“The beautiful dream of a world without war and poverty” President Van der Bellen, Ban Ki-moon, and Heinz Fischer in Krone Zeitung

 

On September 8th, the President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, visited the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens office in Vienna. The meeting was hosted by the Co-chairs of the Centre, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and the 11th President of Austria Heinz Fischer.

Following a brief introduction with the team and of the Centre, the three government leaders held a discussion on recent global affairs in private and then spoke with Krone Zeitung. You can read the full interview below in English or here Krone220911 in German.

“The beautiful dream of a world without war and poverty”

The former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and his predecessor Heinz Fischer met with the “Kronen Zeitung” for an in-depth conversation.

What they are wishing for was the final question posed to the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and his predecessor

Heinz Fischer after a long joint conversation with the “Krone”.

A world where people listen to each other and their rights are respected, a world where no one is poor, where men and women have equal rights and where wars are forbidden.

Ban even dreams of global citizenship. Just like John Lennon in the year 1971 in his peace ballad “Imagine”:

Imagine there are no countries, no possessions, nothing to kill or die for…

Unfortunately, this is unrealistic, as Ban explains on the basis of his Korean home country. As a child, he was an internally displaced person, and the state of war between North and South Korea continues to this day, and the former Secretary-General does not see a reason for optimism at this point. A reunification is simply unrealistic. All summit meetings at the highest level have been unsuccessful.

The same applies to Taiwan, which considers itself an independent state but is seen by China as a renegade province. “One solution,” says Heinz Fischer, “is not in sight.” One could only hope for reason and that there is no reason for war.

Van der Bellen: “Dangerous developments”

The issue today, according to Alexander van der Bellen is that there are so many crises at once. The pandemic is not yet over. No one knows what winter will bring. The Russian war in Ukraine is driving up energy prices. This is a problem for the economy, as well as for individual people.

All of these are dangerous developments. 

“People are worried”, said the Federal President.

“And they have every reason to be.” Still, he tries to reassure.

The EU is reacting in a coordinated manner and holding talks with Russia in one unified voice: “This surprised Putin. He did not expect that.” Nevertheless, we shouldn’t foster any illusions: “The war will last for a while.”

Consequently, we shouldn’t only get away from fossil fuels for this reason. This should have happened decades ago.

Hence, we would not be dependent on Russian gas now.

Ban: “The role of politics is to give people a voice.”

“With regard to climate change, we were acting a bit like sleepwalkers,” explains van der Bellen. “We didn’t take it seriously for decades.”

Not only on this point do we need a “global vision”, says Ban. There is so much frustration in the world: “Yet, it’s the role of politics to give people hope.”

Fischer: “In the end, there are only losers.”

The lesson from history is that war does not solve problems, adds Fischer: “In the end, there are only losers. Even the winners are in truth, losers.” After all the deaths. And Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen concludes: “We all want peace.”  This brings us back to John Lennon’s beautiful dream.

The Demand Paper Presentation Brings the Youth Agri Champions Webinar Series to a Close

After a month of working together, the efforts of the Youth Agri Champions came to a culmination in the final workshop of the Youth Agri Champions Peer2Peer Webinar Series. Coming together for the last time in this series, the participants presented their demand paper and reflected on the past few weeks and what is still to come. 

Opening the workshop this week was the BKMC’s Co-chair, Dr. Heinz Fischer, who praised the Youth Agri Champions for their ‘ambition, dedication, and enthusiasm for fighting climate change. He supported the demands created and outlined his willingness to amplify the voices and ideas shared over the last weeks. Thereafter, three Youth Agri Champions, Richard Kachungu, Mercy Philips, and Usman Kibiya, officially handed over the demands to the BKMC, covering their demands in the areas of social risk management, finance, and capacity building.  

Furthermore, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon also sent his words of congratulations to the Youth Agri Champions. “Your work plays an important role in fighting climate change, improving food security, and bettering the future of our planet for your communities at large,” emphasized Co-chair Ban, referring to the Youth Agri Champions’ demands. He very much looked forward to pushing for and elevating the demands at the global level and encouraged the Youth Agri Champions to continue their collaboration in tackling the climate crisis. 

For some of the Youth Agri Champions, it was their first time engaging in cross-border cooperation, with many signaling their enthusiasm to become further involved in solving global problems. After weeks of learning from each other’s diverse experiences and hard work in building up their demands, the final demand paper from the Youth Agri-Champions is now ready to help Ban Ki-moon and the BKMC team advocate for agricultural adaptation to climate change at COP27 and beyond. 

 

Ban Ki-moon Centre Board Members and CEO Monika Froehler reappointed

The Ban Ki-moon Centre is delighted to announce the prolongation of its board members, and the reappointment of Monika Froehler as Chief Executive Officer for four more years.  

“We have four more years of continued growth & consolidation.”  

said Co-chair Heinz Fischer at the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens virtual board meeting on April 5, 2022.

CEO Monika Froehler moderated the Board Meeting, briefing the Co-chairs and the board members on developments of the Ban Ki-moon Centre US Foundation in New York, and the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s programmatic activities. She highlighted the Centre’s efforts in particular the Leadership Program for African leaders in Climate Adaptation, the Global Citizen Mentorship Program on Global Health and the Global Citizen Scholarship Program and its SDG Micro-Projects, the success of the Agricultural Adaptation Program, and the cooperation with the Austrian government for the SDG Dialogforum 2022.  

The Board discussed strategic methods for promoting the Centre’s activities as well as effective ways to amplify the messages through the Centre’s various partnerships, affiliated offices and channels.  

Check out our board HERE.

Check out our activities in 2021 and our goals for 2022 HERE

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon Visits Vienna

On September 7 – 9, 2021 – Vienna, Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens (BKMC), Ban Ki-moon and his wife Madam Yoo Soon-taek along with Former South Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Sook arrived in Vienna, Austria. During the two-day visit former UN Secretary-General Ban attended many bilateral meetings, visited the UN Headquarters in Vienna as well as the BKMC office. BKMC board member H.E. Ambassador Sadiq Marafi of Kuwait hosted an amazing welcome dinner inviting several high-level guests including H.E. Marzouq Al Ghanim, Speaker of Kuwait’s Parliament, BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi. The dinner provided the Co-chairs and H.E. Ambassador Marafi an opportunity to discuss the collaboration between the Embassy of Kuwait and the BKMC.

The second day started with the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon revisiting the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna. At the Vienna International Centre, he met with UNODC Director General Ghada Fathi Waly, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, UNIDO Director General Li Yong as well as Martin Nesirky Director of the United Nations Information Service. The discussions focused on the current and future collaborations between the agencies and the BKMC regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, Rule of Law, climate change and empowering young people.

 
BK Kurz trifft Ban Ki Moon im BKA. 08.09.2021, Foto: Dragan Tatic

In the afternoon, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had bilateral meetings with the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig taking the opportunity to talk about, the situation in Afghanistan, the pandemic, and climate change. BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon also presented the government leaders with signed copies of his new memoir “Resolved” underlining the importance of multilateralism in a divided world.

On his final day Co-chair Ban visited the offices of the BKMC in Vienna and took the chance to catch up with the team and the BKMC’s activities. Following the visit, Co-chair Ban’s final stop was a farewell lunch hosted by H.E. Ambassador Shin of Korea to discuss the UN’s history and anti-corruption efforts with IACA Dean Thomas Stelzer.

   

Access the photo album below:

BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon Visit Vienna 2021  

Innovative Initatives to Prevent Gender-Based Violence

As a part of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and the Orange the World Campaign, the Ban Ki-moon Centre hosted an interactive session during the  Education for Justice Global Dialogue Series organized by the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime.

The event series, part of the Education for Justice initiative held between 1 – 4 December, was launched with a virtual high-level opening, where Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered his opening remarks, underlining the importance of youth education and rule of law for a more just world Empowering children & youth to understand & exercise their rights is what will bring us an equitable & sustainable future based on the universality of human rights” – Ban Ki-moon 

 

The interactive session hosted by the BKMC titled “Education, Empowerment and Effective Policies: Preventing Gender-Based Violence”  welcomed three experts and presentations of their innovative initiatives to prevent gender-based violence.

Setting the tone of the discussion, CEO Monika Froehler highlighted the urgency of the topic: Education, empowerment, and effective policies are key tools to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence. We must act now to create a long-term solution.” 

As the first intervention Humberto Carolo – Executive Director of White Ribbon Canada, shared his expertise on education for and inclusion of all, in particular men and boys, to address all forms of gender-based violence:  “Accountable, intersectional, human rights-based, feminist-informed primary prevention with men and boys is an important complementary approach to ending all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination. Men and boys have important roles to play as gender equality allies and change agents at the individual and systemic levels.  

Sabeeka Ahmad, BKMC Global Citizen Fellow, and Social Entrepreneur shared her expertise on women’s empowerment and the mission of her business. The Bahrain based social enterprise Warsha develops customized programs for survivors of violence and works with women in the long run especially on financial stability:  “We support survivors of GBV by listening to them. Only then we can design our intervention towards empowerment and recovery!” 

With regards to effective policies for #GBV, Kristina Lunz, Co-founder & Co-director of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy underlined how current ideas and concepts in the security and foreign policy sector are based on an idea of dominating other states and individuals. She claimed: “Domination always requires violence. Gender-based violence is an epidemic in our society – we will only be able to overcome male violence against women once we have created a society based on equality. An end to violence is always grounded in mutual respect. “

 

 

Following the presentations, the audience was invited to join three virtual booths with each expert (Education, Empowerment, and Effective Policies) to engage in a brainstorming session and discuss innovative initiatives to prevent gender-based violence.  

The education booth led by Humberto emphasized the need for a multi-stakeholder approach against backlashes to women’s rights. Sabeeka engaged her participants in the discussion via an online survey, discussing the complementing elements to financial empowerment such as education, trained health services, women’s clubs, etc. 

Kristina encouraged attendees with a provoking question to think about how to drive change: “What makes you furious and angry about current policies for GBV? “ . Effective policies are only so effective when more women are part of the decision-making process, all people are educated on the issue, and multi-stakeholders recognize and raise awareness on GBV. 

BKMC at the SDG Marketplace

On September 24th, the BKMC participated in an SDG Marketplace event organized by the Directorate of Education of the City of Vienna. During the fair, a diverse selection of institutions presented their teaching and learning materials on the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly for students. The materials will be showcased throughout the year for teachers and students at the Bildungshub Vienna.

Info booths were provided by BAOBABÖKOLOGAmnesty International AustriaForum Umweltbildung, and the Human Rights Office of the City of Vienna and BKMC.

 

The networking event highlighted the diverse SDG activities of the participating organizations and served to explore possible synergies in the implementation of the SDGs, particularly in the education sector.

City of Vienna Director of the Education Hub Mag. Heinrich Himmer and Co-Chair of the BKMC, Dr. Heinz Fischer emphasized the crucial role of schools as multipliers for the SDGs. Children and youth are the changemakers of tomorrow who must utilize the Agenda 2030 as a roadmap to navigate in the world and to solve its complex challenges.”

The newly launched interactive SDG wall, including an app, will serve as an instrument to educate students about the interconnectedness of the 17 goals.

Co-Chair Dr. Heinz Fischer and CEO Monika Fröhler addressed teachers and students in a video message, in which they highlighted the importance of the SDGs BKMC’s contribution notably the Centre’s three completely free online courses, the portfolio of SDG micro-projects prepared by the Centre’s various fellows and scholars and the SDG Resource Hub. More teaching and learning materials are available at Bildung2030

Kick-Off Event Hosted with Bildungsdirektion


The year 2020 marks the beginning of an impactful cooperation between the Bildungsdirektion Wien and the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, working towards the implementation of the SDGs into Viennese Schools.

The jointly organized kick-off event that took place on June 18th, 2020 saw the participation of over 80 teachers and directors from the majority of primary and secondary schools in Vienna.

The event, moderated by CEO Monika Froehler, introduced the participants to the SDGs and created room for discussions about the challenges of and opportunities for integrating the 17 global goals into school curricula. The education director in Vienna, Heinrich Himmer, as well as Ban Ki-moon Centre co-chairman Heinz Fischer both highlighted the importance of education for the SDGs and the crucial role of young people in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

During the presentation, a mentimeter survey collected opinions and thoughts of the participants. This way it became evident that cooperation, teacher workshops and student projects were needed to fully introduce the SDGs to every primary and secondary school in Vienna.

 

In the breakout rooms, the participants were able to discuss their experiences with the SDGs and share ideas about a successful implementation of the agenda into existing curricula. Ideas for the integration of the SDGs included city-wide competitions on the SDGs, workshops for teachers, expert groups in schools, inclusion in textbooks and student project days.

The pedagogical director Ulrike Mangl gave concluding remarks and pointed to the BildungsHub Vienna, which will actively start promoting the SDGs in its facilities as of fall 2020.

An SDG marketplace with materials and experts is envisaged to take place at the BildungsHub at the beginning of the winter semester this year.

As a result of the kick-off event and the inquired SDG materials, the Ban Ki-moon Centre will soon publish a resource page for Austria and abroad.

Stay tuned to learn more about Vienna’s progress in integrating the SDGs into primary and secondary school programs.

Die Presse: “It’s in Our Hands”


The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Co-chairs Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer have co-authored an article for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse on COVID19 and the challenging tasks that lie ahead. You can access the German version of the article here and read the English version below.


It is in Our Hands

Die Presse, 3 June 2020 by Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer

6 months ago – in December 2019 – the term Covid-19 was, at best, only familiar to a small group of scientists.

Today, the term has captured the attention of the world, bringing with it fear and tension as well as influence on politics, the economy, culture, sport, and most importantly, the lives of individuals. At the same time, it has also raised many questions.

In the first months of this year, while the number of individuals infected by the virus and death tolls rose sharply, many trivialized Covid-19 by comparing it to the annual wave of influenza. On the other hand, others over-dramatized the situation and overstated the actual number of victims. Slowly, a more realistic picture has emerged.

The tasks we are now facing are huge, but not impossible to achieve if we work together and act in solidarity.

The key terms that matter are COOPERATION, SOLIDARITY, RESPONSIBILITY, DISCIPLINE, and COMPASSION FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE.

Let us start with a concrete example: Austria and Korea are two countries with excellent relations which uphold the basic principles of the United Nations. These two countries have had decades of close political, economic, and cultural cooperation and now have been similarly affected by Covid-19. With well-developed healthcare systems, both countries have acted quickly, their populations have behaved responsibly and with great discipline. Fortunately, this can also be said of several other countries which are willing to cooperate, exchange experiences, and provide mutual support.

It should not be overlooked that many countries have also reacted differently, namely by not taking the pandemic seriously enough or withdrawing into a narrow nationalistic mindset and deviating from the principle of solidarity and cooperation.

In addition, the USA and China, superpower G-2 countries, are currently fatally divided.

This does not change the fact that, overcoming this pandemic through medical research, improved healthcare systems and international cooperation, remains a major issue and a global task.

The challenges we face now require a strong commitment to the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, whereby goals number 1 (No Poverty), number 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), number 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), number 13 (Climate Action) and number 17 (Partnership for the Goals) must be tackled and pursued much more vigorously. It is encouraging to note that many countries are taking action for these goals and that G-20 leaders have committed to taking all necessary steps to stop the virus from spreading and to provide the global economy, particularly the global South, with appropriate resources.

The EU is currently working on an extensive reconstruction package with a volume of about 750 billion Euros. An interesting and important discussion is taking place regarding what portion of the package should be spent on grants and what portion should be issued as loans for repayment.

The world is closely watching the process and discussions within the EU which we hope will demonstrate solidarity and compassion based on our common values in a difficult situation.

After the Second World War, Europe benefited greatly from the economic assistance and solidarity shown by the United States in the form of the Marshall Plan.

This plan benefited everyone involved.

Why don’t the G-20 and OECD countries show the same support to the global South now?  Why should stronger countries in Europe not show their solidarity with countries that have been badly affected by the pandemic? This principle must be applied worldwide. The poorest countries in the world are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the Coronavirus. These countries have already suffered from humanitarian crises, conflicts, food insecurity, inadequate healthcare systems, and more. Therefore, the verbal and theoretical commitments to solidarity must also be reflected in concrete actions.

At this time, it is also important to consider how to handle border controls to allow medical devices and urgently required materials to be transported to places where they are most needed.

Covid-19 sheds light on the many profound inequalities that still persist on our planet. The inequalities between and within certain countries have also been exacerbated by the pandemic. Restrictions imposed over the past weeks and months on producers and consumers and their freedom of movement, travel and assembly, have been necessary and expected. However, governments and legislators must take into account that these important and well-intentioned measures should not further marginalize vulnerable groups and individuals, and that due consideration of various points of view should be given in order to find the best possible way forward during each phase.

Even before Covid-19 captivated our attention, we were preoccupied with the existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change. Covid-19 and its economic and social implications bear consequences that make everyday life harder than ever before.

Together we must have the necessary courage, wisdom, and solidarity to meet these global challenges. We live in a world that is changing rapidly and it is up to us to chart the right course for a better future for all.


Heinz Fischer is the 11th President of Austria and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens based in Vienna, Austria.

Ban Ki-moon is the 8th Secretary-General of the UN and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens based in Vienna, Austria.

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.  

Mobilising to Advance the SDGs – A Joint Event and Interactive Panel

On March 3, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens together with European Union Delegation in Vienna (Twitter: @euunvie), Joint SDG Fund (Twitter: @JointSDGFund), and The OPEC Fund for International Development (Twitter: @TheOPECFund) hosted a panel discussion on the successes and challenges of mobilising to advance the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

The event was opened by His Excellency Ambassador Stephan Klement, EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to the International Organisations in Vienna. Followed by the warm welcome from Deputy Head of Representation of the European Commission in Austria, Wolfgang Bogensberger.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered opening remarks before the panel discussion. Sharing his personal experience of his presidency of the Republic of Austria, he emphasised the importance of cooperation to achieve the SDGs.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer went on to talk about the previous Millenium Development Goals and how the Sustainable Development Goals developed, integrating lessons learned from the MDGs. Co-chair Heinz Fischer did not hesitate to also mention the difficulties when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs.

“Even if the the SDGs might not be entirely perfect, they are currently the best instrument to indicate the diverse situations of each country and stress that each country must do its share to achieve a world in which peace and prosperity is a given, leaving no one behind.”

In subsequence, the panel discussion, moderated by Ms. Mona Khalil, provided more detail on how international institutions mobilise to advance the SDGs. The speakers included

  • Ms. Katrin Harvey, Chief Operating Officer, Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens
  • Mr. Gautam Babbar, Chief of Strategic Planning and Interagency Affairs, United Nations
  • Mr. Walid Mehalaine, Head, Grants and Technical Assistance Unit, OPEC Fund

It became evident, that the organizations concentrate on strategically investing their efforts and resources in projects and programs that promise the biggest impact to advance the SDGs. Nevertheless, the speakers highlighted that the impact of any project remains minimal if the commitment of national governments towards the SDGs is limited. The annual 2.5 trillion USD funding gap that continues to exist needs to be tackled through multilateral partnerships if the SDGs are to be achieved by 2030.

In the Q&A session, following the panel discussion, the audience showed through interactive and dynamic engagement that the SDGs are a priority issue, not only for international organizations but also for academia, the private sector and civil society actors.

We thank our partners for the fruitful cooperation that made this event a success!