Last week, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the One Young World summit, which this year took place in London.
The annual summit serves as a global forum for young leaders – bringing together the very best talent from almost every country and from a huge cross-section of industries, to debate key issues and share ideas and experiences.
I sat on the London Advisory Board, which was responsible for supporting and guiding the development of this summit and of the One Young World organisation more widely, championing this growing community.
I am particularly delighted that a cohort of 19 young delegates from Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) – our ‘Chartered Stars’ – took part across the four days of activity this year. Represented from the CAW family, alongside ICAEW, were institutes from: Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ); The Republic of Ireland (CA Ireland); Pakistan (ICAP); Scotland (ICAS); Singapore (ISCA); South Africa (SAICA); Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka); and Zambia (ZICA).
Influential figures from business, politics, media and the humanitarian sector also attend, and this year’s summit featured an incredible breadth of speakers – including the Duchess of Sussex, Bob Geldof, JK Rowling, Richard Branson, Ellie Goulding, and CEOs from global corporations including BP.
The role of young leaders
Despite such an “A-list” of star power, the most inspiring speakers were the delegates themselves.
On Wednesday I introduced the main plenary session, which looked at how climate change is endangering our health, and featured six young leaders who used their own powerful stories and insights to emphasise the scale and impact of the threat.
In my own speech, I made the case that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be engaged together, emphasising the interdependency of some of our biggest global challenges. I also focussed on the role business – and the accountancy profession in particular – can and must play in ending the climate crisis.
This includes chartered accountants taking advantage of our role as trusted advisors – putting sustainability and environmental responsibility high up on companies’ agendas, and helping businesses to adapt their business models as they incorporate nature and society into their decision-making.
Beyond the summit
Our group of 19 chartered accountants from around the world now join a community of 12,000 ambassadors who have attended One Young World summits over the past decade – creating impacts in their countries, communities and organisations. Not least, they will be helping to engage the more than 1.8 million members of the Chartered Accountants Worldwide network.
Earlier this year, in partnership with One Young World and the City of London, we launched FinBiz2030 – a sustainability programme which connects young finance and business professionals to drive action on the SDGs. We’re running workshops in the UK, Dublin and Johannesburg, and look forward to building our momentum further.
It was former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who said, “you are never too young to lead, and we are never too old to learn”. It is this next generation of young leaders who will be in the driving seat in tackling climate change and other global challenges, and the rest of us must do all we can to support them.
I was delighted to read about ICAEW's involvement with One Young World. I co-founded and run a leadership development programme which prepares future leaders for the boardroom. Young people, including qualified accountants, are often disqualified or discounted from board roles because of a perceived lack of experience. We need to change this perception, especially if we are serious about achieving SDGs.