[Letters] Y-20 Summit: Exposing young minds to G-20 global affairs

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[Letters] Y-20 Summit: Exposing young minds to G-20 global affairs

The Y-20 Leaders Summit in Seoul offered a classic forum for university students to engage in high-level discussion on global issues. Drawing more than 150 university students from across the nation, and using the G-20 Summit format, the Y-20 Summit has no doubt exposed and immersed young minds into international leadership.

As a privileged Y-20 Summit delegate representing South Africa, the only African nation in the G-20, I appreciated the opportunity to see the world from a leader’s point of view.

In the moments of heated deliberations encrusted with unnecessary egotism, and sometimes frustrated by open bias of some of the bigger economies, I understand why leaders of developing nations occasionally walk out in protest.

Alongside other leaders from developing nations I protested against a proposal to introduce a voting system in the ratification of communique clauses. I argued that poor nations are under-represented in the G-20 and applying principles of democracy would be tantamount to tyranny of the majority.

But there were light moments too - times of bliss, laughter and jokes as the young global leaders productively reached consensus on some issues and discarded others.

The Y-20 Summit has been a long journey. Some delegates were overwhelmed by the pressure of understanding global economic, political and environmental affairs. I should have mentioned that these young leaders are university students who had to prepare working group background papers alongside academic reports and theses. Even with such enormous pressure, most of the Y-20 delegates understood the significance of getting involved in global matters. Speaking to team leaders representing nations and international institutions, one message was clear - the burden of global concerns lie on our shoulders and we should prep for the future.

Led by South Africa, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico among other nations, a spirited commitment was put forth at the Y-20 Summit in dealing with agendas reflecting the expectations of the developing and least developed nations. Our arguments and proposals were carefully crafted to represent the perspective of poor nations and emerging economies. Some of these agendas include framework for strong sustainable growth, reformation of international financial institutions, development and environment and human security issues. In a broader sense, the delegates sought to address international issues from a fresh and unique viewpoint.

Although the implementation of the Y-20 communique would be determined by the political will and cooperation of world leaders amid the ongoing recovery from financial crisis, we hope that the outcome of the November G-20 Summit will be productive.

There is also no doubt that South Korea is a special host for the G-20 Summit. From the perspective of developing nations, South Korea is certainly a symbolic and historic choice. In November, Korea is expected to be the bridge between the least developed, emerging and developed economies.

Korea’s historical economic advancement over a short period of time offers a model for developing nations. Korea is now one of the world largest economies after starting out at the bottom, and can genuinely stand in solidarity with poor nations by supporting any efforts they engage in to end poverty, disease and security issues.

As for the organizers of the Y-20 Summit, there could be no better gift than giving young minds a forum to experience mindboggling realities of global leadership in a highly interdependent world. No doubt that with such opportunities, young leaders will emerge with greater understanding and offer fresh ideas in dealing with socio-economic-political and environmental issues at international stage.


Benson Kamary,

leader of the South Africa team which received the Presidential Council on Nation Branding award alongside the Korean team at the Y-20 Summit sponsored by the JoongAng Ilbo
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