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HACEY’s Isaiah Owolabi, others set tone for global conversations at UN75 launch


The co-founder of HACEY Health Initiative Isaiah Owolabi Wednesday joined by five other panellists, Natalia Herbst (Argentina), Cristina Petcu (Romania), Jahan Rifai (Jordan), Amit Joshi (Nepal) and Eleonore Pauwels (Belgium) at the UN Headquarters for the session at the UN Headquarters to share their ambitious visions for a future where international cooperation is prioritized and everyone’s voice is heard.

The dialogue which took place in a discussion laden atmosphere had on seat, the Secretary-General, United Nations, Antonio Guterres and was organised to mark the official launch of dialogues being held worldwide to mark the United Nations 75th Year Anniversary under the theme “The Future We Want, The UN We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment To Multilateralism”.

Speaking at the dialogue, Mr Guterres said, “we want to change, we want to be better, we want to respond to your aspirations, to your concerns. We want you to have the opportunity to play the role that youth must play in the modern world in which we live, and especially in the world we are trying to build.”

While responding to questions during his session, Mr Owolabi explained that in order to achieve a peaceful, healthy and productive society, there is a big opportunity to build on the success and learn from them even as world leaders have the competence and resources to achieve this.

Speaking further, he explained that we need Character to actualise this and leaders across private and public sector need to commit and follow up their commitment with genuine and inclusive actions for the good of the people.

Responding to which global trends that will most affect this vision, Mr Owolabi went further to note that technology innovation and climate change are huge factor that can affect the realization of the world we like to see.

“Technology is like fire, it can be used to refine gold at its best, and it can create doom when we misuse it. We need to focus on using technology as a driver for economic growth and channel for new opportunities in healthcare, education, communication and productivity. As regards climate change, we need to treat it as very urgent and important. It has the capacity to ruin economic opportunities, cause chaos and claim lives in unimagined ways,” Owolabi explained.

In order to prevent all of these threats, he advised that there is need to create a platform conducive for private, public and civil society organizations to discuss and take action focused on achieving a healthy and sustainable society.

“By leveraging on the capacity and competence of private sector institutions we can effectively improve design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and sustainability of social development projects across the world. We can strengthen global cooperation by working together to create a safe, active and sustainable knowledge management platform focused on addressing four megatrends on inequality identified in the UNDESA World Social Report 2020, these megatrends are technological innovation, climate change, urbanization, and international migration,” Owolabi concluded.

Also adding her voice to the dialogue was Natalia Herbst, a scholar at Columbia University Natalia, who also served as the Director for Community Organizations at the National Youth Institute of Argentina.

Natalia charged governance actors, including governments and international organizations across the globe to shift paradigms, embrace youth leadership as part of their formal structures and not just for consultation purposes.

According to Natalia, “it is key to innovate, to make the language, approach and spaces in which we engage with youth the most relevant to them. The ones that elevate their agency and make them feel valued as active members of our society with valid concerns as well as valid proposals to address them.”

As the project director and co-founder of HACEY Health Initiative, Owolabi has leveraged a multisectoral, multi-pronged, and inter-generational approach to significantly improve the life outcomes of women and girls.

The “Hands up for HER (Health, Empowerment and Rights)” initiative of HACEY has focal points in 13 states in Nigeria that carry out activities and have distributed over 25,314 birthing kits, provided HIV/AIDS counselling, testing and referral service for at least 10,000 women and provided over 20,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets.

He has also acquired experience designing, planning, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and reporting programs funded by the US government, the Australian government, Bill and Melinda Gates Institute and other donors focused on improving HIV/AIDS, maternal health, sexual and reproductive health and economic empowerment programs in Africa.

The United Nations 75th-anniversary dialogues is held under the theme “The Future We Want, The UN We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment To Multilateralism.”

The series of dialogues aim to a global partnership to realize the UN’s shared aspirations for a just, peaceful and sustainable future.
Under the leadership of Secretary-General António Guterres, the initiative will see people from all regions and walks of life come together to discuss how we can collectively navigate the gap between the future we need and where we are headed if current trends continue.

Founded in 2007, HACEY Health Initiative is a non-profit organization committed to supporting women, girls and young people in Nigeria to live a productive and healthy life. It achieves this through innovation, Capacity development, Advocacy, Research and Education (i.C.A.R.E) approach. HACEY was established to provide sustainable solutions to close the inequality gap that limits women and girls’ access to health and economic empowerment.

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