“Young People Are Part of the Engine Driving Internet Change”
With the support of LACNIC’s Líderes program, Encel Sánchez of Venezuela participated in the Regional Internet Governance Forum (LACIGF) that met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, earlier this month.
Selected as a youth leader for being one of the region’s most active young figures with an interest in Internet Governance issues, Sánchez stressed the importance of the exchange of ideas that took place during LACIGF debates in general and the contribution of young people in particular, noting that they had brought a fresh, renewed perspective to the agenda.
Sánchez noted that young people play a key role in the construction and evolution of Information Technologies, so they should be increasingly involved in proposing and discussing the most relevant Internet-related topics.
What is your assessment of the issues discussed in Buenos Aires at LACIGF?
The topics discussed at LACIGF set a relevant agenda for the region and the construction of a better Internet ecosystem for Latin America and the Caribbean. Personally, I believe that the focus of these debates was closely related to the needs of the region in terms of Internet Governance, with special emphasis on the peculiarities of each of our countries. I think this meeting serves as a stepping stone to propose a Latin American agenda to be discussed at the upcoming Global IGF.
On a personal level, what was your participation like? What were the highlights of your experience as a youth leader?
Personally, I felt very motivated to attend, to listen to the debates, to participate in the sessions, to contribute to the construction and the discussion of topics that are relevant to the entire LAC region. As a youth leader, I felt there was a new space that had not yet been covered and another chance to expand our participation in these events. Young people are a key element in the construction and evolution of the Internet, especially in our region: we are the leading actors of change.
Would you recommend that other young people apply to LACNIC’s Líderes program to obtain the support needed to participate in these events or in national or sub-regional Internet forums?
Yes, I totally would. Young people must participate in these programs. We must take advantage of these opportunities, promote and disseminate each aspect of these events, and create similar initiatives that will help promote young people and their participation. My recommendation is that every young person who has an idea on how to change the Internet should join these proposals, learn and occupy participation spaces at these events where Internet Governance issues are discussed.
Do you think that young people in our region are engaging in Internet Governance issues?
The participation of young people in Internet Governance issues has been growing in recent years. More of us are joining these discussions and we have created our own spaces for debate: spaces created by young people for young people. We have joined initiatives that promote our participation and we have contributed with our opinions and quality materials that have broadened the debate on Internet-related topics. Young people are looking for our own space within the Internet ecosystem. We are actors, protagonists of change, and our participation helps to build a freer Internet, one that is more evolutionary and full of new and fresh ideas for change.
In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of the Internet which should be under discussion?
There are many new and revolutionary aspects that are reshaping the Internet and that should be under discussion, among them artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the rise of cryptocurrencies. The Internet as we know it today is different from what the Internet will look like tomorrow. We, as a community interested in these issues, must accompany this growth and discuss the issues that are now part of our reality and have an impact on society.
What type of initiatives should be promoted to promote greater participation of young people in Internet Governance?
We must promote Internet leadership training initiatives for young people, create spaces for young people where we can discuss and create our own agenda. To increase our participation in regional spaces , we must promote more sponsorship programs that only support young people. It is also important to continue creating platforms such as YouthLACIGF in each country. Young people are part of the engine driving Internet change in the region and we need more spaces. We need to be heard and to share our ideas and feelings just like any other actor.