Peace Boat, the world’s largest passenger ship sailing around the world for peace and sustainability, visited New York City on October 29-30 as part of the 99th Global Voyage for Peace. As a committed campaigner for the Sustainable Development Goals, sailing with the SDGs logo on our hull, a range of events in relation to the SDGs were held during these two days.
On October 30, a multistakeholder forum and luncheon were held onboard the ship as it docked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. With participants representing various United Nations agencies, academia, civil society and the private sector, this forum introduced a range of initiatives taking place as part of Peace Boat’s voyages, and a discussion exploring potential collaborations on themes including ocean research and education and action for the SDGs.
We were honoured to welcome Dr Hanifa Mezoui as keynote speaker for the SDGs Forum. Currently Senior Advisor for Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), Dr Mezoui has for decades has played a crucial role in facilitating NGO participation in the work of the United Nations. A further highlight of the Forum was the participation of representatives of the UN-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme, providing capacity building and human resource development in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea to young professionals from developing States. This programme was introduced by Ms Valentina Germani on behalf of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, and participants were moved to hear the passion and expertise of the Fellows representing close to a dozen countries from around the world. Following on the theme of ocean protection, luncheon speaker Fabien Cousteau shared words about the common philosophy shared by Peace Boat and the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center – working together to help people learn more about the ocean and appreciate the natural resources that surround us as we travel. In the words shared by Fabien from his grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, “people protect what they love, they love what they understand and they understand what they are taught.”
Events in connection with the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security were also held, with Hibakusha travelling onboard the 99th Voyage sharing their testimony of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at several events. This included a student-organized public event at Rutgers University Newark on October 29, “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons with the Power of Civil Society: Hiroshima Survivors Testimonies.” Ms Tsukamoto Michiko and Ms Sora Tamiko, survivors who shared their testimony with the 100 students present, were greatly moved to learn that the students had gathered more than 1,038 signatures to the Hibakusha Appeal, calling for the urgent abolition of nuclear weapons.
On the following day, a side event was held at the United Nations with the Permanent Missions of Austria and Mexico to the UN titled, “Building Momentum for the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons- featuring survivors from the Hiroshima atomic bombing.” As one year has passed since the adoption of the Treaty, the forum reflected on the past year’s achievements, reaffirmed the importance of highlighting the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and assessed how to further build momentum towards the entry into force of the Treaty.
As the second visit of Peace Boat to New York in 2018, these two days provided an opportunity for participants onboard to connect with other partners and citizens in the United States, and many conversations sure to lead to further collaboration for peace and sustainable in the future.