Press release

Young Canadians Power-Up Information Society Summit

December 7, 2003

Canadian Youth are at Hub of the World Summit on the Information Society

WINNIPEG AND TORONTO — Young Canadians have succeeded in getting youth issues near the top of agenda at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) through a youth caucus, world-wide e-consultations, workshops and a youth hub space. Thanks to their efforts, the final WSIS declaration is expected to include the strongest-ever language on youth in a UN declaration.

The Summit, being held in Geneva December 10-12 is a drawcard for world political, civic and business leaders including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac, and will explore everything from Internet governance to the use of new technologies to improve healthcare and educational systems in developing countries.

Global youth input to the Summit has been spearheaded by two Canadian NGO's-Toronto-based, youth-led TakingITGlobal (TIG) and the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

"It is no surprise that young people are having such a large impact at WSIS, says Jennifer Corriero," the 23 year old co-founder of TakingITGlobal and a member of the official Canadian WSIS delegation. "Whether it's leadership in new economy companies, powering telecom profits or bridging the digital divide, young people are where IT is at."

Key youth events that will be happening during the Summit include:

  • A dedicated "Youth Day" on December 10 coordinated by young people (aged 14-28) who have formed a "caucus" and have been active in the WSIS preparations since 2002. The Youth Caucus is facilitated by TakingITGlobal. Youth day events include workshops, National Information Society Youth Campaigns, launching the Youth Creating Digital Opportunities Action Plan and a Youth Awards showcase.

  • A panel discussion at the Canadian Government Pavilion on December 11 focusing on the role of young Canadians in information and communication technology for development (ICT4D). Panel presenters include:

    • Terri Willard (Project Manager, IISD)
    • Santiago Reyes-Borda (Senior Advisor, Industry Canada)
    • Diane Trahan (Director, NetCorps Canada International)
    • Louis Dorval (VP Finance, Engineers Without Borders - McGill)
    • Jennifer Corriero - (Co-founder, TakingITGlobal)

  • Merging the work of the gender and youth caucus, there will be a roundtable of young female leaders involved with ICT4D. The roundtable follows an extensive e-consultation with young women from around the world, led by IISD, in an effort to better understand their contributions to the information society.

"Young people's involvement in the ICT for development field is truly outstanding and it is great to see it getting such a profile here at WSIS," says Terri Willard, project manager at IISD and coordinator of the Youth Creating Digital Opportunities (YCDO) Coalition.

"I've been particularly impressed by the abilities of the young Canadians in forging partnerships with young people from around the world to bridge the digital divide. It's a new approach to development," she says, "in which young people serve as the catalysts for change and, in the process, shatter our old stereotypes of developed versus developing countries. They all learn from each other and support each other's initiatives."

The Canadian Government has also been a large supporter of youth efforts, earmarking money specifically for key youth events in Geneva.

The Executive Director of the Summit Secretariat of WSIS, also a Canadian, has been similarly impressed with the efforts of youth. Pierre Gagne says that, "young people are now acting as catalysts for the development of a truly inclusive and empowering information society and their participation brings real excitement and relevance to our work."

For more information

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.