No sacred cows.
Young people from all across the globe come together for the One Young World Summit in Dublin to discuss their future and to break through the barriers of conventional thought. One participant gave us a personal report.
» Are you the one, the future leader? «Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change
The idea is probably still lurking around in my subconscious when I go to the Volkswagen workshop the next day. The topic: sustainable mobility in what are known as “emerging markets” – countries such as India aspiring to become developed markets. It is the second time Volkswagen is a Summit partner. Its hope is that the event will bring as much forward-looking energy to the Group as possible for the company’s future. “To us One Young World is an opportunity to meet young people from NGOs or in politics and listen to them. What is expected of us as a corporation?” says Barbara Lamprecht, responsible for the brand and marketing strategy of Volkswagen cars.
Bernhard Walther starts things off by introducing his project, which he developed in the Gründer-Garage für Soziales Unternehmertum, an organisation that fosters young entrepreneurs and innovative ideas. “I lived in Namibia and saw that people had to spend half their income on taxis”, explains the 29-year-old. His idea is to retrofit regular bicycles and turn them into e-bikes using simple, solar-powered electrical motor construction kits. “It is inexpensive and gives the bicycle – considered the poor people’s transport in Namibia – a cool image”, says Bernhard, who works in a co-working space in Wolfsburg. During a workshop break he lets me try a prototype of his bicycles. I dash across the sail-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge in front of the conference centre. The electric motor doubles the speed or halves the required energy expenditure, Bernhard promises.
» With solar energy this bicycle is as fast as a moped. That is a glaring hole in sunny Namibia’s market. «Bernhard Walther, engineer
» In my native country no one may say what they think or what they want. «Yeonmi Park, North Korea
Then things get technical again. I attend a workshop on the topic of traffic safety organised by a large brewing company. We are supposed to collect ideas to make drivers safer. Drinking beer and then driving off is still a global problem, especially among 15 to 30-year-olds. Or using smartphones at the wheel: many an accident occurs while texting. “An app that switches the phone to mute as soon as you get into the car,” one group proposes. I think it’s a good idea. But then I have to think of Rajiv again. Would that have really helped him? I
think of Victoria’s cows. Why shouldn’t something work with Rajiv that works with cattle? I ask if this app couldn’t also record the driving behaviour at the same time? How fast are you driving? How calmly or hectically? Is the driver really fit to drive? Similar apps already exist. But what if they can also determine if Rajiv is either mad or tipsy, and that he drives through unsafe areas? And enter this information right onto the Indian car-sharing platform?
“Splendid idea!” says a person in the group, and approving nods also come
from the podium. Thus things run their course. During these four days, on my journey to the limits of my thoughts, I listened with keen interest to stories about cattle, epidemics, commuting and e-bikes. And now we have it: a nebulous idea that started with cows and ended at drivers via India without knowing if it will come to an abrupt stop at the next dead end, like Rajiv’s car trip from hell, or lead to a glorious future. Will it make a future leader out of me? I have no clue. But for now I have put myself onto the email address list for the Innovation Challenge.
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