We are living through one of the most exciting times in human history thanks to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Never before has any generation been so connected instantaneously.
Undeniably, technology and the internet have accomplished much more than anyone first imagined, but there is still so much we can achieve if we use ICTs for positive outcomes that everyone in society can benefit from.
As the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is committed to connecting the world through innovative technology solutions, it is using an online crowdsourcing platform developed by a start-up called Crowdicity, the official crowdsourcing partners for BYND2015.
The concept of online crowdsourcing allows for the creation of a platform that enables us to engage and interact with individuals from around the globe; a place where people can come together to discuss and share ideas. It is all inclusive and therefore allows for a more representative collection of opinions.
The purpose of bringing together the voice of global youth is to give them a unique opportunity to raise concerns about the issues that matter the most to them. Furthermore, the platform gives them a space in which they can put forward innovative ideas that attempt to overcome such challenges.
The culmination of key findings from global young people on the #BYND2015 platform will be presented in the form of an unprecedented statement of crowd-sourced policy recommendations to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013, by the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.
#BYND2015 focuses on five different themes, each exploring a different aspect of policy that affects youth and presents their own unique challenges. The themes include;
- Get Ahead – Entrepreneurship, employment and innovation.
- Respect your Environment – Climate change and sustainability.
- Be Smart, Be Safe – Child Online Protect and cybersecurity.
- Be Healthy – Lifestyle’s awareness, mHealth.
- Change your World – Citizenship, governance and the UN post-2015 process.
The results from our platform so far suggest that a key concern for young people at present is youth employment, this is evident by the response to the challenge; ‘How might we use ICTs to help young people develop entrepreneurial skills & increase youth employment?’, as it has nearly 100 ideas alone and this figure is rising daily.
Currently the most popular suggested resolution to this challenge focuses on bringing education closer to those who cannot easily access it through an online and mobile app. This is precisely the kind of innovative solutions we are seeking out, the kind that tries to improve our world for everyone and is enabled through ICTs.
To date, progress on the platform is positive. During last weekend alone the online platform attracted over 400 new users, 179 new ideas were put forwards and over 2,000 votes were cast. Furthermore, members are now using the ITU Google+ page to promote their ideas and encourage people to vote for them.
This highlights the way in which young people communicate, which in turn highlights how we can effectively communicate with young people to engage with them. This kind of integration across multiple communications channels is exactly what the #BYND2015 Global Youth Summit is championing.
But there is more still that we can do. Today will see the launch of the promotional video for the Summit, it is uploaded to the ITU YouTube page and posted on a magnitude of social media sites including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter which incorporates the hash tag #BYND2015, this is just to name a few of the channels we are using.
We will also be using a number of additional innovative tools such as Google Hangouts where we will host a “Getting ahead” hangout on August 12th International Youth Day. The session will comprise of young and aspiring entrepreneurs asking questions to three experts that have successfully used crowdsourcing to fund their own innovative ideas.
Often, I think that we as young people are passive when it comes to policy and governance, perhaps because we think it doesn’t concern us, or we don’t understand it and therefore we think that it doesn’t affect us. Or, we want to get involved but we don’t know how or we think we won’t be heard so it won’t make a difference anyway.
But it does concern us, and it does affect us. So this is an opportunity for young people to get involved with world leaders and the decision making process, to have a say in our futures, to make a difference. This is the chance for the youth of today to stand up and perhaps more importantly; this is a chance for global youth to be heard.
It is now time for the dreams of the global youth to become a reality, enabled through the encouragement and support of the ITU.
Felicity Theaker is a student at Cardiff University studying for an MA in International Public Relations and Global Communications Management, she is currently interning in the communications department at the ITU in Geneva, Switzerland. She actively supports the #BYND2015 Global Youth Summit and encourages all young people to get involved.