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Danish Experts Share their Views on UN International Day of Peace

Copenhagen, Denmark –UPF-Denmark celebrated the UN International Day of Peace at Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish Parliament, on September 24, 2023. Around 200 leaders, Ambassadors for Peace and other interested persons took part.

Christian Friis Bach, MP, former under-secretary-general of the United Nations and chairman of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) 2014-17, hosted the celebration and gave the opening address. "The vision we had after the Second World War that we should talk together and live together in peace is in retreat,” he said. “Developments today are very disquieting, strong protectionist waves are sweeping over the world, borders are being closed and we live in a dangerous world with increasing tensions and unrest. Fortunately, we have the Global Goals, which are a plan and vision for how we can live together, get to know each other, create partnerships across national borders, create mutual dependence and progress for all people.

“The Global Goals came about because an open working group was created, and other people entered the negotiation room in New York to negotiate instead of the UN ambassadors and the different nations. There is a need for people to collaborate and get involved from beneath. Many think that peace comes from above, from outside, but it does not. Peace comes from within and from beneath (from the grassroots); in that people trust in each other, make consideration for each other, trade with each other, etc. This is part of what UPF represents in the finest way, which is why your work in UPF is so important.”

Karsten Nielsen, secretary general of UPF-Denmark, moderated the first part. He said: "2023 marks the midpoint for the implementation of the Global Goals for 2030. That is why UN Secretary-General António Guterres chose the theme "Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the Global Goals." The prerequisite for reconciliation and peace is the fulfillment of the UN Global Goals, he said. In a global world, we are connected and dependent on each other, so it is necessary to work towards a society and world of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values. “Therefore, we have chosen to add the subtitle, ‘Do we need a paradigm shift to reach the world goals?’” he added.

Jesper Dalgaard Pøhler, sustainability consultant, project manager at Aalborg University and podcaster, asked, "We are halfway in the schedule (to achieve the SDG’s), but are we also halfway to reaching the goals?"  Mr. Pohler is co-author of the book "Live Sustainably - Come on. You can!” The book suggests ways to live sustainably in everyday life, and how to work together within a community. Mr. Pohler said the Global Goals are an ambitious and demanding plan, agreed upon by the majority of the world's countries, but to achieve the external SDG’s we also need the 23 Inner Development Goals (IDG’s). Our current paradigm focuses on material prosperity, external beauty, freedom to consume, optimization of time, and making everything easy, fast and cheap, he said. A new paradigm must shift the focus to welfare over wealth, inner beauty, freedom to give things up, using time for enjoyment and quality under good conditions.

Alexandra Hasdorf is a Kaospilot team leader in the School for Creative Leadership and Meaningful Entrepreneurship, and former chair of the National Association for Eco-communities. Her theme was, "The Victim of Comfort: The Road to the Global Goals and Peace." She said, "We have created a paradigm of comfort beyond all planetary boundaries. We can eat whatever we want when we want it, travel anywhere in the world when we feel the urge, with no limits, and if the world is on fire, we can just turn off the TV or turn on Netflix to continue numbing ourselves in comfort. That level of comfort is fundamentally unsustainable and we should not strive for it. Beneath this paradigm of comfort lurks reality, and we are fundamentally unable to act if we do not dare to face reality.”

Søren Lee, one of Denmark's most talented jazz musicians, guitar virtuoso, and composer, presented the first musical feature. His peaceful solo numbers created an atmosphere of fellowship and unity among all participants.

Yildiz Akdogan, member of Copenhagen City Council, former MP and UPF Ambassador for Peace, was the moderator for the second part. She said: “At this very moment, there are people who are experiencing the horrors of war in body and soul, which is why we are gathered around conflict management, mediation and peace.

Thorkil Christensen from UPF introduced the peace ceremony, saying: "Freedom, peace, unity and joy are the vision of UPF and should include all people. UPF's peace work started with a 15-year-old teenager who later became known as Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Through revelations he came to realize that God, the Creator, exists in longing, sorrow and loneliness. This experience was so profound that he devoted his life to creating a world where there is room for God. It was the power of conscience that ruled his life. It is God's voice that speaks to the conscience. Nobody has a greater influence on the conscience than the religions. That is why religious leaders' contributions are central to the UN Day of Peace.”

Seven representatives of the world's religions then gathered in silent prayer before pouring vessels of water into a common bowl, to the music of Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” symbolizing peace and harmony among people of all faiths.

Dr. Anders Holst Bodin, author and head of the Climate Academy, spoke on the topic, "Is the Paradigm Shift an iIlusion?" In 2012, Anders was working at the SLAC Laboratory at Stanford University to complete his thesis in sustainable energy, Power-to-X. He felt that the financial crisis of 2008 had created an opening for progressive movements, and a longing for spirit – a new paradigm. Today, all talk of a paradigm shift is silenced, and airy illusions about better futures are replaced by so-called realistic pragmatism, by wars and the climate crisis. Illusions may vanish, but they leave a mark on reality, he argued. Just as theater affects the actual lives we live, so political illusions do affect the development of society. We may not be achieving the Global Goals right here and now, but it matters to fight for positive change, he said.

Helle Solvang is the founder and manager of the Lovesoil Learning Lab and Media Platform, Jordens Skole. Her talk was titled "Together around the Earth." After 20 years with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Ms. Solvang chose to become a green entrepreneur, to focus on public information about the Global Goals, sustainability and practical ways of adapting to climate change. She founded “Jordens Skole” (School of the Earth) and "Gå til Have" (Community Gardening), where for the past six years she has developed farming in harmony with nature. Through cultivating the land, she said, “We learn to think in wholeness, to read the earth and nature, and to take into account the needs of both human beings and nature. It not only benefits the earth and our relationship with it, but it simultaneously sharpens our own focus on food waste, shopping, recycling, transport, friendships, neighborliness and much more; it helps to raise the population's eco-literacy. In this way, co-creation takes on a more practical meaning."

Jazzmosphere, with Metta Carter, Søren Lee and Maciej Szymczynski, provided the final musical performance. The trio played a mixture of newer jazz-soul compositions, inspired by Nordic music, hip-hop, soul and blues, creating sound and vibrations in a warm, jazzy atmosphere. The program ended with all participants singing together John Lennon's song, “Imagine.”

Many participants gave positive feedback to the event as a whole and to the speakers and musicians. Several wanted to be invited to participate in UPF's educational programs, while others called for more concrete ideas on how we can move forward on the path to peace in our everyday lives.

By Karsten Nielsen, Secretary General, UPF-Denmark September 24, 2023


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