About a month and a half ago, 6 undergraduate students helped Rotarians of International Club of San Francisco #2 host the Rotary Club’s first ever PeaceBuilding Symposium on March 15 at the Veterans War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (next to City Hall) holding more than 200 people. The Symposium was co-sponsored by the United Nations Association of San Francisco and the United Nations University. It received additional support from the University of San Francisco Consulting Club and the Rotary Peace Center of the University of California Berkeley. The central theme of the Peacebuilding Symposium was “A Call to Action.” This was partly planned to celebrate the Rotary Club’s Centennial of a 100 years of service. The event was dedicated to building world peace and understanding, a core mission of Rotary International, United Nations and University of San Francisco. The Symposium was an all day event, there were 8 panels that embodied a single UN Millennium Development Goal. There are a total of 8 MDGS:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development
One of the Consulting Club favorites was Rotary’s stance on the eradication of Polio. For more than 20 years, the Rotary club has worked on the eradication of Polio in the world, the United States has been the leading public-sector of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative about a quarter of all funding, Rotary Club has been at the forefront of this endeavor. There were 2 key note speakers: Gillian Sorensen and Dr. Jean Marc Coicaud. Gillian Sorensen is formerly with the United Nations and now is Senior Advisor and National Advocate for the UN Millennium Development Goals. She elaborated on their creation, their purpose, and their implementation. Dr. Jean Marc Coicaud is the Director of the United Nations University. Dr. Coicaud discussed the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations.
Of the other 6 panels these covered poverty eradication, education, medical, environmental, religion and refugee rights. Although religion is not one of the millennium goals it was considered a necessary part in the establishment of peace. The poverty eradication panel presented micro lending programs, direct support, and fair trade projects. All of these activities allow for direct participation in promoting indigenous economies and income for peoples of developing countries. The medical panel included presentations on polio and malaria eradication, cleft lip and palate surgery teams. The Environmental Panel showed that jobs and infrastructure development can occur in environmentally sustainable ways, including retaining and replanting forest lands, engineering water projects with appropriate technology, removing land minds and reclaiming agricultural land, and re-training former guerrillas to farm and process palm oil into a green biodiesel. The Refugees Rights Panel discussed the reasons for refugee rights and the urgent need to provide basic human rights for refugees in countries like Sudan, Cambodia, Kymer Rouge, Colombia and Ecuador. The Religion Panel discussed interfaith cooperation and respect for religious differences and how to end violence in the name of religion. Religion speakers came from Sufism, Catholicism, Anglican, Jewish, and Presbyterian backgrounds, including San Francisco’s Anglican bishop William Swing. All in All the day was packed with numerous occasions. The USF Consulting Club had a great learning experience, networking opportunity and sense of service over self especially with the involvement of all the presentations of philanthropy.