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Report of Youth Forum Panel at PTC’04

prepared by
Dmitry Epstein, Ayesha Rauf, Clarry Shchiglik, Lisa Thurston, Zhao Xin

Much has been said about the uniqueness and the enlightening effect of the ITU Youth Forum events. Held as part of the ITU Youth Program, these events bring together outstanding youth with diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds from all over the globe. By participating in ITU youth events, these young people engage in focused discussion and meaningful dialogue, which provide deep insight into digital divide issues. They gain a sense of social responsibility and motivation to take action addressing these issues. This energy and dedication of the Youth Forum alumni were evident at PTC’04, where five youth fellows presented the follow-up initiatives of the entire alumni.

Following the Youth Forum events, groups of fellows remained in contact, continuing the discourse and facilitating activities aimed towards realising the vision articulated during the Youth Forum. This interaction has become an emerging global network – an organisation of socially responsible youth acting towards bridging the digital divide the Human Network.

Projects have been planned and undertaken by the Human Network at the global level and within local nodes. This inspired the ITU to provide its Youth Program alumni with an opportunity to share their ideas and gain support for their initiatives at PTC’04. After a careful selection process, the ITU generously provided fellowships for five youth fellows from the Asia Pacific to attend the event and facilitate the Human Network Project, their registration fees being waived by PTC.

Planned and prepared by the youth forum alumni, the youth panel focused on promoting, for the first time, the concept of the Human Network. The approach of Human Network is to bring together alumni from all existing and future Youth Forum events. Its purpose is to lead constructive change in ICT development, dispersion and utilisation worldwide in an inclusive and decentralised organisation. In accordance with the nature of a network, each local node is organised in the most optimal way to serve the needs of the community, region or country, while at the same time, capitalising on the global spread and strength of the whole network.

The ITU Youth Forum declarations have revealed a common thread, clearly stating concurring visions for a better information society. Youth Forum alumni have expressed aspirations to build on their personal motivation from ITU Youth Forum events. To accomplish this, the Youth Forum fellows aim to remain unified, creating synergy between individuals and ITU-inspired groups in undertaking both existing and future projects to bridge the digital divide.

The vision of Human Network is a world where the digital divide is bridged, where there is not only universal access to ICTs, but also a widespread understanding and appreciation of their use. Human Network aims to realise its vision by providing interaction amongst committed, visionary and empowered young people who participate in ITU youth events, helping them function efficiently as a global "working group".

Built on the solid principles of inclusiveness and decentralisation, the aims of Human Network have a common theme to bridge the digital divide. Some specific aims are:

  • Mobilisation of youth: organising young people to carry out socially responsible initiatives, focussing especially on ICT-literacy and education.
  • Social entrepreneurship: assisting young people to promote commercial ideas in the ICT sector that provide societal benefit.
  • Youth representation in policy: enabling the voices of youth to affect policy makers of the ICT industry.
  • Empowerment of youth: providing insight and deeper understanding of social and ethical aspects of ICT usage through education and practice.
  • Youth synergy: enhancing cooperation between youth at a global level by operating as a central source of worldwide digital divide initiatives (including ICT education and business applications).

Youth opportunity

Acting on the shared vision of all three youth events, Human Network, a joint effort of the alumni of Asia 2002 and World Youth fora, facilitates a continuously developing network where all Youth Forum alumni coordinate concrete action. Human Network has registered a domain www.h-network.org. Currently, a group of youth fellows are developing a multilingual and dynamic website, the seeds of which may be found at www.h-network.org/index_new.html.

A fresh and daring idea, the presentation of the Human Network concept at PTC’04 annual conference attracted significant attention, gaining publicity and support. Thus, a number of industry executives, educators and civil society activists became interested in the Human Network and offered their help, mentorship and cooperation. Most notably, they include:

  • David Carey, Executive Vice President of the Global Crossing, showed great interest in the efforts youth panellists made to encourage a greater focus on ethical practice in the ICT industry. He clearly expressed his intention to assist the emerging enterprise and to get involved in future Youth Forums.
  • Inspired by the young energy of the panel, Fred Briggs, Chief Technology Officer of MCI WorldCom offered, on behalf of MCI, to provide assistance in hosting the Human Network website.
  • Jean-Robert Barallon, Intelsat’s Director for Global Sales Operations, expressed his willingness to support the Asia-Pacific teleconference project. Concrete steps towards implementation of the project are to be finalised following his examination of the proposal developed by the Human Network Teleconference working team.
  • Joe Mertz, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, approached Human Network and suggested the network become involved in his university’s project for Technology Consulting in the Global Community.
  • Ernie Newman, Chief Executive of the Telecommunication Users Association of New Zealand, invited the New Zealand node of the Human Network to forge links with his organization.

Networking of the young panellists with the conference attendees produced not only leads for future cooperation, but also opportunities for publicising the concept of Human Network and its current and future activities, for example:

  • The Editor Director of "Telecommunications" journal, Stephen McClelland, became interested in the emerging organisation and started a dialog between the Human Network and press.
  • Bill Williamson, president and CEO of NTI consulting firm, a prominent publisher on ICT related topics and Dr. Jay Gillette of the Ball State University both expressed that they are keen to be kept updated on the Human Network activities.
  • Dr. Jey Jeyapalan offered his network of connections with editors around the world for publicising and strengthening the voice of Human Network.

Currently, the panellists are working on press releases for these parties and other mass media, in order to take advantage of the momentum created at the conference.

PTC ‘04 provided a constructive and supportive environment for taking the next step in the development of Human Network, incorporation as a formal non-profit organisation.

Consultation with Michael Calvano (ITU) and Walda Roseman (Compass Rose International) generated a preliminary concept of the organisational structure, both at the formal and practical levels. This concept was further developed through consultation with Laura Sherman, president of Argus International LLC, and Timothy Logue, Coudert Brothers LLP. Alison Lindsay of Clifford Chance encouraged Human Network to submit a proposal to her firm in the interests of receiving pro bono work.

Human Network gained a number of mentors who are enthusiastic about following its development and providing advice and assistance. Among these mentors are Olof Lundberg, former Director General of Inmarsat and Soraya Tarrant, Executive Advisor for the US market at LANautilus.

The Youth Panel had a strong impact on the conference, providing it with input from young people and complementing the usual focus on commercial and technical interests The Pacific Telecom Council greed that youth participation ought to remain an integral part of the PTC annual events. Despite the relative novelty of such youth representation at PTC, the considerable attention paid to the Youth Panel was unquestionable and placed Human Network on the map as an organisation of the Youth Forum alumni. The challenges of the information age are real and the ITU Youth Program was initiated to prepare the next generation to find and develop the solutions. Within the ITU youth strategy, Human network is not just the means to create and carry out solutions, but the beginning of the solution itself.

 

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Updated : 2010-01-21