Honoring HE Dr. Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka

photo_1_360Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 – New York

On the second floor of the UN Church Center, which serves at the location for the monthly NGO Committee on Sustainable Development meeting, the World We Want 2015 team and Policy Strategy Group, presented its first ever award for “People’s Voices Champion” to H.E. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations.

This award was created to wish Ambassador Kohona a fond farewell as his term here at the United Nations comes to an end. It was also to recognize his career long dedication to the inclusion of global citizens, specifically youth, to use their skills to strengthen the processes within the United Nations system. Amongst this lifetime of achievements, Ambassador Kohona’s pledge to engage 1 Million youth voices in the MY World 2015 survey, stands as the single highest effort by any MY World partner to exclusively engage youth, and serves as a great example of how youth can meaningfully be included, in the MDG and SDG process.

This historic certificate was endorsed by Ms. Margo LaZaro & Ms. Yvonne O’Neal, the Co-Chairs of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development Executive Board; along with Mr. Ravi Karkara & Ms. Rosa Lizarde, UN and Civil Society Representatives along with Co-Chairs respectively, of  the World We Want 2015 Policy Strategy Group.

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Mr. Juan Chebly the World We Want 2015 Coordinator, and Mr. Austin Schiano the World We Want 2015 Coordination Associate, were also able to present the United Nations Millennium Campaign’s “7 Million Voices Report” to several influential figure. The report includes the results of the Millennium Campaign’s vast global outreach to both citizens and their governments. They presented the report to Ambassador Mary Flores Flake of Honduras; Ambassador Caleb Otto of Palau; Patrick Sciarratta, Adviser to the Mission of Sao Tome and Principe and the Executive Director of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation; and last but certainly not least, Ornesha Reagan with the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

This ceremonial presentation occurred at the culmination of what was an enlightening conversation by several of the presenters on the virtues and developments being made in regard to eco-tourism. It included the efforts which are being steadfastly undertaken to ensure that the natural beauty of this world can be enjoyed by all, including preventing the exploitation of, or danger to, flora and fauna by visiting individuals. From the ancient temples that nurtured Buddhist philosophy and untouched forests of Sri-Lanka, to the magnanimous reefs and marine life off the coast of Honduras, this was truly a beautiful and enlightening discussion.  It was especially touching to hear the presenting Ambassadors express and describe the unmatched heritage and geography of their homeland, creating a personal connection that is rarely present in ministerial discussion.

The World We Want 2015 recognizes the fantastic efforts and dedication of the NGO Committee for planning this event, and looks forward to the future promotion of other such congratulations.  It is precisely this sort of event, which allows for us to complete the crucial task of ensuring that the voices of citizens, are brought to their representatives.

-Blog by Austin Schiano, World We Want Coordination Associate

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