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!
Francisco Ponce, one of our GE delegates, gives his impressions of the final day.. He reflects on the inspiring young speakers – the CEO of Girl Boss who used the challenges she faced as fuel to inspire others, a survivor of the Pakistan terrorist attacks who is now a peace and education activist, and a blind student who created unique solutions to enable others to learn.
The third and last day of One Young World 2019 arrived with a lot of energy and enthusiasm from the 2000+ soon-to-be ambassadors. The environment felt different from Day 1. A sense of community and partnership has been developed over the last 3 days and it can be felt in each room of the London summit venues.
The main two topics for the plenary sessions were focused on Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Quality Education) and 16 (Peaceful Future).
“Teaching is not a profession, it’s a human responsibility. Choose to be a teacher and a mentor.”
Lord Michael Hastings
Education is a topic I’m passionate about and I strongly believe it needs to be a top priority in our agendas – we need to provide minorities the opportunity to take a seat on the table where the future is being decided. School curriculum needs to be adapted to keep pace with the speed of our evolving world. We heard from Alexia Hilbertidou and her passion to empower young women in New Zealand to pursue STEM careers, met Kartik Sawhney who created I-Steam, an organization providing skills to more than 1200 students with disabilities around the world through accessible training programs and other education activists.
“I strongly believe that you, young people, have the power. Our voices are what give us the power. You can use yours to shine the light on the problems that prevent our growth.”
I personally felt touched by the story of Ahmad Nawaz, an 18 years old Peace & Education activist that survived the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Pakistan in 2014 that took 150 lives, including his own brother. Since then, Ahman has created an organization to provide education to children in conflict areas.
Our changing world requires a stronger leadership with multilateral collaboration, willing to work across generations. This was a constant message from the elder members at OYW – which included Mary Robinson, former & first female president of Ireland, Gro Harlem, First Minister of Norway and Sir Richard Branson.
“Do not let success get to your head and failure get to your heart“
Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever
As every good experience, OYW comes to an end. During the closing ceremony, Paul Polman shared a speech summarizing the highlights of OYW 2019, making every person in the room reflect on the discussion points from the Summit and a call for action to make ourselves responsible for the liberty, privileges and rights we have.
The last day also brings a meaningful ceremony for the first-time delegates that will accept the pride and responsibility of joining the 10,000+ OYW ambassadors that work to accomplish the 17 UN SDGs . Each one of us wrote down a personal commitment in a ribbon that was put together into a single chain that represents what we will make happen. As of October 25th 2019, GE has 14 new OYW ambassadors committed to make a difference.
Post written by Paco Ponce.
Paco (Francisco) is a DTLP alumni, who is now in Norwalk, CT for his full-time role. He is most passionate about SDG goals 4 and 5.
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!
Mihael Plut, one of our GE delegates, was selected as the sole bearer of the Croatian flag during the opening ceremony. He gives his take on the choice of London as the conference location and his unique experience on representing his country.
“I was privileged to be chosen as the flag bearer for Croatia. The electrifying excitement started at the rehearsal and exploded in the full concert hall several hours later. It wasn’t the jitters of performing in front of an audience but rather the idea of having this diversity under one roof so engaged and determined to work together no matter what color is the tint in our flags.
Prior to the One Young World 2019, London hosted only one event comparable in number of different nations participating – the Olympic games in 2012.
In the Royal Albert Hall, more than 190 nations were represented by the 2000 One Young World delegates. Delegates of different cultures, languages, religions and views have joined a unique quest to create a better world.
And there couldn’t be a more fitting, multicultural city to host such an event other than London. Over 250 languages are spoken in London, making the capital the most linguistically diverse city in the world. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, celebrated these differences in his speech and how we can leverage them to grow, united.
Similarly to the Olympics in the highlight of the opening ceremony, each of the nations was represented by its own flag bearer.
There may have been 190 flags but they were all moved by one soul of the new generation.
The flag is a symbol of a country’s heritage, identity and pride. The flag bearers have paid respect to their own flag by waving them, high, in front of the whole world to see. The enthusiasm and the energy with which they have cut through the heated atmosphere of the Royal Hall was only trumped by the plethora of national dresses that the flag bearers wore.
There may have been 190 flags but they were all moved by one soul of the new generation. A generation that is the most informed, most educated, most connected generation in human history.
Let’s learn from our past and instead of fighting our differences, let’s take advantage of them to build a better tomorrow, together!
Post written by Mihael Plut.
Mihael is an EEDP alum with GE Renewables. Mihael has been involved in social impact with GE through a buildOn trek to Senegal and is passionate about education and political inclusion.
The opening ceremony consisted of world-class performances, speeches from prominent leaders , and an introduction to the councilors which included leaders such as Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Her Royal Highness Meghan Markle and ended with a ceremony where delegates represented 190+ countries.
Photos from left to right: North Korea and South Korea flag holding hands, UK flag passed through the crowd, GE delegate Mihael Plut representing Croatia
“Today’s opening ceremony was full of energy from start to finish. We opened with a beautiful spoken word poem before transitioning to our keynote speakers and various dance and musical performances.
It’s an incredible and overwhelming feeling to be at a forum designed to bring the world’s young, educated, passionate leaders together.
~2k delegates were selected from 50k+ applicants across 190+ countries
20M people have been impacted by connections made at OYW since 2010
A place where change happens…together. Despite any differences we may have, these are dedicated ambassadors making a positive impact on the world.
Among all the speakers and performances (OYW Founders, Mayor of London, Flag bearers from all countries etc.) one message stood out to me the most.
“We are here to shape the future instead of letting the future shape us.”
I felt this in real time when I got to speak with Grete Kikas from Estonia – founder of Diagnostic Match. Approximately 50% of patients don’t know they have HIV and could spend years spreading it. Diagnostic Match uses an algorithm to test patients and give them a diagnosis earlier.
It’s really mind blowing to be in a space where so many people are passionate about making global change! I’m looking forward to what’s in store for the days ahead.”
Post written by Jordan Richardson.
Jordan is a current HRLP with GE Power. Jordan has been involved in social impact with GE through a buildOn trek to Senegal and is passionate about education and gender equality.
Stay tuned over the next week for our Delegate Posts, and get an up-close view of each day of the conference from a range of perspectives!
The One Young World conference is from October 22 – 25, 2019, and our delegates have flown in from all over the world ready to network with and learn from some of the greatest minds focused on social impact!
I flew in to London today and could not be more excited for the next 4 days!
The purpose of the conference is to connect young people globally who want to make an impact in order to accelerate their potential through making connection and creating a supportive atmosphere and connected global alumni.
The schedule is packed: back to back talks and networking events with accomplished speakers ranging from Fortune 100 CEOs and global politicians to young delegates making impactful changes locally and globally, all focused on solving the world’s biggest problems centered on the Global Goals. The purpose of the conference is to connect young people globally who want to make an impact in order to accelerate their potential through making connection and creating a supportive atmosphere and connected global alumni.
A brief overview of GE’s history with One Young World
GE has organized GE delegations for the Summit for the past five years in order to inspire and recognize early career employees who have been making impact.
Over the years, 56 delegates represented a broad cross-section of our GE leadership programs (OMLP, FMP, CLP, HRLP, CAS, EEDP, DTLP), more than a dozen countries, and spanned all GE businesses. Being a delegate is a huge honor and a recognition of the work that these employees have put in and their passion towards the global goals.
Some highlights on the agenda I’m excited for!
Professor Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Prize Laureate, Founder of Grameen Bank) on eradicating the harmful effects of capitalism
Vismay Sharma (Managing Director for L’Oreal UK) on Can businesses solve social problems?
Workshop hosted by the London School of Economics on ‘Partnering for Peace’
Priya’s part of the core Generation Impact team, and participated in projects such as SafeSurgery2020 and a trek to Malawi to build a school with the buildOn organization. Priya is a grad of DTLP and Corporate Audit Staff.