Y8 Dispatches: Thursday Morning

Dispatch from London and Team USA 2013

Committees began to finalize their written communiqués Thursday morning, the final day of negotiations, following a day of informal deliberations and sightseeing across London.

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In the International Development committee, USAID Administrator Jordan Sanderson promoted the use of mobile apps to supply and track monetary and material aid and aid delivery in using technology to encourage participatory governance and open data flow. This could be accomplished, he said, through disbursements directly to mobile bank accounts and accompany surveys to improve transactions and user experience.

“As a broad term, this strategy needs to be open-sourced; it can’t just be governments sharing this information. It needs to come from the ground up,” Sanderson said of the information-sharing capabilities of the applications.

The development committee as a whole had little disagreement over the recommendations, with the European Union and Mexico especially promoting the increased use of technology to assess aid effectiveness.

“We should take a multinational approach to alleviating poverty with specific solutions,” said the Mexican delegate, Carlos Molina, referring to the use of mobile apps and cross-country microfinancing to support initiatives like increased access to education and eradicating famine.

Discussing carbon dioxide emission reduction, the Energy & Climate Change committee dealt with current carbon dioxide reduction regulations, the possibility of a regional cap-and-trade system, and increased transparency in national emission reporting. There was also broad support to limit global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius.

Drew Holden, the U.S. EPA Administrator, agreed with the Europen Union and Indonesia in regards to revising the UN-backed Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

“In addition to updating the Kyoto Protocol, we need to make other substantive changes. We cannot wait until 2020 to put new groundwork in place,” said Holden. He supported setting universal carbon emission standards across the board, ensuring that each state’s individual regulations “have scientific support, international support.”

The matter of prisoner’s rights became a very contentious issue in the Justice committee, with the United States, Germany, South Africa, Canada, Russia and France differing greatly on the prospect of prisoner voting rights, among other things.

“Most people are not in prison for political beliefs, they’re in prison for committing violent, heinous crimes,” said U.S. Attorney General Dane Shikman, in regard to South Africa’s contention that political freedoms ought to be exercised even in prison. “They’ve given up the right to be a free, autonomous person in society. You sacrifice far bigger things than the right to vote.”

The delegate from Canada, Matthew M. Grubisic, dissented.

“A prisoner’s rights are given to him by the government. If he cannot affect his government, then he loses a fundamental right to change the system,” Grubisic said. Many delegates argued that voting is a privilege, not a right, and consensus on the issue could not be reached. 

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Committees broke for lunch at 1 p.m., with five hours left to finalize the communiqués to be sent to the heads of state and government this evening.

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Y8 London Day One!

Dispatch from London and Team USA 2013

Tuesday’s opening negotiations saw a number of imperative international issues discussed amongst the working groups, with the defense committee beginning to deliberate nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and national sanctions. Language describing a need for bilateral and multilateral agreements for progressive and collective nuclear disarmament was agreed upon early on in discussions, with the U.S. refining the wording to extend to only established and sovereign nation-states, excluding rogue actors or national groups.

All present in the defense committee agreed also upon the long-term monitoring power and oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.

In the foreign affairs committee, delegates discussed political stabilization in Mali and options for arming or engaging the Tuareg rebels. The U.S. touched on the need for long-term stability and security along with independent monitoring of the July 28 presidential election.

“Whether we’re specifying PR campaigns or journalism, we don’t have an understanding as to what the new Malian government will need until after the election,” said Alex Haber, the U.S. foreign affairs delegate, in committee. “It can be anything ranging from grass-roots organizing to publicly disseminated information campaigns, we can’t know exactly… We need to focus on the actual election process.” Image

Others, like Germany and Argentina, were concerned with the need for the rebels and the Malian government in Bamako to engage in talks aimed at political reconciliation.

“The process of democracy is so important in Mali. Argentina celebrates this process, because it’s the basis of other states and our own. Elections are essential,” said Sofia Archaval Lastra, the Argentinian foreign affairs delegate. She indicated that Argentina had no intention of arming the government or allowing a dictatorship to form in absence of a stable government.

Forestry and agricultural exports were discussed in the energy and climate change committee during opening negotiations, but in the afternoon talk turned to worldwide water shortages and sanitation issues. The delegates unanimously agreed that standards should be set regarding the management and treatment of waste water, regulations put in place to protect natural water resources, research initiatives fostering technological developments to combat water scarcity should be supported, and water for agricultural and industrial use ought to be appropriately priced.

During the final topic of the day in the justice committee, the wide-ranging issue of corruption took center stage. The European Union favored providing amnesty and protection to whistle-blowers, creating a legally binding apparatus to protect them from charges of breach of contract or high treason.

The U.S. did not agree with this proposition, and Canada expressed dissent.

“There’s a difference between a whistle-blower revealing something to the media, which could have national security repercussions, and revealing something to a judicial body that can make a critical assessment about the threat level,” said U.S. Attorney General Dane Shikman, delegate to the defense committee. “On one hand, to hold governments accountable, if you don’t say anything, they won’t hear anything.”

However, he added, the recent information leak in the U.S. exemplifies the problems raised nationally and diplomatically when whistle-blowers ignore national security interests. If nations had “a system where a court could issue an injunction against a government,” which many of the countries present in the committee currently use, it “could potentially mitigate national security risks and give whistle-blowers another option besides going to the media,” said Shikman.

For their final issue of discussion on the first day, the defense committee discussed the security issues and disarmament issues involved with the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, or North Korea.

“North Korea has engaged in similar tactics for much of the last decade. They’ve attempted to divide the other five countries in the six-party talks, and they alternate between provocations and calls for renewed negotiations,” said the U.S. Secretary of State Yevgen Sautin, the delegate to the defense committee. “The international community must be firm in demanding North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before any kind of lasting agreement on the security of the Korean peninsula can be achieved.”

Deliberations came to a close for the day at 5 p.m., with delegates from each nation meeting to review the day’s discussions and prepare notes for the second day of the summit. Each committee is hoped to have completed a written policy prescription for the first major issue discussed this morning and afternoon, with the second major issue on the committee agenda up for deliberation tomorrow.

Team USA Positions: Attorney General

In this series, we will post excerpts from position papers prepared by TeamUSA for the Y8 Summit in London. Enjoy this window into the negotiations!

 

LEGAL PROTECTION OF NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS 

The committee will address cyber-security, cross border crimes (including trafficking, unauthorized migration, etc.) and corruption. Cyber-security is an area where collaborative measures and shared understandings can improve national defenses and mitigate threats. The United States views the cyber domain as a critical arena for growth. As the connective cyber tissue expands among and within nations, the world becomes more vulnerable to cyber-crime and digital aggression. Therefore, the United States seeks international solutions to the challenges of cyber crime and aggression.

In confronting the issues in cyberspace, the United States remains committed to several principles. First, nations should prioritize fundamental freedoms when acting to secure their networks. Second, nations should balance cyber policies to protect the privacy interests of users. Third, nations should preserve the free flow of information. The United States will urge for innovative technological solutions to enhance cyber security measures while maintaining an open, level field over which information and data can be exchanged.

Cross-border crimes will serve as an important focus for the G8 Justice Committee. In particular, the committee will seek to articulate guidelines that curb trafficking of illicit materials and persons. Finally, the Justice Committee will address migrant rights and illegal immigration. In resolving issues related to undocumented or unauthorized migrants, the United States asserts the need to protect these persons’ fundamental human rights before and during deportation procedures. Furthermore, the United States will support a collective effort to protect authorized foreign nationals from oppressive or discriminatory state actions.

The G8 Justice Committee will also seek to resolve the legal questions impacted by international political corruption. The United States seeks to revitalize a dialogue with the G8 on controlling corrupt practices in nations around the world.

 

GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Within this theme, the committee will address the fundamental freedoms and rights of marginalized populations, methods for protecting these persons, and the international community’s “Responsibility to Protect” the same. The most efficient use of the committee’s time will be a clarification of the R2P doctrine so foreign nations can delineate acceptable conditions for intervening on behalf of affected populations. Three core principles together embody the thrust of “R2P.” First, states are responsible for their people’s welfare. Second, the international community is responsible for helping states protect their people. Third, when a state fails to protect its people, the international community must intervene in order to protect the neglected or abused population. The statement also enumerated six criteria that must be fulfilled to justify a military intervention.

There are several questions that remain unresolved and their clarification may prove beneficial for the defenders of freedom and peace around the world. For instance, currently the scope of R2P involves only the commission of crimes within the Rome Statute’s jurisdiction; expansion of R2P’s scope (applying it in the case of natural disasters or cases of violent oppression that do not amount to ethnic cleansing) may help the G8 countries build international consensus for multilateral intervention efforts. Furthermore, the current doctrine’s scope of purpose involves only the protection of abused people; such a narrowly defined purpose excludes other interventions with equally legitimate purposes. The G8 should affirm the expansion of the scope of R2P so it can apply the doctrine to cases in which intervention is deemed prudent.

Team USA Positions: USAID

In this series, we will post excerpts from position papers prepared by TeamUSA for the Y8 Summit in London. Enjoy this window into the negotiations!

 

EDUCATION

Initiatives specifically focused on enrolling children and keeping them in school has helped to decrease the share of out-of-school children from 16% to 10% between 2000 and 2009[1].  It is the responsibility of all to ensure that all assistance is used most effectively to meet changing dynamics.

Current Government Position

The United States has identified investments in education as a key priority to achieving foreign policy goals.  We are currently working towards achieving the following in education:

  • Eradicating illiteracy in primary grades.
  • Developing more non-formal learning and workforce development opportunities.
  • Ensuring sufficient ROI through establishment of KPIs that includes data on learning outcomes in both literacy and numeracy.
  • Becoming more selective in investment projects.

Recommended Position

We need to utilize frameworks already in place and build upon the natural curiosity of young people and new technologies. We propose evaluating the following levers to guide the implementation of an all-encompassing education strategy:

  • Increase investments in impact evaluations, assessments and benchmarking tools.
  • Use data gathered to continue to develop country-specific education strategies.
  • Evaluate publicly funded but privately operated education models.
  • Encourage self-organized learning environments with technology serving as a facilitator of learning and self-efficacy.
  • Create a network of accountability within the system, utilizing key performance indicators to measure the countries’ strategy implementation.

The United States will push to have all G20 countries reaffirm commitments to education and achieving / redefining UN MDGs. Education is the engine of development and the system, including governments, organizations and the public / private sectors, needs to create community-specific action plans that are both transparent and measurable.

 

 

TECHNOLOGY

Governments and development organizations have not kept up with the speed of technology. Now with increased technology penetration in developing regions (e.g., 6 of the 7 billion people in the world have access to a mobile phone), governments, organizations and communities have tools that can improve both coordination and management of development initiatives.

Current Government Position

The United States is committed to a collaborative, multi-sector approach to ensure the advancement of knowledge sharing and sustainable development goals. To achieve our overall agenda, we are currently leveraging the following to make key breakthroughs:

  • Investments in data infrastructure and analytical capacity to better tackle the challenges in international development.
  • Development through advanced mobile solutions.

Recommended Position

To keep pace with advancement, the US and G8 countries need to continue to put technology on the forefront when developing strategies to reach development goals. We support collaborative approaches to solutions and recommend furthering current strategies to advance the overall G8 development agenda through:

  • Continuing investment in open data infrastructure, as it has the potential to not only improve transparency and coordination, but also dramatically accelerate progress in development.
  • Supporting students, volunteers and organizations to validate, clean up and map published government or crowd-sourced data in a practical and actionable way.
  • Building upon existing platforms to increase accountability and tracking of aid, collecting dynamic quantitative and qualitative data on effectiveness and later applying best practices.
  • Promoting a multi-sector approach to investments in technology to improve global health, leveraging best practices and information sharing to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid.

The United States strongly believes that through the fostering of partnerships among G8 countries and assistance organizations, technology can accelerate growth and help to decrease the gap with the UN MDGs by 2015.

 

Team USA Positions: EPA

In this series, we will post excerpts from position papers prepared by TeamUSA for the Y8 Summit in London. Enjoy this window into the negotiations!

CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION

The science behind the existence of climate change is settled; the planet is changing and man-made alterations are the cause. While it is important to attempt to reduce our current eco-footprint and change our habits to attempt to mitigate as much of climate change as possible, our main focus must be on adapting to climate change both in the developed and the developing world. We cannot avoid the reality of potentially catastrophic changes around the globe.

Given the realities of climate change, renewable fuel use has been accelerating as countries move to include more hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy in their energy portfolios and increase usage of nuclear power and cleaner-burning natural gas. The United States has been among world leaders in this change. As a body we must facilitate this changeover in the developed world and assist the developing world in converting old, dirty energy to new clean energy.

But merely shifting to cleaner energy is only one component in our battle against climate change. Science has given us various methods of living on our new planet. It is of paramount importance that this technology trickles down to developing nations. There are new technologies that we must keep on the table, such as carbon sequestration and geoengineering.  Both technologies require the attention and support of the global community. The United States believes that it is important to contribute funds and academic attention to both of these technologies across the world.

Further, it is incredibly important that development goes hand-in-hand with green growth. As a global community we must make sure that economic development is matched with environmental protection in the long- and short-term.

 

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

In a world that is quickly approaching its carrying capacity, it is incredibly important that economic and social development are done in a way that is sustainable for the environment and future generations.

This is of particular importance for the developing world. The World Bank believes that by 2050 the world’s population will near 8 billion people; feeding this many people will put tremendous strain on current agriculture.  Agricultural practices must be as sustainable as possible, while still sustaining the needs of the present. It is important that farmers and policy makers are educated about the damaging long-term effects of cutting and farming practices and that these individuals are empowered to make changes and enforceable policies through the use of grants and aid from the international community.

There is also the issue of pollution – on land, in the air and at sea.  It is important that this body looks to address current emissions rates and goals both in the developed and developing world so that these emissions do not become harmful to the individuals who have no choice but to breathe the air. There should be some emissions requirement put forth to limit what individual polluters can put as well as an oversight organization to track the immediate and potential health impacts that pollution has on the population.

It is important to protect the biodiversity of our world. Thousands of species are currently going extinct every year and experts believe that the rate at which species are becoming extinct is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than has ever existed naturally (World Wildlife Fund). A similar program of education and support would benefit both the individuals forced to make the choice between environmental degradation and personal sustenance as well as the international community and the planet as a whole.

2.4 billion people live on less than $2 US a day and it is impossible to divorce the interrelated issues of poverty and starvation from issues of environmental preservation (World Bank). The world must avoid pitting global antipoverty efforts against environmental protection and restoration.

The United States seeks to foster broad consensus among both developed and developing countries for how to implement these policy solutions on both the national and the international level.

Y20 Kicks Off in St. Petersburg, Russia

The American delegation to the Y20 has arrived in St. Petersburg!

The five young professionals have been meeting their fellow international counterparts and taking in the beautiful host city (including a cruise on the Neva River). To watch the opening session please visit the official Y20 site.

More updates to come, especially as negotiations take place.

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Five Young Professionals Selected to Represent the US at the Y20 in Russia

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Next week, five young professionals will have the unique opportunity to represent the United States at this year’s Y20, the official youth engagement event of Russia’s G20 presidency. The delegation is a collaborative project between YADL and the Center for Russian-American Engagement of Emerging Leaders (CAREEL). CAREEL promotes collaboration between young American and Russian leaders and empowers this first generation of leaders born after the Cold War to replace outdated preconceptions and stereotypes through firsthand experience to sustain a cooperative rapport and trusted network between the two countries.

The delegates will engage in discussions about sustainable development and international finance with counterparts from around the world with the goal of producing a communiqué to be presented to the G20 leaders in September. Y20 participants will also have access to the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The members of the American delegation to the Y20 are:

Elizabeth Bagot | Originally from Kansas, Ms. Bagot studied international relations at Stanford University. She developed an academic curiosity for the history of the USSR and modern-day Russia and relocated to Moscow State University in 2010 to become fluent in Russian. For the last two years she has been working as a business and finance translator for Interfax Information Services, a leading independent news source for international business leaders. Ms. Bagot specializes in upstream oil and gas in Russia and the CIS. When not working, she is working on a graduate degree in international business management.

Elizabeth Bagot

Cooper Henderson | Mr. Henderson is originally from Moab, Utah, but now lives in Salt Lake City, where he graduated from Westminster College in 2011.  During his time at Westminster, he served as Student Body President, worked for Governor Jon Huntsman, and studied economics.  Over the last two years, he has managed the Center for American-Russian Engagement of Emerging Leaders (CAREEL), a non-profit organization he co-founded that promotes US-Russia youth cooperation.  Mr. Henderson also owns a software/web development company and teaches night school at a for-profit college

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Michael Karno | A native of Chicago, IL, Mr. Karno spent his undergraduate years at Georgetown University studying international political economy where he attained a certificate in international business diplomacy. He spent his first year after graduation with J.P. Morgan (JPM) in New York City in the firm’s Investment Bank Global Credit Risk Management (GCRM) group, focusing on Latin America. Mr. Karno transferred internally to the Asset Backed Securities group in GCRM at JPM in Chicago, where he has been for the last two years.

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Pavle Milekić | Mr. Milekić grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a dual degree in international relations and Russian in 2007. He completed his M.A. at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 2009 and moved to Moscow shortly thereafter as a participant on the Alfa Fellowship Program. He is currently working at the International Finance Corporation processing investments in the banking sector in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

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Matt Tan | Originally from New Jersey, Mr. Tan recently completed his undergraduate degree at McGill University, where he studied finance, international management, microbiology and immunology. In the past, he has done work with several NGOs, and served as a representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York. Currently, he works at Credit Suisse, manages his own company he founded in 2007, and is engaged in venture capital and entrepreneurial work for RealVentures in Montreal, Canada.

Matt Tan

President and CEO’s Notebook: YADL and China

In April, I had the privilege of conducting a working visit to China. Building on my trips to Peru and Russia since assuming my role leading the organization, this was my first trip to Asia on behalf of YADL. The impetus for this visit, however, dates back to early 2012.

For many years, the G8 & G20 Youth Network (now the International Diplomatic Engagement Association–IDEA) lacked a partner organization in China. Shortly after YADL assumed the leadership of the network in the summer of 2011, I worked closely with my colleagues in the United States and around the world to identify and cultivate a strategic partnership in China. Our collective research and networking introduced us to Lead Your Way.

Lead Your Way fosters leadership skills in Chinese young people through trainings and programs. Their mission aligns closely with YADL’s work and with the objectives of IDEA. With this as a foundation, YADL facilitated the induction of LYW into the association as the official Chinese member organization. LYW selected, trained, and sent the first official delegation from the People’s Republic of China to the G8 & G20 Youth Summits in 2012, which YADL hosted in Washington, DC. Since then, LYW has emerged as a reliable member of IDEA.

For YADL, global engagement is at the core of our mission and vision. Without proactive outreach to our partners around the world, our goal of providing young professionals with access and exposure to international relations becomes increasingly difficult. Moreover, YADL seeks to complement American foreign policy objectives in order to maximize our impact.

I hoped to accomplish two things with my time in China: 1) deepen YADL’s relationship with LYW and China, and 2) explore new programmatic opportunities between YADL and LYW on behalf of the US-China bilateral relationship. In Xian, I spoke to students at Gaoxin Number 1 High School to promote IDEA and our signature programs: the Y8 and Y20. (I even served as a judge for their campus speech contest!) In Beijing, I met with this year’s Chinese delegation to the Y8 and also gave a lecture on citizen diplomacy at Renmin University.

Most importantly, my gracious host, LYW’s founder and president, Liang He, and I broadly discussed future areas of cooperation between our two organizations. In the coming months, both YADL and LYW will be working toward launching a joint project that will immerse Chinese and American young professionals in the government, business, and culture of the United States and China. The US-China Young Leaders Exchange Program will provide its participants with the skills and resources to lead in a global society and understand the top two economies through experiential learning and service.

Our ambition is boundless. YADL and LYW will continue to face the inevitable challenges as unique opportunities and collaborate closely on this effort with the aim of launching USCYLEP by 2014 as an annually recurring program for both organizations. Success will only be possible through dynamic, transpacific public-private partnerships. Given our track record of US-China leadership and cooperation within IDEA, I am certain that YADL and LYW will continue their impressive trajectories.

Carlos Reyes is President and CEO of YADL

YADL CEO with LYW Y8 TeamCarlos Reyes, President and CEO of YADL (fourth from right) meets with the Chinese delegation to this year’s Y8, which was recruited and selected by IDEA partner organization, Lead Your Way, at Renmin University in Beijing, China on 14 April 2013

Team USA 2013: London Calling

YADL is very proud to announce the selection of the official delegation of the United States of America to the Y8 Summit in London taking place June 24-28. The competitive process culminated with the selection of a diverse and talented team representing both coasts and the heartland of the country.

The delegation is comprised of accomplished students from top universities as well as impressive young professionals from various career fields. Individually and collectively, they will present innovative policy proposals within the thematic working groups while negotiating with their international colleagues.

This is YADL’s first overseas delegation. Over the next few weeks, YADL will be preparing the team ahead of their transatlantic mission. YADL will soon announce how you can support the delegation and follow their progress on the road to London!

JEREMY ILOULIAN – President

Jeremy is a senior at George Washington University studying international affairs and environmental studies. Currently, Jeremy works at the State Department in the Office of Science and Technology Cooperation. In his time at GW, Jeremy served as the chair of the International Affairs Society. He previously served as the EPA Administrator on the US delegation in 2012 and as the liaison between GW and YADL. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and catching up on the most recent paleontological discoveries.

ALEX HABER – Secretary of State

Alex Haber is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying political science with a concentration in international relations. Outside of classes, he is the director of UPenn’s Model United Nations team, a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, and a coordinator for PennQuest, which is a freshman pre-orientation program. He loves playing and writing music and the New York Jets.

YEVGEN SAUTIN – Secretary of Defense

Yevgen was born in Kiev, where he spent his early childhood before moving to Nagasaki, Japan and then Gainesville, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 with degrees in history, economics, and political science. While at UF, he studied abroad in China, Russia, and Taiwan. Upon graduation, Yevgen was selected to be a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace where he currently works in the Russia-Eurasia and Energy-Climate Change Programs.

DANE SHIKMAN – Attorney General

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Dane is a senior at Georgetown University, studying international politics. He is heavily involved in the International Relations Club and leads the highly competitive Model United Nations team. Dane served in the Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Bureau, working on US nuclear policy at the State Department. He loves playing basketball, chess, and piano, and dances bhangra, hip hop, modern and free-style.

JORDAN SANDERSON – USAID Administrator

Jordan is a young professional from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After completing his B.A. in Spanish and commerce, language & culture at Georgetown College, Jordan was selected for a State Department Fulbright binational business grant to Mexico. Jordan previously represented the United States on the youth delegation to the G8 and G20 Summits in Canada in 2010. Jordan is interested in international development through increased private sector participation and plans to pursue graduate studies in business and public policy. In his free time, Jordan enjoys visiting small towns in Mexico, playing tennis and learning about the stock market.

DREW HOLDEN – EPA Administrator

Drew is a junior at Seton Hall University studying political science and environmental studies. He is currently an intern at the Eastern Environmental Law Center and plans to attend law school. Drew has also been engaged in Model United Nations as part of the Seton Hall’s competitive team and also staffs Seton Hall’s high school conference. Outside of Model United Nations, he also serves as captain of Seton Hall’s Mock Trial A team. He is originally from Hudson, Massachusetts, where he enjoys hiking and tennis.

RACHEL BRADFORD – Chief of Staff

Rachel is currently a senior at Cornell University majoring in history. At Cornell, she is involved with the Cornell International Affairs Society as well organizes the Cornell Model United Nations Conference. Rachel served as a youth delegate to the 57th UN Commission on the Status of Women and has worked with Global Classrooms on their international middle school Model UN conference. Rachel is also a resident advisor and works with the Cornell Men’s Varsity Soccer team. Rachel is originally from Montclair, New Jersey.

KIRSTEN JACOBSEN – Press Secretary

Kirsten graduated from the University of Iowa in 2011 with degrees in journalism and political science focusing on international relations.  She is the author of the yearlong “Making it in China” series for the Des Moines Register. Following graduation, she worked briefly for the Register before moving to rural Hunan, China, to report and teach high school English. Kirsten was active in Model United Nations and her school paper throughout college. She spends her free time traveling, learning Mandarin Chinese, and reading copious amounts of news.

The President and CEO’s Notebook: What is The IDEA?

As part of YADL’s commitment to connecting young professionals through strategic global partnerships, I recently participated in the first official convening of the International Diplomatic Engagement Association. IDEA brings together the 20 non-profit organizations around the world that annually participate in G8 and G20 youth programming.

The initial framework for IDEA was discussed and agreed upon last summer. Under YADL’s leadership, IDEA’s members adopted new principles during the G8 & G20 Youth Summits in Washington to anchor and advance our mission and vision. YADL also continued its track record of stewardship by facilitating the induction of UNAJE–the National Union of Young Argentine Entrepreneurs–into IDEA.

Together, these recent developments launched our collective work into a new process which culminated in mid-February on the sidelines of the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in Russia. YADL and our IDEA partners were graciously invited to attend the tenth annual forum by our Russian counterparts, the J8 Club.

KEF convened Russian government officials including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Vice Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as well as Krasnoyarsk Krai governor Lev Kusnetsov around the theme of a new roadmap of change for Russia. Private sector and civil society leaders, including students and young professionals in the “Generation 2020” track, also participated in KEF for three days of conversations on open government initiatives.

The 25 representatives of IDEA also had the opportunity to meet with Mikhail Abyzov, minister for open government affairs, and Pekka Viljakainen, senior advisor at the Skolkovo Foundation, to discuss social entrepreneurship and youth engagement in Russia. The conversations resulted in a dynamic exchange of best practices from each G20 country.

IDEA representatives also spent a day planning for the upcoming Y8 in London, United Kingdom and Y20 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Most importantly, the 20 organizations outlined the next steps for further consolidation of IDEA and initiated strategic planning for the global group.

There is a lot of exciting work at YADL. These projects only enhance YADL’s ability to empower young leaders through global programs that provide access and exposure to international relations. Together with IDEA, YADL will continue to provide meaningful and impactful opportunities for young professionals while building a global community committed to service.

Carlos Reyes is President and CEO of YADL.