On June 18, the graduates of the “New Generation” program took part in the “Friends for Leadership Online Meetup: from SPIEF to UN75”, held by the Roscongress Foundation, Friends for Leadership (FFL) international network, TV BRICS and Ruspromo. The online event featured special guests from the UN and the Moscow Government and gave young leaders an opportunity to share the news about their projects first presented at the 2019 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Last June, the delegates of the “New Generation” program from 30 countries of the world visited the Russian northern capital to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). As part of the forum, young leaders participated in the first-ever “Friends for Leadership” event where they not only had a chance to discuss questions on the international youth agenda but also present their own projects in a variety of fields, from science and education to business and innovation.
Exactly one year has passed since then but there are already some visible results. Speaking at the “Friends for Leadership Online Meetup: from SPIEF to UN75” on June 18, the “New Generation” delegates from Singapore, Latvia, South Africa, Nepal, Mongolia, and Argentina gave an update on their achievements so far and exchanged their thoughts on how the world will change after the pandemic.
The online discussion also featured special distinguished guests: Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Under Secretary General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the United Nations 75th Anniversary and Digital Cooperation, and Sergei Cheryomin, Minister of the Moscow City Government and Head of Department for Foreign Economic Activity and International Relations.
Starting the conference, Hochschild told about the current UN agenda and noted that international cooperation was felt to be in crisis even before the pandemic struck. According to him, it has been difficult for the states to reach common ground on questions like climate change and conflict prevention. “Against that backdrop of magnified global challenges and reduction of international cooperation, we try and get new inspiration from the youth,” he stated. “We are deeply grateful for gathering more voices (with this event).”
Sergei Cheryomin of the Moscow City Government continued the conversation by sharing the experience of the Russian capital in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and argued that international insight has been extremely valuable for the local authorities. “We believe that regular communication with other cities helped us avoid the worst scenario in the epidemic. 10 days ago we participated in the video conference with mayors and governors of 50 cities around the world and everybody stressed that cooperation in the future is very important,” he pointed out.
Moving on, the “New Generation” alumni touched on the work they’ve been doing since the SPIEF-2019 and shared their thoughts on things policymakers should keep in mind in the post-pandemic era.
Amra Naidoo from Singapore told about her project “Accelerating Asia” which helps businesses across all Southeast Asia to grow. “We work very closely with founders to strengthen their business and set them up for success. The startups that have come through our program have grown an average two and a half times,” she says.
Inter-African Research Consultancy of Raymond Matlala from South Africa has also been expanding over the past 12 months. Initially his team comprised of 10 people and now they have 50 people from around the world researching methodologies to tackle Covid-19. As he says, increasing cooperation in science is one of the things governments should take into account.
Another common challenge for all countries is the skills mismatch and competence gap, argued Baljaa Chinzorigt from Mongolia. Her organization “Youth Inc” works to bridge the gap between the youth and prospective employers - an area that will definitely be affected by the pandemic, she believes. “How can we address this problem and help those who lose their jobs? These questions are extremely important to me as a mother of two,” she warns.
Latvia’s Gustavs Mārtiņš Upmanis argues that promoting better social inclusion for the youth locally is vital to ensure change globally. His “All Opportunities” project has been working to connect the youth with opportunities, projects, and scholarships available for them as well as expanded to the job market. For instance, they held a “speed dating” event for young people and prospective employers which was very popular.
The past year has proved successful for Matias Badano from Argentina and his “NANOTICA Agro”, a project that works on introducing nanotechnologies to agriculture to help the businesses be more sustainable by reducing the use of chemicals. Apart from working with local farmers, his team expanded the technology to Brazil, one of the biggest markets for crop production. “After Covid, fundraising is hard but we're achieving this by increasing our team and testing our technologies,” he says. “We are starting to test our product with farmers in Brazil and also focusing on developing products around the world.”
Another “New Generation” graduate, Bhushan Dahal from Nepal, summed up the progress of his project, “Kids of Kathmandu”. Focusing on providing better education for the children of Nepal, Bhushan and his team built five new schools over the year, thus changing lives for 4,000 students. “We have acquired many partners thanks to SPIEF and we are deeply grateful for that. A lot of things will change after Covid-19, but we are sure that the importance of education will be the same if not higher,” he believes.
To sum up, the conference showed that the post-Covid world should take into account the need for greater solidarity and cooperation and provide greater voice for the youth in all aspects of life, might it be labor relations, local administration, scientific exchange, or sustainable crop production. After all, it’s in these fields where the “New Generation” alumni are already making significant contributions.
Watch the full video of the event in English to find out more.