State Conference 2020: The Role of Development in the 21st Century

By · 02 January, 2020 · News

By Stewart Jackson


I am Stewart and I’m really looking forward to convening UN Youth Tasmania’s State Conference this year.  I am passionate about UN Youth’s ability to help young people understand important issues, be confident in expressing their own opinions, and be able to make their voices heard.

In 1992, academic Francis Fukuyama argued that we were then witnessing “the end of history”.  He meant that ideological war was over, and that the liberal democracy would reign supreme; that the foundational questions about how the world worked, and how it should work, were settled and that we were about to live peacefully under liberal democracy forever.

As 2019 comes to a close, we can see that Fukuyama was a bit off the mark.  In the 30 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, there have been revolutions, there has been war, there has continued to be heated debate about the direction of the world.  Over the last decade and a half, we have seen a continued drop in the number of democracies, we have seen enduring conflicts with no end in sight, and we are trying to tackle one of the biggest problems to ever face the world: climate change.

As young people, we need to be ready to engage with these problems because they are pivotal in making the world a better place.  UN Youth gives young people the skills and ideas to make change: to understand the issues, to put forward their points of view, and to force people to listen.  At the recent School Strike for Climate protests in Hobart and around the world, I was delighted to see that many of the organisers and speakers were long-time participants in UN Youth events, including State Conference, and I like to think that their experience at UN Youth helped them to build what was possibly the largest protest in Hobart’s history.

This year, State Conference will be focused on the theme of ‘Development in the 21st Century’.  We will be looking at the idea that different countries and societies have different levels of development, and the resulting relationships between countries of different development levels.  Are highly developed countries obligated to aid those with lower levels of development? Should less developed countries be required to pursue specific policies to be eligible to receive it? How is development even measured? What is the role of the United Nations in facilitating this?  This topic is vitally important when we are shaping the future of the world. Many of today’s issues in international relations stem from the tensions between countries at different levels of development, and as we think about driving the future of the world – which, as young people, will be our role – we need to be informed about how these interactions work, why they matter, and what we can do about them. 

Please join us at State Conference where we will investigate the prevailing theory of our world order, analyse the issues, form viewpoints, and have your voices heard.  Along the way, I can promise you will have a lot of fun and meet like-minded people who will remain lifelong friends.  There may be no end to history, but young people can shape a new beginning.

Registrations for State Conference are closing soon, you can sign up here:


This article does not represent UN Youth Australia as a whole – this is simply an interpretation by one of our fantastic volunteers in hope to create ideas and increased dialogue surrounding this topic.


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