Op-Ed by Ban Ki-moon: “A new generation of global citizens gives hope to humanity”

Ban Ki-moon, Special to Gulf News

I was recently in Dubai for a Model United Nations conference where students from across the United Arab Emirates gathered to participate in simulated sessions of the UN Security Council to address key issues that directly impact the world we live in. The title of the conference was ‘Challenges of Intervention in a Complex World’. Our world is complex, yes, and it faces unprecedented global challenges that require unprecedented global responses.
Maintaining peace is invariably challenging given there are always many sides to any issue. Conflicts and wars run the risk of becoming protracted, and dialogue often slows things down. When inflammatory words are used, angers flare and emotions go unchecked. The risks to humanity and the world as we know it must always be at the forefront of any decision. Dialogue, if used correctly, can play a crucial role. Agreements can be formed.
Take, for example, the 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was backed by more than 200 governments after a process of dialogue. Strong international support and unwavering commitment was reflected in the consensus of governments around the world that robust global cooperation — and action — was essential to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

Students’ leadership skills

In Dubai, I was hugely impressed by the young men and women I met. Their passion for the world and its future was clear to see as each sought to find realistic solutions to some of the biggest issues facing our planet. Finding solutions that are acceptable to a majority of representatives requires incredible skills of negotiation, conflict resolution and cooperation. I was interested to see what leadership skills these students would portray and if they would explore solutions that world governments, NGOs and others might not have thought of before.
Ban Ki-moon
Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon addresses a Model United Nations conference in Dubai recently. Image Credit: Supplied

“The best advice I can give students, who could one day be our leaders, is to always consider each person’s point of view and find dialogue that takes everyone’s needs into consideration.” – Ban Ki-moon

As the conference got under way there were reports circulating of an escalating crisis between the US and Iran. Fortunately, the crisis is now de-escalating, and dialogue is the only way to resolve it going forward to ensure permanent solutions are found. Forging an international consensus, at the best of times, is not simple, and even harder when tension sets in.
The best advice I can give these students, who could one day be our leaders, is to always consider each person’s point of view and find dialogue that takes everyone’s needs into consideration. For that, they must be armed not with weapons or threats, but with two key traits — passion and compassion.

Global citizens

When I left the United Nations, I founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens based in Vienna along with Heinz Fischer, former president of Austria. The centre focuses on the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals for empowering women and youth. Gender equality and quality education are critically important for the future of our planet. The reason is that women make up half of the world’s population, while half of the world’s population is also under the age of 25. Yet, despite best efforts, in many developing countries, primary, secondary and tertiary education for girls remains a challenge. Currently 264 million children are not at school, and a majority of them are girls. The world is also home to the largest generation of youth ever, with 1.8 billion young people worldwide. Nearly 90 per cent of which live in developing countries. More than 70 million youth are currently unemployed, and around 40 per cent of the world’s active youth are either jobless or living in poverty — despite working. As we all know, unemployment breeds many problems, ranging from inequality and crime to terrorism.
It is up to us as individuals to go out into the world and work for the betterment of humankind. To be a global citizen and act with passion and compassion so we can make the world a safer and more sustainable place for generations to come.
The youth I encountered in Dubai gave me hope, and filled me with great pride, that together we can make a difference and drive change. A brighter future depends on global citizens like you.
— Ban Ki-moon is 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and Co-founder of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.
Original source: https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/a-new-generation-of-global-citizens-gives-hope-to-humanity-1.69230614#

Ban Ki-moon delivers a keynote at the inaugural GEMS World Academy Model United Nations conference in Dubai

GEMS World Academy Model United Nations (GWAMUN) hosted its 1st conference in Dubai from January 9th to 11th, 2020. As Ambassador of the Model United Nations of the GEMS World Academy (GWA), Co-chair Ban Ki-moon inaugurated the 1st GWAMUN and delivered a keynote at the opening of the conference.

In his keynote address, Ban Ki-moon said:
“We have to be inspired to go out into the world and to work not only for the betterment of our own country but also for the betterment of humankind. It is critical that we all are global citizens first and act with passion and compassion. Today’s youth must be empowered to talk about these issues. I am confident that together, we can make the world safer and more sustainable for today and for generations to come.”

The two-day conference was attended by more than 500 delegates from 34 GEMS Education schools including GWA Singapore and other schools in the UAE. The conference was also attended by world leaders, government officials, educators and students from around the region, including former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who also serves as a Board member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre, as well as CEO of the Centre Monika Froehler.

“I am delighted to attend the first conference where I had the privilege of meeting the GEMS World Academy students and thank the Secretariat team led by their Director-General Lihong Wang, and Deputy General Aditya Joshi for organizing the Model United Nations Conference. These students are passionate and committed to the MUN concept. They are our future as I look forward to seeing how they will deal with critical topics impacting our world,” Ban added.
The conference, under the theme of “Challenges of Intervention in a Complex World,”  was organized by the GWAMUN Secretariat – a group of seven students from GWA, who Co-chair Ban had a meeting with before the opening of the conference. The MUN sessions concentrated on driving dialogue and sharping perceptions as well as gaining a critical understanding of the social, political, economic, and environmental challenges confronting the international community. Delegates discussed key aspects such as the difficulties of intervention in an increasingly complex, connected, and the multipolar world – one of the greatest challenges facing the global community.
The GEMS students also performed music pieces at the opening, some wearing Korean traditional clothes. GWAMUN’s ambition is not merely bringing simulation benefits to individuals but cultivating an ethic of service and a character of mindfulness. The conference aims to bring into closer contact the magnitude of the challenges confronting all of humanity and inspire each and everyone to match words with meaningful actions.
Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education, said:
“We are delighted to be joined by our guest of honour – the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations – His Excellency Ban Ki-moon – our Ambassador for the Model United Nations at GEMS World Academy Schools worldwide. It is absolutely a privilege for us, and for the students from around the region who are attending the conference debating on real world issues from climate change to alleviating poverty. With the generous support of Ban Ki-moon, our students have already started receiving an unrivalled learning opportunity to take notes from such an inspirational personality. They can develop a stronger understanding of diplomacy and gain a clearer worldview on current issues, helping them become truly global citizens.”
GEMS World Academy Dubai, founded in 2008 as a member of the GEMS Education network of schools, has gone from strength to strength and now welcomes more than 1,500 students from 85 countries every day. Learn more about GWA Dubai: https://www.gemsworldacademy-dubai.com/en © GEMS Education

Ban Ki-moon’s Keynote Address at the Opening of the GEMS World Academy Model United Nations

Ban Ki-moon’s Keynote Address Opening of the Inaugural Model United Nations Conference GEMS World Academy – Dubai January 9, 2020

I am delighted to be here at the inaugural GEMS World Academy, Dubai Model United Nations conference. It is energizing to see so many individuals and schools represented. To be an Ambassador of GWA MUN is a great honour and privilege for me. One of the main reasons I accepted this position from Mr. Sunny Varkey, Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, was because I knew it would give me incredible insight into the way youth are thinking. You are the world’s future leaders, and by being here it shows that you are committed to the world we live in and your passion to make a difference. I commend you all for that. The theme of the conference, “Challenges of intervention in a complex world”, is so important. It gives you all the opportunity to explore global issues and look for solutions that perhaps world governments, NGOs, and many others haven’t thought of. Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting the GEMS World Academy Secretariat who organised this conference. I was impressed with the leadership of the entire Secretariat team led by their Director-General Lihong Wang, and Deputy General Aditya Joshi. Without them this conference would not have been possible. Their passion, enthusiasm, and their drive to make a change gives me great comfort. Like all of you, they are so committed to the MUN concept. This fills me with so much pride. You may ask “why?” You are our future and I am confident that you will have prudent solutions to real 21st century problems. But, this conference is about more than that… and I hope that when the conference is over you will realise that you have personally grown and have met inspiring people and that you will have learned a lot. The conference will train some of your skills that will help you shape your future in many ways; from developing key leadership abilities to researching, writing and public speaking. Some of you will learn Moreover, finding realistic solutions to real world problems that are acceptable to a majority of representatives requires incredible skills of negotiation, conflict resolution and cooperation. This is easier said than done! I hope that the biggest take away for your all will be OWNERSHIP. Ownership of the world we all live in. OWNERSHIP for the Sustainable Development Goals. OWNERSHIP of the Agenda 2030. OWNERSHIP of the principle of leaving no one behind. When I ended my tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I knew that there was much more work to be done… So, I founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens along with Heinz Fischer, the former President of Austria.  The Centre is based in Vienna and focusses on empowering women and the youth in the framework of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. You might ask why we chose to focus on Gender Equality and Quality Education because half of the world is women and half the world is under 25 years of age. And, despite best efforts, in many developing countries, primary, secondary and tertiary education for girls STILL remains a challenge. We cannot ignore this. Currently 264 Million children are not at school, a majority of them are girls. In matters of access to education, professional opportunities, pay and representation there is no gender equality…yet! Women are still under-represented in top positions… 1 in 3 women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence… And trafficking women and girls is still happening around the world. Child marriage is still practiced and women and young people are the hardest hit in any conflict, war or crisis. This has to stop! The world is currently home to the largest generation of youth ever – with 1.8 billion young people worldwide. Nearly 90 per cent of which live in developing countries. More than 70 million youth are currently unemployed and around 40 percent of the world’s active youth are either jobless or living in poverty – despite working. As we know, unemployment breeds many problems from inequality, crime to terrorism. And this has to be addressed. Yes, progress is being made.  But it is not enough. The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens puts emphasis on decreasing youth mortality, supporting education, women and youth entrepreneurship – and raises awareness for global citizenship issues. We want to make sure that all young people know about the SDGs and become agents of positive change. This is important given today’s challenges globally. I am often asked: ‘but what can I do as an individual?’ believing that your contribution won’t make a difference. That is wrong! And if you think that it is someone else’s responsibility, then the world will continue to suffer. It doesn’t matter how small your contribution to society is, as long as you are contributing in whatever way you can – within your capability. We all know that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are each mammoth tasks… but they are achievable if each and every one of us plays our part. One of the biggest challenges is mobilising sufficient financing to effectively pursue the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. But, it is also about human-power. This brings me back to ‘what is achievable’ for an individual? You should never think your contribution won’t be enough to be a catalyst for change. Everyone can make a difference. And I want to give you a real example from within GEMS Education. I was delighted to learn that many GEMS teachers are United Nations Climate Change certified – with one school, The Kindergarten Starters, recently becoming the World’s first fully-accredited UN:CC school with all 300-plus of its teachers and support staff certified. I am even more pleased to hear that other teachers across GEMS Education schools are following suit. This was all made possible after ONE single teacher from GEMS First Point – The Villa – Candice Wright – discovered that accreditation was ONLY possible for teachers in the United Kingdom. However, she questioned the process and now as a result of her perseverance, the qualification is available to everyone around the world. This has now resulted in hundreds of teachers becoming UN:CC certified in less than a year. And, it is evidence – within your own network of schools – that one person CAN make a difference. I would like to leave you with this. Be inspired to go out into the world and to work not only for the betterment of your own country, or the country you live in but for the betterment of humankind. Be a global citizen! Act with passion and compassion! Together, we can make the world safer and more sustainable for today, and for generations to come. This is our moral responsibility as human beings. Thank you.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre’s leaders meet with the leaders of the GEMS Education and educators in Dubai

BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, Madam Yoo Soon-taek, BKMC Board Member Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO, and CEO Monika Froehler met with the leaders of GEMS Education and experts in education in Dubai on January 8th-9th. From the left to the right are Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education, Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO, BKMC Board member, Sunny Varkey, Chairman of GEMS Education and Founder of Varkey Foundation, Ban Ki-moon, Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Shanta Retnasingam, Special Advisor to the Chairman of GEMS Education, and Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The meeting on the 8th was hosted by Mr. Dino Varkey included:
  • Dr. Siva Kumari, 7th Director General of the International Baccalaureate
  • Dr. Saima Rana, Principal of Westminster Academy
  • Mr. Shantha Retnasingam, Special Advisor to Founder of the Varkey Foundation & GEMS Education
  • Mr. Christopher Stone, Global Chief Education Officer, GEMS Education
  • Mr. David Fitzgerald, Vice President of Education, GEMS Education
On the next day, Chairman Sunny Varkey hosted another meeting with the BKMC leaders, which was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, together with the leaders of the GEMS Education. They talked about the current political affairs and the education system in the region and the contributions made by the GEMS Education.  

Ban Ki-moon meets with the GEMS Education Model UN Secretariat

On January 8th, 2020, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon and CEO Monika Froehler had a meeting with the GEMS World Academy Student Executive Committee in Dubai. As Model UN Ambassador of the GEMS World Academy schools, Ban encouraged the students to act as global citizens.
“Whatever leadership you may take, you should have a global vision,” said Ban.
He stressed that aspiring leaders should have compassion and think outside their community and country and added,
“It is critical that today’s youth take on responsibility for the world we live in from an early educational platform, and it is essential that educators empower students to talk about issues such as the environment and sustainability so that we can limit any adverse effects on our future generations.”
Before the opening ceremony of the annual GWAMUN, the BKMC leaders also met with the Korean students at the GWA and had a Q&A session about global citizenship and the SDGs. Ban also shared his experience as the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations. Learn more about GEMS World Academy: https://www.gemseducation.com © GEMS