The 68th UN Civil Society Conference (formerly UN DPI/NGO Conference) took place from 26 to 28 August in Salt Lake City, the first U.S. city outside the UN Headquarters to host the conference. With the theme of “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities,” the conference attracted over 4,000 participants, the highest in the conference history, many of whom were under 30 years old. SGI took part in three workshops, and held a booth space at the exhibit hall with panels from the “Restoring Our Humanity” exhibition as well as pictures of paintings by refugee children.
The first workshop was titled “Amazon Frontline Report – Challenges and Partnerships for Sustainability in Manaus, Brazil’s Amazonas State”. The presenters spoke of the challenges and successes of grassroots work in Manaus City and gave examples of partnerships developed to help carry out their work in their communities. A representative from the Soka Institute for Environmental Studies and Research of the Amazon spoke of their efforts in reforestation and environmental education projects. The second was on “The Power of Faith Actors to Promote Resilient Cities & Communities”. The workshop highlighted the unique efforts of Episcopol Relief and Development, Tearfund USA and the Unitarian Universalists to strengthen resilience through initiatives that involve local communities to address their needs, as well as Soka Gakkai Japan’s disaster relief efforts.
Anna Ikeda of SGI spoke at and moderated a workshop titled “Cities Must Save Themselves from the Nuclear Weapon Threat,” organized by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She spoke about the connection between the SDGs and nuclear weapons, and the role of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in advancing the SDGs. Other speakers highlighted the initiatives taken by cities, such as the ICAN Cities Appeal and the Back from the Brink campaign, as well as Salt Lake City’s example of passing a resolution in support of the TPNW and the Back from the Brink.