Earlier this year 1200 youngsters from 170 countries gathered together with the aim of changing the world. The venue was the city of Zurich in beautiful Switzerland, and the conference was the One Young World Leadership Summit. The purpose of the summit was “to connect and bring together the youngest, brightest and best and to ensure that their concerns, opinions and solutions are heard”.
One Young World is one of the most influential and well-publicized conferences, and it certainly got off to a glamorous start. The day was kicked off with an entrepreneurial workshop run by Doug Richard (Dragons Den panel member), and after lunch the delegates got to meet and greet one another and enjoy the scenery on a cruise around Lake Zurich. The conference was officially opened that evening by the mayor of Zurich. With over a thousand people gathered in the majestic Kongresshaus building, and many more following online, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Bob Geldof both gave challenging opening addresses, which were followed by the Crown Prince of Norway, in his first public appearance since the shootings in Norway, receiving a standing ovation for his words.
While many conferences are criticised as being an excuse for an overseas holiday with lots of talking and no action, One Young World was careful to address this concern from the outset. Reports were given from “The schoolbag project” (which donated basic school supplies to students in Haiti) and 16 year old delegate Parker Liautaud, who recently became the youngest person to ski to the North Pole to raise awareness for global warming. A quick glance at the projects page of the One Young World website (www.oneyoungworld.com/impacts) shows that there is already a lot of concrete action taking place, which supports One Young World's claim to be the place where “young leaders start leading.”
The conference focused on six topics which were each discussed in depth during the plenary sessions. The business session was facilitated by Vassi Naidoo (global managing partner for talent at Deloitte), and speeches were made by global CEOs such as Antony Jenkins (Chief Executive of Barclays Global Retail Banking) and Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever). My favourite plenary session was the one on Social Media, which was led by Oscar Morales (Founder of One Million Voices against FARC) and Wael Ghonim (one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2011).
Oscar explained how he successfully used Facebook to lead the largest anti-terrorism ever known, while Wael told how he used Twitter to kick-start the Egyptian revolution. In other talks, Clarence Seedorf was part of a discussion on how sport can be used to implement positive social change, and Jamie Oliver spoke about his Food Revolution and plans to combat child obesity. Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) spoke on using microcredit to alleviate poverty, and there was a special session called “Africa Rising” which focused on the changing role of Africa in world business.
All too soon the conference came to an end. The closing ceremony was highlighted by the news that the 2013 summit will be held in Johannesburg, which is definitely good news for South Africa. For more information on the conference, and to see how you can be involved in this event, go to www.oneyoungworld.com. asa
1. “I don't think that the potential for destruction and great evil has ever been more palpable. This is where you meet; you are the pilots now. You are the thinking present, not the future.” Sir Bob Geldof
2. “You are an incredible generation. What counts is what you go on and do in the next 12 months. Take One Young World as your platform to go on and evoke positive change.”
David Jones, One Young World co-founder and Global CEO of Havas
South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)
Pam Golding Properties
Bonitas Medical Fund
African Christian Tours and Safaris (ACTS)
Sam Bradley, Post grad diploma (Accounting), is a Trainee Accountant.