While the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honored people contributing to peace on today’s Earth, a group of young people joined in with their vision for peace in the future world. Twenty-five students and social entrepreneurs chosen for the Telenor Youth Summit imagined innovative ways to bring safety, health, community and lifelong learning to diverse geographies. Bringing perspectives from 13 different countries, they came up with practical solutions to overwhelming challenges, including female empowerment, education, health & quality of life, digital responsibility, democracy and equality. They presented their cross-cultural solutions to global leaders of government, business and education at a reception before the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
I had the honor of visually supporting and accompanying these future leaders as they engaged in a World Café and other think tank exercises to develop their vision with specific projects, then presented them at the Nobel Peace Prize event to world leaders who could help bring their ideas to fruition. We were all fortunate to have as facilitator Jan Taug, CMO in Telenor Business Internet services, whose Ph.D. work helped develop the innovative World Cafe methodology. Graphic recording is a key part of World Cafe process. The young people rotated tables and created visual notes to help them capture emergent ideas in a co-creative process, while I created murals and borrowed more than a few of their visual metaphors. Words and images together captured the smart, savvy and heartfelt ideas generated by these citizens of Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Bangladesh, Thailand, India, Denmark, Russia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Hungary, Malaysia and Serbia.
Invited to the Oslo City Hall for the Nobel Prize ceremony, then hosted for luncheon across the street at the Nobel Peace Prize Center (photo) these global voices for the millennial generation were later center stage at a reception concert, where they shared their vision for the future before enjoying performances by Mary J. Blige, James Blunt, Morrissey, Timbuktu, Jake Bugg with Claire Danes and Aaron Eckhart as hosts–all accompanied by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. I was expecting Mozart and Beethoven, but this was a rock concert extraordinaire.
Each venue gave the Youth Summit participants a platform to be heard, to know that their ideas mattered, and to find support for their real-world-future-oriented solutions for humanity and the planet.
Chosen through a competition hosted by Telenor, Norway’s 150-year-old telecommunications company, all of the young leaders had developed organizations or apps designed to empower social and economic change. One, for example, was an app enabling women to instantly call 30 people for help if they were in danger. Another was an incentive system for recycling in a country lagging behind in environmental laws. Check out this video where the participants articulate their philosophies, global concerns and particular worries about their countries. They also demonstrated joy of community, bonding quickly, beginning with a frolick in Oslo’s first snow of the season, some experiencing snow for the first time.
I enjoyed each and every one of them so much, and felt great hope for the future of our planet being in their presence. In the mural below, I captured their vision: “A vision of the Future as a Society that Has a Sense of Global Community” (the sun). The enabler of this vision will be “Education and Mindset Driving Democracy” (the world tree). And the gap between possibilities and reality comes about through seeds planted in government and policies (the globe).
Helping them hone their vision was Ola Jo Tandre, Director of Business Sustainability for Telenor. Meanwhile, head of Telenor’s cultural programme Randi Enebakk-Due and project manager Nina Koren choreographed their experience to maximize innovation, comfort and connection among the group. The hosts seemed deeply attuned to the subtle aspects of community-building, while nudging these young social entrepreneurs to stretch their thinking and their creativity.
It seemed fitting that the first Telenor Youth Summit coincided with a rare Nobel Prize given to an organization rather than an individual. The 2013 Nobel Prize went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international organization behind the phrase we hear so often in the news, “Chemical weapons inspectors went into….” One of the themes of the youths’ discussions was that problems cannot be solved by individuals but only through collaboration between people, families, communities and nations.
In the mural below, I sought to capture the essence of their belief in the potential for technology to create peace-keeping connectivity, including apps for crowdfunding, helping the environment, and providing safety (in the form of support and transparency) for women, supporting healthful lifestyles with apps and information, and enhancing learning with apps for different learning styles and geographies. But, as one of the participants said in the video, “technology is a double edged sword,” threatening credibility of information and individuals’ privacy (the cliff).
From this, a central theme emerged: To enable the transparency and connectivity that can enable learning for all, restore safety for women, support civil governments, empower communities, incubate innovative ideas, promote collaboration and bring health to the daily lives of people, we first need. Digital Responsibility. (Mural below). In order to convince a rural farmer to use mobile technology support healthful habits and to gain practical knowledge toward a better life, that farmer needs to know privacy is protected and information can be trusted. The youths called upon global business, government, and nonprofit organizations to work together to develop protocols and policies that will rebuild trust in the Internet. This was a call to action for their hosts at Telenor, to take a leadership role in a global effort to promote integrity in the digital world.
We will continue to follow their work individually and as a community of future leaders, and I will never forget this amazing time when the seeds for a better future were firmly planted on fertile soil in an atmosphere of peace and joy.
SNAPSHOTS from the Nobel Peace Prize events and the Youth Summit