If you haven’t heard of the One Young World Summit yet, you will in 2016 as the famous, youth-empowering event will make its way to Ottawa, Canada’s beautiful capital city, next fall.
Founded in 2009 – almost seven short years ago – One Young World (OYW) is a UK-based not-for-profit organisation that brings together young talent and forward-thinkers from around the world at an annual Summit. Here, delegates 18 to 30-years-old are assembled over four days to debate, create and share solutions for important issues that are faced throughout the world.
Accompanied by seasoned One Young World Counsellors and special guests, who have included Kofi Annan, Sir Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver and Arianna Huffington in the past, today’s youth discuss and attempt to find solutions to problems in areas such as education, the environment, global business and human rights, among several others. Positive change in the world is catalysed here on a yearly basis.
Lesley Mackay, Director of Convention Sales at Ottawa Tourism and a member of the team who helped bring this high-profile event to Ottawa, said in an interview that the One Young World Summit was created with “future leaders in mind,” to give young people a chance to come together, discuss important world issues and learn from leaders in various fields.
“The whole premise is to bring the world’s brightest talent together, give them a forum, give them access to current world leaders, to motivate them and allow young people to essentially affect positive change globally,” Mackay said.
Isabel Leigh, Strategy and Communications Director at One Young World, said in emailed comments to Ottawa Tourism that being a part of the OYW community is a great way to join a network of young leaders who are driving positive change across the globe. “The Summit is a truly inspiring experience –but it is not just about platitudes and catchphrases,” Leigh said. “Delegates learn how they can innovate their organisations to produce sustainable solutions to the world’s problems.”
She added that as a part of the OYW community, delegates can also continue to have an impact after the yearly Summit. “Between Summits, there is a huge array of opportunities to lend the power of the [OYW] network to a delegate’s initiatives, to promote their work on a global scale and to spread their impact more widely in their community.” Leigh noted that what the organisation hopes delegates take away from the summit experience is the “inspiration and energy” they need to take action when they get home. “For us, the stories of Ambassadors who go on to create innovative and impactful initiatives that make a real difference in people’s lives are incredibly special,” she said. “This is what motivates us to do what we do.”
For Ottawa, Mackay said securing the 2016 Summit was a major accomplishment as it will be the first time the event is held on Canadian soil. Previous Summits have been held in London, Zurich, Pittsburgh, Johannesburg and Dublin. She added the new, downtown Shaw Centre has enabled Ottawa to step out onto the world stage and host such an event, which attracts an average of 1,200 to 1,500 delegates per year. “As we’ve only had a convention centre for four years, we were not able to play in that arena before and host international conferences of significant size,” she said. “Having the new facility in the city has been a game-changer.”
Mackay further noted that the 2016 Summit will bring various Ottawa community leaders together to welcome young guests from around the globe. “Bringing different community leaders together on a project like this will be a first for Ottawa Tourism and also, I would expect a first for our region,” she said, adding there will be different levels in which communities and individuals can get involved.
Mackay said that in the coming year, Ottawa Tourism will be working with members of the public to find hosts for home dinners during the Summit, where delegates will be able to enjoy a home-cooked meal with an Ottawa family. There will also be a day where delegates will go into local businesses and spend the afternoon learning from them, Mackay said. “These types of activities bring the community together and allow them to contribute to the success of a conference.”
In terms of securing the prestigious 2016 event, Leigh said the city’s bid was “exceptionally strong,” being supported by the local community, businesses, “outstanding” conference infrastructure and proximity to national institutions. She added that in 2016, Ottawa will be the focus of the world’s media as attention will be placed on the Summit. “Apart from the Olympic Games, no other youth event brings together as many nationalities under one roof,” Leigh said.
According to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who spoke when the bid was secured, the event is expected to generate more than $2 million in economic activity for Ottawa, which translates to about 5,000 hotel rooms being booked.
For now, Mackay will be heading to Bangkok in November with a Canadian delegation for One Young World 2015. But in terms of One Young World 2016, which will have a distinctly Canadian flair, Mackay said corporations and educational institutions should consider sending their brightest shining stars to Ottawa.
The 2016 Summit will take place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, 2016. To learn more about the Canadian Summit or to get involved, browse Ottawa Tourism’s website and get in touch with us.