His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, welcomed members of the Global Sustainability Network (GSN), an organisation consisting of key representatives from multiple faith-based communities, the business sector, academia and civil society, to Expo 2020 Dubai. The delegation was visiting Dubai to attend the GSN conference, titled Countdown 2030, which took place at Expo 2020 from 26 to 28 January 2022. It was the first gathering of GSN members since lockdown was implemented globally in 2020.
The event began with a message from His Excellency, stating: “We are delighted to welcome you to Dubai. The work of the GSN and your active participation here signals to the world your determination to re-energize Goal 8 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
Commenting on Goal 8, which aims to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, His Excellence added: “Your work captures the essence of Goal 8, and you have assembled here to strengthen momentum towards achieving this goal. I applaud you for your efforts, initiatives and commitment to the future of the world.”
During his welcome address, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of GSN, Raza Jafar, said: “The goal of this conference is to discuss action points for 2022 and beyond that will help us build upon our existing initiative through strong commitments from various stakeholders to expedite and continuously track the global progress on Goal 8. Despite the Covid pandemic and myriad other challenges, we are here to reinvigorate our efforts through the power of powerful and meaningful partnerships and concrete action. We hope to witness more entities and countries joining our efforts.”
This was echoed by Rt. Rev Bishop Alastair Redfern, co-founder of GSN, who added: “What a privilege to gather here in Dubai. It has been heartening to see our members come up with plans and initiatives to fill the gaps caused by the pandemic and other global challenges. Our network’s strength has always been in working together, and we will continue to do so. I am proud of our members’ willingness to continue moving forward, to increase their efforts and to take action to achieve our shared goals.”
The GSN conference highlighted messages from Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Founder of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundations, Kailash Satyarthi, as well as Mo Ibrahim (Founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation) and Peggy Dulany (Chair and Founder of Synergos) representing GSN as global ambassadors. The conference then moved on to honour the remarkable work of people and organizations that have substantial contributions towards achieving these goals, such as Hannan Asegh from Goodwill Caravan who helps refugees and Alma Tucker who runs a shelter in Mexico for victims of human trafficking.
Countdown 2030 saw the participation of 80 members of the GSN. During the conference, key issues such as the way forward for the network were addressed. Global ambassadors also shared video messages with delegates, and the Faith Leaders Alliance convened. In addition, the conference included the GSN Hero Awards.
The Global Sustainability Network began in 2014 as a network of 1,300+ people and organisations after the signing of the Joint Declaration Against Modern Slavery by The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from Greece, and senior representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths in 2014. It is now registered as a UK based CIO.