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The Sustainable Edit

Dispatch #8: The Conscious Citizen

What does it mean to be a conscious citizen? In her monthly column, senior strategic leader in sustainable and international development, Natasha Hafez explores and expounds on precisely that. Join in her journey towards humanity with purpose.

Summer is officially over… and that means, back to business! That is exactly the mood in New York City this September during the opening of the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) and Climate Week.

As the main policy-making organ of the organisation, UNGA provides a unique forum for multilateral discussions and votes between all 193 member states on the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations – a founding treaty that codifies peace, dignity, and equality for a healthy planet and bounds members to laws pertaining to the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations. It discusses specific issues each year through dedicated agenda items, which lead to the adoption of resolutions.

While attending on the sidelines, it becomes quickly obvious there is a lot of work to get done. At a time when our world has never seemed more vulnerable, threatened, and divided, I realise that the problems threatening us the most – climate change, rising conflict, poverty, and inequality – are problems we created ourselves.



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As a global development optimist, this realisation somehow gives me hope. Perhaps it is because the problems we create are the problems that we can solve. We are in a climate emergency, and our greatest challenge is our greatest opportunity. We must use this crisis to pivot towards a better future with effective and international cooperation.

‘Building Resilience through Hope,’ the theme for the 76th UNGA session, underscores great urgency and ambition to end the pandemic and ensure an equitable and green recovery and accelerated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). World leaders, big businesses, and forward-thinking pioneers convened to inspire, drive action, and accelerate innovation, at emergency speed.

In addition to the General Debate, this year’s meeting launched a series of ongoing international conferences and side events, igniting transformations for top priorities: COVID-19 recovery, rebuilding sustainability, responding to the needs of the planet, respecting the rights of people, and revitalizing our world.

Senior stakeholders celebrated climate action and announced new bold actions for climate change solutions, committing to halving emissions and holding governments and businesses, across all sectors and industries, more accountable for their roles in reaching net zero by 2050. With more businesses and investments committing to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, we can combat climate change by being smart and conscious consumers.


Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi

As Citizen Femmes, we have an important voice and say in the eco-credentials we require for our five-star luxury getaways. From sustainable jet fuels that some major airlines invest in, to the meaningful ways in which hotels pair beaux-arts elegance with socially responsible features, such as energy-efficient lighting or reclaimed decor, more companies are looking for ways to reach net-zero targets and pledging to meet the demands of shareholders, consumers, and employees that want to do more social good and reap the (tax) benefits.

Again and again, humanity has shown me that as a community working together we are capable of doing great things. But we can’t solve problems from the same mindset that created them. In whatever situation we face, we need to rise up to a new consciousness, and accelerate a new way of thinking to resolve.

A better future is out there, and it is possible if we move forward with hope, conviction, and each other. In order to end the pandemic and put an end to racism, intolerance, inequality, climate change, poverty, hunger, and other global challenges the world faces, choices we make cannot reinforce old patterns. If each person and entity commits to achieve bold, ambitious goals, we will collectively set the United Nations (UN) and world on course to secure human, economic, and environmental health for generations to come.

What actions will you take and patterns will you UNdo?

The Conscious Citizen

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