Global Citizenship: Foundations for an Interconnected World
In fulfillment of the NGO Major Group’s Cluster for Global Citizenship mission to raise awareness and action around the understanding that humanity now represents one interdependent, richly diverse global community, we invited those interested to witness impulse speakers, experts, and Global Citizenship practitioners articulating some of the new realities emerging from our current challenges.
On 9 July 2021, during the first week of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum, the Cluster for Global Citizenship of the NGO Major Group hosted a parallel event entitled “Global Citizenship: Foundations for an Interconnected World”. The event was a fast-paced 90-minute session featuring four impulse speakers who created context and stimulated discussion, and engaging musicians to set us in the proper mind-frame, lively break-out sessions for open dialogue, and a Mentimeter survey to help coalesce the knowledge. Over 70 participants joined the discussion from all corners of the world, and we are grateful to everyone for their contributions. This summary report serves as an overview and provides access to the various assets created during our time together.
Recognizing humanity’s shared destiny and embracing the responsibility to protect our fragile ecosystem, the Cluster for Global Citizenship convened an open platform to explore opportunities for inclusive collaboration and meaningful action. Climate change, the global pandemic, and rising inequities serve to underscore the interconnectedness of our global community but they also create stressors that can distract from collective action. To explore what Global Citizenship means both practically and conceptually, the event was organized around three basic questions:
- If you could offer one piece of advice about global citizenship to world leaders, what would it be?
- As the world is changing, what could the UN do to create a world that works for all?
- How do you see global citizenship applying to the Sustainable Development Goals?
Speakers that inspire!
Setting the stage for the session was Joni Carley, followed by four impulse speakers and the excellent musical interludes provided by Skylar Funk, who helped set the tone and inspire action!
The speakers highlighted their work in the context of the ongoing global challenges and shared insights into how they engage with the concept of global citizenship. The goal of the speaker sessions was to highlight examples of effective action and to inspire attendees to think about and share their own ideas in the breakout sessions.
Tatiana Sharpe presented her innovative social engagement platform, the Global Impact Network (GIN), which allows users to build connections with other global citizens and to track, measure, and showcase their individual and collective actions for sustainable development. Launched in 2020, thousands of people around the world are now using GIN, creating a vibrant online community of global changemakers.
Judit Torok from the Pratt institute – an art design and architecture school – spoke about her efforts with professional artists and schools to diversify and improve their pedagogy. By creating an online network of faculty communities for sharing best practices during the pandemic, this initiative developed spaces for meaningful conversation around mental and physical health as well as a range of psycho-social determinants of health. By building and nurturing strong community ties based on trust and respect, participants reported improved teaching tools and outcomes.
Nickhil Sharma, from the University of East Anglia, offered perspectives on the role digital spaces can play in promoting global citizenship noting that online spaces can concurrently connect us and make us feel very isolated. Regardless of the issue, whether achieving the SDGs, LGBTQ+ rights, or peacebuilding, for instance, activism shifted during the pandemic from in-person to online engagement. Despite the perceived democratization of online spaces, many activists experience a disconnect between virtual participation and real-world change.
Lili Nkunzimana, a representative of the Baha’i International Community, noted that the idea of global citizenship has captured the imagination of people around the world, offering a way for individuals to retain their rights as well as serve others; to be themselves while embracing diversity. Her model advances a framework of action for individuals as well as nation-states to integrate the wellbeing of all at the center of deliberations, embracing diversity through an active posture of learning and a recognition of the diverse offerings of all individuals and communities.
After a grounding musical interlude from Skylar Funk, participants broke out into smaller groups for collective discussions.
Toward the end of the break-out, a word cloud was created by participants responding to the question: “What conditions must be met for global citizenship to become truly and relevant to all human beings?” Matters of trust, education, respect, and equality arose as keys to building a strong foundation. Participants spoke of the role of service-oriented leaders who put the needs of humanity first, the need to find common values, the centrality of local actors, and an awareness of both historical and present social stratification.
In summary, the CGC HLPF Side Event effectively explored both the concept of and the application of global citizenship in our lived realities. It highlighted the importance of global citizenship at this moment in history as well as the challenges of actualizing global citizenship in a world that is often siloed by various forms of identity (race, nationality, gender, etc.). Together, we called for embracing both the diversity of our identities and the commonness of our humanity. While we recognize the complexity of this dual effort, it is a necessary and foundational step as we work to find lasting solutions to today’s challenges.
Witness the conversation here!
Our Allies and Co-Organizers!
- Baha’i International Community representing the worldwide Baha’i community, whose members come from every national, ethnic, religious, cultural, and socio-economic background, representing a cross-section of humanity.
- Let There Be Light International, a not-for-profit organization that has helped more than 775,000 people in off-grid Africa gain access to solar energy in their homes and health clinics.
- Kosmos Journal, which is guided by a mission to inform, inspire and engage individual and collective participation for global transformation in harmony with all Life.
- Unity Earth is a global network of organizations and individuals standing together to build worldwide solutions for unity, purpose, and peace.
- The Millennials Movement is an organization that promotes local sustainable development by empowering citizens.
- Childhood Education International (CE International), an international development organization focused on developing and amplifying solutions that lead to positive change in pre-primary and primary-age children’s learning and lives.
- NGO Major Group, which is tasked with facilitating the participation and enhancing the engagement of non-governmental organizations in the processes, directly and indirectly, related to the High-Level Political Forum.