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Mehmet Kilic

President, Journalists and Writers Foundation – USA

Mehmet Kilic is the President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation which is dedicated to the advancement of peace, human rights and sustainable development. Prior to his current position, Mr. Kilic served as the UN Representative at the UN ECOSOC from 2012 to 2017. To raise awareness on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, he has mobilized civil society organizations by organizing international conferences, panel discussions, international trips, and youth projects. Mr. Kilic also creates platforms for intellectual and social engagement that aims to promote peace, diversity and inclusion for positive social change. With over 20 years of experience in global affairs, public relations, and non-profit sector, Mr. Kilic pioneered educational and social responsibility projects. Mr. Kilic organized Ambassadors Series discussions hosting ambassadors and diplomats accredited to the United Nations with a focus on Africa, South Asia, and the Balkans. He initiated the Young Peace Ambassadors Academy that offers free global studies programs for high school students to inspire young leaders and responsible global citizens. Mr. Kilic has a master’s degree in Education from Mercy College and is a doctoral candidate at Walden University, pursuing his PhD in Global and Comparative Education.

On the Occasion of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, I welcome you all to the 5th Annual UNGA Conference 2020, entitled “Transforming Our World: Five Years of Action Towards the SDGs.” We are proud to host 21 distinguished panelists from 11 countries who will share their knowledge and years of experience, including women empowerment and gender equality, implementing the SDG Goal #16: peace, justice, and strong institutions, and assessing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The year 2020 is historic time as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration on women empowerment and gender equality. It is also the 5th Year of the Adoption of the UN Global Agenda 2030.

UNGA Conference 2020 aims to review the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is an opportunity for us to look back on the achievements while facing the challenges. Partnership is important to achieve these goals so I want to thank all of our global partners for their dedication and support to make this conference a success!

In Panel 1, we will discuss current challenges and constraints on women empowerment and gender equality in policymaking and decision-making mechanisms with a comparative analysis of how technological advancements influence women empowerment with opportunities and challenges, and understand how women’s empowerment, leadership, and participation contribute to social and economic development. I believe that women empowerment and gender equality are not a singular issue that emphasizes only on the rights of the women. Rather promoting and protecting women’s rights ensure peaceful and inclusive societies and contributes to social and economic development.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres made “gender parity and equality” a priority in his agenda that turned the United Nations into a gender equal organization with 50/50 representation of women and men in the senior leadership levels. This policy change in the senior leadership has inspired millions of women and girls around the world.

In Panel 2, distinguished speakers will address the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal #16: peace, justice, and strong institutions. We thank our panel for their outstanding presentations, remarks, and substantial analysis of data on peace, justice, and human rights issues.

Youth Empowerment, leadership, and participation play an important role to offer sustainable solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges. There are amazing young people around the world who have the knowledge, skills, and determination to make a difference in our global world. Greta Thunberg is one of the renown environmental activists who has inspired and energized and millions of young people across the globe to take action on climate change. Malala Yousafzai is another young activist who is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children. She is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. There are tens of thousands of young people who want to make a difference in our society who want to express their ideas on peace building, climate change, gender equality, social justice, equality, and other issues.

A group of Youth from the Cage Free Voices will present an amazing performance, entitled: “Grade A Human: Too Viral” that gives a strong message to the world. Our special thanks go to Drake and Donovan Brown from Matthew Henson Middle School in Maryland, Oluwa Feranmi Davies from Essy Gold School from Lagos in Nigeria, and Terrence Everett from North Carolina A&T Company. We also have another wonderful youth performance by the IFLC Youth, entitled: “Smile Beneath Your Mask”, which is a song about love and hope despite many challenges. We thank Paradise College students from Papua Neu-Guinea for their participation and contributions.

In Panel 3, we will discuss the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic with evolving social and economic development for sustainability. Our panelists will share their expertise on responding to global emergencies and best practices from covid-19, the new era of online engagement: evolving economic development and private sector, refugee rights during the pandemic, and covid-19 and right to life in prisons: Turkey case.

We are living in an unprecedent time in the history of humanity that we face a global health crisis: COVID-19. We must remember that this is not only a health crisis, but a social, economic, and environmental crisis. The COVID-19 taught us at least one lesson that diseases, disasters, and crisis do not discriminate people by race, ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background. It doesn’t matter if you are a developed or a developing country; when it hits, it hits everybody hard!

To overcome this disease, we need collective efforts and actions to fight against the coronavirus that is targeting our health, our economy, and our security. It is important that we work together in this fight because we are stronger together! But of course, we are not pessimistic about the future. On the contrary, we are hopeful for the future; if we all work together, we can come out of this crisis even stronger!

In closing, I would like to thank all of the speakers for their contributions during panel discussions. The discussions have been very productive with so much information to digest, learn, and act on in the next 10 years. The Journalists and Writers Foundation’s and its Global Partners’ commitment to inclusive, transformative, and achievable UN Development Agenda for humanity and the planet that help achieve our global mission of Leaving No One Behind.

The UNGA Conference hosted 21 speakers from 11 countries with over 520 participants from 48 countries. Partnership is one of the highlights of the conference that 35 global partners from 24 different countries put their efforts to make this conference a success. We thank our global partners for their leadership, dedication, and support in organizing the UNGA Conference 2020.

Last but not least, I would like to announce that we will host the Pioneers in SDGs Awards that pay tribute to outstanding individuals and organizations contributing to sustainable peace and development through innovative and creative projects. Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies; protecting human rights, the rule of law, and democratic values; empowering women, girls, and youth for social justice and equal opportunities play an essential role in achieving sustainable development goals worldwide.

The Pioneers in SDGs Awards Ceremony will be held on September 24, 2020 at 12:00pm-1:30pm EST. The Journalists and Writers Foundation and its 35 Global Partners acknowledge the contributions of projects to society serving as an exemplary model that inspires others towards positive social change while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is a remarkable opportunity for project participants to share their project as best-practices with the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders while exploring other opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

The UNGA conference declaration and resolutions will be disseminated within the United Nations, the UN Member States and other relevant bodies as a policy recommendation for the assessment of the implementation of the SDGs. The UNGA 2020 Conference Proceedings, including speakers’ papers and presentations, will be published and shared with multiple stakeholders as a point of reference to rethink and realign implementation policies and practices for higher levels of outcomes considering the new normal in the post-COVID era.