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AY Young: One of the UN's 17 Young Leaders at the World at World Economic Forum

While at World Economic Forum 2023, Blockchain Journal's editor-in-chief, David Berlind, caught up with AY Young, one of 17 young people taking part in a United Nations program that looks to connect the status quo leaders of the world with up-and-coming leaders. Through his music and live concerts, AY raises money to bring energy to people and parts of the world where there is no power.

(The full-text transcript appears below.)

World Economic Forum

By David Berlind

Published:January 16, 2023

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6 min read

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Audio-Only Podcast



How Can One Artist's Music Change the World?

David Berlind: AY Young, thank you for joining Blockchain Journal here at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where it's snowing outside right now, but inside here, it's nice and warm. And I saw you dancing, and then you walked up to me and said, "Hey David, how's it going?" I'm like, "Do I know this person?" I don't know if I've ever met you. So I decided, "Let's meet you on camera." So, AY, what are you doing here at World Economic Forum?

AY Young: Yo. Yeah. Besides saying what's up to you? Yeah. Right. Honestly, at the end of the day, I think music and culture has to be a part of achieving sustainability in some of these global goals, and so that's really why I'm here.

Berlind: But you're a part of something bigger. Why don't you talk a little bit about what that is?

Young: Oh yeah. A hundred percent. So I'm one of the 17 United Nations Young Leaders of the World, right?

Berlind: One of only 17. There's only 17?

Young: Yeah, one of 17. We represent these 17 things that are called the Global Goals. There's 17 goals that the UN and all the countries voted on to have done by 2030, like getting people food, water, [and] energy. We shouldn't have poverty. So they pick these 17 leaders who represent the goals and help achieve them.

Berlind: Do the 17 leaders each represent one goal, or do all 17 of you represent all the goals?

Young: Yeah, I think the idea was like, "Okay, there's 17 goals, ending world poverty." Everyone should have food, no hunger. And I think the idea was each leader represents a goal. And, I think mine was goal seven because I use concerts to raise money to send one person or one village around the world Access Energy. So I kind of help with providing clean energy for everyone.

Berlind: What's Access Energy? What does that mean?

Young: Yeah. Well, there's a lot of people in the world who don't have electricity. They don't have access. There's actually over a billion people that don't have energy, so they lack access. So goal seven is about saying, "Hey, everyone should have energy." You know what I'm saying? And I've just been using music as a way to power building boxes, solar boxes, things like that, and getting people energy.

Berlind: What do you hope to accomplish here at World Economic Forums? One week, there's a lot of these businesses that have lined up along the promenade and taken over all sorts of shops. Are you just going around and spreading the love, or what are you trying to get done?

Young: Yeah, definitely spreading the love all the time and definitely making music, art, and culture a part of Davos, right? Because Gen Z and millennials, we respond to that. If you're a company or corporation you're trying to connect to the future generation, you're going to need those pieces. Besides that, really bringing the world together. So, me, as a young leader, I dropped this project called 17, and I've made one song for each of the goals, and I'm teaming up with one major artist on each of the goals. Such artists like Billie Eilish and, hopefully, Paul McCartney, come on board. We're talking with his team. And I've been lining up 17 sponsors, because I'm going to give the money away from the music to Power Impact.

Berlind: And you got the UN behind you. So those artists should be listening, eh?

Young: Oh, yeah. And it's happening. Yes, I got the UN behind me, got a lot of major companies and corporations coming on board to power change and connect to the youth. I'm kind of here to be that bridge to get the world plugged in.

Berlind: Now, I'm here to report on what all of these different organizations are doing with respect to Blockchain. Do you have any interest in Blockchain yourself?

Young: Oh yeah. Blockchain's incredible. I'm just getting into this space now. Blockchain, the Metaverse, NFTs. I'm really new to understanding it, but I do understand the security that the Blockchain provides. I'm definitely a fan of that. And I definitely think renewable energy, clean energy, can be a part of a lot of these different infrastructures that are being built.

Berlind: The reason I ask is because you talked about a lot of people who don't have energy, but there's also a lot of people who they call the unbanked. They don't have access to banking services. And so a lot of the talk around Blockchain and cryptocurrency has to do with giving that sort of level of service to these people who are unbanked, who in a lot of countries where there aren't regulations like there are in the US, where everybody deserves to have a bank account, Blockchain can play a role with that group of people. So, those two things seem to go hand in hand in hand.

Young: Hand in hand.

Berlind: No access to energy, no access to banking services.

Young: That's why I like the Global Goals, because it talks about ending poverty, goal one, which Blockchain could be a bridge to that. So no, they're hand in hand. I feel like I'm laying the groundwork for things like that. You get people energy, you can get people education, you can unbank this population of the world. So I'm here for that. But you got to have art, music, and culture. It's got to be a part of how you can deliver to the people and get everyone plugged in to help power and support that. And so I think that's where I fit.

Berlind: Yeah, sure. If there's one thing that brings people together, it's music.

Young: Right? Right? So yeah, man, that's what I'm here for. And I am interested in connecting to more in the Blockchain, where I've been bringing energy. I've brought energy to over 17 countries. I've powered over 900 concerts in the last six years. So it's interesting. Now, there wasn't a term "unbanked" when I was doing this in like 2012, but this is cool to hear.

Berlind: All right, well, AY thank you very much for joining me on Blockchain Journal. For the people who see this video, where can they find you?

Young: Yeah, you can just find me AY Young, but yo, really just get —

Berlind: AY Young? Where do they look you up?

Young: I would just say plug into the Battery Tour. So I'm AY. I'm [the] founder of the Battery Tour, and that's this mechanism that's powering all this change. You find a Battery Tour, you go get plugged into Battery Tour, you'll find me, AY.

Berlind: Is that batterytour.com?

Young: Batterytour.com. "Batterytour — one word. You'll find it. AY UN, United Nations. Just Google me and I'm everywhere.

Berlind: All right. AY, thanks very much, man. It's great to have you.

Young: Thanks.

Berlind: All right.

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