The Asia Institute held a seminar on the timely topic of “Youth and Global Governance” at Dongguk University on Saturday, January 18. The seminar brought together a group of ten of our members, including, high school students, college students, graduate students, concerned citizens and three professors. The group discussed what exactly global governance means in the 21st century and what would be required to transform existing transnational organizations into institutions that could actually fulfill the requirements of true global governance in this age.
A good part of the discussion concerned the possible role of youth, as the most connected and most innovative groups around the world, in the creation of new mechanisms for meaningful global governance. We live in an age in which technology is evolving so quickly that we will soon be living in an actual global village before we are even aware that something has changed. Yet that global village will have 9 billion people in it and be steered by complex supercomputer networks that follow their own mandates. The world is changing far faster than our assumptions and the only thing that will remain certain will be the size of our earth.
The seminar addressed the question:
How will we govern the globe in the 21st century in face of the crisis of climate change, the confusion of nations, cultures and languages and the growing disparity between the have and have-nots within nations and between nations?
Here are a few comments by participants:
The Asia Institute
“Civil society movements such as the Mad Cow Disease protest, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy Wall Street protests uncover what the public can do; specifically, what young people can do in the global civil sphere. While these protests cannot change immediate social problems and government policies, the influences of these global civil movements cannot be ignored. Public awareness and social media can show how individuals can be motivated and mobilized and join together in manner that forms a significant social force and make collective action possible, even when these movements include many young people who are seemingly isolated or are perceived as apathetic. All of the demonstrators talked about moral issues of their own governments and their common interests toward “good wills.” They also noted that the meanings they created certainly make many policy makers uneasy. I believe that these spontaneous global civil movements have more potential to be effective institutions than do global institutions with many interests groups. I do admit that these civil movements may not be contingency ones and cannot be limited to “once in a while” protests. We must understand that these civil protests are continuous worldwide. While they may have different issues and agenda, they support the same meanings that we hope to create for our future.”
Cheongshim International Academy
“Thanks to the remarks of the various participants I was able to understand better the issues of global governance and the role our generation can play in achieving it. As worldwide issues such as climate change will affect everyone on Earth, global governance will indeed become necessary. I believe that in order to successfully enact global governance, youth should recognize that everyone is included in the global issues at hand and they should be reminded of their responsibility for solving them. Also, the future generation will have to come up with a new concept of government that will enable decisions be implemented to all nations without severely impinging the sovereignty of individual nations. This, I believe, can be accomplished if the education system effectively encourages creative thinking.”
Beom Joon Baek
Daewon Foreign High School
“As we think about the future, we need to be aware that there might be a need for an international governmental organization that enforces the policies, should the democratic measures fail to so. There could be cases in which coercive force becomes a necessary evil for us to tackle inevitable problems.”
Kyung Hee University
“We hope that in future global governance will transcend the boundaries of countries and avoid undo favoritism to any one group. Our Earth is suffering from serious resource depletion, That state is not just about the natural world, but now impacts humans directly.
The smoke that shrouds the ailing city of Beijing foretells future disaster. To be effective, global governance over the long term, must show a commitment to a far-sight plan that finds alternative sources of green energy and an efficient, effective way of increasing the protection of our environment. Not only elder experts, but also youth are obligated to take part of in this global effort.”
“Unfortunately, nowadays younger people seem uninterested in a collective response to this imminent crisis. They act as if they have impaired vision, a crowd that just does not care. Personally speaking, I think this state is the consequence of a limited education. In Asian Countries students are only encouraged to focus on subjects that will allow them to earn money. No one wants to devote himself or herself to work on some project that is not lucrative. As a result, the humanities has suffered an enormous decline; not only in society, but also in the academic environment itself. The humanities are seriously underfunded. I strongly hope there will be some changes in education system. Change can start when we plant a seed of hope in the heart of youth.”