European Forum Alpbach 2020
From the “Reception” to the Forum Alpbach Network (FAN) Booth in the “Lounge” on Hopin, a student of the Population and Development programme, Goodnews Israel Oshiogbele, had a great maiden experience at the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) 2020 which held virtually from August 23rd to September 3rd, 2020.
Foremost, the European Forum Alpbach is an annual conference that brings together students, academics, artists, politicians, and representatives from business and society under a single platform that allows them to discuss a wide range of pertinent issues that affect Europe and the world at large. This year’s edition was the first online event and the 75th anniversary of the EFA.
Without much ado, I would like to point out some keynotes from three topics that were discussed by four experienced/scholarly speakers at the Forum. Firstly, Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary-General) spoke on “Multilateralism and a U.N. for Today and Tomorrow.” He emphasized on the need to: rescue, renew and reset the economies; consider climate risk in all that we do; work together, calling for a new social contract for education, digital technology, even sharing of opportunities, etc.; accept and make multilateralism more inclusive for businesses, civil societies and other parties. According to him, global governance depends on global solidarity.
Secondly, Ban Ki-Moon (UN Secretary-General 2007-2016) spoke on “How to Save the World – Youth Activism in the Spotlight.” He began by point out that the climate is having a “fever.” According to him, Africa and the global south contributed the least to global warming but are most vulnerable to climate change and are often excluded from discussions. Women are more vulnerable to exclusion than men; and when women (who make up half the population) and young people are included in decision-making, that gives 75% of the population.
I am forever grateful to the Robert Bosch Foundation for sponsoring my ticket (full scholarship) to this year’s virtual Forum, and for granting me the privilege of becoming a member of the prestigious Bosch Alumni Network
Goodnews Israel Oshiogbele
So, hand in hand, we must fuse forces and focus on what is common to save our planet. We should be global citizens working together to save the planet. Through the right education, we must foster global citizenship in the youth for a more inclusive and harmonious world. Most importantly, because we have not been using our resources properly, we should listen closely to what Mother Nature is trying to say through these events (pandemic and disasters). Quoting the Pope, he said, "Nature never forgives, God always forgives. People sometimes forgive, but Nature doesn't. This pandemic is clearly a message from nature". He opined that we can still save the planet if we start now. Another speaker, Vanessa Nakate (a Climate activist from Uganda), said that we have to place the need of people at the center of all of our concerns; to her, people cannot be “okay” when our planet is on fire and our problems are increasing because of our unsustainable activities.
Lastly, on the topic of “Individual Resilience and Global Pandemics,” Professor Didier Sornette (an expert in Geophysics, Complex Systems and Financial Economics), explained that the ongoing pandemic is a real test of the resilience of human societies. To him, a decay of global individual health resilience caused by cumulative multi-factor pollution and so-called modern ways of life has made the whole population susceptible to COVID-19. Therefore, to ensure that we have resilient societies, we must prioritize green economic development and training on individual responsibility while taking new risks.
Now there were several personal moments about the experience that I will not forget in a hurry. Especially, my participation in the 24 hours reading of the book, 1984 by George Orwell, and the talk I prepared and delivered on “A Second Today for Tomorrow” during ‘The Stage is Yours’ session at the FAN Booth on the 12th day were very special moments for me. During my talk, I explained how fundamental it is for educational systems globally to be centered on skills-based learning so that every second a child spends at school is spent learning what will indeed be useful for them to fit into society and gain employment through the possession of relevant and up-to-date skills after school.
I am forever grateful to the Robert Bosch Foundation for sponsoring my ticket (full scholarship) to this year’s virtual Forum, and for granting me the privilege of becoming a member of the prestigious Bosch Alumni Network. I am grateful to my professors, especially the Academic Supervisor of the Population and Development programme (Associate Professor Vladimir Kozlov), for their impacts on my academic life thus far as a student of the Higher School of Economics – without them, I could not have had the courage to actively participate and represent our great University at the Forum this year.
In closing, the lessons I learned during the forum have enhanced my conversations with my relations, peers, colleagues, associates and professors. My future plans have been aligned by this encounter. I want to keep spreading these ideas to the world around me and beyond so that through collective efforts, inclusive multilateralism and pro-environmental behaviour, we would have a faster and sustainable recovery from this pandemic and more resilient society.
Goodnews Israel OSHIOGBELE,
second-year Master’s student of Population and Development at HSE University;
and Member, Forum Alpbach Network (FAN) and the Bosch Alumni Network (since 2020).