UN official says European youth summit marks start of new journey for peace

UN official says European youth summit marks start of new journey for peace

A senior United Nations official praised young European leaders for their commitment to making world peace and prosperity a reality at the closing of a leadership conference in Vienna today.

The European Youth Leadership Summit, organized by the UN Office of Sport for Development and Peace, gathered two young leaders from each European Union (EU) country to discuss ways to push for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through sport, culture and peace. The MDGs, adopted by a UN summit in 2000, are a set of time-bound targets for slashing a host of global ills, from illiteracy to AIDS.

“What has impressed us most is the dedication (of these young people) to commit themselves to the MDGs and the pursuit of peace and harmony, using the convening power of sport and culture,” said Djibril Diallo, Director of the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace.

The delegates at the Summit adopted a final ‘Vienna Declaration,’ which demonstrates the young leaders’ commitment to achieving the MDGs through sport and cultural activities that will work to reduce poverty and promote education, health, women’s and girls’ empowerment and environmental sustainability. The Declaration urges all EU member States to fulfil their pledge to contribute 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to development assistance.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said governments need to be reminded of the pledges they have made to translate the MDGs into reality. ”That is where young people like you come in,” he told the conference. ”Your voice can hold leaders to those pledges.”

Ahead of the first ever UN Global Youth Leadership Summit to be held in New York this autumn, the European summit brought to a close two years of regional youth leadership meetings in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The summit series is organized through cooperation with UN agencies, host governments and NGO partners, including the Global Peace Initiative of Women, the Geeta-Mohan Mittal Foundation, ITRI, and Sun Microsystems.