Currently, there is a lack of awareness on how to impact the world around us. However, we all have the potential to be aware of our impact. As Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus told the One Young World Summit, “We all have creative force within us.”
It is easy to ignore what is going on around the world and hold others responsible for it. However now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to be more globally conscious and ignite the type of thinking that compels action on global issues. In this article, I hope to immerse you into your first step of a lifelong journey into to becoming a globally conscious citizen. This is the type of consciousness that stirs action from within.
In early October, I attended the One Young World Summit that brought together young leaders from around the world who are creating a positive impact on global issues. The three-day summit, plus the social business forum hosted alongside, involved a series of talks, panel discussions and workshops on creating social and economic change and the role of innovation in making the world a better place. The platform provided youth leaders with an international network of 1,300 youth leaders from 196 countries. Among the summit councillors this year were Yunus; Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada; Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General; and even Cher, singer and actress.
One Young World exposed me to the deep realities of global issues, including:
Dambisa Moyo, a global economist, explained the dynamics of a persistent gap between the rich and the poor. She mentioned there has also been a slowdown in economic growth in emerging countries which is alarming since 90 per cent of the world’s population lives in emerging countries and 85 per cent of these people are youth under 30. Moyo added countries need to grow at a 7 per cent (a rate double their GDP) and contribute immensely to decreasing poverty. But most of them, especially emerging countries, are growing below 1 per cent. In the short-term, solutions to income inequality include more minimum wage policy and transfer payments. However, in the long term, people need to invest in themselves so they can help other people, invest in their communities and find new ways to achieve economic growth.
Former President of Ireland Marilyn Robinson discussed the impact of climate change on our world. Her insights revealed the devastating effects of how high carbon emissions, mainly in industrialized parts of the world, are creating a decline in resources and contributing to immense heat. There were discussions on small island countries at risk of being submerged by rising sea levels. These countries are currently struggling from immense heat, lack of rain, low crop yield, floods and a shortage of clean water. A question that also comes up is, will we have enough resources to sustain future generations as it gets hotter globally? How will we prepare for the 9 billion people projected to be on Earth by 2050? We have to think up solutions to create new ways of increasing the supply of resources.
Terrorism and extremism
Majid Nawaaz, a British activist, author, columnist and politician, chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think-tank, emphasised a lack of engagement in difficult conversations among family members and society. He mentioned the need for training for families and community members to see the signs of radical ideologies. There needs to be more dialogue and conversation in households, school communities and the larger community. People also need to be taught to turn anger into love through mentorship and understanding.
Yunus elaborated on social businesses and how we need to have a selfless economy – not a selfish economy. The recipe for a social business is to find a problem in society; look for the solution; and make it into a business where profits are reinvested in the society. He discussed a vision of zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emissions.
Alicia Raimundo, an advocate and author on mental health, talked about how we need to remove the stigma on mental health and stop seeing it as an excuse. She recommended having more conversations based on hope and support.
A key lesson I got from attending One Young World is there is a great need for everyone to have difficult and solution based conversations on global issues, such as the ones above, as well as gender inequality and human rights.
Families, teachers, friends and society need to create an environment where it is accepted to have these conversations and talk about potential solutions. As reiterated many times by the counsellors at One Young World, and the One Young World Ambassadors, “Silence is not an option.”
Michelle Ampadu, a fourth-year Honors Economics student, has been involved in many leadership initiatives, including serving on Bank of Canada Governor’s Challenge Western Research Team 2015, International Commissioner for London Hall residence, fostering a multicultural community in residence and President of a Toastmasters Youth Leadership Club in Brampton.