Agenda 2030 goals are life goals – Whitaker

Feb 9, 2017

Forest Whitaker, the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation with UNDP staff during his visit to Uganda (Photo credit: UNDPUganda 2017).

KAMPALA - UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, Mr. Forest Whitaker has likened achievement of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as achieving life’s purpose.  

“These goals are just goals for life,” Mr. Whitaker said of the 17 SDGs adopted by world leaders in September 2015 during the UN General Assembly. “We all have a responsibility to work towards their achievement, not only our leaders.”

The UNESCO envoy was addressing the media at the UN offices in Kampala jointly with; Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, and Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative for Uganda.

He added that the SDGs should be unpacked into simpler phrases which citizens can relate to and engage in activities for their achievement. “People should be able to understand what it is they have to do to help in each of these areas,” Mr. Whitaker said.

“Sustainable Development Goals: If you ask someone on the street they will say, ‘what is that?’ But when we say; ‘hunger, poverty, education… everybody understands that and what they can do about it.”

Mr. Whitaker, a multiple award winning film actor, producer and director is in Uganda for charity. The talented, versatile performer is one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. Mr. Whitaker has received prestigious artistic distinctions including the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Last King of Scotland as former Ugandan President Idi Amin.

He is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI). WPDI operates in five countries: Myanmar, Mexico, USA, South Sudan and Uganda.

WPDI runs the Harmonizer Programme in the North with the objective of nurturing a generation of peace-leaders who are committed to reconciliation and violence prevention. WPDI provides the youth with training in conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building as well as in meditation skills to promote inner healing.

“I am excited to be here to see the work we are doing with the young people. We try to support the ideas that the youth in Uganda & other parts of the world have to improve their lives,” Mr. Whitaker said.

Northern Uganda was affected by a two-decade civil war and is under-going reconstruction. The region is also host to refugees running away from conflict in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“The refugee model you have here is impressive,” Mr. Whitaker said of the Uganda’s Transformative Refugee Settlement Agenda.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Ms Nada Al-Nashif also hailed Uganda for having the resources and the political commitment to help refugees. “What is motivating us is that there is a model here on how to look after refugees,” Ms Nada said.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Malango thanked UNESCO and Mr. Whitaker for supporting the refugees and young people in Uganda. She also called for more support for Uganda’s refugee model as the number of refugees hosted in the country has hit the one million mark.

“Uganda is the only country you come as a refugee and you are given land and can share social services with the locals. We believe that it’s time to help the country share this incredible burden.” Ms. Malango said.

Ms. Malango informed the media that the Government in partnership with the United Nations is organising solidarity conference in March 2017 to mobilise much needed resources to support refugees and development.