Johannesburg is proud to be the host of the fourth One Young World Summit. With less than a week to go before the kickoff of the Summit, we are confident that the event will be World Class in line with all other global events and summits that the City is known to organise.
Today we have the pleasure to present 20 young leaders who will represent the City of Johannesburg at the Summit. The projects these young leaders are involved in range from health, education, HIV/AIDS, farming, environmental issues etc
These young leaders have been selected from among an estimated 500 following a rigorous adjudication process. This process took into account, among other things, their leadership potential and skills, their concerns about current global issues, their ability to articulate views and their participation in community-based and volunteer projects.
The Joburg delegates will join some 1 200 other youth leaders between the ages of 18 and 30. They will be representing more than 170 countries at the One Young World Summit that will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre from 2 to 5 October.
The City is delighted to host a dynamic charity organisation that has, in four years’ of existence, already made a global impact to prepare young people for future leadership and create global awareness about the most important issues confronting the world.
Johannesburg is an exceptionally youthful city. Therefore, its union with One Young World sees – A Youthful City coming together with Young Leaders.
Exactly half of our population is under the age of 34 and some 42% is younger than 24. This has the potential to create a very dynamic and vibrant society with a strong emphasis on innovation, enterprise and creativity.
We already experience some of this energy in the many forms of cultural expression in the city. This is demonstrated in the creative boom that we are seeing in many areas such music, dance, the theatre, fashion, design, writing and the fine arts.
We have just finished the annual Joy of Jazz festival. The music event fused together the mastery of experience global music icons with the exciting talents that are emerging on the local scene.
We also see this trend towards the youth in a new generation of leadership coming to the fore in government and public service, business, commerce, churches and civil society.
The City, as a dynamic organism, is also undergoing rapid transformation to keep pace with this youthful society. Our infrastructure needs to reflect the requirements of the future: hence our investment in a new, high-speed broadband network. This will result in faster and more reliable access to electronic communication and bring down the cost of doing business in Johannesburg.
However, the current “youth bulge” in society also brings with it a series of challenges from which Johannesburg – as a microcosm of South African society – cannot escape.
Thus, education, skills development, job creation and creative programmes to deal with the impact of youth unemployment, feature prominently on the city’s agenda. It also compels the city to plan well in advance and to shape the future Johannesburg that the next generation will inherit. We have to prepare for an accelerated demand for basic services, clean water, reliable electricity, quality sanitation and waste removal.
And we have to balance this in a sustainable manner that takes cognisance of the scarcity of our water resources, the fact that we are running out of landfill space for waste processing and the compelling necessity to switch towards a low-carbon economy.
We have to make long-term plans for transport and housing; eradicate the divisions created by decades of apartheid spatial planning; build an inclusive society that embraces migrant communities and celebrate our diversity; attract investment and stimulate economic growth that will create job opportunities and combat endemic poverty.
Our Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) 2040, provides a comprehensive blueprint for the future. But we are also strengthening this vision through imaginative shorter term programmes and initiatives.
An example of this is our recent launch of the Corridors of Freedom programme.
Through this, we intend to guide and manage future spatial development along public transport arteries. This will not only bring people closer to economic opportunities, but also result in community and settlement patterns, that better reflect the diversity of Johannesburg’s society.
We firmly believe in planning with people – not for them. The youth of our city is a critical constituency, and we are constantly refining our efforts to engage them in planning processes. We are thus looking forward with great expectations to the Young World Summit, the quality of their deliberations and the content of their resolutions and recommendations.
If you look at the exciting programme and the quality of speakers, as well as the Young World counsellors, it is quite clear that this will be another remarkable event in Johannesburg. His further emphasise that Johannesburg is now firmly established as Africa’s premier destination for the hosting of international summits, exhibitions and conferences.
I have no doubt that Johannesburg will provide a welcoming environment for the summit. There will also be ample opportunities for delegates to brainstorm, network and to offer workable solutions for the wide range of issues that affect the future of our planet. I want to thank the many corporate sponsors, for their generous contributions to make the Summit a reality, and also for contributing to our young delegates and city ambassadors.
My congratulations go to the 20 young leaders who will represent Johannesburg at the One Young World Summit. I want to express the trust that you form part of a constructive process which will be a tremendous force for good in our society.