Through the United Nations Association-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellowship, I was given the awesome opportunity to attend the Social Good Summit in NYC. I listened to incredible speakers ranging from Elizabeth Smart to Joe Biden, and learned the importance of the Global Goals and how people are achieving them in order create a peaceful world. Throughout my experience one question remained stuck in my head:
“Are we all working towards crisis prevention or crisis preparation?”
Through the many networking opportunities there, I was able to stay involved in conversations that questioned the peaceful progress in the world. I talked to everyone including the staff at the 92Y, celebrities, entrepreneurs, CEOs and NGOs; the question that lingered in the air was whether we were all working towards our full potential with our ideas, products and technology to making the world a better place. I realized during the summit, that both crisis prevention and preparation are extremely important aspects of creating a peaceful world and that neither should be deemed more important than the other.
However, over the course of the summit there seemed to be a bigger focus on humanitarian preparation rather than prevention of wars, especially when it came to the refugee crisis. Alan Kasujja from BBC News pointed out to the audience that “refugees are not just people with needs, they are people with rights.” Before refugees were defined as refugees they were people - they are still people and deserve their rights. Kasujja reiterated, "no refugee wants to remain a refugee for the rest of their life." Kasujja shocked many people in his session because he questioned the progress of prevention of wars and refugees when it came to the United Nations, and the minimal talk of solutions when it came to preparation for crises. I liked this session so much because I understood that the root of the issue needs to be dealt with in order to prevent refugees from becoming refugees in the first place.
This is why Goal 16 of the sustainable development goals plays such a crucial role. With the amount of crises in the world, humanitarian work is vital - as is the work towards conflict prevention. After the summit I was given the chance to talk with Victor Ochen and he told me something that stuck, “there cannot be peace without justice and goal 16 is the foundation for the other goals.” When people discuss the sustainable goals they say the end goal is to end poverty - but if you really think about it you realize it is about creating peace. If all needs were met there would be no more poverty. Therefore the goals are more than just ending poverty, they are about eradicating conflict in our world and moving towards a more peaceful society.
When it comes to goal 16 there are two pieces that go into creating a peaceful world: the prevention of conflict and preparation for conflict. Without both seen as equally valuable, the potential of our progress towards international peace deserves to be questioned.