News — December 07, 2017

We Do Commit to a Better World at the 2017 JCI World Congress in Amsterdam!

By: Cory Dignazio, Marketing and Communications Director

To advance the world’s most pressing issues through the lens of the global development agenda, exchange dialogue with international thought leaders and connect with individuals from nearly 120 countries around the world, JCI’s active citizens, partners and friends once again united for the most-anticipated annual event of the year — the 2017 JCI World Congress — an event in the making since 2007.

With more than 4500 delegates present from 106 countries around the globe, the Congress took place from 6 – 10 November in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Delegates looked forward to not only an impactful 5-day program, but also the host city’s perks including a variety of museums, historic scenery of canal-lined streets and the famous and delicious fried Dutch snack — “bitterballen.” However, to ensure participants traveling from countries around the world got the true Dutch experience, a variety of programming in neighboring cities including The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam was available and only made possible with the help of nearly 20 JCI Netherlands Local Organizations.

This year, World Congress delegates were also provided with the unique opportunity to heavily focus their Congress activities on exploring four of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development including Global Goals #4: Quality Education, #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, #10: Reduced Inequalities and #13: Climate Action. Through an innovative program that was strategically created to bring awareness and focus on the global development agenda, participants engaged with all sectors of society through a variety of keynotes, workshops, company visits and community impact projects.

One impactful addition to this year’s Congress program was the WeDo 2030! Festival, which included a full day of empowering keynotes, panel discussions and interactive activities covering the Global Goals. This distinctive event also featured an amazing performance by JCI Ambassador and singer/songwriter Tennille Amor who performed her gender equality hit “I am a Girl.” However, a highlight of not only this festival but also the entire World Congress was the special visit and keynote by Nobel Peace Prize Winner, former UN Secretary-General and past JCI member Kofi Annan. Mr. Annan spoke to the delegates on the important responsibility youth have to both develop their skills as leaders and unite with fellow change makers to build a better future.

Mr. Annan said: “I am optimistic about the future. Today we have the largest global population in history, and the vast majority of young people in the world are committed to peace, sustainable development and human rights.”

“Throughout my career I met with numerous youth groups, student associations, young leaders, and I have always been struck by their talent, knowledge and ambition to create a better world. With new forms of technology and interaction, your generation is a source of opportunity and possibility and is connected more than any other previous generation…For these reasons, I am confident that you will be able to do what my generation has not been able to achieve.”

The keynote was followed with a panel discussion featuring Mr. Annan, JCI Secretary General Arrey Obenson and moderator Bart Burghgraef where a number of audience members got the once in a lifetime opportunity to ask their most pressing questions about how to create impact in today’s world.

In response, Mr. Annan stated: “If we want to make a difference, we have to come together to pull our efforts and our resources. That is something that we can take from youth organizations like JCI…But [youth] must know, that change is not easy. Change is difficult. And I always say that change and reform is not an event, it’s a process.”

JCI Secretary General Arrey Obenson added: “The challenge now for us as a generation is what we will leave for the next generation so that they too can leave an impactful mark on our world.”

This special event concluded with members from JCI Zeeuws-Vlaanderen presenting Mr. Annan with a tremendous gift of € 15.000 to the Kofi Annan Foundation, which works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world. Following his visit, the audience left inspired and empowered to continue taking action not only for the remaining days of the event, but upon returning home to their respective communities.

Other exclusive visitors of the 2017 JCI World Congress included a variety of stakeholders from all sectors of society including international JCI partners and friends such as Insights, The Global Growth Institute, Let’s Do It! Foundation, OFID (The Opec Fund for International Development), AIESEC, Kiwanis International, The Nippon Foundation, UN SDG Action Campaign, International Chamber of Commerce, Peace One Day and MasterPeace. Through workshops such as How to Fund Your Impact Projects and Partnering for Impact Workshop, many delegates received the highly desired chance to speak to these international partners on an individual basis about how to partner and create impact at the local level.

As JCI was founded upon creating impact, it wouldn’t have been a JCI event without community-based actions. Therefore, on the final day of the Congress, before celebrating a successful week at the Farewell Party, delegates participated in a variety of local impact projects demonstrating to the community how to make a lasting impact. One of these activities included a canal clean up where members divided into groups, traveled in boats among the multiple city’s canals — a common dumping place for garbage — and picked up as much discarded trash as possible, all while competing to see who could find the most interesting item (such as the brand new mountain bike).

Despite many new additions to the Congress program, organizational business, such as adopting the new plan of action and budgeting for the upcoming year, was conducted as usual during General Assembly. This year, chief delegates enjoyed the simplicity of the new electronic voting system when electing the incoming 2018 JCI Board of Directors, including 2018 JCI President-elect Marc Brian Lim from JCI Philippines, and while adopting the report and bid of the 2019 JCI World Congress to be held in Tallinn, Estonia. 

The 2017 JCI World Congress was undoubtedly successful as it united global citizens in a common purpose to create sustainable, positive change. While this goal may seem audacious, it has remained the driving force behind every action taken by every JCI member since the founding of the organization over 100 years ago. The JCI World Congress continues to be the premier event that reminds delegates of this with its fusion of cultures and sense of community propelling members to excel in all that they do on their journey to creating a better world.

Interested to learn more about the event? Explore the 2017 JCI World Congress Report to discover all that the event had to offer.

Visit the JCI Facebook Page to explore photos from the 2017 JCI World Congress.

Interested in attending next year’s World Congress? Learn more about the 2018 JCI World Congress in Goa, India 30 October – 3 November!

Interested in attending other JCI Events? Register and learn more about the upcoming 2018 JCI Area Conferences!

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