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FEATURE STORY April 7, 2021

The Global Young MP Initiative 2021: Fostering trust and transparency for better governance

The Global Young MP Initiative: Fostering trust and transparency for better governance

“In a time of crisis, it’s important to lead and to manage the challenges that we face as policymakers. If there’s no transparency, no good governance, no trust, then there are no results and no development.” Melvin Bouva MP, Suriname and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Forum of Young Parliamentarians

The World Bank Group, in collaboration with the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF, held the second meeting of the Global Young MP Initiative virtually on April 7, 2021. The Initiative, first launched in 2019, brings together young legislators under 40 to share innovative strategies for confronting the future of global recovery and development issues.

Young parliamentarians from around the world connected alongside leadership and experts from the World Bank to the event titled “Transparency, Governance and Trust: How to Turn the Tide.” The conversation focused on innovative ways to leverage technology for improved governance and transparency through better services and open communication.

As countries enact extraordinary measures and grant exceptional powers to grapple with the multiple challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, trust levels around the world are plummeting, and youth in particular are becoming more distrustful  of institutions. Yet, trust among citizens is essential to the success of vaccination plans and the broader COVID-19 recovery.

Parliamentarians play an essential role in weaving transparency and accountability into all the steps of the legislative process. Young parliamentarians in particular are uniquely placed to better understand issues facing youth and leverage digital technologies to promote good practices in governance.

“Collectively this group is in a very special position to address so many of the overlapping challenges and crises - from climate change and conflict to debt and unemployment - that have particularly affected young people.” Sheila Redzepi, Vice President of External and Corporate Relations, World Bank Group

During the meeting, speakers emphasized the importance of integrating young people into the policymaking process. Hon. Melvin Bouva drew on his experience as an active, young Member of Parliament in Suriname and as President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Forum of Young Parliamentarians, calling for young people to engage with their respective legislative bodies to ignite change. As part of her introductory remarks, Sheila Redzepi, Vice President of External and Corporate Relations at the World Bank Group acknowledged the important role that young parliamentarians play in amplifying the voices of youth and bringing to the forefront issues that will greatly impact future generations. A young Member of Parliament from Kosovo, Hon. Jeta Statovci stressed how younger generations can bring fresh perspectives and innovative approaches for improved governance. She noted that designing policies that allow youth to access economic opportunities and leverage and develop technical skills can accelerate development and promote prosperity.

“Young people have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, especially young women and youth in developing countries. That’s why, considering the unexpected loss of income, disruption in education and unprecedented levels of debt, solving this challenge is more pressing. We need an immediate response by young MPs who can design policies that are beneficial to their communities.” Jeta Statovci MP, Kosovo

The World Bank is committed to supporting policymakers in implementing equitable digital transitions and fostering transparency for better development outcomes. Boutheina Guermazi, Director of Digital Development at the World Bank spoke about the digital divide and the work the World Bank is carrying out to bridge it. She called on legislators to strengthen digital readiness in areas such as connectivity, fair and affordable broadband access, digital financial services, and digital literacy, to ultimately build back better. Speaking on the link between the digital transition and trust, Edward Olowo-Okere, Global Director of Governance at the World Bank, drew a clear link between the effective delivery of government services, and openness and integrity. He discussed how the adoption of innovative digital government solutions, such as the ones promoted through the 2019 GovTech Global Initiative, can help legislators modernize the public sector to address the pressing challenges of the 21st century.

“As policy leaders in your respective countries, you have a critical role to help fulfill the enormous potential of digital for all, including the poorest and most vulnerable.” Boutheina Guermazi, Director, Digital Development, World Bank

“Open government data is important for transparency, it is important for accountability, but it is also important for creating value and jobs. If government data were to be made available, citizens and businesses could use these tools to create new services and products, which in turn can generate new jobs as well.” Edward Olowo-Okere, Global Director, Governance, World Bank


Key takeaways

  • Youth are among the hardest hit in what has evolved into a pandemic of inequality, making young democratic representatives specially placed to reach their demographics, harness technology to deliver services to meet their needs, and build trust.
  • Many of the issues affecting youth are cross-border challenges that require international collaboration. The World Bank Group can support young MPs with knowledge, resources, and convening power to push for smart, effective, and sustainable policies.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of digital development as a solution to the many crises facing young people, from human capital to jobs to fighting climate change. Bridging accessibility gaps will be key to helping countries leapfrog technologically and developmentally.