Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa and Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center in Norway, Liv Tørres, gave a special session at the 39th UNESCO’s General Conference 

Paris, 1 November 2017. – On Wednesday, 1 November 2017, Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa had a conversation lead by Liv Tørres, Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center in Norway titled “Peace and Justice: the humanity global path towards sustainable development” within the 39th session of the UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris. 

As part of the leaders’ Forum of the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, the event was organized with the cooperation of the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates and supported by the Albert Schweitzer Institute. The goal of this Conversation was to bring different voices to the Leaders’ debate on how UNESCO could best support its Member States in their bid to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals along with the Paris Climate Agreement two years ago have opened a new page in the history of international cooperation. Taken as a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity, this collective path seeks to achieve ambitious global targets for global peace, justice, inclusiveness to end poverty, protect the planet, and to strengthen universal peace in broader freedom. 

Considering that the global society is now confronted with major international challenges and struggles to find unity around the international institutions it’s highly important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals building of a new agreement and collective unity around the global institutions. In this context, the Conversation with Nobel Peace Laureate, Lech Walesa, former President of the Republic of Poland, was focused on the 2030 Global Agenda, which calls for a collaborative action of all stakeholders in every society. 

President Walesa gave a reply to three questions asked by Liv Tørres, Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center in Norway highlighting his background and his role in organizing a civil society in Poland in order to bring different and innovative insights into the discussions on UNESCO’s role in the implementation of the 17 SDGs. 

At the beginning of the Session Liv Tørres underlined that “UNESCO is critical in order to create the value platform we need to go forward with Agenda 2030.” During the Conversation Lech Walesa stated that “globalization needs debates.” He stressed that “big international organizations like UNESCO are very important because they unite many nations for the good cause. To meet the challenges of the modern world such institutions, however, need to find a common spirit for all nations to overcome their cultural religious and economical differences.” 

Responding to Liv Tørres Walesa said: “We have to get a sense of why things are as they are at the beginning of the XXI century. We started to be afraid of our neighbours and that’s something we learned from the past. As a result, we have no good recipes, no common reflection. We don’t have that foundation and we must work on that as quickly as possible. UNESCO and other global institutions should educate people in the sense of values. At the end if we don’t come together this will result in chaos. To bring people together in the meetings like this with ideas to be put on the table must be resulted in programs implemented by people who have and enjoy common thinking. Globalization now is content free, structure free, idea free. But organizations like UNESCO have to quickly propose solutions and I believe that’s possible.”  

“We all feel the need to unite us, the need to build the new set of rules and the important role that UNESCO does have in the modern world. Sometimes the programs are even right but you’re not convincing people that it’s right. And when it’s done we can say about this generation: Not only did they want something beautiful, not only they managed to go away with the areas of the past, but they managed to bring a wise building of the future. We have this opportunity.”  

Nobel Peace Laureate, Lech Walesa, is former President of Poland and leader of the trade union Solidarity. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his campaign for freedom of organization in Poland, and for using non-violence in the fight for social justice for his fellow workers in the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk.  His party Solidarity won free elections in 1989, and Walesa was elected President of Poland.   

Liv Tørres, Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center, is a Norwegian researcher, politician and humanitarian leader. Before she started working for the Nobel Peace Center in January 2016, Tørres was Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid.

Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates was created in 2006, and is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization, with its own board, based in Rome and operates on a permanent basis. The major activity of the Permanent Secretariat is organizing the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates internationally recognized as among the most important annual events in the field of peacemaking, attracting Nobel Peace Laureates, high-profile leaders, organizations, students and professors from around the globe since 1999.  

Nobel Peace Center is one of Norway’s most visited museums with app 250 000 visitors per year. It presents the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work, in addition to telling the story of Alfred Nobel. The Center is an arena for debate and reflection around topics such as war, peace and conflict resolution, presents changing exhibitions, engaging digital solutions, films, seminars and events. Nobel Peace Center is an independent foundation, with the Norwegian Nobel Committee appointing the board.

The full translated video of the Conversation can be found here

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