The Virgin Group Founder, Sir Richard Branson, delivered a warm and reflective tribute to the late UN Secretary General and OYW Counsellor Kofi Annan at this year’s Summit in The Hague.
Recalling his work as Chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights, Sir Richard spoke of Mr Annan’s demeanour, his ability to command a room and his innate skill for quiet diplomacy.
“Few people can command a room via silence and stillness, it’s a skill that Kofi mastered.” said Branson.
"Few people can command a room with silence like Kofi could... He truly believed that peace and development were two sides of the same coin." Richard Branson reflects on Kofi Annan. #OYW2018 #OYWTheHague #Peace #tribute #legacy pic.twitter.com/qU8FyCh74q— Chloe Swycher (@ChloeSwycher) October 18, 2018
Sir Richard spoke of Mr Annan’s road map to set the world on a course to sustainable development and his vision for involving everyone in the UN’s work. Opening the doors to the private sector, encouraging them to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Sir Richard also emphasised the importance of youth voices in this vision, pointing to the value Mr Annan placed on the One Young World Summits and the amazing work it inspires.
“As he always looked to point out: you are never too young to lead and never too old to learn”, said Sir Richard, using the words of Mr Annan himself.
“To live is to choose, but to choose well you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there", said Mr Annan.
He urged the delegates to honour Mr Annan’s words as a message. Stand up for your beliefs, set yourselves ambitious goals and wherever you end up to use those values, guide your actions for change.