EuroDIG 2019 – YouthDIG from the perspective of a BIK Youth Ambassador – João

  • Youth
  • 23/07/2019
  • João Pedro Martins, BIK Youth Ambassador

In June 2019, three BIK Youth Ambassadors – Lili, Haris and João – had the opportunity to attend EuroDIG 2019 and to participate in YouthDIG in the Hague, Netherlands. Below, João Pedro Martins reflects on his experience.

"This year, the EuroDIG (European Dialogue on Internet Governance) was held in The Hague, Netherlands where, during two days (Wednesday, 19 and Thursday, 20 June 2019) some hot topics of internet governance were discussed at European level, under the theme ‘Cooperating in the digital age'.

"This meeting happens every year and involves different stakeholders, including government institutions, private sector, academia and civil society representatives. What about youth? Youth is very welcome as well! Last year I got to participate in the YouthDIG programme and since it was a nice opportunity to get to know youth advocates of internet rights, this year I joined as a participant again and hung out with the new group.

"In this edition of EuroDIG, there were several parallel topics being discussed and debated. I was particularly interested on Ethics in Artificial Intelligence and Children Online Rights, the latter related to Media literacy and Education. Other important issues were cybersecurity and internet infrastructure such as the DNS (Domain Name System), and ever-expanding technologies like blockchain.

"I was a youth participant in the session ‘Children in the digital age – How to balance their right to freedom and their right to be protected?'. It is thought-provoking to realise that nowadays, young people do not really distinguish their ‘real' life from their online life. I am perhaps happy because I belong to a slightly earlier generation that went over the transition to everything digital before reaching my teens, giving me a good ability to identify both major challenges and opportunities.

"Assessing whether children know their rights was only half of the discussion. Do they care about their rights? A teenager once told me that he would freely give away his privacy if he was benefiting from a service. A statement difficult to argue with, because when young people use technology, they want to use it for the services.

"In terms of youth participation and discussion, I spoke about the Safer Internet Forum, which is children-centred and oriented, since they are the reason why people get together to discuss these online issues. One of my recommendations was that the same approach should be considered and brought to the broader internet governance ecosystem.

"With internet access and freedom of speech, there are more opportunities and scenarios where young people can speak and express their views and opinions. We are opening the mic, allowing more people to participate. But we can never stop to consider if people are listening. And who is listening, after all? And how do they interpret the messages being shouted?

"All in all, it was a great event, from getting to know The Hague, to the people I met and that form the EuroDIG community. It is an ongoing process, but hopefully we are making the internet a better place, including for children and young people."

João Pedro (Portugal)

João is a young Computer Engineering student at the University of Coimbra. He has been a Youth Ambassador for about seven years.
Born in Portugal, he was one of the first members from outside Lisbon to join the youth panel of his national Safer Internet Centre (SIC). After attending a Safer Internet Forum (SIF) in Luxembourg in 2011 representing his country, he was invited to be a Youth Ambassador. Since then he has attended some seminars – including one in Paris at Vivendi headquarters, and another one in Cachan. He also attended the European Parliament for the launch of the WebWeWant handbook, and participated in two more editions of Safer Internet Forum, one of which took place in Brussels. Throughout the years, he has had the opportunity to both raise awareness among his peers and learn about online safety issues. All these events have also been extraordinary occasions to meet many interesting people from all around the world.
Young people's opinions are very important for Joao and he believes that they should be taken into account by both politicians and industry. That is why he is involved in several projects, most of them connected to youth participation in debates and decision making processes. More recently, he has worked alongside his national SIC to organise lectures in local schools and regional events, and has been involved in internet governance events, both at national (Incode2030 and Portuguese IGF – 2016/17) and international (Global IGF – Mexico 2016) levels.


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