Tzu Chi Expands Sustainability Dialogue at the UN High-level Political Forum 2019

Northeast  |  July 25, 2019
From left to right, panelists Dino Foi of Tzu Chi, DD of UNFAO Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada, Dir. of Preparedness and DRR at Americares Kristin Stevens, Program Officer of UNDRR Huw Beynon, and (not pictured) PIO of UN DGC and Head of UN DPI NGO Relations Hawa Diallo.

Author: Natasha Palance
Editor: Anik Ghose
Photo Credit: Hannah Whisenant

We were honored to participate in this year’s United Nations High-level Political Forum (UN HLPF) for our side event ‘Solutions Based Luncheon Dialogue on Achieving Target 4.7’ on July 10th, and subsequent interactive parallel events, ‘Building Resilience to Disaster Risks Through Collective Action’ and High Level Political Forum Evening Reception on July 11th. 

In recognition of the emerging global community to which we all belong, representatives from across the world united for the UN HLPF between July 9th and July 18th to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for sustainable development. This included events in support of national and local ownership of the 2030 Agenda, great ambition on climate action, support of domestic resource mobilization and inclusivity, eradication of poverty and much more.

The UN HLPF, a subsidiary of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Economic and Social Council, is an annual forum that unites representatives of NGOs, the United Nations, related entities of public and private institutions, and individuals from across the globe to address gaps in selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets and help illuminate solutions to accomplish SDGs from the ground up. Attendees explored innovative methodologies to embed global sustainability into the development framework.

Luncheon of Global Citizens

Tzu Chi informative pamphlets distributed throughout the HLPF events

As the interconnectedness among countries throughout the world continues to expand, our parallel event ‘Solutions Based Luncheon Dialogue on Achieving Target 4.7’ illuminated the emerging global community to which we all belong. In partnership with the Coalition for Global Citizenship and Bridge 47, attendees joined at the recent publicly debuted Tzu Chi Da Ai Center in Manhattan to discuss the inclusive education and sustainability in development practices. Keynote speakers Vice President of Global Network for Sustainable Development Dr. Ashima Mathur and Dino Foi of Tzu Chi explored the global dimension of achieving the SDG 4 and Target 4.7 through a dialogue on equitable education and sustainability. 

Attendee takes note on sustainability discussions during Tzu Chi’s Solutions Based Luncheon Dialogue on Achieving Target 4.7 UN HLPF parallel event.

Framed around Tzu Chi’s innovative solution methodologies and Bridge 47’s targeted approach to Target 4.7, the collective brainstorming will aid in the advancement of current solutions and alleviation of challenges. 

Empowered Preparedness and Preventative Action

Tzu Chi’s Building Resilience to Disaster Risks Through Collective Action interactive UN HLPF parallel event at United Nations Headquarters.

The discussion on cultivating the best global sustainability practices continued throughout the day at the subsequent interactive parallel event ‘Building Resilience to Disaster Risks Through Collective Action,’ where the best disaster risk reduction practices and innovative methodologies for climate action were explored. The delegation, moderated by Tzu Chi Representative to the United Nations Steve Chiu, featured speakers included Deputy Dir. of  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada, Program Officer of United Nations Office For Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Huw Beynon, PIO of United Nations Department of Global Communications and Head of UN DPI NGO Relations Hawa Diallo, Dino Foi of Tzu Chi, and Dir. of Preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction at Americares Kristin Stevens.

To build resilience we need to have resilient minds and think about how to be best prepared.

Deputy Director of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada

The panel illuminated approaches to SDG goals 13 and 11, however as Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada noted, “We can talk about resilience, we can talk about climate change here, but how can we prepare to avoid such things? What is the way forward?” He went on to highlight that this fundamental focus on preventative action and local empowerment is the “grassroot of Tzu Chi.” Since Cyclone Idai, Tzu Chi interventions have redirected emphasis onto “transforming apathy into action,” as Steve Chiu explained, and to incorporate education and sustainability as the way forward within the global community. 

Dino Foi of Tzu Chi pictured during Tzu Chi’s UN HLPF parallel event panelist discussion.

Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada expanded on the conceptual ideology of resilience and similarly emphasized a reprioritization towards disaster preparedness methodologies that should align with the multicultural context in which it takes place. In accordance with Tzu Chi principles, efficiency of global intervention is not found within a single, homogeneous methodology. The needs of a community will vary by social and environmental context.

While most disaster recovery heavily focuses on the global response, Dir. Kristen Stevens expanded on the need to reprioritize communication at the local level. “When you’re seeing [a] successful [disaster recovery] response, what you’re really seeing is good preparedness in action,” she explained. Resilience and efficiency is cultivated from effective communication strategies that are able to adapt to multicultural landscapes. 

Disasters begin and end at the local level.

Director of Preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction at Americares Kristin Stevens

The discussion transitioned to the role of global climate in disaster prevention, and impact that can be elicited at an individual level. Huw Beynon emphasized the severity of uncertainty that continues to grow with increasing environmental challenges, and called for “reducing the risk” by moving towards the systemic level in regards to environmental action. 

Attendee at Tzu Chi’s Building Resilience to Disaster Risks Through Collective Action interactive UN HLPF parallel event.

An Evening Reception Debuts Cyclone Idai Exhibit

The day of collaborative unity came to a celebratory close with the ‘High-level Political Forum Evening Reception’ hosted at the new Tzu Chi Da Ai Center during the public debut of our Cyclone Idai East Africa Exhibition, developed in honor of survivors and our relief actions throughout impacted regions of the continent. Representatives from the UN HLPF and attendees from throughout the state joined to continue discussions on sustainable development, as guest speakers shared their experiences from the forum.

The Future of Global Sustainability

With redirection to the local level, a focus on empowerment within global communities, and sustainability in the protection of our planet, the future of global citizenry will be one of unity. We encourage you to join the global community and, directed by the perspectives and innovative approaches of this year’s UN HLPF, take action at a local level. 

As an NGO with ECOSOC accredited special consultative status, Tzu Chi continues to contribute to global sustainability. Discover how our team lends voice to this year’s 4th UNEA session and the annual UN CSW63.

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