Leadership October 2019

One Young World

Global gathering aims for better business and society

The future of the world depends on new ideas and the evolution of traditional approaches to business—and this inno­vation is found in youth. One of the most successful and dynamic platforms for nurturing young minds is One Young World, a UK-based organisation that aims to promote and connect young leaders to create a better world, with more responsible, more effective leadership.

The first summit was held in London in 2010, and this year One Young World returns to the city of its birth. Along the way, the gathering has been held in Zurich, Switzerland (2011), Pittsburgh, United States (2012), Johannesburg, South Africa (2013), Dublin, Ireland (2014), Bangkok, Thailand (2015), Ottawa, Canada (2016), Bogota, Colombia (2017) and The Hague in The Netherlands (2018).

Three pillars support

British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) member firm Global Perspectives KK, which develops long-term, in-depth organisational transformation solutions for clients, is helping connect One Young World with the three pillars of the BCCJ 5.0 initiative:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Tech and innovation
  • Responsible business

The firm was co-founded by Gavin Dixon and BCCJ Executive Committee member Tove Kinooka.

Diversity and inclusion is always a topic of discussion at One Young World and was a core theme of last year’s summit in The Hague. “We heard about powerful personal stories and impactful projects, such as the initiative to end female virginity testing in Afghanistan, and one which aims to break down stigmas and barriers that affect disabled people in corporate life,” Kinooka said.

In terms of tech and innovation, she explained: “The summit uses tools such as an interactive app to allow delegates to share info and arrange pop-up meetings. Many of the projects presented at—or supported by—One Young World are, them­selves, innovative tech solutions to social and environmental issues”.

The underlying current of One Young World, Kinooka said, is responsible business. “Since its inception, core themes have always included topics such as the climate crisis, gender equality and human rights. In fact, they launched an initia­tive last year called Lead 2030, which pro­vides funding for innovative youth-led solutions aimed at achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals”.

Strong partners

One of the strengths of One Young World is the wide reach of its partnerships. More than 180 global firms, non-governmental organisations and educational institutions take part in the annual summit, and more than 500 partner with or support One Young World in some way. Because it reaches across almost every sector of business, the ideas that are nurtured and the talent that is developed have meaningful impact on the course of global industry.

With its focus on young talent, the programme is a way for firms to show their understanding of big issues, desire to improve the world and devotion to progressive thinking in the search for solutions.

Seeing this as an integral part of their global talent development, retention and attraction, many firms have increased their level of invol­vement each year as a way of demonstrating their ever-growing commitment to young people. Firms sending delegates from at least one of their business units around the world include Astellas Pharma Inc., Audi AG, BMW AG, BNP Paribas SA, Chanel SA, Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, Inc., General Electric Company, Google LLC, Japan Tobacco Inc., Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal SA, McKinsey & Company, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc., Verizon and Unilever.

The mentorship that these delegates receive is one of the attractions. One Young World is actively supported by a distinguished line-up of counsellors. Over the past decade, these have included the late Kofi Annan (1938–2018), former Irish President Mary Robinson, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Irish singer-songwriter Sir Bob Geldof, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, English actress Emma Watson, former Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. One Young World counsellors work alongside dele­­gates at the global summits, sharing their collective experience in creating positive social change.

BCCJ delegates

This year, there are 60 individuals attending from Japan, 49 of whom are going through the One Young World Japan Committee. They represent large corporations, universities and several small and medium-size enterprises. Many applied directly through their firms while others applied for scholarships, this year provided by Amuse, Inc. and Japan Tobacco, on their own initiative.

BCCJ member firm PwC sent a team of nine delegates to last year’s summit in The Hague, and is once again sending nine to this year’s gathering in London. These delegates are also participating in Global Perspectives’ eight-month Global Leader Accelerator (GLA) programme, which incorporates the One Young World summit and a live SDG project. They have had two leader­ship develop­ment work­shops so far, together with other GLA participants from non-BCCJ member firms, and the projects are well underway.

“They are passionate about making a posi­tive impact with their work, and are already demonstrating strong leadership potential in their respective organisations,” Kinooka told ACUMEN. They all seem excited to represent Japan at the summit, and keen to meet and share ideas with other young leaders from around the world!”

Two other BCCJ member firms—Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and KPMG—are also sending delegates, but through their global headquarters rather than One Young World Japan.

Following a competitive selection process, the One Young World Japan delegates came together on 17 September at JT Art Hall Affinis for a send-off as they set their sights on London.

“It was a blast! A great speech from [BCCJ Executive Director] Lori Henderson, the 2018 highlights video and highly motivating speeches from previous delegates—now ambassadors—on how their experience has shaped their work and lives, created a real buzz,” Kinooka said. “The delegates were full of questions and had the opportunity to mingle and speak to senior corporate sponsors as well as the ambassadors and other 2019 delegates. Sustainably sourced local catering by Farm Canning added a special touch, and was very much in keeping with One Young World values”.

During the Summit, on 22–25 October, more than 1,500 delegates from around the world will debate, formulate and share innovative solu­tions to help achieve the UN SDGs.