But he also warned that like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural.
"It is man-made," he said. "And it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."
This year, the United Kingdom's lead role internationally offers a rare chance for the country to make a truly global mark, and a very timely moment to engage young people in world issues.
A recent poll conducted by the Electoral Commission showed young people have a genuine interest in the world's well-being. For them, natural disasters in poor countries and global terrorism are the big issues that stimulate their political interest. But how many understand how our world organisations operate, what our Government's responsibilities are, or how they can engage with the issues they feel strongly about?
Global citizenship is more important than ever, and now is the time to put it right at the top of the agenda.
To celebrate the UK's presidency of the EU and the G8 group of wealthy nations and the 60th anniversary of the UN, The TES is publishing a series of three supplements to focus on these bodies, starting with this one.
Today, we also launch our biggest ever campaign to encourage schools to set up lasting partnerships with schools abroad. It is our response to the UN's call for "partnerships for development".
We hope this supplement will help you to show pupils the relevance of the UN today. It will be followed by supplements on the G8 on June 10 and the EU on September 30.
Brendan O'Malley TES international editor The contents of this magazine are the responsibility of The TES, not the sponsors