Marrakech, Morocco

On 13-17 February, I was invited by AIESEC, the world's largest student-run organization with about 43,000 members in 120 countries, to participate in their Global Leaders Summit 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, at a resort a little ways out of the city. There was no time for tourism, although we did cross the centre of the city through ancient gates going to and from the airport, and I was able to admire the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the distance. ebbf - Ethical Business Building the Future, of which I am a board member, has collaborated with AIESEC for 20 years, and I have often spoken with great pleasure at AIESEC conferences.

There were two meetings as part of the summit, the International Presidents Meeting (IPM) and the Global YouthSpeak Forum which was dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals. This was the third IPM at which I have keynoted.

Hotel Eldorado Palmerai . Hotel Eldorado Palmerai . Hotel Eldorado Palmerai
Hotel Club Eldorado Palmerai where the meeting was held
Hotel Eldorado Palmerai . Hotel Eldorado Palmerai

AIESEC International Presidents Meeting

The International Presidents Meeting brings together the presidents of each of the 120 national committees to elect the new International President of AIESEC. The organization is unique in that every position of responsibility rotates every year, so no one holds on to power, yet it has maintained its culture of working for peace and international understanding since 1948. Success comes from carrying out a leadership responsibility for one year, and then passing on to a successor. It is possible to rise through the organization, say from a vice-president to president, and from a local committee to a national committee to the international team based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, but no one stays more than 5-6 years. AIESECers also go on exchanges around the world, so that the president, say, of the Mexican national committee becomes president in the Seychelles the next year to help build the organization there. Six of the candidates were vice-presidents in the international team. The organization builds leadership skills and an international perspective, and those that come to the International Presidents Meeting are a remarkable and diverse group of talented leaders. I was asked to moderate a 90 minute panel of the seven candidates for International President to explore their knowledge of international issues and global priorities before the election.

IPM chairperson . IPM . IMP candidates
The master of ceremonies, whom I had met at an ebbf/AIESEC conference in Italy some years ago; posters of the 7 candidates for International President

IPM audience . IPM . IPM
AIESECers have a strong collective culture, including shouts and dances with loud music, that builds a sense of identity and belonging

IPM dance . IPM dance . IPM dance
AIESEC dances; the tension rises as the election winner is about to be announced

AIESEC has a unique way of announcing the winner of an election for international president. The candidates line up, the outgoing president stands behind them with a large container of water, and the winner is announced by pouring the water over his or her head, leading to a burst of excitement, noise and confetti.
IPM election . IPM election . IPM election
Announcement of the election results, with the candidates lined up, the outgoing president poised, and poured the water over the winner (far right)

new International President
New AIESEC International President Niels Caszo (India)

Global YouthSpeak Forum

AIESEC has undertaken a global YouthSpeak Survey of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Millennials care about the most, and is reassessing its entire programme of activities and exchanges to ensure that they are coherent with and support the SDGs. It therefore organized a Global YouthSpeak Forum as part of its Global Leaders Summit on the topic: "Mobilizing Young People to Achieve the SDGs: Aligning AIESEC's Projects to the SDGs" for a day and a half in the middle of the summit. After a video message from UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi, I gave the opening keynote on "Mobilizing to Achieve the SDGs: A Challenge for AIESEC", in which I described the steps leading up to the SDGs, including the participation of IEF and ebbf in the UN processes, and underlined the opportunities that the SDGs represent for young people. I emphasized the importance of values in making career choices.. There were workshops on "Entrepreneurship & Innovation" by IE Business School, "Sustainable Cities & Environment" by UN Habitat, "Impact of Global & Local Media" by Al Jazeera Media Network, and "Education" by ebbf (Wilfried Claus). After some other keynotes, further workshops considered case studies in project management, and participation in action spaces to design projects. The forum closed with the launching of "Youth 4 Global Goals" with the participation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), UN Habitat and PVBLIC Foundation.

YouthSpeak Forum . YouthSpeak Forum . YouthSpeak Forum
Opening of the Global YouthSpeak Forum with a large audience

YouthSpeak Forum ebbf logo . UN Habitat . Al Jazeera - Youssef Gaboune
ebbf was listed as a global partner and its logo was featured alongside Al Jazeera and ADB; speakers for UN Habitat and Al Jazeera

YouthSpeak Forum . YouthSpeak Forum dance . YouthSpeak Forum dance
Part of the audience; as usual there were AIESEC dances in the intermissions

YouthSpeak Forum . YouthSpeak Forum
In the closing session, balls of string were thrown across the audience to symbolize networking, and then were drawn together to make a massive rope

There were many opportunities to discuss individually with participants, and a number came to me for advice on their projects and their future careers. For AIESECers, it is always a challenge to find a continuing ethical motivation "after AIESEC" and a number have joined ebbf.

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Last updated 20 February 2016

Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2016