The Impact of One Young World

Charlie is a One Young World Ambassador from the United Kingdom. In this blog, Charlie reflects on his latest One Young World experience at the 2014 Summit in Dublin. Follow Charlie on Twitter @rlieoliver.

This blog first appeared on The Huffington Post.

The One Young World Summit is an inimitable opportunity. I have been fortunate to attend twice with the company I work for – Telefónica. If your interests lie in culture, art, history, politics, business or human rights this Summit will offer you a mentally enriching experience, which I haven’t found anywhere else.

In the modern world, these are all interrelated and the One Young World Summit creates an opportunity to discuss them with people from 190 countries; from business, government and civil society. To meet people from all over the world, to learn and share experiences with them is so important.

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This is because today we live in a global community. Nation states and their borders are increasingly less relevant. Facebook is now the third biggest nation in the world after China and India, with 1.1bn users.

For people working in business it reinforced that we need to think globally. Online, and the technological innovation that has come from it, threatens the dominance of established corporates and has disrupted ways of working. Even a small business can be global thanks to the internet and e-commerce. It also confirmed something that I have always believed – current affairs have an impact on business.

Over the two years that I have attended One Young World, I have seen some amazing speakers – Sir Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson and Winnie Mandela to name a few. However, the standout moment of those two years was a speech by a delegate, Yeonmi Park from North Korea at this year’s summit.

It was the moment where the whole audience of over 1,000 people palpably hung on every word of her terrible story. She spoke of fleeing North Korea as a young teenager, witnessing the murder of a family friend and the rape of her mother, burying her father and finally being deported to South Korea from Mongolia. Yeonmi now campaigns to raise awareness about the life people in North Korea are subjected to and to stop repatriation of North Korean refugees from China.

Watch her speech here:

Yeonmi’s example was a call to action for all of us, to grasp the challenges we want to resolve by the collar and make it happen, motivated by an overall consensus that the way things have been done so far is not sustainable, like the threat of climate change or the pursuit of profit without a purpose. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and now UN Special Envoy for Climate Change called this transformative leadership.

Yeonmi’s speech was the moment that One Young World clattered through any remaining doubts about its relevance, drawing the attention of the global media like the BBC World Service, Al Jazeera and the Huffington Post. As millennials, we should take confidence in our ability to see things differently, communicate engagingly and deliver positive outcomes that are relevant today and to what’s coming tomorrow.

The challenge for One Young Ambassadors now is to keep the momentum up and ensure that we are not just motivated for the one week out of 52 that the summit takes place. We need to take it back (to where we’ve come from) and capitalise on our experiences; along with those of like-minded others to collaborate towards the change we want to see.