Flanked by UN Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors Midori Goto, Yuna Kim, Anggun, Catarina Furtado, Goedele Liekens and Elie Wiesel, Mr. Ban listened as a children’s choir played music.
In his remarks Mr. Ban acknowledged that young people are impatient, frustrated by poverty, injustice and environmental degradation.
'You are concerned that we, your elders, have not made greater headway against these threats,' he added, noting that world leaders will gather for a summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets aiming to slash extreme hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, disease and lack of access to education and health services, all by 2015.
'There have been remarkable gains, but we need faster progress – much, much faster. Young people can play a central role.'
Mr. Ban then opened a student conference attended by more than 600 young people in a UN hall and hundreds of others linked by video conference sites at UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
At a later tea gathering for peace with UN Association of Japan president Genshitsu Sen, Mr. Ban recalled his recent visit to Hiroshima. 'I will never forget meeting the survivors – the hibakusha – or their painful and moving testimony. I was very impressed and moved this morning when young students sang a song of peace with the piano which survived the atomic attack 65 years ago.'