Waterloo, Canada - The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a leading Canadian research centre focused on international relations and policy, is preparing to host its second annual Global Youth Forum (GYF) with the YMCA, on March 30, 2006 from 8:30am-3:00pm. The one-day forum will expose senior level high school students, who have been selected by their teachers, to international issues and present them with ways to become involved in international affairs.

The theme for this year’s event is “The Millennium Development Goals: You, Waterloo and the World”. The five main topics that will be discussed include: poverty, education, development, health and human rights.

“The workshop will focus on the UN Millennium Development Goals and what is being done to achieve them,” says CIGI’s Executive Director, John English. “Support for educational programs related to international relations and building Canadian capacity is part of CIGI’s overall mandate.”

By participating in workshops, games and activities, 100-150 students from the Waterloo region interested in international relations will increase their awareness and understanding of, and engagement in global issues. CIGI’s youth initiatives relate to its overall mandate of building Canadian capacity to help shape and encourage discussion amongst today’s youth about international relations.

Each student can participate in five workshops led by various international organizations and a large-scale interactive World Trade game. The students will be given a resource package that will include a variety of literature and resources about the MDGs which they can use in their future studies.

To continue the interaction between students and teachers after the conference has taken place, CIGI has created an online community using its IGLOOTM technology. In the Global Youth Forum Community, students and teachers can login from anywhere in the world and access further relevant content, discussions, activities, blogs and more.

The Millennium Development Goals theme includes goals that today’s youth can actively work to achieve. CIGI plans to provide youth with white bracelets from the “makepovertyhistory” campaign so that they leave with a symbolic element of ending extreme poverty which is one of the MDGs. CIGI also hopes that youth will take advantage of this opportunity to interact with local groups and get involved by volunteering.

Students should leave the forum with a better sense of what Canada is doing to help achieve the MDGs and of the opportunities that are available to them within their own community to help work towards them. John English promises “an interesting and inspiring day,” since it will allow students to interact directly with international not-for-profit groups based in the Region of Waterloo.

The Canadian International Development Agency, the Red Cross, Waterloo Public Interest and Research Group, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Economic Development Agency, and YMCA will all present workshops and showcase their work on the MDGs and different ways students can get involved in their organizations.

Further CIGI initiatives that have demonstrated CIGI’s support of education in Waterloo Region in the past year include financial support for graduate programs in International Public Policy at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, an annual Global Youth Forum for high school students, a World Bank seminar for graduate students and the launch of the Balsillie Fellowship Program for public policy graduate students

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.