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As of this moment I am 30 days away from attending my first One Young World Summit. The world has never been as advanced as it is right now and we often hear that we are living in the most peaceful period of history. Yet there are so many social and environmental riddles that we are yet to solve.
Indeed it has been another big year. Perhaps one of the biggest victories in investigative journalism saw the release of the Panama Papers, revealing widespread and unprecedented tax fraud. The UK notoriously exited the EU after the ‘Brexit’ vote leading to Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation. And Brazil declared an emergency after thousands of babies were born with brain damaged thanks to the zika virus.
But it wasn’t all bad. We did detect gravitational waves from black holes, validating Einstein’s predictions and providing a huge step forward in astronomy. India planted more than 50 million trees in 24 hours and the Netherlands seem to be closing more and more prisons thanks to their falling crime rate.
In terms of the state of our global society today, we face unprecedented environmental challenges and climate change, on the peace and security front we are facing the threat of Islamic State and extremism, and it seems the world is fighting fire with fire, combating extremists with hatred and Islamophobia. In the realm of health, more than 1 million people take their own lives each year, and approximately 150 million people are living with depression.
Despite all of this, I am still filled with hope and optimism that my generation will be the one to turn these problems around. From my perspective millennials are characterised by a strong social conscience, an appetite for change and a willingness to act. In the lead up to the Summit, the delegates’ Facebook group is lighting up with social entrepreneurs and people from around the world connecting and looking for opportunities to create real, tangible change.
This Summit is about change and progress. It is obvious to me that the vast majority of delegates are not just there to sit back and be lectured to, but to arm themselves with the knowledge and wisdom of some of the world’s most influential leaders so that they can eventually call them their peers.
I’m proud to be a millennial and proud to be named alongside 1,300 others as a One Young World delegate.
Brad is one of ten delegates from Australia’s Westpac Banking Corporation where he works on internal projects in various capacities. Upon graduation from high school, Brad lived and volunteered in an Indigenous community in central Australia. He has also lived in the Bombolulu Slum in Mombasa, Kenya where he volunteered in a local school and orphanage. Brad is particularly passionate about refugees and asylum seekers, and is in the early stages of launching a social enterprise to combat xenophobia in his home state, South Australia.