US tennis star Serena Williams called on the next generation of leaders to take immediate action against poverty and disease and said she will travel to Africa to encourage people to overcome hardship.
Williams joined Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade and others at a UN press conference on Monday to promote the first UN Global Youth Leadership Summit.
The summit commenced on Sunday and brings together two representatives – a man and a woman between the ages of 18 and 30 – from each of the 192 member-states to discuss helping the organisation achieve its Millennium Development Goals.
The goals include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring that all people have access to clean water and sanitation, and universal primary education – all by 2015. “Now is the time to realise that that we're here, this is our generation, and we can make a statement and we can fight different diseases and we can fight poverty and we beat this,” Williams said.
On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the summit's youth delegates that the organisation was not on track to reach key health, education and environmental objectives by 2015, and said their help was needed.