DENVER (AP) — The head of the United Nations urged University of Denver graduates Friday to be “global citizens” and to fight to conquer poverty, hunger and hatred.

Speaking at the university’s graduate commencement ceremony, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talked up the U.N.’s ambitious roadmap to tackle the world’s major challenges, including poverty, climate change and equality for women. The U.N. has set a goal of ending extreme poverty everywhere by 2030.

“Your challenge, ours together, is to shape this new world for the better,” he told the graduates.

“These are times of tests to be sure, but to me the road ahead is rising. … The big picture is clear. Slowly and surely, the human condition is improving.”

Ban, who received an honorary degree in public service, also briefly addressed the ongoing crisis in Syria, where rebel fighters have been clashing with government forces for months.

“There is no military solution to this calamity,” said Ban, who has visited Denver twice in three years. “But a negotiated transition is the only way for Syrians living in peace.”

He added that he would organize an international conference next month with several countries — including the United States and Russia — to help resolve the crisis.

Ban told a Denver civic group earlier in the day that he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday about the summit.

Addressing the civic group, Ban also said he was going to step up pressure on the U.S. and other nations to take stronger action to address climate change.

“We cannot keep burning and consuming our way to prosperity,” he said, adding that the U.S. is “most crucially important” to global efforts to address climate change.

Ban had just come from a visit to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and renewed his call for a global agreement to address climate change by 2015.

“I’m going to raise as high as possible the political noise,” he said.

Ban also called for “sustainable development goals and a clear post-2015 agenda that will take care of unfinished business, apply to all countries, and end extreme poverty once and for all.”

– By THOMAS PEIPERT, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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