Women of the World’s Founder and Executive Director was pleased to receive a gracious thank you note from the leadership of the UN Civil Societies and to take this time to refect on her this conference.
The conference preparation required many hours of time from the co-Chairs that forged strong bonds of commitment and friendship. Their charge: to setup the Thematic Sessions, panel discussions around topics such as climate, infrastructure, technology, and peace. Speakers had to be nominated, vetted, and invitations sent; AV, set, and setting had to be determined; and support staff to capture outcomes and to lead the discussions also needed to be coordinated. The Department of Global Communications of the United Nations (UNDGC) did not want to dictate the conference but instead left it to the amorphous “Civil Societies” participants to make the conference its own. This dynamism was sometimes more miss than hit, but ultimately, like these things do, came together in a warm and insightful conference.
The problems that face the world—rising levels of carbon in our atmosphere changing our climate, increased numbers of forcibly displaced individuals running into dispassionate nationalistic borders, and a crumbling transportation and social infrastructure—require global collaboration and open-minded processes to arrive at solutions including conservation, technology, and humanistic politics. The UN in collaboration with civil society and state and municipal governments are perfectly situated with the talent, resources, and ideas to make these solutions feasible and implementable by larger public and private structures. It was a personal highlight of my career to be able to speak to the world on the small part that Women of the World is doing to assist forcibly displaced women achieve self-reliance and be included in the vibrant socio-economic community of Salt Lake City.
Our work is far from complete. The outcomes documents from both the Youth Conferences and the overall conference offer a stark picture of climates, countries, and communities on the brink of catastrophe. Each of the UN’s Sustainable Develop Goal subjects is an issue onto itself and can also act as a proximate cause for the others. In my own work I have seen the long-term effects of climate change on societies—droughts in Syria or Central America—act as the last straw for governments to overreact to economic conditions and start a war or for people to migrate to find better conditions elsewhere. We must work together with humanity, reason, and science to overcome the hard—but tenable—problems outlined in the SDGs to find solutions.
I want to thank the leadership of this conference, from the UN Jeff and Maruxa, and from Salt Lake City our wonderful outgoing Mayor, Jackie Buskupski, all of whose leadership and commitment to this conference was exemplary and an act of great humanity and knowledge. I also want to thank the Thematic Session Co-Chairs, Kim, Gina, and Scott who spent many long hours constructing the panel discussions that are the centerpiece of the conference and who quickly became great friends. Thanks also to the entire Salt Lake City Mayor’s office team—Ben and Sarah—who were terrific in guiding needed collaboration and communication and to the Thematic Sessions SLC Sub-committee that helped to pull together some amazing discussions and took on numerous roles in moderating and recording various sessions.
Finally, my most profound thanks to all of the participants, planners, and attendees to the UN Civil Societies Conference, it is through your commitment to achieving the sustainable development goals that our world will improve.