How youth can make a change in global diplomacy

by Mina Saidze

Each year youth representatives from G8 and G20 countries come together to discuss global challenges, provide non-conventional suggestions and generate fresh ideas. Mina Saidze is the Minister of International Development of the German delegation for the Y8 and Y20 Summit 2013 and wants to share her experiences in international dialogues.
This year I was honored with the opportunity to represent Germany as Minister of International Development at the Y20 and Y8 2013 in St. Petersburg and London, which is the official G20 and G8 youth event. Increasing in popularity, the forums enable youth representatives from the G8 and G20 countries to discuss issues they deem pressing on the world stage which are closely related to the topics of the G8 and G20  Leaders´ Summit.

Different perspective
Photo: squishybs

Within the context of Y20 and Y8 Summits, Ministers represent their own countries and are further encouraged to integrate their own take on the topics at hand: The policies they support are not always those of their current governments but more so their own. Prior to the Summit, Ministers are invited to weight in on the topics they wish to negotiate in St. Petersburg and London.  In contrast to Model United Nations simulations (MUNs), the major result of the Y20 and Y8 Summits are the Final Communiqués which were presented and submitted to various in September 2013. It is a chance for students and young professionals from the age of 18 until 29 who want to discuss the most serious challenges the world faces.

The German delegation was selected and supported by the association Policy Innovation. Attending youth ministers were selected for six different panels: Heads of State, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Defence, Environment, and International Development.
Also we had a national Sherpa and Press Secretary who facilitated communications within delegation and enriched the overall experience through various media of coverage. We had an intensive preparation in which Policy Innovation organized helpful seminars, visits to the German Chancellery and ministries.
As Minister of International Development I met additionally Dr. Moira Feil, Policy Officer in Multilateral Development Policy, in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, where we talked more about the efficiency of development aid, which measures should be taken into consideration and the negative side effects of financial instruments such as microcredits or Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

Thanks to the joint project between Policy Innovation and Atlantic Community, the open think thank on foreign policy, our German delegation published various articles in which we were able to express our opinion about social, economic and political dimensions of international relations.
After months of research and negotiations on an online platform, we could go to Saint Petersburg from 18th until 21th June 2013.
It was the first time that I travelled with a diplomatic passport and was excited about the upcoming experiences, people and results.
As Y20 Russia 2013 delegate, we were also invited to participate in Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), a major global economic and business event. The opening speeches of SPIEF was hold by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic Germany.
The Head of State of each delegation had afterwards the opportunity to meet Putin and discuss with him the Final Communiqué of the Y20 Russia.

Also a brunch with Helen Clark, the president of the United Nations Development Fund, took place where she welcomed us and talked about her position in the UN and future challenges.
My panels were “International Architecture Forum” with the focus on reforming international capital markets and “Sustainable Development” with social policy optimization as priority.
“These recommendations, probably not all of them, will be included in the final Communiqué of the G20 Leaders. We will do our best to implement the proposals of the youth,“ Ksenia Yudaeva, Chief of the Presidential Experts‘ Directorate and the Russian G20 Sherpa, concluded.
After the Y20 Summit was over, I made my way to London where I tried to catch up some sleep after the exciting 5 days in Russia and prepared myself for the Y8 Summit.

The 2013 edition of the Y8 was hosted at the Old Naval College (University of Greenwich) from 24th until 28th June 2013, only one week after the Heads of State of the G8 countries met in Northern Ireland as part of their annual meeting.
And, in another historic first, the African Union has also been invited to send a delegation, marking the beginning of a period when the world powers of tomorrow are given a seat at the table today.
In the panel of “International Development” we discussed two major topics: “Education” which should also include social enterprise facilitation and PPPs in education and “Technology” such as grassroots citizens feedback and cost-effective financial services.

The Final Communiqué was signed by the Heads of State on June 28th at the majestic Painted Hall in Greenwich, where the ministers and the organizing committee celebrated the closing of the 2013 negotiations.
In general, the difficulty during the negotiations was not reproducing the same solutions as the government offers. The aim is to provide fresh perspectives through the lens of younger generations.
On behalf of the German delegation, I would like to extend a big Thank You to the Organizing Committee of Policy Innovation.

For further insight into the Y20 and Y8 Summit:
Policy Innovation e.V.
Blog of the German delegation
Atlantic Community: Innovate proposals for the G20 Summit