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Johannesburg Hosts One Young World Summit


Youth delegates hold their national flags during the opening ceremony for the One Young World summit at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Oct. 2, 2013.

Youth delegates hold their national flags during the opening ceremony for the One Young World summit at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Oct. 2, 2013.

Johannesburg this week is hosting the fourth One Young World Summit - with close to 10,000 kids from around the world and special inspirational speakers like Kofi Annan and Richard Branson. The objective: to debate ideas and initiatives to change the world.

In front of a thousand young people from all around the world, the story of a woman who escaped an abusive husband in her homeland, India, is just one of many that are being shared during three days of meetings in Johannesburg.

Rodrigo Marcondes, a 24-year-old student in computer science from Brazil, came to the summit in order to exchange views and ideas, and to be inspired.

"I feel most people here don't have the same opinion as me, and I feel that together we can share ideas, and the idea here is to make a better world. Just like Kofi Annan said: if you don't agree with something, you have to go for your opinion and raise your voice," he stated.

For others like Tribute Mboweni - who is involved in a project that gives environmental education - besides getting inspiration, the event also gives the chance to exchange tips to help each other.

"There are young people who are doing projects in their countries and have access to some kind of funding. So it's great to sort of brainstorm with them how they access their funding," he said.

David Jones and Kate Robertson, from the French advertising group Havas created the One Young World initiative four years ago. Jones said the initiative aims at having young leaders discuss their respective work and to believe in themselves.

"We think that it can play a role as a catalyst and drive a positive change in the world and empower this brilliant generation to get more done," he explained.

To inspire these young leaders even more, famous speakers from various domains have traveled to Johannesburg such as former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, Virgin Airways founder Richard Branson and microcredit inventor Mohammed Yunus.

Annan praised the young generation and urged them to take action to solve the world's most pressing issues.

"We need you to deliver a better world by thinking globally and acting locally, for the first generation of true global citizens you must raise your sights beyond the short-term," he encouraged participants.

Bengali Mohammed Yunus said the young leaders should be inspired by South Africa.

"What South Africa has done, we can do it for the whole world. We can change it completely. Nobody ever thought that apartheid was going to get over. But you made it happen. You saved human dignity for the whole world," he stated. "And all the impossible that you see today will disappear like that."

The One Young World Summit will end October 5. Next year, the event will be hosted in Dublin, Ireland.
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