Seoul: UN Academic Impact Initiative Rallies around Global Citizenship

In a globalizing world, higher education must become a beacon for new forms of global solidarity and global citizenship, said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the 2nd United Nations Academic Impact Forum, held in Seoul on 20 May 2015, with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his Special Advisor on the MDGs, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Mr Lee Hong-Koo.

The Forum aimed to strengthen global academic networks and foster global citizenship education in the context of post-2015 goals.

The Secretary-General thanked United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) Korea for bringing together Korean institutions in a common commitment to the United Nations and highlighted the role of the academic community in finding sustainable development solutions.

He appealed to students present to join UNAI and to “challenge injustice and speak out for what they know is right. Too much emphasis is placed on transferring knowledge without wisdom.  Students do not need 100% on every test but to test their leaders and challenge themselves to help others. We need your brain power to energize our world,” he said. “I am insisting that governments listen to the world’s youth and give them a place at the negotiating table.”

The Director-General emphasized the need for deepening synergies and partnerships to find responses to climate change, loss of biodiversity, risk reduction and other challenges. 

“We need to develop the right responses, new ways of delivering, through partnerships for innovation. We must not just cross policy lines, we must integrate policy areas to nurture all sources of knowledge and innovation. Higher education is essential – to mobilize research for decision-making and capacity-building, to craft new forms of global citizenship.”

Former Prime Minister Lee Hong-Koo recalled the role of education in Korea’s development and drew attention to the surge in higher education, calling for a qualitative change to share activities with the global community.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs stressed that knowledge is at the core of prosperous societies and applauded UNAI’s focus on global citizenship.

“We need moral knowledge today and global moral understanding to find peace and achieve the ambitions of sustainable development.  Global citizenship can be one of the most important messages for young people,” he stated.

The UN Academic Impact Initiative was created in 2010 to help galvanize academic support to solve world’s most difficult challenges.