Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Vienna (Austria), 26 February 2013
Thank you very much. Dear young friends, ladies and gentlemen, excellencies, it is a great pleasure to join you today. I was excited, I can immediately see and feel the excitement and energy of the young people here. I thank you very much for this opportunity.
It is quite fitting that we should mark the beginning of the fifth United Nations Alliance of Civilizations by engaging the younger generation today.
You have already demonstrated that you are willing and able to take on the responsibility of leadership.
The world will rely on you to speak the language of tolerance and respect.
Your voices need to drown out those that preach division and hatred.
You come from some 100 countries I know.
Many have travelled far, including from Ethiopia, where I was two days ago Australia, Mauritius, Argentina, Jordan, Sierra Leone, and Fiji.
You bring a wealth of diversity – some of you in this hall have first-hand experience of the damage that can come from irresponsible leaders who preach the language of division and hatred for their own selfish ends.
The world will rely on your courage and principled actions to lead us on the path of harmony and sustainable development.
Working with young people is a top priority for the UN system, as part of the five-year action agenda for my second mandate as Secretary-General of the United Nations..
You represent the largest generation of young people the world has ever known.
That is why we are deepening the youth focus of our existing programmes on employment and entrepreneurship; political inclusion and human rights; education and reproductive health.
To do this, we need the input of youth.
We have used Facebook, Google+ Hangouts and web-based surveys to gather the comments of young people from all over the world.
An action plan for youth is now about to be approved.
Our youth volunteer programme is already producing results, and I have appointed recently about two weeks ago a Special Envoy on Youth of the United Nations, Mr. Ahmad Alhindawi of Jordan.
Also, the international community is responding to the calls of youth.
One month ago, the government of Germany announced a contribution of $1.5 million dollars to support a trust fund set up by UN Volunteers and UNDP to boost youth volunteerism and harness the energy of young people around the world to bring about transformational change in their communities.
I hope your presence at this Forum will inspire other countries to follow suit and invest in the future by investing in young people today.
Thank you for participating in this Forum and engaging with the United Nations.
We want to learn from you and be inspired by you.
And we want to work with you to enhance your lives, the well-being of your communities, and the state of the world.
Together we can help build a more prosperous, equitable and peaceful future.
But we need you.
So I am here today to ask you to help to show us the way.
The world is going through a period of transition – economic, demographic, political and environmental.
The challenges are profound, but so are the opportunities – provided we are able to turn our backs on extremism and divisiveness.
Conflict is one of the greatest obstacles to development.
We are approaching the 1,000-day countdown to the Millennium Development Goals.
We need to intensify our efforts.
And after 2015, much work will remain.
We must aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and improve the well-being of people and the planet.
We can achieve these goals if we work together in harmony.
We will need your contribution – your energy, your idealism, your action.
I count on your leadership.
Thank you very much, danke schön.