The 2019 Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum

Video Credits: IGEE Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment

From the 14th of February to 15th  of 2019,  all roads lead to Yonsei University. The university was hosting a major sustainable development forum, themed ‘the global engagement & empowerment forum.’  The forum convened global leaders from private and public sectors (experts, policymakers, members of academia etc)  who came together to hold discussions on key development issues affecting the planet.  The meetings that happened throughout the forum also served as a platform for stakeholders to collaborate towards accomplishing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The opening ceremony was presided by three significant people: Dr. Kim Yong-Hak- the president of Yonsei University, Mr. Heinz Fischer- the 11th President of Austria, and Dr. Lee Mi-Kyung, the president of KOICA . The three gave their opening remarks before ushering two more dignitaries to offer Keynote speeches. The later were Hon. Sebastian Kurz, the Chancellor of Austria and Hon. Park Won-soon, the Mayor of Seoul.

14th February 2019; Hon. Ban Ki-Moon offering his remarks. Credits: IGEE

The forum, a mix of plenary sessions, covered a wide range of topics. They ranged from health, women empowerment, smart cities, inter-Korean economic cooperation, desertification, financing SDGs, technology for future cities, just to name but a few. It was pretty interesting listening to leaders at the helm of top organizations that are leading the planet in dealing with big economic and social issues. Listening to them gave a grim picture of how decisions are made at the top; gave a peek into some of the measures that are underway to invent vaccines, to augment technology with service delivery, to halt the prevalent conflicts that are suffocating economic activity in certain areas, amongst other promising solutions.  But again, I am cognizant of these ‘big’ forums;  where decisions get ratified, better solutions are offered, but with little outcome at the end. Anyway, to get somewhere you have to start somewhere. This was better than nothing at all.

Other key presenters and discussants were Hon. Ban Ki-Moon- the 8th UN Secretary-General,  Ms. Natalia Kanem -the Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin- the Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group, Madam Helen Clark- the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Dr. Irina Bokova- the 10th Director-General of UNESCO, and many other influential figures. Dr. Mahmoud was a darling indeed. He bumped into me, chatted me up for a little while-joking a bit about the crazy Nairobi traffic before proceeding to do his presentation.

The forum was successful in its mission of promoting awareness about the measures we need to take to promote sustainable development. The discussions were enriching. Being a graduate student, specializing in sustainable development, the forum was an extension to my classes.

The forum was co-hosted by the Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment (IGEE), the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, KOICA, the Seoul Institute and Yonsei university.

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