Pittsburgh hosts One Young World
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 22:10
Pittsburgh held the 2012 One Young World Summit, which aimed to bring awareness to the importance of international cooperation in business, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center last weekend.
After an event headlined by former President Bill Clinton on Thursday at Heinz Hall, the summit shifted to the convention center on Friday for sessions that centered on social business and corruption.
Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, defined social business as “businesses where you completely remove from your mind the idea of earning a monetary profit.” Instead, Yunus said the profit earned from these businesses is the aid they provide to society.
Yunus said the current interpretation of capitalism is “very narrowed down,” and that it assumes humans are “money making robots.” He said capitalism needs to be broadened so that it would allow humans to be selfless and not only selfish.
“We create businesses that benefit the individual when we need to be selfless and help the whole world,” Yunus said. “Each of you can design a social business, whether it starts out at $200 or $500. But don’t try to fix the whole problem, fix a slice of the problem. Don’t worry about getting everybody a job, worry about getting two people a job and move on from there.”
Peter Solmssen, general counsel of Siemens, moved the program forward while discussing the damage business corruption can do on a global scale.
He spoke about a bribery scandal that embroiled Siemens in 2006, when he said the company believed there are parts of the world where it is impossible to succeed without being corrupt. But Solmssen said Siemens decided “to clean the place up,” and in turn revenues went up, which led to 2011 to being the company’s most successful year in its 165 year history.
“Five percent of the world’s GDP is siphoned off on corruption,” Solmssen said. “All you’ve really got to say to stop it is ‘No.’”
The social business and corruption themes reverberated throughout the weekend as NASA astronaut Ron Garan on Sunday discussed how collaboration can eliminate corruption.
“We must show that this [social business] has better economic growth potential and is tough enough to attack corruption head on,” Garan said. “Making practices that are not open obsolete will help social economic growth.”
Another theme that carried throughout the summit was the idea that younger people are better equipped to make this model effective, as Garan illustrated.
“You have tools we never had. We can talk to people we never would have been able to talk to before,” Garan said. “We all have the same aspirations, same desires, and we can all work together toward a common goal.”
The plight of the world’s future was also discussed, as former-Colombia President Alvaro Uribe said that 18 years from now, the world will need an increase of 40 percent in its energy supply and 50 percent in its food supply.
In order to meet these needs, Uribe said there will need to be joint action between the public and private sectors.
He also discussed the role young people play in modern-day violence.
“My generation has been very relaxed about violence. Your generation has been much more active against violence,” Uribe said.
The summit was capped by a video conference by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who encouraged young people to become active in politics.
Robyn Rudish-Laning contributed reporting.