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Friday 23 November, 2018

One Young World 2018: event diary

Our nine One Young World delegates recently returned from the 2018 summit, which was held in The Hague, The Netherlands.

They joined 1,800 other young leaders from more than 190 countries, to hear from some of the world’s leading companies, non-governmental organisations and key influencers on some of the most pressing social and sustainability issues. This year, speakers included:

  • Musician and Entrepreneur, Akon discussing how entrepreneurship can help solve a number of societal issues, and his most recent venture - providing solar power to African countries
  • Former UK Prime Minister, Sir John Major on encouraging young people to pursue a career in politics
  • Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, Amnesty International on Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights

Our delegates joined more than 80 other Coca-Cola employees from across the global system at the Summit. They also took part in a Coca-Cola Welcome Day, which included a hands-on litter collection activity in partnership with Plastic Whale in Amsterdam. This was followed by a tour of our production site in Dongen to learn about the work we are doing to deliver our sustainability commitments.

We caught up with our delegates to hear their highlights and key learnings from the trip and the Summit:

TUESDAY: Coca-Cola Welcome Day

Stephanie Goos (The Netherlands)

Plastic Whale is an organisation with a mission to clean Amsterdam canals from plastic and re-use this waste for producing boats and circular furniture. Lucky with the weather, which is unusual for October in the Netherlands, we eagerly jumped on the boats to start plastic fishing.

We continued our trip to Dongen, CCEP’s production plant, where we were divided into smaller groups. Our tour guides explained all the recent investments made to improve efficiency and sustainability, making Dongen a state-of-the-art plant.

In between the tours, we had the chance to get to know our colleagues, how they operate in their countries and the challenges they face. When you have so many nationalities sharing thoughts and experiences, you start to understand the enormous scale of the global Coca-Cola system.

Lizan Bakker (The Netherlands)

We ended the day at the beautifully illuminated Madurodam, a museum celebrating the Netherlands in miniature. It was nice to show the other delegates around, especially those who were visiting the Netherlands for the first time, and tell them a little bit more about our beautiful country. This was the end of a great Welcome Day, but the beginning of a really interesting and inspiring Summit. 

WEDNESDAY: OYW Opening Ceremony

Axelle Lautredou (France)

The opening ceremony took place in the iconic Peace Palace of The Hague where more than 1,800 delegates gathered to launch a week full of meetings, discussions and sharing powerful life stories.

The most inspiring highlight of the evening for me was Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus, encouraging us to use our imagination and creativity to take action to improve society when we return home.

Solène Lekczynski (France)

What I really liked about the opening ceremony was to see all the different flags, countries and cultures represented. It was a good introduction to the Summit, putting us in the right mind-set, ready to listen and be inspired by all the upcoming speeches.

I was also really impressed by the speech of Professor Muhammad Yunus: “Be unrealistic. Create the kind of society that you really want. Think big. Think totally unreal. That will drive you. Think big but start small.” It was really a great moment, giving us a lot of energy!


Pierre Guerard (France)

Thursday marked the beginning of the plenary sessions at the Summit. We heard from a wide range of inspiring leaders sharing their experience, vision, fears and hopes about many of the challenges the world is now facing.

One of the many thought-provoking subjects was human rights. A panel of incredible young change-makers shared their achievements, including Irwin from Burundi who fights for LGBTQI and sex workers’ rights in Africa. He has used poetry and cinema made by LGBT African artists, as well as his own research works, to challenge individuals and institutions that consider homosexuality immoral.

Cécile Maquet (France)

One of my favourite speeches was delivered by the CEO of RB. One in three people worldwide don’t have access to a toilet leading to severe health issues, so RB launched a programme to build toilets in the most affected countries. Corporations have huge a role to play, but it is everyone’s responsibility to act.


Gaël Rouxel (France)

It was so inspiring to see how people can turn personal tragedies into something truly powerful. Notably, the story of Yasmeen Mijali from Palestine who fell into depression after being harassed and assaulted. Following this experience she founded a socially conscious fashion brand, supporting women’s empowerment projects.

Feike Sijbesma, CEO of DSM, reinforced the message that a company can both make money and make the world a better place – value is not only for shareholders, but for all stakeholders.


Katrien de Geest (Belgium) and Kristina Drenker (Germany)

“Experience your own Earth rise moment” was the message from astronaut, Ron Garan to kick-off the final day in The Hague.

Our VP of Sustainability, Joe Franses and Ulrike Sapiro from The Coca-Cola Company, then shared our vision and ambitions to address climate change and plastic pollution through a circular economy approach and collaboration with other companies and NGOs – as well as encouraging young people in and outside the Coke system to be brave and take action.

But what do we need to take action? We believe you need to find your inner spark – a small voice that makes you feel excited. We need to remember what life is all about, truly care and realise that, in the end, we are all humans with the same aspirations and needs. We need to stop putting people into boxes, closing doors and label disabilities as a disadvantage. It is upon us, the young leaders of today, to help create a world we want to live in.

One Young World was founded in 2009 and is a UK-based charity that brings together the brightest young people from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. For more information, please visit

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