UN director tells conference about role DMU can play in creating a healthy planet

A director of the United Nations headquarters in New York told a conference the vital role that De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) must play in creating a future “where everyone can prosper with dignity and justice on a healthy planet “.

Maher Nasser, Director of Outreach at the UN, gave the keynote address at the start of DMU’s inaugural annual conference for peace, equality and social justice and spoke about the importance for universities of to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs address global challenges such as hunger, health, education, climate change and social justice, aiming to ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030.

In 2018, Mr. Nasser announced that DMU had been chosen by the United Nations as a designated “hub” for SDG 16 – the first university to be given such responsibility.

SDG 16 promotes peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Mr. Nasser said: “There is no better time than today for this conference.

“As we look at world events and headlines, we see that all the promises and achievements we hoped for have been delayed by COVID, but more recently, since late February, by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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“We are not only looking at the devastating price paid by Ukraine, but globally there are unprecedented increases in food and energy prices that are impacting any progress in other countries and hamper global efforts to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic.

“We hoped that building back better would bring more investment of funds to fight climate change and opportunities to invest in moving away from fossil fuels.

“But when justice is not present, grievances arise and conflicts erupt.

“In the event of conflict, any progress in sustainable development is reversed. Dealing with wars and displacement means talking about sustainable development falls through the cracks.

“Without a fit society, we cannot talk about building economies and developing jobs and growth to address hunger and inequality.

“Universities are places of learning where a lot of research takes place and which can inform national and international policies.

“Universities have a social responsibility to solve society’s problems.

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“DMU has become the first SDG16 hub. We now have 15 other universities and conferences like this that are part of what the hubs do – invest in sharing intellectual research, work to inform good policy nationally, and then take it to the international stage and to the UN.

“If left to governments alone, these goals would not be achievable. Not because they couldn’t, but because of the magnitude of the challenge. We need universities and other institutions to contribute.

“Universities are the places where new innovations come from, which show how we can invest in renewable energy or propose ways to achieve justice in society and avoid conflict, creating a future where everyone can s flourish with dignity and justice on a healthy planet.This element is often forgotten.

“This is the worst time to be a non-human. We are witnessing the greatest extinction of species on record by 2100. Climate change is affecting future generations.

“So now it’s time to talk about rebuilding society and it’s also time to make peace with our planet”

Professor Kenneth Morrison, Research Theme Director for Peace, Equality and Social Justice at DMU, ​​and organizer of the two-day conference which continues today, said: “This is the first of what we hope will be annual peace, equality and social justice. Conferences on justice at DMU

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“We have a number of extremely interesting panel presentations from different areas of the university and the main goal is for all of us to think about synergies and where they fit within the institution.

“We have to think about working across faculties and working with external partners. We will also showcase some of the brilliant research happening here at DMU.

“I am delighted that Maheer Nasar is here to open the conference. He is a good friend of ours and works closely with DMU on all SDG issues. »

Posted on Friday, May 20, 2022

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