YDC Delegation to the OECD

May 28 to June 1 2018


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.



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.



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:


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.



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”.



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.