Young Internet Entrepreneurs Change the World

September 9, 2013
Students Use Tablets To Review the Periodic Table

The information sharing system that we now know of as the Internet was founded on the principle of freedom. It is a freedom that permits open and free discourse, innovation, and collaboration on interconnected networks; freedom that allows for constant expansion.  As a result, we live in a world where technology enables pervasive, perpetual social change and young people are at the forefront driving that change. 

This week, we are in Costa Rica at the International Telecommunication Union’s BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit, leading a delegation of talented Americans, ages 18-25. The delegation joins young people from all corners of the globe in a series of workshops, presentations and debates.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon encourages us to imagine a future where everyone has access to enough food, to an education, and to the energy required to develop jobs and a robust economy.  Our challenge is to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a platform for that positive change.

The Internet is an economic engine unto itself and also a tool for development and change.  The formula for success includes the free flow of information, a decentralized approach to governance where multiple stakeholders -- the private sector, civil society, independent individuals, and government -- each play a vital role. This multi-stakeholder model addresses Internet governance issues in a manner that is as flexible, adaptable and scalable as the Internet itself.  It ensures the Internet is a robust, open platform for innovation, investment and economic growth throughout the world, including developing countries.  It works.  And though we all want to see more progress faster, we must remain committed to the underlying values that built the platform in the first place. 

At BYND 2015, we turn our attention to celebrating the platform as a tool for the creation of positive change; young delegates from all over the world meeting online and offline to imagine a better tomorrow.  The ability for the millennial generation to define a vision and interact with their peers in a global virtual environment is part of the formula, too.  Our U.S. delegates embody the spirit of their millennial generation.  They use the Internet and technology as a powerful means to connect, communicate, innovate and take action on things that matter to them – on a scale that transcends their locality, making them global actors. 

Among our delegates is entrepreneur Rebecca Garcia, co-founder of CoderDojo, a not-for-profit organization that teaches young people how to code websites and apps. Joining us from academia are Chelsea Rebecca Shelton, Amanda Bolton, Trevelyan Wing, Laura Armstrong, Jared Benoff and Briana Cavion.

We are confident the BYND 2015 delegates will succeed in their mission of reimagining the future using Internet technology as a force for positive change.   

Follow #BYND2015, @zeenat, and @stateyouth on Twitter, and go to www.itu.int/en/bynd2015 and Facebook for more on the conference.

About the Authors: Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda serves as U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, and Zeenat Rahman serves as the Secretary of States' Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues.

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