The United Nations has declared 2017 “the year of peace,” and on January 19, Peace Boat interns gathered to hear the first briefing of the year at the DPI/NGO (Department of Public Information/Non Governmental Organization) Inaugural meeting in New York City. It was the first time this team of interns had the opportunity to sit among NGO representatives at the table. Speakers Maher Nasser and Damian Cardona introduced the TOGETHER Campaign, which is an umbrella coalition to counter xenophobia and negative perceptions and attitudes towards immigrants and refugees. This global movement aims to distinguish between facts and myths of narratives circling in the media about immigrants. Daniel Shepard and Kim Quarles spoke about the upcoming Ocean Conference being held June 5 – 9, 2017. The conference aims to build partnerships among the private, public, and civil society society sectors; develop a firm commitment to act and preserve the oceans; and to educate and share a more robust understanding of ocean issues and the negative impacts of these.
We also had the opportunity to attend the UNDESA/DSPD (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Division for Social Policy and Development) Stakeholder Engagement Series on Partnerships to Transform Goals. Speakers Daniel Perell, Chair of the NGO Committee on Social Development, and Hanifa D. Mezoui, Senior Advisor of the Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society, emphasized the importance of bringing all voices to the table such as those of indigenous peoples, older generations, and people with disabilities. The guest speakers emphasized inclusive NGO meetings that are representative of a variety of backgrounds and NGO work. Together, the meeting participants agreed to start a dialogue on specific tasks they can do to ensure that the information collected and discussed in their meetings is dispersed throughout the entire UN. The team also agreed to develop a statement to collectively emphasize the team’s stance as well as educate non-members on the activities and initiatives of the team.