IMET Student Represents Country as a Y20 Delegate
On March 27th, 2022, IMET graduate student Abdulmajid “Majeed” Alrefaie, opened his laptop to check his email. Expecting the usual assortment of university messages, Majeed was thrilled to find an email inviting him to represent his country at the G20 Youth Summit (Y20).
The G20 is a forum for the world's largest and most advanced economies. Each year they meet to discuss global stability and sustainable growth. Prior to the annual G20 Summit, young adults (18-30 years old) from each G20 country are selected to represent their nation as Y20 delegates. Four delegates were selected from each country, one to represent each of the following tracks: Diversity and Inclusion, Digital Transformation, Youth Employment, and Sustainable and Livable Planet. The goal of the Y20 Summit is to create a final document called a communique. This document is created and agreed upon by the youth delegates and handed over to the leader of the G20 Summit host country. The communique is then presented at the G20 Summit to some of the most powerful leaders in the world.
“Leadership is the ability to keep motivating and inspiring individuals to get them where they need to be while pursuing personal goals."
Recognizing this as an incredible opportunity to represent not only himself and his country but all young people, Majeed accepted and became Saudi Arabia’s youth Digital Transformation delegate. As a part of the Digital Transformation track, he worked with 19 other delegates to address issues stemming from the accelerating growth of technology. As our dependence on technology exponentially increases due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it brings forward challenges related to resources, digital literacy, security, privacy and connectivity.
“As our world continues to transform quickly, we, as youth, are devotedly committed to providing our communities with a safe, sustainable, and ever-thriving digital future.”
After accepting the nomination, Majeed was tasked with drafting his own policies. These policies addressed digital issues he felt passionately about. In the first virtual meeting of the Y20, each delegate had three minutes to present their policies. Majeed focused his presentation on cyberbullying and digital wellbeing. He found he was not alone, some of his fellow Digital Transformation delegates had similar ideas. Witnessing this shared passion, Majeed was excited to start collaborating.
For the next five months, he and his fellow Y20 delegates met bi-weekly to discuss their ideas for a better future. Meeting remotely, the delegates were required to attend sessions within their respective tracks. While Majeed’s vote counted only toward the track he was selected for, he was invited to attend workshops on the other three. Working together, each track brainstormed and debated policies to include in the final communique. As a group, they began to combine their ideas into one initial document. However, the monumental task was yet to come.
“Technology is a blessing! It allows us to witness unprecedented advances in medicine, business, and many others; however, we care about our health and safety when using it.”
With five months of ideas included, the Digital Transformation document alone was over 12 pages long. If you counted the pages from all 4 tracks, the initial Y20 document was about 50 pages. To turn this into the final communique Majeed and the delegates had to pare their collective pages down to eight; two pages per track. In order to do this, the delegates were flown to Jakarta, Indonesia for the official Y20 Summit. From July 17th to July 24th, the delegates worked within their tracks to condense their policies into two succinct pages. Towards the end of the summit, delegates traveled to Bandung for the final session. In this session, all four tracks met to combine their policies into the final communique which can be seen here.
Reflecting upon this opportunity, Majeed recognized experiences at IMET that contributed to his success in this role. Majeed spoke about IMET’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Through this, he has learned the innumerable benefits of interacting with people who have other skills, abilities, and perspectives. He also expressed gratitude for the Ratcliffe Foundation and Dr. Nina Lamba whose support makes IMET’s REEF Program possible. As a participant in the REEF program, Majeed had the opportunity to develop and enhance his communication skills. He learned how to effectively pitch his ideas, listen productively, and negotiate. All of these skills came in handy when working to bring his policies forward. Lastly, Majeed recognized the support provided by his advisor Dr. Yantao Li and IMET’s Executive Director Dr. Russell Hill. Though this process has come to a close, Majeed will continue advocating for young adults as the new co-chair of the UMCES Graduate Council. He also extended his appreciation to the Saudi Arabia Y20 team for giving the opportunity to work alongside motivated and talented youth to draft recommendations for a better future.
“..One key takeaway is for youth not to underestimate our abilities and impact on our societies. With the right amount of support and guidance, our engagement and contribution to policymaking is one way to become actively involved in improving our present and future.”
IMET is incredibly grateful to Majeed for his hard work and dedication to the betterment of our global future. We can’t wait to see all that he will accomplish at IMET and beyond!