On the morning of Day 0 of the UN Internet Governance Forum, the YouthxPolicyMakers youth ambassadors published four digital policy papers. In the course of the program, the young participants completed four competency-building workshops and four roundtable discussions with policy makers from around the world, including Canadian Senator Kim Pate; Chief Expert in Internet Policies at the National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt, Manal Ismail; Member of Parliament at the East African Legislative Assembly, Hon Eng Pamela Maassay of Tanzania; and Member of European Parliament, Marina Kaljurand of Estonia. The workshops, roundtables, and policy papers were themed around the topics of inclusive Internet governance ecosystems, access and accessibility, content and media literacy, and data protection and security. These policy papers were then presented at the Internet Governance Forum in Katowice by several youth participants at their respective events.
Project lead Elisabeth Schauermann presented the project and the papers with Demetria Lee at a joint event with the Polish YIGF along with the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance, Internet Society Youth Special Interest Group (ISOC Youth SIG), and the Digital Youth Jam project from Generation Connect. The session focused on successful youth initiatives, and discussed the importance of tangible outcomes such as the policy papers. As these groups worked in parallel leading international youth engagement projects, there was a lot to compare and contrast in the respective strategies of the groups. Demetria then further discussed the role that the YouthxPolicyMakers program and the policy papers play in the realm of youth engagement with youth ambassadors, other speakers and experts at the event "Digital Cooperation process - Analysis from Youth lenses," for which YouthxPolicyMakers ambassador, Nicolas Fiumarelli of Uruguay was Rapporteur. Again, the subject of parallel youth engagement was in focus – this time with an emphasis on how groups working in tandem can engage meaningfully in digital cooperation. Demetria presented the project and papers once again at "YCIG Youth in the decision-making process: hear us!" This session featured young speakers from all over the world including Stella Teoh, the Rapporteur for this session and a YouthxPolicyMakers ambassador from Malaysia and Idil Kula, a YouthxPolicyMakers ambassador from Turkey who presented the Youth SIG messages including demands for increased government accountability, inclusion by design, and non-discriminatory use of data. In the session, the importance of the YouthxPolicyMakers program as a networking opportunity for strengthening youth interests in the multistakeholder process was discussed, as pairing underrepresented young people with experts and policy makers allowed for exchange in both directions – the youth ambassadors learned from experts and politicians, and the experts and politicians learned from the youth ambassadors.
Participant Yawri Carr of Costa Rica brought up the relevance of the policy papers she helped author in two sessions: "Digital Skillsets: Is this it?" and "Trust Me, I am a Seller: Regulating Online Business Accounts" in which the papers on access and accessibility and privacy, security, and vulnerable groups were particularly relevant. "Digital Skillsets" focused on the gap between digital education in developed and developing countries as well as the threat of people with less access to learning these skills being left behind by rapid technological advancement. "Trust Me, I am a Seller" investigated the difficulties of regulating Internet businesses – exploring topics like sponsored Instagram posts and how to protect consumers by making it apparent when something is being advertised. Yawri connected the need to protect consumers to the recommendation in the policy paper on the protection of vulnerable groups demanding internet users receive sufficient education to keep themselves safe and informed online. Finally, Elisabeth Schauermann spoke at "The IRPC Charter of Human Rights & Principles for the Internet at 10: Achievements, challenges and what’s next?" on the importance of engaging young people in human rights topics in internet governance and the role of the IRPC Charter as it celebrates its tenth anniversary in doing so.
As the 44 YouthxPolicyMakers youth ambassadors are from 30 different countries and many are involved in their own regional or other youth initiatives, the network built by this program will allow them to continue to voice their concerns and advocate for their interests on the topics featured in the program and beyond. Some of them will without a doubt bring these perspectives to IGF 2022 to be held in Ethiopia.