On Thursday 24 and Friday 25 March, ISL hosted the 16th edition of the annual Global Issues Network conference. This year again, the event was held virtually, which gave the chance to over 170 students from 20 schools to participate.
In addition to Europe, attendees joined from a total of eight different time zones, ranging from California and Honduras to Dubai and China. Student speakers delivered a range of workshops to share how they are tackling global issues at their own level, encompassing this year’s theme of ‘Activating youth voices for systemic change’.
A total of twenty-eight GIN teams presented research and forward thinking projects addressing issues such as period poverty, the environmental impact of the pandemic or the difficulties faced by refugees.
Young attendees drew further inspiration from the plenary sessions delivered by Melati Wijsen, Matthew Pye and Anya Singh, each encouraging young changemakers to sustain their commitment to global issues by sharing their experiences and personal achievements.
Melati Wijsen gave a dynamic and personal account of her journey from the founding Bye Bye Plastic Bags when she was 12 to speaking on world stages such as the EU parliament and the United Nations, or featuring in the documentary Bigger Than Uswhen she was only 18. She also introduced participants to her most recent project YOUTHTOPIA. which is focused on empowering young people to accelerate change by providing them with the relevant skills to create impact.
In the same vein, 18-year-old Anya Singh presented Konnekt Global, a non-profit organisation that she co-founded with the aim of connecting youth-driven teams worldwide to move resources to communities who need them.
Matthew Pye, who personally came to ISL in February, explained how a systemic issue like the climate crisis calls for systemic thinking. Drawing a parallel with the civil rights movement, Pye argued that, like Martin Luther King, we should advocate for systemic change through legislation.
For the second year, the conference was organised via the Whova app, which gave participants the opportunity to engage and network outside of workshops and plenaries.
Preparations will soon be underway for the next conference. It is anticipated that ISL will continue organising a global virtual conference while considering the prospect of a regional face-to-face event in collaboration with local schools.