Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

By joining forces with game-changers, we can make a difference to the world

Collaboration is the key to securing a bright future for young people

Ban Ki-moon, the former secretary general of the United Nations, is now dedicated to empowering young people. Victor Besa / The National 
Ban Ki-moon, the former secretary general of the United Nations, is now dedicated to empowering young people. Victor Besa / The National 

In a world of globalisation, governments, businesses and entrepreneurs need to work more closely together than ever before. Collaboration amplifies the ability to succeed significantly. Over the years, organisations such as the United Nations, which now has 193 member states, has played a considerable role in driving collective efforts for the betterment of humanity.

However, when the impact is felt by all, the responsibility doesn’t stop with governments, policy-makers or decision-makers. Our planet is in dire need of everyone taking ownership of key issues that threaten our existence.

World peace, poverty, hunger, climate change, and gender inequality are such pressing issues, and they need to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Not least, our youth.

Our young people need to have a bigger voice when it comes to key issues that impact our world. The responsibility falls on young people to take charge and make change. The effects, if unchecked, will hurt them and the generations that follow, particularly if we just leave it to governments alone to resolve. Everyone plays a pivotal role.

This is why, after I left the United Nations, I started the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. I want to ensure that the knowledge and skills I have gained over the years are transferred to others, so that I can empower many to carry the baton for important issues that affect us all.

The centre engages with leaders, young people, academia, international organisations and civil society at all levels to resolve crises and conflicts, and to address root causes hindering the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The primary focus is to drive leadership and mediation for the promotion of peace, advocacy to empower women and young people, and to work towards education for global citizens.

Indeed, a priority of the centre is to promote the culture of global citizenship, which is a continuously evolving concept and mindset that actively supports notions and activities that benefit humankind. Global citizenship focuses on the unifying rather than the dividing elements between peoples. Global citizens support peaceful solutions to today’s biggest challenges – and there is no better time than now to instil these values in our student community, the citizens of the future.

Young people can make a significant difference to the world we live in. The positive actions they take today will continue to define their lives and careers in the future, enabling them to work together, across geographies, to identify and create solutions that make a positive difference to humanity.

Global citizens support peaceful solutions to today’s biggest challenges

That is why I am happy to team up with Gems Education, the world’s largest K12 education provider, to become an ambassador for its four Gems World Academy Schools in Dubai, Chicago, Switzerland and Singapore. This means, I can engage directly with young people from different continents who are involved in Model United Nations conferences, which provide an educational simulation, where students can learn about diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations.

I hope to give them practical advice to ensure that they have a voice that can be heard, and to show how they can make change. These young people are hungry to make a difference; they are driven and determined.

We all have a unique and crucial role to play as stakeholders and representatives of society, but we need our young people to interact, engage and find new solutions to age-old problems that have not gone away, or are getting worse.

I am excited to see what these young global citizens from international schools around the world, who are already showing a passion to make change by being involved in the Model United Nations, will come up with, and I am enthusiastic about being part of the journey to tackle the issues head on.

We know that it is not going to be easy. We face challenging times, but with determination, grit and a strong voice, we can create a movement that will make a difference and help create a better world for everyone.

We also have the unique opportunity to further empower young women and to boost women’s leadership roles in politics, economics and in social and cultural fields.

Gender inequality continues to hold women back in some regions and deprive them of their basic rights and opportunities. Progress is being made, but not enough. With more strong voices, we can make great strides in tackling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as ensuring good health and wellbeing for all, providing quality education throughout the world and giving everyone access to clean, affordable energy, eradicating world hunger and alleviating poverty.

We are making headway, but it is not enough. Data shows that some 11 per cent of the world’s population still live below the extreme poverty threshold. Can we sit by and let 783 million people suffer like that? If we all become ambassadors of causes that matter, the world will be a much better and more prosperous place for us to share, for generations to come. Let’s keep the momentum going and make change.

Ban Ki-moon is a former secretary-general of the United Nations and co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens

Updated: May 21, 2019 04:45 PM

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