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This is the year when politics gets shaken by an epic youthquake

Although today’s youth is actively invested in global issues, that doesn’t always translate into tangible engagement with the political process. Government must become agile, responsive, and engage with issues that matter to today’s millennials and Generation Z.

Thanks to a number of progressive national agendas – and some inspired young individuals – the drive for youthful representatives across all levels of government has gained steady momentum around the world, from teenage activists vying for social change to world leaders representing sovereign states.

In 2020, this change will be vital for the economic, social and political success of nations. Not only is it a podium for influential change-makers to show their fellow citizens what can and is being done to drive positive opportunities, it’s also a direct route into government for seldom seen or heard individuals who may not have engaged with government and politics previously.
The UAE is empowering its youth, particularly in future-focused areas, by appointing ministers who are in their twenties. This tells the next generation directly: “you will be responsible for driving our agenda”. For a young nation like the UAE, where the median age of the population is 30.3 years, this inclusivity is a crucial message to impart.

It’s an approach that’s also being implemented elsewhere. In the west, we’re seeing younger and younger world leaders, from France’s President Macron (41) to Austria’s incoming Chancellor Kurz (33). In the midterm elections in the US, some 700 millennial-age candidates ran for state legislative seats across the country. And, of course, the 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has sparked a global movement demanding that world leaders engage with climate change.

It’s not just inspiration and aspiration that springs from this youthfulness – there are massive long-term national and global benefits to be had from bringing the younger generations into public decision making.

Inspiring examples can be found in Africa, including Abiy Ahmed, the 43-year-old Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and the recent recipient of the 100th Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end 20 years of conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. More and more young Africans are running for influential positions within government, including a number of presidential bids. East Africa has a strong list of names that originated from the arts, where material already showcased political themes.

The fact, these young individuals now feel empowered to make their voices heard in a governmental capacity will help to ensure their dynamic new ideas for tackling urgent global challenges do not go unheeded. In 2020, the youthful perspective will become a guiding light for an optimistic, inclusive world.

Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al-Hashimi is Minister of State for the Dubai World Expo 2020 Bid Committee

This article was originally published by WIRED UK

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