Generation Connect: Amplifying young voices to advance digital inclusion

ITU

Young people around the world are powerful drivers of innovation, highly motivated to improve their own lives and the lives of their families and communities. The Generation Connect initiative gives them a voice, with the opportunity to be empowered, to be engaged, and to help advance the global digital development agenda for present and future generations.

Generation Connect encourages global youth to participate as equal partners alongside the leaders of today’s digital change.

Led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the initiative empowers young people with skills and opportunities to advance their vision of a connected future.

In addition to welcoming young people to actively participate in digital development, it provides a platform for them to connect and act on issues they care about and mobilizes youth worldwide to close the digital divide.

Along with initiatives like Generation Equality and Generation Unlimited, the Generation Connect initiative aims to put the voices of youth at the forefront of international advocacy for digital societies.

Through the Generation Connect Regional Youth Groups, diverse young people are able to virtually feed into regional discussions relating to digital technologies. Each ITU regional office has selected 20-30 young leaders to collaborate on crowd-sourced projects for the consideration of regional stakeholders. The groups participants remain members of Generation Connect Community beyond their regional assignments.

ITU formed the Generation Connect Visionaries Board —including eight competitively selected young leaders – specifically to champion youth voices. As board members, those eight young leaders now work side-by-side with eight high-level appointees to advocate meaningful youth engagement in digital cooperation.

The board brings together valuable expertise and vast experiences from the private sector, public sector as well as international organizations. Each board member’s perspective enriches the whole initiative, especially in this challenging time of the COVID-19 crisis.

Enlisting diverse youth representatives alongside high-profile appointees has created the essential dynamic that Generation Connect represents. Today’s challenges can only be tackled collaboratively, and young people must be included in the consequential decision-making processes.

The Generation Connect Visionaries Board will also offer strategic guidance in the implementation of the ITU Youth Strategy ahead of the inaugural Generation Connect Youth Summit, set to precede the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-21) scheduled for November.

The three pillars of the ITU Youth Strategy are: Empower, Engage and Participate.

Through the commitment and contribution of the board members, Generation Connect can bring young people closer to high-level decision making. Their input can help in finding concrete solutions to challenges all youth face today. Ultimately, this could be a pivotal step in bridging the digital divide.

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