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Renowned leaders discuss sustainable development at two-day forum

A two-day forum on sustainable development kicked off in Seoul on Wednesday, bringing together experts and international leaders to promote partnership among nations and organizations to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals.

The first Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development was held at Yonsei University in Seoul, hosted by Yonsei University Global Engagement and Empowerment Institute and Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens, which is based in Austria.


Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon, an honorary chair of the forum’s organizing committee, explained that GEEF was established to promote and ensure the pursuit of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which the UN adopted during his tenure in 2015, and to create a global network for cooperation.

“With its base in Asia, where 60 percent of the world’s population resides, and is full of untapped potential and possibilities, we firmly believe that GEEF will play an integral role as a catalyst to help achieve equitable, and truly universal development,” he said in a statement.

On the first day of the forum, Ban and Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, discussed ways to face the future wisely, and the important roles of women and youths in the world.

Other sessions discussed various topics from water management around the world and challenges of the SDGs to youth education and information and communication technology.

On Thursday, Yonsei University President Kim Yong-hak and former President of Austria Heinz Fischer, who is the honorary chair of the forum’s organizing committee, will start the second day of the forum with their opening remarks. Fischer is also the co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak will give key note speeches to promote the environmental goals, which will be followed by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon’s address.

On the second day, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, will lead a discussion titled “Sustainable Development: Putting People and Planet at the Center,” which is the main theme of the forum.

By Jo He-rim (