From the Ship

World Issues from Individual Perspectives: Peace Boat participates in the Global Peace Intergenerational Dialogue

Sep 20, 2019

On September 20, 2019, Peace Boat’s 102nd Global Voyage had the honour of hosting an onboard Intergenerational Dialogue (IGD) as part of an initiative led by Global Peace, coordinated by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of  Disputes (ACCORD). This onboard IGD was one of 100 being held worldwide throughout this year and the only IGD to have been held at sea. Through the framework of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Peace’s IGD project seeks to connect a diverse group of individuals across traditional barriers of age and experience, with the goal of identifying their primary concerns and generating potential courses of action. Peace Boat’s own panel was moderated by 102nd Voyage International Director Trevor Campbell and comprised of an international panel of Peace Boat staff members, guest educators and volunteers.

This initiative is being conducted in collaboration with the UN SDG Action Campaign, of which Peace Boat is also a partner. As part of this, participants were invited to complete the UN’s MyWorld Survey before the dialogue begun, in order to identify which SDGs they personally prioritize. Overall, participants identified six shared concerns: No poverty (SDG 1), Zero hunger (SDG 2), Good Health and Well Being (SDG 3), Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10), and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 17) .

A panel discussion began with guest educator Professor Ann Mayeda, who spoke about the need to support student-driven education, specifically for young learners. “The traditional schooling model is teacher-led, teacher-focused, authoritarian, knowledge-based and learner-fed,” said Ms Mayeda, who has helped support the development of learner-centric models through her fieldwork in Kathmandu, Nepal. “Basically, we have to listen to the children. We need to watch, observe, and adjust to meet their needs.”

Joining Peace Boat as a volunteer English teacher in its onboard language programme, Ryan Gilbride spoke of his home country of Northern Ireland’s struggle to reconcile a long history of conflict and inequality. “Even for some institutions that have been integrated,” he said, “the mentality of segregation persists today.” Mr. Gilbride says his experience teaching abroad showed him intergenerational and cross-cultural strategies to end conflict.

Activist Ann Wright called for the U.S. military industrial complex to acknowledge and reduce their impact on our international climate crisis. “A lot of governments say that their militaries are what help them keep peace. But war is war, and war destroys our environment.” After a several decades long career in the U.S. Army, Colonel Wright resigned from her position as a diplomat in opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. She is active through her work with groups like Women’s Boat to Gaza, Veterans for Peace and Women Cross DMZ. “Some of the greatest polluters of the world are the militaries of our countries, and the U.S. military is one of the biggest polluters in the world.”

The experiences and ideas shared in Peace Boat’s IGD were collected and submitted to Global Peace, who will collate the information collected from all 100 international events into a Global Peace Charter to shared in the presence of the President of the UN General Assembly at the end of 2019 at the Global Peace Dialogue held in Durban, South Africa. In 2020, the Global Peace Charter will be presented for adoption to the UN.

Conversations like these are why Peace Boat sails with the logo of the UN’s SDGs on the side of its vessel, the Ocean Dream. Far from mere symbolism, the 17 SDGs and 169 targets provide a practical way to consider global struggles from individual perspectives and move go beyond discussion to create practical and actionable opportunities for change.

Report by Trevor Campbell, photos by Yuruki Shiho.