A blog by SI President Elect, Sharon Fisher, following her attendance at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference held in Salt Lake City.
“Peace is necessary for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This session shared how civil society organisations are achieving an inclusive and sustainable culture of peaceful coexistence in their local activities while respecting the integrity of nation states’ sovereign rights.
Samira Harnish – Founder, Women of the World – Samira is from Iraq and founded the organisation she runs today. Women of the World, is a trusted service and capacity building organisation for refugee, asylee (a person who has requested asylum), and immigrant women and girls. She advised that we must receive and speak to immigrants locally and remain inclusive. Many of these people are recovering from conflict and instability. Samira encouraged us to:
- Be a friend, a resource and guide to refugees;
- Provide funding, whether on the road or in the camps;
- Learn the correct terminology and start conversations.
Mirella Dummar-Frahi, Civil Society Team Leader, United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), shared the following.
Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. She called on civil society to work alongside governments. Her speech emphasised:
- Government alone is not enough;
- Small is the new Big – many small acts/projects create a big impact;
- Create a business model for sustainability – Projects should have a business model;
- Allow failures as they can create innovation – Accept failure and learn from it.
Manav Subodh – Co-Founder, 1M1B,
1M1B exists to activate 1 million leaders who will impact 1 billion people to create a world with balanced prosperity. Manav highlighted these points:
- There are 680,000 villages in India with 70% of people living there.
- Job creation in these villages may create lower paying jobs but the cost of living in villages is also lower.
- Instead of playing catch up with school lessons, make people employable.
- The traceability of money is missing, show the person you are helping, make it real, leverage technology/social media.
- Donate your time, don’t abdicate your responsibility.
Yinka Lawanson Lamboginny, known as ‘Lambo’– Global Prison Advocate
Lambo works with the Nigerian government where his squeaky clean image has earned him access to young prisoners. Lambo has been outspoken about the conditions in the facilities where they are housed, and the need to give these young offenders a second chance. Lambo’s non-profit SALT (Saving All Lives Together) raises money to bring music therapy programs to Nigerian youth prisons. SALT pays the fines of young people held in prison for minor offences like street begging, as well as the legal fees of young people who may have been wrongly convicted. “At some point I started fighting for some inmates that do not have to be in prison. I started fighting for them to get freedom, and started getting freedom for them,” said Lambo.
He quoted Nelson Mandela – “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.”
He then debuted a new song “I am you, you are me; together we are United Nations” written and produced in his hotel during the conference.
The entire audience was either standing and singing or joining him on stage as he performed this song inspired by his participation at the 68th Conference for Civil Society and bringing to a close this session.”