UP student’s policy suggestions get thumbs up at G20 Summit

Posted on December 11, 2023

University of Pretoria (UP) student Curtleigh Alaart’s drafted policy suggestions, which sought to address the challenges that many young people face globally, saw him shining bright during the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit hosted in India earlier this year.

“My policy suggestion was voted on by heads of states at the G20 Summit and subsequently implemented,” explains the 21-year-old who is studying towards a Bachelor of Administration in Public Management and International Relations at UP. “This policy suggestion was the addition of the African Union to the G20 Summit with voting and veto rights. This was done in order to decolonise international diplomatic relations that involved Africa and to give more voices – particularly young voices from the Global South – a seat at the decision-making table.”

The G20 is the forum for international economic cooperation, and plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues.

Alaart says it came about when he applied through an agency called the South African Youth for International Diplomacy, and was subsequently selected as a South African delegate to work in the youth engagement group of the G20 Summit.

“It is the nominating agency for South African representation at the youth G7 and youth G20 Summits,” Alaart says. “They also train selected candidates on the practical skills needed for foreign policy negotiations and diplomacy. I implore all those interested in diplomacy and international relations to check them out on social media.”

Alaart also made the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans 2023 list in the category Politics and Government, and was this year’s youngest candidate among the honourees. He says this was a surreal moment for him.

“Being recognised among people who are doing such incredible work was a very humbling experience,” he explains. “A few years ago, I drew up a list of goals that I’d like to achieve over the following six years; the Mail & Guardian honour was part of that list, so it was somewhat of a nostalgic moment for me.”

Additionally, he was fortunate to have been selected to study abroad at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“The exchange agreement stipulated that I could be a registered student at both Leiden University and UP, which was quite hectic at times, but it was something I would never change or take for granted,” Alaart says. “This opportunity came with a scholarship that lasted for the duration of my studies, from January until August 2023, and was the experience of a lifetime.

As for the future, he has set his sights on a master’s degree in public policy or management.

“Once I’m done with that, I would like to enter consulting or perhaps an advisory role within public sector research. I love research and, coupled with the need for post-policy implementation monitoring, it is the perfect intersection between passion and giving back to South Africa.”

Alaart attributes his success to his mother, who raised him and his sister on her own after his father passed away.

“It was a very dark period for her and my family, but the way my mother raised my sister and I through this time of hardship taught me a sense of resilience. I try my best to implement this in my life and remind myself that the bad times I go through now are nothing compared to some of the things my mother has gone through to ensure the best possible future for me.

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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