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Safoora Biglari: How One Young World is supporting effective leaders

Safoora Biglari: How One Young World is supporting effective leaders
Ladderworks Spotlight Safoora Biglari One Young World
On the occasion of the 11th birthday of ONE YOUNG WORLD, Ladderworks caught up with the amazing SAFOORA BIGLARI, Director of Community, OYW.
Q. Please tell us about the One Young World Ambassadorship awarded to Madhav Datt for his inspiring work. 

Safoora: One Young World is the most impactful network for young leaders, and we are so proud Madhav carries the distinction of being one of our Ambassadors. 

Young leaders join the Ambassador Community by first securing a One Young World Summit Delegate place. After attending the Summit, Delegates ‘graduate’ from the 4 day programme and gain One Young World Ambassador status. We now have 12,000 Ambassadors based in over 190 countries.

Madhav was selected in 2018 as part of the annual Audi Environmental Foundation Scholarship, which identified 15 leaders addressing resource scarcity, environmental destruction, and climate change. Every year, we receive over 45,000 applicants on average, meaning selection is incredibly competitive; our acceptance rate is lower than 1%. 

Madhav was an outstanding candidate; the scale of his work with Green the Gene is just incredible. He founded it as a club in his school when he was just eight years old. It has now become one of the world’s largest youth-run environmental non-profits. 

He has mobilised thousands of young people in over 62 countries to design solutions to address climate change in their local communities over the years. Recently, particularly given his engineering background, he has created and implemented tech-based solutions for providing clean drinking water, recycling, and mass tree planting. 

It is leaders like Madhav that set the bar for what action really looks like.

Q. What kind of a world does the One Young World envisage and how is the organization working towards it?

Safoora: One Young World was born out of the urgent need to support the next generation of more responsible and effective leadership. We believe that at the heart of every global threat is a failure of leadership, and that this new generation is the most informed, education and connected generation in human history. It is young leaders who hold the keys of our future in their hands, and in all parts of the world, we have seen they are the ones delivering real change.

Our Ambassadors are business leaders, politicians, government and policy officials, recognised entrepreneurs, activists and human rights advocates. It is they who have the means and motivation to build a better world for us all. 

The One Young World Community Team works throughout the year to ensure Ambassadors have the support they need to lead effectively. We provide them with access to funding, exclusive programmes, mentorship, knowledge-enhancing forums, media exposure, impact measurement, and high level speaking engagements. 

One Young World really does operate like a global family. We are supported by 32 volunteer leaders in all corners of the world to maintain momentum and engagement in between Summits. Wherever Ambassadors are based, there is a Coordinating Ambassador in place to provide the mentioned support on a regional basis.  

This continued support is critical in pushing the global young leadership agenda forward. Ambassadors have a lifetime membership of the One Young World Community. 

Q. How have you seen awardees grow after winning the One Young World Ambassadorship?

Safoora: The annual Summit is a unique launchpad for our Delegates, especially for those who speak on stage like Madhav did in our Environment Plenary at the One Young World 2018 The Hague Summit. To have some of the most celebrated humanitarians, business leaders, journalists and of course, fellow young leaders in the audience opens countless doors. 

Carrying the Ambassador title is a stamp of leadership. It extends legitimacy and authority to Ambassadors who are sitting around decision making tables and driving forward their work.

In my years as Community Director, I have seen Ambassadors like Madhav gain access to major grants, receive the world’s most prestigious awards, be appointed by major businesses and governments as advisors, and be called upon as thought leaders in their fields.  It is remarkable to see how Ambassadors grow over the years.

Q. What advice would you like to share with young social entrepreneurs striving to make the world a better place?

Safoora: An African proverb the late Kofi Annan would always tell our Ambassadors was, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Collaboration is so crucial to successfully delivering change, and I encourage all young people to unite their efforts to avoid duplication, and maximise impact. 

Safoora is the Director of Community at One Young World. She is responsible for maintaining engagement with OYW's key stakeholders and its community of over 12,000 Ambassadors who are affecting positive change across every sector, in every country in the world. Safoora and her team create and connect Ambassadors with growth opportunities, bespoke programmes, leadership development, media visibility and impact measurement. Notable 2020 programmes include the Covid-19 Young Leaders Fund which provided nearly $500,000 in support to young leaders on the frontlines of the pandemic response, and successful collaborations with the Obama Foundation, Hamilton Commission, and 20+ multinationals. Since 2020, the team have brought together over 18,000 young people in their programming. Collectively, OYW Ambassadors have impacted 26 million people to date. 

Spiffy's picture book POOF WENT THE ROOF that's inspired by OYW Ambassador Madhav Datt is now available for pre-order worldwide.