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One Young World: Youth leadership comes of age


With leadership remaining firmly on top on the agenda for many businesses, Dan Martin reports from the first global leadership conference for under-25s, One Young World.

Their parents have had a go in Davos and Copenhagen; now it's time for the youngsters to try and change the world. After the harnessing of social media to gather nominations and funding, more than 700 delegates from 100 countries descended on the UK capital last week for One Young World and not one of them was born before 1985.

While on first glance the fresh faced audience taking part in the event may appear inexperienced, the subjects on the agenda are far from childlike with issues including global poverty, climate change and political corruption under the microscope.

Organised by communications firm Euro RSGG Worldwide, the event has secured the backing of high profile figures including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus and musician and campaigner Sir Bob Geldof. They are all are acting as 'counsellors' to the young attendees. 

The organisers claim the conference will mark a change in the public perception of 20 somethings. "Once mocked for their self-focus [they] have revealed themselves as the Real-Time Generation, engaged in the world, armed with the power of social media and narrowcast communications, and defiantly marching toward change," a spokesperson said.

To mark the development, Euro RSGG Worldwide PR's Marian Salzman isolated 10 trends that mark the Real-Time Generation and provide an understanding on the effect they are having on politics, the environment and business:

  • The Real-Time Generation has real-time expectations. If information or communication is not happening in real time, it’s not considered relevant or even interesting.
  • Life is lived locally by the Real-Time Generation. In a strange twist, the universality of social media lets 20-somethings locally configure their social networks and online information.
  • Radical transparency is an assumed part of their lives. Reality TV and the openness of the internet means that for the Real-Time Generation, if it exists or occurred, it can be found online.
  • The world is free, or at least cheap. The Real-Time Generation came up in the age of inexpensive manufacturing and free Web service. To them, rock-bottom prices are simply expected.
  • Luxury is the norm. The steep rise in standards of living and the proliferation of what once were considered luxury goods got the Real-Times used to the good life.
  • Entertainment is a must. Whether it’s to learn a new language, make a phone call or even pump gas into their car, entertainment is an ever-present reality that Real-Times won’t go withou
  • Global concern underpins their lives. Even as they insist on entertainment, they’re ardent about the environment, economic justice, world health and poverty.
  • Pro-business, but anti-multinational, the Real-Time Generation sees global business as a potential for positive change but is well aware of its tendency toward excess and abuse.
  • Media bias is understood as a constant, and, thus, regulation is required, according to Real-Times, to ensure that the media maintains its independence from government and business.
  • Naturally focused on "me," but aspiring to "we," the Real-Time Generation learned from boomer parents about the primacy of individuality but still believes that no individual is truly happy while others suffer.

Sir Bob Geldof addressing One Young World:

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