The Opening Ceremony for One Young World took place this evening at the prestigious Simón Bolívar Plaza, Bogotá - officially marking the start of the 2017 Summit.
Global figures and young world leaders joined in the celebrations of the eighth annual Summit at the historical square.
Around 1,500 Counsellors, Delegates and Returning Ambassadors experienced the dynamic and colorful ceremony amongst the backdrop of Bogotá’s historical buildings. The square, steeped in national tradition and history, welcomed global luminaries and young leaders set on making positive change all over the world.
Mayor Enrique Peñalosa welcomed One Young World to the capital and addressed the anticipating crowd. “With your energy and imagination,” he said, “you can create a more environmentally sustainable and happier world”.
The ceremony also offered the leaders a chance to celebrate the signing of the Colombian peace accord which ended a brutal civil conflict of over half a century.
Juan Manuel Santos, who was last year awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the peace process, addressed global figures and young world leaders, speaking of the significance of the One Young World Summit 2017 and the overarching theme of peace and reconciliation.
“Colombia is the proof of making the impossible possible” he declared. “Making peace is removing the blindfold of hatred that does not let us see each other with love”.
Tawakkol Karman, co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, addressed the crowd on the role of youth in driving such change. “Youth are the pillar of progress and development,” said the women’s rights activist. “You have the will, the determination, the ability. Believe in your abilities to make miracles. Lead your countries and lead the world”.
One Young World veteran and Seventh Secretary General to the United Nations, Kofi Annan, also made an address to the awaiting crowd, stating, “We count on you to build a better and more peaceful world for all of humanity”
The park lit up in an array of colours as The One Young World flag ceremony began, during which delegates from each of the 196 countries represented at the Summit proudly presented their country’s flag.
Nobel Peace Laureate and microcredit pioneer, Professor Muhammad Yunus, spoke of the desire and ability to achieve the “three zeros: zero poverty, zero unemployment, zero net carbon emissions”. He added, “If we can create this world of three zeros we have laid down the foundations of a new world completely”. Pleading to the crowd he said, “All you have to do is dream of that. Imagine that world and it will happen.”
Other prominent figures included musician, activist and founder of Live Aid, Sir Bob Geldof, who lamented the lack of change and poor political leadership. “We need to do more and we need to find new ways; new ideas to address this new world that is a mess of confusion and volatility. The old institutions don’t work. We have to engage in whole new structures and ideas”.
As well as inspirational speeches, the delegates were treated to a night filled with music, dance and lights, under a full moon.
To close the ceremony, Latin Grammy award winning musician Fonseca performed a number of hit songs in front of the delegates, returning Ambassadors and observers.
This article was co-written by Elinor Jane Stephens and Luke Taylor. Elinor is a Magazine Journalist, trained at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC), and Luke is an English journalist living in Bogota, Colombia. His reports on Colombia have been featured in leading English, Canadian and Australian publications.