Every year the eyes of the world turn to one of the most important multilateral events in political and economic terms: the summit of leaders of the G20. But this forum of coordination between the main global powers gives rise to other so-called “affinity groups”, which produce documents and reflections that are then submitted to the heads of each of the participating States. Among the latter, and even above them, stands out the Youth 20 (Y20), which is, in simple words, the G20 youth summit.
The Y20 stands out from the rest of the affinity groups simply because it is the only one that replicates the same dynamics as the senior leaders’ summit, in addition to preparing concrete recommendations and proposals, instead of documents and reflections. “We agreed on a document with the expectation of that the interests of global youth are respected and the spirit of the declaration during the next central meeting of the G20 ”, explained in an interview with TN.com.ar Tomás Listrani, the 27-year-old young international analyst and historian who led the Argentine delegation of the Y20 during the summit that was held virtually from July 19 to 23.
Argentina is one of the 19 countries – plus the European Union – that annually sits at the table of the most powerful states in the world to discuss issues related to the economic, political and social future of the planet. As every year, the G20 presidency is the one who decides the central motto and from which the different areas of debate emerge. In this 2021 it was the turn of Italy, which set priorities around three major dimensions: People, Planet and Prosperity (People, Planet and Prosperity, in English). By complying with the same dynamic, the Y20 replicated it.
Tomás Listrani revealed that throughout the summit, “more attention was placed on the area sustainability, energy and climate change”, One of the three“ macro areas ”on which the young people of the 20 delegations debated. The other two topics were, on the one hand, “innovation, digitization and the future of work”, and, on the other, “inclusion and equal opportunities”. In that sense, and to express their concern about what they consider is a “Climate catastrophe”, the participants did not hesitate to capture in the final document the fateful consequences that the world would face if it continued on the current path.
– If there is currently a climate catastrophe, then where do we go?
– Just talking about climate change will generate an economic problem, a biological catastrophe due to mass extinction and a social catastrophe. It is hard for us to think about this, but entire countries and communities are going to disappear due to rising temperatures and rising sea levels. When framing it as a “catastrophe” we say that there will be new security problems, migration and armed conflicts, which puts States on alert.
– Was there consensus in adding this word to the final document?
– It was included at the request of the delegation of Mexico, and most of the countries agreed. In the same way, there was a debate on whether the catastrophe had to go in the singular or in the plural. Finally, the singular was imposed to imply that there is a problem that has to be solved collectively.
– If we continue down this path, could that singularity of today be transformed into plurality tomorrow? From one catastrophe to several.
– Sure, very chained and interconnected. The increase in emissions leads to increased temperatures and that later impacts differently in the destruction of the balance between environment, people and government in economies. It’s going to end up chaining itself into a very bad final effect.
In this context, Listrani – who is a member of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI), a researcher at UNESCO and the University of Oxford – explained that the countries of the southern hemisphere were “more concerned about the monopolization of natural resources or that the energy transition does not destroy many jobs “, while some of the European delegations” were already proposing that the pollution of outer space had to play a leading role in the declaration. ” In other words, there is a big difference between the concerns of countries at the global level: Europe worries about space pollution and southern countries worry about jobs.
Resolving these big differences in a clause that has a maximum of only 75 words is not easy. In any case, Listrani explained that whenever “the global south presented concerted proposals” there was “good receptivity from the other side” and stressed that the final document included topics that had never been mentioned previously in the 12 Y20 summits that took place. above, such as carbon neutrality by 2050 so that the average global temperature rises up to 1.5 °.
– What other point of discussion was there besides the climate and energy?
– That of the future of work, digitization and innovation. We know that we do not represent the countries but the youth of those countries, therefore we have to talk about the jobs that are going to be created and exist in the future.
– Which are?
They are sectors that will exist but we do not know what they will be called or how many jobs they will be, we differ in those estimates. What we do know is that the workforce has to be retrained because millions of jobs will disappear.
In this sense, and to achieve greater equity in the possibility of access to work around the world, the Y20 participating delegations agreed to present an innovative initiative: “an international digital card that recognizes across borders not only work experience but also her skills “, revealed Listrani during the talk with TN.com.ar, to later add that” today the experience not only makes her go to university, but also it is made up of soft skills ”.
– How do you observe the Argentine youth?
There are three advantages and aptitudes that I see in Argentina and they are not necessarily in the rest of the world. The first thing is that Argentine youth are very educated. I also see that we have a lot of concern for solidarity, that we not only want to study and work but also participate in networks or NGOs. And a third virtue is that unlike previous generations, the new ones are re-politicized, in the sense that there are many young people who seek to ‘move the board’ and do something.
Listrani led the delegation together with Mercedes Salgado and Pía Ravicini. Before ending the interview, he did not keep his message to the political class and current power groups: “It is necessary to create an awareness that it is not for the youth, but with the youth. We must give more space to our voices ”.