José María Ortega Hernández, an award-winning Think Big project leader from Spain, roused global leaders, including Dame Ellen MacArthur and Lord Bilimoria, when he delivered his speech during the Sustainable Development plenary at this year’s One Young World Summit – the second largest gathering of nations on earth.
On the day that saw Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive of Telefonica UK, deliver the findings from the second Global Millennial Survey, the young leader spoke about his passion for science, the environment and his connection with the flora and fauna of Andalusia and the Mediterranean Sea.
José María is founder of yourBIKEonBUS, an initiative aimed at reducing Spain’s carbon emissions by introducing more collective and intermodal transport. Currently, public transport in Spain accounts for 50% of all the energy produced domestically; yourBIKEonBUS not only drives awareness on more sustainable modes of transport but was also responsible for bringing bike racks for buses into the country.
Speaking to us directly after his speech, José María shared how he had worked tirelessly for two years in trying to persuade companies, mayors and policy makers to implement the idea of intermodal transport into Spain’s major cities but had been continuously turned down:
‘We had the support of the Spanish cycling associations in cities like Málaga, Seville, Madrid, Melilla but still no-one wanted to implement the system.’
Eventually, after persevering, Melilla announced that it will be the first city to implement the bike racks onto buses with Barcelona and several other major cities also expressing an interest. Government officials in Ibague (Colombia), Mar de Plata (Argentina) and Chihuaha (Mexico), are also intending to implement the system.
José María’s efforts show what programme’s like Think Big can do in activating real leadership potential and how open innovation can lead to positive change. The programme also acts as an exemplar on how youth-led solutions can help combat societal ills, especially in the wake of the recent Global Millennial Survey, which found that millennials across the world want to nurture our environment and safeguard it for future generations.
José María summed up both the challenge and opportunity presented in achieving sustainable development towards the end of his speech:
‘Our Governments have to invest more in science, research and technology to will help combat climate change. But we are all responsible. We must also act with seemingly small gestures which can ultimately have a larger impact.’
For more on One Young World, follow us via Twitter using #TelefonicaOYW.