One Young World: The Powerful Names Behind Its Global Success

One Young World

From the Duchess of Sussex and Queen Rania of Jordan to Kofi Annan, some of the planet’s most powerful leaders have been involved with One Young World.

Founded in 2009 by Kate Robertson and David Jones, One Young World has established itself as a preeminent platform for youth empowerment, uniting a diverse network of ambassadors driving positive change. Through ambassador-led initiatives, an astounding 50.42 million lives have been impacted since 2010.

In the nascent days of One Young World, Robertson says she set out to build a conference unlike any other, starting by compiling a list of the most inspiring people she could think of.

“We want to bring people whose profiles attract media attention to shine a spotlight on the work of young leaders whose initiatives may otherwise be overlooked,” Kate Robertson says.

“It’s really trying to elevate the position of young people to say, ‘The world sees you and sees you as being just as important as anyone maybe in a big position, who just happens to be slightly older.’”

Robertson recalls the compelling power of witnessing speakers like anti-apartheid and human rights activist Desmond Tutu and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan igniting One Young World’s global stage.

“That’s one of the magic things, the transfer of energy and wisdom between figures such as Dame Jane Goodall or Professor Muhammad Yunus and the young leaders is when the room really just lights up,” Robertson explained. “But what has been gratifying over the years was seeing with these people who are giants, how much One Young World mattered to them.”

Annan was very supportive over the years at One Young World events.

“I come away from these sessions [at One Young World] hopeful and reassured that the future of our world is not lost,” Annan said at the Dublin summit in 2014. “Ours is a really messy world — young people are especially vulnerable to and disproportionately affected by violence and conflict — but the young are also among the most determined peacekeepers and the most effective agents of reconciliation.”

Although Annan died just before One Young World’s summit in 2018, Robertson said he had been with One Young World “every single year for eight years to that point.”

How One Young World’s Partners Inspire Its Ambassadors

One Young World operates through a network that includes over 17,000 ambassadors.

The nonprofit boldly tackles pressing global issues ranging from climate change and hunger to mental health and the pursuit of peace. This dynamic organization collaborates with over 500 influential businesses, including industry giants like Deloitte, BMW, L’Oréal, AstraZeneca, and others, while leveraging expertise and resources to drive meaningful change.

At the heart of One Young World’s influence is its annual summit, attended by budding trailblazers from virtually every country. Participants not only engage with international power brokers, but they also witness a gathering of youth, fostering a unique environment of exchange and mutual learning.

The forums give future movers and shakers the rare opportunity to interact with some of humanity’s most iconic figures. Everyone from Harry Potter actress Emma Watson to legendary anthropologist and primatologist Goodall has been involved, bringing a blend of celebrity influence and serious advocacy to the platform.

In 2019, Goodall graced the stage at One Young World’s summit to speak about climate change. “We haven’t inherited this planet from our parents. We borrowed it from our children,” Goodall said. “We have been stealing your future. Is it true there’s nothing that can be done?

“I firmly believe there’s a window of time but it’s closing all the time. And there’s a window of time when we can start healing some of the harm that we’ve inflicted and at least slowing down climate change. Every single individual makes a difference every single day and you have a role to play. What’s happening around the world is amazing. It’s my greatest reason for hope.”

Throughout the year, One Young World works to maintain engagement through various programs and initiatives. This includes the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge, which highlights the organization’s commitment to discussing global issues and implementing real-world solutions through entrepreneurship and innovation. The winner of this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Challenge will receive a trip to attend One Young World’s 2024 summit.

A Look at the Bold Names Who Will Grace the Stage at the 2024 Summit

One Young World’s Montreal Summit will take place Sept. 18-21. The impressive lineup includes Sir Bob Geldof, the singer-songwriter and political activist, Margaret Atwood, critically acclaimed author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and many others. This year’s summit will also include a spotlight for Indigenous voices.

“We recognize the importance of engaging and promoting Indigenous and First Nations young leaders,” Robertson said in One Young World’s most recent impact report. “In 2023 we announced our Indigenous Young Leaders strategy.”

As a result, One Young World launched an Indigenous Council. “This council will ensure that the voices, perspectives, and needs of Indigenous communities are at the forefront of our decision-making,” Robertson added.

Read More: 4 Actionable Global Expansion Strategies for Young Startups.

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