GYA member Benjamin Hennig was one of 100 so-called Young Global Changers from 100 different countries to attend the Think 20 Summit – Global Solutions that took place in Berlin on 29-30 May 2017. He also attended a side event aimed at engaging the young scholars with the themes discussed during the main summit and come up with solutions and proposals that feed into the most pressing global debates.

The Think 20 Summit itself was organised as part of the Think 20 Dialogue initiated by Germany as part of its current G20 presidency. Over 1,000 participants from academia, business, civil society, and governments took part in expert talks, panel discussions and informal dialogues.


The summit closed with the presentation of 20 policy proposals for governments and as an input into the forthcoming G20 summit in early July. The topics covered policy areas such as digitalisation, building a stable, sustainable, and resilient global economy, climate policy and finance, fighting hunger, reducing inequalities, managing forced migration, and the 2030 Agenda as a universal framework for human development and shared prosperity.


Another outcome of the T20 Germany process is the establishment of an additional permanent web-based G20 Insights Platform that provides policy analysis to support G20 policy making. The website provides insights into the policy briefs and areas that were discussed during the summit.


The Young Global Changers programme around this summit assembled people with a passion for change and a background in social volunteering, academia, technology, start-ups, journalism or blogging. They provided the voice of the next generation into the global problem-solving agenda. The extended programme therefore included a pre-summit kick-off workshop where groups around the different policy areas were formed and where an innovative design thinking process was initiated with the goal of developing new ideas for global solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our planet.

The Young Global Changers then used the summit itself to have their voices heard in the discussions, to speak to decision-makers and the ‘big thinkers’ present at the event, and to inform ideas for novel solutions.

Despite being thus integrated into the overall summit proceedings, the Young Global Changers experienced some difficulties when trying to directly approach high-level participants (e.g. Nobel Laureates) for an exchange of ideas, or when they were side-lined into a video room separate from the main auditorium.


Nevertheless, the Young Global Changers saw the summit as a great opportunity to network, not only with other young scholars but also with some of the senior experts present at the event, and to make their voices heard and their inputs taken on board.

One of the T-20 Co-Chairs, Dennis Snower from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) encouraged the young participants in particular to stay engaged in the process.

The Young Global Changers programme also led to the establishment of an informal network of the young scholars who are now keeping the ball rolling via digital technology. The diverse geographical and topic background of the participants seemed to have worked quite well in generating a dynamic and engaged group of people who might play their part in maybe really becoming a little bit of young global changer. Though not strictly linked to academia, there are interesting synergies here to the activities of the GYA which should be explored further.



(Photo © Global Solutions / Tobias Koch)