Reflections from the One Young World Summit 2016
“I do not think you are the leaders of tomorrow – I know you are the leaders of today.” That was the message that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave to a delegation of 1,300 young leaders at the One Young World Summit in Ottawa, Canada.
Trudeau provided strong words of encouragement to the delegates, who represented 196 countries around the world, calling on them to drive positive change in their countries by harnessing their potential to make the world a better place.
A strong advocate for youth engagement, Trudeau is creating a Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council to better identify and address the needs of young people in Canada. The One Young World summit shares this ethos by providing a platform for the brightest young talent aged 18-30 from all over the world to gather and develop solutions for some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Attending this year’s summit was a delegation of inspirational young accountancy professionals who were representing Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW).
Bringing together the leading institutes of chartered accountants from around the world, CAW supports, develops and promotes the vital role that chartered accountants play throughout the global economy.
Every year, the organisation supports young leaders from each of the member institutes in attending the One Young World summit. This is a perfect opportunity for debating, formulating and sharing innovative solutions to pressing global issues – things which are key to CAW’s commitment to ensuring that chartered accountants continue to stand apart, defining excellence throughout their career and throughout the world.
This year’s summit focused on the key global issues of education, the environment, global business, human rights, mental health and peace and security. The event attracted a star-studded line up of speakers, including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, musician and activist Bob Geldof, British actress and activist Emma Watson, Nobel prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus and singer and Oscar-winning actress Cher.
“You are never too young to lead” was the call to action from Kofi Annan, who is encouraging young people to make a stand against violent extremism through his foundation’s #ExtremelyTogether initiative. The campaign brings together 10 young leaders from 10 different backgrounds who each have experienced extremism.
From Bjorn Ihler, who survived the mass shooting in Norway in 2011, to Hajer Sharief, who is working to engage young women in Libya to help build peace, the message to young people was clear: “It’s time to stop asking to be listened to. It’s time to act”.
Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, has dedicated his life to fighting poverty and delivered a powerful and inspirational speech highlighting the ‘three zeros’: zero poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions.
“You have to imagine something to create something,” he stated. “When you imagine, there is no limit to what you can do."
Yunus encouraged all young people to use their imagination as the key to identifying solutions for making the world a better place.
Actress and equality activist Emma Watson also urged all young people to “work together in order to make the world go round”.
Stating her views on equality, she said: “Each time a man or woman stands up for an idea, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope that builds a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression.”
Global economist and author Dambisa Moyo, who was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’, talked about the issue of income inequality affecting the ability to be politically active and encouraged everyone to “look beyond their current circumstances, towards change”.
With over half of the world's population under the age of 30, the role of young leaders cannot be underestimated. As today’s global leaders came together at this summit to motivate, inspire and provide direction to today’s young leaders, we all as individuals, organisations and society as a whole have a role to play to ensure the voices of the next generation are heard.
By working together, we all address the challenges the world faces, from extremism and the abuse of human rights to climate change and gender inequality.
Justin Trudeau’s government is making bold positive steps in giving the youth of Canada a voice. It’s time we all started to listen to what today’s young leaders have to say.
Rimla Akhtar, One Young CA 2016, represented ICAS at the One Young World Summit as part of the Chartered Accountants Worldwide delegation.
She said: "I can certainly say that this summit has impacted how my view of the world will develop, as well as my own ability to contribute to it.
"The overall message to the young people in the room was to harness the innate creativity within us as humans to create a better world that will enable the global issues to be resolved.
"This summit particularly spoke to me about the fact that the challenges we face are universal. The fact is that we are all in this together, no matter our ethnicity, our gender, our faith or any other aspect of our being, and so there is a clear need to be united in eradicating all forms of discrimination and working towards an inclusive local and global community."
This article was also published by Chartered Accountants Worldwide.