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Youth Investment to Propel the Economy

Alyssa Atef, G20 Research Group
November 22, 2020

One of the major highlights of the G20's Riyadh Summit has been the Saudi presidency's focus on investing in youth as a means of propelling the economy and combatting the economic slump triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on the theme of "Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All," Saudi Arabia proclaimed that it envisions a world whereby no one is left behind and everyone has equal economic opportunity, and stated it intends to facilitate the necessary economic and social change required to achieve these goals. For the presidency, an important aspect of realizing this goal is increasing access to opportunities for youth to pursue advanced education. As well, Saudi Arabia affirmed its commitment to further investing in universal health coverage and in protecting the labour market as a means of safeguarding youth from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the presidency stated its commitment to ensuring equal access to technology for youth.

In addition to the Saudi presidency's emphasis on youth, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has stated that as Italy looks towards assuming the next G20 presidency, it remains committed to supporting youth. In particular, Italy intends to invest in partnerships with multilateral institutions, jobs for youth and additional tools for youth to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Conte also announced that Italy will host a global health summit in 2021 in partnership with the European Commission.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, two things have become abundantly clear: the world as we know it cannot proceed as it always has, and now is the turning point for the global community to usher in the so-called "new normal." If the system in which the world has existed in no longer serves its function, then it is in everyone's best interest to lift up the voices of those who are not typically heard the loudest and to bring in fresh perspectives to aid in shaping this new reality. This is where youth come into the picture.

While these bold proclamations by the Saudi presidency and other G20 members in support of youth is promising, it remains to be seen if the policies produced as a result of the Riyadh Summit will fully realize the potential that youth possess in reshaping the world for the better. It is crucial for the world to harness and amplify the voices of youth if we are all to emerge from this pandemic successfully with our social and economic orders relatively intact. Now is the time for the G20 and outgoing Saudi presidency to lay the societal and economic foundations that ensure youth are not only heard and protected, but also are given the opportunities to drive social and economic transformation in society as a means of overcoming the current pandemic slump. In order to achieve this, bold, creative, and progressive policies that invest in the potential of youth must be crafted and implemented as a result of this summit. In doing so, this will support the Italian presidency in proceeding with measures that further strengthen and include youth voices within policy-making processes while facing a new global reality.

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Alyssa Atef is compliance director on the G20 Research Group's summit studies team responsible for the environment commitment for the 2019 G20 Osaka Summit. She was previously a compliance analyst for three years. Alyssa has also been a compliance with the G7 and BRICS Research Groups. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a double major in political science and Near and Middle Eastern civilizations from the University of Toronto. Alyssa is passionate about public policy and her research interests include climate change and healthcare policy.

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