Find us on

News & Media

Promoting Youth Leadership

One Young World Opening Ceremony

Kofi Annan addresses thousands of youth ambassadors during the One Young World opening ceremony in Bangkok.

It is wonderful to once again have the privilege to open the annual One Young World Summit. Meeting tomorrow’s leaders and hearing your solutions to today’s challenges is always a highlight of my year.

And I am delighted to be joined onstage by such a wise and experienced group of Counsellors. The intergenerational discussions that will take place over the next three days will spark ideas that will have an impact far beyond this hall. So I am pleased that this year you are going to harness the incredible One Young World energy to make a special call for action on climate change.

This is the greatest contemporary challenge facing our global community; we are rapidly approaching the tipping point beyond which climate change may become irreversible. And no other issue will have a greater impact on the well-being and security of future generations; your health, your security. It will take all of your creativity, vision and determination to find and implement effective solutions.

And you will need to work together with your peers from around the world to convince today’s leaders that they must act swiftly and decisively to secure the safety of our planet. They are meeting next month in Paris to conclude what I hope will be a strong, inclusive and equitable climate agreement.

This agreement must include clear and strong commitments on climate finance, a mechanism to assess collective progress, and the enabling conditions for the introduction of a global carbon price so that every country can reach a state of carbon neutrality by 2050. I am confident this can be achieved.

Together you can proclaim loud and clear that no target is too ambitious to reach, no obstacle too hard to overcome. Your call on climate action will make it clear to the world that the youth of today -the leaders of tomorrow- simply will not accept failure.

At my Foundation, I work to mobilise the high-level political resolve that is crucial to address global challenges such as climate change. But I also know that when that leadership is lacking, it is up to you to lead.

As I always argue – you are never too young to lead.

And every year at One Young World I meet young people who have proved that they are indeed ready to tackle the challenges that threaten communities and young people all around the world.

I know that you appreciate the important opportunity this summit represents. You are amongst the best educated, most well-informed and most inter-connected generation ever, and you have an unparalleled capacity to catalyse constructive change. You must now show the world how you plan to rise to this responsibility, and show us how you will re-shape our global community, and your future, for the better.

So welcome to the 2015 One Young World summit, and now- to work!