World Bank Youth Summit: Reflections & Optimism

On Tuesday, I participated in the World Bank’s Youth Summit held in Washington, DC. Panel discussions reflected the demand for open and responsive governments; as a representative of Youth to End Sexual Violence, I know that government transparency is necessary to supplant prevailing distrust to effectively prevent and respond to incidences of sexual violence.

H.E. Erion Veliaj (Minister of Social Welfare and Youth in Albania) opened the Summit, urging youth to get involved with government and civil society organizations through social media. Minister Veliaj emphasized that youth can be catalysts for movements which champion accountability and transparency. “Get Involved and be the breaking vote! If young people got their act together, they’d be bigger than any political party. Young people are the number one party.” Notably, he affirmed government interest in transparency. “It’s the benefit of politics to be open and to be response…transparency equals more votes.” 

Optimism for ensuring open and responsive governance continued, with input from Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Nigel Chapman, the Chief Executive Officer of Plan International, Edith Jibunoh of the World Bank’s Global Engagement team, Frank Vogl, co-founder of Transparency International, and Raphael Obonyo from UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board

“Young people are not objects of consultation, they are citizens. Build a citizen who can be good in the work place and a good citizen… We must engage young people in all processes that change their lives. The cost of excluding them is unsustainable.” - Ahmad Alhendawi
“It’s not always easy to be confronted with things you don’t want to hear. Young people can cut through the rhetoric and get down to the heart of the issue. I’m a convert of their passion.” - Nigel Chapman
“Without young people getting involved there will not be any change. Start thinking about your role as an influencer. Young people have mediums that didn’t exist ten years ago.” - Edith Jibunoh
“This [transparency] is not a risk free undertaking. People’s lives will be at risk. Why do people do it? They’re almost all under forty, and they believe in the values their country should have! Convince institutions that young people in civil society want to work as respected partners - equal partners - in the reduction of poverty.” - Frang Vogl
“Leaders are not people who know everything, but people who can put people together. It starts with you. You cannot rely on other people.If we wait for entrenched institutions to make change it, it could be forever.”  - Raphael Obonyo

I was incredibly moved by the experiences and insight of youth from around the world, leading projects to end corruption and promote transparency. For example, Youth in Bogota, Columbia started the Bogotacómovamos Program to promote government accountability through surveys and by measuring the impact of government on citizens. In the spirit of solidarity, the The Global Partnership for Social Accountabilities (GPSA) is working with youth to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, enabling an environment in which citizen feedback is used to strengthen public institutions and solve fundamental problems. 

The World Bank Youth Summit generated fresh momentum for government accountability through youth engagement. It was clear to see that when youth are given a seat at the “dining table,” the process of governance becomes faster, more innovative, more well-rounded, more supportive, more meaningful, and more effective. We [youth] are the future, but to preserve our future we must be invested and engaged with governance now. 

“You, the young people, have the power.” - Transparency International


Alaina Rudnick

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