For more information, check out the Pittsburgh Business Times’ article: Pittsburgh to Host 2012 One Young World Conference.
Pittsburgh looks forward to welcoming the world once again!
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
The first day of the One Young World Summit was an epic whirlwind of plenary sessions, a lovely ride on Lake Zurich, and some heart-warming celebrations of our common humanity. If that sounds like a lot for one day, it was! But it was also incredibly rewarding.
Day one was the One Young World Business Day, and featured speakers from the OPEC Fund for International Development, Barclays Retail, Shell, Hewlett Packard, Siemens, and a “Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs” courtesy of Doug Richard of School for Startups which coaches new entrepreneurs on how to succeed in business. By and large, the themes of the sessions were the need for enhanced corporate responsibility, sustainable business practices, and the need for young talent in the world of business. Energy was an important topic, with many discussing how both the developed and developing world can capitalize on new technologies as not only a way to fight climate change, but to produce jobs and economic growth.
Another theme that came out of the mornings plenary sessions was the role that new technologies, especially social media, are having upon the world. It is clear, said Doug Richard, that we live in a smaller, more connected world.
After the morning’s sessions, the delegates, all 1,500 of us from 170 different countries, were treated to a long boat ride across Lake Zurich. What would be a trip to Switzerland without the quintessential lake trip? The boat trip, while crowded, provided an excellent time to meet some of the other delegates from around the world. Up on the upper deck, looking out across the blue water at hills dotted with quaint Swiss churches and houses, I chatted excitedly with people from Ghana, Morocco, Australia, Jordan, Canada, Turkey, France, India, and many, many more nations.
It’s so rewarding to be in such an international atmosphere, talking freely with young people from around the world. So far, I’ve learned a lot from my fellow delegates, and I think the feeling is universal. Everyone seems eager to meet one another, to reach out to people from other countries, in the hopes of forging lasting connections.
The topper of the night was the opening ceremony. Back at Kongresshaus, there was an emotional laying of the flags ceremony before the introduction of the Summit’s Councilors. There’s quite a diverse and impressive mix of Councilors this year including Bob Geldoff, Desmond Tutu, Jamie Oliver, Oscar Morales, Wael Ghonim, and the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway.
After a welcome from Zurich’s mayor, Corine Mauch, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway was the first to speak. He gave a poignant talk in which he drew on the recent terrorist attacks in Norway. The most important lesson of such attacks is what we learn about ourselves, he said. We can’t undo the terrible things that happened, but we can choose how it affects us.
Next to speak was the “unreasonable” Bob Geldof. As an activist and musician, Geldof’s speech was more of a call to arms. The potential for destruction has never been more palpable, he said. He implored the delegates to seek political answers to the world’s problems and to take action to make the world a better place. You are the thinking present, he said to the delegation, not the future, he said.
And then, of course, was Desmond Tutu. The effable Archbishop gave a charismatic welcome that had the delegates at one point on their feat waving their hands.
It was a poignant and emotional night for all. At the end of the evening, as we wound down from the very long day, a lot of the Pittsburgh delegates were left with some important questions of our own. We wondered how we could be more engaged in the world, how we can pressure our own politicians to become more globally aware, and the importance of Pittsburgh stepping into the truly global present.
-Caitlin, Program Officer at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh
Approximately 30 young professionals from Pittsburgh are representing the region at the One Young World Conference in Zurich, Switzerland this week (September 1-3). Pittsburgh is a finalist to host the Conference in 2012 along with Johannesburg, and the winner will be announced Saturday (fingers crossed). I have the great fortune of being a delegate, and I must say that Day 1 of the Conference was AMAZING!
I was one of several ambassadors chosen to join HKH Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway for a special Global Dignity Day celebration at the Zurich International School. Prince Haakon co-founded the Dignity Project (www.globaldignity.org), whose mission is to “implement globally the universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life.” The Dignity Project is based on 5 principles:
- Every human being has a right to lead a dignified life.
- A dignified life means an opportunity to fulfill one’s potential, which is based on having a human level of health care, education, income and security.
- Dignity means having the freedom to make decisions on one’s life and to be met with respect for this right.
- Dignity should be the basic guiding principle for all actions.
- Ultimately, our own dignity is interdependent with the dignity of others.
Dignity Day events are carried out by volunteers all over the world who lead plenary and classroom sessions for students. This project is especially important in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Norway, and it was an honor to be chosen by Prince Haakon to participate in this amazing work.
After a special briefing with Prince Haakon we headed to the school, where each of us was assigned a group of students to lead through the exercise. I arrived in my classroom to find that I had a co-presenter, none other than Crown Princess Mette-Marit! I’m not sure how princesses are supposed to act, but she is one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met, and our session was great!
As part of the exercise the students shared their own stories of global dignity with the group. The students told stories of how they’ve volunteered in developing countries, did a good deed, or simply made someone’s day brighter by just being a friend. It was wonderful to see that even at a young age these students understand the importance of respecting, tolerating, accepting, and caring for others, especially those in need. It’s good to know that even in a world plagued by hate, greed, and intolerance, there are still people who understand the importance of dignity in their own lives and the lives of others.
One Young World 2011 is off to a great start! I can’t wait to see what Day 2 has in store!
-Allyce, Program Officer at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh