Updated: Feb 9
The inaugural YOUNGA Forum staged a virtual youth takeover of the United Nations connecting 1500 youth delegates across more than 100 countries with key decision-makers on 24 October. The live forum used virtual reality and extended reality technologies to connect young changemakers with decision-makers to co-create solutions for a better world, marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
YOUNGA, created by Kelly Lovell, a 28 year old founder of BridgingTheGap Ventures, a youth and women led enterprise bridging opportunity gaps and providing meaningful experiences to develop young people as leaders, aims to help business, government and community sectors solve community challenges. Crucial intergenerational fireside conversations took place between influential leaders and young changemakers against the background of a unique mixed reality format.
Lovell says themes of the event included advancing Climate Action and Sustainable Living, Equality and Inclusion, Future of Education and Work, Mental Health and Wellbeing and Peace and Justice. She says key discussions on ways to create a more inclusive, sustainable world, mobilizing greater connectivity between today and tomorrow’s generation of changemakers took place.
“We are living in a world where the voice of youth can be more powerful than ever before and we believe now is the right time to form a connecting pathway between them and decision-makers from key bodies and organizations with the power to lead change. In doing so, we can create unity and sustainable impact that can reverberate around the world,” says the entrepreneur.
Speakers from around the world who took part in the event included Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and Cara Delevingne, actress, singer and co-Founder of MyEcoResolution, an environmental justice platform. Further speakers included Siyabulela Mandela, human rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi, Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize, and Cynthia Germanotta, co-founder of the Born This Way Foundation and mother to Lady Gaga.
YOUNGA also included performances by Pitbull, rapper, songwriter and record producer, and Julianne Hough, dancer, actress, singer and founder of KINRGY, an expanded fitness experience inspired by the elements. The event was streamed to an audience of millions on social media sites and over-the-top video platforms and made use of virtual reality technology to create a world-first experience bringing audiences up close with performers and speakers like never before.
“The virtual reality experience hosted by the ENGAGE platform included an ‘avatar mode’ so participants could virtually interact with one another and explore YOUNGA's thematic world. This forum was an important convening of influential young changemakers and high-level decision-makers, using emerging technology to connect people from around the world in an immersive, borderless event experience, to build a better future,” says Lovell.