Second year Sociology student Zeba Zaidi recently returned from representing the UK at the G7 Youth Summit, a unique opportunity for young people to make an impact on global policy.
The G7 Youth Summit took place in Rome in early May. The summit is a unique opportunity for young people to make concrete proposals which are then transmitted to the G7 Prime Ministers and Heads of State.
"This year’s Youth Summit theme was “Rethinking Innovation as catalyst for an inclusive, open and sustainable growth," says Zeba. "The goal was to provide the G7 Leaders with a vision of the future: Innovation can represent an opportunity for growth and prosperity by ensuring that no one will be left behind."
"I have a burning desire to make a change in the world with absolutely no idea how! When I came to Warwick, I started to take part in as many societies and events that I thought would make a difference or stood for something. When the opportunity came to be able to go to the Summit, I was extremely eager to represent the UK because it meant that I could take part in designing policies that could make a difference at an international level."
The G7 Youth summit provides a direct link between leaders of developed nation states and its young people and events like these allow that to happen at an international level.
"The three pillars of the Summit were Production, Skills and Labour," explains Zeba. "I was part of the labour group, looking at 'The future of work and welfare' and we focused on policies relating to healthcare, unemployment, taxation and the digital economy."
"The delegates had been engaging in research, planning and pre-negotiations since March. We then came together to decide which were to be the main themes at the actual summit. At the summit, each group focused on the policies they wanted to explore in depth."
The Summit gathered 32 young delegates from the G7 countries for three days of discussions. During the last day, delegates presented their policy proposals to Italian G7 Sherpa Ambassador Raffaele Trombetta, who highlighted the Presidency’s support towards the new generations’ requests.
"This was great opportunity for young people to express their visions and proposals," says Zeba. "Considering 'Product Innovation', we stressed the importance of enabling a data economy whilst protecting and empowering individuals, achieving sustainable growth in accordance with Paris agreement and facilitating start-up ecosystems and reducing barriers to innovation."
The delegates stressed the importance of promoting STEM literacy in education, enhancing personalised education systems and lifelong adaptability, building partnerships and promoting vocational and continuous training to build on 'Knowledge-based capital and enabling infrastructures'.
Finally, with respect to the 'Future of work and of welfare systems', the G7 Youth encouraged governors to tackle inequalities by ensuring that all youth have equal access to employment, to adjust the welfare systems in accordance with the digital economy and to think of a reform of taxation systems in recognition of the ageing population.
"The summit was life-changing, says Zeba. "Not only was the actual policy making an amazing and eye-opening experience, but being able to share the experience with so many young, accomplished and knowledgeable people, meant that every conversation I had was thought provoking and insightful.
"Being the youngest delegate at the summit was challenging but extremely rewarding as I was able to learn so much from the experience. I would definitely recommend applying for the summit because the process itself teaches you a lot."
The UK G7 Youth Summit delegation