Peace Center Lahore from 18-19th February, 2017
The URI National Conference on UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) 2030 was organized at Peace Center, Lahore, Pakistan from 18 to 19 of February, 2017. At this conference, 32 URI Cooperation Circle Coordinators came from all over Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. There was a great enthusiasm the Coordinators observed for this conference. They travelled hundreds of miles to participate in it. Although the situation of the country is very tense, frightening and insecure, our Coordinators have been very brave to come for the conference and reassure their commitment to the noble cause of URI’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles and their implementation in our land. The challenges for peace, justice, reconciliation, a just society are grave, but all of us are determined to carry on our mission of healing for our wounded society and we are determined to give a message of hope, reconciliation and peace.
The focus of our national conference was the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and our role in implementing these goals in our country. The gravity of enormous issues covered by the 17 SDGs is very much at the heart of the UN, and these issues are equally important in and for Pakistan. All of these issues are present here and we vowed to play our full role in resolving these issues.
It was so wonderful that all 32 Coordinators presented comprehensive reports on the activities of their Cooperation Circles, and their achievements in carrying the mission of URI in their areas by organizing regular meetings, conferences, workshops, celebrating festivals, and creating awareness in their areas. The challenges faced in general were the law and order situation of our country, with laws being lax and not implemented to a fuller sense.
The signs of hope were our determination to carry on the work of URI. The work which brings, unity, healing, reconciliations, and acceptance of each other, and which is also to celebrate the diversity. We see a lot of darkness around us, like lack of respect, tolerance and justice. Our determination is to be the people who build bridges of love, peace and acceptance, and who destroy the walls of hatred, terrorism and violence.
We celebrate the increase of Cooperation Circles in our URI family in Pakistan, as our number has grown to 50 Cooperation Circles and a few more are in the pipeline. Four newly born Cooperation Circles (Hand in Hand CC, Joy Foundation CC, Bright Future CC and Building Brides for Development and Peace CC) were given acceptance certificates. The announcement of Allama Abul Fateh G.R. Chishti as the new Coordinator of Islamabad MCC was also announced.
Father James Channan presented a comprehensive view of the UN SDGs 2030. Sr Sabina Rifat, Coordinator URI Women Wing Pakistan, gave very inspiring and comprehensive talk on “Gender Equality.” Chaudhary Zubair Ahmed Farooq, Coordinator, Lahore MCC and Raheel Sharoon, Coordinator Building Bridges for Development and Peace CC on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.” Mr. Derek Bernard, Coordinator of Hand in Hand CC on “Partnerships for the Goals”. Multimedia presentation of these inputs were given. And there was an interactive method in which all participants took active part.
During the conference ,all 32 Cooperation Circle Coordinators and fr James Channan OP, Sr. Sabina Rifat, Asher Nazir and Tasneem Saeed presented annual reports. There was also a time for questions and answers. All reports were received with great admiration.
During the conference, the video message sent by Ms. Alice Swett was shown on multi media. Greeting and messages of Most Rev. Bp. William Swing, Kiran Bali, Sally Mahe, Abraham Karickam, Mussie Hailu, Salette and others were read. All of these messages were received with great appreciation, and we felt very united with the global world.
At the end of the conference, all Coordinators were given Appreciation Certificates by the URI Regional Coordinator, fr James Channan OP.
All arrangements were very well done up to the mark. It was good to see so many Coordinators come in spite of the dangerous circumstances we are faced with. The contributions of Peace Center and a couple of Coordinators to make the dream of this conference a reality were highly appreciated. The national conference was a manifestation of the great and dedicated teamwork of the URI Regional Staff and Peace Center, Lahore.
May Peace Prevail On Earth!
fr James Channan OP
URI Regional Coordinator Asia-Pakistan