Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.
Day 1: Monday, June 26, 2017
The CTBTO Science and Technology 2017 began with introductory remarks from Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Dr. Lassina Zerbo at the specifically designated morning-long CTBTO Youth Group Orientation Session. The CTBTO Youth Group is a group launched at the 2015 Science and Technology conference which aims to increase the awareness of, and support for, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), not only in the 8 remaining Annex 2 states whose ratifications are necessary for entry into force, but also in the countries who have ratified to help stave off treaty fatigue as well as encouraging general international support for the treaty. Dr. Zerbo's overarching message for conference participants is that the 2017 conference seeks to enhance the synergy between the fields of science and diplomacy, highlighting how scientific advancements and technological innovations can unite countries in their shared goal of entering the CTBT into force.
This goal of global cooperation is reflected in the diversity of the CTBTO Youth Group: seventy members are present at the conference, representing 54 different countries. CTBTO Policy and Strategy Officer Diana Ballestas de Dietrich challenged Youth Group members to find creative ways to make the technical treaty accessible and relatable for ordinary citizens. “How can we personalize the CTBT in a way that engages people in their daily lives?” she asked.
One possible solution emerged from the panel “Mobile Phones as Geographic Sensors,” where panelists Milton Garces, Stephen Myers and Paul Richards discussed possibilities for seismic monitoring through crowdsourced data, collected from mobile phones. For civil society, this would allow civilians to feel directly involved with one of the CTBTO’s core functions; by simply downloading an app, young citizens without a science background could become part of a “civilian seismology network” and high school educators could use the app as a learning tool.
Personalizing the CTBT to a young audience was also discussed in the workshop “Best Practices for Social Media Advocacy,” where Karin Orantes of the United Nations Social Media Team provided guidelines to create effective and eye-catching social media content when promoting technical accomplishments of the CTBT. Finally, the presentation by Masako Toki on the Critical Issues Forum, an initiative that introduces high school students to nonproliferation studies, further highlighted the importance of relating CTBT issues to a young civil society audience.—BRENNA GAUTAM and SHERVIN TAHERAN
Further resources from Day 1:
VIDEO: "Panel Discussion—Mobile Devices as Geophysical Sensors: Promising Paths and Blind Alleys," Moderator: Sofi Esterhazy; Panelists: Milton Garces, Stephen Mysers, Paul Richards; June 26, 2107. (1 hour, 15 minutes)