Our Story

The Youth Observatory is a non governamental organization, created on September of 2015, being a Special Interest Group of Internet Society (ISOC) since 2016. It is composed by members of around the world, between 18 to 32 years old committed in the training of the knowledge of Internet ecosystem and Internet Governance. We have accepted the challenge of increasing the participation of new actors through their involvement in forums and divulgation of workshops that increase the academia research.

This has been our journey since 2015:

In 2015, we wrote the ‘Youth’s Declaration’ (“Declaración de la Juventud”), which was introduced in the Internet Governance Forum in 2015. Later, in 2016, the “Gender Youth” Group wrote the ‘Declaration of Young Latin American Women, to empower young women and build a feminist Internet Governance’ (“Declaración de las Mujeres Jóvenes Latinoamericanas, para empoderar a las mujeres jóvenes y construir una Gobernanza de Internet feminista”). This document was presented at the Internet Governance Forum 2016 and the Internet Freedom Festival in 2017.

Since 2015, we have participated actively in many national, regional and international events such as Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2015,2016,2017, LACIGF 2016, 2017, Internet Freedom Festival 2017, among others. One of our main contributions happened in 2017, where we organised 2 workshops: 1# Workshop 193 about the commitment of youth in the Internet Governance ecosystem and 2# about the gender challenges and youth.

In 2017, we launched the book ‘Analysis of youth connected’ (“Análisis de una juventud conectada”), which is a collection of articles written by young persons on Internet Governance topics. The book is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Also, during 2017, we organized an interactive hub of InterCommunity in Guadalajara, Mexico, counting with the participation of thousands of young individuals remotely and onsite.

We created the first youth initiative of IGF for Latin America and the Caribbean called Youth LACIGF, which takes place one day before the LACIGF. Since its first edition in 2016, we have committed to give financial support to young individuals in the region to attend the meeting.

Aditionally, since 2016, we have developed projects to stimulate critical thought about youth problems in Internet. One of our main project was ‘Youth at schools’ (“Juventud en las escuelas”) addressed young students in schools in Brazil. Our members helped them to discuss and analyse their relationships with Internet. This project helped to build ‘Cyberneteens’, a project applied by ISOC Brazil in partnership with Youth Observatory for the Internet Society’s Chapterton 2017, which also included taking the critic reflection of Internet at schools.

On 2018, we transitioned from a regional SIG (Latin America and the Caribbean) to an international Special Interest Group; in order to include more young voices in Internet Governance.

Why trust in the Youth Observatory?

Because we are a youth led initiative for young persons, we count with experience in the organization of forums and events related to Internet. We propose and develop in successful way projects in the Internet ecosystem, transforming them in a global reference in the involvement of the next generation of leaders in the regions.

We foster an active exchange of communication among young individuals, through capacity building in local, regional and international debates, so in this way we empower youths and build new lines of debate for the multistakeholder community. We are sure through dialogue and active cooperation, we set the basis for the tomorrow’s leaders.

Youth Observatory Webinar on COVID-19

Youth Observatory has prepared a webinar on COVID-19, with the purpose of joining efforts to fight COVID-19 with Dr. Abhishek Royal.

Dr. Royal is a medical doctor and a public health professional with experience of working with various vulnerable and marginalized population and public health emergencies in India. He is currently pursuing Master’s in Public Health in Implementation Research from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. He has received full scholarship from World Health Organization – Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases to pursue this international master’s program.

Dr. Abhishek Royal will talk to us on April 15th on the Community perspective on the pandemic and the effects of lockdown on Mental health.

Moderator: Mohammad Atif Aleem (Regional Engagement Director- Asia Pacific Region).

Sign up before April 13 at 12 pm UTC here: https://bit.ly/YouthObsAgainstCovid

The webinar on COVID-19 will take place on April 15 at 14pm UTC. Few spots available!


Watch the recording of the webinar below:

Youth Observatory Webinar on COVID-19

Youth Observatory Webinar on COVID-19. Dr. Abhishek Royal (MBBS, MPH Scholar | Implementation Research) will cover 1) Community perspective on pandemic; 2) Effects of lockdown and infodermic on mental health.

Posted by Youth Observatory on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

As part of Youth Obs Challenge, we are also proposing our community to take a short course on COVID-19 (enroll here) and share your certificate, tagging @YouthObs on social media and using the proposed hashtags #onlineandinformed #youthobsonline #InternetUnited #unitedagainstCovid19 #youthuniteagainstcovid.

Youth LACIGF 2019

The youth meeting took place in August 5th, in the city of La Paz, Bolivia. The organizing process started in January 2019 when we invited Youth Observatory members to take part in online meetings to shape the fourth edition of the Youth LACIGF, having our communication at our official Telegram group in order to set the working commissions.

In order to create an Internet Governance Initiative that achieves the goals of openness, transparency, inclusiveness, non-commercial, and multi-stakeholder participation, the main organizers established a dialogue with other stakeholders interested in the event. At the end of July, we had the participation of 5 actors from different stakeholder groups which conform the Organization Committee.


The Committee decided to use the format of “Break-out groups” to maximize the participation of all attendees in our agenda. The event was open to the public, free of charge and was widely disseminated in digital media.

Watch the recording here: https://youtu.be/uVk_p7lDPIc

Read the full report here (English).

Creating Networks: Localising Youth Initiatives

The Youth Observatory (also called “Youth SIG”) has been always creating new ways to engage young individuals across the globe, after our internalization process, while using different platforms to encourage youth to give their valuable inputs on how to engage their communities, as well as fostering the creation and thrive of young initiatives, eager to create a better Internet for everyone.

Our experience around the years has shown us there are many young leaders working around the world in amazing initiatives, starting from teaching girls how to code; provide STEM solutions to rural communities; till creating local initiatives to foster the inclusion of local languages in Internet; among many other topics. Their voices are a part of the Internet Governance picture, and their roles as changemakers in their countries are a big part of all the benefits Internet can bring to our daily lives.

The Creating Networks project is an initiative funded by the Internet Society Beyond The Net fund, where we created a map of youth initiatives and organizations that involve young people, informatics and telecommuniciations. In adittion to the Creating Networks Map, we designed a competition of youth-led projects that will be formed by the participants of the competition. In this competition, we will bring them capacity building tools (webinars, project management tools) in the thematic areas we are going to address, such as digital inclusion, gender inclusion and infrastructure matters.

This initiative was created thanks to participants Juliana Novaes, Carlos Rubí, Ángel David Santiago, Eduardo Tome, Giovanna Michelato, Guilherme Alves, Isabela Inês, Jhon Caballero, Paula Côrte Real, Juan Pablo González, Augusto Luciano Mathurin, Renata Ribeiro.

This initiative was also shared at the Internet Society’s website here


You can watch some of the videos shared by the Creating Networks participants, talking about their youth initiatives here:

Youth LACIGF 2018

On July 29 we hosted the Youth LACIGF 2018 in partnership with Youth IGF Argentina, as Buenos Aires was the host city of LACIGF. In this meeting, we gathered young individuals from all the region to share knowledge, experiences and thoughts on the challenges we are facing in the LAC region. Due this year we are sharing common interests and for the sake of complement strategies, we decided to organize both events in the same day and venue.

The Youth IGF Argentina is a discussion forum and space of exchange of ideas that has a goal amply the voices of young individuals between 18 to 30 years that are interested in Internet Governance.

At the meeting we had 50 young participants from Latin America and the Caribbean interested on learning about several topics related to Internet Governance as well as acquiring knowledge from young persons of other countries. The topics addressed included freedom of expression in Internet, liability of intermediary platforms; cybersecurity and threats in digital spaces; at an informal environment when young persons could make all types of questions about the above said topics.

Moreover, the meeting counted with the presentation of Maia Daniel Levy (Youth IGF Argentina, on “Liability of intermediary platforms”) and Silvio Messina (Datas, on “Threats to digital rights in Argentina”). We also had a workshop facilitated by Romina Colman (part of the team of La Nación Data, an Argentine newspaper) and the presentation of a project created by the organization “Las De Sistemas” (an organization that empowers women on the usage of STEM). The meeting included presentations of youth initiatives of young leaders in the LAC region.

Thanks to the provided fellowships, we could have 8 guest fellows from Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay.

Access the full Report here (English).

Youth LACIGF 2017

In the second edition of the Youth LACIGF, we had our meeting in the city of Panama City in Panama, where the LACIGF was having place too. This edition sought to deepen the debate and involvement of young people in the region, bringing new issues to be discussed among participants.

The agenda of the meeting was followed after the results of a public poll conducted during June 2017. For our forum, we used the format of “Birds of Further” to maximixe the participation of the attendess of the Youth LACIGF 2017. The thematic areas we addressed were “Infrastructure and Access”, “Cybersecurity and Surveillance”, “Internet and Human Rights”, “The Youth and Internet Governance”. It has also included the “Agenda Hacking” and the presentation of the book “Analysis of youth connected” (‘Análisis de una joventud conectada’).

You can watch the recording of the meeting at the links below:

Part 1: https://youtu.be/WMyYjs2T78I

Part 2: https://youtu.be/CSasbu9hZKo

Read the full report here (English).

Youth LACIGF 2016

The first ever Youth LACIGF took place in the city of San José, Costa Rica. This initiative born from the growing community of Latin American youth interested in issues related to the Internet. Given the active role that the youth have started taking, this new space is created with multi-sectoral characteristics, as a forum for debate of new ideas and perspectives to encourage the creation of lines of discussion that will be taken to other forums.

The agenda for this edition was defined based on the results of a public poll conducted between the end of June and the beginning of July, 2016. More than 70 users voted. Then, main members of the initiative formed a program Committee composed of representatives of all the stakeholders involved. This Committee was responsible for defining the agenda, the
format of the discussions and logistics details.

The topics discussed at this meeting were “Infrastructure and Access”, “Human Rights and Internet”, “Surveillance and Cybersecurity” and “Youth and the Internet Governance: What Is The Future?”

Watch the presentation video of the first edition of the Youth LACIGF here: https://youtu.be/sw9aXB9OL6A

Read the full report here (English)

Declaration: “We, the Youth of Latin America and the Caribbean”

As a new youth initiative gathering young members of Latin America and the Caribbean, we have learnt from our experience as part of Youth @IGF 2015 and CGI.BR that there are many young individuals in our region eager to have a space in the Internet Governance Forum to be listened and have our voices heard.

That is why we created the Declaration “We, The Youth of Latin America and the Caribbean” as a declaration of principles and goals we want to transmit why it is important to include young voices in Internet Governance.

Find below the Declaration (English):

INTRODUCTION.

We, who wrote and endorsed this declaration, are a group of young Latin Americans who have been absent from the discussions for a long time. This is why today we want to make our voice heard.

 In that matter, we, members of the “2015 Youth@IGF program” that has trained more than one hundred young people between the ages of 18 and 25 years old about subjects related to Internet Governance (IG), are going to use our voice in this declaration to be presented at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in João Pessoa, Brazil. We will present the principles that we, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, identified on the Internet for its future and development. This great tool is essential for knowledge shaping, empowerment and sustainable development in our region.

            Governance is the result of a teamwork of different sectors seeking the same goal: “a free internet, transparent and inclusive,” but has forgotten the issue of the young people.

But, how can the youth be included in these discussions?The first thing to note is that, according to the Ibero-American Youth Organization in 2015, there are in Latin America and the Caribbean about 160 million young people. In generational terms, a quarter of the world population is made up of us, the young people who have taken advantage on the implementation of a growing Internet market in Latin America.

Putting into numbers, the rate of access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT), increased by 61 % between 2002 and 2011 compared to other countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), being the greatest levels of Internet usage among young people aged 15 to 24 and young adults between 25 and 34 years old.

However, the increasing usage of ICT does not imply that they are being used properly. Social networks remain the favorite applications among the youth, there are areas that do not have Internet access and young people who don’t have access to computers.

For that reason, and aware of the needs existing in Latin America, the first declaration of a group of young Latin Americans reflects our ideas, thoughts and passions, but also what we think about our role in IG.

Therefore, we reiterate the need of foundation principles which we, the youth, consider essential in the ecosystem of IG.

PRINCIPLES:

           As said by the ex UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, Frank La Rue, “access to Internet has become a basic human right”, so to fight for a more connected world in which each and everyone has unlimited access for the use and framing of Internet should be a priority. These principles allow the existence of an open and diverse network, to ensure a space without privileges, space for everyone. Therefore , we consider it is necessary that this list of principles are being treated as International Human Rights standards. In addition, we require that states undertake to respect and include them in their legislation for the benefit of Internet users .

As principles, we understand those precepts that are widely accepted. Inside the Internet ecosystem, we identify the existence of many of them, although  we want to mention those which are crucial for us: 

  1. Universal Access
  2. Freedom
  3. Diversity
  4. Net Neutrality
  5. Privacy
  6. Cybersecurity

UNIVERSAL ACCESS.

We emphasize that the access to digital services, information and communication technologies should be universal, ensuring the inclusion of the vulnerable youth population through an unlimited, affordable and quality of access. The Internet must become an effective tool to for social and human development in the region.We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, call for the necessary actions to make digital services and Internet access universal; for the development and investments in Broadband Network so that unconnected areas can become connected; for the infrastructure building, reinforcement of the process of appropriation and training to allow young people to take advantage of these technologies.

FREEDOM.

We understand that the Internet is a tool that allows us to expand the boundaries of freedom, as well as meet and share knowledge, express ourselves without fear of censorship and change the reality around us. However, young people  feel that these rights are not sufficiently promoted in our region, where in many countries they are subjected to persecution and harassment.

We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, are called to build the future, but we are denied the space and the means to exercise our right to participate in the development of a free and open Internet where we can use search engines, receive and disclose information to allow the valid and necessary recognition and respect of our dissent. But above all, we demand our voices be heard and included in this dialogue to create a world and an Internet that can truly belong to us, once the youth is the power for progress and change, as well as development and technological innovation.

DIVERSITY

We understand diversity in the Network as the effective inclusion of historically excluded social groups; such as women, indigenous people, LGBTI communities, people with special needs, among others. They must have Internet access on equal terms.

        We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, demand the Internet allowing the promotion of real diversity.

NET NEUTRALITY

We believe that the Internet should remain open and neutral, ensuring non-discriminatory treatment based on content, sites and platforms, allowing all types of communications. In that matter, it is necessary to ensure that traffic management must be guided only by technical and ethical criteria.We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, call for the principle of Net Neutrality to be respected, in order to prevent obstacles to the development and innovation of applications and digital and ICT services. So that  we can fully exercise our right to freedom of speech and access to information without fear of any restrictions or traffic control.

PRIVACY

The principle of privacy on the Internet consists of the protection and respect of communications, information and every data generated, published and accessed by people through new Technologies of Information and Communication. The right to privacy is enshrined in all Latin American’s constitutional texts, although it was designed to be implemented in the analog world, privacy extends to the digital domain, and therefore, must be respected by our regions Governments.

The right to anonymity, protection of personal data, protection against massive surveillance and data retention on the Internet are fundamental rights, and for that must be guaranteed for all Internet users. They are vital for young people to develop freely on the Internet, and this means that we must have access to information without any restrictions or fear of further reprisals.

We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, demand the respectnof our rights to express anonymously, within that may no government or organizations force us to identify ourselves.

CYBERSECURITY

As young people, we access the Internet frequently. It’s a place in which we develop and express freely, to this end, we support the development of technology that can protect our rights on the network.

On the other hand, we demand from governments and developers of hardware and software corporations the non-use of tools of massive surveillance and data collection performance without judicial orders and only with strong and valid motivation. We reject the excessive use of coercion, including the use of malware and spyware to intercept illegally our communications, data and metadata.

We, the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean, call to make the Internet a safe and free place.

These are the principles that we consider vital to empower youth in Internet. However, we also understand that it is not only from the principles that we must address our demands, but also from our own experiences. These give us living examples of how these principles delineate our participation in the IG.

YOUTH EXPERIENCE BEHIND THIS DECLARATION

Into the IGFs.

As young people we have been active in the Internet ecosystem from different roles, we noticed little continuity in youth about Internet Governance issues. We believe that this happened for various reasons, among which we highlight the lack of information that goes to the young communities about the events of the Internet. That’s why we want to build on our commitment and future generations through education and disseminating the concepts of governance and at the same time foster discussion among young people.

We have experienced that the main problem to active participation in young people are the language limitations and the economic element. Consequently, we are challenged to create more opportunities to break this barrier and bring more young local, regional and international IGFs participation. For this, we want to support, create and apply more opportunities and actively participate in scholarship initiatives to address governance forums, so the young voice will be present.

Additionally, we intend to break current paradigms and help shape and evolve the future of Internet. To achieve this, we recognize that youth participation in different branches of Internet Governance is key within the IGFs. We believe that the multidisciplinary element should prevail to create a perspective of young people who do not just repeat pre-established models.

The Youth@IGF experience.

The YouthIGF 2015 program began with a call that motivated the Latin American and the Caribbean youngsters, from 18 to 25 years to participate in a course through which they could obtain a scholarship to attend the IGF 2015 held in João Pessoa. This course comprised of hundred and twenty young people selected to participate throughout the region.

The program consisted on a four week online course, tutored and provided by the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Steering Committee of Brazil (CGI.BR). There was not only theoretical classes but also strong interaction between the class members through weekly chat sessions and discussions forums by each group. We were able to develop our knowledge of Internet Governance not only by the course materials but also hearing from different persons about the different topics. Finally, we had the opportunity to attend online meetings with specialists on issues such as privacy, security, IG, etc.

After a four week process that tested our time, aptitude to interact with young people from different parts of the world, the ability shown to study issues relating to IG and our capacity to reflect and analyze these issues the course was over.  Seventy three young men and women were then selected to attend the IGF in Joao Pessoa, Brazil.

The work in ICT, outside IG forums.

Through our participation, we found that there are few local spaces where youth could participate in discussions of IG. While there are working groups and other tools worldwide, usually at the local level we have a substantial lack of these kind of initiatives.

Moreover, discussions of governance do not take place in one of the most important places for youths: educational institutions. Therefore, we understand that a diffusion of these issues in high school and post high school and to involve young students in the development of it is required, fostering a multidisciplinary approach.

Finally, it is important to recognize that the local work should involve multi-stakeholder perspectives; young people to be included within the scope of local jobs must belong to different contexts, proposing various different perspectives for discussions of key issues.

CONCLUSION

First.

Our intention is to initiate the participation of the youth of our region, searching to resignify the Internet as a plural space and tool, oriented to the empowerment and participation, where the diversity of voices that characterize our region are present. We understand, from our reality and together with the experience of Youth@IGF program, the essential value of connecting the possibilities delivered from the Internet with the present challenges in the Latin American reality. These challenges will not be overcome only with more network connection or the presence in social networks, but by the protagonism of the Latin American society and, as its youth, we have the key role to seek a better world.

This statement comes essentially from the recognition of this role. From our perspective of young Latin Americans, we can conclude that the Internet is not a neutral tool: on one hand, it can expand and strengthen communicative spheres and promote the dissemination of knowledge and the development of a sustainable global society, but also can be an instrument of control and surveillance. This was demonstrated by the experiences of 2013, where conditions of asymmetries between each country’s’ ability to protect from abuses are clearly stated. 

Second.

We recognize a democratic breach on the Governance spaces , as well as,  we reiterate the importance of a universal Internet, where the commitment of strengthening the robustness and security of the network against these abuses, is related with a set of demands, which are not exclusive of this Latin American youth. The importance of deepening the discussion on how to practice and how IG is build, considering the participation gap in the ecosystem of IG and which kind of multisectoralism suites better the conditions, are key points to strengthen the Internet against abuse. The Internet is an important tool of empowerment, which is governed by principles. These principles must be adapted to the diversity of realities, such as: being able to use the language itself fully in the different areas of governance.

Third.

We reaffirm the vital role of youth and their organizations, as it was expressed in paragraph 11 of the Declaration of Principles of the World Summit on the Information Society, which reads “(…) we recognize that young people are the future workforce and leading creators and earliest adopters of ICTs. They must therefore be empowered as learners, developers, contributors, entrepreneurs and decision-makers. We must focus especially on young people who have not yet been able to benefit fully from the opportunities provided by ICTs (…)”. Therefore, the role of young people has also been highlighted by the World Program of Action for Youth, where it identifies the ICT as one of the fifteen major areas. These can give the youth the opportunities to overcome obstacles, like distance and socioeconomic inequalities. In addition, the World’s Youth Summit of the International Telecommunication Union, signed in 2013, said that the youth is a force for progress in the decision-making process, to improve democracy and that if this group can achieve access to information we can enhance innovation worldwide (Declaration of the World Summit Youth BYND, 2015). Consequently, we have gained some progress but more and better efforts are needed to ensure the realization of these programs and statements.

Fourth.

The group formed from this declaration, arises from the exchange and learning of the participants of the Youth@IGF program, where we understood the need to expand and share with other young people everything we achieve. In this sense, we built the Youth Observatory, whose mission is to encourage the youth of Latin America and the Caribbean to become actors of their own truth within the construction of the IG. Encouraging active participation in discussions and creating content, having, as a result, the construction of a more democratic and accessible to all Internet.

Thought of as a way for young people to stay active and participatory, we also propose the creation of a platform, which will have discussion forums, and on which research papers will be published; access to information will be deepened throughout the availability of content. In this way, we will contribute to building an increasingly solid understanding, which will involve all stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem. Consequently, we will have a place where the young people can be empowered and enhance their voices, becoming the protagonists.

Fifth.

We could not end this statement without thanking all those who contributed to making our participation in the IGF in João Pessoa possible.

To the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.Br) and to the Brazilian Network Information Centre (NIC.Br) especially its Director, Thiago Tavares, who supported the participation of young people as actors for building IG. We appreciate the trust in us. To the Internet Society (ISOC), especially to Raquel Gatto, our mentors Marilia Monteiro, Natalia Enciso, Sheba Mohammid, Rodrigo Nejm and Rodrigo Afonso, for all the knowledge learned and support to our development. Teaching is the noblest way to build people that wish to ensure a better future.

We would also like to salute Google, Intel and Verizon, for their support in this kind of initiative, which aims to train young people on issues regarding IG.

 
Finally, we would like to invite each and every young participant, remote or in person, of the IGF 2015, to join the process of updating this Declaration. After the close of IGF in João Pessoa, this Declaration will be open to the Internet so the youth, either individually or through the organization to which they belong, can collaborate in the drafting. Thus, we will have a document that really shows the diversity of the youth for the next IGF.


You can also find the Declaration in Spanish and Portuguese here