"What is the greatest global challenge facing youth, and how can American youth help to address it?"
To the selection committee for the UNESCO Youth Forum, thank you for your time. One of the greatest challenges facing the youth of today is access to the Internet and to the information it brings. The expansion of the Internet into every aspect of our lives over the past 20 years has heralded new age of business, communication, and the free flow of information. The Internet has also created great challenges for governments and youth as well. One of the greatest challenges facing global youth is expanding their voice beyond their localities and reaching the global audience. The world has witnessed the power the Internet can bring in the democratic revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, the voices of the students in Iran, the advent of micro---loans in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, and the access to education through online tutorials and video lectures. Services such as Youtube and Twitter have made extraordinary progress in the ability of youth to disseminate their messages, but efforts to expand the voice of the youth, and access to the global repository of information are still scattered. A forum of youth, raised on these technologies, is acutely aware of the issues facing them, and is an ideal platform for utilizing existing and developing technologies and programs for collaboration to the bring the power of the internet to where it is needed most. By bringing together youth of all ages, backgrounds, and fields, a strategy of improving the tools already available, promoting awareness and penetration, assisting those in need through programs like One Laptop Per Child and Kiva, and forming ad---hoc coalitions and councils can be developed to promote the goals of global youth.
American youth are particularly integrated with the information services offered by the Internet and should be at the forefront of developing the immense opportunities presented by access to information. By collaborating with youth worldwide, new technologies, new tools, and new ideas can be developed, spread, and deployed globally, getting a voice to where it is needed most, or a loan to where an aspiring young person needs it to start a business. As a researcher in the field of Internet governance and policy, I have both written presentation papers on the topics of Internet freedom and security and networked with other professionals working globally on Internet governance. I have also engaged myself with groups like Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, seeking to expand my own network to promote goals relevant to youth on a global scale.
My work has taught me that access is the first step towards transforming today’s youth into the leaders of tomorrow. The Internet can connect students with educators, entrepreneurs with investors, and social activists with wide networks of supporters. Free and universal access to the Internet, and the resources it provides, lays the groundwork’s for the global youth to change their world, and make it a better, safer, feer, and more interconnected world than it has ever been in the past.