When 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg burst onto the global scene a few months ago, people underestimated the power this young girl would have to raise awareness and rally the world around climate change. Today, she has become a fearless advocate, boldly speaking out and holding politicians to account for their lack of action on the climate crisis. We need more Gretas.
And they’re out there.
We’re proud to introduce 30 young changemakers who make up the 2019 cohort of the Internet Society’s IGF Youth Ambassadors Program. The group is made up of 15 women and 15 men from 21 countries. This cadre of young leaders are working on many of the pressing issues affecting the Internet globally.
In November, they’ll bring their drive for change to Berlin, Germany, to take part in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). This is an annual multistakeholder forum for inclusive policy dialogue on shared principles, procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. Although not an official decision-making body, the IGF remains an important forum. Many of the world’s experts in and advocates for the Internet gather there for discussion, networking, research sharing, and best practices from around the world.
Since 2007, the Internet Society has supported nearly 400 young professionals under its two programs, the IGF Ambassadors and the Youth@IGF Fellows. This year, under the IGF Youth Ambassadors program, we are training and empowering 30 young adults, aged 18 through 30. An initial group of 150 selected applicants took a 4-week online course and were paired with dedicated expert moderators. The top 50 students proceed to the next phase, where they write a paper on an existing or emerging area in Internet Governance, drawing on what they’ve learned in the course. The authors of the best papers become our 30 IGF Youth Ambassadors.
We have no doubt these young leaders will inspire others across a range of disciplines to reinforce the sustainability, security, stability, and development of the Internet.
Many of our Ambassadors have already led some impressive initiatives, including:
- Mohammad Atif Aleem, an Indian ICT analyst at a multinational firm, founded a start-up to empower women farmers through agritech, and co-founded an online platform for medical diagnostic tests through a mobile app.
- Fernanda González, a software developer from Guatemala, won the first blockchain hackathon in Central America with a protocol to integrate rural students to the global economy. She is currently working on a social enterprise to help rural areas connect to the Internet and help researchers and communities gather data on water quality.
- John Madayese, a management consultant from Nigeria, has worked on policy development and founded a pan-African non-profit platform that offers personal and career development for African youth through various symposia.
We hope that some of our IGF Youth Ambassadors will raise their voices on the global stage and become change-makers – whether by championing policies in their home countries or influencing global debates to spread the benefits of the Internet.