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Message to the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Club of Rome (Rome, October 17–18, 2018)

(Read at the annual general assembly of the Club of Rome, Rome, Italy, October 16, 2018)

It is a great honor to be able to express my respect on occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Club of Rome.

The Club of Rome was an early voice warning of the kind of global crises that are so evident today. These warnings were issued from a holistic commitment to the human future. Over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting with the Club’s leaders, Drs. Aurelio Peccei, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, conducting in-depth discussions on global challenges and publicizing the results in the form of printed dialogues. Through these discussions, we came to a shared understanding: that the crises facing humankind will only be solved through faith in the immense potentialities of individual humans, and a renewed focus on the positive transformation of each individual.

This year marks the 110th birth anniversary of Dr. Peccei, the Club’s co-founder. The memory of our encounters is indelibly etched in my heart and mind. Like a warm and trusting father, he shared with me—frankly and passionately—his most deeply held beliefs and insights. The impression that he made, and my sense of gratitude, will remain with me always.

After his passing, I had the opportunity to meet with his sons, Roberto and Riccardo, at which time we discussed the importance of continuing to work for the goals and ideals to which Dr. Peccei consecrated his life. We also discussed the great hopes Dr. Peccei placed in young people and their capacity to change the world. I fully share this conviction.

This past June, at a press conference held in Rome, Argentine Nobel Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and I issued a joint statement entitled, “To the Youth of the World: An Appeal for Resilience and Hope.” In it, we encouraged young people to focus on taking concrete steps within the context of their immediate realities. There is no challenge that cannot be resolved if youth come together in solidarity, acting in concert from within their respective places of belonging across all differences of spiritual and cultural identity. Youth are the change agents, the leaders for this era, responding to the hopes and dreams of the world’s people.

I would like to close this message of felicitation voicing my vow to continue to support the work of the Club of Rome by working with the world’s youth based on a sense of shared responsibility for the human future.

Together with my best wishes for the success of this historic General Assembly and 50th Anniversary Conference, I would like to offer my heartfelt prayers for the further flourishing of the Club of Rome and for the health and continued success of all our distinguished friends in attendance today.

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