One Young World - “a life changing experience”
Before embarking on the One Young CA competition, I knew very little about One Young World (OYW). I knew that it was a global conference that every year brought young people together in big cities across the world to hear from inspiring leaders from industry and politics.
But what I didn’t expect was for it to be a life changing experience, that would leave me feeling energised, inspired, humbled and passionately motivated to make a difference in this ever-changing world. There are so many moments from the week that have left their mark.
As difficult as it is to choose, if I had to narrow it down to the five most inspiring moments they would have to be:
1. The importance of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how each individual, organisation and government have a responsibility and the ability to help achieve the goals. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests
2. The very real stories from delegate speakers. While the big names like Sir Richard Branson, Sir Bob Geldof, Ellie Goulding were fantastic to listen to, and encouraging in their belief that the younger generation are leaders who already have the ability to change the world for the better, it was the true stories of the delegate speakers who were the most inspiring. Yeonmi Park, a young girl from North Korea, told of her harrowing experiences and the consequences of defecting. Kartik Sawhney, a young blind entrepreneur, shared with us how he fought the Indian education board for the right to study higher level science beyond Grade 8.
3. There is still a long way to go for true equality, be that gender, race, disability, education or sexuality. We can’t build the best solutions or innovations if such a large proportion of the population are not at the decision-making table. However, OYW showed me that there are so many young individuals who are forging a path to change that. Young people like Alexia Hibertidou, the founder of GirlBoss New Zealand, who is working to close the gender gap in STEM, entrepreneurship and leadership.
4. The advice of Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, to be logical and analytical when information is presented to you, especially through social media, where algorithms show you more of what you “like” and less of what you don’t. This leads to polarised opinions and ultimately makes compromise more difficult.
5. North Korean and South Korean flag bearers holding hands in friendship at the opening ceremony at The Royal Albert Hall
Be passionate about the change you want to see.
After hearing from all these amazing people, there’s so much I would love to share with my fellow young CAs. Having thought about what I’d like any young CA to hear, my top 5 takeaways are:
1. Young people are already leaders. You don’t have to have a long list of qualifications and years of experience to be a leader. Having a belief, idea or passion and the ability to engage others in that, is leadership.
2. Curiosity is key. Leaders are inherently curious. They question what is in front of them, ask “why” and genuinely want to understand the issue or opportunity.
3. Be passionate about the change you want to see. If there is something you don’t agree with, or think could be done better, you have the ability to influence a change. You will also need passion to face the inevitable challenges that will arise as you pursue that change.
4. Great leaders have experienced great failure. Challenges will arise and facing them is difficult. You won’t always succeed, but you will always learn from the experience and the failure will be a motivator.
5. We only have 10 years to prevent the world’s temperature increasing by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Every individual has a role to play in preventing this. Whether you help by walking more, reducing plastic waste or lobbying governments, all the small acts of activism add up to make a big impact.
And if you get the opportunity to go to One Young World, whether through ICAS’ Top Young CAs competition or your job, take it! It is an amazing experience and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take part.