Hope is not a plan – Takeaways from the 2021 One Young World Summit

This year, for the first time, Mazars sent a delegation of three representatives to the One Young World Summit – the world's largest forum of young leaders – held in Munich from 22 to 25 July. In short, 2000 participants representing 197 nationalities joined the event either physically or online. The packed agenda comprised plenary sessions with world leaders and inspiring CEOs, thought-provoking workshops and rich networking sessions.


Needless to say that the topics covered at #OYW2021 were far-ranging: Climate Crisis, Rights & Freedoms, Future Economies, Inequalities, Education, the 4th Industrial Revolution, Lessons from the Pandemic to Conflict Resolution.

Many renowned speakers partook in the forum, such as:

  • Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland & Chair of The Elders
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate & Founder, Grameen Bank
  • Angela Hwang, Member of Pfizer’s Executive Team & Group President, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group Pfizer
  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarusian Politician

Young change makers, activists, lawyers and entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe also took to the stage to demonstrate how every action counts to overcome hardships, develop new solutions to complex problems and create positive change.

The #OYW2021 Summit may be over, but the transformative four days our delegates spent learning, being inspired and connecting with fellow young leaders were just the beginning of the journey ahead. Here are their takeaways:


1)     Empower leaders with a vision

Responsible leadership attributes must permeate through society. Top executives such as Joe Kaeser, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens or ex-CEO of Unilever Paul Polman pointed to the current leadership vacuum and the necessity to empower the right leaders towards a more purpose driven capitalism.

These sessions highlighted the importance to have a shared goal, to collectively know where we are going, and also to assess the opportunities and risks. Many challenges await: sustainable development, mobility, vaccines, tomorrow's economy, education... Hope is not a plan and leaders must act towards a shared vision for sustainable development to shape the world in which we collectively want to live.


2)     Set bold ambitions

The role model Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who revolutionised the fight against poverty through microcredit, shows that an ambition can go beyond existing shackles. Moreover, as indicated by Angela Hwang, President of the Pfizer Biopharmaceutical Group, taking risks in an unprecedented situation to produce and distribute a vaccine in record time, illustrates the necessity to set bold ambitions and then do everything possible to achieve them.


3)     Cultivate culture

Indeed, if we are to successfully face the challenges coming our way, fostering and nurturing the right culture, day in and day out, will be essential. One that upholds transparency and enables everyone to play their part up to their full potential. Outstanding speakers pointed to some of the directions we could take:

  • Transition to a green economy with every innovation possible
  • Fight for a better digital future and combat misinformation
  • Stop talking about diversity and inclusion, do it
  • Education, education, education


4)     Every action counts

To quote Bernard Looney, CEO of BP, “If it is to be, it is up to me”. Beyond great speeches, and the ambition that we set for ourselves, we truly need everyday actions. Testimonies of young OYW delegates who are implementing solutions in Ukraine, Lesotho, Canada, Colombia and Papua New Guinea show us that we are all part of the solution.

We are proud to call Chloé Dessaint, Mhairi Poole and Jessica Wheaton One Young World Ambassadors and look forward to witnessing and supporting their efforts in the months to come as they contribute to building an even more sustainable Mazars.  

Chloé and Jess OYW

A few final words on the event itself: an important effort was made to offset all emissions relating to the summit as well as using electric cars and encouraging recycling. The Summit also exemplified how to best run a hybrid event, with a particularly impressive digital platform. A best practice moving forward into the ‘phygital’ new normal.