65th Annual DPI Conference
August 27-29, 2014
Sister Betty Marie Dunkel’s summary of some sessions attended and reflections.
Sisters Frances Vista and Betty Marie Dunkel represented the Daughters of Charity, Province of Los Altos Hills at this meeting of NGOs at the UN. There were more than 2,000 people from around the world present, giving all of us the opportunity to listen to and to speak with people from developing countries who are undertaking tremendous projects to deal with dire poverty in all its manifestations: hunger, homelessness, human trafficking. All of the sessions I attended were of panels who spoke from the experiences of their particular organizations and the progress that has been made to address certain conditions, but also targeting the areas that continue to need to be addressed. A common concern when looking at the Millenium Goals that have not been successfully addressed was that the people most affected were not invited to the conversations. Corporations and politicians were looking for solutions, but not from the perspective of the people who would be impacted by the policies. The Action Recommendations from this conference seek to address this omission.
The sessions I attended were all very good, but a few stand out. The session on Sustainable Development focused on resource nexus. Manufacturing and consumers need each other so they (businesses, consumers, producers) need to come together to plan, develop and implement policies and programs. For example, if increased agriculture is the goal, then they need to invest in agriculture from teaching people how to best raise crops and how to sell them. Then the grower will have a profit and can invest in expanding his crops. SAB Miller that manufactures Pepsi and Miller beer was pointed out as a leader in good policy guidance, to assist and not exploit countries. Geo-sustainable Cities are those where there is integrated planning for land management, public services, food systems, sustainable production and consumption. This approach also looks at how to maximize production and mitigate pollution. With “nexus thinking,” all countries using common resources need to come together with the people in those countries to make decisions together.
I also attended a session called, “Youth Resilience—Youth Power—Youth Development for a Sustainable Future: How Settlement Houses and Neighborhood Centers Transform Trauma, Build Civic Power, and Launch Innovation from Within Communities” The young panel members were from the U.S., Sweden, and Honduras. Again, an underlying value of the services is to “take our lead from the people we serve.” One of the projects, Project Aqua Star, is a cooperative with farm raised fish and agriculture program. Young people determined what they wanted to do and the belief is that “young people who control their food, will also control their health, education and policy compliance…”
In Sweden, Free Time Forum youth centers have developed to empower young people to be resilient and join other youth in the world. Meeting places are important. Where you have youth riots, violence toward police and destructiveness, you generally have a gap between youth and decision makers. Politicians believe they know what youth need. When the young organize, they realize how to do things themselves and don’t need politicians to make a difference. They gave young people power to form their own NGO in Sweden. The adults asked them what is important and then taught them to form groups with like-minded people. From this networking, leadership development and skill development, come greater possibilities of good jobs. Another by-product was that often these groups found adults coming to them for assistance.
A young Arab American stated that “If we don’t work at healing, nothing will be effective.” A Settlement House is community based healing. Young people may not want to go for help, but find it in coming together.
There are over 4,000 neighborhood centers across the world from “the settlement house” tradition. While settlement houses provide services to all age groups, they often “focus on Youth Development along the full trajectory from SELF-transformation to Community-transformation.
Because addressing hunger was a proposition at our Provincial Assembly, both Sister Frances and I attended the session on Hunger that was sponsored by Caritias International. The panel was excellent, but I was especially impressed by the presentation on the cooperative approach of the people in India who challenged the large corporations (American) that implemented exploitive measures to control their land and methods of farming that resulted in soil contamination and greater poverty of the farmers. When they took control themselves, they made decisions together on who would grow what crops and how much. By not competing, they increased their profits and also provided for each other. When there was need, they helped each other. One of the handouts is “10 Commandments for a Future without Hunger.” It can be found online: http://food.caritas.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/10-commandments.pdf (or Google: 10 Commandments for a Future without Hunger).
There were other sessions, but I believe others will write about the one on education and perhaps on the doctors in Honduras, but I wasn’t sure who was at the ones I discussed here.
Of course two highlights were having lunch with representatives of the Sisters of Federation NGO representatives and a meeting Sister Catherine Prendergast had with the Daughters of Charity who came to the conference. It was a sharing of the conference, but Sister Catherine was asking for our opinion on how she can best serve the Community in her new position—and how we could help. The discussion was lively and hopefully, helpful.
It was a wonderful experience and I understand why the Federation NGOs were so excited to be participating in it. You certainly get a world view of the issues and how what happens in one area has an impact on so many others and how they live—or not!
65th Annual DPI/NGO Conference Declaration Summary - Victor
Organized by the UN department of Public Information, the 65th annual DPI/NGO Conference was held on the 27th and 29th of August 2014. In the meeting, government representatives and NGOs created a memorandum for the post 2015 development agenda. In this memorandum it was agreed that certain things must be sought after, developed, and implemented in order for the world to become a more just and peaceful place. We address the issues of poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, the empowerment of women, universal access to primary education, and health. The attendees also urged human rights to be upheld for persons who are often excluded, vulnerable, facing discrimination and violence. They include girls and women; indigenous people; persons with disabilities and others who are must be treated with human decency. These are matters that are currently happening in the world and we have agreed that they must be address for the post 2015 development agenda. However, such goals, although necessary, cannot be accomplish without the collaboration of governments, civil society, multilateral organizations, and stakeholders. Everyone must work together in order for these goals to be met. The governments are responsible for adopting and implementing such international agreements. However, they are informed and help to account by citizens and members of civil society who advocate with those most affected by poverty, war, violence, disease and environmental degradation. This is why it is important for us to collaborate so that we might have a better and sustainable world.