Christian Herrmann

The Y20 Youth Dialogue: The voice of youth at the G20

On 7 June 2017, the participants of the Y20 Youth Dialogue experienced the highlight of their working week. The morning was reserved for a discussion with Federal Youth Minister Katarina Barley – and in the afternoon, the delegation presented their position paper on the G20 themes to Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Angela Merkel und Katarina Barley diskutieren mit Jugendlichen
BildImage: Axel Lauer

The morning meeting at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth was an opportunity to reflect the work done over the previous days and explore alternative angles. The discussion was also attended by journalists from Deutsche Welle, Germany’s public international broadcaster, and the daily newspaper Rheinische Post, as well as by an artist from a Berlin cultural centre. The young Y20 delegates wanted “to create a strong voice that is heard!” But how? The journalists recommended that they scale down their agenda, advice with which not everyone was genuinely happy. Still, there were two issues that kept cropping up: the fact that no country can solve the problems of today’s world alone – and that the younger generation want a stronger voice when it comes to their future.

Debate with the Federal Youth Minister

“Young people need to be involved in political decisions that directly influence their lives,” said Katarina Barley, the new Federal Youth Minister, referring to one of the demands put on the table by the Y20 delegates. The Minister took an hour out of her schedule to listen to the Y20 participants and answer their questions. She was particularly interested in the issues that the Federal Ministry, too, deals with on a daily basis: women’s rights, youth employment, digitalisation, and displacement and migration. During the meeting, a number of points were raised: how to reconcile work and family life, the rights of migrants on the labour market, the international recognition of qualifications, the call for more e-government, qualifications fit for the digital world, youth participation, and a reduction in the voting age.

“The young delegates’ demands are justified, be they equal opportunities and participation or full access to education for women and girls in the technical and digital field,” agreed the Minister. “As for digitalisation, I agree that we need to develop internationally recognised standards. The privacy and personal data of children and adolescents need especially strong protection. And I also support the Y20 delegates’ call for better support to young people in difficult situations. This includes improving the plight of young refugees worldwide.”

An afternoon at the Chancellery

Some of these points were revisited during the afternoon visit to the Chancellery, during which the Y20 delegates presented their position paper to Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. Both the Chancellor and Minister Barley were in attendance, listened to the young delegates and told them about how they dealt with youth issues in their daily work.

The Y20 position paper comprises 40 pages. Here are some of the main points:

  • More global collaboration and more transparency in global business and trade. The Y20 delegates want sustainable growth and a stronger sharing economy. They demand compliance with binding standards as well as sanctions for countries that breach them.

  • More youth education and digital participation in order to combat high youth unemployment. The Y20 delegates call upon the G20 to provide a reliable, stable internet infrastructure, improve digital education and ensure cross-border cybersecurity.

  • The Y20 delegates highlight the significance of the Paris climate agreement and call for more awareness to be raised of the impacts of climate change. They also emphasise the importance of the 2030 Agenda, in which they want to have a voice.

  • The Y20 delegates demand more equality, particularly when it comes to universal access to education, the introduction of women’s quotas, and measures to help workers achieve a better work-life balance.

  • Where migration is concerned, the Y20 delegates call for more effective measures to combat the causes of flight and strengthen refugees’ human rights. For instance, recognised refugees need to be given easier access to training and the labour market.

  • As for the fight against corruption and political apathy, the Y20 delegates propose setting up a digital platform that puts citizens in direct contact with politicians and delivers information. This would create more transparency and help voters regain their confidence in politics.

The position paper will soon become available at

The Y20 Youth Dialogue is designed to mirror the G20 meetings of the heads of state and government. The countries represented are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, the UK, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States. In addition, the Y20 delegation included young people from Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary as well as from the guest countries Norway, Spain and the Netherlands. Delegates from Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sweden and Viet Nam contributed additional perspectives.

The Y20 Youth Dialogue is organised by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

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