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"Fit for Purpose? The United Nations' role in the future we want" - Final Event [UNat70]

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(f.l.t.r.) Björn Müller-Bohlen (FIW), Lutz Möller (UNESCO), Michael Hoch (Rector Uni Bonn), Jürgen Zattler (BMZ), Silke Weinlich (DIE), Steffen Bauer (DIE), Richard Kinley (UNFCCC), Ashok-Alexander Sridharan (Mayor City of Bonn), Jakob Rhyner (UNU), Maria Hohn-Berghorn (Liaison Office City of Bonn), Richard Dictus (UNV), Bettina Schlüter (FIW)

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Our moderator Monika Hoegen opening the evening and welcoming our guests.

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Prof. Dr. Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn, giving the first welcome address.

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Ashok-Alexander Srdiharan, Mayor of the City of Bonn, welcoming our panellists and guests.

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Monika Hoegen introducing our panellists and inviting them onto the stage.

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Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers (UNV)

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Jürgen Zattler, Deputy Director General, German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

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Jakob Rhyner, Vice Rector Europe, United Nations University (UNU)

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Lutz Möller, Deputy Secretary-General, German Commission for UNESCO

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Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Secretary, Climate Change Secretariat, UNFCCC

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The panellists discussing aspects of the future of the UN with our audience.

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The UNFCCC-Staff Band "The UNbearables" creating a great and entertaining atmosphere for the end of the evening.

With a panel discussion on November 5th, 2015, the final event of our "The United Nations at 70: Fit for 'The Future We Want'?" lecture series took place. We welcomed around 180 guests. Prof. Dr. Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn, and Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, Mayor of the City of Bonn, opened the envening and gave two warm welcome addresses. Our moderator Monika Hoegen introduced our panellists, five distinguished experts and profound authorities from Bonn-based UN organisations and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

United Nations 'Fit for purpose' and, thus, 'Fit for the Future we Want'? How can the 2030 Agenda be implemented and which roles do volunteers and states play? To what extent does the UN itself need to adapt to be able to face the upcoming challenges? These and many more aspects were discussed by our panellists Jakob Rhyner (UNU), Richard Dictus (UNV), Richard Kinley (UNFCCC), Lutz Möller (UNESCO) and Jürgen Zattler (BMZ) during our final event of our "UN at 70"-lecture series.  

"We must gather the competence under the same roof and give theorists and practitioners the chance to communicate with each others and find new ways of cooperation."
Ashok-Alexander Sridharan
The panel discussion was lead by moderator Monika Hoegen, who opened the evening by greeting our about 180 guests and introducing Prof. Dr. Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn, and Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, Mayor of the City of Bonn, who both gave warm welcome addresses. Prof. Dr. Hoch highlighted the challenges of climate change we all have to face from a biological perspective. He also thanked our cooperation partners, the German Development Institute (DIE), the Liaison Office of the City of Bonn and the FIW for making this lecture series possible. Mayor Sridharan underlined the importance of interdisciplinary interfaces: "We must gather the competence under the same roof and give theorists and practitioners the chance to communicate with each others and find new ways of cooperation". He also welcomed the idea, supported by Prof. Dr. Hoch, to invite scientists from the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), founded by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to the FIW next year, to deepen the cooperation and create another platform to foster exchanges between international organisations, academia and sciences.

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A short Video-Review with Silke Weinlich, Rector Michel Hoch, Mayor Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, Lutz Möller and UNU-Vice Rector Jakob Rhyner.

 

"The world pays attention to what is happening in the UN City of Bonn."
Richard Kinley
Monika Hoegen started the discussion by confronting each of the panellists with a question concerning the organisation they represent, their role in the 2030 Agenda and the current developments within the United Nations. Richard Kinley depicted the spatial and personnel changes the UNFCCC underwent since settling in Bonn in 1996: The organisation started with about 50 staff members and held conferences at the 'Stadthalle' in Bad Godesberg. Nowadays, UNFCCC counts more than 500 employees and invites more than 2000 experts to conferences at the WCCB. Regarding the climate change developments, he underlines the "heavy attention and heavy responsibility" the UNFCCC carries. However, he sees this as a positive aspect: Climate change gets more and more focussed on and the world pays attention to what is happening in the UN City of Bonn. The only frightening aspect, Kinley states, is the scale of the challenge as "it is going to take a huge social and economic mobilisation unlike the world has seen before" to combat climate change.

For UNESCO Germany, COP21 will also mean to bring the global goals and challenges on a national level, which, for instance, also means rethinking the way climate change is addressed in the German education system, Lutz Möller stated. Besides, he referred to a discussion within UNESCO on how cultural goods and monuments can be protected most effectively, especially in times of war and natural disasters. Governments and organisations need to be aware of the fact that when cultural goods are destroyed, societies and communities "do not only lose stones but their hearts" - parts of their identities and histories.

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A full live recording of the panel discussion.

Financing the UN system is in itself a difficult topic, Jürgen Zattler from the BMZ agreed with Lutz Möller. He argued that the fragmentization of the UN and the duplication of the responsibilities within the system might not help the UN to be as efficient as it could be. There are, however, different approaches to solve this problem, for instance, from the German side, 'principles for earmarked funding' were suggested to "improve the funding and better align it with the task and functions of the institutions", Jürgen Zattler explained. This could be the support the UN needs to meet the upcoming challenges successfully. 

"If we want to live within planetary boundaries, we all have to change."
Richard Dictus
We (UNV) need to make sure that the UN system always showcases the human dimension and that the messages we are communication about climate change are messages about people. We need to show how the SDGs work on a community level", said Richard Dictus, explaining the work of the UNV. To implement changes, global, governmental decisions and investments need to be brought to the people. Therefore, both politicians and volunteers are equally important.

"We have given us an agenda with which we are forcing ourselves to an integral development agenda and we can struggle together to make change possible."
Jakob Rhyner
When thinking about reforms for the UN system, Jakob Rhyner (UNU), pointed out that the UN already has transformed itself several times within the last decades and that the adapting processes it needs to undergo now might be a challenge but definitely one that can be solved in a satisfying way. Although, Jakob Rhyner admitted that the UN might not yet be fit for purpose, he underlined that "we have given us an agenda with which we are forcing ourselves to an integral development agenda and we can struggle together to make change possible". As not all member states are equally strong in terms of reaching the agreed targets, Jakob Rhyner, mentioned that they are currently experimenting with new ways to negotiate and include new players in the processes.

After setting the basis for the panel discussion, Monika Hoegen took up the fact that some countries are more advanced when it comes to the SDGs and others are lagging behind and asked all panellists if they could envision a divided UN. Richard Dictus answered that this idea might already be seen within the UN as there are already different levels of funding and working structures, for instance, working on long-term projects and immediate reactions to crises.The COP21 agreement might need to be flexible enough to let the member states work at their own speed. Richard Kinley agreed that the UN has come to the conclusion that the strict, top-down, Kyoto-type model of agreement did not work out and that the countries themselves now need to examine how much and in which time frame they can accomplish the goals and targets. The difficulty is to keep the pressure high enough so that the successes increase in the course of time with the hope that more than the minimum action is taken and not less. Lutz Möller added that the spirit of the 2030 Agenda needs to be obtained and used as an opportunity to foster change before it is too late.

After the panel discussion, we invited our guests to a reception. The UNFCCC-Staff Band 'The UNbearables' performed in our main hall and created a good atmosphere to round off the evening.



The lecture series is co-organised by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft (fiw) and the Liaison Office International Academic Sciences of the UN City of Bonn.
 

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