In the span of four days, we were given the gift – a heavy, and amazing gift – of a space to hear from some of the great changemakers across the world, to deep dive into and face the pressing global issues without distraction, to connect with other passionate individuals and grow solutions that work towards the 17 SDGs. Energized, overwhelmed, guilty, determined – all of these emotions can exist all at once in the direct aftermath of this experience.
In this emotional soup wake, we also have the gift of advice to reflect on, and make sense of what is next:
Desire to solution and solve everything immediately –>
Give yourself the time to reflect
Determine the things you are interested in, the skills you have
Think global, act local
Real lasting change takes time
Worry about meeting goals in 2030 –>
Having goals, metrics, and deadlines means we have a clear direction to make change
It is not about 2030, but about the focus and determination to work towards shared goals
There is not an option to not achieve them, this will be work we all have to do
Afraid of doing something wrong –>
There is no perfect action, but doing something is worthwhile
Be kind to yourself, that feeling is there because you care
Remind yourself why – this will keep you motivated, and direct your work
Partnership, collaboration – it is ok to ask for help, to find your strengths and to find others to support the gaps with their strengths
“If you’re going to be a leader, you cannot give up. You can never give up.” – Cher @ OWY2021
Even though it felt like the summit had just started, the time of the last day had already arrived. The main topics of the days were COVID-19 recovery and to conflict resolution.
The morning opened with presentations from two of the brightest sport stars. Sir Lewis Hamilton, seven time Formula 1 champion, shared the work he has been doing to tackle racial inclusivity in racing and in STEM education. Steph Curry, twice NBA MVP, introduced us to his commitment to ensure children in the world have a quality education and do not have to suffer from hunger. After a discussion on the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in India, it was time for the first panel of the day.
The keynote speaker was Angela Hwang from Pfizer Pharmaceutical group, who shared with us the incredible effort that lead to the mass scale production of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine in only a few months. If mankind was to put the same effort in other challenges, many complex problems that have been affecting the world would soon be gone.
The delegate speakers then shared some incredible stories of their effort in fighting the pandemic and other diseases, showing how each one of us can make a huge difference in his own community and therefore in the entire world.
“Turreya te appaReya. You will reach the destination, once you start.” – old Punjabi saying.
The second part of the day started with a plenary session on conflict resolution with keynote speaker Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. With her tremendous work in Belarus she united the opposition and presented a stronger than ever challenge to the autocratic leader, Alexander Lukashenko. She reminded us that only unity and solidarity can make the authoritarian regimes fall. The violence can only be fight back peacefully. Then we heard from the extraordinary OYW delegates that experienced war and war repercussion in their life. Marigona Shabiu shared her story from when she was 5 year old and the war in Kosovo started. She is working now towards debunking myths and countering monoethnic narratives about the war. Rez Gardi from Kurdistan made it clear in her speech that if displaced people receive higher education, they can develop necessary skills to building peace in their nations. Nujeen Mustafa as a physically disabled refugee who crossed the entire continent with her family reminded us that youth should have a seat at the table and that peace making includes refugees and people with disabilities. For me these were ones of the most impactful speeches of the summit. I applaud the resilience and courage of each of these delegates and come back home with a new perspective on refugee crisis and conflict resolution.
After the session, accompanied by music and good energy we headed together to BMW world museum for the closing ceremony, where the current host of the summit, City of Munich handed over to officials from Tokyo for the next year summit.
Day 3 of One Young World 2021 showcased young leaders around the world tackling problems like Food insecurity, Racial injustices, Empowerment through education and inclusive connectivity through technology among many others. We also had the privilege to get inspired by counselors like Prof. Yunus, Joe Kaesar, Munroe Bergdof, David Hasselhoff, Paris Hilton & Dame Vivian Hunt.
The Systemic racial injustice that plagues our world today was at the heart of today’s sessions. We heard from Diana Chao on Racism & hate towards Asian communities. Conspiracies & scapegoatism are just some of the things that Asian people have been subjected to during the pandemic.
“We(Asians) are diverse, we are full of our own stories and our voices are worth being listened to” Diana Chao
In the Education plenary, after an opening keynote by McKinsey’s Dame Vivian Hunt, Delegate speakers shared how they’re overcoming obstacles created by the start of 4th industrial revolution and creating educational opportunities in the most innovative ways. The 4th industrial revolution will and has already begun to disrupt every industry & country and has to be addressed to create a better and just future. The quality of initiatives and emotions generated by the stories of those amazing and courageous delegates really made DAY 2 unique and more than empowering.
The digital platform for this year also offered videos and interviews of ambassadors who returned home after attending OYW in the past and made a difference in their communities, part of which is Gabriella Napier, a GE Healthcare colleague and Co-Founder of GEneration Impact, of whom we are all proud of.
From today’s activities, our take-away is that we can all make a difference by being ourselves and tackling issues that we most resonate with, not alone, but with people ready to turn crazy ideas into life-changing realities with us.
“Being informed, educated & connected is important. But context & quality also matter.” – Dame Vivian Hunt
Post written by Nirranjani S. and Ange-Christelle Kangue Sere Sahue
Friday, July 24th marked the second day of the OYW summit and the first full day of speakers and workshops. Themes of the day consisted of Rights and Freedoms, Standing for Justice, Creating an accessible future for all, and Protecting our planet. Counselors on stage included actor and activist Terry Crews, Leena Nair, Unilever’s Chief Human Resource Officer, Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders & Former President of Ireland, and Bernard Looney CEO, BP.
The second day of the OYW was a rollercoaster of emotions. Fellow delegates shared anguishing stories reflecting their reality, while motivating speakers fueled us to take action.
One key focus on Day 2 was defending our rights in a world that increasingly threatens them. Shoshana Zuboff, author and Professor Emeritus at HBS, highlighted that “engineered digital communications” are used to target vulnerable communities by entities to get what they want. The topic on disinformation was continued by award-winning journalist, Paola Ramos, who dove deeper on the repercussions for the Latinx community, stating an example that it takes Facebook three days to take down fake news in English, but three weeks if the same fake news were in Spanish.
“Even if you don’t agree with another person’s perspective, you have to listen with empathy and respect.”- Terry Crews
Dr. Sigrid Nikutta, Member of the Management Board of Deutsche joined the stage educating on the economic and sustainable benefits of rail versus road transportation. Rail transportation emits 80-100% less CO2 than road and is approximately twice as cost effective.
“You’re the necessary heroes now. The real adventures without the silly costumes.” – Richard Curtis, Writer, Director, SDG Advocate
Thursday, July 23rd officially kicked off the 2021 One Young World Summit, hosted this year in a hybrid format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event is taking place in the beautiful city of Munich, Germany while there are options to attend the conference via regional hubs around the world or virtually.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, the GE Delegation decided to attend the conference virtually. However, two members of our delegation, Luca Anselmi, and Anna Szarowicz, are currently based out of Europe and are lucky enough to attend the in person!
Ben Turnbull, Nour El Khatib, and Paula Sleiman share their experience from a packed second day. Themes of the day consisted of poverty alleviation, mental health, and the impact of media in our communities. Counselors on stage included Professor Muhammad Yunus, author and activist J.K. Rowling, and human rights activist Yeonmi Park.
The second day of the OYW carried delegates through peaks and valleys as we found ourselves experiencing the heartbreak of our peer experiences followed by rousing inspiration from relentless action. Each delegate has arrived with a unique story to tell, and day two offered opportunities to share those stories in guest speeches, delegate plenary talks, and our workshop sessions. Two main themes carried through these sessions 1) the ever-present thread of mental health and 2) the impact of media in our communities.
“Old roads lead to old destinations. We need new roads.”
Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus
Our world’s climate crisis remained at the heart of day two’s content. Counselors mentioned the importance of a circular economy, recycling and reusing as much production material as you can, and the value of offsetting carbon cost that you ultimately produce through methods such as planting mangrove trees or see grass, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
These are familiar elements of the climate change discussion, showcasing action directed at outcomes we commonly see. However, one of the most unseen direct impacts of climate change is mental health. We heard from mental health professionals about the correlation between climate change events and admission rates for anxiety, depression, etc. A delegate from the Caribbean shared that tropical storms, continually battering her home year after year, are building ‘Eco-anxiety’ in her community where residents live in fear throughout storm season.
After others shared stories showcasing the mental strain of climate events on their community, our counselor advised joining co-aligned focus groups in these communities to combat the helplessness that arrives with climate events.
“8/10 children in orphanages today still have at least one living parent. It’s clear that it’s much more effective to strengthen family care than to support the orphanage business”
J.K. Rowling joined the stage representing her Lumos Foundation aimed at ending the harm of institutionalisation and working to reunite children with their families. She led a commentary on the dangers of volunteering with organizations that may take advantage of the children in their care and exposed the mental impact that a revolving door of volunteers has on developing children. She urged the delegation to stop volunteering at orphanages and encouraged awareness for the ‘voluntourism’ that so many engage in globally. View the video here on her #helpingnothelping campaign for more info!
“As free people it is our duty to use our voices to speak for the voiceless”
A second theme of the day was media and the impact that free speech, or lack thereof, has on a community and its members. Human rights activist Yeonmi Park is part of a small group individuals to defect from North Korea, and part of an even smaller group that is willing to share their experiences under the regime outwardly. She discussed the feeling of experiencing the outside world for the first time given that all external media is blocked inside North Korea. She has dedicated her life to human rights activism and speaking up for the people that have been left without a voice in North Korea. Click here to see her incredible story.
These are only a few of the incredible stories that were shared across the stages of day two. More to come from day three!