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Watch the video above to hear how high-school learners Lindokuhle, Melanie, Shu-ting, Raeesa and others have been transformed by their experience in the Young Leaders Conference.

SAIIA has been running an annual Young Leaders Conference since 2012. Delegates for the conference are chosen from top-performing learners in the SAIIA Model United Nations Programme, the SAIIA Environmental Sustainability Project and the SAIIA Schools' Quiz. Outstanding participants from SAIIA's youth programmes have also been named SAIIA Young Ambassadors and attend the conference in this capacity.

Young Leaders Conference 2016

Seventy-five outstanding young delegates have arrived at the SAIIA offices in Johannesburg, to participate in the fourth SAIIA Young Leaders Conference, from 26 June to 1 July. As part of the conference, the delegates (58 high school learners and 17 university students) will host their own youth negotiation sessions under the theme ‘Connecting the past to the present: Young South Africans shaping a sustainable future’. The negotiations will culminate in the handover of the 2016 Young Leaders Declaration to the Presidency on 30 June. A youth dialogue will also be held on 30 June with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Delegates have been divided into committees based on South Africa’s three spheres of government and will be discussing the implemention of the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2063.

See more details on the 2016 event page.

In the lead up to and throughout the Conference, SAIIA will be sharing examples of inspiring young leaders, and encouraging others to do the same. Follow the discussion on Twitter, #YouthAreLeading.

Listen to Youth@SAIIA intern Kenneth Diole speak about 'The legacy of June 16 for today's South Africa' on Power FM.

Young Leaders Conference 2014

Fifty-five outstanding high school learners were selected from across the country to participate in the third annual youth negotiations at the SAIIA Young Leaders Conference, from 30 November to 5 December 2014. This was an opportunity for the voice of young South African leaders to be heard on current global challenges.

The conference focused on the seventeen proposed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which serve as the basis for the Post-2015 global development agenda. Each learner delegate was assigned a research perspective to report on to the rest of his or her committee. Research perspectives were based on work learners had done throughout the year in SAIIA’s Environmental Sustainability Project, Model United Nations and Inter-schools quiz programmes. Their work reflected the multiple stakeholder groups that were connected to their committee theme. The negotiation process provided learners with a platform to produce workable and realistic solutions.

The negotiations culminated in the handover of the 2014 SAIIA Young Leaders Declaration on 4 December at the Department of Environmental Affairs. Representatives of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the Department of Basic Education, and the United Nations were also in attendance to formally receive the declaration.

pdf Download the SAIIA 2014 Young Leaders Declaration (393.09 kB) .

Photos from the conference are available online.

Young Leaders Conference 2013

In 2013, another group of talented high school learners were selected from five provinces to participate in the second annual SAIIA Young Leaders Conference to be held 8-13 December 2013 in Johannesburg. As part of the 2013 conference, learner delegates hosted their own negotiation sessions on topics related to the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The negotiations culminated in the presentation and the handover of the 2013 SAIIA Young Leaders Declaration at a special event on 12 December 2013 in Pretoria. 

pdf Click here to download the SAIIA Young Leaders Declaration 2013 (543.29 kB) .

pdf Click here to download the 2013 conference programme (PDF, 458.58 kB) .

During the conference, representatives of government, the United Nations, various diplomatic missions, civil society organisations, businesses, and universities joined us as speakers, mentors and observers to the conference. Visits to cultural sites, corporate, government, and organisational offices were also arranged for delegates. The Conference was made possible by the generous support of Sasol and Absa.

Young Leaders Conference 2012

Fifty outstanding high school learners were selected from all over South Africa to participate in its inaugural SAIIA Young Leaders Conference, from 9-14 December 2012.

Click here to read more about the 2012 Conference.
img ylc group pic dec2012
Photo: Delegates to the first SAIIA Young Leaders Conference in 2012.

Young Leaders Conference 2011

In 2011, the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) brought together a group of outstanding learners from across the country to Durban to participate in their own negotiation session at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 17). Participant delegates created the SAIIA South African Durban Youth and Children’s Protocol (PDF, 322.11 kB) which was presented to the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.

To continue to build on the work of our 2011 participants and to create more spaces for young voices to be heard, SAIIA created the first Young Leaders Conference in 2012.