Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
My name is Peter Rigg and, for the last four years, I have actively committed myself to contributing a youth perspective to decision-making processes at both a national and international level to better ensure that policy-making outcomes are more representative of youth interests.
In my capacity as a member of the Y7 Youth Forum’s Digital and Technology track, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to recommend concrete, evidence-based actions for G7 leaders to take so that young people can be successful as our increasingly digital world continues to evolve.
Tell us a little about your background?
I became involved in youth participation in political processes through being elected in 2017 as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP), with the Scottish Youth Parliament acting as the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. In addition to the term I served as an MSYP for my community, I also contributed to national decision-making by serving as the Convener for the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Justice Committee for two terms.
As Justice Convener, I led my committee into assuming a leading role in speaking up for young people’s rights through advocating for a rights-based approach for how the Scottish Government acquired, used, retained, and disposed of their biometric data. It was through this unique and empowering opportunity to represent, at a high level, my subject committee and the young people in my area that I realised my passion to campaign for decision-makers to listen to the youth voice on critical issues, which I have continued to commit myself to.
Alongside my university studies, I am currently a reserve member to the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth and contribute a youth perspective to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe as a member of its Perspectives 2030 Online Academy’s Human Rights Working Group.
What inspired you to become a G7/Y7 Forum Member?
The opportunity to become involved with the Y7 represented the chance to advocate at an international level for young people to be both heard and meaningfully included in policy-making. Too often it is the case that young people are excluded from decisions that will disproportionately impact them, and so the potential to attempt to make progress in correcting this is an invaluable strength of the official youth engagement group of the G7.
Why is the Y7 important to you?
The experience of being involved with the Y7 has been incredibly important to me as it has been instrumental in supporting my capacity to effectively provide a youth lens by looking into the impact of the digital world on young people. Additionally, the ability to work as part of an international team whose members come from across the G7 has enhanced my ability to meaningfully engage in intercultural dialogue and to consider how these diverse backgrounds have informed my understanding of how international summits can more effectively include a youth voice in their work towards a more prosperous future.
Tell us more about your particular track?
The Digital and Technology track has been doing incredible work towards involving young people into designing recommendations for G7 leaders to action; there’s really been no typical day on the track, either. Whether it’s been attending Chatham House roundtables or being mentored by Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, the experience of our track has been at once both informative through our exposure to experts and representative through our consultation activities.
Are there any particular developments you hope to see? If so, what are they?
As an advocate for youth participation in decision-making processes, I was delighted that the Y7 Communiqué included a recommendation that G7 leaders establish a Youth Council for the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI). This recommendation combined an ambition for moving forward on institutionalising youth participation while presenting a clear and concrete action that decision-makers could tangibly implement. My hope is that G7 leaders reflect this ambition and, in their move to empower through the digital world, take guidance on the future from those who are young and will live in it.
What’s been your most significant moment in achieving change?
As a youth representative, one of the most rewarding things is seeing that meaningful progress on young people’s rights is being made. When I was Justice Convener, a significant amount of my committee’s focus was dedicated to seeing Scotland incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This advocacy on such a critical issue involved numerous meetings with decision-makers, including opportunities for me to speak before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee and have a meeting with Humza Yousaf MSP, who was the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice at the time. To know that we were able to make our own small contribution to an issue that civil society groups have been working on for more than a decade was incredibly rewarding, and became all the more so when the Scottish Government made the commitment that it would incorporate into domestic law the UNCRC. It is these moments of progress that remind me of what is possible when young people speak up and use their voices to advocate for change.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in sharing their youth voice?
There’s no wrong path! I got started in youth opportunities through volunteering in my local mental health charity, and it was through this experience that I had the listening skills to get involved in youth politics representing my hometown. In our digital age, we can share our youth voice across social media platforms and connect with those who share a passion for having young people heard and not simply seen in politics. I had no idea where my volunteering journey would take me, and that it has allowed me to raise attention to the youth voice across government and international organisations in a real way only speaks to the power of the youth voice: there’s no limit to what we can do when we speak up and demand to be heard!