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Wednesday 22 September 2021

The UNGA Conference is the flagship event of the JWF, creating a platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss the Global Agenda 2030, offer innovative solutions, strategies, and policy recommendations to advance further the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development. Every year, this global event gathers an interdisciplinary group of distinguished panelists and high-level speakers to discuss a particular agenda around the three subsequent panel sessions in response to the priorities of the present UN General Assembly and propose a framework for action.

The successful implementation of SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals remains at the center of the UNGA Conference 2021 as the SDGs can only be implemented with strong global partnerships and cooperation. The SDG 17 is focused on the UN rallying together strong partnerships in achieving all the Global Goals. The JWF has contributed to this goal by mobilizing its Global Partners in sharing best practices and initiating people-centered policy suggestions on the achievement of the UN Development Agenda 2030.

The action-oriented 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has encouraged all stakeholders, including UN Agencies, Member States, the private sector, civil society actors, and experts to bridge the gap between policy and knowledge while creating interlinkages between them the goals and accelerate the implementation progress of the SDGs.

This year, 2021, still represents the critical turning point for our global community which has been combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic. The challenges posed by his global health crisis enabled our international community to redefine economic and social development while following new trends of methodologies and policy implementations.

The UNGA Conference 2021 covered the following themes: (1) Progress of SDG 17: Partnerships for the SDGs; (2) Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability; and (3) Quality Education in the Post-Covid Era and Digital Technologies.


Cemre Ulker, US Director and Representative of JWF to the UN Department of Global Communications welcomed the global audience to the 6th Annual UNGA Conference 2021: Transforming Our World, organized on the occasion of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. In her remarks, she stated that the UNGA is a critical time during which the Heads of States are delivering their statements on the world`s most pressing issues. The main theme of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly is “building resilience through hope”. Recovering from COVID-19, rebuilding sustainably, responding to the needs of the planet, and respecting the rights of people are set as the priorities of the 76th Session of the UNGA.

Ms. Ulker quoted the President of 76th Session of the UN General Assembly His Excellency Abdulla Shahid: “We place our hope in humanity, because at the end of the day, that is all there is.” She continued: “In partnership with 36 civil society organizations from 24 different countries, we are here to transform our hope for inclusive societies into action, offer innovative strategies, and policy recommendations to advance the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development.”

The successful implementation of SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals is the main mission of this international platform. Ms. Ulker indicated that  SDGs can only be implemented with strong global partnerships of civil society organizations with Member States and UN agencies. She highlighted that the UNGA Conference will host 25 distinguished speakers from 14 countries, all are experts in different areas. Following today’s gathering, Ms. Ulker noted that the Conference Committee will adopt a Declaration and Proceeding Document, as well as an action framework to be implemented by the Conference stakeholders.

In closing, Cemre Ulker extended special thanks to the following global partners for their valuable contributions in organizing the UNGA Conference 2021. Argentina – Intercultural Dialogue Center; Australia – Affinity Intercultural Foundation; Brazil – Institute for Intercultural Dialogue; India – Indialogue; Japan – Japan Multicultural Association; Romania – Association for Dialog and Universal Values; South Africa – Turquoise Harmony Institute; Thailand – Samakee Institute; and USA – Cage Free Voices.


Her Excellency Célia Parnes, the Head of the Secretary of Social Development of the State of São Paulo was the first Keynote Speaker of the Opening Session at the UNGA Conference 2021. Her Excellency has been honored by the State of São Paulo Legislative Assembly Foreign Communities Parliamentary Council with the Military House Medal for her outstanding social services and she had been appointed as the Woman of the Year by the São Paulo Municipal Chamber. In her speech, Her Excellency Parnes highlighted the importance of global solidarity and building sustainable partnerships, especially during the times of a global health crisis. She touched on challenging the status quo, improving on social mobility, sustainable development practices touching on social justice, access to universal health care, education, promote equality and ended her brief speech by call on the international community to join hands in fighting coronavirus, the inequalities most families face in distribution of vaccines and improving livelihoods of those affected to cope. Her Excellency concluded her remarks by inviting everyone to take an action to transform our lives by providing opportunities for all in the local and national communities.

Honorable Verity Firth, Former New South Wales Minister for Education and Training and the Executive Director of Social Justice at the University of Technology Sydney was the second Keynote Speaker of the Opening Session. Hon. Firth has over fifteen years of experience at the highest levels of government and the not-for-profit sector in Australia. Before her parliamentary career, Honorable Firth worked as a lawyer and was Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney. In her speech, she started by honoring the first people of New South Wales by mentioning the Aborigines. In reference to SDG 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education for all, Hon. Firth highlighted how inequalities have emerged in digital education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia was affected like most developed nations were. She talked about the relation of family economic status in response to the school learning success. Students from the higher ranking schools whose parents were also more empowered scored better marks than those from mixed diversity schools. It immediately dawned on policy analysts that children from low level family status did not have resources for internet connectivity and even if they did, they could not afford a laptop to organize their learning and assignments. Society needs to acknowledge equity impact in learning. Hon. Firth said that there should be a more community driven response to the education and needs of its community members. Advancement in technology can assist teachers and pro-actively support remote learning. Hon. Firth concluded her keynote speech by saying “Bottle it and keep it for all. Re-organize learning to cover everyone.”