Peace Boat returned to New York for the first time in several years on October 20, 2016. To celebrate the visit of the 92nd Global Voyage, a large-scale event took place onboard the ship with the participation of hundreds of guests. The "Floating Festival for Sustainability" was organized with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Close to 700 people gathered on the ship to celebrate partnership between the UN, the private sector and civil society to achieve these goals, the logo of which is painted on the ship's hull.
The keynote speaker at the event was the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr Jan Eliasson. "I am glad to see the SDGs logo on the Peace Boat. You are raising awareness around the world about the ambitious and transformational vision for 2030 among people in more than 80 countries. You are taking action and accepting responsibility. For this act of solidarity we thank you wholeheartedly. Yours is more than a voyage - it is a journey to a better future for all humanity", he said. According to the Swedish diplomat, the universal inclusiveness of the 2030 Agendafor Sustainable Development is an ethical imperative. "They should be implemented by all segments of all societies, working together. No-one must be left behind. People who are hardest to reach should be given priority", he pointed out.
Also speaking was Peace Boat Director and co-founder Yoshioka Tatsuya, who welcomed everyone onboard and introduced the organization's Ecoship Project. This ship will be the world's most sustainable cruise ship and is planned to sail in 2020 as a flagship for climate action. "As we have progressed from our early years of focusing on world peace to engaging with broader and diversified agendas that link peace and sustainability, we become conscious of the gap between talking about sustainability while running a conventional cruise ship. We wanted to sail on a more sustainable ship for a long time, and that collective desire led to the decision to create our own Ecoship", he explained.
H.E. Mr Ahmed Sareer, Ambassador of the Maldives to the United Nations and Chairman of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) also spoke at the event. He announced a partnership to be launched between Peace Boat and AOSIS for initiatives relating to Climate Action in Small Island States visited during global voyages. He emphasized the importance of taking action on this subject. "This is not a government agenda. This is a people's agenda. We need to keep working and raise awareness", he told the audience.
Noting the devastation caused by climate change in small island states, a cheque of US$4000 collected by passengers onboard the voyage to launch a campaign to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew was presented to the New York-based group World Cares Center. The Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center is preparing to start a programme in Haiti with this NGO that empowers communities through disaster response training, support, and coordination.The founder of the group, Lisa Orloff, thanked Peace Boat for its help and cooperation.
Other speakers included Jeff Brez, the Chief NGO Relations Advocacy and Special Events, Outreach Division, UNDPI, and Cora Weiss, President of the Hague Appeal for Peace. Brez introduced to the New York audience the work of Peace Boat and thanked the NGO for its work promoting the SDGs around the world. Weiss encouraged those present to contribute with their work to achieve the SDGs before 2030, and emphasized the importance of peace in this process.
During the event, one of Peace Boat's main advocacy programmes, the Hibakusha Project, was also introduced to the audience. Project Director Kawasaki Akira introduced to the stage one of the Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor travelling onboard the ship, Sakashita Noriko. "I hope no other Hibakusha will ever be created again. I hope we can see a nuclear free world while we are still alive", she said. During the day, the group of Hibakusha spoke at the United Nations at a side event on nuclear disarmament organized by Peace Boat in cooperation with the Permanent Missions of Japan and the Marshall Islands to the UN. The delegates also visited youth organizations, including Global Kids and DCTV. This visit took place immediately prior to a historic vote at the UN to launch negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban in March 2017.
The special evening in New York also included an Eco-Fashion show by local sustainability-focused New York designers. Peace Boat partnered with Alden Wicker of the sustainable lifestyle website EcoCult, and invited ethical fashion designers and retailers to showcase their designs. Suzanne Rae, Indelust, AWAVEAWAKE, Arkins and SVILU were some of the designers that presented their work.
After the main event, guests participated in a cocktail reception that included musical and cultural performances. Dragon76, a well-known Japanese artist, conducted a live painting sessionand the jazz and reggae singer Chan-Mika performed several songs. This was followed by music from local New York DJs Pillow Talk, Christian Voldstad, Alex Graham and Illich Mujica. Throughout the night, guests had the chance to learn about the SDGs and the work of Peace Boat and various NGOs thanks to a range of booths and displays. The SDG Action Campaign, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV), the World We Want 2030 and the Global Fashion Exchange were some of the partners that showcased their activities during night that many of those present defined as "very inspiring". Peace Boat hopes that through the various speeches, displays and new networks created through the event, participants will indeed be inspired to take action in their own lives and work to promote and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.