In an era where people, ideas, and technologies move across national boundaries, what does global citizenship mean? What happens when nations create “walls” to reduce immigrants? As the world is changing faster than ever thanks to digitalization, how can each citizen create an impact regardless of his/her nationality? 

At Techsauce Global Summit 2019, we invited a diversity of world leaders to discuss what is hindering citizens of the world in becoming global citizens and what the government can do to accelerate local talents for a greater cause. 

The speakers of the panel discussion are: 

  • Yoseph Ayele, Co-Founder and CEO of Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) 
  • Arnaud Castaignet, Head of International Public Relations of e-Residency, Government of Estonia 
  • Gita Wirjawan, Founder and Chairman of Ancora Group 

Defining the term “global citizenship”

“Being a global citizen is not about globalization, companies, businesses, or finance.  It is rather really about shared responsibilities, shared value, and respect." -  Arnaud Castaignet

Being a world traveler doesn’t mean you’re a global citizen. It’s not about being here or there, but rather, it is about building connections and network that come with responsibilities. Each of our action affects people all over the world, whether it is directly or indirectly. And not everyone is born equal; some are born lucky while some are not. So the challenge is, how do we provide people with potential the opportunities to do something great and impactful?

In Estonia, the government tries the serve citizens from all around the world and provide them with opportunities and access to services so that they can focus on creative businesses and be part of the digital empowerment. The e-Residency is a government-issued digital ID for anyone from anywhere in the world to be an Estonian resident. This allows them to have access to services and building their businesses in Estonia. It’s a bridge for people from anywhere to the European market. Started in December 2014, the e-Residency program has to date issued e-Residency for 60,000 people coming from 160 countries all around the world.

What is holding people back from becoming global citizens?

Inequality, lack of opportunities, and lack of education are the reasons people are not embracing global citizenship. In developing economy such as Indonesia, there is a high level of polarization in all sorts of conversation, be it politics, economic, or social topics. And the main driver of this polarization is inequality. Hence, the government also has a big role to play in shaping the future of the nation. Unless we can educate the people to be more open-minded and nurture local talents, it’s going to take many more years before these national citizens can become global citizens, if ever at all. 

National citizen vs. Global citizen vs. Good citizen

Many people assume that identities must be exclusive and that we are only defined by our nationality, which is far from true. Who we are is defined by different layers of identities, not just merely by our birth nationality. What is happening in the world right now such as climate change, innovation ideas, and fashion, is so much bigger than the national level phenomena. They have no boundaries and they flow from each nation to another nation.

Global issues like climate change require a much deeper level of cooperation between people from different parts of the world. We have to connect with people who are different and experience life differently from us. Once we do that, we are in a much closer position to create the type of impact we want. In fact, Silicon Valley is not going to solve any of our problems. It’s creating a monoculture. But what we really need is biodiversity. 

According to Yoseph, global citizenship is about being a contributing member of a mission. It is also about getting talented people to work together on projects that a single person alone can’t accomplish. 

What is the new seed of change coming from the new generation? 

In the old days, we had many frameworks as a result of global conferences and campaigns such as WTO, APAC, Climate proposal that came out of Paris. But because of local divergence, polarization in each conversation is keeping people far out of unity and this causes difficulties for people who try to come up with frameworks to solve global problems.

Depolarizing people requires them to be educated and get a job. This only happens when a large scale of industrialization takes place. And the only place this happened before was in China. Building the future generation is about getting them as educated as possible so that they can bring about centralization to the table. Democratization of everything is also the key. However, democratization is often defined by the way of election or the number of people who have access to mobile phones or the internet - and this doesn’t really yield equality for everybody. 

This article is written by Vanessa Techapichetvanich, editor of Techsauce Global Summit 2019.

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