Mr Annan first attended One Young World Summit at the inaugural event in London in 2010 and has returned as a Counsellor in Pittsburgh (2012), Johannesburg (2013), Dublin (2014), Bangkok (2015), Ottawa (2016) and Bogotá (2017).
“The One Young World Summit in Bogotá gave me an insight into the passion, creativity and joie de vivre of today’s youth,” says Mr Annan in an article published this month by Vanity Fair. “The energy around the Summit was tremendous, and the diversity of the delegates, who come from different cultures, religions and ethnicities, was harnessed by a sense that we are in this world together and together we must build a global culture of peace.”
Mr Annan was born on 8 April 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana, when that country was a British colony, Gold Coast. He joined the United Nations in 1962, working for the World Health Organisation in Geneva.
In 1997 he became the 7th Secretary-General of the UN and held that role until 2006, undertaking a comprehensive programme of reform to revitalise the organisation.
In 2001 he and the UN were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2007 he established the Kofi Annan Foundation to mobilise leaders of all sectors to provide leadership where it is needed. The Foundation, with the support of One Young World and the European Commission, leads the Extremely Together initiative to unite young leaders in tackling violent extremism.
His relationship with One Young World began when co-founders David Jones and Kate Robertson, then at the helm of Havas Worldwide, helped to create for Mr Annan the Tck Tck Tck campaign ahead of the UN’s Climate Change Conference in 2009 in Copenhagen. The unprecedented campaign garnered more than 10m digital pledges of support in calling on world leaders to deliver a just agreement.
His contributions at successive One Young World Summits have been thought-provoking and inspirational. Thank you Mr Annan for your unwavering support over the years and for your passion to support young leaders building a better world.
PITTSBURGH: “I often had the challenge of dealing with some very wicked dictators and people asked me ‘How come you talk to these guys?’ If you want to save lives, if you want to make peace, you have to talk to those who can make a difference.”
JOHANNESBURG: “You know more about your counterparts in other parts of the world than ever before. The technology you use to communicate and share information allows you to bridge frontiers. National borders no longer contain you. You have wider horizons. There are no limits to what you can achieve.”
DUBLIN: “You can begin in your community. You can begin to put pressure on companies by the choices you make and what you decide to buy or not buy. You can begin to let the politicians know that this issue is important for you and it will count at the time of the elections.”
BANGKOK: “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 wellbeing and security of future generations.”
OTTAWA: “I urge you to stop asking to be listened to. It is time for you to act!”
BOGOTÁ: “A good leader is a good listener. A good leader is also a good follower. As I have always said, you are never too young to lead. You have the opportunity to become the leaders we need you to be: we count on on you to build a better and more peaceful world for all humanity!”