This year, the annual One Young World Summit was held in Belfast from 2-5 October. A team of Ambassadors attended from Mishcon de Reya, each with particular interests and expertise which contribute to the firm's commitment to being at the forefront of driving positive change in society through its legal work and charitable initiatives.
The Summit brought together an awe-inspiring group of speakers from around the world, with Ambassadors and Delegates from over 190 countries, and served as a beacon of hope for the next generation. The Summit's seat in Belfast this year was chosen to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, and architects of the Agreement such as Bertie Ahern and Monica McWilliams spoke at the Summit of the importance of compromise despite deep differences in understanding and expressed hope for the future that the process can continue to serve as a roadmap out of conflict for other nations.
The One Young World Summit's Mishcon de Reya attendees highlight their favourite moments:
I found the discussion with Gillian Trigg, the United Nation's Assistant Secretary- General, particularly timely. Ms Trigg explained that it is the "global environment of populist rhetoric" that is damaging to refugees. She emphasised that, from the UN's perspective, the system is working across the world a lot of the time. By questioning whether the convention is fit for purpose, as the Home Secretary did recently on a trip to New York, Ms Braverman gave politicians in other countries an opportunity to follow suit and start to renege on their international obligations.
I was invited to attend a mentoring session with Professor Thuli Madonsela as a result of my work founding the Greener Litigation Pledge with colleagues at Mishcon de Reya and other law firms. Professor Madonsela is Chair of Social Justice at Stellenbosch University and was one of the drafters of the South African constitution. It was incredible to hear more about her career journey encompassing legal advocacy and policy-drafting, and to hear her thoughts on what social justice means to her and how we can all play our part in effecting change.
The highlight of my week was the Decolonising Global Philanthropy talk, moderated by Lord Michael Hastings, which explored some of the issues around current models of philanthropy, what the role of philanthropic capital should be, and how we might get there. The panel highlighted the challenges inherent in the power to allocate philanthropic capital being reserved to large, long-standing philanthropic institutions mostly based in the global north, and the need to empower communities directly and create new institutions.
I attended a fascinating workshop on intrapreneurship, and how this can be fostered and managed within larger corporates to help drive and sustain positive change through internal initiatives. A number of delegates were really interested by the approach that Mishcon has taken to helping incubate business ideas that have then been "spun out" as satellites to the central law firm.
I also attended an engaging workshop on entrepreneurship, considering the challenges that are faced by young business leaders looking to develop sustainable enterprises (i.e. the need for funding; overcoming the mentality that sustainable businesses should be charitable / not-for-profit and accepting that a for profit business can be sustainable and impactful), and how these can be overcome (i.e. detailed market research into appropriate VC funds before accepting monies from the wrong investor base; research and education into the sustainable for profit model). Throughout this workshop, there was also a great undercurrent of the need to push for greater funding of (and access to funding for) female founders / female led businesses.
For each of the attendees, the daily awards ceremony for young One Young World entrepreneurs of the year was also a highlight. The young entrepreneurs spoke passionately about the work that they are undertaking in their communities and around the world. The overriding message from this year's Summit was that improving access to education is a cornerstone for bringing about systemic improvements.