One-on-one Conversation with Cristina Gallach

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On October 27, 2016 Peace Boat US joined an event organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) that gave NGOs the opportunity to have one-on-one conversation with Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations.

The meeting began with moderator Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the DPI, thanking Peace Boat for the “Floating Festival for Sustainability” event it organized on October 20, 2016 in collaboration with the DPI. He also thanked Peace Boat for its acknowledgment of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ms. Gallach expressed her gratitude for the work done by civil society, as well as the importance of continuing to work together and support one another. The planet is more unstable than before, she said, and therefore it is important to promote diversity, integration and dignity, which is one of the campaigns of the DPI. Currently, the global community is in a phase of transition, especially in regards to the change of the UN Secretary General, and it is crucial to make that transition smooth and easy she noted.

Various questions were raised during the meeting, many on the topic of access and sharing on social media. For civil societies to work with UN agencies, it is necessary for NGOs to have easy access to information provided by the UN–an effort the UN is constantly trying to improve through their live Webcast and through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This is also linked to how they are engaging youth. Youth are constantly changing how they use social media, and therefore the DPI is trying to change as well to keep up and to engage the youth, given that young people are the leaders who will need to use the SDGs to effect change. To raise awareness about the SDGs, it is important to bring more youth organizations onboard, and Mr. Nasser said: “You shouldn’t wait to get invitations; you should knock on the door and make your voice heard.”

Peace Boat knows the importance of awareness of the SDGs, and actively works to raise it.  It organizes voyages that focus on sustainability and the SDGs to this end. In 2017, Peace Boat will hold its 94th Global Voyage for Peace, and invites youth to join the Latin American segment of the voyage in the summer to learn more about the SDGs. To see the full voyage itinerary visit: http://peaceboat.org/english/index.php?page=view&nr=122&type=4&menu=64

This post was created and published by Cecilie Barmoen (Intern from Peace Boat US)

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Review of Climate Week NYC

Climate Week in New York City brings together businesses, social enterprises and non-governmental organizations to work together on creating a world in support of the United Nations’ 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This year, Peace Boat attended several of these events held from September 19-25, and hosted one called “Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action” to present its Ecoship Project. In addition, Peace Boat  attended the Sustainable Investment Forum, the Social Good Summit, and the International Conference on Sustainable Development during this week.

Social Good Summit

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. Held annually during UNGA Week, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. Our theme, #2030NOW, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” During the Social Good Summit, global citizens around the world unite to unlock the potential of technology to make the world a better place.– Social Good Summit website

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Social Good Summit Digital Media Lounge

For more than 30 years, Peace Boat has been working for the social good, fostering global citizenship, and carrying out activities that are embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, so Peace Boat US’ presence at the Social Good Summit in New York City on September18-19, 2016 was a natural fit.

The Social Good Summit brought together inventors, artists, activists,  youth, and UN leaders, and featured an incredible line-up of speakers that included Vice President Joe Biden, actors Alec Baldwin and Michelle Yeoh, and singers Demi Lovato and  Cody Simpson.

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Cody Simpson, Singer; Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US Director

In addition to being a singer, Cody Simpson is a surfer whose strong connection to the ocean has made him a voice for ocean preservation—a topic that is also of great importance to Peace Boat as it sails around the world. Cody spoke about fuel alternatives that would be better for the environment, and expressed interest in Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project, which is aiming to build the world’s most sustainable cruise ship and reduce carbon emissions by a whopping 40 percent.

At the Summit, underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry, whose work is featured often in National Geographic magazine, also spoke passionately about our oceans and climate. He focused on the damage caused to ecosystems from overfishing, and proposed the concept of fish farming instead. We should go from being a gatherer under the sea to being a farmer under the sea, he said.  Alec Baldwin talked about indigenous peoples, forests and climate change. Tropical forests are essential to fighting climate change, and we should invest in the people who are protecting the forest, he emphasized.

2030nowPeace Boat US looks forward to continuing to work with other organizations and individuals throughout the world toward global sustainability—especially with those who hold strong visions for positive solutions as represented at the Social Good Summit.

 

 

 

International Conference on Sustainable Development 2016

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Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica

As an international organization that strongly supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goal of ending poverty worldwide, Peace Boat took a special interest in the fourth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development held at Columbia University in New York City on September 21-22, 2016. Keynote speakers at the conference included Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway;  and Jeffrey Sachs,  Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  With a focus on how to end poverty, the conference included panel discussions on the SDGs and how they related to the private sector, youth involvement in solutions, and data.

Prime Minister Holness spoke about his goal to end poverty not only in Jamaica, but also in the larger world.  Though not everyone believes this can be accomplished, nor does

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Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

everyone believe in the SDGs, he stated, everyone wants to develop into something better.  This aim and desire for something better is the power we need to use to effect change, he asserted. Jeffrey Sachs spoke about the ethics of politics, and where countries should place their focus.  Currently, the United States is spending millions of dollars on war in other countries, he pointed out, while this money should be spent on education instead. By focusing attention and funds on education, we could teach more about the SDGs and make a significant difference.

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Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Prime Minister Solberg talked about her work for the SDGs, and how she was chosen by the UN Secretary General to lead the working group for the SDGs because of how Norway operates.  Our current young generation is the last generation that will be able to eradicate poverty from the world, she emphasized, and it is therefore important for youth to learn more about sustainability in order to be able to reach the SDGs.

The panels at the conference focused on different approaches to reach the SDGs, such as through the involvement of the private sector, youth, and effective use of data.  Various participants were invited to show what their company is doing to address climate change and poverty.

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Panel discussing different approaches to reach the SDGs through involvement of the private sector

It is important to work towards the SDGs, but it will be hard to reach these essential goals for global sustainability if most people in the world are not aware of them. Therefore, Peace Boat encourages youth to travel to Latin America in the summer of 2017 with Peace Boat to learn directly about the SDGs as part of a special study program. To see the full itinerary of the Peace Boat voyage in which the program will take place, visit: http://peaceboat.org/english/index.php?page=view&nr=122&type=4&menu=64

 

Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action

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Jon Bruno, Executive Director of the International Ecotourism Society (TIES)

How can world leaders and decision-makers understand the fear that people living in small island countries face regarding the effects of climate change–and how can they viscerally understand the need to take urgent action–when global discussions about the problem take place in comfortable hotels in cities like Paris, far removed from the realities of those on the frontlines?  This was the question posed by Peace Boat Director Yoshioka Tatsuya at an event called “Sailing for Sustainability and Climate Action” held on September 22 as part of Climate Week New York City. Climate Week is an international event that gathers business and government leaders together to demonstrate how continued investment in innovation, technology and clean energy will drive profitability and lead toward net zero emissions.

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Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat

At the event, Yoshioka spoke about how Peace Boat is currently developing the world’s most sustainable cruise ship—a project that will decrease the vessel’s CO2 emissions by an astonishing 40 percent through the use of wind and solar energy.  This Ecoship will also feature vertical gardens, a zero waste water system, and other innovative features. Peace Boat’s aim in building the ship is to not only offer a solution to climate change and set a high new standard in the shipping industry, but to take thousands of people around the world every year to places that are directly feeling the effects of rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.  This will give people a much better understanding of the urgency of the problem, and of the need to help find solutions with those who are most affected.

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Ambassador Ahmed Sareer of the Permanent Mission of the Maldives Republic to the United Nations speaks about the effects of climate change on island states. 

Peace Boat was joined at the event by Ambassador Ahmed Sareer of the Permanent Mission of the Maldives Republic to the United Nations, who emphasized the importance of taking action on climate change.  Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of the Green Belt Movement, highlighted the important role that Peace Boat plays in providing education and experiential learning opportunities to young people, noting that Peace Boat has given people the opportunity to help plant trees in Kenya and learn from Green Belt Movement members about reforestation and other issues. John Bruno of the International Ecotourism Society noted that Peace Boat’s plan of reducing emission by 40 percent is truly groundbreaking, considering other companies and organizations generally aim for cuts of 2 percent. Margo LaZaro of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development expressed the importance of forming partnerships to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and lauded Peace Boat’s plan to use the Ecoship as a flagship to sail for the SDGs.  Clayton Banks of

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Clayton Banks, Founder of Silicon Harlem

Silicon Harlem spoke of the need to provide young people greater access to the technology they need in order to succeed in education, and noted that Silicon Harlem and Peace Boat have the shared goal of giving people access to the technology and opportunities they need to reach their fullest potential. “We are all united in this,” he emphasized.

The speakers also agreed that being on a ship in the middle of the ocean is akin to our experience here on Earth—just as one cannot simply leave the ship when waste builds up or suddenly find new resources while at sea, human beings cannot simply exit the Earth to leave behind our devastation or to seek out new solutions. We must be aware of our existing environment and work together to find solutions to keeping it sustainable. Creating and expanding partnerships with governments, the private sector, schools, and civil society organizations is the key to making this happen, they concluded.

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Yoshioka Tatsuya, Peace Boat Founder and Director; Margo LaZaro, Co-Chair, NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY; Jon Bruno, Executive Director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES); Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US Director

Peace Boat is aiming for its Ecoship to sail in 2020, and experts from various fields have already met and created the ship’s design. To contribute ideas to the project, including on how to fund the ship’s construction, contact Peace Boat.  No idea is too big or small for consideration.

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Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of The Green Belt Movement speaks about empowering communities to take action for climate change.

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This post was created by and published Cecilie Barmoen (Intern from Peace Boat US)

“A Journey through Indigenous Communities in El Salvador and Panama”

On September 23,rd 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Permanent Missions of El Salvador and Panama to the UN and Peace Boat US hosted a film screening of a documentary which was created as a collaborative project between Peace Boat US, the non-profit Downtown Community Television (DCTV), and youth from New York City who joined Peace Boat’s 84th Global Voyage as participants of the Music & Art Peace Academy (MAPA). Peace Boat US sponsored the ten-day trip for three teenage youth from the non-profit organizations Global Kids, DCTV and the Brooklyn Community Media and Arts high school to visit El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama. The film aims to raise awareness about issues that local indigenous communities are facing in Central America during the 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

Peace Boat’s International Coordinator Emilie McGlone introduced the organization and the background behind the film to attendees, including representatives from El Salvador and Panama, indigenous leaders, and three of the students who participated in the Peace Boat voyage and helped create the documentary.

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The film documented the students’ trip through indigenous communities in Central America this past summer as they traveled with the Peace Boat. The documentary started with the MAPA students’ first stop in El Salvador at a school in the Pilpil community. Here, children from the community participate in a language immersion program to learn Nahuat, the indigenous language, as part of a language revitalization program where Pipil women teach the local language to children. As of now, only about 150 to 200 people still speak this language, and according to UNESCO, Nahuat is a critically endangered indigenous language. Since the project to preserve this language started in 2003, there are now 11 schools participating in the project, and 2,500 preschool children aged three to five who are learning Nahuat.

The documentary followed the MAPA students’ to their next stop, the city of Colon, Panama, where the Embera community, consisting of eight families and 40 people, sustain their culture through eco-tourism. In the documentary, their leader, Atilano Flaco, discussed their goal to improve living conditions for each family member and younger leaders in the community discussed the importance of access to education.

Among the main speakers at the documentary screening was Salvadoran Ambassador H.E. Ruben Zamora, who stated that “in 1932, indigenous people were massacred in my country,” however, “we have been overcoming the invisibility of the indigenous communities in our country.” He explained that the government is working to devise better policies in order to improve the situation for indigenous people in El Salvador. He stated that, “a bonus has been granted to the last Nahuat speakers- trying to encourage them to speak the language in their houses.” He stressed the importance of dialogue between the government of El Salvador and the indigenous people, in order to overcome many obstacles.

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Her Excellency Paulina Franceschi, Ambassador, and Deputy Permanent Representative of Panama to the UN, congratulated Peace Boat for their work on peace and human rights and recognized that, “there are a lot of things to improve” in the lives of Panama’s indigenous peoples, and assured the attendees that, “there is political will and commitment to their well-being and quality of life.” She welcomed two indigenous community leaders at the event who attended the UN Conference to advocate for their communities in Panama and El Salvador.

A representative from the Ngobe-Bugle indigenous community in Panama, who was working along side the Permanent Mission of Panama to the UN during the Conference, began her speech by thanking all of the attendants and stated, “As the highest authority of my community, to express the main concern of my community, I’m here for all of Central America, not just my territory.” She invited those at the event to visit her country and see their culture. She explained that protection of indigenous culture and communities are written “in the constitution, but are violated.” She said, “it is important to express our concern since our lands are violated by transnational corporations. We are living in two different countries: the rich and the poor. The poor don’t have a voice.”

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An indigenous leader from El Salvador who also attended the event said, “I am happy to see the children learning the indigenous language. But I think there is a long way to go to strengthen the culture of my people.” She noted that June 12th, 2014 the national constitution was reformed, and Article 63 now officially recognizes indigenous people and commits to pursuing polices which will improve the situation for indigenous people in El Salvador. She noted that, “this is a very important achievement that we’d been fighting for, for a long time, but we still have a lot of things to do to strengthen the indigenous people in El Salvador.” She also added that “as an indigenous woman, I am happy to be here with my indigenous sister. Some efforts have been done, but we have to go deeper into the rights of the indigenous people. The transnational companies want to use our resources but we don’t want the interest of the empire to be above the national interests of the country.”

The event closed with a short discussion session where attendees expressed their interest in the work of the governments of Panama and El Salvador and the efforts they are currently undertaking to improve the conditions for the indigenous communities in both countries.

 

Youth Move the World Forward.

Multiple panel discussions about “Youth Migration and Development: Moving Development Forward” took place August 12 to promote and celebrate International Youth Day. The United Nations Secretariat, the Labor Office and the Millennium Development Goals Secretariat organized this event together at the United Nations headquarters, inviting all youth to participate, learn from the panelists and provide their insiders’ feedback on the topic of youth migration. The event, which took place in the morning, featured a panel of experts who presented information about current and growing migration trends among young people, and also about the structure and programs that exist to aid immigrants left vulnerable to the dangers of migration. The event also included a panel of young female immigrants from different backgrounds who shared their heartwarming stories and the work they are doing in their own communities to help immigrants adapt and succeed in a foreign country. In between the panels and presentation, videos from all around the world portrayed what life is like for an immigrant.

The immigration of youth is a broad topic in itself, and the event presented a number of ways this issue can be discussed. From the demographic and social point of view, migration is a growing trend that promises to continue rising. According to studies cited by Ms. Sabine Hennipeaboat youthng from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in 2012 there were 27 million migrants, of which one-eighth are between fifteen and twenty-four years old. That influx of young migrants promises positive benefits (like an increased labor force) for the incoming country. But immigration also brings the problems of human trafficking and labor exploitation, especially among immigrants that move out of their home country for economic reasons.United Nations headquarters, inviting all youth to participate, learn from the panelists and provide their insiders’ feedback on the topic of youth migration. The event, which took place in the morning, featured a panel of experts who presented information about current and growing migration trends among young people, and also about the structure and programs that exist to aid immigrants left vulnerable to the dangers of migration. The event also included a panel of young female immigrants from different backgrounds who shared their heartwarming stories and the work they are doing in their own communities to help immigrants adapt and succeed in a foreign country. In between the panels and presentation, videos from all around the world portrayed what life is like for an immigrant.

After presentations that highlighted information and research on the topic, a panel composed of young people shared their experience as immigrants, undocumented young people and political refugees. One of the panelists was Ms. Rajin Alqallih, a political refugee from Syria. She pointed out that “Nobody chooses to be a refugee, but they leave their country seeking both security and dignity.” When asked if she would go back to her country if she had the chance, she said, “I will quote another refugee that said, ‘Wherever you go, east or west, home is best.’” The wonderful thing about these young panelists is that although life has been hard on them, they have found their way to help other people who, like them, are struggling in a foreign country. That was the message of today: being young is a commitment to enable progress and the change that is needed in the world.

Finally, the event also featured the winner of the “2013 Youth Labour Migration Video Contest:” that was Ms. Laura Garciandia with her project “Ayúdalos a llegar” (‘Help them get there’). This project aims to help immigrants from Latin America who leave their countries in order to improve their life in other nations. You can watch a video about Ms. Garciandia’s initiative below.

For more information about the International Youth Day 2013, visit the event’s webpage: http://www.ilo.org/global/meetings-and-events/events/youth-day/lang–en/index.htm

This blog was created and posted by Maria Gonzalez (Peace Boat US Intern).

Interactive Dialogue: Food Security, Nutrition and Land Degradation

Our Peace Boat US interns participated in an interactive                dialogue panel discussion called Food Security, Nutrition and Land Degradation: Climate-Resilient Solutions that was presented by the UU-UNO Climate Change Initiative on August 6, 2013. The panel of experts included Professor Marc Levy, Deputy Director of the Center for International Earth Science at Columbia University and George Bouma Co-Director of UNDP-UNED Poverty-Environment initiative. This forum discussed the global and complex problems of Food Security in both developed and developing countries and how climate change affects many aspects of global society. After the presentations the group engaged in a discussion about macro and micro solutions to the different challenges under Food Security.

As pointed out by Professor Marc Levy, climate change brings higher temperatures, increased frequency of natural disasters and increasing levels of carbon dioxide concentration which all jeopardize Food Security around the globe. Co-director George Bouma gave a more structural analysis of how poverty and climate change are related. He pointed out a few factors that directly affect food security which are: supply scarcity, the influence of demand and weak institutions. PEI (Poverty Environmental Initiative) plans to build resilience with a pro-poor environmental sustainability approach that includes important factors of economic assessment for the countries and encouraging stronger institutions with a higher degree of integration.

After the two presentations the group engaged into a discussion about the possible macro and micro solutions to the problems presented. There was a talk about a new model of environmental education for younger children and resorting to Indigenous groups’ knowledge to come up with better production practices. Finally there was a discussion about how can we personally make changes that will result in micro solutions for the problem of climate change. As Professor Levy said the only way for people to make changes in their life that will benefit the environment is for them to “choose to live a more purposeful life”.

This post was created and published by Maria (Intern from Peace Boat US)