Delegate Insights from the One Young World Summit 2021

This summer three of Chartered Accountants Worldwide’s brightest talents attended the 2021 One Young World Summit in Munich, Germany. They joined 1,800 young leaders from 190+ countries who came together focused on opportunities for the financial sector to contribute to global and social development around the world. So how was the experience and what did they learn?

Aisling McCaffrey, Chartered Accountants Ireland, Yvonne Chapuswike, Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants and Caroline McGroary, Chartered Accountants Ireland had the opportunity to attend the summit, which had a star studded lineup of speakers including politicians, business leaders, entertainers turned activists, environmental campaigners and the healthcare sector including:

  • Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland & Chair of The Elders
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & founder, Grameen Bank
  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organization
  • Dame Vivian Hunt, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Angela Hwang, Group President, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group
  • Sir Lewis Hamilton, Formula One Champion
  • Halima Aden, fashion model and refugee

Aisling, Yvonne and Caroline have diverse careers as an associate director, business analyst and assistant professor respectively, in Ireland and in Zambia. So they were interested in the wide variety of topics from climate change to education to the post-Covid recovery.

What were their top 3 learnings and insights from attending One Young World 2021?

Aisling McCaffrey, Chartered Accountants Ireland

  • The Covid-19 green recovery. The pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to rebuild our economies and societies for the better. We must take advantage of this across all sectors with a particular focus on a “Green” recovery.
  • Responsible leadership attributes are crucial for facilitating change. We heard from top level executives such as Bernard Looney (CEO, BP), Ronan Dunne (CEO, Verizon) and Paul Pulman (ex-CEO Unilever) who emphasised the necessity to empower and engage the right leaders to work towards more purpose-driven capitalism.
  • Finally, everyone deserves a seat at the table – whether it is access to culturally effective medical care, education or basic human rights. Each and every one of us needs to check our privilege and take action for the benefit of others. We cannot thrive as a community whilst others are just surviving.

“We were humbled and very proud to be selected to represent the Chartered Accountancy profession at this year’s One Young World summit. It was ice to be recognised and offered such an amazing opportunity. We are grateful to Chartered Accountants Ireland, the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants and Chartered Accountants Worldwide”.
Aisling McCaffrey, Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Yvonne Chapuswike, Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants

  • I have learned to take interest in the issues that countries around the world are facing such as genocide, slavery, anti-Asian hate crimes etc. We are all in this together, especially as we have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. By learning about the root causes of issues, we can assist in ensuring that our countries do not go down that road. The world is only safe when we are all safe, so bringing awareness of these issues, can go a long way to help other countries going through difficulties.
  • Watching and listening to innovative ways young people are working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) through the Lead2030 challenge, formed by OYW and powered by world leading businesses, was so amazing and inspiring. It challenged me to think of innovative ways to achieve the SDGs in my country, Zambia.
  • Sometimes as young people we tend to turn a blind eye to wrong decisions that our leaders make, we criticise their actions in private, we view politics as a dirty game. The summit made me realise we need to call out all the wrong decisions because what we do not address or prevent now, will become even bigger issues we will need to correct in future. As Paul Polman put it, ‘the cost of inaction is significantly higher than the cost of action’.

“Future economies and  how  economic growth can be more just” really stood out for me at this summit. Professor Yunus reminded us ‘as young people there are always lessons to be learned every day. We have the responsibility and capability to undo the wrongs and get to the world of zero net carbon emission, zero wealth concentration to end poverty and zero unemployment, thereby unleashing entrepreneurship in all of us’.
Yvonne Chapuswike, Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants

Caroline McGroary, Chartered Accountants Ireland

  • An overarching theme of the summit was the urgency of the climate crisis. The gravity of its impact on human life was brought to light by the personal stories of the delegate speakers whose communities have been devastated by climate change. This was further emphasised by global leaders, including, Bob Geldof and Mary Robinson, who described climate change as a ‘matter of life or death’ and stressed that ‘now is the time for action’. These discussions drove home the message that we all have a collective role to play in addressing this issue.
  • Universal access to quality education is the key to addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues. There was much discussion about the role that education plays in the development of communities, addressing inequalities and tackling global issues. Many speakers highlighted how the fourth industrial revolution, while leading to advances in educational opportunities for many, has furthered the educational divide in some communities, with women considered most at risk. It was therefore highlighted that in order to ensure that education serves the needs of future generations, it must be accessible, affordable, holistic, and forward-thinking.
  • Health and wellbeing must take priority. An important theme discussed alongside the COVID-19 pandemic was the mental health crisis affecting many groups in society. One contributory factor discussed was the burnout culture that is prevalent in many organisations, and how this has the potential to destabilise people of all ages. In general, mental health has been an issue that has attracted greater publicity recently, not only due to the pandemic, but also due to sports stars like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles speaking publicly about their struggles. It was encouraging to hear speakers at the summit highlighting this issue and the actions that are necessary, across sectors, to promote mental health and well-being.
Dr. Caroline McGroary

“At the summit, it was very encouraging to hear from other Chartered Accountants, including Ronan Dunne (CEO, Verizon), who has paved the path to becoming a global leader, crediting much of this success to his background as a Chartered Accountant. We can only hope to follow in these footsteps and it is great to have role models like this in our profession”.
Caroline McGroary, Chartered Accountants Ireland