Semester Two 2019 Scholars Announced

The Global Voices Executive Team is excited to announce the appointment of the Semester Two, 2019 Global Voices Scholars.

Fourteen young Australians will now prepare to attend a three-day pre-departure briefing in Canberra, where they will meet with Australian Government officials, senior academics, and policy experts, before heading off to represent Australia at key upcoming international events.

In October, four Scholars will attend the International Monetary Fund & World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC: Courtney Ferguson (Macquarie University), Yana Gourevitch (University of Melbourne, Faculty of Business and Economics), Nicholas Burnett (QUT Business School) and Georgia Strong (Curtin University). There, Scholars will gain insight into international trade and investment policy and contribute their research to propose solutions to complex economic challenges.

Four delegates will also be attending the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Chile this December: Elyssia Gasparotto (University of Newcastle i-LEAD Program), Kristen McNamara (University of Melbourne, Faculty of Science), Ben Munro (University of New South Wales CO-OP), and Anna Rea (Central Queensland University). With over 20,000 people from across the global expected to attend BLUE COP, the key agenda items Scholars will be involved in include discussions on renewable energy, circular economies and most prominently oceans and seas.

Finally, six Scholars will be attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) in New York City next March: Tiarlee Bellhouse (Macquarie University), Georgia McDonald (Griffith University), Hanna Callow (Central Queensland University), Reem El-Naji (RMIT University), Prabhleen Kaur (University of Sydney, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) and Imogen Keall (Curtin University). CSW64 is set to be a pivotal event for scholars to engage in, with the marking of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as the review of the five year milestone towards reaching the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As part of the Global Voices Scholarship Program, all Scholars will complete a Policy Fellowship on a topic related to the theme of their delegation, with the assistance of a leading senior Australian academic. 

In addition to developing skills and experience in foreign policy, diplomacy and international relations, the Scholars will join a network of over 240 alumni who have participated in over fifty international summits since the establishment of Global Voices in 2011.

Global Voices’ Chief Executive Officer, Billi McCarthy-Price, stated that “many international delegations lack attendance by a key stakeholder in the development of future-focussed policies: youth.”

“By providing Australian youth with the opportunity to attend these high-level international delegations, Global Voices and our university partners can ensure that the voice of informed young people is present during discussions and has an impact on the final decision-making process.”

Y20 Summit – A life changing opportunity to create international impact.

Archis Akolkar, University of New South Wales

I had the opportunity to represent Australian youth at the Y20 Summit this year in Tokyo, Japan, as one of two Australian delegates. Rose-Anna has already explained the purpose and process of the Y20, as well as our main topics of discussion. I would like to speak about my experiences as the key Australian negotiator in two of the three priority areas; the ‘Future of Work’ and ‘International Trade’ negotiating streams.

Logistically each negotiation was broken into four stages: ‘Pre-Summit’ where each country submitted a policy recommendation per topic, reviewed others’ submissions and voted informally on our Summit priorities to create a shortlist; ‘Summit Session 1’ where all Y20 speakers negotiated to finalise three overall policy areas for each negotiation stream, based on the importance of global issues and effectiveness of the available solutions; ‘Summit Session 2’ where working groups fleshed out content and wording of all three policy areas; and ‘Summit Session 3’ where we worked together to finalise wording and content of the three policy areas and completed our Youth Communiqué for delivery to G20 leaders. Representing Australia, the policy ideas I was negotiating for centred around increased Wage Transparency for the ‘Future of Work’ negotiation stream and Integrated Reporting for ‘International Trade’, both hoping to drive fair, merit-based and sustainable action based on greater access to information.

This experience was simply phenomenal. As a speaker for two out of the three topic areas, I was heavily involved in discussion over the entire summit. ‘Summit Session 1’ threw me into the deep-end of conflicting interests, differing negotiation styles and personality types, situated within an intense, fast-paced discussion mediated by the committee. Here the logistics of twenty different people fighting hard to individually explain, influence and communicate in an extremely tight timeframe blew me away. From an Australian perspective, I was able to articulate the need for our policy recommendation on Integrated Reporting- taking a holistic, systems approach, rather than a siloed approach, to financial reporting- which was eventually incorporated into the final Y20 Communiqué.

‘Summit Session 3’ was an unforgettable experience in conflicting interests, lowest common denominator actions and human irrationality. Working towards consensus between twenty passionate people of different language, expertise, national interests and life experience backgrounds, was a very long, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding process. Overall the negotiation section of the Y20 summit was a life changing experience, exposing me to the reality of international negotiations, a host of passionate international delegates and Australia’s position as a middle power in the G20. On a personal level, this experience allowed me to identify my strengths in conflict resolution, empathy and persuasive logic that saw me personally requested to join other stagnant groups as a meditator and problem solver.

After negotiations, it was a huge honour to present our Final Y20 Communique to the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe at Japan’s Parliament House and later to the First Lady of Japan Akie Abe at the Prime Minister’s residence. These experiences provided rare insight into our leaders’ behaviour in and out of the media’s spotlight, with the Prime Minister commenting on how great he found the ‘realistic, pragmatic and implementable’ Y20 policies while appreciating the youth’s ability to work without clouding national interests.

Our Summit experience concluded with a gracious invitation to attend the Australian Embassy in Japan. Here we had the opportunity to meet great Australians such as our former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ambassador to Japan Richard Court AC, Deputy Head of Mission Greg Ralph and many distinguished dignitaries. This experience was simply breathtaking as we learned more about Australia’s important relationship with Japan, the life of international diplomats and about how international opportunities, challenges and unexpected events are navigated.

Overall this opportunity has been one of the best experiences in my life, filled with both personal and professional development, and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with interests in international policy and diplomacy. The opportunity to tackle real world issues with such an amazing group of passionate delegates and to be heard by G20 leaders has moved me beyond words. It has left me with an incredibly positive view of future possibilities, a network of global change makers and a renewed drive to continue pushing for a better tomorrow.

Many Thanks again to Global Voices and UNSW Co-op for making the opportunity possible.

Reflections on the 2019 GLOBSEC Young Leaders Forum

CAPT Zach Lambert, Department of Defence

The 2019 GLOBSEC Bratislava Young Leaders Forum (GYLF) provided an amazing opportunity to engage with young leaders, professionals and experts at the top of their field, and experience the high-octane transfer of ideas that occurs at a world class security conference. It was a chance to share some fresh and innovative ideas and make connections that will last a lifetime. By participating in GYLF, the Global Voices’ Defence delegation got the opportunity to broaden their Australian perspective on security; there was almost no talk of the Pacific region, and the focus on European Union internal dynamics was an eye-opening departure from standard Australian security considerations.

As soon as we arrived, the lessons were thick and fast – sessions on ‘Weaponising Islam in Europe’ and ‘The Future of War—Still a Human Affair’ were delivered by guests such as the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Admiral Manfred Neilson. This set the tone for GLOBSEC, with a constant barrage of topics that challenged, intrigued and developed the participants. There was not a moment free – if a session wasn’t being conducted, connections were being made in the hallways, or on the way to the next session.

The Global Voices delegation was granted the opportunity to attend a closed session on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative, with the chance to speak with senior members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the European Parliament and some world leading think-tanks, such as the Atlantic Council, on the intricacies of making PESCO work. In this session, there was also room to speak about some of the tensions that PESCO generates between the EU and the United States of America, as well as a rare opportunity to ask some hard questions. The principal question that came to us—why was Australia interested in an EU agreement? This was a rare opportunity to discuss how EU intellectual property (IP) rights and the decisions surrounding PESCO would affect how Australia negotiates our IP agreements with the EU throughout the rest of the year.

In the evenings, our delegation had the chance to attend various functions with the Forbes Global ‘30 Under 30’ event, which was going on at the same time. This was an amazing opportunity to meet with some of the top young entrepreneurs in the world, who were pitching projects as varied as the next killer transport app to satellite imagery designed to spot submarines under the surface of the ocean. The Forbes entrepreneurs lived up to their reputation of working hard and playing hard, and as the drinks flowed while we overlooked Bratislava, new networks were developed in every conversation.

After a long three days, the Global Voices delegation came together to celebrate a successful conference with a debriefing dinner at the UFO, a famous restaurant in Bratislava. This was a wonderful opportunity to get a final look at the beautiful city, share some world class food and discuss the outcomes of what we had learned. After such an intense period, it was a great chance to unwind and get ready to come back to Australia to put our new learning into practice back at work.

Please note, the views expressed within the policy paper are Zach’s own and do not reflect those of the Australian Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

Future of Democracy: technology is changing our lives more than you might think

Elena Broekman, Department of Defence

Wow – what a whirlwind this week has been. It has been a huge pleasure to be a Global Voices Scholar attending the 2019 GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum. Not only did I get to participate in one of the leading conferences on global security, but I also got to meet the most brilliant and inspiring young professionals from around the world, as part of the GLOBSEC Young Leaders Forum.

This conference was a fantastic opportunity to engage with leading experts on global security challenges facing the world. A recurring theme during the conference was the impact of technology on democracy. We had the opportunity to hear General John Allen, President of the Brookings Institute, talk about technology and the future of governance and liberal democracy.

Allen discussed how tech giants have the capacity to influence large segments of the population in ways that far exceed the capacity of a traditional democratic governments. He talked about the increase of ‘digital citizens’ - a term that refers to how people’s relationship with technology, like Facebook or Instagram, is becoming more consequential in their immediate lives than their government. For this reason, there is tension and competition between liberal democracies and technology.

On the other side of the coin, authoritarian states are harnessing this technology to control the population in a way that has never previously been available to them. For example, China’s social credit system. A panel on ‘big data’ discussed the social credit system and the broader geopolitical implications of aggregating data. Big data refers to the ability to pool together previously siloed information, like personal, commercial and/or scientific data.

The panel explained how big data could potentially make autocratic regimes more successful and attractive. The speakers described how in the 20th century, one of the reasons the communist model was economically unsuccessful was because centralised governments were trying to control and make decisions for the farms and provinces. This was an area they didn’t have knowledge or experience in and so they got it wrong. In this century, there can be data attached to every row of crops. Aggregation of this data could allow autocratic regimes to provide more attractive services to the population than was previously possible.

Emerging tech giants and big data were just two of many examples used throughout the conference to explain how technology is challenging liberal democracies. Some others include: artificial intelligence, drones, 5G and cyber attacks. In all these cases, the speed of technology development is outstripping political institutions’ ability to understand what the issues are and respond.

Finally, Admiral Manfred Nielson, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation NATO, discussed how we can respond to these challenges. We need to focus on partnerships and cooperation between liberal democracies, greater information sharing on common challenges and collaborating with private sector like technology companies to regulate technology but also innovate together. The future of liberal democracies depends on its ability to adapt and use these technologies, along with being able to operate and defend itself in the cyber domain.

Please note, the views expressed within the policy paper are Elena’s own and do not reflect those of the Australian Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

Y20 Summit 2019- Negotiating policy solutions with young people from across the world

Rose-Anna Selhorst, Global Voices Y20 National Scholar

It was an honour to represent Australian youth at the Y20 Summit this year in Tokyo, Japan, as one of two Australian delegates. The Y20 Summit is one of several engagement groups of the G20 and is one of the only officially (and internationally) recognised ways for young people to make policy recommendations that are presented to leaders through the Y20 Communiqué document. Leaders of the G20 countries, which together represent around 86% of the world economy and two thirds of the global population, gather each year to discuss pressing global issues and agree to actions and priorities.

This year, we Y20 youth representatives were tasked with negotiating and agreeing to policy recommendation for three topics:

  1. Future of Work

  2. Business and Environment, and

  3. International Trade.

Representatives from each country had already submitted their proposed recommendations before arriving in Japan, which gave us all an idea of the different national priorities and what each delegation was hoping to achieve during the Y20 Summit discussions.

Before we dived into the policy negotiations, we gathered together for the first time on Sunday 26 May for the G20 Youth Dialogue event at Rikkyo University. We heard from dignitaries including H.E. Hiroshige Seko (Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry) and H.E. Koji Tomita (G20 Sherpa, Japan), and experienced a Wadaiko performance (Japanese drums) which energised us as we then separated into workshops. The workshops were an opportunity for the Y20 delegates to engage with high school and university students, in order to further develop one of our policy proposals that we would be advocating for in the Y20 discussions. I attended the workshop run by representatives from BRITA, a company with the vision of changing how people drink water sustainably. I was deeply impressed by the students I worked with on further developing Australia’s proposal for the Business and Environment discussion, which identified ways that G20 countries could reduce plastic production and consumption. The students had some unique ideas, for example that governments could partner with young people to be ambassadors for plastic reduction on social media and use hashtags to promote clean ups.

As we entered the week, we immersed ourselves into the policy debates and negotiations. A highlight for me was representing Australian youth in the Business and Environment discussion. We began with a presentation from Alona Kazantseva, a representative from the World Bank Group. Climate change was one of the main issues discussed by representatives in this session. We debated ideas for how to involve businesses in reducing carbon emissions and move towards a circular economy. The Saudi Arabian representative and I advocated strongly for the inclusion of the issue of avoidable single-use plastic. Research shows that nations are unable to handle the amount of plastic waste they have already generated, with around 79% of plastic ever produced now in landfill or in the broader environment. What is even more concerning is that the production of new plastic is set to skyrocket over the next 10 to 15 years. Reassuringly, avoidable single-use plastic was included as a broader recommendation around waste management in the final Y20 Communiqué. Even better, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe noted the issue of marine plastic litter in his remarks to the Y20 delegates when we presented him with the final policy recommendations!

Reflecting back on my experience at the Y20 Summit, I was deeply moved by how young people passionately discussed and debated significant policy issues we are all facing, but without political barriers. What stands out to me is the importance of humour. Whether it was late night karaoke or enjoying a Kyogen performance (traditional Japanese comic theatre), laughter brings us together. As young people, I think we are able to connect with each other in a way that other senior leaders can often find challenging. We also bring creativity and bold ideas to the most pressing and complex global challenges. Most importantly, we want to change the world.  

The biggest thing I note when I reflect back on the Y20 Summit is how we grappled with framing our ideas in a way that would ensure that political leaders would actually listen to what we have to say, and not dismiss our ideas as being too ambitious. It is encouraging to see leaders are increasingly recognising the importance and value of engaging young people in policy-making, but at the end of the day we are not the ones sitting in the driver’s seat. It is ultimately up to our leaders to make bold decisions and change the direction we are going in. We need to continue to explore how to make youth engagement meaningful and how to empower young voices when it comes to solving complex global challenges.

Day 4 - Let's distinguish health from health care: what factors truly determine our wellbeing?

James Leigh, Curtin University

Let me set the scene for you: the sun was back after days of clouds, the mountains were clear. I’d eaten my wholesome, ritualistic French breakfast consisting of croissants, Nutella, milk bread and yoghurt cake; and I’d dusted off a coffee. I was ready.

Today marked the fourth official day of the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA72) in Geneva. Having reached the back end of the week, I had very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was extremely excited about the upcoming meetings with civil societies, non-government organisations and World Health Organisation (WHO) staff to further enhance both the breadth and depth of my understanding of global health priorities. On the other hand, I felt a strong sense of bewilderment and sadness as the time in Geneva flew by, and I tried to absorb each opportunity without it escaping me.

My Thursday consisted of three predominating events, coupled with a range of meetings and exploration to fill the time in between. Beginning with a breakfast at the Restaurant Vieux-Bois, sponsored by NCD Child, I was involved in discussions to promote youth-led efforts in addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). I was especially touched by the young speakers from Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya who discussed their advocacy in the fields of tobacco control, mental health and access to medicines, respectively. This event was critical in its empowerment of myself and fellow youth delegates from other countries, to voice and act on our public and global health concerns. The event also provided an ideal environment to network with fellow delegates with similar interests from all over the world – newbies and veterans – whom I’m hoping to reach out to going forward with the Assembly and my policy proposal.

The subsequent two events occurred after lunch and just prior to dinner; discussing the equities, innovations and financing of universal health coverage (UHC), and community engagement in the facilitation of health, respectively. Instead of boring you with a chronological recollection of these events and their major takeaways, I instead want to expand on the overarching lessons of my time at the WHA72 and how it has influenced my malleable perception of the vast breadth of issues at large in our world.

UHC has been the central theme of WHA72 and is an all-encompassing concept that applies to every country regardless of wealth, environment, climate or culture. Although targeted at impoverished, developing nations, UHC can be contextualised to Australia and other developed nations. With respect to our homeland, universal health coverage is necessary for our marginalised and vulnerable populations; namely, our Indigenous and refugee and asylum seeker populations.

Another key theme of WHA72, has been the inter-relationship between climate change and health, which gained a lot of traction with multiple events delving into the issue, and will only increase in significance at the Assembly. Though traditionally being labelled as an environmental issue, climate change is now acknowledged as a problem for everyone and every sector – health being no exception. Issues such as disaster response, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels affecting agriculture, are but a few of the examples where our planet’s changing climate is disabling health security. For myself, with no exceptional understanding of climate change, it was highly confronting to discuss the health catastrophes due to climate change and to hear from people directly impacted by such events, such as Fijians. I feel privileged to have had this revelation, as I can now better appreciate the extent of the climate’s impact on health and utilise this knowledge in my everyday life and future as a medical practitioner.

Synthesising these two key areas of action, I have developed a profound appreciation for the concept of “health” and how it differs from “health care”. Health incorporates every aspect of life – be it diet, exercise, safety, culture, spirituality, education, hygiene, etc. Health care, on the other hand, refers to the specific reaction to an abnormality in health. Proactive measures target the health of people, whilst the reactive measures come under the health care umbrella. WHO Director General Tedros’ mission of universal health coverage assumes the proactive approach – investing in primary health care and infrastructure and education to prevent health abnormalities. This then reduces strain on healthcare and more expensive practices. This distinction has been my key take-home message from the week so far.

Having learnt so much already, I'm very eager to see what tomorrow brings as my final day at the Assembly.