Accelerating Action for SDGs in Austria

Following Austria’s presentation of its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the United Nations in July 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Centre, in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Chancellery and Think Austria, organized a virtual high-level event, “Accelerating Action for SDGs in Austria,” on November 12, 2020, moderated by BKMC CEO Monika Froehler.

 © Bundeskanzleramt
© Bundeskanzleramt

The virtual high-level event was opened by H.E. Austrian Federal Minister for EU and Constitution, Karoline Edtstadler, who emphasized Austria’s commitment to the Agenda 2030: “We have to proceed with the consistent implementation of the SDGs until 2030 and set measures now to see visible effects in 10 years. The Agenda 2030 remains a main ambition in Austria.”

Ban Ki-moon, 8th UN Secretary-General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre, welcomed participants and lauded the participatory, multi-stakeholder process that led up to Austria’s first VNR report: “Austria’s first Voluntary National Review to the High-Level Political Forum of the United Nations was very well received by the international community and I want to commend all stakeholders for the work accomplished thus far.”

 © Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens
© Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens

Dr. Antonella Mei-Pochtler, Special Advisor to the Chancellor and Head of Think Austria, delivered a keynote where she emphasized the goal: “To position Austria as one of the most liveable and innovative countries in the heart of Europe. To do this, we cannot rest on our laurels, but must increase our ambition, strengthen our commitment, and decisively drive the process forward!”

The Covid-19 pandemic, together with the three VNR focus areas (digitalization, climate action and women, youth, and leaving no one behind) were cross-cutting themes throughout the event.  Mag.a Alexandra Wegscheider-Pichler, Senior-Advisor of Statistics Austria presented recent SDG data and reflected that: “COVID19 has had various effects on the SDGs in Austria, mainly negative on health, economy, education, inequality, and the environment. One positive impact is that it has enhanced people’s views on sustainably sourced food and products.”

To read the recently published report from Statistics Austria, click here!

©Lana Lauren
 

One of the highlights of the event was the virtual high-level panel “What is next? Accelerating Action for the SDGs in Austria” which welcomed speakers Dr. Christian KrollBertelsmann Stiftung, Dr. Antonella Mei-PochtlerFederal Chancellery of Austria and Think Austria, Dr. Astrid Rössler – parliamentarian from the Green Party, Mag.a Carmen Jeitler-Cincelli – parliamentarian from the Austrian People’s Party, and Klaus HeidingerSiemens Advanta.

The panel discussion started with each speaker sharing their statement of central concern and especially addressed the question of how we can positively use the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate action for SDGs and leave no one behind.

 

Astrid Rössler, recommended that the SDGs should form the meta-level of every political discourse, in particular in the parliament: “There are many possibilities to include the SDGs in Parliament. Starting from addressing them in committees, to interactions with the government, integrating them in all departments, and the visible embedment of civil society and academia.”

In addition, Dr. Christian Kroll named multilateralism as key for Austria and other states to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs: “Many states in Europe have the same weaknesses, and because of this, it is extremely important that states learn from each other for how to overcome these weaknesses with multilateral approaches.”

In the last hour of the event, four best practice champions for the SDGs in Austria were showcased. The four examples came from private, education, and civil society sectors.

               

Heinz Fischer, 11th Federal President of the Republic of Austria and Co-Chair of the BKMC closed the event on a positive note: “I am convinced that it is possible to achieve our ambitious goals. Where we protect our environment and its biodiversity where every citizen can live FREE and EQUAL IN DIGNITY.”

Stay tuned for more updates on our cooperation with the Austrian Federal Chancellery for promoting the SDGs in Austria!

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler meets with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi

On February 18th, BKMC CEO Monika Froehler made an official visit to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna and met with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ During this meeting, CEO Monika Froehler and Program Officer Julia Zimmerman briefed IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi and his team on the works of BKMC and discussed potential avenues of cooperation, particularly related to education and the empowerment of women. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ © Dean Calma / IAEA

BKMC co-hosts the event “Evolving beyond Trauma” as part of the Orange the World Campaign 2019

“The world needs to heal from trauma.” – Elena Castellucci, Past-President Juvenilia Club Vienna, Soroptimist International Austria, founding member TANKA Solutions.
On the occasion of the UN Women campaign “Orange The World”, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens brought together an event Orange the World 2019: Evolving Beyond Trauma with partners Juvenilia Club Vienna, Soroptimist International Vienna on December 3, 2019. Every fifth woman in Austria – around 20 percent of all women – is exposed to physical and/or sexual violence from the age of 15. One in three women had to experience some form of sexual harassment since they were 15 years old. Every seventh woman is affected by stalking from the age of 15. Many women experience traumas that accompany them throughout their lives. The events included keynote speeches and a panel discussion on trauma of female victims of violence against women including domestic violence. This topic was addressed by a jury of internationally acclaimed experts who will speak openly about their personal, unfiltered stories and share their knowledge and valuable insights into this complex topic.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered a keynote speech and stressed three important points:

  • Education and Information
  • Safe space (which should be funded by the government)
  • Awareness (which should create solidarity, help, understanding, and courage)
Elena Castellucci, Past-President Juvenilia Club Vienna, Soroptimist International Austria, founding member TANKA Solutions, said during the opening that we need to create a shift and decrease the amount of trauma by creating a real support system.” Before the panel discussion, an actress and author Erika Pluhar read an excerpt from one of her books “Raising the Voice.” Many inspiring stellar speakers were there to support the victims because talking about trauma requires courage and learning about it requires compassion. Speakers: Elena Castellucci, Past-President Juvenilia Club Vienna, Soroptimist International Austria, founding member of TANKA Solutions Co-chair Heinz Fischer, Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, former President of Austria Dr. Desiree Schweitzer, UN Women Austria Marcella Sigmund-Graff, President of the Austrian Union, Soroptimist International Austria Reading: Erika Pluhar Panel discussion: Kimberly Budinsky, moderator Sean McCarthy, Founder of TEDS Foundation, CEO of Tanka Solutions & HolisticHealth Coach Louise Deininger, Conceptual Artist & Founder of GYCO Sharon Anena, GYCO Administration Manager & Chief Assistant, Founder of Julias Heart CBO Rania Mustafa Ali, Jornalist & Documentarist Dr. Susanne Hölbfer, Senior Physician Gynecology at Wilhelminenspital Serani Siegel, Project Manager in the Gender Section of the Office of the OSCE Secretary General Source: UN Women

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler Attended SDG Forum 2019

On November 29, BKMC CEO Monika Froehler attended SDG Forum 2019 held in University of Vienna. Organized by SDG Watch Austria, the forum was dedicated to discussing Austria’s progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals together with all relevant actors in politics, administration, science and industry. At the forum, Minister for Sustainability and Tourism Maria Patek opened the SDG Forum highlighting the pioneering role of the Ministry of Sustainability in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
She said, “In the summer we presented our SDG Action Plan 2019+, which summarizes all initiatives of the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism. If we all persistently and committedly implement the measures in our sphere of influence, we will reach our goal more quickly. The realization of the UN SDGs is a shared responsibility that we must take on for the next generations.”
Thomas Alge, CEO of ÖKOBÜRO – Alliance of the Environmental Movement and co-founder of SDG Watch Austria, also a gave a welcome remark and said,
“The climate crisis, species extinction, poverty and inequality are highly interconnected. Climate change particularly affects agriculture. It leads to harvest losses and intensifies insect killing. Drought and other climate catastrophes are forcing people from the most affected regions of the world leave their country. The new government must therefore quickly face these challenges and make the implementation of the 2030 Agenda a top priority. Coherent implementation of the Global Sustainable Development Goals can effectively address many of the big challenges of the time.”
Sami Pirkkala, Advisor to Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development, also presented about Finland’s efforts in implementation of the SDGs: launching a voluntary commitment platform towards the SDGs and gathering more than 1,600 commitments from companies, education sectors, cities and individuals. Chairman of Austrian Partner Universities Uninetz, Franz Fehr illustrated strategic goals, milestone and daily work of Uninetz and indication of which university leads which subject area of the SDGs.  A panel discussion on “Where Do We Stand on the SDGs in Austria,” focusing mainly on ways in which Austria’s new administration can adopt the 2030 Agenda and take a leap toward the SDGs implementation, was moderated by Nina Thüllen and featured stellar panelists including: Parliamentarian Michael Bernhard; Parliamentarian Josef Moser; Ambassador Sylvia Meier-Kajbic; Councilor for Environment and Women Judith Schwentner; Secretary-General Thoams Weninger; Managing Director Anja Appel. © SDG Watch Austria 

BKMC Holds the Reception marking the Launch #OrangeTheWorld Campaign in Austria

November 25 marks the International Day for the Eliminating of Violence against Women and the start of 16 Days of Activism to put an end to violence against women. Every year, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens cooperates with UN Women Austria, Soroptimist International Austria and HeForShe Graz to implement the global #OrangeTheWorld Campaign in Austria to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence. On November 25, BKMC successfully launched the campaign of 2019 in the Centre. Co-chair Heinz Fischer and CEO Monika Froehler delivered welcome remarks, while Co-chair Ban Ki-moon sent words of appreciation with a video message. Representatives of the co-organizers Eliette Thurn from Soroptimist International Austria and Marcela Muniz Pivaral from UN Women Austria stressed the urgency of raising awareness for this topic. Head of HeForShe Graz, Bernhard Gollob, moderated a panel discussion with representatives from Austrian Victim Support Groups, entities that are based in Austrian hospitals and that are essential for detecting and preventing violence against women. We were grateful to our partners without whom it would not be possible to achieve such a large-scale contribution on behalf of Austria to this global campaign. © BKMC / Eugenie Berger

WEP GCC Fellows Participate in a Round Table: Effective Women Leaders

“I don’t want you to lower your expectation, but I want you to lower your self-criticism.”  – Helena Zimmerdahl from the Embassy of Sweden
Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) is in its full swing! As a part of BKMC’s Women’s Empowerment Program, WEP GCC fellows participated in a Round Table hosted in Diplomatic Academy of Vienna on November 19. At this Round Table, Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger, Deputy Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, featured as a moderator at the Round Table. Speakers were: Lulua Asaad from UNODC, Maggie Childs from Metropole and Austrian Startups, Mona Ali Khalil from MAK Law International, and Helena Zimmerdahl from the Embassy of Sweden to Austria. Lulua Asaad asked the fellows a critical question: “What does leadership mean to you?”

“It is important to have support from women within your network, while not neglecting the role of men.”

She also added that leadership is not about a position one is in, but responsibility leaders are capable of taking in their world. Regarding women’s empowerment, Mona Ali Khalil said,

“Empowerment of women requires men who are enlightened and women who are willing empower each other.”

As an international lawyer, she stressed that gender parity policies should be actual actions rather than lip service and should effectively address sexual harassment/sexual discrimination issues that still exist everywhere across the sectors. Minister-Counselor Helena Zimmerdahl pinpointed ‘transparency’ as an important trait of a good leader and said we must “speak up” for ourselves to make our voices heard. Zimmerdahl also advised the fellows to

“look at yourself and your accomplishments from the outside” in order to empower themselves.

Maggie Childs emphasized the need for getting help from mentors, friends and other experts when necessary and said,

“You don’t have to know everything before you do it… It is lonely at the top. You need to have your private space and friends who just listen to you. Having those friends would make you feel less lonely.”

A follow-up workshop was facilitated by WEP Project Coordinator Viola Christian from the Ban Ki-moon Centre. The fellows were grouped into 5 and discussed advice and points made from the Round Table, which they created their own manifesto with. © BKMC / Eugenie Berger For more photos of the event, visit BKMC album.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer at the World Manufacturing Convention 2019 Pre-talk

On September 19th, BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer had a pre-talk at the World Manufacturing Convention hosted in Hefei of Anhui province with former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, former German president Christian Wulff, former French president Francois Hollande, Anhui Governor Li Guoyang and Anhui Party Secretary Li Jinbin. The World Manufacturing Convention (WMF) 2019 kicked off on September 20th and will last until 23rd. This event with a theme of ‘Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creativity: Embracing the New Era of Manufacturing,’ aims to create a new future for smart, sustainable manufacturing by connecting manufacturers around the world. During his intervention, Co-chair Fischer put an emphasis on the importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in economic development and in the context of the World Manufacturing Convention 2019. This Convention is also expected to draw more than 4,000 participants from more than 60 countries and region, including those involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.  

The Third Regional Preparatory Meeting for the GEEF 2020 Took Place at the Margins of the 4th Board Meeting

The third regional preparatory meeting for the upcoming Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum (GEEF) on Sustainable Development took place at the margins of the 4th Board meeting of the Ban Ki-moon Centre in Vienna on August 28th, 2019. Manager Gyeongseok Yang and Dr. Taein Park from the Ban Ki-moon Center for Sustainable Development of the Institute for Global Engagement and Empowerment (IGEE) at Yonsei University joined the Board meeting during which they had a presentation. The presentation included the outcomes of the previous GEEFs and specific plans for plenary and parallel sessions as well as inviting speakers. Having the previous two preparatory meetings, the GEEF Secretariat together with the Ban Ki-moon Centre came to more concrete ideas and strategic logistics for the upcoming Forum. On behalf of the IGEE, Manager Yang expressed his deepest appreciation for the participation of the BKMC Board members in the previous Forums.
“The first two GEEFs could be successful thanks to the commitment and contribution of the Ban Ki-moon Centre Board members,” said Yang.
Following up on the presentation, the representatives from the IGEE came to the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s office and discussed further details of the objectives and logistics for the Forum with BKMC CEO Monika Froehler and Program Officer Julia Zimmerman. Under the theme of “Planet and Partnership,” GEEF 2020 will focus on some of the most pressing global challenges such as climate change, sustainable cities, youth activism, and more. The next regional preparatory meeting will be held at the margins of the UNGA meeting in September 2019 in New York, USA. GEEF 2020 will be held on February 26-27th next year at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

Meeting with President Alexander Van der Bellen of Austria

As the former United Nations Secretary-General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, Ban Ki-moon had a bilateral meeting with the President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen on August 25th. CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Monika Froehler also accompanied. The Ban Ki-moon Centre has closely worked with the Austrian government with a common goal of advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). President Van der Bellen expressed his appreciation for Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s advocacy and strong will to strengthen the relationship between Austria and South Korea. Ban says that half of his heart lies in Austria as he has served as a Korean Ambassador to Vienna in the 1990s. Having its headquarter located in Austria, the Ban Ki-moon Centre has not only actively cooperated with the international organizations and relevant stakeholders based in the country to promote the SDGs and global citizenship mindset but has it been also a bridge between the two countries, tackling the global challenges together with both governments. Ban has given advice to the Austrian government about its strategic plans for the Agenda 2030 and has also chaired the Korean government’s National Council on Climate and Air Pollution that tackles climate issues surrounding the Korean peninsula. Ⓒ BKMC / Eugenie Berger

Meeting with Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein of Austria

At the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) 2019, BKMC co-chairs Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer had a meeting with the Federal Chancellor of Austria Brigitte Bierlein on August 25th. Chancellor Bierlein expressed her appreciation for the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s cooperation for making Austria one of the leading countries in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing advice and expertise with the Centre’s leadership. At the EFA 2019, the Centre and the Austrian Chancellery successfully co-hosted the breakout session “Promoting the SDGs in Europe with a Global Mindset.” Delivering a welcome remark at the session, Chancellor Bierlein said:
“By conviction, Austria is actively engaged in multilateral matters. One could certainly emphasize that in terms of the implementation of the United Nations’  Sustainable Development Goals, Austria ranks among the top 5 countries worldwide.”
Ⓒ BKMC / Eugenie Berger