This past week, on 25 October 2019, Bonn, Germany played host to the Global Peace Inter-Generational Dialogue (IGD) as part of the 2019 Global Development Conference, Knowledge for Sustainable Development (K4SD): The Research-Policy Nexus convened by the Global Development Network. The choice of Bonn was strategic in convening Global Peace’s first German IGD as the city has largely become a hub for sustainable development in the context of the United Nations (UN) Agenda. The city is also home to the UN SDG Action Campaign, one of the first organisations Global Peace has had the pleasure of partnering with back in February 2019. The partnership was in recognition of the organisations’ mutual aim of promoting and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The event was made possible by a multitude of partner organisations that included Bundesstadt Bonn, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Digital Hub.De, Fridays for Future Bonn, Universität Bonn, Global Development Network, Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research, and the UN SDG Campaign.
The panelists included His Worship Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, President of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, Laura Hildebrandt, Head of Global Outreach UN SDG Action Campaign, Ivan Ryzkov, Digital Hub, Jill Meiburg, Senior Vice President, Communications and Responsibility Strategy & Channel Management: Deutsche Post DHL Group, Julia Burghardt, Fridays for Future Bonn and Prof Dr Jacob Rhyner, Scientific Director: Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research/Innovation Campus Bonn & Professor: Global Change & Systemic Risks at Bonn University.
The central question to the discussion focused on “What Moves Bonn? What Are We Moving To? In Conversation with Youth and Politics”. The panel addressed an array of topics centred on the SDGs keeping in line with the theme of sustainability. His Worship Sridharan cited Greta Thunberg by stating, “We cannot change the world by obeying the rules”. These words of action set the tone for a lively debate. The panel touched on many points with Julia Burghardt raising the need for a cycling infrastructure in the City, greater climate action and social inclusivity, with Jull Meiburg expressing that diversity enriches perspectives and fosters innovation Issues raised concentrated on a local level with the panelists exploring what the city of Bonn contributes towards the fight against climate change. Ivan Ryzkov reflected on the topic of digitalisation as an opportunity or threat to the global market and highlighted the framework conditions for low emission business models? In response, Prof Rhyner pointed out his research findings that suggests the history of labour, in the context of the future of employment, is a story of increasing efficiency and reducing work hours. He also reflected on science as being instrumental to assess, understand and fight global change by underpinning global strategies and developing new negotiation models. Further questions raised by the panel included “What’s the benefit of young startups developing solutions for sustainability?” to “How can regional economic growth be managed/controlled in such a way that it benefits all?” Other topics raised by the speakers included the need of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, the effectiveness of issues being addressed at the local level, and integrating indigenous communities and academic knowledge. To close the discussion, a question was posed to those in attendance, “what are you taking from the discussion? And how are you acting for a sustainable peaceful future?” The Bonn IGD was definitely a dynamic and interactive event with questions being crowdsourced through an online platform to ensure greater inclusivity from the citizens of Bonn.
The world is seeking urgent action to address the global crises being faced. The IGDs continue to provide an invaluable space for dialogue towards achieving a better future and supporting the “decade of action” declared by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.