The thing that should speak for our generation is our work

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Ambassador from Colombia, Raaida Mannaa, on convincing the world of the power of youth.

So far, 2014 seems to be a year where important discussions, other than the difficulties produced by the financial crisis worldwide, are taking place. This sounds promising, but what does it mean in terms of action and specifically what does it mean for youth?  

50% of the world’s population is under 27. Leaders at all levels, from the public and private sector to civil society groups, are becoming increasingly aware that concrete answers to our global challenges must purposefully engage youth at all levels: locally, regionally nationally and globally. Our generation has the passion, dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit to shape the future, and we are doing it. The world must hear from us. 

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Above: Parker Liautaud, Michael McLennan, Adam Grodecki, Alan Mak, David Alexander and Raaida Mannaa.

Young people are actively moving towards change. The stories we hear from us, One Young World Ambassadors, are clear proof that youth worldwide and in different sectors, are developing initiatives and projects to make real changes: with fresh ideas and atypical solutions, our approaches to critical situations are, step by step, helping our communities overcome challenges that have long plagued our territories. From Barranquilla to Kuala Lumpur, we work in areas such as entrepreneurship, education, technological development and health, proposing different views from the traditional and looking for options that generate impact, measurable and sustainable impact. Our feeling of the world is different, we know for sure that the key is to work collectively; our soul is entrepreneurial, our minds are socially engaged and our actions are committed to get tangible results. 

The vast majority of global issues are directly and seriously affecting youth worldwide; from growing intergenerational challenges to the continuous growth of unemployment rates, young people must be at the centre of any conversation that takes places around subjects like these. With concrete examples, our generation is able to show that the construction of a more equitable world is possible. To achieve this, it is crucial that we understand each other, that we, youth, show the world that we can speak a global language that any generation can understand, a language that is based on innovative methodologies and social concern for humankind at any and every level. 

As one of the 50 Global Shapers that were in Davos representing the work that our generation is doing to positively impact our communities and transform our world, it was, and is, very meaningful to see how events like the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum are opening spaces for youth not only to be present, but to actively participate in the conversations that need to be faced in order to build collective solutions to the world’s most concerning issues. 

Opening valuable spaces for youth is not an easy task, but it is an imperative; having representation in Davos is important, but this is only one step of the many we need to keep pursuing. It says a lot that world leaders want to hear from us; it says a lot that we can talk on equal terms with them, but certainly, the only thing that should speak for our generation must be our work. In the end, it is only by showing concrete and constant impact that we will convince the world of the power that youth has to positively transform our current contexts. 

Raaida Mannaa, far right, at dinner with the One Young World team in Davos
Published on 10/02/2014