Alan Mak, One Young World Ambassador & Advisory Board member, reports from the Opening Ceremony.
This year's One Young World, the global summit for young leaders under 30, opened in spectacular style tonight with inspiring and wide-ranging keynote remarks from President Bill Clinton at Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall.
Addressing 1300 young leaders from business, government, academia and civil society from 190 countries, President Clinton set out what he thought were the three biggest challenges facing the next generation of young global leaders - global inequality, global instability, and the unsustainability of the Western growth model - and the role young leaders can play in tackling them. President Clinton also talked about the work of his Clinton Global Initiative in Africa and Central America, the role of the private sector in achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals, and his hopes for the spread of democracy after the Arab Spring.
Responding to questions from OYW delegates, Clinton said global inequality and the disparity in wealth was a constraint on human growth and economic prosperity, whilst the global instability caused by excessive risk-taking in market economies was reducing economic dynamism and creating a "too good to be true society". He added that the Western growth model, now copied by China and BRICs and based on consumption, was not sustainable and is causing environmental damage. The failure of our generation to address these three challenges "will take away the future" for young people, he said.
Modelled on the Davos World Economic Forum and founded by Havas Global CEO David Jones and Havas UK Group Chairman Kate Robertson, Clinton praised One Young World as a catalyst for change, and said solidarity and leadership had already rid the world of slavery, empowered women, and brought about fair pay and equal rights at work. One Young World would inspire a new generation to do even more.
President Clinton's speech headlined a star-studded opening night line-up that included Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, Sir Bob Geldof, Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins and singer Joss Stone, as well as special performances from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Children's Festival Choir.
Having attended the previous two One Young World summits - in London and Zurich - the energy and passion of the 1300 young leaders gathered here in Pittsburgh undoubtedly matches the scale of the challenges our generation and our world faces. Making business more socially responsible, improving global health, protecting the environment and empowering women are all on this year's agenda, and President Clinton reiterated his confidence in the ability of OYW's young leaders to lead the movement for change in these areas and beyond.
Earlier today, I was lucky enough to meet food campaigner and OYW Counsellor Jamie Oliver to discuss my work as President and Trustee of Magic Breakfast, the UK's leading school breakfast club charity, ahead of a joint photo session for Vanity Fair magazine. Jamie echoed President Clinton's call for young leaders from business, government and civil society to work together to solve the world's most pressing challenges such as poverty and hunger.
President Clinton's words certainly inspired me, and judging by the standing ovation he received, he also inspired a new generation changemakers, campaigners and leaders. Over the next four days I'm looking forward to the young leaders gathered here in Pittsburgh turning Clinton's vision for a stronger, fairer, more prosperous world into a reality we can all be proud of.
Follow Alan on Twitter: @AlanMakUK
To watch President Clinton's speech click here