48 hours of exchanges to driving change in the world: Convergences World Forum
– By Anna Lanfranchi, Development Officer at SOS GROUP International action
On September 2nd and 3rd, in Paris, Palais Brongniart, I attended the Convergences World Forum for SOS GROUP, a reunion aimed at engaging participants to commit to a three-zero world: « Zero Exclusion, Zero Carbon, Zero Poverty ».
For more than 10 years, the Convergences World Forum has brought together various actors working for the transition towards more sustainable societies. During these two days, civil society organisations, institutional actors, foundations and companies gathered to share innovative initiatives and collaboration efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The Forum has set itself as a space where partnerships abound and where stakeholders involved in the fight against poverty and for ecological transition can meet and share expertise. Being surrounded by peers who share our conviction that together we can act for the common good has brought hope and strength to our ambitions. Between debates, conferences, and workshops, each meeting has reinforced SOS Group’s inspiration and knowledge for a diversity of inclusive economic and environmental topics (impact finance, green taxonomy, etc.).
To me, Convergences’ added-value was the consideration for the attendants’ diversity of ideas. While sharing a common goal, participants expressed different ideologies leading to very interesting exchanges of arguments, all of which were enabled by a trustworthy environment. The debates have brought quality content and dynamism to the official panel sessions. The audience was particularly aware of the issues raised and the critical spirit of peers has proven to be critical to remain attentive to certain counterproductive speeches and initiatives (greenwashing, etc.).
After more than a year of obstacles linked to Covid-19; we can meet again to celebrate innovation and partnership
Reaching the SDGs by 2030 is a strong and bold commitment made by the Heads of States at the United Nations Headquarters in 20151. The challenge is extremely complex while critical. COVID-19 has put at risk this commitment even more by pausing the world in a second. As the Convergences World Forum opened its door on September 2nd at the Palais Brongniart in Paris, the first gathering to be held physically since the beginning of the global pandemic crisis, for the majority of the participants, had taken place. It felt great.
Hopefully, it has underlined that the unfortunate effects of this pandemic have not stopped initiatives, but have rather constituted a creative factor for many. Under pressure, organizations working for the common good had to rethink their means of action.
While in a confined world, the local was the order of the day, but brains continued to think internationally and various programmes were born. Citizen and territorial dynamics as well as the result of a certain awareness from civil society regarding the urgency of acting to avoid the reproduction of such phenomena, have kickstarted the renewal of international solidarity.
« Municipalities and other regional structures have set up new channels of exchange with their foreign counterparts. Knowledge about the management of epidemics in developing countries or in other countries has been shared and this has allowed a long-term reconciliation between cities. From these exchanges, new solidarities were born and tools were developed to maintain them.” – Geneviève SEVRIN, Cités Unies France
In this sense, if direct actions have been slowed down on a longer-term vision, this episode has allowed the creation/strengthening of solidarity at various levels.
This crisis has contributed to the awareness and understanding of the SDGs among a public previously distant from these issues. The speakers had a relevant approach in highlighting these kinds of new perspectives on the effects of the pandemic.
My selection of the top sessions at the agenda:
- Innovations and partnerships for sustainable development: what new models?
- SDGs: a cross-section of the decade of action!
- When SSE and sport meet
- Climate change: Humanity displaced?
- Special mention for the UNHCR and ACTED temporary exhibition on the notion of home for refugees which was particularly touching, but which you will unfortunately not be able to see in retrospect
If you were able to register but you could not attend those sessions, I highly recommend you to listen to the recorded conferences, available HERE.
Being part of a movement to create a sustainable society
Participating in this Forum was a time dedicated to meeting our partners and understanding the challenges of today and tomorrow. The exchange of ideas and the convergence of each other’s actions towards a more just and pacific world through the lens of sustainable development has led to common solutions.
As Alexandra Mitsotaki stated during the opening ceremony: « It is by combining all the work to achieve the SDGs, working on the convergence of these three 0s that we will be able to have egalitarian and peaceful societies ».