The One Young World Summit, the global forum for young leaders, is above all about action. To understand this, all you need to do it listen to any of the delegate speakers. In fact, this year we heard that OYW ambassadors have touched almost 9m lives around the world. This is extraordinary.
I am certain that after the inspirational three and a half days in Bangkok, delegates will leave and launch their own NGOs, social businesses and rally their governments and employers to make change for the better, and I look forward to hearing about these achievements.
However, in the meantime, delegates do not need to wait to launch a global initiative to make an impact. Decisions we make on a daily basis have the ability to make a significant difference to people and society. By following Muhammad Yunus’ philosophy of taking a ‘worm’s eye view’, instead of a ‘bird’s eye view’, we can drive change – especially if we act together. That’s why, after One Young World, I will be taking away seven key actions that I can put into practice immediately:
Action #1: Vote with your wallet
Global Business Plenary
Our spending power as consumers is second to none. As Ronan Dunne highlighted, we have the power to influence companies by hitting them where it hurts: their P&L. By choosing only to buy from, or work for, sustainable brands that treat their employees ethically, we can start to see a difference, and make our call to action to employers. Do your research and make your choices: say no to sweat shops, and yes to sustainable and ethical companies.
Action #2: Stop ignoring disability
Disability Special Session
Oscar Anderson, the incredibly inspiring fourteen year old who brought over 1000 people to tears with his courage, taught us never to ignore disability. He explained that, especially in Western societies, we are quick to look the other way, not sure what quite to say or do, and therefore pretending not to see. But from now on, each and every one of us must make sure we fully acknowledge every person – and a disability must never change that. We also need to work to change society’s rhetoric. No one should be referred to as ‘special needs’ or any similar term. Oscar, thank you for opening our eyes with your wisdom at only fourteen. We see you, and we have learnt from you!
Action #3: Lick it Clean
If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after China and the USA. This is shocking. Not only are we living the irony of nearly a third of the world obese and nearly a third of the world starving, we are also making the environment pay for our greed. Food waste must stop, and all of us should take responsibility for our own plate – always. As Min Woo Kim told us, we must #LickitClean.
Action #4: Reduce your meat intake
Environment special session
Jerome Jarre, Vine Star, explained that animal agriculture is responsible for a significant amount (more than 18%) of greenhouse gas emission. This is especially true of beef. Of course this is a personal decision, but we should all carefully consider our animal produce intake and look to at least reduce the amount of meat, and particularly beef, that we consume.
Action #5: Overcome the Voldemort Effect
Peace and Security Plenary
‘By not addressing an issue we add to the hysteria’. Maajid Nawaz’s call to action was for every one of us to speak about the ‘unspeakable’, instead of leaving issues unaddressed. We must talk about extremism and terrorism with tolerance and empathy, instead of adding to the hysteria by failing to address it. This is especially important with others who come from different backgrounds or have different beliefs. From now on, ignore the old adage that ‘you should never bring up religion or politics’, but instead make it part of your daily conversation in a positive and peaceful way.
Action #6: Talk about Sexual Health
HIV and AIDS special session
Why are we embarrassed to talk about condoms? According to Volker Sydow, Director of Sexual Wellbeing at Reckitt-Benckiser (which owns Durex), more than 1m people are infected by an STI every single day. 35m people have HIV. But for something so widespread, we are incredibly shy about the issue. Improving sexual education and awareness across the globe – and above all, using condoms – could significantly reduce these numbers. There is no stigma around sexual health – so speak up.
Action #7: Never stop halfway
Most importantly, with all of these small actions, as well as the larger projects we choose to undertake, we must never stop halfway.
This video says it all, watch it here.