New York

29 October 2006

Address to UN Global Youth Leadership Summit

This is the liveliest General Assembly Hall I've seen. [laughter]

My dear friends, let me welcome you all to the United Nations and to this summit. We have lots of people –presidents, prime ministers from several Member States, as well as young leaders who are leaders of tomorrow –at this summit.

This Summit is a wonderful opportunity for new generation to become fully engaged the gravest challenges confronting our world.

Today, across the world, more than a billion people live on less than a dollar a day. 3 billion survive on less than two dollars a day. More than 100 million school-aged children are not in school. Seven thousand young people become infected with HIV/AIDS. Every day, almost 30,000 children die of poverty. These are grim statistics, but there are human faces behind them.

All that can be changed, if we work together to meet the Millennium Development Goals, we work together to fight poverty and if we all work together: the governments, the private sector, NGOs?to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the blueprint agreed by all Governments in the hope of creating a better tomorrow in the twenty-first century.

As leaders of the future, you are essential to our efforts to meet these simple, powerful, people-centered objectives, ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education -- all by the target date of 2015.

Even though every Government endorsed the Millennium Development Goals, we are not making faster progress as we wanted. At this stage, many of the Goals will not be met, so we need to re-affirm our commitment to these Goals.

We need to remind governments of the pledges they have made to translate the Millennium Development Goals into reality. That is where you, the young leaders, come in. Your voice and your organization, activity and energy can hold leaders to those pledges that they have made. I know you will not resign yourselves to a world where others die of hunger, remain illiterate and lack human dignity. We need to work in partnership with governments, the private sector and civil society.

Today's intergenerational dialogue brings together the experience of the past and energy for the future. Together, I hope we can come up with new and better ways to engage youth everywhere in our efforts to build a more prosperous, stable and just world.

Any society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline. You are the guardians of that lifeline. Nurture it; develop it; give it strength. I hope your exchanges here will inspire you to new and imaginative approaches to the challenges we face. So I wish you every success in your deliberations, and good luck.