Austria’s First Voluntary National Review at the HLPF

On July 15th, 2020 Austria presented its first Voluntary National Review (#VNR) on SDG implementation as a part of the High-Level Political Forum. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Austrian delegation was not able to travel to New York to present the report in-person at the United Nations Headquarters. Despite this, the VNR was conducted virtually and vital Austrian stakeholders were invited to watch the presentation at the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

Thomas Alge Oekobüro, Bernhard Zlanabitnig EUumweltbüro, Sabine Schneeberger, BKA,

Sylwia Meier-Kajbic BMEIA, Monika Froehler BKMC

Representatives of the inter-ministerial coordination group (IMAG), NGOs, youth representations and the BKMC were all present for the presentation of the VNR. BKMC CEO Monika Froehler attended on behalf of the BKMC and shared her support and congratulations for the great achievement.

Over the past year, Austria conducted an intensive, multi-stakeholder consultation process for the SDGs and presented many of the outcomes of this process in the final VNR report. The BKMC hosted and facilitated some of these multi-stakeholder events in 2019, including best-practice events spotlighting international examples and a high-level retreat and breakout session at European Forum Alpbach. The international SDG ranking of the Bertelsmannstiftung and SDSN served as a reference point during the preparation and delivery of 14 recommendations by the BKMC for the Austrian government to improve SDG implementation.

Highlights from the 14 recommendations:

  • Focusing the next decade on achieving the SDGs

  • Recognizing the climate emergency and driving climate commitments

  • Strengthening initiatives to close the gender pay gap

  • Raising awareness for the SDGs across society, in particular in schools

  • Strengthening the exchange with Parliament on the SDGs

Learn more about the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s work with the Austrian government on achieving the SDGs here. 

The VNR presentation (below) elaborated on the outcomes of the reporting process and focused particularly on three primary themes: Climate Action and Climate Change, Digitalization, and Youth, Women and Leaving no One Behind. The Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, various ministers, as well as youth representatives, and representatives of the private sector and civil society organizations featured in the presentation.


Austrian Minister Karoline Edtstadler presented the #VNR on behalf of Austria. After the presentation, the Chair opened the floor for questions. These questions were answered by Minister Edtstadtler, Minister for the EU and Constitution.

Read the full report :

Access the Ban Ki-moon Centre SDG Resource Hub here.

Check out pictures from the event here.

Getting to Know our Global Citizen Scholars

On July 10, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens hosted an introductory session with the BKMC Global Citizen Scholars 2020. CEO Monika Froehler and Program Officer Julia Zimmerman joined the scholars via Zoom to discuss their individual SDG Micro-Projects, how the scholarship is going so far, and what to expect from the upcoming months.

The 6 scholars who come from various countries in Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe), had already participated in an online one-week training program with the University of Bordeaux. The intensive ​online training focused on “COVID-19 in #Africa: multidisciplinary insights”.

During the session, CEO Froehler introduced the Centre and detailed the Centre’s current projects. Following CEO Froehler’s presentation, each scholar made short presentations of their proposed SDG Micro-Projects. Many team members  of the BKMC were able to listen to the scholars’ project summaries and ask questions. At the end of the session, Program Officer Julia Zimmerman shared the timeline and details for the rest of the scholarship period.

The scholars will now focus primarily on implementing their own #SDG projects, but will also benefit from one-on-one mentoring with a professor from the University of Bordeaux and Expert Workshops hosted by the BKMC.

You can learn more about our scholars and their projects below. The projects focus on wastewater management, sustainable agriculture, increasing food security, reducing violence in urban slums, and supporting girls with menstrual hygiene education and resources.


Akasua Pepra

Akosua is a trained engineer, policy analyst, climate change and sustainability advisor and a youth change leader who is currently leading the Business Incubator Program of Recycle Up Ghana. Her SDG Micro-Project is focused on improving climate-resilient agriculture practices among widows and orphans in local communities of Ghana widows. She is in the process of adapting her project to the current circumstances around COVID-19.

Tafadzwa Schikonye

Tafadzwa is a young change-maker from Zimbabwe. Her SDG Micro-Project tackles wastewater management systems in Africa through a Zimbabwean case-study. Her main objective it to lobby for the establishment and adoption of sustainable urban wastewater systems and practices in Zimbabwe.

Ruvimbo Samanga

Ruvimbo (Ru) is the National Point of Contact for Zimbabwe in the Space Generation Advisory Council and the Women in Aerospace Africa Chapter. She is also a policy analyst at Space In Africa. Her project focuses on creating data solutions for small-scale farming in Zimbabwe by developing satellite-based solutions able to cater to the specific needs and resources of communities and lands in Zimbabwe.

Oduor Kevin

Oduor Kevin is from Kenya and is a public health expert, currently serving as the Chief Programs Officer for Stowelink Inc., a youth-led organization working to tackle the burden of non-communicable diseases. His project centers around reducing food waste through the drying of excess crops for later consumption.

Barbara Nakijoba

Barbara Nakijoba is from Uganda and is a monitoring and evaluation officer who is working with Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL). Her project works to reduce violence in urban slums of Kampala by supporting at vulnerable youth with opportunities for vocational training and entrepreneurship.

Hikmat Baba Dua

Hikmat is a young leader from Ghana committed to girls’ empowerment and founder of the organization ‘League of Young Female Leaders.’ Her SDG Micro-Project project aims to promote menstrual hygiene education and improving access to menstrual products through sensitization, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable means in rural communities in Ghana.

From Victory Day to Corona Disarray: 75 years of Europe’s Collective Security and Human Rights System

© IFIMES, 2020

On July 1, 2020, IFIMES with other partners organized a conference with over 20 speakers from all around the globe. Held at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the event ‘FROM VICTORY DAY TO CORONA DISARRAY: 75 YEARS OF EUROPE’S COLLECTIVE SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM’ was comprised of three different panel discussions and several keynote remarks from European leaders.

Ban Ki-moon Centre Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered a keynote speech via a recorded video message. In his speech, Dr. Fischer talked about his own experience as president and stressed the importance of multilateralism.

“I have learned in my life, the forecast and prognosis of the future of the country and mankind are 99% wrong. (…) It is not possible to forecast the future for a long period. So, what we can do is, try to be successful in the field of cooperation, on the field of this element, on the field of actions against damage in our private and in the field of democracy and democratization.”

Co-chair Heinz Fischer at Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer also highlighted the importance of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). He said, “The SDGs of the UN are incredibly positive resources. It’s a miracle, and a phenomenon that all members of the United Nations could unanimously accept and support the text on central political goals and issues.”

The Ban Ki-moon Centre COO, Katrin Harvey moderated the closing panel discussion of the day. together with panelists Lamberto Zannier, former OSCE Secretary-General; Donald James Johnston, former Canada’s Minister, and OECD Secretary-General; Franz Fischler, President of Europen Alpbach Forum; Nasser Kamel, Secretary-General of Union for the Mediterranean; Mario Holzner, Director-General WIIW Austria.

© IFIMES, 2020

In a current environment of uncertainty and global challenges, the panelists agreed that only healthy international cooperation and multilateralism can take Europe and its neighbors into a safe and peaceful future. In line with the BKMC’s mission, a coalition with youth was considered one of the vital components on a path that leads to minimal friction, maximal synergies, and maintained sovereignty in Europe. There was general agreement that the EU – like many other multilateral institutions – needs to be reformed, particularly regarding trade cooperation, R&D, and common diplomatic activities. Looking into its neighborhood, a collective family of nations in and around the European continent would have a better chance of building a greener and more sustainable future after the crisis.

Organizing partners of the event have already announced the follow-up conference in Geneva for early October, to honor the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Summit. Read more about the event here.

You can read more about the event in this news article by the Union of the Mediterranean here.

Be Proud by Guest Writer Stephane Magloire

Guest Blog Post by Stephane Magloire Creative Director and LGBTQ+ Activist based in Vienna, Austria. 


“My rule of thumb is: Ask openly. Expect criticism. Stay humble.” Stephane Magloire

During Pride Month, I was invited by the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens to facilitate an LGBTIQ+ awareness workshop. As a “G” member of the community, I applaud leaders who champion diversity within their companies and organizations. Since the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City, June has long been associated as a time of year to highlight, educate and celebrate how far the global human rights movement has come and its continued struggles along the way. However, I find it necessary in my workshop for participants — especially cisgender straight allies — to not only educate themselves about societal beliefs regarding LGBTIQ+ people, the way they live and confront pre-conditioned prejudices within oneself, but also cultivate empathy to better develop tools for how to create safer spaces for those who often feel targeted and/or marginalized.

House Rules


Establishing a safe space from the beginning of the workshop allows LGBTIQ+ participants to bravely share their experiences in not only their personal lives but also the workplace without feeling singled out. For this to happen, I ask all heterosexual participants not to disclose their sexual identity within the group to avoid thoughts such as “Well, you didn’t say you were straight, so…” Highlighting that straight people normally have the privilege of expressing their sexual identity at any time without fear of repercussion and now creating a space where everyone is an assumed “other” establishes empathy within the group.


I encourage workshop participants to make mistakes. And because of this, I created an “Ouch!” (then educate) rule. If at any time during the training, you say or do something that is offensive, one can raise her/his/their hand and say, “Ouch!” and share why a comment or word has hurt their feelings. This practice resolves most issues immediately and further establishes trust within the group.


During the workshop, I encourage all participants to take risks. My thinking is: How do you know if you’re prejudice unless you… ask a “stupid” question or make an insensitive/triggering comment? Participation encourages active listening. As a group, we learn to become mindful of our unintentional micro-aggressions towards others who are different than us and learn to speak from our own experiences using “I feel…” or “I think…” rather than “People say…”

The Workshop

Throughout the workshop, it is important as a facilitator to gauge the emotional environment of the room. I carefully plan my exercises as part of an emotional marathon… “If you pace yourself, drink plenty of water and listen to your body, the experience will sometimes hurt but will only make you stronger in the end.”

Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are the best way to get a group’s energy up and make everyone comfortable through laughter and curiosity. I want the participants to think: “Although I have been working alongside you for xzy amount of months or years, how much do we really know about each other?” In a time of physical distancing and quarantine, name games and personal trivia are the best approach to begin scratching beneath the surface and learn something new about colleagues in your co-working space. Additional ice breakers after pauses between exercises are also a great way to cut emotional tension and re-focus the group.

Early Learning

Stereotypes are always a good place to start because it is something that affects us all regardless of assumed identities by us or perceived labels by others. I begin with a guided fantasy that gives workshop participants an opportunity to feel what it’s like to be ridiculed, excluded and discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, but with a twist… “What would it be like to live in a world where everyone is LGBTIQ+ and you are the ‘only’ straight person?” Our conditioning of most stereotypes can be attributed to early learning from interactions with family members, friends as well as the communities we grew up in. Understanding the challenges faced by your LGBTIQ+ colleagues, creates an awareness for how to better approach non-gender specific conversations about dating, expands your views outside of what is “normal” and invites LGBTIQ+ people in the group to speak their truth without fear of judgement or outing themselves.

This is Me

Living in a country like Austria, there is a long list of human rights granted to its citizens and legal residents in the LGBTIQ+ community; however, the cultural mindset still has a long way to go in embracing individuality and accepting what makes us unique. In this part of the workshop, we dive into the differences between tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance establishes an internal hive mind mentality, where one becomes afraid to show herself/himself/themselves as an “other.” A positive approach includes a challenge to the group, where they have to identify and share what makes them different and explore why these parts of us should be celebrated as much as what makes us the same. Note: Usually, this is where most participants come out of the closet, which further bonds the group.


There are three main type of losses that occur in our lives: those that are predictable (losses that we choose), random losses (losses that come from someone we love) and unpredictable (losses that come from strangers). Unfortunately, members of the LGBTIQ+ community do not have the privilege of expressing their love in today’s society, which in turn affect the people they love, the things they cherish, the ideals they value and the places they occupy. Some choices are predictable, but for most, they are random and unpredictable. This is the most emotionally dense part of the workshop because participants finally come to terms with what happens to LGBTIQ+ people as a cause of constant rejection from your environment and of yourself.

Be the Change

At this critical moment in our history, it is important to understand that our outward behavior shifts the dynamic of our respective communities and change begins with us. Gay is no longer an acceptable umbrella term, Queer is the voice of a new generation, people of color and transgender lives matter and for some who have the desire to be an ally, this information overload can be overwhelming whether you have an LGBTIQ+ family member, best friend, neighbor or work colleague. Being politically correct isn’t enough; you must be anti-homophobic… Where do I start?

My experience with the Ban Ki-moon Centre participants was a paralyzing fear of: What do I do when I see something happening? How do we make our co-working space speak our values without using words? At the end of the workshop, I like to think of this process as group healing. It is a time where the group can openly share their thoughts and experiences, and we as a group come together to create an action plan for how to not only create a safe space for LGBTIQ+ people but also be one too!It is my belief that there is no “right” approach for how to be an ally for anyone, regardless of how they express themselves, who they love or what they believe. However, my rule of thumb is: Ask openly. Expect criticism. Stay humble.

BKMC Took Stage at the RELX #SDGinspiration Day

On June 24th, RELX hosted the seventh SDG Inspiration Day filled with partnered with  a series of engaging, interactive and stimulating events. The event was curated in collaboration with Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, Global Citizen,  Responsible Media Forum, UN Global Compact India, UN Global Compact UK. The virtual event explored topics including post Covid-19 opportunities for the Goals, innovations towards achieve the Goals and the ‘new normal’  for the #SDGs.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre took stage at three different sessions throughout the day. CEO Monika Froehler joined as a panelist for the session on, “Inclusion and Equality: leave no-one behind to achieve the goals.” The session included inspirational panelists such as Akanksha Sharma, Head of Sustainability and CSR at Sterlite Technologies Ltd., and Sello Hatang, President of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. 

“There are 4 ways to continue our work towards achieving the SDGs. Cooperation, Activism, Technology, and Compassion. The latter is important in that we understand we have more in common than what differentiates us. Only then we will leave no one behind.” CEO Monika Froehler.

Although we are met with many problems in regard to inclusion and the global divide, the speakers conveyed the importance of global citizenship education as a solution to mending these inequalities.

Later during the event, Program Officer Julia Zimmerman hosted a session included in the “Innovation Fair” featuring two of the Centre’s Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholars of 2020. Julia shared two videos of the scholars explaining their work towards the SDGs and their proposed SDG Micro-Projects for the scholarship.

Mr. Odour Kevin is working in Kenya, Nairobi, for sustainable food management and reducing food waste, and Ms. Tafadzwa is working for sustainable wastewater management in Zimbabwe.

During his presentation, Mr. Oduor Kevin said, “The problem of food insecurity is so huge. It’s an elephant. It cannot only be left to governments, it cannot only be left to organizations, we must all do something.”

In her presentation, Ms. Tafadzwa stated that “As much as accessing clean water is important, for the sustainability of water and health, there is a need for equal attention to be paid to wastewater and what happens to water after it has been used. It is the responsibility of both the provider and the recipients of water.”

To learn more about our scholarship program, click here.

Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2020 is Launched!

On June 22nd, 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens launched the Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2020 in partnership with RELX and Université de Bordeaux. Due to #COVID19​, the scholarship program has been adapted to include an online training, expert workshops, and ​one-on-one mentoring sessions. The scholarship program is catering to 6 outstanding scholars from African countries and ​will last a total of six months.

The first day of the program held an introductory session for all the participants, followed by an overview of the one-week online summer program the Global Citizen Scholars will attend. The intensive ​online training developed by  Université de Bordeaux. will focus on “COVID-19 in #Africa: multidisciplinary insights”.



In the following weeks, the scholars will receive online one-on-one mentoring throughout the completion of their “#SDG Micro-Project”, attend expert online workshops hosted by the Ban Ki-moon Centre, and finally obtain a Certificate of Achievement from the centre signed by Co-chairs Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer.

Learn more about the Global Citizen Scholarship program here.

Integrating SDGs in Viennese Curriculum

May 27th 2020, marked the start of an influential partnership between the Ban Ki-moon Centre and the Bildungsdirektion fur Wien. (Directorate of Education).

The cooperation between the BKMC and Bildungsdirektion Wien aims to promote and advance the SDGs education in secondary schools in Vienna. Today, Heinz Fischer, the BKMC Co-chair joined Director of Education Mag. Heinrich Himmer at the newly established Bildungshub that serves as a platform to share creative impulses and innovative learning practices where teachers and students discuss new ideas and implement projects. Through the video recorded today Co-chair Heinz Fischer will address teachers and students to express the importance of the SDGs to tackle today’s challenges .

Times of crisis like the COVID19 pandemic highlight the utmost importance of education and knowledge about the interconnectedness of global challenges.The joint mission of education for the Sustainable Development Goals leads to a synergetic pathway between the BKMC and Bildungsdirektion Wien. 

The collaboration will start with an online kick-off event on the topic of “The relevance of the SDGs in Viennese schools” on June 18th . Experts from the education sector will discuss ways of integrating the SDGs into the existing curricula.  

Finalizing Women’s Empowerment Program #GCC SDGs Projects

The last conference call of the Women’s Empowerment Program, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was held today, 18 May 2020, in an online session.

The Women’s Empowerment Program: GCC was launched last November in 2019. 20 aspiring fellows of WEP GCC gathered from Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and participated in a 2-week tailor-made program to advance their global potential to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and foster women’s empowerment. The training was followed by a six month implementation period of the fellows SDG Micro-Projects. The fellowship covers 13 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Today the fellows had their 4th and final conference call giving them the opportunity to share their individual experiences and learnings from their project implementation process. The fellows will finalize their fellowship with the Ban Ki-moon Centre next week 31st May by presenting the impact report of their SDG Micro-Projects. They will then receive a Certificate of Achievement and officially be part of the Ban Ki-moon Centre Global Citizen Alumni Network. Congratulations to all our fellows. We hope you continue following your passions and collaborating with the Alumni Network.  

Is preparing for peace and global citizenship a priority?

Watch our CEO Monika Froehler in the Online Education Leadership Forum panel on Education in the Times of Corona: Is preparing for peace and global citizenship a priority?

The panel took place online, on May 14th 2020, and was organized by the Online Education Leadership Forum which is hosted by the Council for Global Citizenship Education (GCED) under the auspices of the Global Citizenship Foundation.

The panel started with a moment of silence to commemorate all those who have lost their lives during the pandemic. The panelists underlined the importance of global citizenship education, especially during the pandemic, that we should look beyond our differences and see what connects us. Global education needs to include crisis and trauma response and appreciation of common humanity. 

Ban Ki-moon Centre CEO Monika Froehler mentioned the ‘head, heart, hand’ methodology of GCED: Head – stimulating children intellectually. Heart – stimulating children emotionally. Hand – stimulating skills. It was agreed upon that taking action on grass-root level is key, but that all stakeholders should chip in! The bottom-up approach raises awareness on the importance, but we need governments to transform ideas into policy.

You can watch the full panel below with:

☑️ Dr. Ashok K Pandey, Chairperson of the Counsil for GCED Global Citizenship Foundation

☑️ Dr. Paul Downes, Director Educational Disadvantage Centre, Institute of Education, Dublin City University, Ireland DCU ☑️ Simon Kuany, Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education Specialist,UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development UNESCO MGIEP

Women’s Empowerment for Latin America

The Ban Ki-moon Centre is excited to soon start a new Women’s Empowerment Program catering to young dedicated women from Latin America. The program will be implemented together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and with the generous support of the State of Qatar.

 The 11th President of the Republic of Austria and BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer and His Excellency Sultan bin Salmeen Al Mansouri, the Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the UN in Vienna showed their dedication to this innovative program through contributing key remarks on the initiation of the Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) for Latin America during an online meeting on 13 May 2020. UNODC was represented by John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs and Marco Teixeira, Senior Programme Officer of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration and was moderated by Lulua Assad.
 “We are encouraged to see us joining forces for this tailor-made Women Empowerment Program.  Especially in challenging times like these, it becomes evident how necessary it is to continue our work to strengthen multilateralism, justice, rule of law and build partnerships that contribute to achieving the SDGs.”, emphasized Heinz Fischer Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre.
  During the virtual exchange, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens CEO Monika Froehler presented some of the details of our future collaboration which will be part of the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative, a component of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration. The Program will focus on training and equipping 20 young, dedicated women from Latin American countries with the skill-set to act as SDG leaders within their fields of work. While all of the 17 SDGs provide the framework for the programme, its focus will be on SDGs 4,5,16 and 17. It will start with a period of online learning, followed by 2-week in-person training in Vienna and will conclude with the implementation of SGD Micro-projects by the participants in their local contexts.  The WEP for Latin America will be the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s first initiative for that region. Taking the first step in this strategic partnership with UNODC, we are looking forward to the opportunity to transform education policy into action with the distinguished support of the State of Qatar.  Please stay tuned for more information on the program.