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Olivia MacDonald on the One Young World Summit

By Olivia MacDonald, CAI, Ireland. This September, I had the privilege of representing Chartered Accountants Worldwide and Chartered Accountants Ireland at the One Young World Summit in Canada. One Young World is a UK-based charity that gathers together young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. Incredible speakers attend this three day conference, including the likes of Bob Geldof, Emma Watson and Kofi Annan. However, while these may the big names, the most inspirational were the other attendees.

Olivia MacDonald, CAI

The most awe-inspiring session was held by the UNHCR. The UN Refugee Agency taught me a new message: it could happen to anyone. We were introduced to Hani, a Syrian refugee who told us about his life before becoming a refugee. He had a Macbook, loved photography and used to walk by refugees in his own country and feel sympathy towards them. When he left Syria, he left everything but his physics diploma behind as this was his pass to a better life. Now, Hani is a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council and is passionate about creating a better life for as many refugees as possible.

My favourite speaker was Professor Muhammad Yunus. Professor Yunus founded micro financing which has helped millions of people work their way out of poverty through social enterprise. As a Chartered Accountant, this was a business model which I found particularly interesting. There is now some form of micro-financing in all countries thanks to Professor Yunus’ original loan of just $27.

Chartered Accountants were also very well represented with Ronan Dunne, a fellow CAI member, taking the main stage and Chartered Accountants Worldwide holding a session on the UN Sustainable Development Goals with Alan Horn and Martin Martinoff.

On returning home, I had a new appreciation for the privilege I come from and the opportunities which this affords me. Coming from a peaceful, prosperous country, we do not know the hardships which are faced by millions in the world. It is our responsibility as members of the global community to demand justice for all. Next year the conference will be held in Bogota, Columbia. This is an experience that I cannot recommend highly enough.