Governments and the private sectors should
cooperate to narrow the digital divide by increasing connectivity, investing in
infrastructure, and fostering growth.
 We recognize that it is vital for states to strongly commit to refraining from
censorship and placing restriction on internet freedoms.


Global Trade
 We reiterate that the basis for inclusive trade is rules-based trading systems.
Member states should refrain from unilateralism and act within the framework of
the WTO, which ensures an equal, level playing field for all countries.
 We acknowledge that trade must benefit all, so states must empower communities
in international trade, especially youth and women, through funding for
infrastructure, human capacity building through education, and vocational trainings.
 We urge countries to take a more citizen-oriented approach by conducting inclusive
outreach programs and training to greater integrate civil society, businesses and
MSMEs in international trading systems.


Displacement
 We the delegates voice concern for anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment around
the world, and reinforce the need for proactive policies that not only counter
extremist views but position countries to be far more ambitious in their
commitment to taking in displaced populations.
 We consider a holistic, cross-cutting approach to be vital for successful policies that
support the long-term autonomy of young asylum-seekers and refugees.
 We believe in the right to inclusive and quality education for all refugees during the
asylum process, in addition to access to services for well-being. This includes access
to both mental and physical health treatment.

2. Discussion on Domesticating Clauses


Climate & Environment

Summary:
The plan of action developed by the Y20 is threefold. First, an absolute commitment
to the Paris Accord and the involvement of sub-state actors to avoid a domino effect after
the United-States withdrawal. Second, the empowerment of market-based solutions to
environmental problems. Third, make education and youth involvement a pillar of the fight
against climate change.


Context and Importance:
 Because of the international character of climate change, the solution can only be
developed through international cooperation. Keeping in mind the withdrawal of
the United-States of the Paris Accord, Canada needs to avoid a domino effect at the
international level.
 While the Canadian government is already providing technical, legislative and
financial resources to public and private stakeholders in the fight against climate
change, the private sector is still poorly involved and opposed to most government
interference. We believe market based solutions are the best way forward to
reconcile a strong market economy and a protected environment.
 Climate change is now a daily reality for the youth. Current and future education,
formal and informal, should reflect that reality and educate furthermore the youth
in the fight against climate change. But because they will deal with its long-term
consequences, the youth should also be involved in the development and
implementation of those solutions.


Critique of Policy Options:
 Climate agreements cannot be legally binding. Yet Canada can do more when
involving sub-state actors, and especially indigenous populations. They are
generally left behind in the discussion for new pipe-line, for example.
 Canada has already a great expertise in market-based solutions. The current carbon
market between Quebec, British-Columbia and California has proven its efficiency,
both economical and environmental. But it is still very much the matter of regional
government, and we note a lack of involvement from the federal government.
 The youth is generally considered as a population to educate, but not to learn from.
At most they are involved in the consultation and development of policies. While
raising awareness and educating the youth to climate change should continue, they
are to become relevant stakeholders in the implementation of future climate-related
policies.       
                           

Policy Recommendations:
 In future climate negotiations, we need to increase the number of relevant
stakeholders by involving sub-state actors, such as cities, regional governments,
youth organizations and religious institutions. As a result, any attenuation of a
national government support, like the recent US withdrawal from the Paris Accord,
will not indicate the complete withdrawal of the state. A more integrated system of
implementation will also strengthen the long-term feasibility of such agreements.
We also have a responsibility of involving a lot more national and foreign
indigenous populations in climate negotiations, as they are often the first victims of
its effects.  
 Carbon emission trading should be extended to other Canadian regions and
territories, with the help and support of the federal government. It could also be
extended to interested American states still committed to the Paris Accord. Canada
could in the future also push for the implementation of an international price for
carbon emission, just like an internationally accepted price for petroleum, to go
beyond regional trading systems.
 We need to create and support formal and informal education programs that
develop environmental awareness from a young and impressionable age, by
incorporating information regarding climate change and the environment into
curricula. Youth engagement and awareness about climate change and its
consequences can be increased also by organizing various competitions and
activities, eventually sport-related, nationally and internationally. Also, a youth
component should become the norm in climate policies.
 

Agenda 2030

Summary:
Canada, along with 192 other countries, has recognized the importance of the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development as an overarching and universal framework for all.
However, with only 13 years left to reach the Sustainable Development Goals we must do
more. To address this, the Y20 delegates urge the government to commit to reporting on
Canada’s progress through a Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the High-Level Political
Forum (HLPF), create a permanent Youth Delegate program for the HLPF, institute ‘SDG’
checks for all new legislation, collect and publicly display disaggregated data on SDG
progress, and increase Overseas Development Assistance to no less than 0.7% of GNI.

Context and Importance:
 In order to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 sub-targets
Canada must recognize that they are universal and require uptake within all levels
of society, including on a national, provincial, and local level. This requires a shifted
focus and bottom-up approach. Without engaging all of society and stakeholders,
Canada will not be able to reach its targets. Youth are a particularly important group
to empower toward the Agenda, as they have direct access to the local levels and are
the next (and current) generation of policy makers and leaders.
 There is a limited amount of time left to reach the Agenda, and there is a very real
possibility of not fully reaching the targets if the necessary political will is not
mobilized to finance the Goals, take action both domestically and internationally,
and educate civil society on their role in implementation. Without the necessary
data and indicators to track our progress, we as a country will not have the
necessary information to evaluate if we are on track or falling behind.


Critique of Policy Options:
 Canada has participated in the HLPF, but has yet to present or announce when it
plans to undertake the VNR process at the United Nations in front of other member
states and stakeholders.
 For the first time ever, Canada included two Civil Society Organization(CSO)
Delegates and two Youth Delegates in its official delegation to the 2017 HLPF. This is
progress. However, there is no formal, annual program for including these
important stakeholders in the delegation. Currently, the process for selection is not
transparent, and any preparation for the stakeholders within the delegation is not
robust enough. There is also no consultation or structure for these delegates.
 The legislature hosts a number of Parliamentary Committees which fall within the
various areas of the SDGs. However, no one Committee can cover the SDGs and all
169 sub-targets. This can leave a space between legislation and government affairs
that is not in line with Canada’s obligations contained within the 2030 Agenda-
Canada could actively be passing legislation and deciding policy that contradicts the
Goals. Without a body or ‘check’ to ensure that Canada’s laws do in fact meet the
requirements of the SDGs, our progress could be severely limited.
 Presently, Canada has not published or indicated it has finalized an indicator
framework to measure our level of attainment of the SDGs. Without a plan to
measure each indicator, Canada will not be prepared to present its VNR in the next
two years. Further, NGO, CSO, and academic actors should be aware of what
indicators are being used to measure the SDGs in Canada in order to focus their
expertise on areas of work that will contribute to national targets related to the
Goals.
 In 2016 Canada’s ODA rested at 0.26% of GNI. This level of funding is not sufficient if
the Sustainable Development Goals are to be met by 2030. While this number does not take into account the amount of money slated for domestic development, it still
is not enough of a contribution and significantly hampers progress toward the Goals.


Policy Recommendations:
 Canada should reaffirm that the HLPF is the premier body for all progress reporting
related to the Sustainable Development Goals, and that the event is integral to
sharing knowledge and best-practices between states. In doing so, Canada must
commit to presenting its VNR in 2018 or 2019 in order to remain transparent in its
progression and to share best practices. Full participation at the United Nations
throughout the process is imperative.
 Formalize the integration of CSO and Youth Delegates on the official country
delegation to the HLPF, and carry out their selection through a transparent process
at least three months prior to the HLPF. Include these CSO and Youth Delegates as
co-authors during the writing process of the VNR report that will be presented at
the HLPF in the next two years. Include a Youth Delegate and CSO Delegate in the
presentation phase of the VNR during the HLPF, and ensure that their views are
taken into account at all stages of the process.
 Create a Parliamentary Committee which has the role of evaluating proposed and
existing legislation against the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This body
should be able to determine if a piece of legislation would contradict or support
Canada’s advancement to the Goals. If a law does not complement the SDGs, the
Committee should refer to the ways in which it is deficient, and suggest possible
alterations to come into compliance with the Agenda. Parliament must take an
active role in ensuring that Canada’s laws are progressive and in line with the SDGs.
 Create transparent SDG monitoring systems by establishing national indicator
frameworks and action plans that clearly communicate Canada’s progress toward
the Agenda 2030. This information should be disseminated through an online
platform consisting of both national and global data sets on implementation. The
indicators and data should be published and regularly updated in cooperation with
Statistics Canada.
 Canada must ensure a more effective financing system for the Goals in accordance
with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, and
immediately commit to contributing no less than 0.7% of GNI for ODA. We have the
necessary funds in the world system to finance the Goals, but countries must
urgently step-up to meet the ambitious Agenda. There is significant potential for
Canada to take a leading role in implementing the SDGs, but it must be committed to
funding development assistance at a higher level.

DELEGATION REPORT: 2017 OECD Forum

Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD) Public Forum 2017 | Paris, France

Delegation
Adam Camenzuli
Sofiya Kominko
Theresa Yurkewich
Sara Elhawash
Yanish Bhoolaton
Ross Linden-Fraser

Written by Head Delegate: Adam Camenzuli

1. Executive Summary

From June 3-9, 2017, Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) sent five young Canadian delegates to attend the OECD Forum and hold meetings with Canadian and international stakeholders in Paris, France. The OECD Forum was held on June 6 & 7 and the delegation organized and met with over a dozen people/organizations before and after the OECD Forum. The delegation was led by Head Delegate, Adam Camenzuli and delegates included Sofiya Kominko (Communications Coordinator), Theresa Yurkewich, Yanish Bhoolaton, and Ross Linden-Fraser. Sara Elhawash joined the delegation as a representative of YDC.

Each member of the delegation chose his or her own sessions of interest depending on their professional background and career/personal goals. Our delegates come from very different backgrounds, ranging from government to social enterprise to law to the private sector. There were many thought-provoking panels and presentations at the OECD Forum but the Idea Factory stood out as a particular favourite of our delegation. Many of these events included a long waiting list. Accordingly, thanks go to the past YDC delegates who recommended we pre-register for them.

Our delegation organized a series of meetings with many stakeholders, both Canadian and international. We met with our Canadian representation in France including the Embassy as well as the Canadian Delegation to the OECD. We also met with many international organizations, which the team identified as organizations of interest. Although it was a very packed schedule, the team learned a lot from these meetings and we were able to extend our understanding of international policy through asking additional questions.

There were many key successes including meeting the Australian, New Zealand and Polish youth delegations before the OECD Forum itself. This helped to build relationships which carried on throughout the week. We also had a great meeting with the Canadian Embassy in Paris, the Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, the World Bank and UNESCO. 

 

2. Forum Sessions Attended & Meetings

June 3
Seymour Projects

·      Deep-dive into life/personal motivations
·      Nice introduction for the week

 

June 4
Canadian-organized intro social event

·      Great to meet other delegations to learn more about their YDC-like organizations

 

June 5
Canadian Embassy

·      Met with Ambassador Lawrence Cannon and other high-profile diplomats to learn about Canadian policy/trade in France

·      Questions included the future role of diplomats in the digital age

 

June 5
Canadian Delegation to the OECD

·      Met with lawyer/seasoned diplomat Dénis Langlois and discussed Canada’s role at OECD and future of OECD

·      Discussed possibility of adding more countries and how populism is changing the OECD
 

June 6
Morning Mindfulness

·      Introduction to OECD Forum and what want to learn and experience

·      Opening up each of us to the experience of the OECD Forum

 

June 6
Opening Session

·      Secretary General Angel Gurría discussed anniversary of Marshall Plan and that a minority reaps the benefits of globalization

·      Talked about building “social elevators” to help people benefit more from international trade and globalization


June 6
Idea Factory: Post-Truth World

·      Amazing and interactive take on how to address the issue of “fake news” with a small presentation and break-out sessions

·      Many delegates’ favourite part of the entire OECD Forum
 

June 6
Bridging Divides

·      Discussing the increasing divide in society given globalization and digitization

·      Jobs and government trust were discussed
 

June 6
Beyond Biases: What Does My Headscarf Mean to You?

·      Yassmin Abdel-Magied explained the underlying biases experienced working in construction in Australia

 

June 6
Mobile as a Mechanism to Solve the Refugee Crisis

·      Excellent examples of low-cost technology being used to have major impact (entrepreneurship education in Iraq reaching 1.5 million people)

 

June 6
Inclusive Growth and Globalization

·      Talking about formal “textbook” strategies to reduce inequality

·      Impact of Nordic “Law of Jante” on development

 

June 6
How Screen Technology Is Changing the Way We Think & Feel

·      Brain plasticity allows the brain to change over time

·      Over the span of one's life, different types of technologies may lead to changes of the brain at the neurological level (e.g. video games causing a short attention span)

 

June 6
21st Century Skills

·      Digital literacy is a necessity in a decentralized digital age

·      Equally important are digital problem solving skills–engaging with technology and also using technology to solve issues

 

June 6
The Neuroscience of Consciousness

·      Shelil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, gave a pragmatic approach as to how youth are coping with the changing landscape of traditional jobs
 

June 6
Inclusive Growth & Civil Society

·      This required registration and was limited to several different mini-groups on various topics.

·      Was placed in Rural and Urban divide and we were able to draft notes about each individual’s relationship to the topic and country

·      Also shared some ideas and policies

 

June 6
Wealth into Well-being: How Can We Measure Happiness?

·      Based on the book Life of Hygge by Meik Wiking, he talked about how tax systems in different countries affect the well-being of their citizens

·      We also discussed and compared happiness in the world and the different measurement scales of happiness

 

June 6
Tools for Empowerment

·      A good introduction to the Civic Tech Hub

·      Highly technical presentation of digital tools for policy-makers, though without some of the context that might help some of the traditionally disengaged to truly participate

 

June 6
Integrating Migrants into the Labour Force

·      Less focus here on how to integrate migrants than on how to attract the “right kind” of migrants

·      A bit disappointing, and perhaps a downside of the corporate presence and focus in parts of the Forum

 

June 6
A Fair Share – Universal Basic Income (UBI) et al

·      Here we got a real taste of what it meant to bring in divergent perspectives: a panellist (a socialist academic and proponent of UBI) who claims he never would have been invited to the Forum if populism hadn’t swept the globe

·      Expected a fiery debate, but it turned out pretty much everyone on the panel felt UBI would be useful in some form or another

 

June 6
Educating for Civic Innovation

·      Case study presentation from Sciences Po showcasing their tools for collecting the views of youth and getting students involved in French elections

·      Good to see institutions accepting that voter turnout is a product of more forces than individual choice

 

June 6
Empowering Indigenous Women

·      The panel here was properly interdisciplinary

·      People from the worlds of business, the arts, and government talking about finding tools for indigenous women to speak for themselves

 

June 6
Idea Factory: Me Myself and AI

·      This was a real chance to engage

·      Three hours locked in a room with a small number of people from all walks of expertise, culminating in a long philosophical exercise discussing how to build and manage trust with computers that think for themselves

 

June 7
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

·      Talked about Canada’s role at OECD and experiences that aided her most in her career thus far

 

June 7
MCM Keynote

·      Heard from Secretary General Angel Gurría and Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark about overall goals of Ministerial Council Meeting

 

June 7
Inclusive Entrepreneurship

·      Heard from entrepreneurs working on building products and services for the under-served

·      Focus on impact funds/incubators/accelerators

 

June 7
Anthony Zacharzewski

·      Talked about Democratic Society, a participatory democracy think tank with offices in Brussels and the UK

·      Intersection of government and civil society

 

June 7
Behavioural Economics and Nudging: Fast and Slow

·      Very interesting presentation (university-style) on how people make decisions and how the use of “nudging” people can bring about changes intended by policy

 

June 7
Inequality, Digitalisation & Competition

·      Amazing discussion on digitization of the economy and how to regulate this new economy

·      Discussion around who owns data and how to bring research to market (Denmark as an example)

 

June 7
Responsible Business Conduct

·      Interactive session with Finnish Finance Minister and Dutch Development and Trade Minister and on building good business practices (environmental/social) into policy

 

June 7
Holly Richards

·      Member of the OECD Global Parliamentary Network

·      Discussed internal politics of the OECD and the Better Life Index

 

June 7
Cashless Society and Fintech

·      Looking at Kenya/China for examples of post-cash transactions

·      Discussing whether cash will one day disappear and also debated the trustworthiness of banks/cards

 

June 7
Coding the Law

·      Session covered new technologies from smart data collection software for the agricultural industry to online readers that detect changes made to legal text

 

June 7
Citizen Led Approach to Radical Innovation

·      Mara Balestrini presented Making Sense - a civic technology empowering citizens through personal digital manufacturing, co-designing and deploying environmental sensors

 

June 7
Stocktaking on Globalization

·      Learned that important political winds against finance are due to globalization’s failure to deal with inequality

·      This complexity remains a real challenge for us as policy-makers

 

June 7
Online Engagement for Offline Empowerment

·      A great exchange between tech entrepreneurs, politicians, and OECD officials that gave us some ideas about how tools from the Forum’s Civic Tech Hub might look if put into practice

 

June 7
Ageing Readiness and Competitiveness

·      Panellists from Foreign Policy presented a study about age-friendly policies around the world

·      High marks for Nova Scotia’s emphasis on connecting rural adults with urban communities

 

June 7
Trade and Social Protection

·      The panel at this event seemed to appreciate that the public no longer approves of trade at face value, but their line of thinking (people want social protection, but they don’t want to pay for it) didn’t leave much room for accommodating public concern

 

June 7
Empowering Public Servants

·      Fascinating case studies of cooperation between public servants and tech start-ups, mostly bundled under the theme of accessibility

·      Not much information on how to make these collaborations happen

 

June 7
Better Life Index

·      Discussed the better life index initiative of the OECD

·      It uses social/civic tech to combine old and new messages of public engagement to determine what is important to society today

 

June 7
Forum Closing Session

·      Talked about future of policy and the pace of change with globalization and digitization

 

June 8
Liberté Tech Lab

·      Met with incubator with focus on civic-tech and gov-tech

·      Big focus on intergenerational, inclusive and social impact entrepreneurship

 

June 8
City of Paris

·      Presentation on participatory budgeting and differences in the various districts of Paris and how they work together along with the mayor, Anne Hidalgo

·      Discussed overall budget and initiatives like bicycle ballot boxes and citizen kiosks

 

June 8
Sylvain Giguère, Head of OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED)

·      Canadian working at OECD and discussed push for congruency with taxes across OECD countries and the emphasis on value and jobs

 

June 8
Rolf Alter, OECD Director for Public Governance

·      Amazing interactive discussion going over our personal careers and advice on the “big picture” of the OECD and thought-provoking questions for each of us

·      Definitely one of the best meetings of our trip

 

June 9
UNESCO

·      Met with Frederick (Russ) Russell-Rivoallan, a Canadian working for the Executive Board who gave us the background of UNESCO from his perspective and toured around the building

·      Also met with experts on internet freedom and human rights

 

June 9
World Bank

·      Met with Jakob Kopperud who works at the intersection of the World Bank and OECD and has expertise stretching all around the world

·      Great discussion on policy and interconnectedness of these international organizations

 

June 9
French Foreign Ministry

·      Met with North America and Canada/Quebec department heads

·      Discussed Canada-French cooperation with security, trade, culture and the success of CETA and its Quebec-French origins

 

 

DELEGATION REPORT: 2017 Youth 7 Summit

Executive Summary

The G7 Youth Summit, hosted by the Young Ambassadors Society (YAS) from May 9 - 11th in Rome, Italy, was focused on harnessing innovation to ensure inclusive, open and sustainable growth. As a notably innovation friendly country (“innovation” was mentioned 262 times in the 2017 Federal Budget) the Canadian delegation of the Y7 was a leader in sharing current concepts and best practices for encouraging and supporting innovation ecosystems.

The Final Communiqué was divided into three areas: Production Innovation, Knowledge-Based Capital and Enabling Infrastructure and the Future of Work and of Welfare Systems.

Production Innovation

Enabling a data economy while ensuring the protection and empowerment of individuals
Recommendations were centred around protecting data (cybersecurity), and promoting privacy while working towards developing greater open data infrastructure to facilitate greater data sharing to help advance key sectors. Each day, more and more data is being generated. As a result, opportunities to harness data through tools like machine learning (artificial intelligence) to improve social goods like health care and transportation become closer to reality. In this pursuit, it will be essential to safeguard the individual right to privacy. The Y7 recognized this and recommended an international agreement to individual rights enshrined in the General Data Protection Regulation be discussed in September 2017 at the meeting of the Ministers of Industry.

Achieving sustainable growth in accordance with the Paris Agreement was another focus. Recommendations included increasing fiscal incentives and public financing in technologies that promote renewable energy and a circular economy, as well as supporting developing countries in building technological capabilities locally through sharing environmental technologies. This is aligned with the G7 2017 focus on the continent of Africa as full of opportunity.

Fostering and supporting startup ecosystems and reducing barriers to innovation through encouraging investment and promoting the creation of supporting organizations (such as accelerators and angel networks) was the final focus. Creating an end-to-end digital process for registering and closing new business, as exists in Canada, was highlighted.

Knowledge-Based Capital and Enabling Infrastructures

The growing impact and advances in technology are quickly outpacing education systems across G7 countries. To approach and address these challenges, the Y7 recognized the necessity of: Investing in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Literacy, Promoting emotional intelligence alongside the standard intelligence quotient and Investing in furthering adaptability of current and future generations.

Recommendations included computer science, community projects and work experience as mandatory in national curricula, universities providing STEM training opportunities for the broader public, and funding retraining programmes for workers in declining industries, impacted by the Next Production Revolution.

It is important to note the inclusion of ‘developing technological infrastructure for indigenous communities” in the Final Communiqué, as raising awareness and promoting Indigenous communities this was a core objective of the Canadian Y7 delegation.
 

Future of Work and of Welfare Systems

It is essential for the G7 countries to consider policies to promote inclusive growth as the Next Production Revolution impacts the everyday lives of their populations. The Y7 focused on tackling inequalities by promoting equal access to employment opportunities, championing institutions with diversity in their leadership and expanding the one year working holiday program for youth 18-35 between G7 countries and beyond.

Reform of the welfare state to address rising unemployment, the growing platform economy, increased labour mobility and automation was highlighted. Recommendations include creating employment standards and protections for contract, part-time, and virtual marketplace workers, while allowing individuals to pursue retraining opportunities while receiving unemployment benefits. Another clause urged support for healthy workplaces by increasing access to mental health services. The final recommendation embraced an active labour policy that increases the training of skills and alternative employment opportunities for all unemployed workers, including those displaced by the next production revolution.

Innovative taxation reform was an additional focus of the Y7 recommendations, recognising the changing landscape of work and increased strain on social benefits programs as a result of an aging population. A temporary robotic adjustment tax to fund social benefit programs as well as a new taxation model in accordance with the 2013 European Commission proposal on financial transaction tax were proposed, namely a 0.1 percent levy on the values of financial transactions and 0.01 percent on derivatives. The purpose of this tax is two-fold - obtain much-needed revenue as the population of industrialized countries is aging, while promoting market stability.

Policy Priorities & Recommendations for Canada

The increasing reliance on contract, part time work, and virtual marketplaces as a source of income (particularly for youth) will require federal and provincial governments to adjust the Federal Employment Insurance (EI) benefit eligibility guidelines to cope with short term work and increasing job insecurity.  However, addressing this challenge early on also provides Canada an opportunity to become a world leader in innovation by quickly adjusting to the demands of the market. To accomplish this, we recommend the following:

●      Allow individuals to pursue retraining opportunities while continuing to receive EI without fear of losing their benefits - this is to promote adaptability of and well-being of workers.

●      Offer EI benefits at a relatively high rate, up to 90% for the lowest paid workers

●      Institute an active labour policy that increases training of skills, career guidance, alternative employment, or retraining to all unemployed, modeled after Denmark’s ‘flexicurity model’.

●      Invest in forecasting of industry and labour market trends to anticipate new skills requirements and identify upcoming skill shortages. This data will be to quickly adjust to the demands of the market and properly support skills training/retraining to disrupted Canadians.

●      Eliminate the one-week Federal EI waiting period for contract workers and update the EI benefits webpage - the current design is overcomplicated and is a barrier for marginalized groups with low computer literacy.

In Canada, visible minorities, indigenous peoples, and women face discrimination when seeking work. As a result, we recommend policy incentives to tackle inequalities by promoting blind application processes and to recognize those in the private sector with diversity in their leadership.

Canada has an increasingly ageing population, placing a greater strain on social benefits programs, pension schemes, and health care costs among others. As a result, we recommend innovating taxation schemes to adjust to these changes by:

●      Taking actions against tax evasion by companies and individuals by requiring greater transparency of tax planning arrangements and increasing the frequency of tax audits

●      Introducing a 0.1 percent levy on the values of financial transactions and 0.01 percent on derivatives. This will generate much-needed revenue while decreasing speculation in the financial sector and henceforth increasing stability. We recommend developing a joint strategy with other G7 counterparts as proposed at the 2011 G20 Summit.

In order to maintain Canada’s competitiveness, and to promote inclusive and accessible for all educational models, particularly for women, minorities, and indigenous peoples - we recommend the following:

●      Promoting STEM literacy

○      In alignment with the $50 million to support initiatives of developing digital skills of students, we recommend that the Federal government work with the Provinces to establish computer science and programming as part of their curricula.

○      To further the $221 million pledged in Budget 2017 by the Federal Government to provide relevant STEM working experience to students, instigate a graduation requirement of work experience (industry agnostic) for secondary students.

●      Prioritize soft skills and enhance personalized education

●      We urge investment to increase collaboration between Indigenous communities and other communities across Canada to stimulate innovation, address gaps in infrastructure and digital literacy. We applaud the CRTC’s announcement to allocate $750 million for broadband access Internet service as a basic telecommunications service.

Canada stands to benefit from the next production revolution by supporting the data economy. At the same time, we urge the government to consider the need to empower individuals, advance sustainable growth, and promote a dynamic and inter-connected start-up ecosystem by:

●      Encouraging the development of open data infrastructures and database standards in key sectors, such as energy, environment, health, and transportation. At the same time, enhance business transparency through the disclosure of how personal data is shared.

●      Accelerate the development of artificial intelligence and include ethical considerations of artificial intelligence’ datasets.

○      Given Canada’s leadership in advancing Artificial Intelligence (specifically through research hubs in Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton) we have the opportunity to be global leaders in developing guidelines for ‘AI Safety’. To further the $125M investment into the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, we recommend collaboration of government policy makers and leaders of the respective nationalinstitutes (MILA, Vector, amii) with corresponding international groups.

Sustainability is a key pillar of the G7 Youth Summit recommendations, we recommend that the Canadian government continue its commitment to the Paris 2016 agreement via:

●      Increasing fiscal incentives and public financing for technologies and business models that promote renewable, clean energy, public transportation and a circular economy.

●      Supporting developing countries in building their own capabilities, tapping into local talent and supporting local entrepreneurs through the sharing of environmental technologies.

Innovation stems from ideas that are often times not part of the current paradigm, as a result we recommend facilitating dynamic start-up ecosystems to reduce barriers to innovation via:

●      Encouraging public and private sector investment in start-ups, particularly those addressing sustainability issues via start-up loans, tax incentives, innovation grants and incubators or other accelerators in collaboration with other G7 countries.

●      Continuing Health Canada’s agenda to develop regulatory systems to respond quickly to emerging technologies in the healthcare sector. We recognize the need to formulate effective oversight of products resulting from emerging technologies.

●      Urging the Federal government to work with the Provinces to develop Preventative Healthcare strategies, and look to adopt and implement technological advances (such as machine learning) dynamically. This would improve quality of life and potentially reduce healthcare costs in the long term for chronic illnesses.

Risk mitigation policies are a key part of our recommendations. Ranging from preventative healthcare, to taxation schemes that promote market stability, to developing forecasting models for upcoming skill shortages - we believe in evidence-based research as a driver for policy making.

The Canadian G7 Youth (Y7) delegation would be pleased to discuss these recommendations in further detail with members of all levels of government, the private sector, and advocacy organizations. The challenges our generation face are unprecedented, but with challenges comes opportunity, and following the Y7 summit we are more hopeful than ever that the solutions to our common challenges are within easy reach.

What we need now is political will, and a commitment to work together.

DELEGATION REPORT: 2017 WB-IMF Spring Meetings

Executive Summary

The Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) delegation to the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings represented the voices of Canadian youth in international, cross-sector discussions on the greatest challenges facing the global economy and the most promising opportunities to end poverty and promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

The delegation participated in sessions hosted by the WB and IMF, as well as the Civil Society Policy Forum organized in conjunction with the Spring Meetings to allow a diversity of perspectives to be shared. The delegation also had a robust private program focused on the Spring Meetings agenda as well as the bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States (US). These two strains were highly intertwined, with these being the first Spring Meetings to occur since the new US administration was sworn in. The YDC delegation witnessed first-hand Canada’s strong engagement and leadership in the WB and IMF, led by the Minister of Finance, William Morneau, and Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau. Both Ministers held bilateral meetings with the YDC delegation, providing an opportunity for YDC to discuss with the highest levels of the Government of Canada the priorities of Canadian youth with regard to global governance, economic growth, official development assistance, humanitarian relief, and other issues.

To gain insight into the vitality of the Canada-US bilateral relationship, the YDC delegation met with a range of key actors from within and outside government, including the Embassy of Canada in Washington (Denis Stevens, Deputy Head of Mission), the State Department (Office of Canadian Affairs), leading centres of expertise (Canada Institute at the Wilson Centre and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies), and other experts (Adrian Morrow, Washington correspondent for the Globe and Mail).

To complement participation in the Spring Meetings, the delegation also arranged private meetings with Canada’s representatives to the WB and IMF, as well as thought leaders and key actors in international development. These included Mahmoud Mohieldin, the World Bank Group Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations Relations, and Partnerships, who encouraged YDC to engage with the WB and particularly the “Ideas for Action” competition.  The delegation also met John McArthur at the Brookings Institution, who offered insights on Canada’s opportunity to demonstrate global leadership on emerging issues, such as skills and the future of work. Finally, the delegation visited the UN Foundation and met the leaders of several initiatives aimed at empowering girls and utilizing digital tools for global impact. The delegation also played a leadership role in convening other youth delegates at the Spring Meetings and organized an informal gathering for delegates from countries such as France and Brazil.

YDC was privileged to send a representative to the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition’s Second High Level Assembly, which mobilized governments, leading corporations, and environmental experts and civil society to advance carbon pricing policies that drive clean innovation. The Assembly marked the start of Canada’s term as Co-Chair of the Coalition.

Key Forum Sessions Attended

World Bank Spring Meetings


April 19
Chief Economists Roundtable: The Road to 2030

In this session several Chief Economists within the WB reflected on challenges and solutions in international development, with a particular emphasis on investing in human capital and addressing infrastructure gaps. The discussion was highly pragmatic, focusing on the need to clarify desired outcomes before identifying financing targets, and the importance of making the most efficient use of public funds. As Paul Romer, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the WB put it, referencing an old trope, “everyone wants growth, but no one wants change.” The discussion highlighted the need to examine outcomes in terms of variance, not just in terms of mean, with a view to ensuring support for the poorest and most vulnerable.

April 20
Generation Now: How Investing in Adolescents Today Can Change the World of Tomorrow

This session provided a platform for unparalleled global influencers - including Melinda Gates, Marie-Claude Bibeau and Jim Yong Kim - to highlight how integrated and high-impact investments in adolescents are a force multiplier, accelerating progress across a range of development areas, namely health, nutrition, education, skills and social protection. These investments can transform life expectancy and opportunities for young people living in poverty, thus improving country-level opportunities for inclusive, sustainable growth and resilience.

This is an urgent issue - ninety percent of today’s 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide live in the developing world, and frustrated aspirations due to stagnated growth can lead to extremism and migration. Disarming adolescents in conflict areas is a critical, yet often overlooked, approach to investing. The panel also highlighted the importance of prioritizing adolescent girls. This includes not just targeting policies that impact girls, but also improving the quality and quantity of data informing investments. All panelists echoed the importance of including communities in the conversation about their needs and strategies to fulfill them.

Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) Second Annual High Level Assembly

Adam attended the CPLC High Level Assembly -- aimed at catalyzing wider adoption of carbon pricing policies -- and was among the only youth delegates at the meeting, which brought together governments (including many Prime Ministers and Ministers of Finance from developing and developed countries), leading corporations (Royal DSM, co-chair, as well asBNP Paribas, HSBC Holdings, Lafarge Holcim, pension funds, and more), thought leaders (Christiana Figueres, who spearheaded the Paris Agreement on climate change, and Lord Nicholas Stern), and key non-governmental actors (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation). Canada began its term as co-chair of the CPLC, and MP Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, co-chaired the Assembly on the Minister’s behalf.

The eclectic list of participants was remarkably aligned on the value of carbon pricing in creating the conditions for accelerated clean innovation to address climate change. However, those in the room were well aware that the number of large jurisdictions with carbon pricing systems in place is still quite small, and Canada, having announced last year a national approach to carbon pricing, stood out. Colombia highlighted its adoption of a (relatively low) carbon price, with tax revenues earmarked for investments in environmental restoration, with a particular focus on repairing environmental damage resulting from the protracted armed conflict in that country. The Executive Deputy Comptroller of New York City offered a valuable perspective on leveraging massive pension funds to bolster green investment. The Children’s Investment Fund’s intervention challenged the Coalition to more forcefully resist opposition to carbon pricing and to guide emissions-intensive industries on a path to deep decarbonization by recycling revenues amassed from carbon pricing schemes. Adam connected with the leader of the youth-led “Put a Price on It” campaign in the US and will be following up to discuss the campaign in further detail.

Implementing the 2030 Agenda: From Commitment to Action

This particular session objective was to reinforce the critical role of the World Bank Group as a leader in the implementation of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Mahmoud Mohieldin, WBG Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations Relations, and Partnerships, acted as the moderator and four other disguised panelists were invited to share their experience on how they have been implementing the Agenda in their home countries. 

Following the adoption of the Agenda 2030, global development has entered a new stage. As the title refers to “Commitment to Action”, commitments have been taken during a series of international forums including important summits in 2015: Finance for Development Summit, the United Nations Sustainable Goals Summit and COP21. After a year of implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, global development has been able to reach a larger extent and hopefully a greater impact with time. However, now it is time to measure the first results in order to monitor the completion of 2030 Agenda.  Therefore, the WBG has published the report entitled “The Role of the World Bank in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals” and a second report was launched during this same session. The “Atlas on the Sustainable Goals” report serves as the first publication offering the WBG’s perspective on the world’s progress towards each goal. These two reports were referred to by the different speakers throughout the event.

In conclusion, the distinguished panelists came to a common consensus on the actions the WBG must take in order to implement the 2030 Agenda. First they affirmed that the WBG needs to expand funding in fragile and conflict affected states for both public and private sectors. Second, they must enhance support to low and middle-income countries, and further integrate global public goods into business model. In other words, the WBG needs to scale up its financing mobilization efforts, again from both public and private sources. Thirdly, the WBG must expand partner funding sources and help countries to better use their resources, including restricting illicit financial flows.

Furthermore, Mahmoud Mohieldin confirmed that the next major meeting regarding this global initiative will take place during second UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York. In July 2017, 43 countries will meet and discuss the overarching theme of “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World”.

April 21
Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Middle Income Countries

This was a highly engaging session aimed taking stock of the Global Concessional Financing Facility (CFF), the World Bank’s most significant effort thus far to support middle-income countries hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, primarily Lebanon and Jordan. Refugee crises represent major economic and social shocks and incur significant costs to host countries who are providing a global public good. Middle-income countries do not have access to multilateral development financing at the same levels of concessionality as lower-income countries, and most host countries do not deem it feasible to take on additional debt or use scarce development resources for non-nationals. The CFF provides development support on concessional terms to middle income countries impacted by refugee crises.

This session offered perspectives from the CFF beneficiaries -- Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Lebanon’s Deputy Prime Minister -- as well as major donor governments (Canada, represented by Minister Bibeau, as well as the United Kingdom Sweden, and Netherlands) as well as key leaders from the United Nations and WB, most notably the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. There was a clear consensus that the CFF has proven effective in lowering the cost of borrowing to help host countries invest in infrastructure and in meeting the needs of their populations. Jordan emphasized the importance of utilizing refugees’ economic potential and highlighted progress in providing legal work permits to refugees. Lebanon warned that the country could face “social collapse” if the population’s discontent is not addressed and if critical systems are further strained, notably the health care system which currently has rejection rates as high as 40% for intensive care and pediatric care. Lebanon has a $10 billion infrastructure plan and is requesting assistance in the form of grants. Donor governments reflected on the need to strengthen the WB’s capacity to support refugee-hosting countries. Minister Bibeau highlighted the need for significant psychosocial support for refugees. The Netherlands suggested that in addition to mechanisms like the CFF, it is important to support refugee-hosting countries by increasing trade and investment (e.g. removing barriers for Jordanian products to enter the European Union market). This session demonstrated that innovative financing mechanisms can yield significant benefits for the countries most dramatically impacted by the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. 

International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings

One of the most topical set of sessions at the IMF Spring Meetings were those focusing on how innovation affects the economy and people’s lives, and how to adapt to change. Two specific sessions within this category stood out - 1) Walter Isaacson, the head of the Aspen Institute, in conversation with Christine Lagarde (April 19th), and 2) Steven Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury, in conversation with Christine Lagarde (April 22nd). In both sessions, the speakers acknowledged that technology is the driver of economic growth, both for individual country economies, as well as for the global economy. Mnuchin focused on domestic growth, making the case that sustained growth of the US economy is good for global growth (ie. all boats rise in high tide). Mnuchin recognized that there are winners and losers in global trade, but stopped short of recognizing that the same applies to technological progress. In contrast, Isaacson tackled the nuances of global inequality as a result of automation. Isaacson’s perspective was that global governance institutions have a critical role to play in suggesting regulation to tackle income inequality, while Mnuchin’s perspective was that the global landscape, and the US particularly, has swung too far in favour of restrictive regulation, which has hurt businesses and caused a period of low growth.

Although the contrast between the two sessions was fascinating, Isaacson gave more a substantial examination of the state of AI, it’s impact on the world to date, and how to manage impacts to maximize opportunity while reducing harm. Isaacson predicted that healthcare, education, and finance are the three industries most ripe for disruption. His advice for young people was not to learn one narrow vertical, and to ensure that they were well-versed in critical and creative thinking. In short, arguing for STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) rather than STEM. Canada’s political leaders have echoed these comments, understanding both that skills training is crucial to support workers in fields that will be automated in the near-term, and that maintaining a blended focus on technology and humanities best positions students for the jobs of the future that will be created due to AI advances.

April 19
FinTech and the Transformation of Financial Services

FinTech and its emerging technologies were on everyone’s lips at the Springs Meetings. As technological advances are transforming the capital markets environment, from payments systems to robot financial advising, large financial institutions must become resilient and develop corporate agility to cope with the upcoming challenges.

Canada was represented on the panel with Mrs Wilkins, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. As a central banker, Mrs. Wilkins expressed her concerns about the impacts of blockchain technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence on financial stability. FinTech will inevitably change the structure of the capital markets but it will also have benefits for the once excluded and unbanked segments of the economy both in developed and emerging countries. In developing countries, Kenya for instance, the mobile payments system M-Pesa has reduced the gap between skilled and unskilled households’ access to financial services. However, these shadow banking institutions are hard to monitor for central banks as their role is to legislate policies and ensure financial stability in the banking sector. FinTech can help eradicate extreme poverty through financial inclusion, reduce the risks of instability caused by wealth inequalities and in the long term boost prosperity and inclusive growth.

The key message from the panelists was that technological advances, or creative destruction, have always been an integral part of capitalism. Banks, or at least the early adopters, will need to develop partnerships with FinTech providers if they want to enhance the efficiency of their financial technologies and survive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

April 21
Closing Gender Gap in Finance

Organized by the Toronto Centre for Global Leadership in Financial Supervision, this high level session aimed to highlight the importance of gender equality and women’s economic participation in order to ensure economic development and achieving the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. These two principles are actually key drivers to eliminate the gaps in women’s access to and use of financial services that still persists in many countries. The session was primarily addressed to financial sector regulators, supervisors from central and affiliated organizations, official from international development agencies, as well as the board and staff of the WB and IMF. The panelists discussed how to close the gender gap in finance by first acknowledging that a gap in usage of financial services by women relative to men still persists. They also agreed that there is even larger gender gap in management of financial institutions. Then, they discussed the most effective policies and practices in order to increase access and usage by women. They agreed that this policy need to be local specific, adapted to a community or region’s needs. Furthermore, data collection and analysis especially regarding usage is essential to critically assess efforts. Finally, they affirmed that the promotion of women’s participation on boards and senior management teams of financial institution and financial supervision agencies is essential to expand perspectives at the top of an organization. Studies have proved that that companies with women directors deal more effectively with risk. Not only do they better address the concerns of customers, employees, shareholders, and the local community, but also, they tend to focus on long-term priorities. Female directors also serve as role models, and therefore, improve female employees’ performance and boost companies’ images. Finally, the promotion of financial boards with a broader composition represents the key milestone in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Canadian Ministers Bill Morneau and Marie-Claude Bibeau participated as guest speakers to this event and shared their remarks on this topic.   

Civil Society Policy Forum

April 19
How Civil Society can Engage and Activate a Youth Role in the Accomplishment of the Agenda 2030, by Taking Action and Keeping Government Accountable

This seminar aimed to provide a platform for youth who are leading efforts to engage millennials and influence governments in advancing progress towards Agenda 2030. The session was moderated by Youth representatives of AISEC.

Youth represents today, our demographic group has never been so large in human history. Therefore, AISEC representatives explained that investing in Youth represents an enormous opportunity to enhance development. Different guest speakers elaborated on their own experience and the establishment of simple frameworks allowing organizations from different sectors to identify entry-points in working with youth around the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The session included panelists: Juan Pablo López, Housing and Urban Development Division- Urban Youth Chief Project, Inter-American Development Bank, Wilson Frota Dias de Carvalho, Senior Knowledge Management Officer, Latin America and Caribbean Region – The World Bank Group, Franklin Morales, Founder, Indigo Youth Leadership Community, Anna Molero, Senior Director of Government and Multilateral Partnerships, Teach for All.

Building Community Resilience to Natural Resource Conflict

Natural resources often prove to be flashpoint for corruption and violence, even though they have the power to improve the lives in fragile and conflict-affected countries through investments, jobs and international attention. Representatives from American University, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and Search for Common Ground discussed ways donors and government can work together with community based organization and civil society to manage natural resource competition. Three quarters of the most vulnerable population live in either poor areas or in natural resources dependent area. To this effect, panelist urged governments, NGOs and Civil society members to take action and improve collaboration as much as cooperation to prevent any natural resource conflict and address fragility issues around the globe.

April 21
The World Bank in an Age of Populism: What does the rise of populist governments mean for the World Bank and its relationship with Civil Society?

A conversation with Ray Offenheiser, the President ofOxfam America, Masood Ahmed, the President of Center for Global Development, Alex Thier, the Executive Director ofOverseas Development Institute and Shawn Donnan, the World Trade Editor of the Financial Times as well as Caroline Anstey the former managing Director of the World Bank focused on the loss of trust in government, the sense of a rising menace and the concentration of wealth that feed today’s populism movement while lowering the citizens’ expectations. As they explained how globalization 3.0 is the movement of people, the panelist also explore the issues underlying in this new globalization and the lack of preparedness to the rising inequalities and disparities. Simultaneously, they explained clearly that the rising expectations of living conditions by showing that everyone can witness a neighbor with a “better life” and hope to achieve it one day. This rise of expectations about life paired with the inability of governments to actually fulfil it cause the drive in populism witnessed around the globe.

The experts also exchanged ideas about the state of the social contract nowadays and how working hard does not mean being better off anymore. They raised the question of how countries will be able to deal with the changes to come and how they can face the politics of envy and need currently experienced. To answer those questions, the panelist put a strong emphasis on starting a conversation now about the globalization 3.0 issues at the risk of putting breaks to the movement itself if it is not done. Basically, the way we approach inclusion needs to be updated to face the rising threat of populist governments.