SGI was engaged in activities during the UN Climate Action Summit and first UN SDG Summit, held during the high-level week of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. SGI representatives also attended the climate strike on 20 September and Youth Climate Summit on 21 September.
SGI organized a civil society side event on 23 September held at the Salvation Army Auditorium, titled “Galvanizing Youth and Universities for SDGs and Climate Change.” At the side event, youth representatives from Japan, U.K., and U.S. shared the results of surveys with university students on the SDGs and climate change conducted earlier this year. Key findings were: among the U.K. respondents, 84% said that the SDG they have an interest in is Climate Change, 75% of U.S. respondents said that the government and society are not making enough efforts to address climate change, and interest in climate change among Japanese students was lower than other SDGs. Following the youth presentations, three speakers shared their reflections: Ramu Damodaran, Chief, United Nations Academic Impact; Kusumita P. Pedersen, Climate Action Task Force and Board of Trustees, Parliament of the World’s Religions; and Ludovica Martella, Researcher and Reporter on Sustainable Development and Gender.
On 24 September, Ivy Koek of SGI spoke at an SDG Action Zone event at the United Nations Headquarters organized by Islamic Relief Worldwide on “Why faith actors are critical to achieving the 2030 agenda.” The five speakers were invited to speak on different SDGs. Koek spoke on gender equality, its challenges and the potential for religion to be an agent of change, as well as sharing SGI’s activities of women at the grassroots initiating projects. Examples included the Soka Gakkai Women’s Peace Committee promoting the culture of peace in their communities for the last 16 years and the Young Women’s Stories project of young women telling their personal stories of transformation, overcoming gender stereotypes in their workplaces. Other speakers included Naser Haghamed, CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide; Christine Allen, Director, The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD); Jean Duff, Chief Executive, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities (JLI); and Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador, American Jewish World Service and Finkelstein Institute Social Justice Fellow, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). Many speakers shared how important collaboration is in achieving the SDGs and commented on how this event was a good example of a collaborative effort across faiths.