“Democracy for Prosperity: Youth Perspectives”

From 6 -7 December 2018, 137 students from various universities across 58 countries gathered in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia to participate in the 2nd Bali Democracy Students Conference (BDSC II), held in parallel with the 11th Bali Democracy Forum (BDF). There were three delegates from Australia, ourselves and Tristan Croft.

We discussed issues and shared our views on the challenges of making democracy that delivers prosperity particularly with regard to pertinent issues such as education, politics, gender, technology, innovation, prosperity, and social media.

Alongside with  Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Indonesian Foreign Minister Ibu Retno Marsudi

As the conference was part of the BDF, it meant participants were able to engage with Ambassadors and Ministers from most countries around the world. A highlight for us was meeting Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Indonesian Foreign Minister Ibu Retno Marsudi. We were lucky enough to have a chat and pose for a photo which later featured on the second page of The Jakarta Post newspaper.[1]

Featured in Indonesia National papers

The conference essentially consisted of two parts. The first day was a discussion on technology, innovation and the future of prosperity. It was clear that no other generation is as closely intertwined with technology than the youth. Accordingly, the youth need to take advantage of their native familiarity with technology and make good use of myriad technological advancements in order to promote democracy for prosperity. One of the panellists, Matteo Salvatto, is a 19-year old CEO from Argentina, who has created an app that helps people with disabilities verbally communicate.[2] His presentation highlighted that to be truly inclusive we need to reach out to marginalised members of society and undeveloped rural areas, and that we can equip people with the necessary tools to achieve prosperity through education and technological platforms. The youth can also avail themselves as agents of change from within and outside the government to promote good governance. A government in touch with new technology and trends should be able to facilitate and encourage its people to achieve prosperity.

Discussion of youth perspectives in democracy

The second day was a discussion on making democratic institutions inclusive for all. From the panellists we learnt that youth and education are two inseparable variables in creating positive societal change and in making inclusive democracy. It is important that youth actively engage in the effort of making education accessible for all peoples and create a conducive environment for the open expression of opinion, knowledge and experience. Another point raised was that the rise of populism and intolerance that hampers the exercise of democracy. The youth actively participate in promoting religious tolerance, mutual understanding and respect to establish a harmonious and peaceful society. The last point from the first discussion was that gender equality is an essential part of inclusive economic growth and is critical for the achievement of sustainable development goals. Therefore, its realisation requires not only commitment of the government, but also on the active contribution and leadership of the youth, women, and civil societies.

The agent of change gathered in Nusa Dua, Bali 

The conference highlighted the importance of youth playing a vital role as future leaders in the democratic processes in their own country, to bring forth prosperity to the wider society. We agreed that it is necessary to have transparent and accountable governments that are responsive to the needs and interests of its people. Governments need to be inclusive of youth perspectives and nurture their passion, ideas, and creativity in order to encourage the growth of a strong and resilient democracy.

The representations of the involving countries

This was a real opportunity to learn what youth in other countries are doing to promote democracy and how they are influencing the democratic process. We look forward to implementing some of these initiatives in Australia and hope to see some of our own ideas happening in other parts of the world.

[1] http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/07/forum-discusses-balance-democracy.html

[2] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_mateo_nicolas_salvatto.Sordos&hl=en_AU