- The 5th Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF 2023) Held Successfully February 09, 2023
Turning point for SDGs! "Voice of cooperation" to succeed in achieving the UN SDGs facing global crisis
Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, held the "5th Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF 2023)" for two days on February 2 and 3 with more than 1,000 participants.
Under the theme of "Turning Point: From Crisis into Opportunity," the forum was held to reflect on the past half of the time since the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 were established and to discuss future implementation measures to achieve the goals by 2030.
The forum was attended by many distinguished figures, including Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), former Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Amina J. Mohamed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Deputy Chair Graça Machel of the Elders (former First Lady of South Africa), former Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, former South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Professor Emeritus Hyung Suk Kim of Yonsei University, Sri Lankan Ports Shipping and Aviation Minister Premalal Jayasekara of Sri Lanka, Vanuatuan Health Minister Rick Mahe, Ambassador Maria Castillo Fernandez of the European Union to South Korea, and Vice Chancellor Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor of the University of Malaya.
"At this turning point in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the theme of the GEEF accurately describes the current situation," U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohamed said in her keynote speech. "Let's work hard to achieve our goals with hope and unity at the current turning point so we can overcome the crisis and open a new path."
"The government of the Republic of Korea is fully prepared to work together to realize the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda," South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin added, "We look forward to a meaningful discussion of the GEEF."
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, actor Park Hae-soo, UNICEF EAPRO Regional Ambassador Choi Siwon, and K-pop stars (G)I-DLE sent congratulatory video messages.
The two-day forum consisted of two special sessions, four plenary sessions, and 14 featured sessions, with more than 120 experts in the field of sustainable development worldwide participating.
First, in the special conversation, the 8th UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Austrian President Heinz Fischer diagnosed the current global crisis and shared their experiences of transnational cooperation in achieving sustainable development.
"The achievement of the SDGs is being delayed due to the pandemic, climate change, and the Russian War," former Secretary-General Ban stressed at the meeting, "It is time to gather political power and resources to achieve the goals in 2030."
"I remember the past when former Secretary-General Ban led the decision to declare the goal of sustainable development," former President Fisher responded, "We need to find a solution by raising the world's awareness of the value of sustainable development."
In the special session, Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens, chaired the meeting under the theme of "Women's Leadership and Empowerment." Deputy Chair Machel, former Foreign Minister Kang, and Ambassador Fernandez held in-depth discussions.
"We need to recognize the power and capabilities of women in resolving disputes and reaffirm women's leadership and wisdom," Deputy Chair Machel suggested the direction of women's leadership, "Through continuous training, women should be the leaders in preventing and resolving disputes."
Former Minister Kang also stressed, "Everyone should support gender equality and women's empowerment."
Starting with "The Role of Digital Health in the Era of Post COVID-19 for Global Health and SDGs" organized by the RIGHT Foundation, the plenary sessions were held under the themes of △ "Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Cities," △ "Post-Pandemic Peace Building – Reminiscence of Yoon Dongju," and △ "Future of Higher Education."
In particular, in the "Post-Pandemic Peace Building" session, participants had time to re-examine the transcendence and symbolism of poet Yoon Dongju, who shouted for Korea’s independence and peace in the Japanese colonial era from peaceful values. Professor Emeritus Hyung Suk Kim, a "100-year-old philosopher" who had a special friendship with poet Yoon, added vividness of the times. The model of architect Byoungsoo Cho's sustainable building "Landhouse," designed based on the spirit of Yoon’s poems, was also showcased.
Featured sessions include △ "Technologies of Future Diagnosis for Human Infectious Diseases," △ "Yonsei Young Star" session (Global Leadership), △ "Greening the Arctic," △ "End to End Strategy: Approach to Enable Innovation & Technology for the Social Impact in SDGs," △ “News from Nowhere: Eclipse," △ "Emerging Technologies for Better Engagement and Empowerment," △ "Contemporary Artists Building Ecologically Sustainable Communities," △ "Sustainable Growth through Social Innovations," △ "Social Engagement Fund Project by Yonsei University," △ "Toilet Design for Saving an Earth & UNOSD Summer Camp," △ "Implementing the Agenda of SDGs in Higher Education: 'Workstation' in Yonsei University," △ "Resilience: A Gateway to Opportunity," △ "Greening Education in a Time of Climate Crisis," and △ "Industrial Decarbonization Perspectives from Europe and Korea."
These sessions promoted practical and effective measures to promote sustainable development while spreading public interest in various fields such as culture, art, and industry.
An audience member who said they attended the forum every year said, "I enjoyed the forum like a festival thanks to various programs as well as academic meaning."
"We hope that this GEEF 2023 will be a place to gather wisdom in achieving the UN SDGs by 2030," said President Seoung Hwan Suh of Yonsei University, "We will gather advanced research and education capabilities to become a global cooperation platform for a sustainable future."
Young-Ryeol Park, head of the Global Social Contribution Institute, said, "This year is an important year, as it is the mid-year of the 15-year promotion of the SDGs and the year to discuss performance checks and improvement measures so far," said Chair Young-Ryeol Park of the Yonsei University Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment (IGEE), "The results discussed at this forum will serve as a cornerstone for global cooperation in the field of sustainable development."
The forum was co-hosted by the Yonsei University IGEE, the Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future, and the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens, and sponsored by Fleishman Hillard, the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), Botanic Sens, 119Reo, and Reharvest.