UN-NGO Update: 2019 High Level Political Forum (HLPF)

2019 United Nations 
High Level Political Forum (HLPF)
July 9-16
“Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”
is the theme of this year’s HLPF. 
A delegation of seven is representing the Society of the Sacred Heart. They are: Bang Junghye (KOC), Kim Jihye (KOC), Lisabeth Kelly (Intern, USA), Betty Nakato (UGK), Rita Pinto (IND), Daphne Sequeira (General Councillor, Rome), and Sheila Smith (UN-NGO Representative). 
Orientation – Day 1
Sheila Smith rscj (UN-NGO Representative)

On July 7 we began by praying with the Statement of JPIC Commitment from the document “Being Artisans of Hope in Our Blessed and Broken World.” We also prayed the song, “If Not Now,” by Carrie Newcomer. 

Nance O’Neil (INS) and members of the 120th Street Community, Helen O’Regan (USC) and Stephany Veluz (USC) also joined the delegation in prayerful support. 

Sheila Smith presented on the role, opportunities, and responsibilities of Sacred Heart at the UN. She highlighted the importance of the interconnections between living JPIC in our local realities and bringing the voice of our peoples to conversations on global realities that affect us all. Sheila challenged each one to discover her own answer to the question, “Why are we at the UN?
Rita Pinto (IND), Kim Jihye (KOC), Betty Nakato (UGK), Sheila Smith (UN-NGO), Daphne Sequeira (Rome), 
Bang Junghye (KOC). Photo taken at the 120th Street Community, New York, NY. 
Orientation – Day 2
Kim Jihye rscj (KOC)

The first thing we did was to get our UN grounds passes. Then we had an orientation with some members of other religious congregations, such as the Claretians, Sisters of Notre Dame and the Maryknoll Fathers. 

We met at the UN-NGO office of the Society of the Sacred Heart. We discussed about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sustainability, a systems view of life, and the structure of HLPF. 

Here are some of questions we were given for reflection: 

  • What are your personal goals for HLPF? 
  • How do these goals fit into the collective goals of congregation? 
  • What messages or experiences do you or your congregation bring to discussions on SDGs? 
  • How will you share your experience with your community and other networks? 

We concluded the orientation with a tour of the UN Headquarters, which showed us the UN’s history and significant works until now.

9 July
Betty Nakato rscj (UGK)
The official opening of High Level of Political Forum (HLPF) 2019 took place from 9:00-10:00 a.m. It was indeed a global moment where so many people from different parts of the world congregated to gather information on how far we have come as a global community in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the past four years. 
From the different statements that were made, the above aspects stood out: 
  • Work with all characters to improve behaviour. Young people MUST be involved in the shaping of their world.
  • Equip people with skills to take up jobs of the future. 
  • We need the necessary data in order to make the implementation of the SDGs possible.
  • The world does not need power but actions. What we truly need is courage not power.
  • Diverse challenges need diverse solutions. 
After the opening of HLPF, we attended the first session of the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Learn.  An online platform has been created in order to enable people to identify and access learning products best suited to their needs. 
Group photo of the participants from the side-event sponsoring groups. 
In the afternoon, we attended the side-event which was organized and co-sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart, Associated Country Women of the World, International Presentation Association, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The event was titled, SDG 4: At the Heart of Achieving the 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda refers to the SDGs, and SDG 4 is Quality Education.
Betty Nakato rscj (UGK) was one of the panelists. Drawing on her educational experience in Uganda and in the USA, she discussed the recommendations for integrating quality education as follow:
  • Establishment of Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Strengthening the relationship among all the school stake holders. 
  • Promotion of hands-on/project-based learning
  • Teachers’ professional learning communities/ professional development
  • Teachers’ performance improvement plan
  • Small size classes
  • Using assessment for learning
Other panelists discussed the ways education is valued in various communities and different approaches to formal and culturally relevant education throughout the life course.
We had time for small group sharing and brief presentations from the participants. All recommendations will be compiled by our UN-NGO Representatives to present in some format to policy-makers at the UN. 
The above was followed by supper with all the side-event co-sponsors and then we returned to 120th Street community for a good night sleep!
10 July
Bang Junghye rscj (KOC)

Our journey with companions from around the world continues today. 

In the morning there was a discussion about the importance of university education to achieve the SDGs. The importance of including SDGs in the curriculum and educational activities of universities was emphasized.  We became aware of how the practice of “field education,” creating networks, and building bridges with civil society organizations contribute to the promotion the SDGs. 

In the afternoon, we explored the different ways by which the policy of “no one left behind” in upheld in the process of implementing the SDGs.

Today was also our day to be in touch with the level of collaboration that the Society of Sacred Heart engages in at the UN. While most of the members of our delegation attended side-events, Daphne Sequeira, our general councillor from Rome, spent much of the day meeting with some of Sheila Smith’s colleagues. Being the Central Team’s Link to the UN-NGO, Daphne’s time in New York is significantly dedicated to understanding more fully the work of the UN-NGO.

11 July
Rita Pinto rscj (IND)
Today we attended the side-event, “Youth Aspirations and Climate Urgency, A conversation on the hopes and demands of grassroots activists in a world threatened by climate crisis”. Several references were made to Pope Francis’ “Laudato  Si” especially ecological conversion leading to ecological spirituality. We were urged to make a difference through education – raising the awareness of people to the urgency of the climate crisis.
Four young grassroots activists on the Panel were from different regions of the world – Papua New Guinea, Panama, Ghana and Germany. They shared passionately about the climate situations in their part of the world and how it has affected their people and their particular countries. They shared about their hopes and aspirations in a world that is threatened by the adverse effects of climate change and threats to environment, ecology, society and economy. The changing environment situations are affecting the smaller communities living in the small Islands developing states – constant floods and rising temperatures that have lead to extreme weather events with the potential to wreck havoc on the future of the young people. They brought to our awareness their loss of confidence in global leadership for climate action. They spoke of the urgency to find ways for reducing the risks posed to their future due to the rising temperatures and sea levels.
The climate crisis we are going through  at present is a great leveller as it impacts all countries  especially the young people. Climate change is not an abstract term but it has a human face.
Some recommendations for solutions:
  • Concrete plan of action- to educate people about the  Climate crisis in the world
  • Encourage nations to use the carbon tax
  • Engage politicians in the issues of Climate Urgency in their campaign for elections
  • Inspire the youth to work together ,to speak to the young to make a difference to their nations
  • Listen to the aspirations of  the young to go down to their level- to educate  to make a difference.
  • Be models of change- do things that the young ones can imitate.
  • Think globally and act locally. Global problems need to be addressed locally. We need to educate to network with the young, exchange ideas, make their voices heard.
  • Put greater emphasis on increasing participation, including youth
We ended the day by attending the SDG Film Festival where six winning short films were showcased. Each film addressed an SDG within a local context.
12 July
Bang Junghye rscj & Kim Jihye rscj (KOC)
In the morning, we attended the session “Practical Tools for Empowering People, Access to Justice and Peaceful Societies.” The presenters explained that one of the core tenets for peace (SDG 16) is inner sustainability, which is essential for the outer work of peace to be effective. Developing inner peace in order to work together more harmoniously will likely help us become wiser. This will enable us to make more grounded decisions that lead to initiatives for building sustainable peace.
The presenters also introduced the concept of “Heart Intelligence” and suggested some key points for empowering the people, such as:
  • Resilience from the heart creates sustainability.
  • Heart intelligence is available to everyone and is a source of inclusive empowerment.
  • Heart intelligence is key to creating peaceful and just societies.

We think this is deeply connected with our Sacred Heart spirituality. By listening to our hearts through prayer and meditation, we are able to share more grounded energy with others, and invite them as well to face themselves. This awareness is for us an important insight as we endeavor to live our mission through the SDGs.

In the afternoon, we went to the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. In the embrace of the beauty of nature, we took time to “create silence” and to look back at our HLPF experience. During these days we heard numerous voices: from Earth and from humanity, through our companions from all over the world. Sometimes it was painful and frustrating to face the issues; but we realized ever more deeply that God invites and urges us to collaborate with others in “Being Artisans of Hope in our Blessed and Broken World” (JPIC, 2019). 
Reflection time in the Conservatory Garden, New York. L to R: Bang Junghye (KOC), Betty Nakato (UGK),
Kim Jihye (KOC), Rita Pinto (IND), Sheila Smith (UN-NGO Representative)
13-14 July
Sheila Smith rscj (UN-NGO Representative)
The Sacred Heart HLPF program for 2019 concluded with two free days. The first included an excursion to the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, New York. On the second day we celebrated Mass at a parish to which RSCJ belong. We also shared one evening on our experience over the past week. 
Based on our experience, we recommend that the Society of the Sacred Heart: 
  • Provide more experiences like this one
  • Include teaching of the SDGs in our places of mission
  • Raise awareness that we are already contributing to the achievement of the SDGs, and identify in each context 
  • Make stronger local-global connections with the UN-NGO office
  • Help members of the Society and our partners in mission to see and experience the connection between the SDGs and Sacred Heart charism and spirituality
  • Teach the SDGs in initial and ongoing formation programs within the Society of the Sacred Heart

Immediate next steps for our group: 

  • One of us has committed to work on SDG 16 (Peace) by helping to build capacity in students for inner peace. This is essential for sustainable peace within and among families, communities, institutions, societies, etc. 
  • Two have committed to be SDG ambassadors to RSCJ in the next probation. 
  • One has committed to promote the SDGs as a component of formation programs within the Society. 
  • The UN-NGO Representative has committed to help the group remain connected and supported as they live these commitments in their local realities. 
One more week of HLPF remains. This second week is more focused on the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) by governments. Sheila Smith (UN-NGO Representative), Lisabeth Kelly (UN-NGO Intern), and Rita Pinto (Visiting RSCJ) will attend. They will submit one more short report at the end of the second week.

Section |Sacred Heart at the UN

Province |India|Korea/Chinese|Mother House|Uganda/Kenya|United States and Canada

JPIC |JPIC News and Updates