If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

My 2018 One Young World Experience

Inspired, empowered and compelled. These are the words that immediately spring to mind when reflecting on the memorable One Young World Summit held in The Hague, the international city of Peace and Justice, from 17 to 20 October. 

  

After meeting some of the most incredible and young global change makers, individuals that are making a positive impact on the world in some of the most difficult circumstances; I was inspired and empowered to believe that I can also change the world, we all can.

Hearing the stories of the daily challenges people are facing in the world made me feel compelled, that we all have a moral and civic duty, to help build a better world.

What is One Young World? 

One Young World is the preeminent global forum for young global leaders that provides the perfect platform to discuss, debate and develop solutions for the world’s most pressing issues and help create lasting connections with future global influencers. 

I was given the honour and privilege to be selected as the Ambassador for ICAEW and Chartered Accountants Worldwide at this year’s Summit. 

Not fully knowing what to expect from the Summit, I could not have imagined how this 4 day conference would change my perspective and broaden my horizon. 

With over 1,800 young global leaders from over 190 countries selected to attend the world’s largest youth leadership forum, the magnitude of the event really came to life with an epic opening ceremony in front of the Peace Palace, with the most successful and accomplished current global leaders, from all walks of life, present. 

  

To mention a few, there was: Dutch Royalty, Nobel Peace Prize Winners, CEOs of international businesses, ex-Prime Ministers, Actors, Supermodels and Rockstars.

These individuals had already changed the world and made a positive impact on the lives of millions of people. But now, they wanted to bring together and inspire the next generation of leaders who possess the potential to shape the future. 

Over the 4 days, we heard these leaders and delegate speakers talk about building a better world through economic development and poverty alleviation, improving education, preventing treatable diseases, human rights and environmental sustainability.

 

(Paul Polman - CEO of Unilever)

So what did I learn? 

  1. The importance of maintaining a long term and holistic perspective in life. It is quite easy to get caught up in our busy daily lives and in the comfort of routine without fully appreciating the difficulties of the individuals that aren’t as fortunate as us. The individuals who are struggling with the basic needs of life such as food, water, healthcare, education and a safe home to live in. We assume these are a given in life, but in reality, the majority of the world’s population hasn’t got access to the basic necessities of life. 
  2. Self-awareness - the direct and indirect impact we have on our community, organisation and the world we live in. The world is changing faster than ever before, largely driven by the fourth industrial revolution and our rampant consumerism. But rarely do we think about the wider impact of our actions and behaviours. For example, what impact does the single-use plastics (that we so regularly use and discard) have on our environment, oceans and wildlife, all of the things on which our own existence relies upon so heavily?
  3. My generation is powerful and purpose-led. We care about the wider social and environmental impact that businesses have on the world. Businesses will need to proactively embrace this change in generational mentality, especially given that my generation makes-up a significant proportion of the workforce and consumer spending. No individual, organisation and country can win in a world that is failing. 

Ultimately, it is easy to talk about changing the world and making a positive impact, everyone wants to do it. In reality, actually doing it isn’t easy. But remember, if not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Ali Qasim - ICAEW, Chartered Accountants Worldwide and One Young World Ambassador

(More details about my experience in the following link and how you can get involved next year in London - www.icaew.com/charteredstar)

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