UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) President, Mícheál Gallagher, attended the “One Young World” summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this month as part of the Irish delegation to the annual conference of the world’s young leaders.
The annual summit is a platform where issues presently facing societies are debated with the hope of generating solutions. The 2013 summit saw 1,300 delegates im attendance from over 190 countries worldwide.
Events at the gathering included keynote speeches by renowned entrepreneur Richard Branson, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and Sir Bob Geldof, about key issues affecting young people worldwide.
One of the many examples of social businesses that have been founded by youth activists that were on display at the summit includes the Red Light campaign. This endeavour focuses on stopping modern day sex slavery and challenge the perception of human trafficking on an international scale.
Speaking about his time in South Africa, Gallagher told the University Observer about a discussion he had with a delegate from Pittsburgh, USA about initiatives relating to young men being encouraged into leadership roles.
He said that he met “a man called Frank Caldwell from Pittsburgh and he talked about the initiatives they’re doing in developing young men in leadership roles. I got to sit down with him afterwards about how what he’s doing is directly reflected in the My World’s ‘One Good Adult’ Survey [which highlighted] that if young people who are going through a tough time have that one good adult to talk to, their positive mental health experience is far greater.”
The issue of mental health was briefly touched on during plenary sessions on human rights within this year’s summit. Following the announcement that the 2014 summit would be held in Dublin next October, Gallagher used his opportunity to firmly put mental health on the agenda for the 2014 event during his speech to the crowd.
He was delighted with the response, saying that his speech was “very warmly received by the summit” and that he is “looking forward to actioning that statement.”
The main theme for the Dublin showcase in 2014 is “1,000 welcomes, Cead Mile Failte,” while there will also be sessions on issues such as youth unemployment, sustainable development and environmentalism, which were touched on this year in Johannesburg.
Gallagher thinks that the decision to locate the event in Ireland will “help students and social entrepreneurs all around the country who are looking to create good social businesses.”