Photographer:Fotograaf: archive Sarah Wagner
“This is that one chance in your life to make a change”
MAASTRICHT. Sarah Wagner, master’s student of International Laws, was nervous when she arrived in Australia last July. As head of the German delegation, she and the representatives of 19 other countries were there to discuss growth and job creation, global citizenship and sustainable development during the Y20, the official youth engagement group of the G20. “I’ve participated in big events before, but those were simulation conferences. It’s fun, but no one will care about the outcome”, she explains. “This is for real. This is that one chance in your life to make a change.”
The Group of Twenty (G20) is a group of twenty major advanced and emerging economies, whose finance ministers and central bank governors meet annually. The Youth 20 has been held since 2010.
“We’d been discussing our ideas since March, because we had only four days in Australia. I focused on the international accreditation of educational qualifications and diplomas. A friend of mine from Liberia had to study medicine for three more years when she went to the States because the USA doesn’t recognise her diploma, even though she’d already worked as a doctor in her own country. That shouldn’t happen.”
All topics are combined in a declaration, although some points were harder to get consensus on than others. “The Chinese, for instance, weren’t in favour of promoting open internet access. And although most Europeans think the need for sustainable development is self-evident, some governments don’t acknowledge climate change, so it was a really controversial topic. It taught me that you shouldn’t underestimate cultural differences.”
Although the conference is over, the work continues. “All delegations are now promoting the declaration in their own countries. As the German delegation, we’re setting up meetings with ministries, the Confederation of German Industry and the German Employer's Association. We look at what topics are most important for Germany and how the recommendations can be implemented in our country. Hopefully, the people we talk to will remember what we said when they discuss these topics at the G20 or in Brussels.”