23-25 April 2021 | HANGZHOU – UCLG ASPAC Committee on Belt and Road Local Cooperation (BRLC) led by the city of Hangzhou organised the 2050 Conference “The Mission of Young People from Belt and Road Cities in Promoting Innovation in the Post-Pandemic Era.” The Forum aimed at involving young generation to lead innovation and put their ingenuity to work to solve problems facing the world. UCLG ASPAC highly supports and appreciates active contribution of Hangzhou in leading the committee as well as ensuring youth involvement for future city development. The event received positive feedback, particularly from distinguished figures attending.

Li Minggang, the Ambassador of China to Kuwait, in his speech encouraged young people involvement. He said he had every confidence that young people, with their ambition and the ability to innovate, will be able to help the country achieve more.

Vladimir Norov, SCO Secretary-General, mentioned “Young people, with their energy, innovation and courageous ideas, are an important pillar of SCO’s future development in various aspects of its activities.” On the global scale, many innovations are carried out by young people who have the potential to offer innovative means of solving global issues. He spoke with confidence that the event will galvanise all parties involved into action to implement promising innovative ideas raised by young generation and work for a close cooperation within the SCO.

Kyösti Oikarinen, the former Political Mayor of the City of Oulu and Co-president of BRLC, added that innovation is never solely about technology. It is of wider relevance in other aspects such as social development, urbanisation, sustainable development and climate action. To serve innovation, elementary and middle schools in Oulu have incorporated innovation into their curriculum and opened their innovation platform to companies and organisations. Also included in the innovation campaign is a communication mechanism between students and companies to create opportunities for cooperation.

Maria Moreni, President of Italy-China Link and Co-president of BRLC thanked the BRLC Secretariat for promoting the friendly exchange between China and Italy. As she sees it, the 2050 Conference will enable young people to find those who share the same aspiration and join an innovation community that is open to the whole world.

Zhai Mofan, an outstanding youth representative from China Academy of Art outlined his imagination of online art in the post-pandemic era. From his view as a university student major in painting, art should stand at the crossroad of humanity and science, connecting creativity and technology. As artistic creation has been increasingly shaped by the application of information technology under the influence of Belt and Road Initiative and the globalisation of information, the value of humanity should not be neglected. Only this way we can forge a global online art that features a combination of human imagination and fitting technologies.

Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC, expressed her view on youth and innovation at the forum. She pointed to the fact that the current young generation is confronting challenges tougher than any previous young generation. It is crucial to recognise that young people are also “innovators and the agents of change who are paving the way for more innovations to come.” She talked about the responsibility lies with young generation in supporting global agenda and painted her five-zero vision in economic, social and political aspects, namely zero inequalities, zero poverty, zero crimes, violence, disasters and accidents, zero greenhouse gas emissions and pollution and zero intolerance and discrimination. She concluded her presentation by talking directly to young people. She advised them to “dream higher, envision hugely…to be part of the development and the future of the city.”

Steffen Woerner, Executive Director of Heidelberg Youth Communication Center joined the interactive session and explained how he thought of the relationship between youth and innovation. Faced with all the challenges and uncertainties, young generation in the world need to improve their skills and pursue innovative ideas. Cities on the other hand, should render support to open-minded youth and provide them with the space needed to create and innovate.

Zhou Shu, Secretary-General of the BRLC Secretariat and Director of Foreign Affairs Office of Hangzhou Municipal Government delivered a welcome remark. She mentioned that Hangzhou is making strides toward a smart and digital city, a livable paradise, and a socialist modernised international metropolis and the 2050 Conference offers an insight into the innovative and youthful rhythm of the city and the enormous potential of young generation in defining the future. She also invited all to embrace the change and transformation and move forward in parallel with the trend of digital revolution and the advances in science and technology.

The forum was moderated by Du Shigen, Deputy Secretary General of BRLC Secretariat and Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs Office of Hangzhou Municipal Government.