We stand at a remarkable time in our history. It is now possible for people from around the world to create and share ideas, to work and dream together, on a scale we had never before imagined. This is possible thanks to the rapid spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The key actors of this new world are the more than a billion connected and inspired youth.
This millennial generation is not limited by barriers of the past – neither by distance nor borders. We need to take full advantage of this opportunity to make sure our voices and ideas are included when world leaders debate policies that directly affect our future.
At the United Nations, as a follow-up to the Millennial Development Goals (MDGs), the international community is now debating priorities for a post-2015 global development agenda. This coming September the ITU and the government of Costa Rica are co-organizing a Global Youth Summit from the 9th to the 11th in San José, Costa Rica. This summit will assemble young people from all corners of the globe where they can voice their priorities and vision of a new development agenda as follow-up to the 2015 MDGs.
The BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit is an online platform for young people to ensure their inclusion in the most important decisions of the 21st Century impacting billions of people. Young people are already active and using the #BYND2015 platforms to identify key challenges and propose their solutions. We encourage everyone to join the Google+ community conversation where ideas are now being exchanged and debated. In addition, working together with Crowdicity, the ITU is proud to announce, that we have launched an online crowdsourcing platform, to gather more youth ideas from around the globe in preparation for the Summit. On this platform, the community has posed specific challenges and proposed ideas and solutions that they consider should be priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. These ideas will be ranked by community members and be part of the Summit outcomes delivered personally by the President of Costa Rica to delegates of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013.
The crowdsourcing process has several phases. In the first phase, young people have defined the key challenges under several topics to be covered at the Summit. In the second phase, members of the community will share ideas about potential solutions, with a particular focus on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help solve them. The community will also rank what they see as the most viable and sustainable solutions.
Gathering as much input and ideas as possible from young people worldwide will be our main challenge for the next few months and the crowdsourcing platform, reinforced by online and social channels, will help us achieve this goal. To encourage broad participation from around the globe, the top substantive contributors will be recognized and two young people (one male, one female, aged 18-25 years old) will receive all-expenses paid trips to Costa Rica for the Summit. Other substantive contributors will receive tablet computers and/or selected to participate in the ITU’s Development Sector high-level advisory boards.
Robert Shaw is the Head of the ITU’s Innovation Division and coordinating the crowdsourcing platform for the BYND2015: Global Youth Summit. You can follow Robert on Twitter at @shawr and check out his Innovation @ ITU blog