For me, 22 and 23 August have been a tremendous personal experience. It was an honor to have been able to attend the 67th United Nations DPI NGO Conference as a Youth Representative to the UN Department of Public Information.
I have been working in this position as a youth representative of LIFE and I had the chance of attending the conference along with our Executive Director, Muhammad Kamrul Islam Sony, my boss, my dad and my partner as an agent of change.
LIFE an NGO established in 1988 is a Bangladeshi organization working on healthcare, youth and women empowerment, climate action and other activities. It has been associated with the UN DPI NGO Section since 1997.
More than anything else what truly made the conference memorable were the people present at the conference. I have met global leaders and shapers, persons of all ages, gender, sexual orientation, race, religious belief and so on - different people but all sharing a single purpose of making the world a better place and the belief in a simple motto "We the Peoples".
In an age where there is again a rise in division politics, persistence of hatred and nationalist agenda, it was great to see how people left their differences aside to engage in hopeful partnerships.
The world has changed substantially in the light of globalization. No issue in the world currently pertains to an individual region, individual nation or an individual continent. Global problems have become so intertwined that it is impossible for a single entity to act upon and fix them.
That is where the idea of multilateralism (the core idea discussed in the conference), or in simple words the idea of alliance of multiple nations (preferably all nations) comes into play. Only by building cross border, global partnerships can we foster, facilitate and sustain positive change. We all share this beautiful world and it is a shared responsibility to ensure that it prospers and sustains.
Reading and hearing about all the crises in the modern world, it is normal to feel depressed and at times disappointed to the extent that you lose faith in humanity. But going to this conference rekindled that faith. There are still people out there, selflessly doing all they can in their capacities to help develop the world around us.
I was especially proud of the number of women (a significant portion of whom being of color) present in the conference and the high attendance of young people (approximately 40% of attendees were in the youth age period).Women and youth were not only present but took up a large share of the responsibilities.
In fact, the conference chair was a strong black woman and young people played a major role in organizing the conference (a majority of whom were again women). The reign of patriarchy and the ideology of "the older the wiser" has long failed us and it is important that we disrupt these old systems that are proven to not truly perform.
Last but not the least it is important to assess the importance of this conference. The main aim of the conference is to bring together members of civil society organizations (including educational institutions) from all over the world as global citizens to learn about, share experiences of and tackle global problems (while maintaining their respective local initiatives).
Yes, governments exist but a) it is impossible for governments alone to tackle every single issue out there and b) the existence of corruption, extreme bureaucracy and reluctance of governments to address them.
Therein lies the importance of civil society organizations as true impactors, mobilizers and champions of change. While still working on their localized initiatives, civil society organizations from all over the world can foster partnerships to learn from and elevate each other's impact.
To sum everything up, in the words of Kofi Annan, an incredible world leader who recently passed away, "More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations."
The writer is UN DPI NGO Youth Representative
-Muhammad Rakibul Islam
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