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on a positive impact

Democracy is not voting once every four years, it is participating in discourse in-between.

ByTiffany Chin

The One Young World (OYW) Summit in London 22-25 October exceeded my expectations. It was bigger. It was better. It was completely, utterly and irrevocably inspiring.

It was a privilege, together with 77 other Johnson & Johnson (J&J) delegates, to be present in the room to witness the unity in diversity of the 2,000+ strong crowd. They represented young leaders from over 190 countries, from every corner of the world, from every country and sector, all there for a common purpose – to improve our world.

Representing J&J Australia & New Zealand at the OYW Summit, it was immediately obvious that this was not a pat on the back for a job well done, it was recognition for what was expected in the time to come.

During the plenary sessions, the multitude of stories of those who have faced hardship and difficult pasts now using their voices to create positive change were fraught with emotion, undoubtedly overwhelming, with the call-to-action glaringly obvious. Above all, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said, “Climate change is the most impactful human rights issue we are facing.”

Just this week, more than 11,000 scientists from over 150 countries declared that we are in a climate emergency. This comes not too long after hearty cheers echoed in unison through Central Hall Westminster in response to Professor Muhammad Yunus acknowledging the same. We are indeed in a state of climate emergency, but it is difficult to see the effects whilst sheltered in privileged cities. Inaction is easy. Unfortunately, it is the countries who contributed least to global warming who will be impacted the most.

“Dream about the world you want to see in 50 years and work towards it.” – Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate

However, if we don’t act now, there will not be a world in 50 years to see. Kumi elaborated, “The planet will be fine – it is humanity that is facing extinction.” Nature and science don’t negotiate, it seems.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, stated that we no longer have time for inaction and inertia from our current leaders. We must lead, now, and ramp up the pressure. Do not be daunted by the scale of the task.

“With each promotion, you have more power. But what are you using that power for? A high level of power with low levels of responsibility is a dangerous combination. How can you be elite and looked up to without taking responsibility?”, says Feike Sijbesma, CEO of DSM.

Survival of the fittest means it is not the biggest or strongest that will survive, but it is ultimately the most agile, the most adaptable and most resilient.

How can organizations adapt now in order to survive?

Trends are turning towards responsible capitalism. Coca-Cola is finding a way to intersect the war on waste and radically reduce carbon footprint, by eliminating single use plastics; BMW will be manufacturing floor mats made from regenerated nylon waste for each of the 2 million cars they produce annually; and BP has offset carbon emissions from all 2,000+ delegates’ flights to the OYW Summit.

What can we do as an individual in amongst all this?

First and foremost, I will be considering much more closely the impact of my actions on the environment, particularly around single use plastics and waste in general. In addition, whilst J&J is already building young leadership capacity for social impact and #ResiliencyForChange through its Talent for Good program, I will be looking into further ways #MyCompany can improve upon its commitment to the SDGs. Whilst organizations must play a part by adapting and ensuring positive environmental impact, it is up to its employees at all levels to contribute to this cause. The most exciting this you can do is to push the boundaries and not just be another cog in the wheel. Only you can give up your curiosity about the world, about its problems and possible solutions.

I leave you with a few inspiring sentiments:

  • If you see a problem, create a business to solve it, no matter how small. There is no law that requires you to take profit from it. – Prof Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
  • Our values must shape the future. Few have had the privilege to have their voices heard… we just need more action. – Sir Bob Geldof, Musician and Activist

How will you help shape the future? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Let us take action, together.