The issues of today are so large and so complex, we need collaborations and systemic solutions to be able to tackle these problems. The One Young World summit in Manchester last September called for leaders young and old to join forces to create a sustainable future for all.
This story was written by Anna Klapwijk, who was a delegate at the One Young World summit.
The One Young World Experience
September 2022 the 12th One Young World (OYW) summit took place in Manchester and Deloitte was present with 58 global Deloitte delegates. OYW is committed to empowering young leaders from around the world to drive positive societal change. And what an experience! The summit hosted more than 2000 people in total – who all have a strong inherent drive for changing the world for the better.
No need to convince anyone of the need for sustainability, or that we need to act today. With speakers like Mary Robinson, Paul Polman, Sylvia Earle, and Meghan Markle opening the ceremony we got our brains filled with inspiration. Followed by the opportunity to discuss how we can break down barriers, and the actions we could take with other delegates.
Most inspiring were the sessions by delegate speakers. For example, a person from the Kenyan slums who started a radio channel to reach people to educate them, and persuade them not to join terrorist groups, a Thai transgender woman who set up the first transgender pride movement in Bangkok, a person from Bhutan setting up a food waste collection system throughout the country, a Syrian refugee who created an app for free mental support for those who fled their country. You feel incredible nimble hearing these stories of people – from all walks of life – making a direct positive change in their community.
My key takeaways were that you’re never too young to lead, and never too old to learn. If there is something you care about, just act on it, gather like-minded people, and start an initiative! Secondly, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. If you’re not part of the conversation, you can’t create any change. And finally, you need to work the system. The issues of today are so large and so complex, we need collaborations and systemic solutions to be able to tackle these problems. For organizations this means showing a bit more courage, embracing uncertainty, and being vulnerable in partnerships with others.
Hearing from people all over the world, different regions are focused on different development needs. In Africa and Asia the focus is primarily on education initiatives, though some sustainability efforts surface, for example conservation efforts and plastic removal in coastal areas and islands. In the US and in Europe the focus is much more on sustainability efforts. For all the sessions around the topic there were some specific sustainability learnings, for example from the showcase by Audi. Working together with Nunam, Audi collects batteries that are close to their end-of-life for their primary purpose (e.g. phone batteries) but still have capacity to create a charging pack for rural areas. They illustrated how you can change your perspective of waste and extend products to a second life.
Furthermore, the session on the challenges in the food system taught us that challenges in the food system are closely related to issues in the fashion industry, as both get their resources from farms. Moving forward, effective (global) regulation that supports more sustainable (both social and environmental) practices is a key requirement. Finally, the work and calling from Sylvia Earle, to think of life in the oceans not as something useful but as something we co-exist with, will help in changing the way we approach depletion of the blue waters.
Why you should attend the next OYW summit
Being a delegate is a very special experience. After months of preparatory calls, webinars, and inspiration sessions you’ll get to attend the summit. This is the place where not only you’ll be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of other changemakers, but you ‘graduate’ and become an ambassador for life, giving you access to the largest impact community in the world. Everyone goes home with the means to make a difference. From a Deloitte perspective you’re then further supported to create an impact plan with actions for you to take up. Together with your coach and continuous support from the network it is now time to make your plan reality!