The Junior Davos Event

Posted on April 6, 2011 by Comments Off

In Washington, DC, particularly in the Social Innovation space, we hear about all kinds of great programs and organizations that are going to change the world. So much so, it can be hard to be impressed. This week, however, I was introduced to an organization that truly caught my attention.

I originally heard about One Young World from the WE-SA office – their first stand-alone Social Innovation engagement. A global forum for young leaders, CNN summed it up best when it called One Young World a “junior Davos” event.

So when I heard that one of the founders, Kate Robertson, would be in town to talk about One Young World, I jumped at the chance to learn more. As Kate explained during the luncheon I attended, One Young World is a forum that gathers young leaders together from all corners of the globe in a space where they can share and debate their ideas in a way they never could otherwise. In her view, youth have a better perspective on the problems of the world and potential solutions, so we must give them these kinds of opportunities to be heard.

With the encouragement of counselors like Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Mohammad Yunus and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, participants in the inaugural summit last year in London, England, went back to their home countries and, taking their mandate to heart, put their words into action.

One of the most notable outcomes of the summit was The Missing Millennium Development Goal project. One Young World participants realized that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is hindered by conflict, often religious-based. Building on a resolution drafted at the One Young World Summit, these inspiring young people presented The Missing Millennium Development Goal – Ensure Interfaith Collaboration for Peace – at the UN Alliance of Civilizations forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May 2010, where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited them personally to present to the UN General Assembly.

We were lucky enough to have in our midst Taryn Bird, from the US Chamber of Commerce, who attended the inaugural summit. Hearing her personal experience really drove home the importance of this event and the value that it had to her. She even pointed out concrete examples where the experience and her connections made through One Young World have helped her in her job, such as when she was planning a Chamber-sponsored trip to Haiti last year.

So how is WE involved? In 2010, WE-SA was asked to provide communications support for Kate during a trip to her home country of South Africa, arranging a press tour for her with top business and consumer media that raised awareness of the organization among local young leaders and solicited corporate support.

Inspired by One Young World’s commitments, WE Citizenship and WE-SA decided to support the organization further. This fall, WE is sponsoring a local student from our academic partner, University of Johannesburg Communications Department, to attend the Second Annual One World Summit in Zurich, Switzerland.

I’m really proud that WE is supporting One Young World during this crucial start-up stage. While they had 823 young leaders from 112 countries in attendance at the 2010 forum, One Young World is aiming for 1600 participants representing every country this year and that is going to take a lot of effort.

If you or someone you know is interested in making an impact, having a chance to interact with like-minded peers from around the world and have the chance to truly influence world leaders, I encourage you to learn more about One Young World and the Second Annual Summit.

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