Dear Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Gracias por esta cálida bienvenida.
It feels very good to be back in Mexico – a great country which is playing such an increasing influential and important role in the region and wider world.
Let me begin by thanking Carlos Slim and Arturo Elias for inviting me today to speak to you.
They are, of course, both towering figures who have built and run a world class and truly global enterprise which has been a key driver in Mexico’s economic progress.
Trough the Telmex Foundation and other initiatives, Carlos and the Slim family have also set the lead in increasing opportunity and tackling disadvantage within Mexico and across Latin America.
Their philanthropy has been key to improving health and education and fostering economic development.
Bicycles have been provided to help children get to school. Glasses given to those with poor eyesight to help them read.
And, of course, their vision and generosity has provided scholarships to enable tens of thousands of talented young people, like you, to study at college to help you fulfill your rich potential.
They deserve our gratitude. But, more importantly, we need to learn from their example.
Not everyone, obviously, is in the position to fund scholarships or to set up foundations.
But every single one of us in this room can follow their lead to do more to help make this world a fairer and better place.
This requires us to look beyond ourselves and our personal ambitions, beyond even our own communities and country.
Let me suggest to you why you should raise your sights and how you can do so.
You are the first true global generation. You inherit a world more inter-connected than ever before and changing at break-neck speed.
Ideas, goods and people travel easily and rapidly between continents, bringing new opportunities and increased prosperity.
Science and technology hold out the promise of overcoming age-old challenges.
But it is also a world in which a sub-prime crisis in the United States can cause the worst global recession in decades.
Diseases now cross between continents within days. So do drugs and terror.
Climate change, caused largely by the industrialized and rich economies, threatens lives and livelihoods in the poorest countries.
In this world, where borders count for little and all our fates are connected, we can’t afford to have narrow horizons.
As citizens of an interdependent world, we share the same challenges, and ultimately, the same fate. We succeed or fail together.
I passionately believe that global solidarity and international cooperation are no longer merely choices for the kind-hearted and altruistic.
So what does this mean for you?
It means, whatever your course of study or chosen profession, whatever your ambitions for the years ahead, you have to think globally in a way previous generations sadly did not.
As a global citizen, you have a global responsibility – to remember that your actions have an impact on people you may never meet or who are not yet born.
Most importantly, it is your responsibility to make the best out of the opportunities you are given, not just for your sake, but for all of those around you.
I recognize that I am setting you a tough challenge. I know as well that these abstract responsibilities come on top of many more practical concerns.
You worry about whether you have chosen the right academic course, how you are going to get a job, or whether you should start a family or give priority for the moment to your career.
All these are important questions but I urge you not to let them restrict your thinking.
On the contrary, they should provide the very backdrop against which to ask yourself what kind of citizen, what kind of leader you want to be.
Because such are the scale and urgency of the challenges we face, we need you to lead.
Our global society desperately needs citizens like you who understand how the modern world is inter-connected and that narrow national agendas are no longer enough.
Individuals who are willing to bridge the religious, ethnic or cultural divides and focus on our shared interests and universal values.
Citizens as well with the strength and courage for public service and who are ready to take the often difficult decisions needed to leave a better world for their children.
We don’t just need to look at the remarkable examples of Carlos Slim and Bill Gates for such inspiring leadership and citizenship. It is all around us.
It can be found in the young graduate finding creative ways to combine personal ambition and financial success with communal service;
It can be found in the first-year student campaigning for a green campus or setting aside time to teach impoverished children;
It can be found in the volunteer giving up precious free time to help out in soup kitchens and shelters.
Our communities are full of seemingly ordinary people who, through their combined efforts, accomplish extraordinary things. They are the bedrock of our societies.
I know many of you are already taking part in such activities. I congratulate you and urge you, despite the pressures on your time, to keep it up.
It is not only essential to improve our world but it will, I promise, bring its own rewards. Employers across the world are looking for those who see beyond their own narrow interests.
But as well as inspiring leaders and committed citizens, we also need effective institutions through which our collective efforts can be channeled.
This is as true for our global society as it is at national and community level.
Unfortunately, our global architecture has not changed as quickly as our world has.
It has failed to adapt and keep pace with the fast-growing prominence of countries like China, South Africa, India, Brazil and, of course, Mexico.
It must be reformed and improved to become more democratic and representative which, in turn, would make it more effective and legitimate.
Vision and courage are needed to reform international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
We need as well to reform the UN Security Council, whose membership reflects the world of 1945, not today’s reality.
It benefits no one if our world remains controlled by a small group of countries pursuing their own national vested interests.
It is, of course, simply neither fair nor sustainable if the benefits of globalization are taken overwhelming by a few already rich countries while billions of people are left in abject poverty.
But it is also abundantly clear that the challenges are so great, complex and global that they cannot be tackled by a few countries, no matter how rich or powerful.
Climate change cannot be reversed, diseases eradicated, conflict eased by one country or one continent alone.
This new multilateralism requires an urgent and qualitative change in approach by national leaders. Change starts at home, as President Obama has put it.
Without recognition by individual countries in their domestic policies that we live in a global community, the danger is that global reforms will be mere window-dressing.
I understand that our national leaders face a very difficult task. There are a multitude of competing pressures on them.
There are many pressing demands on their national resources – and this is particularly the case in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
But just as I have urged you to look beyond your own narrow personal ambitions, so too must our leaders.
They must raise their sights to set out the compelling case for global solidarity and equitable growth.
A case that addresses not just the growing inequalities between rich and poor but also between male and female, rural and urban.
It must measure development and progress in more than increased GDP growth and international aid flows.
Ironically, the growing threat of climate change may help to build such a case as the devastating impact of rising temperatures and extreme
weather across the world becomes more obvious by the day.
I believe the enormous threat that climate change poses to our way of life will inevitably transform the political landscape, compelling politicians to persuade their public that investment in sustainable global development is essential.
But sadly, even though the evidence of the danger that climate change poses to the very fabric of our existence is now stark, our leaders have not yet risen to this e challenge.
Climate change is not an abstract or future threat. It is already affecting the lives of millions.
Millions of people are already plagued by ever more floods, severe droughts or rising sea-levels, being forced to leave their homes and livelihoods.
Indeed, climate change is now becoming the main restraint on development, reversing the encouraging progress we have already made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
With the failure to reach a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen, the eyes of the world will be fixed on Cancun at the end of this year.
Here in Mexico, leaders will have yet another opportunity to join forces for the greater good. They must not fail again.
At the least, we need a strong and universal political framework for ambitious and cooperative action – a framework that will limit global emissions and help the poorest countries to adapt effectively.
But leadership in this crucial area cannot be confined to politicians, vital as their role must be.
The business sector has a major responsibility to minimize its negative impact on the environment and to invest in clean energy and infrastructure.
It must also ensure that its pursuit of profit does not result in protectionism that prevents developing countries from accessing the knowledge and technology needed to shift to low carbon growth.
Civil society and the media also have an important role to play in informing and mobilizing.
But the central responsibility rests with all of us as individuals. Through the choices we make and the life we lead; through the food we eat, the transport we use, the politicians we elect and the energy we consume, we decide the way ahead.
None of us can duck our responsibility.
And, of course, climate change is not the only grave threat we face.
Conflict, famine, disease and the scandal of over one billion people living on less than one dollar a day must also be constant spurs for action.
The very persistence of these problems also shows us that reaching an agreement or passing a declaration will not be enough, however well-intentioned it is or good it may sound.
Words must be followed by deeds; by real and meaningful action at all levels – from the Head of State to the first-year student, from the rich business man or women to the first-time entrepreneur.
We need to find within ourselves a revival of the spirit in which delegates from fifty countries, including Mexico, met to establish the United Nations after the horrors of the Second World War.
Together, in San Francisco, they drafted a charter which recognized the fundamental dignity of every human being and which was driven by the fervent desire to promote tolerance, understanding, peace and progress.
I fear, as we look at the conflict and inequality in the world around us, that the great hopes of the framers of the United Nations have not always been met.
It is your generation that must now pick up the challenge.
As global citizens and future leaders of this world, you must summon, collectively and individually, the same vision, courage and optimism that prevailed in San Francisco over 65 years ago.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are the rising stars of your generation. We expect a great deal from every one of you.
The generous support you are receiving is a direct result of your own talents and effort.
You have, I know, worked hard and overcome many obstacles already.
So I want to congratulate every one of you on what you have achieved already – and send my best wishes for the future.
But I also want to warn you that we are depending on you. We need you to use your intelligence, your skills and your drive to improve our world.
It is now clearer than ever how small our planet has become and how closely our futures are inter-linked.
We have all seen, in the way the financial crisis affected every economy, the power of the forces of globalization. We now have to make sure we shape them for good.
The way you respond to the challenges I mentioned will determine the health and happiness of billions of people across the globe.
It is, I know, a big responsibility. But it is your world now. You must have the courage to change it for the better.
I, for one, have every confidence in your ability to do so.
Thank you very much.