“Give youth the power to drive sustainable change and we will do it”: Ben attends the One Young World Summit in Colombia

20th October 2017

“The One Young World conference is a gathering of world leaders. Truly inspiring world leaders. Corporate world leaders, entrepreneurial world leaders, civil society world leaders, all trying to find the common ground that can enable them to make the world we live in a better place. Using the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals as a basis, these powerhouses of the world are trying to make a measurable change for the benefit of today’s society.

I attended this year’s conference in Bogotá, Colombia. The main theme was peace and reconciliation, focusing on the role that young people can play in propagating peace.


We heard many inspirational stories about peace and reconciliation throughout the conference. But one which stood out for me was a story from Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, who spoke about his experience during the Rwandan genocide in which 1 million people lost their lives in 100 days. His story was one of survival. From the refugee camps he lived in after the genocide, he went on a journey of peace which led him to forgive his father’s killers. Hyppolite is a shining example for others in war torn countries across the world that peace and reconciliation is possible, no matter what happens.

Social entrepreneurship was another major theme of the One Young World conference. Right now, eight people hold the same amount of capital wealth as the bottom half of the world. This is a shocking statistic that shows the need for a fundamental change in the way that we conduct ourselves on this planet. It is my firm belief that social entrepreneurs, charities and large businesses can tackle this and have to work together to achieve the Global Goals.

Kofi Annan speaks at the One Young World Summit (Photo: Martyn Hicks/One Young World)

Social entrepreneurs need the support systems that exist in large business to leverage outcomes. They need the grass-roots operational expertise that charities, such as Raleigh, can provide. They need someone to stand up and say that they believe in them. It was inspiring for me to feel connected at the One Young World conference, and to feel that Raleigh can play a role in making this change happen.

The One Young World Summit opened my eyes to the number of people who are actively trying to make a difference in the world. Whether through outlawing Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia, or forgiving murderers for the purposes of peace, or starting a refugee charity after living through a genocide in Kurdistan, there are always people trying to combat the bad with good.

So, what did I learn in Bogota, Colombia? I learnt that the we young people are not the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of today. Raleigh has the right idea: empower youth to make the change today. Give youth the power to drive sustainable change and we will do it. I used to feel weird about the ‘Youth’ in Youth Trustee, but now I realise that it shows Raleigh is a leader in this world. Empowering Youth. Making a change.”

Our alumni constantly inspire us. Have you got an alumni story that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Get in touch with us at alumni@raleighinternational.org