There’s just summit about it

What happens when you put 1,300 young people from over 180 different countries in one (rather large) room, who are all frustrated with the world we live in and are itching to change it? Well, you get an electric, inspiring atmosphere in the form of the One Young World Youth Leadership Summit.
One Young World is a charity which gathers young people between the ages of 18-30 from around the world to join a global network of socially committed individuals with leadership potential. From there, we are encouraged to take action, driving positive change in our countries, communities and companies.
More countries are represented at the annual One Young World Summit than any other global youth event outside of the Olympics. Delegates are guided by a line-up of Counsellors that included Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Jamie Oliver, and Joss Stone to name a few. It is important to mention here, from the outset, that the global issues identified at the Summit and the solutions offered to them are determined – not dictated to – the young attendees.
Having just returned from this year’s Summit, which was held in October in Pittsburgh, USA, it is intrinsically hard to describe this phenomenal experience – but we will give it our best shot.
After four days of inspirational speeches and sessions with world leaders, Nobel Peace Prize winners, past presidents, global CEOs and equally inspirational peers, we left energised and ready to make our own contribution to the world. Some of the messages that most impacted us are as follows:

**WE is the key: start with the smallest act**

Throughout the summit it was both constantly emphasised and made plainly evident that together we can make BIG changes. A network of like-minded, dedicated individuals can make more change than one individual alone. Kofi Annan reiterated this point: “We have to bring the international community together to address today’s major threats.”
However, it does not mean that if you are alone, you should do nothing. Professor Muhammad Yunus had a simple but resonating message: start small. Help one person, do one useful thing for your community that you are passionate about and that is where it all starts. Sometimes, he said, it is best that you have no idea what you’re doing and that you are not doing the conventional thing – because clearly conventional is not working.

**Business can be a power for good and change**

In the last couple of years, we have seen growing discontent with capitalism in the form of the Occupy movements, the Libor Scandal and so on, and the growing distrust of big (especially big) businesses. One of the most permeating messages was that whether big or small: businesses can be the catalyst for change and solving many of the problems we face in the world. Global CEOs from huge multinational corporations such as Unilever, Siemens and Barclays discussed ethical business and showed how they were fighting against corruption and using the resources afforded only to a corporation for positive change. They underlined that it is not the corporations themselves that are bad, but the way that they are used and that we as the leaders of tomorrow need to shape them in such a way as to make the world a better place for future generations.
If corporations still do not appeal to you that is equally fine. Again, Professor Yunus encouraged us to get involved in social business. “Every person here is capable of having their own start-up,” he said. There is no reason why the world “unemployed” should even exist.
It is always so much more comforting to fall back on the thought of “At least I tried…” than “I wish I had…”, is it not? And this is exactly what Carole Stone, an author and broadcaster who worked at the BBC for 27 years, stressed. If you have an idea, share it, discuss it with someone and most importantly act on it!
On the agenda for us now is to work on what we are passionate about – our own contribution towards ending poverty. We will be implementing a few different projects, starting with a major awareness campaign and some challenges we want to set for the entire campus, so please look out, get involved and join us to make this very possible mission a reality.


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