In 2003, a group of teachers and administrators at the International School of Luxembourg were discussing the challenges facing youth today, and how adults weren’t doing enough to solve them. They considered all the talent, energy, and passion that they saw in students every day, and thought, “The future belongs to the youth. Why not empower students to help us find solutions to these global issues?” They learned of Jean-François Rischard’s recently published book, High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002), Mr. Rischard described imminent issues such as water shortages, global warming, infectious diseases, and poverty, illiteracy, that can only be solved through global cooperation. Mr. Rischard noted that the existing institutions charged with addressing such issues, namely nation-states, government departments and international organizations, are cumbersome and inadequate for the task. By delaying action, these institutions make it increasingly difficult to find solutions before it is too late. He called for “global issues networks” that would be flexible and super-responsive to an ever-changing world.
Inspired by these ideas, the GIN founders realized that international schools already worked collaboratively and might be the foundation for such a network.
2006 was a big year for GIN!
In 2006, 300 students from 28 schools had joined GIN and attended a big conference in Luxembourg through the support of State Street Bank.. They met Mr. Rischard, heard inspiring young speakers like Ryan Hreljac, and learned about each other’s projects around the world. It must have been a success, because there’s been a GIN conference in Europe every year since.
At the same time regional directors in East Asia had discovered Rischard’s message and decided to dedicate themselves and their region to the Global Issues Network. This not only began yearly regional conferences of over 500 participants beginning in Beijing in 2008 but lead to local GIN conferences, as well as middle school GIN conferences in East Asia.
Soon after the Middle East and Africa took up the Global Issues Network with regional conferences of their own! South and Central America embraced the Global Issues Network regional GIN conference in 2011, establishing a moving regional conference tradition. In 2014 the North Americas region began working with the Global Issues Network to hold their first regional international conference!
Since this small beginning, the Global Issues Network has grown rapidly to include students from more than 500 schools across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South and Central America. GIN has an active body of alumni in universities and beyond.