Generation Connect Global Youth Summit 2022. Photo: ITU
The first-ever Generation Connect Global Youth Summit opened its doors on June 2 at Kigali’s Intare Conference Arena to more than 500 young people aged 15-29 from around the world to discuss a wide-ranging ‘tech for development’ agenda ahead of a landmark digital development conference.
Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with host country Rwanda, the three-day summit aims to drive meaningful youth engagement, consultation, collaboration, and participation in determining policies that will shape the increasingly digital world.
With a total of more than 1500 delegates from over 115 countries and 5,000+ joining online, it brings young leaders, entrepreneurs, social change-makers, engineers, policy specialists, and students together with today’s regional and global business leaders, decision-makers, and community advocates in the run-up to ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC).
“The United Nations system needs to become more inclusive as we strive to build a better world for our children to inherit,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhou. “Among the concrete steps taken to address this, the ITU Youth Strategy calls for supporting youth empowerment, bringing young people together for direct engagement, and fostering youth dialogue and participation in decision-making processes.”
Key topics at the three-day Youth Summit include the global digital divide, youth access to online education and digital skills, the digital gender gap, online safety, e-waste management, the future of work, digital entrepreneurship, the role of technology in climate change, and more.
The summit programme, co-designed with young people from ITU’s global Generation Connect Youth network, will culminate with a consensus-based Call to Action on ‘Our Digital Future’.
This will comprise recommendations to enhance youth engagement in building an inclusive, sustainable digital future for all. Key aims include direct participation of youth in devising government digital strategies, as well as in the work of ITU and the wider UN system.
The Generation Connect Global Youth Summit’s global footprint reflects preparatory activities at over 70 hubs in over 40 countries. Hosted by academic institutions, not-for-profits, and private-sector companies, these hubs have mobilized close to 5,000 youth, who will connect live throughout various summit sessions.