One Young World Summit, Montreal 2024: What To Know Before You Go

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It’s no secret that the true magic of One Young World’s mission lies in its summits. Everyone from the Duchess of Sussex — the former Meghan Markle — and former President Bill Clinton to former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan have been featured speakers at the event.

Meghan has supported a number of One Young World Summits and declared it “the best think tank imaginable.”

The global hub for young leaders is preparing for its 2024 summit from September 18-21 in Montreal. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Canada’s cultural mosaic, this gathering is gearing up to be a melting pot of innovation, leadership, and collaborative problem-solving. Here’s everything you need to know before you pack your bags for this transformative occasion.

The One Young World Summit annually amasses the most brilliant young leaders from over 190 countries and more than 250 organizations, with the aim of hastening social impact.

Other than the Olympics or the World Cup, Ella Robertson McKay, One Young World managing director, says, “We are the only event that’s really welcomed by a city in that way. And the pageantry and the visual elements of the event are incredibly important, but also we are then able to work with the brightest and the best young people in those cities to leave a lasting, living impact.”

One Young World co-founder Kate Robertson adds that seeing such a solid turnout for these summits and what it means to young leaders means everything to her.

“It’s much more than I ever expected it to be,” Kate Robertson shares. “The value and excitement of thousands of young people being there with some incredibly famous world leaders, but also what we derive from seeing the whole world physically in one place is really … It’s a magic thing, which I always knew was a possibility, but it’s fulfilling to me to actually see the dream come to life.”

The Opening Ceremony officially kicks everything off, greeting delegates with warm welcomes from the host city and the esteemed One Young World counselors. It’s set to unfold at the legendary Bell Centre in 2024, the world’s second-largest ice hockey arena and the proud home of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens.

The summit will then unfold at the Montreal Convention Centre, a building that operates with a carbon-neutral status and embraces a range of measures to diminish its environmental impact.

This year’s summit guest speakers will include activist Kerry Kennedy, business leader and climate and equality champion Paul Polman, Lord Michael Hastings, Olympian Mark Tewksbury, United Way Worldwide CEO and President Angela F. Williams, and James Chau, president, China-United States Exchange Foundation; with more VIP names to be announced in the weeks to come.

How To Attend the One Young World Summit

One Young World offers a range of scholarships for motivated young leaders who are able to show demonstrable impact in their work.

“At the moment, about a third of our attendees attend on fully funded scholarships, so they don’t pay for their flights, their visa, anything,” Ella Robertson McKay says. “They’re fully funded to attend the event. And, last year, we announced the ambition of getting to 50% of people attending on scholarships by 2030.

“We’ve launched some amazing new scholarships this year around really exciting themes with new partners. Through our commitment to accessibility regardless of people’s socioeconomic circumstances, we are able to stage an event with unparalleled diversity.”

Kate Robertson further adds that the first 14 scholarship programs for 2024 Montreal were available from November through to March.

“And just these opportunities alone attracted 48,000 applicants, compared to 40,000 for all of the scholarships we were able to offer last year” Kate Robertson says. “It’s a huge thing for us to receive this amount of interest from incredible young leaders around the world who are determined to join our network.

A Look Back at One Young World’s Previous Star-Studded Summits

Past summits have seen a diverse array of influential figures, from political leaders and Nobel laureates to cultural icons and activists. Notables such as Annan, Meghan, and Queen Rania of Jordan have graced the One Young World stage, offering their perspectives on leadership, humanitarian efforts, and global cooperation. Their participation not only elevates the profile of the summits and its young attendees, but also provides young leaders with unparalleled access to world-renowned mentors and role models.

And the summit is an epicenter for diversity and inclusion, evident in its selection of speakers and delegates, representing a broad spectrum of cultures, backgrounds, and fields of work. This diversity enriches the summit experience, facilitating a comprehensive dialogue on global issues that transcends borders and barriers.

The organization’s ability to draw such prominent figures underscores its significance as a forum for global youth leadership. It reflects the recognition of the potential that young leaders hold in driving positive change and addressing the complex challenges facing the world today.

At the 2023 One Young World Summit in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2,022 delegates participated in person with 196 young leaders speaking on stage.

“The summit was a reminder that we can change the world. Even though we live in a world with escalating power struggles, we are able to work for peace, and we can all respect each other. I am full of fire and ambition and I remain hopeful for the future and what we can achieve together,” a One Young World 2023 delegate stated in last year’s summit report.

Although One Young World’s Summit is just once a year, the planning and event execution leading up to it never stops.

“What we’re really focusing on at the moment is our year-round offering,” Ella Robertson McKay reveals. “So before the summit, we are going to be launching our global leadership program next month. We’ve developed a charter for global leadership with young people from all around the world.”

Through that charter, Robertson McKay explains global leadership concepts are involved.

“When you ask many people to think of a leader, what they draw you on a piece of paper is a 6-foot-2-inch white man at a podium in a suit,” she describes. “And actually, that’s not really what leadership is in most cases. So the charter draws on concepts like Ubuntu, which is an African expression of a human is a human by other people and because of other people, or the seventh generation principle in North American Indigenous cultures, encouraging multigenerational thinking; or ihsan, which is the Islamic expression of excellence and beauty in work.”

While the summit is clearly a highlight of the year, Ella Robertson McKay wants to ensure the world knows One Young World’s mission is constant.

“We know that One Young World is not just four days, but that programmatically, we are offering things to young leaders all year round,” she shares.

Kate Robertson adds, “Literally is as Ella says, it’s 365 days a year. And we always say the summit is just four days and then our work is the other 361.”

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