UN Deputy Secretary-General Speaks of a Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity

March 6, 2017

In an inspiring address to the UN Economic and Social Council in New York, new UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina J. Mohammed, spoke of the transformational vision at the heart of the SDG's as a 'once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver a better future for all'. She acknowledged that:

  • The prosperity and benefits of globalization have not been equitably shared. 
  • Half the planet’s wealth is controlled by a handful of rich men.
  • Some 200 million people are still jobless.
  • Many more are underemployed, working several jobs to make ends meet, or toiling under abusive conditions.
  • Gender discrimination continues to limit the opportunities and potential of our women and girls in all countries.
  • Anxiety is mounting as societies cope with climate change, urbanization, population growth, water scarcity and massive movements of people.
  • Fear and mistrust are increasingly driving political discourse. 

In this context she affirmed the Secretary-General's commitment to fast-track transformation ... The 2030 Agenda requires that we reinvent ourselves to better service Member States.

Ms Amina J. Mohammed was,until recently, Minister of Environment in the Nigerian Government, and prior to this Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning.


Will António Guterres be the UN’s Best Ever Secretary General?

February 6, 2017

When António Guterres resigned halfway through his second term as Portuguese prime minister in 2002 because his minority government was floundering, he did something unusual for a man who had seen the highest reaches of power.

Several times a week, he went to slum neighbourhoods on the edge of Lisbon to give free maths tuition to children.

“He never allowed a journalist to go with him or let himself be filmed or photographed, and he never let journalists talk to any of his students,” said Ricardo Costa, editor-in-chief of the Portuguese SIC News, who covered Guterres’s political career. The former prime minister told his surprised students that what he was doing was personal and not for show.

The Portuguese socialist, who [is now] UN secretary general, is an intellectual who grew up under Portugal’s dictatorship and came of age with the 1974 revolution that ended 48 years of authoritarian rule.

From the Guardian

The United Nations: Reflecting the World, Reflecting Ourselves

January 30, 2017

Judith Hegedus addressed the World Goodwill Seminar, The Ethical Responsibility of the Sustainable Development Goals,  at UN Headquarters in Geneva, October 28, 2016. Judith Hegedus is Executive Director of the College Board International Office. College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students around the world to college success and opportunity.

Any process to implement an idea is a complex one. How do we get from thought to action? There isn’t actually that much time left before 2030. How do we ensure effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda or the Sustainable Development Goals? It is commendable that these Goals have been formulated, and this is an example of the recognition of our global interconnectedness as one humanity. It is not an easy task to implement something like this, but we can do it by creating a vertical alignment between the thoughts, the words, and the actions of individuals as well as governments. We also need a horizontal and focused alignment between individual citizens’ efforts, national governments, and the United Nations. This is a task for every member of the human family, and for all responsible national governments. The United Nations is uniquely qualified as the organization leading the way for the SDG implementation and inspiring humanity. We have the thoughts and the words already in the form of the published 2030 Agenda – we just need to make sure that the proper actions follow, aligned with the thoughts and words. What roles do individual citizens, governments and the UN itself have in an effective implementation? 


Crisis of Growth, Crisis of Consciousness

January 1, 2017

Patrice Brasseur addressed the World Goodwill Seminar, The Ethical Responsibility of the Sustainable Development Goals,  at UN Headquarters in Geneva, October 28, 2016. Patrice Brasseur is founder of Psychopsophie, a movement which is at the cross roads of philosophy, spirituality and psychology. This text is a translation of the original French.

The involution and evolution of consciousness can be traced in a 'U shaped' curve. The first, descending limb of the curve, represents involution. While gradually losing the consciousness of instinctive interdependency [mass-type of unitary consciousness], humanity builds itself successive bodies. Towards the bottom of the curve --the remotest point from the collective-- individualism is powerful. Thereafter on the ascending evolutionary limb global awareness is growing.

 Today an ever growing fraction of our society is coming into the state of awareness of inter-independence. Every day we behold the growing prevalence of this state of consciousness manifesting in the international, social, and ecological spheres. Every day we can observe in books or movies the first signs of a new world consciousness. 

On the other hand, an overdose of egoism, with its dogmas about consumption and promotion of a non-egalitarian culture, is also manifesting everywhere. This explains how for half a century a double development has been taking place. While more and more persons are reaching the bottom of the curve, and developing individual consciousness - with all the implied consequences about consumption -  another parallel portion of society is breaking out of such a state of consciousness and moving into a growing awareness of interdependence. 






Dag Hammarskjöld– Ethics in International Cooperation

December 6, 2016

Marco Toscano-Rivalta addressed the World Goodwill Seminar at UN Headquarters in Geneva, October 28, 2016. A UN staff member, he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as a representative of the organization. 

The United Nations was conceived to be an agent of change, endowed with the necessary agency. Not the cause of the change, which indeed rests with the growing consciousness of humanity. Rather the United Nations is “a focal point for efforts so to guide the difficult and delicate development that this progress may be achieved in peace and become a means to reinforce peace”.

Being an agent of change implies to be a model of change, and this needs to be reflected in an ongoing adjustment of how the Organization is used, including its working methods. This is a fundamental point, which far from being purely academic, has very practical implications.

Hammarskjöld invested a lot of time in articulating, explaining, and practicing the potential of the precepts contained in the UN Charter on the role of the United Nations and the Secretariat, and how the existing rules offered a strong basis and could be interpreted to address the ever emerging new issues and serve the peoples’ needs.

A legitimate question is whether he and his colleagues at that time unveiled everything under the Charter or there is something else to pursue. Even today, Hammarskjöld is of help.

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