#SABF2017 – Day 1

SABF 2017; Day 1; In case you blinked, here’s everything that went down.

Challenging our Identity

To kick off this year’s opening segment, Eric Vilain invites us to consider the different aspects of sexuality with regards to anatomy and identity. Contemplating the consequences of clinical labeling, he questions the need for exceptions and surmises what criteria this path would entail. Finally, he argues in favor of an evidence-based approach to the subject and quotes that “good ethics require good data”.

Next up is Agustin Fuentes, who manages a 10 minute recap of over 2 million years of human history. Looking at our similarities and differences to our genetic ancestors, he singles out our creativity as the defining factor of our human identity; our ability for cooperation and developing communities earns a special mention. He further touches on our growing inequality and stresses the importance of context in solving conflicts. Closing on a positive note he holds that if millions of years are anything to go by, we know how to work together.

Accompanying her captivating oratory with a measure of humor, Anna Kazumi Stahl speaks of her personal experience with seemingly exclusive elements of our official identities. She proposes that identity is essentially sameness relative to oneself and advocates for more complex descriptors as opposed to labels. With regards to different cultures, she welcomes an honest respectful society where “differences become a dialogue”.

What is home? In the closing debate, the three speakers contemplate the roles of language and imagination in what we perceive as ours. They discard the idea of a single such emotional domicile, and highlight our human capacity as “niche creators”. Following questions, Eric examines the notion of sexuality as a combination of hardware and software as well as the implications of being free to choose one’s gender; Agustin delves into institutionalized discrimination, and Anna suggests that in our search for our voice or “brand”, one might lose sight of one’s empathy.

Reality Gap:

“Slowly and then all at once”, Rick Dow explains the circumstances that lead to the inexplicable. What moves essentially good people to make bad choices? We examine the roles of a declining middle class, decreased empathy, and the power of big money in setting the stage for “politics of fear and hate”. However, in a characteristic moment of optimism, Rick protests the idea of a zero-sum world and incites us to take action; to “defend the truth vigorously” and be “actively empathic”. Success, he reminds us, is the sum of small choices.

Laura Zommer’s mission, as she puts it, is to “increase the cost of lying”, in a world that flaunts a growing disregard of facts and increasing data manipulation. She takes us through the 7 types of “fake news” and warns us of the slippery slope that is confirmation bias. Journalism, she asserts, needs to change; it needs to evolve based on what the people need from it. The first steps? – Method transparency and audience involvement.

Lastly, Joan Lucariello explains the dual nature of our preconceptions and underlines the importance of understanding and dealing with misconceptions in particular. These, she tells us, are intrinsically linked to our knowledge base in such a way that “what we already know shapes our learning”. Next, we look at possible courses of action with respect to teaching, as well as different tools and strategies to challenge misconceptions in general. The daunting task of conceptual change becomes substantially more attainable.

Together on stage, Rick, Laura, and Joan’s answers are definitive. “Politicians do not care about facts because people do not care about facts”, but it is the public’s responsibility to seek and demand truth.

 

Empathic Design:

Alexander Laszlo invites us to reconsider empathy. He touches on empathic intelligence, the empathic imperative as well as he differentiates between cognitive and emotional empathy. Love, as the coexistence of legitimate others, is identified as a key element of our creativity. He declares that human systems should be designed with others and not for others.

To the audience’s delight, Alejandro Nieponice’s opening rundown of technological advances in his field includes impressive live footage. Once he has caught their attention, he discusses the future of robotized surgery and stresses the need for doctors to rediscover their role in a changing medical landscape. Asked about AI, he states that robots will never match human empathy.

Diego Fernández shares his experience with the task of breaking the 85-year-long isolation of the 46-hectare “Barrio 31”. We’re reminded of the importance of humility and patience in approaching a problem, and that valid solutions must be obtained as a joint effort. Finally, Diego stresses how critical it is to obtain feedback and praises prototypes as an essential tool to learn from and adapt a project.

In this segment’s debate, the speakers look at technology as a social gap closer. They advocate for problem-based learning and criticize generalizations and stereotypes, urging us to “give hope to find hope”. We’re offered a new definition of technology as “crystallized culture” and are invited to seek consonance, coherence, and lasting connections.

Natasha Hooper and Amen Ra’s powerful rendition of “Islamophobia” leaves us speechless. They ask us, in perfect unison, if we see it, and without stopping to catch their breath, they make sure that we do. They show us what it looks like when we let fear, hate, and ignorance win out over our shared humanity, and urge us to look further.

Lastly, Diego Luzuriaga helps us integrate the day’s themes with a skillful recap; a touching video conveys that “an open world begins with an open mind”, and Diego offers his closing thoughts.

“What is the purpose of our differences?”

“What is our greatest common denominator?”

“Could it be that our vulnerabilities bind us together?”

“What are you going to do?”

 

What are SABFers up to 13 years after the first edition?

*By Gisela de la Villa and Catalina Gálvez

After 3 days of having been sharing group activities, workshops, inspiring talks, dinners, and events alongside 99 other people, you may wonder if the connections you made and the time invested in so many learnings will be put to good use at home and in the future.

 

To show what the participants have been up to after having attended the SABF, we made a poll which we distributed just a few days before the 13th edition of the conference. In just two days, 61 participants from all editions replied, and we believe their responses are a clear reflection of what awaits the participants after having been through the event. So, dear 100 new chosen participants, prepare to read about what you’ll start living from tomorrow on!

 

SABF’s impact in a participant’s life

74% of the participants replied that the conference “was a great experience and influenced 100% my life after having participated”. The rest of them assure us that the SABF was a positive experience and they’re happy they’ve attended.

 

“SABF gave me my best friends, opened the doors to a whole new world of dynamic people, restless and intelligent, whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It opened the doors to infinite opportunities and many other conferences around the world!

 

 

Changes in behaviour and thinking

Over 75% affirms that the talks and having shared and discussed with young people from other cultures modified their way of thinking and seeing the world.

 

“We’ve questioned many concepts and we’ve been able to collectively discuss future perspectives from different points of view. Without a doubt, cultural and professional bias crumble when you share so much time and so many debates with other young people”.

 

“SABF left a permanent mark. Knowing that we live through different issues that share a common origin, and that that unites us even more in our wish to create a better world, was a turning point”.

“It motivated me to go beyond, to not settle for what I had accomplished so far”

“At a time at which I was still a university student, SABF introduced me to the world of entrepreneurship, social impact and collaborative work, which lead me to starting my own social enterprise”.

 

international opportunities

Most of those who answered the poll were inspired by SABF to seek similar opportunities. 77% claim it was the first of a series of conferences they attended, and nearly 20% are currently living outside their country of origin.

 

“Thanks to the SABF I’ve met incredible people who showed me a world of possibilities I didn’t know. Due to the event, I’ve travelled to Europe and the USA to attend (and even organize!) similar conferences in very prestigious universities, like IE (Spain) and Harvard (USA)”.

“I liked the format, the dynamics, the people, the content, and the general experience so much, that I’ve sought more conferences like SABF. I’ve been able to travel on a scholarship to Norway, Germany, Brazil, and it motivated me to build my own event for the youth, as well as leaving my country in search of new opportunities ”.

“After attending SABF, I’ve decided that my professional career didn’t have to remain local. It lead me to project my career internationally, on which I’m still working to this day”.

 

 

Lasting connections

After the question “what was the biggest impact the SABF had on your life”, all questions agree on the fact that they value the people you meet the most. These connections don’t stop at friendship, but also become business relationships. 26% affirm they’ve started up a project with another SABFer, and 18% tried.

 

SABFgave me my first job, a huge network, a political party of which I’ve been a part, and currently an enterprise I’ve co-founded. All this happened thanks to people I’ve met through SABF. I’ve also made friends scattered around the world”.

“Finding so many people with a genuine wish to make a positive impact on the world and finding like-minded people with whom to share ideas and nurture from them was a motivation and inspiration to not stay in my comfort zone ”.

“SABF gave me the chance to bond with people with a high impact on their communities, convincing myself that I’m one of them if I want to, incorporate a global and innovative view and, last but not least, meet my best friends, who are people I greatly admire”.

 

Plus, 92% says they’re still in touch with other participants of their same edition!

 

“Thanks to SABF, I met my girlfriend”.

 

We wish the greatest success to all 100 participants chosen for the 13th SABF edition! Use these days to learn, meet, talk and debate all you

Youth 20 Dialogue in Berlin

Some minutes with Julia Amerikaner, one of the argentine delegates.

The Youth 20 Dialogue is the official G20 forum for young people.  As the SABF, it’s objective is to gather young professionals of different cultures to tackle the future of the international agenda. In this edition, Julia Amerikaner was the argentine delegate.

 

SABF: Tell us a bit about the activities during those days.

Julia Amerikaner (JA): The conference lasted a week and more than 70 young participants from different countries and organizations were gathered. This year, not only delegates of the G20 countries were there, but other guest countries as well (like Norway and Singapore) and multilateral organizations, like the World Trade Organization, World Labour Organization, United Nations and regional organizations like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The final product was a special editorial of 25 pages that resumed the 10 topics that youth considers a priority. Between those: global economy, gender equality, digitalization, sustainable development, terrorism, migration and refugees, within others.

During the first days of the conference, we got together in informal workshops to discuss these topics and set forth recommendations for the G20 governments. Afterwards, each one of us chose a topic and worked on it in teams.  In between, we had the opportunity to meet experts in each field and enhance our work.  After the first draft, each team had to present their topic to the reset of the conference and we went through each point altogether.

Consensus was key: there were easily 5 drafts before getting to the final document (and a lot of nights up until 4 am!).  We discussed about which ideas to include (or even which entire paragraph should be deleted); the nature of the recommendations and the capacity of the governments to set them forth.

After closing the document, each group chose a speaker to present the theme to Merkel.  The speaker had two minutes to pitch their idea and, later on, accepted questions from Merkel.

 

SABF: How were the different topics developed? Which one interested you the most?

JA: At the beginning the topics were worked by everyone, it was an exchange of ideas, opinions and points of view.  Later, each participant had to focus on one topic in groups of 4 or 10 persons.  In my case, I was passionate about three:  anti-corruption, digitalization and gender equality.

Finally, I chose to work in the digitalization committee. To understand my decision, you should know that I work as an adviser in the Ministry of Culture of the Nation.  When I began, almost a year ago, everything was done on paper. Today I’m leading a project to implement a digital platform to organize the work at the Ministry; from the planifications of their activities to the budget execution.  I felt that I had a lot to contribute to the group and also had the chance to deepen my own knowledge and apply what was learnt in my country. I really feel that the modernization of the State is important to progress and to improve the quality of the services offered to the citizens.

 

SABF: As you worked on the digitalization topic, did you come across any uneasiness?

JA: I’ll make an observation (It could be considered as “uneasiness”) and I will say something very obvious:  Our context, the place where we grew up and the things that surround us, really define the way of seeing the world. I say this because I was surprised that the in the gender equality committee (composed entirely by europeans and none from Latin America) did not include gender violence in their first draft. The argentine delegation, together with the mexican, requested that it should be included in a paragraph in the official document about the gender violence and domestic violence.

This anecdote serves to emphasise that diversity, especially in a working group, is important.  I believe that if Argentina and Mexico would not have been part of the discussion, then gender violence would not have been included in a debate about equality; a terrible mistake, in my opinion.

 

SABF: At the time of promoting the objectives of the G20, what do you think is the role of Argentina and what do you think is the most urgent aspect to strengthen?

JA: I think Argentina has the unique opportunity next year as we are assuming the presidency of the G20.  There are only three latin american countries in the group (Mexico, Argentina and Brazil).  So I think Argentina can emphasize certain topics in a unique way: the poverty and migration as one of the most relevant.  I would also like the country to take a long term perspective and emphasis on sustainable development and politics on renewable energy, as well as gender equality and digitalization.

 

SABF: What did you want to pass over of Argentina to the rest of the countries?

JA: I became a very close friend of the delegations of Korea, Indonesia and Singapore. All of them said that I was the first argentine they met. That tells you everything.  As a delegate, you want to share the best of your country: the sympathy of Argentina, the friendship, but also the cleverness of argentines to solve problems.  I wanted to transmit that we were an open country, friendly and, above all, leave a good impression.

 

SABF: You had some training on public speaking, anything you would want to share about that?

JA: Thess conferences show the importance of public speaking. For the ones that don’t have much experience in this, I believe the most important part is to lose the fear and to try it: start speaking in public, by small steps, without embarrassment and with conviction.  At the moment of preparing a speech, the best thing is to write down what you want to transmit and generate something coherent.  Where one idea follows another one naturally.  Above all, be clear and concise, give examples.

 

SABF: One of the topics for Y20 was the lack of economic opportunities for young people and the lack of representation of youth in the global economy. According to statistics 25 per cent of youth in middle-income nations and 15 per cent in high income nations are NEETs: not in education, employment or training (OECD, 2017). What’s your perspective?

JA: This was one of the main topics: young employment.  It’s something that generates a lot of concern; from Latin America to Europe, Africa and Asia.  Above all, I believe that participation of youth in politics and social civil organizations is key.

 

SABF: How was it to share some moments with Angela Merkel?

JA: It was amazing.  I think that the presence of a Head of State — and someone as influential in the international scenery as Merkel– was a positive message to us and an important signal for youth.  It means “we care about what you are saying”, given that they generated the institutional space to give us a voice.  Also, Merkel had a lot of questions and she seemed interested.  It was not a “passive listening” on her behalf but she made us stand up for our points and develop others.  For the digitization team, she inquired about artificial intelligence and future challenges.

 

SABF: What are your expectations for the coming G20 in Argentina?

JA: I may be repeating myself a little… But my expectation is that this is a great opportunity for Argentina to itself before the world.  I would like to see us leading the regional agenda in topics such as digitization, gender equality and sustainable development.

 

SABF: Do you have an anecdote to share?

JA: Uf, thousands.  But I would like to tell one about how I met the delegate of Arabia Saudita. We both participated in a workshop about gender equality and as I talked (or she), a sense of complicity developed.  We had a lot in common, all of those who shared ideas were in sintony. She said something and I was thinking “yeah, that’s right”.  I said something and she would look at me like saying “I agree completely”.  When the workshop ended, she came to me and said “We haven’t met yet, right?” And I said “No, but we should”.  After that, and together with the delegate from Singapore, we spent hours talking about different topics, always feeling we had a special connection.  That’s something amazing that this kind of international conferences give: the chance to connect instantly with a person from a completely different environment, that you met two days ago.

 

SABF: From the global challenges that were set forward, which was your favourite?

JA: My favorite is Assuming Responsibility. Already it’s title expresses a key idea: what happens is our responsibility.  It’s time to assume that responsibility and be proactive at the moment of solving problems that unsettle the world for hundreds of years: wars, forced migration, sickness, injustice.  In a world evermore connected, I think it’s irresponsible to look the other way and say “this is not my problem”.  Someone else will not fix this and this will affect you too.  We all have the potential to be agents of change.