Spotlights lit up the bright colours of the national flags of 107 countries and sparkling snow dusted over seven hundred delegates to the Inaugural Summit of One Young World.
They arrived by boat at London's Tower Bridge and marched in procession to Old Billingsgate where they cheered the arrival of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof and Professor Muhammad Yunus accompanied by One Young World Founders David Jones, CEO of Havas Worldwide and Kate Robertson Euro RSCG UK Chairman. Once they'd entered the historic market building the delegates were greeted by the One Young World London Choir.
Two hundred children aged 6 to 11 years from London's East End sang a medley of songs from around the world. This kicked off the Opening Ceremony of the three day Summit.
David Jones introduced Boris Johnson as Mayor of the Host City who gave a terrific welcome to London and a brilliant synopsis of London's claim to be the best world city and then Jones introduced all the Counsellors, led by the Nobel Laurates and joined By Professor Nick Haysom, Director of Politics at the UN; Alejandro Toledo, former-President of Peru; Richard Sambrook, Director of the BBC World Service and Global News; Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council; Tony Fernandes, Founder of Air Asia; Ken Costa, Chairman of Lazard International; Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers; Elio Leoni Sceti, Chief Executive of EMI Music; Rachel Haltom-Irwin, Iowa Youth Vote director of the Obama campaign; Oscar Morales, Founder of 'One Million Voices against the FARC'; Carole Stone, Managing Director of YouGovStone; Professor Anne Johnson, Head of the Division of Population Health at University College London; Clarence Seedorf, only footballer to win the champions league with three different clubs and committed philanthropist; Dr Osvald Bjelland, Founder and Chairman of Xyntéo; Zoya Phan, Co-Founder of the Phan Foundation; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, eminent journalist, broadcaster and author; Dr. Santanu Das, Founder of TranSwitch Corporation; Don Tapscott, Chairman of nGenera Insight and author; Jennifer Corriero, Director of TakingITGlobal; Dr. Graeme Sweeney, Chairman of Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP) and Executive Vice-President, CO2, Royal Dutch Shell; Benita Matofska, Creative Director for Electric Sky Productions; and Caspar Melville, editor of the New Humanist magazine.
He was followed by Jones' co-Founder Kate Robertson who explained the legacy of Archbishop Tutu in establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission conflict resolution model and recalled a personal memory of Tutu's saving the life of a man during riots in the apartheid era. The archive BBC footage of the same incident stunned everyone and Tutu's speech, lauding the delegates' achievements to date and urging them to take on the media when criticised and to make themselves heard, raised the roof.
This was followed by a briliant and challenging talk from Geldof who expounded the challenge of leadership and urged the young leaders to start their fight for Climate Justice with urgency and dedication in the full knowledge that there is hard work ahead for them. The reading by the Founders, Counsellors and delegates of the Declaration of the Opening Ceremony ended formal proceedings and was followed by a beautiful performance from Corinne Bailey Rae.
"The Opening Ceremony was everything we'd dreamed it would be but we knew that the bigger task was ensuring the success of the Plenary Sessions over the follwing two days at the ExCel." says Jones "A huge amount of work has been done to get the views of 15,000 young people all over the world on the topics, themselves drawn from polling, and these in turn formed the basis of the Draft Resolutions.
We didn't want to have a stereotypical conference like any other - where high profile speakers address an audience and go home. The role of the Counsellors was simply to introduce each delegate speaker and their background; and then the Counsellors went onto the floor of the Summit to introduce each delegate who wanted to speak in open session.
"The sight of these amazing world leaders: Annan, Tutu, Geldof, Yunus lending their stature and their dignity to the delegates was wonderful. We never banked on the delegates being great speakers or even being truly engaged - there was no guarantee as to how they'd feel or act and so much of the content was down to them once we got into session at the ExCel. But David and I were completely blown away."Kate Robertson adds and says she and Jones felt a deep sense of pride and commitment to the delegates.
"The whole thing was our idea - to give them a real global platform. But we reckoned without how we'd feel about them - proud, responsible and from here on dedicated to giving them a voice."
With at least three cities bidding to host One Young World 2011 it looks as though One Young World is off to a successful start and may just become the 'Davos for Young People' that the Founders intended.
Click on the link below to watch the 'One Young World' Video
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