Chief Host: Professor Akan Williams – Ag. Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University
Co-Host: Mr Ronald Kayanja – Director, United Nations Information Centre
Chair, Organising Committee: Professor Sheriff Folarin – Head, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University
Keynote Speakers: Dr. Riel Miller (Director, Futures Literacy)
Gen. C.J. Obiakor (Former UN under-Secretary)
Prof. Olutayo Adesina
Prof. Satish Kailas
- Multilateralism is being undermined and endangered by withdrawals from vital global treaties and institutions, budget cuts and disregard for international law. However, globalization and its attendant challenges (which are basically the prevailing realities of the digital economy and rapid technological advancement) demand an inclusive multilateral response that involves the full participation of key stakeholders such as the civil society and youths.
- Covenant is actively involved in research efforts aimed at evolving innovative solutions in facilitating the achievement of the SDGs. The recent ranking of the University in the 401-600 bracket of the 2020 Impact Ranking of Times Higher Education (THE), attests to our contributions in this direction.
- The world faces colossal challenges, which were further heightened by the global covid-19 pandemic. For this reason, attaining the SDGs in recent times have been increasingly difficult as the world has to combat a common enemy, COVID-19. This places a burden on the founding mission of the UN itself. Nevertheless, with global solidarity and cooperation, these challenges can be overcome. The UN belongs to us.
- To achieve this, a primary survey on the perceptions of the UN revealed the dire need to increase the knowledge of the UN across broader populations. With 40% trusting the UN to do the right thing, and 63% trusting the UN, government and NGOs to do the right thing, current trust in the UN lags behind comparable institutions. The emphasis is that this is not so much about the UN as an organization, but about the people believing that international cooperation is a means of solving national problems.
- In Peace Support Operations (a primary tool with which UN impacts multilaterally), it is recommended that protection of the civilian, smart peacekeeping (use of technology), safety and security of peacekeepers, conduct of personnel, troupe availability and financial constraints, the peacekeeping capacity readiness system, the rules of engagement and the use of force are some contemporary issues that need to be addressed in the peace support operations.
- Also, equality of member-states is a salient issue that is yet to be resolved in the UN. According to Robert Mugabe, ‘if the UN is to survive, we must be equal members of it’. Some African nations, such as Ethiopia, are not permanent members of the UN. African countries should be given responsibilities so they will be responsible and accountable.
- Finally, on achieving a sustainable environment, it should be noted that sustainability is binary and all loops should be closed. Everything in the world is cyclic. The cycle entails science and sustainability and both of them cannot be divorced from each other. Hence, the cycle should remain closed. This can only make sustainability sure because, sustainability is binary (ideas, resources, etc. can either be sustainable or not sustainable). For a cycle of non-material resources to be sustainable, three things must be put in place: replenishment rate, toxicity and biodegradability. First, the use rate of the replenishable material should be higher than the replenishment rate. If the material is non-replenishable, it should be 100% recycled. Second, only non-toxic materials should be discarded. And third, the non-toxic materials should be biodegradable. If not, the cycle will be unsustainable. UN should have this simple principle of, “Close the Loop,” and realize that sustainability is binary, to achieve the sustainable development goals.
- In conclusion, there should be an understanding that ours is a decade of action that requires swift and aggressive actions even from academics, towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. Students from Covenant University and other Universities internationally are currently being trained towards the achievement of the goals because UN is committed to giving them a platform to rise.