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.