UNDP and Government bring youth enthusiasts to policy discussions around Internet

Participants from Georgia, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Albania, Greece, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey and Azerbaijan all gathered for a simulation game at the inaugural Youth Internet Governance Forum in Baku. 3 June 2019. Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan.

Baku, 3 June 2019 – The UN Development Programme and Government of Azerbaijan conclude a three-day intensive programme of the first in the country Youth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) today. Capitalising on greater involvement of young people in policy debates around Internet governance, the inaugural event was organized in partnership with the Azerbaijan Youth Fund and brought together nearly 250 students, representatives of youth organizations, university faculty, civil society, the public and private sector and beyond.

The first two days of the Forum focused on strengthening theoretical and practical knowledge of the Internet and its broader application for development among the key cohort of 24 participants aged 17-29 from around the world, including Georgia, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Albania, Greece, Moldova, Serbia and Turkey, as well as young students from across the regions of Azerbaijan. The third and concluding day followed with an engaging simulation game that featured some of the heated policy debates around the future of Internet governance where youth are the centrepiece of important policy-making and decision-making processes. Young delegates presented their policy arguments from the perspective of government officials, civil society representatives, innovators, businesses and other institutions.

The involvement of young people in policy debates is key for development. The United Nations estimates show that many young people aged 18-25 are the first generation of adults to grow up not knowing the world without the Internet. Yet a little less than half the world’s population have no access to Internet today, while 90 percent of them actually come from developing countries. Bridging this digital divide is one of the prerequisites for accelerating the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs). Youth, innovation and technology combined together build an important pillar of national development ensuring equal access to information and knowledge, while also fostering greater partnerships and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the opening of the Youth IGF today, Deputy Resident Representative a.i. for UNDP in Azerbaijan Ms. Yuliya Shcherbinina told young enthusiasts gathered in Baku: “Today, our world is home to the largest youth population ever in history, and you are among this critical cohort! You are the indispensable agents of change and we need you on board where the SDGs are at stake.”

There are currently 1.8 billion people around the globe between the ages of 10 and 24 and this number is expected to grow. By 2030, almost 2 billion young people will become part of the world’s youth cohort. Only in Azerbaijan, young people between the age of 14-29, make up close to one third of the population. Half of them live in rural areas. Through various platforms like the Youth IGF, UNDP programmes in Azerbaijan engage with young people from different socio-economic background in different parts of the country making sure that the development work this global organisation pursues benefits all Leaving No One Behind.

The first Youth Internet Governance Forum is organised as a part of yet another inaugural initiative taking place in Azerbaijan from 29 May to 4 June –the first ever Innovation Festival (InnoFest) in Azerbaijan launched at the initiative of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies in partnership with a number of other key ministries and government agencies, innovation centres, youth organizations, a leading telecommunications company, the Heydar Aliyev Centre, the US Embassy in Baku and UNDP. The InnoFest features an impressive array of innovation summits, forums, start-up competitions, including UNDP’s nationwide Idea-to-Business (I2B) tours, as well as robotics competitions, eSports tournaments and exhibitions that brought together hundreds of multinational companies, international organizations, thought leaders, influencers and chief executives from all over the world.

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For media inquiries, please contact Arzu Jafarli, Communications and External Relations Analyst for UNDP in Azerbaijan – arzu.jafarli@undp.org

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