OWY Summit – Thoughts After the Second Day

Well, it’s been a whirlwind first two days at the One Young World Summit here in Zurich. We’ve been hard at work, discussing some of the most pressing issues of the day with other young professionals from around the world. All told, there are approximately 1,200 delegates here, from 170 different countries, all sharing their ideas, their passions, the projects they are working on, and their visions of a better world.

It’s given the Pittsburgh delegates some food for thought. In our discussions outside of the plenary sessions, we are constantly discuss ways we can incorporate the lessons we are learning here into our everyday lives back home. I think this Summit has demonstrated just how small the world really is, how global, and how important it will be for Pittsburgh to look beyond the city limits in order to fully participate in a fast-changing world.

The biggest theme to come out of the Summit thus far has been the need for increased corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices. Yesterday and today, we started with a series of sessions on Global Business where we heard from top executives from Shell, Hewlett Packard, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Barclays, and Siemens. Each of the speakers presented their various development projects from ending energy poverty to ensuring enhancing access to technology throughout the developing world. Some of the most interesting perspectives, though, were provided from the audience, many of whom come from developing countries who are themselves working to find solutions.

Today’s plenary sessions covered a range of topics with a host of exciting speakers. Jamie Oliver kicked off with a discussion of the challenges posed by both hunger and obesity. Roger Federer provided a taped introduction to the plenary session on the impact of sports programs on community engagement. The interfaith dialogue with Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, and Jewish speakers resulted in an intense exchange of ideas on how we can end sectarian conflict.

For me, the most exciting plenary session of the day was the one on changing media featuring Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian internet activist that started the “We Are All Khaled” facebook page that helped spark the recent revolution in Egypt, and Oscar Morales, founder of One Million Voices against the Farc. This plenary offered a great discussion of how social media is changing the way we connect with one another, the importance of free speech for democracy, and the ways in which each of us can hold corporations and governments to account.

All in all, this has been a very rewarding, and very exhausting two days. In between plenary sessions, we’ve ridden across Lake Zurich, sang happy birthday to Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Bob Geldof, and run out of all our business cards. I’ll be headed back to the U.S. on Sunday, with a load of new contacts, new friends, and new ideas for how I can work to foster more global engagement in Pittsburgh.

-Caitlin, Program Officer at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

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