G20 Youth Forum 2014 ~ Pre-departure

By Claire McMullen

In a globalized world of over 7 billion people how do other countries view Australia and our handling of our most pressing problems? This is one of many fascinating issues a team of Macquarie University students and academics will consider when we head to Germany for the global G20 Youth Forum. Over 1200 young leaders representing 200 of the World’s top universities will gather near Munich from May 7th– 11th in what will be the largest youth leadership event of 2014.[1] The forum is both a powerful expression of the youth voice in international affairs and an important platform for global cooperation. With opening and closing ceremonies, presentations by students, academics, young parliamentarians and business executives, daily workshops, gala dinners, musical preludes and an extravagant ball, the conference will be a truly unforgettable experience. G20 Youth Alumni Association President, Ksenia Khoruzhnikova, founded the Forum in 2005 to provide a nucleus within the expansive, globalized web of political debate for the innovative ideas expressed by ‘Gen Y’. The forum celebrates both the diversity and interdependence of our global community. Young people will tackle the agenda of the G20, the leading global economic and financial conference that will be held in Australia in September this year. Over the past few months many of the Macquarie delegates have composed articles for publication and presentation on specific areas of research. The conference presentations provide participants with insights into different countries, contexts and cultures. By comparing domestic challenges and initiatives, sharing research and discussing issues of global significance, each one of us is empowered to learn from a diversity of perspectives.

Round Tables:

  1. Economics and Finance
  2. Law and Human Rights
  3. World Politics and International relations
  4. Social Affairs and Medicine
  5. Ecology, Environment and Energy
  6. Design, Technology and Innovations
  7. Education and Youth
  8. Humanities: history, philosophy, linguistics, arts and journalism

As a third year student studying a Bachelor of Arts (major in Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws, I will represent Macquarie University on the World Politics and International Relations round table. I decided to present on a topic often excluded from international agendas but one that is a harsh reality for some Australians. Entitled ‘The Poverty Within”, I will be trying to demonstrate how our veil of prosperity masks the extreme poverty of Australia’s 750, 000 Indigenous people. It is an inquiry into the politics of international accountability and the importance of global scrutiny on an issue that, I would argue, should be at the forefront of Australia’s development agenda. By working closely with representatives from many nations in our respective round tables, we are bound to ascertain how people of other cultures view Australia, our contribution to international development, the adequacy of our foreign aid distribution and our treatment of Indigenous people and asylum seekers. Is there an entrenched hypocrisy in how developed nations often espouse standards they themselves flagrantly fail to meet?

Image

– Image of Munich, the capital of Bavaria. – Source:  ATP world Tour, Germany, http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Tournaments/Munich.aspx

The power of discussion to promote intercultural dialogue and an appreciation for diversity is crucial to achieving effective and sustainable solutions. Contemporary and enduring challenges for the international community including global warming, the threat of unsustainable growth, the depletion of natural resources and threat of war and conflict, are incapable of being resolved by unipolar means. For me personally it is a wonderful opportunity to listen, learn and share ideas. Like many of the Macquarie delegates, I’ll be heading to Germany a couple of days early to explore Munich, a city rich in culture and history.  Are we excited? My clock flashes, 15 days 1 hour 50 minutes, and I remind myself to breathe…

Claire McMullen and the Macquarie Delegates.

[1]G8&G20 Alumni Association, ‘Conference,’ http://www.g20youthforum.org/events/conference/

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