x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New York seminar draws crowd ... in Dubai

A global event focusing on the progress that has been made towards achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals drew around 300 people to the Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

DUBAI // A global event focusing on the progress that has been made towards achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals drew around 300 people to the Chamber of Commerce yesterday. TedxChange, a seminar in New York hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was broadcast simultaneously in more than 80 locations worldwide. The goals, set out by the United Nations a decade ago, include eradicating extreme poverty, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality and combating HIV and Aids.

The 90-minute event featured speakers such as the philanthropist Melinda Gates, who said the Coca-Cola Company's success offered lessons for governments trying to achieve their millennium goals. She also pointed to the need for positive marketing to promote sanitation and healthy lifestyles, and polio eradication, a task that is 99 per cent complete. "We need to focus on the positive and how far we have come," she said. "We are so close and this victory is so possible."

Working together as a community, she said, could make "happiness as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola". Also speaking was Mechai Viravaidya, a former Thai politician who helped to combat sexually transmitted disease infection and reduce unwanted pregnancies in the country by promoting the use of condoms. The last speaker was Graca Machel, the former Mozambican minister of education. She spoke about the importance of leading and mobilising social change in Africa over the next five years.

"Targets and goals are important but they are not enough" she said. "Promises are also not enough. More important is commitment and engaging all forces in society. "It would be intolerable for us to get to 2015 and say that Africa could not reach those goals. I am here to propose a new mindset." Before the screening in Dubai, four local speakers spoke about their own contributions to global development.

Amal al Redha, from Dubai Cares, talked about how the non-profit organisation had helped to improve children's primary education in the developing world, working towards gender equality by increasing access for young girls. "Providing a girl with primary education causes a positive domino effect," she said. aseaman@thenational.ae