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UN Correspondents Club, Friday, 7 September 2007

Sponsor: Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations
Co-Sponsors: Campaign for a More Democratic UN
Citizens for a UN People's Assembly
Global People's Assembly
Medical Action for Global Security
Symphony for the United Nations
World Movement for Global Democracy
Legacy of Lucile Green and Ruth Steinkraus Cohen

Moderator: Susan J. Zipp, Chair, Global People's Assembly
Speakers: Lesley Vann, Earth Charter and Global Education
Dr. Harry Lerner, Medical Action for Global Security
Rob Wheeler, World Movement for Global Democracy
Maestro Joseph Eger, Symphony Conductor and Activist
Ramu Damodaran, UN DPI Chair, Civil Society Division

Attendance: 75 persons
A Complimentary Lunch was served

Program: Recognizing the importance and value of every individual to be the change we want to see. Actions on global issues at the local level were recommended. Climate change and global warming issues will require implementing survival strategies for our specie and planet, demanding immediate actions by everyone based on wisdom, integrity and collaboration.

Opening Poem:
Yesterday is History,
Tomorrow is a Mystery,
Today is a Gift,
That's why it is called the Present.

Opening Video: "A Quiet Revolution" is an award-winning educational film introducing inspiring examples of individuals around the world, including 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who have taken action to address local environmental problems and created waves of change. The 24-minute film was produced by the Earth Council in collaboration with UNDP and UNEP, narrated by Meryl Streep.

Comments: "It is imperative that we, the people of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations." ~ The Earth Charter

"A great inner change in a single individual will help spark a change in the destiny of a nation and further, will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind." ~ Daisaku Ikeda, president, Soka Gakkai International (a lay Buddhist organization in 190 countries)

Moderator Susan Zipp: Global warming makes it clear: Now is the time for humanity to choose our collective future. We are the leaders we've been waiting for. We need a global format for networking together. We must find the areas of commonality with others and encourage everyone to make a commitment for our survival. Preparation is 90% of the success of any endeavor. Plan ahead, prepare for the future, and be empowered to take wise, sustainable action. Every moment is our opportunity to create value.

Speaker Lesley Vann addressed the Earth Charter and Global Education through experiences with the Robert Muller schools aimed toward educating global citizens. Life-long learning, from pre-natal to higher education and beyond, includes a curriculum of environmentally sustainable programs and links to a more democratic UN. Children are taught the values of life, reverence for humanity, and ecology.

Dr. Harry Lerner presented a brief history of the people's assembly movement and the Campaign for a More Democratic United Nations founded with colleague Dr. Jeffrey Segall of London. He provided handouts of how to organize a people's assembly, functioning on a local level in community councils, growing into regional and national assemblies and building into representation at the United Nations, either with a People's House or a Second House known as the People's Assembly.

Rob Wheeler discussed the role and value that a People's Assembly could bring to the United Nations, including to draw attention to global issues and solutions, present initiatives, pressure lobbyists, and encourage media to solve civil society and global problems. Renewable and sustainable energy, micro-credit, financing gaps between social and military, and human rights issues are already addressed by civil society. A Global People's Assembly is part of the solution to our global climate crisis.

Maestro Joseph Eger said in music you have to tell the truth; if you don't it doesn't communicate. He demanded transparency and accountability from decision-makers, and wants the 2500+ conference participants to unite as a powerful base to put pressure on corporations and governments. It can be done. Let's all upset more apple carts. Maestro will continue conducting the Symphony for the United Nations in concerts throughout the world.

Ramu Damodaran spoke at our program for the third successive time, representing the UN DPI Civil Society Division. He began by stating that representatives of governments at the UN are becoming more sensitive to the people who put them in power and who could take them out of power. Civil society and individuals are the powerful force.

Ramu continued that the UN deals with issues that affect how we deal with each other, saying we often hide behind acronyms, but today the present and the future have caught up with us. He forcefully said environmental destruction would bring more environmental refugees; we generate tremendous amounts of waste, such as millions of computers that will be discarded into land fill within a few short years; enormous global changes will be presenting themselves within 36 months!

Our future will require every one of us to take action in our homes, families, work places, and communities. We need a renewed reverence for the sacred and divine. Our minds, intellect, spirit, and collective desires are our greatest gifts and assets.

The program continued with questions and comments from the audience, including: The UN is still young and new, requiring patience and mutual respect with NGOs; small contributions from individuals will make a difference; civil society is a great power, every one of us is a world changer; redirect our tax money away from military and instead address global warming and other socially important issues; shift in consciousness required from "I" to "We" to create a framework of action; holistic approach required; development financing needs to address international perspective; effective communications with respect will affect businesses, organizations and individuals; collaborate with scientific venues; coordinate efforts of local people's assemblies around the world; value youth and raise capable people; democracy is a process; hold people, governments, corporations, and all decision-makers accountable; support renewable energy projects by coordinating worldwide efforts; speed up transfer technologies; invest resources wisely.

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