Kofi Anna speaks at the launch of One Young World in Johannesburg.
(Image: One Young World)
• Amanda Mahlobi
Communications Officer, Waggener Edstrom
+27 11 550 5400.
World leaders gathered at South Africa’s Soccer City in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 2 October to open the One Young World 2013 Youth Summit to encourage global youth leadership.
Taking place between 3- 4 October, the One Young World Summit 2013 will see 1 300 young people from around the world descend on the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg to develop solutions to some of society’s most pressing global issues.
Youth leadership for change
One Young World was founded in 2009 by David Jones and Kate Robertson. Jones said: “We are a London-based charity that gathers together young people from around the world, helping them make lasting connections to create positive change.
“We stage an annual summit where the young delegates, backed by the One Young World Counsellors, debate and formulate solutions for the pressing issues the world faces.”
Topics covered this year will include education; global business; human rights; leadership and government; sustainable development; and youth unemployment.
The initiative has worldwide support, with global leaders such as United Nation’s (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan, Live Aid founder Bob Geldof and Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus calling for young people to play a more prominent role in tackling global issues.
Young people’s commitment
Annan, who Jones described as the best UN Secretary General to date, praised the ability of today’s youngsters to bring about positive change.
“Together with your One Young World colleagues from across the globe, you embody the talent and energy that is driving change, innovation and creativity around the world,” Annan said, complimenting young people’s commitment to changing the world for the better despite their different struggles.
“Wherever I have travelled, it has always been the commitment of young people to peace, equity and justice that has given me hope for the future. And there is good reason for your generation to care so deeply about the fate of our planet.
“Look, for instance, at the challenge of sustainable development. It will be your generation and your children who will pay the price if we continue to plunder our natural resources, pollute the environment and fail to eradicate poverty and hunger.”
Annan added that it as will be the youngsters who will suffer most from the impact of climate change on living standards and quality of life, they should not be shut out from the discussions and decisions that will frame their countries’ future and their lives.
Passing on the problems
Sir Bob Geldof, who has championed the plight of the poor in Africa, told the 9 000-strong crowd how his generation is failing the next.
“Personally I believe we are in a very fraught time now, all generations fail, but my generation, disgracefully, has failed more than others. Coming together today gives a sense of urgency. We meet here in a new country that has proved what positive action can achieve. Last week, in a report that was vaguely noticed, the world’s scientists said we may not get to 2030, we need to address the issues of climate change urgently.”
Yunus spoke highly of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a democratic government and said the world could emulate this.
“What South Africa has done – we can do it for the whole world – nobody ever thought apartheid could be over. But South Africa saved humanity’s dignity.”
He concluded: “You are lucky to have been born in an age where what was impossible is becoming possible. Each one of you is capable of changing the whole world. Feel that power inside of you and make use of it.”