By June 13, 2016 Read More →

Report on the BKs participation in the 66th. DPI/NGO Conference

Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Together

Gyeongju, South Korea

May 30, 2016 – June 1, 2016

The 66th UN DPI/NGO Conference in Gyeongju, South Korea, was the first to be held in the Asia Pacific region. Gyeongju is a very beautiful city, the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty lasting 1,000 years so it has a very rich culture and is listed as a Heritage City.

Maureen Chen, from Australia, especially joined Meera Ryu, Pavitra An, Jugnu Heo and a supporting team from Korea for this event. The organisers were very generous and provided complementary lunch and refreshments in the breaks for all 4,000 guests and a free day-tour including lunch after the conference.

SG Ban Gi-Moon speaking at the Opening

Secretary General, Hon. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon speaking at the Opening Ceremony


At the Opening Ceremony

At the Opening Ceremony


The theme of the conference was Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Together. The Brahma Kumaris had an exhibition booth with a monitor displaying images about the BKs and our activities and posters of India One and Yogic Farming as examples of ‘flourishing’ community projects. There were some very beautiful blessing cards in English and Korean with details of the BK Environmental Initiative on the back. These were very popular.  Even though we did not have the opportunity to facilitate a workshop, however between us we attended many of the workshops on offer that had great speakers but little interaction so together with the Roundtables there was a lot of listening!

BKs talking to Govenor of the GB province

BKs talking to Govenor of the GB province


Director of Korea Tourism Corporation of the province visiting the BK booth

Director of Korea Tourism Corporation of the province visiting the BK booth


Among the SDGs, the main focus of the conference was SDG 4 Quality Education and special emphasis was placed on what the youth have to offer. Also, as the future is theirs they need to be more engaged in creating it!  Providing quality global citizenship education was seen to be the solution for our global problems, such as climate change, the refugee crisis, poverty, gender equality, social justice, energy, etc. The words commonly mentioned by many speakers were interconnectedness, being inclusive, tolerance, going beyond boundaries, values-based education, changing mindsets, and working together, which were very much connected to the Brahma Kumaris emphasis for the last 80 years on the oneness of all humanity and equality, values and spiritual awareness.


Sr. Maureen and Mr. Alexander Leicht

Sr. Maureen and Mr. Alexander Leicht

Some interesting quotes to give you a flavour of the presentations in the Roundtables and Workshops:

UNESCO APCEIU (Asia Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding) held a workshop on Bridging Formal and Non-formal Education Global Citizenship Education.  Alexander Leicht, Chief of UNESCO Section of Education for Sustainable Development, made several interesting remarks, “Global Citizenship Education is moving into a social-emotional education from an Academic competitive model… Learn what you live, live what you learn. The mindset of belonging to one global family will eradicate most of our social problems… The environmental challenges are forceful arguments for global citizenship. We need a change in the mindset and action of people and only education will bring this about” and Utack Chung, Director, APCEIU, added “What other way can we move on from all the problems we are faced with? Global Citizenship Education is a long-term solution to poverty, inequality, etc.” and Kim Gwang-Jo, Director, UNESCO Bangkok, emphasized: “Global Citizenship Education is a game changer in education. The sciences have dominated education for the past few decades, now the humanities need to be brought to the forefront to create global citizens.”                                

Roundtable sessions and workshops

In the Roundtable on Global Citizens as Stewards of the Planet: Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Human Rights Activist from the Tla’amin First Nation, said “It is not enough to invite indigenous people to the table, we need to meet as equals to share our indigenous wisdom and the forgotten strength of our people.”

Round Table: STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) should Power the SDGs, Jonathan Wong, Regional Advisor on Science, Technology and Innovation, said “We need to promote risk taking helping people to develop shock absorbers for life and prepare them for micro failure. Without risk taking we cannot learn and grow.” “Values are an inherent component of Education. Education requires egalitarian relationships.”

Round table: Children and Youth: Tomorrow’s Global Citizens Today, Ms. Nasrine Gross, President and Founder, The Roquia Center for Women’s Rights Studies and Education in Afghanistan/Kabultec spoke of how “Education is not only for children, there should be education for adults and for women too. We need to establish schools for Global Citizenship.”

In the workshop entitled, “SDG Action Campaign”, a panel of NGO representatives, with experience of developing and executing projects with the UN, shared their experiences of working with the UN. They encouraged NGOs to take the initiative to introduce their ideas to their local UN bodies and that they should be very active to get support from the UN to realize their project from the beginning to the end.

As the UN has 17 goals for Sustainable Development and the aim to achieve these by 2030, if NGOs have ideas or projects in relation to these goals, the NGOs can actively suggest their ideas and take the initiative. Each of us needs to demonstrate our awareness on global issues through being active in whatever way we can.


Submitted by Pavitra An (Seoul, South Korea)


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