3 Takeaways from Our UN75 Dialogue

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that our choices matter. As we look to the future, let’s make sure we choose wisely” — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

During the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the halls of the United Nations echo with the voices of global leaders and their international communities, in all different dialects. Amidst the global pandemic, this year’s UNGA may have looked different on a virtual platform, but our global messages remained stronger than ever. We’ve seen how across all regions, this year has not only amplified the inequalities of a global pandemic, but the dire effects of climate change, poverty, hunger, racism, and more. Now, more than ever, is our time to act.

In honor of UNGA’s 75th anniversary, our community (Girlz,FTW & Global Shapers) held a global dialogue with participants across all corners of the world about envisioning the future we want. This was one of the thousands of global conversations held across the globe to shape a bolder vision. As stated by António Guterres, “In this 75th anniversary year, I want to provide as many people as possible the chance to have a conversation with the United Nations. To share their hopes and fears. To learn from their experiences. To spark ideas for building the future we want and the United Nations we need.”

Our UN75 Dialogue: What Kind of World Do You Want to Live In?

Participants from our community represented over 17 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Spain, Guyana, Ecuador, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Philippines and several other countries. The diversity of our backgrounds, areas of expertise, cultures and life experiences created an enriching dialogue and unified our vision to build a better world.

Our conversations focused on the issues that are dominating our communities, how the international community should prioritize to recover better from the pandemic, the positive initiatives we’ve uncovered during COVID-19, and our messages to world leaders.

Here are 3 major takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Redesign and Reimagine: We Need to Build Differently

When we look towards the future, it’s important to look back and acknowledge that our current and fractured system cannot continue to act as a blueprint for society — it hasn’t worked for everyone. As one of the participants said: “The solutions will be coming from the people who live and breath the problems on a day-to-day basis and know the solution. If we don’t prioritize their voices to be included in creating the solutions, then we’re just looking for band aids.” The future we want to live in is an inclusive one, and one that will not only elevate everyone, but where communities are provided with equal access to opportunities, resources, and the tools to succeed.

When we think about our vision for reimagining our world, we’re prioritizing the issues that existed before the pandemic, and will continue to exist during and after the pandemic: the climate crisis, global inequalities, poverty alleviation, and more.

We’re prioritizing the most immediate needs to swifty recover from this pandemic. We’ve witnessed firsthand the urgent need to prioritize access to healthcare and healthcare systems. As a participant said: “Health is a human right. It is the right to accessible, high-quality care, and it’s never been more urgent or visible than right now.” To design a system that works for the people, we need to listen to the people and build the infrastructure and structures that cater to them.

2. Expanding Representation at the Decision-Making Table

We are still unraveling COVID-19’s impact across all regions — from the individual level to the economic level. Headlines across the news highlight millions regressing back into poverty, the gender equality imbalance, and the magnifying effects on local businesses. We’re inspired by grassroots solutions and global collaboration to tackle both short-term and long-term issues.

However, what continues to persist is the lack of representation at the decision-making table. One participant pointed out, “There are a lot of solutions being created and a lot of people aiming to create these solutions in this historic period. However, there’s no buy-in from the communities that need to implement these solutions.” When we look at the solutions that are being created, “we need to create spaces for people, especially marginalized communities to have the power to voice their opinion and power to build solutions.”

3. Generate New Partnerships and Alliances:

Prior to the pandemic, we witnessed the dozens of communities that lacked access to basic and fundamental rights, and how these issues were exacerbated during the pandemic. This moment provides us with a historic opportunity to reimagine and recreate the world we need. To catapult us to this new position, we’re looking for increased global collaboration and participation between all stakeholders through new partnerships and alliances.

We believe this can happen through dialogue between governments, agents of change actors, grassroots leaders, and nonprofits (the ones leading the change). These interlinked stakeholders need to forge new partnerships. As a leading example to attest to new partnerships, at the peak of the pandemic, we saw how the hospitality spaces pivoted. As one participant said, “The hospitality sector was severely impacted by the pandemic, but they were able to reimagine the space to meet the moment by supporting the overflow of healthcare needs.” This is one of the many ways we can reimagine spaces and continue to innovate and collaborate.

On the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we’re reminded now more than ever that local and global voices are required to illuminate our path forward. We can’t thrive unless we all thrive together, because what we’ve learned in this pandemic is that “no one is safe unless everyone is safe.”

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