#OYW2021: Revisit the Highlights from Day One

Plenary Session: The Climate Crisis

With less than 10 years to spare, how far have we come to delivering the Paris Agreement?

Signifying the vitality of Oceans for human life, Daniela Fernandez, founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance spoke about creating ocean leaders worldwide to find the best ocean solutions. Finding her real purpose at a young age, she says, “We’re the ones inheriting this dying planet, we’re the last resort to climate change.”

Vanessa Nakate, a climate justice activist from Uganda highlighted the plight of Africans due to climate change. The intense use of fossil fuels by companies for quick gains has had a direct impact on many lives in Africa, leading to the loss of life and property. Pondering upon whether the Paris Agreement can be met, Vanessa says, “People living on the frontline of the climate crisis in the most affected places won’t even make it till 2030. It is time world leaders tell the truth to their citizens and make hard decisions before it is too late. If people are made aware of the challenges they have ahead of them, I am positive the Paris Agreement can be achieved”.

Plenary Session: Rights and Freedom

The Plenary session 2: Rights and Freedom was commenced by Keynote speaker, Prof. Shoshana Zuboff, a scholar, writer and activist. She spoke about how the stolen information of the citizens has become private property of large corporations, now available for manufacture and sale. Supporting this she gave an example of how an election campaign run in the longest-living democracy handpicked a section of citizens and deter them from voting, by surveilling their behaviours.

This creates a grim future where human rights are violated without their knowledge. This is what she called a fight for the soul of our information civilization. On a very strong note, she concluded, “It is time to take a call to action. Democracy is not a mountain, each generation is called sooner or later to the work of ensuring that that wheel keeps turning.”

From the #OYW2021 Digital Summit Platform

The Art of Sustainable Living

Actor Ian Somerhalder who is also an Entrepreneur and passionate Environmentalist shares what drove him to start his foundation “The Ian Somerhalder Foundation”, which prominently works in the conservation of natural resources, forests, lands and wildlife. Ian believes that collaborative spirit is of utmost importance if we wish to make things happen. Our current generation is facing the largest mass extinction of biodiversity since the dinosaurs and practices like poaching, lack of protection is leading to huge habitat and biodiversity loss that is estimated to be about more than 40% by 2050. Ian gave a very strong message to the young changemakers - “The power is in your hands, and it is more about activating that power. To think globally, you have to act locally.”


Conservation and the critical importance of harnessing Indigenous knowledge

Mia Hammersley, Associate Attorney at Montgomery & Interprerter, PLC and Xiomara Acevedo, founder of Barranquilla+20 joined together to have a discussion about Conservation and the critical importance of harnessing Indigenous knowledge. In the past, the Conservation movement has largely been rooted in Colonialism and removing indigenous people from their ancestral territories.

Mia says, “Indigenous people are already safeguarding 80% of the world’s biodiversity, so their voices need to be heard when we think of conservation to address the climate crisis in the future. Involvement of indigenous, afro-descendants, farmers, women is needed and yet they are missing out from the conversation.”

Xiomara has been tackling this issue through her work at Baranquilla. On the issues of conservation of indigenous knowledge he says, “Equity is not enough. The justice that we talk about is very much cultural and it involves the separation of people and communities. The whole world needs the ecosystem and the ecological balance of the biosphere.”


Genocide, Reconciliation and the Road to Peace

In the session of Genocide, Reconciliation and the Road to Peace, Taban Shoresh, founder of The Lotus Flower, recounted her chilling story of being persecuted as a child by Saddam Hussein during the Iran - Iraq war and her road to survival. Inge Auerbacher, author and Holocaust survivor spoke about how it was pure luck that she is still alive today and if there had been a little more goodness in people back then, more would’ve survived. Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, founder of Be the Peace at Be the Peace who works on cutting the transmission of hate says, “Hate is the accelerator of atrocity and the seed of genocide”.



In a session dedicated to Lead2030 SDG 7, winner Akshay Makar - founder and CEO at Climatenza and Ross McRobert, representing BP spoke about their joint efforts at achieving Net-Zero targets for a sustainable future. In the industrial sector, 90% of the energy is generated by burning fossil fuels, and the need for cleaner energy solutions is larger than ever before. Climatenza gives a solar thermal solution that perfectly aligns with the goals BP has set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions against the rising energy demands.

Akshay being an engineer emphasised the importance of principles, networking, serving the customer and having a strong mentor to hold your hand. Ross on the other hand mentioned the winning recipe to delivering on SDGs and creating impact is “to dream big and team up with the delegates sitting next to you”.


Sincerity and Leadership will make a difference

Alexandra Plat, Executive Vice President of L'oreal chooses progress over perfection when it comes to achieving targets pertaining to the Paris Agreement. Since its inception, the Beauty giant has come a long way in curbing carbon emissions but with the progress made so far comes a staggering realisation, that there is still a lot more to be done. Plat said that Loreal has set science-based targets to achieve a 50% reduction per finished product of its carbon emissions by 2030, reaching net zero in 2050. Instead of playing the blame game, it is vital to focus on sincere personal as well as collective efforts to tackle climate change.