Plenary Sessions 2021

One Young World is proud to announce the 2021 Plenary Session themes!
The Plenary Sessions are some of the key highlights of the One Young World Summit and include speeches by world leaders and Delegate Speakers whose work and stories speak to the topic at hand. All content at the Summit is shaped by the six Plenary Sessions from keynotes to panels. The topics are decided through the Global Consultation Process with our 12,000 + Ambassador Community.

The Climate Crisis

climate crisis

Less than 10 years to go, can we deliver the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement’s deadline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 is less than 10 years away. Morocco and the Gambia are currently the only two countries whose commitments are sufficient to limit a temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere contributing to global warming. Australia bore witness to some of the most devastating and widespread wildfires in recent history. Approximately 25 million acres of Australian land were burned, roughly the size of South Korea resulting in the deaths of over 1 billion animals. There has been a substantial loss of biodiversity as a result of the world’s 6th mass extinction, the impacts of which will be felt globally. The consequences of the Climate Crisis also have a significant impact on human life with an estimated 50–200 million people expected to be climate change refugees by 2050. Out of the One Young World community surveyed, 73.2% believe that the Climate Crisis is the biggest threat to humanity. The worst hit by this crisis is the global south and indigenous communities. The question of accountability and action must be raised. Is reform enough to solve the Climate Crisis or do we need a revolution?

Rights and Freedoms

How can we defend rights online and offline?

Human rights and civil liberties are of paramount importance to ensuring individuals are able to pursue a life free of tyranny in all its forms. From the growth of human trafficking to mass incarceration, rights violations are a global phenomenon. Approximately 50% of the One Young World community surveyed reported that their civil liberties and human rights had been violated. Sexual violence, discrimination and gender equality ranked in the top 3 of topics that required an urgent response in 2020. The violation of privacy rights has continued to grow with the increased use of facial recognition and cyber security threats. The first half of 2019 saw a record 4.1 billion records exposed in data breaches.With the global pandemic facilitating the creation and mass use of track and trace apps, the issue of privacy has again become a central focus of debate. How can we secure and defend our rights in a world that increasingly violates them?

Civil liberties



How can we prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution?

The 4th Industrial revolution will and has already begun to disrupt every industry and country. This has created a series of obstacles and opportunities for education. Over half of all the One Young World community surveyed reported they felt the education they received did not prepare them for the challenges of the upcoming decade. There is also an increased polarity between regions of the world that are preparing for the 4th industrial revolution and those that still struggle to provide basic educational resources and facilities to children. These discrepancies have only been further exacerbated by the global pandemic. Girls and children with disabilities are the most excluded from educational institutions across the world. Automation is predicted to hit women the worst and widen the gender divide. In order to ensure education equips people for the future it must be accessible, affordable, holistic and forward thinking. Can we reform education quickly enough to meet future demands? 

Conflict Resolution 

Authoritarianism is on the rise; how can we de-escalate tensions? 

The concentration of power under authoritarian leaders has threatened international diplomacy. Global defence spending is at a record high. Nuclear proliferation has re-emerged with the collapse of the Iran deal. Conflict is rife from Latin America to India and the issue of police brutality has been underscored by the senseless murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless others across the world. As a result of conflict, 1 out of every 108 people in the world today is displaced. Approximately 42.3% of One Young World surveyed Ambassadors have experienced conflict or violence in their lifetime. Out of these respondents, 32.4% attributed the conflict and unrest in their country to economic issues such as poverty, inequality and inflation. Political polarisation and corruption were also identified as prime causes of conflict. How can we prevent and resolve global conflict?

conflict resolution

Future Economies

Future Economies

How can economic growth be more just?

Economic growth has proven to substantially increase economic inequality, begging the question as to whether the blueprint for future economies needs to be re-evaluated. An estimated 44% of global wealth is owned by the richest 1% of people whilst sweatshops and widespread homelessness remain pertinent issues. Of the surveyed One Young World Ambassadors, 49.2% reported they believe capitalism can adequately address the issues of inequality but not in its current form, while 37.4% believed a new economic system and model is needed to address this issue. Raising or introducing the minimum wage was the most popular solution to tackling economic injustice, followed by the achievement of equal pay for women and a wealth tax on billionaires. These results raise the question of how we can solve deep rooted economic inequality.


Lessons From the Pandemic - The Road to Recovery

The year 2020 commenced with an unprecedented global pandemic, Covid-19. At the time of writing, 56, 368 586 cases have been reported with over 1,350 713 deaths. The pandemic has had devastating impacts on health services and has paved the way for certain incoming economic recession. It has had polarising effects in many countries with an ambivalent response from the public on public health measures from lockdowns and curfews to reopenings. Covid-19 has highlighted and widened existing socio-economic inequalities in almost every nation it has spread in. The prospect of a vaccine has too been met with hesitancy and uncertainty. The pandemic will be remembered as one of the most dramatic and historic events of the 21st century but what lessons can we learn from this unparalleled moment? As governments, businesses and individuals plan for the future what will the road to recovery look like? 


© Joy Malone/Reuters

Applications to become a Delegate Speaker are currently closed. Find out more about the Global Consultation results here.