"Rework the Rework the world conference!"

30th June 2010 by

This would be the resounding call of any Oteshite who might have been at the 5th Global Yes Summit in Leksand, Sweden.  As an Otesha alumni I was part of the Young Foundation delegation, alongside other young leaders and volunteers from UK projects. Together we spent 4 days basking in glorious Swedish sunshine learning about social entrepreneurship and lots of new ideas that might one day ‘rework’ the world.

But glaringly obvious to the trained Otesha eye was the ridiculous carbon footprint generated by the conference itself. It was difficult to believe the conference could generate change when surrounded by hoards of ‘change-makers’ fresh off short haul flights, drinking non-fairtrade tea from disposable cups and guzzling meaty non-organic food. Argh!!

But all was not so frustrating and over the course of my epic trek to Sweden (about 30 hours of coaches and trains with plus a stopover with a lovely household of environmental science students in Lund) it was individual people and stories that inspired. Over dinner, lunch, in conference workshops, and even on the road I would meet people from all over the planet and chat about their projects that were already making real changes in their communities. This in stark contrast to the woolly words of some of the big cheese speakers on the main stage.

In a conference about youth leadership, the young people from the UK felt their voices were not being heard by the people that mattered. But rather than suppress us into doom and gloom this triggered a sooper-self-empowering-protest! We made ourselves a big green banner with the words ‘Can You Hear Us?’ and stood silently on the main stage. We invited delegates to meet us outside and talk to us about how to make future conferences more youth led.

So in a conference about the environment that was not environmental and that was about youth leadership but led by the grey-hair brigade, the result was actually to empower the young people from the UK. All in all I think this makes the Swedish extravaganza a valuble people-changing, confidence boosting, leadership inspiring initiative for all involved.

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