If I Was Leader of My Country, This Is What I’d Do

Young leaders give their opinion on how they would reshape the future of their country.

Bart Kolodziejczyk | Monash University

More than half the world’s population is under 30 years old. This prompted the World Economic Forum to make an unprecedented, large-scale survey with a goal of determining the mindset of this young generation.

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The protection of human rights of all citizens and non-nationals would be at the heart of progress.

The Global Shapers survey was carried out by WEF’s Global Shapers Community, which is a global network of Hubs developed and led by young people between 20 and 29 years of age.”

The survey revealed that these young people are concerned about climate change, environmental sustainability, corruption, government accountability, unemployment and lack of economic opportunity, among other issues.

To get a better sense of how these young leaders would like to change the world, I approached some of them with an important question: If you were leader of your country, what would you do? This is what they told me.

Jack Greig, 26, Associate at Teach for Australia, Melbourne, Australia

“Invest in well-being projects because our children’s future demands it. As technology progresses at a rapid rate, we know that the future of work will look very different to the one that we are educating our children for right now.

jack-greig“Schools around the world that are effectively educating for the future are focusing on well-being, and the things that matter, like how to strengthen positive relationships, enhance personal resilience and explore what it means to be a contributing global citizen.

“In other words, students in these schools are not just being taught the facts but are learning how to think and thrive in our complex and interconnected world. If we want to genuinely catalyze a shift to future-oriented teaching, we need to be equipping our teachers with strategies to practice and promote well-being on a daily basis.”

Chethna Ben, 25, Assistant Lecturer at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

“Focus on solving the socioeconomic challenges in the country. I draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s principles: to dream big, walk to freedom, to be resistant, to promote equality and uphold persistence and confidence.

chethna-ben“If I were a prime minister, I would be the first female prime minister in Fiji – a country that is beautiful, yet still developing. Much of this is linked to insecurity for women and children and the rise in crime. Gender discrimination at work, street harassment and rape are becoming a growing concern.

“There is an urgent need to foster safety at home, schools, workplace and the community at large. I have a vision of a nation where all citizens will be given due respect regardless of sex, ethnicity or disability.”

“I will work with communities to alleviate poverty and ensure that every family has food on their table. I will encourage all citizens to play their part in facilitating economic growth, social security and environmental sustainability.”

Zanele Mabaso, 25, Regional Advisor at Girls Globe, Cape Town, South Africa

“Make a commitment to the country-level implementation of global and regional declarations, agendas and strategies. I’d invest in the socioeconomic empowerment and political representation, participation, leadership, involvement and meaningful engagement of young people and women.

zanele-mabaso“Science, technology and inclusive innovation through education would be a national agenda, and I’d commit to the prioritization of the health and well-being agenda of every woman, every child and every adolescent everywhere.

“The protection of human rights of all citizens and non-nationals would be at the heart of development and progress. Ensuring the nation understands the constitution and relative laws, I would challenge violations and call for policies that are more responsive, inclusive, holistic and for everyone.

“I’d encourage youth-led entrepreneurship, intercontinental trade and infrastructural development by investing in holistic quality rural and township development. Most importantly, I would serve (not rule) through the basis of equality by being a steadfast feminist.”

Renard Siew, 29, Environmental Advisor at Sime Darby, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“Counter intolerance and extremism in all its forms. Almost everything these days has reached its tipping point. When you look at politics, the world is now more divided than united.

renard-siew“When you look into the economy, there are clear gaps between the rich and poor. When you look into ideology, faiths and beliefs are being manipulated. There are always two extremes. I would strive really hard to promote moderation within the country.

“The concept of moderation embraces a wide range of issues, from religion, social justice and political systems to the challenges that the global economy faces. I would lead by example and choose to practice moderation in my thoughts and actions rather than just talking about it.”

Desy Karapchanska, 29, Curator at Global Shapers Community, Athens, Greece

“Try to improve the education system and the lifestyle of citizens. A small but crucial improvement would be the increase of first grade teachers’ wages.

desy-karapchanska“First-grade teachers are the most important influencer to children after their parents and the ones by which children will spend more time during the creative and vulnerable ages of 6-10 years old.

“These experts should be paid well as one’s lifestyle and everyday life reflects their mood and attitude. You cannot expect someone living on the minimum wage to inspire, educate and mentor your children.

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I’d encourage youth-led entrepreneurship, intercontinental trade and infrastructural development.

“Additionally, I would develop new city parks that will improve citizens’ physical and psychological health, strengthen communities and make cities more attractive places to live and work.

“In my country, Greece, I would do everything possible to prevent the brain drain the economic crisis has caused and together with young people fight for a better tomorrow.”

Khalid Machchate, 24, Chief Executive Officer at Kandw Technologies International, Rabat, Morocco

“Push tax reforms on monopolies in my country to help small and medium-sized enterprises flourish. I would create easier foreign investment policies in education and scientific research, encouraging companies to create R&D centers in Morocco, opening opportunities for repressed talent.

khalid-machchate“I would create open-market policies, pushing innovation and innovators further, giving them access to proper tools. I would create procedures to stop corruption and help to rescue initiatives from crumbling due to lack of funding.

“But first of all, through a massive national campaign with all private, public and social hands on deck, I would work non-stop to reduce our 48 percent illiteracy rate at least by half before hoping to see the other changes emerge.”

Lorena Rios, 28, Consultant at Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), member of IDB Group, Asuncion, Paraguay

“Paraguay currently has a demographic bonus in that 70 percent of its population is young – under 35 years old. If I were prime minister … I would work on to improve governance and regional integration. I would love to continue working at Paraguay Plan: building a nation inspired by tlorena-rioshe following vision.

“Paraguay is a competitive country, among the most efficient food producers in the world, with booming and innovative industries that employ skilled workers. We’re also a supplier of products and services that promote the knowledge economy.

“We feature highly in social development indexes. We are connected and open to neighbors and the world. We are environmentally and economically sustainable, with high levels of legal and citizen security and attention to indigenous people and a strong roles for women.

“Young people with vision are leading the way in our country, with a democratic, supportive, transparent state that promotes equal opportunities.”

Meghan Stevenson-Krausz, 26, Global Shaper, San Francisco Hub, San Francisco, United States

“If I were president of the United States, I would make all education through the collegiate level, or equivalent, free. Education increases opportunity for everyone.

meghan-stevenson-krauszBut not all education is equal. Currently, US public schools are funded through property taxes. In areas where property values are low, taxes are low, and schools face a shortage of revenue, forcing already cash-strapped teachers to buy supplies out of pocket.

“I would nationalize the system and create a pool from which all schools are funded depending on the number of students and the needs and valuation of that community.

“In addition, I believe we have overvalued the college diploma and undervalued trade schools. College is not right for everyone. Yet in today’s economy, it is increasingly difficult to make a living wage without a diploma. As president, I would build a stronger trade economy through existing union networks to empower individuals through opportunity.” goldbrown2

[Main photo clockwise from left; Jack Greig, Chethna Ben, Zanele Mabaso, Renard Siew, Desy Karapchanska, Khalid Machchate, Lorena Rios and Meghan Stevenson-Krausz.]

This article first appeared on World Economic Forum and was republished with permission.

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Bart Kolodziejczyk is a Research Fellow at Monash University.

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