Leaders speak at Global Goals conference aimed at ending poverty, inequity, conflict

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WikiTribune is reporting on the ideas and initiatives coming from world leaders in business, politics and culture at the inaugural Goalkeepers conference, an event with the purpose of advertising a set of 17 goals for world progress. The Global Goals are a set of priorities laid out by the United Nations in 2016 to end poverty, inequality and conflict by 2030. Here are a list of quotes and happenings from the inaugural Goalkeepers summit hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and held in New York City.

ONE-ON-ONE: Obama Interviewed by Bill and Melinda Gates

  • The discussion starts with global social movements, and how former President Obama believes these are supported.
  • “More power than ever in people banding together and pushing for change in their lives.”
  • “Requires mobilizing … the internet has turbocharged the development of movements (more) than ever before.”
  • Sees Gandhi on using social movements, not guns, to push out the most powerful imperial power in the world at the time. Says the key is “understanding other people’s story” and “listen to each other.”

Role of the Media

  • “We can’t count on conventional media to spread the word.”
  • In a critique of mainstream media, Obama says that media institutions will always gravitate to the fires and conflicts over smaller stories of impact. This is where the internet plays a role in facilitating progress.
  • Advocates for online communities to move offline, “then people can actually get to know each other.”
  • “We need to put friendly pressure on world leaders to tell good stories,” possibly referring to countries consumed with news of conflict.

Advice For Children

  • You get more responsibility as you get older, but there are “a lot of different ways to make a contribution.”

Global Role of the United States

  • Uses ebola as an example of how the U.S. is indispensable. Calls it the best emergency response in world history. “We had to create the infrastructure, build the runways where then the Chinese could land and deliver goods.”
  • Obama stresses how global thinking can help the nation that you live in. “It doesn’t make you less patriotic to think that, you just need to have some sense, and read.”
  • Indicates gender equality on a global scale is closer than previously thought, saying “there aren’t that many folks that will say, ‘sorry we’re not going to educate our girls, our women’.” Most detractors of female education are for “practical reasons,” possibly referencing the arduous task of child-care and food preparation in the developing world.

Obama On Stage

  • Former United States President Barack Obama stands at a podium, immediately talks about climate change and the COP22 Paris agreement. Says Bill Gates was leading an inspirational effort in the fight against climate change. He has a “it can be done” spirit that is the “motor for real progress.”
  • Eludes to President Donald J. Trump by saying that the current administration is not doing what he would like in this area. He quickly pivots to highlighting what local governments and the private sector are doing to curb carbon emissions. Sees a future in energy policy that is established outside of what the federal government is doing.
  • “When all of you stand up and say ‘this is something we can do’, that spirit is infectious.”
  • His focus leans towards the United States. He speaks of how women and people of color were systematically excluded from enormous portions of life when he was growing up in the United States. Crime rates, dropout rates and incarceration are down dramatically since he was in university.
  • “By just about every measure, America is better, and the world is better than 40 years ago, 30 years ago even 10 years ago.”
  • Worldwide progress is even more remarkable, according to President Obama, but he says Bill Gates can talk about that in more length.
  • “These trends worldwide are real, they should not make us complacent … but it shows that change can happen.”

Healthcare progress

  • Progress requires struggle, perseverance and faith. You sometimes take a step back, but you make things better.
  • Obama ties the idea of slow and steady progress into the current healthcare debate in US congress. Addressing the international audience, he jokes that those from countries with universal healthcare are probably wondering what the controversy is here. But he says the strides made during his administration weren’t won by politicians, it was ordinary mothers and fathers.
  • Obama says it’s “aggravating” seeing members of Congress trying to roll back healthcare benefits, saying that there is no actuarial or economic rationale behind these efforts.

The Power of Women’s Movements

  • “People who truly believe in the Global Goals stand with women,” says Melinda Gates.
  • Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, says men are getting involved with women’s movements when it benefits them, “Self-interest will drive progress.”
  • Kristof says we won’t have gender equity by 2030, in reference to the Global Goal set in 2015 to end inequality.

One-on-one with Trudeau

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was interviewed by Melinda Gates about his 2015 move to have a cabinet that is 50 percent women.
  • “One of the core pieces of Canada’s success in general, is that we get that diversity is a source of strength. Having different perspectives, different backgrounds, different origins, different people coming together to share the same challenges and find solutions for them has always been a great creative driver for solutions.”
  • “My team went out and recruited all sorts of great women candidates to run for politics and convince them to step up, so we could then choose this extraordinary merit-based but diverse cabinet.”
  • “When you ask a man if he wants to run for politics, his first question is usually ‘what took you so long?’ When you ask a woman, the first question is ‘you really want me?’ Or, ‘do you really think I’m qualified?'”
  • “We’re seeing more corporate boards going with parity, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.”
  • “One of the things you have, is when you have a panel with only one woman on it, or a board of directors with only one woman on it, then that woman has to speak for all women. And what we have now is, we have women who speak for their own perspectives, their own experiences that are sufficiently diverse.”
  • “I remember having an argument with a colleague on whether a man could be called a feminist, I said ‘I think I can, I think I am.’ And she said, ‘no, only women can be feminists, you can be supportive, or an ally’. Twenty five years ago, that was a stronger perspective, but still people have it.”
  • “I didn’t actually come out and  openly say that I was a feminist until, and I’ve actually never told this story before, I saw a video in 2014 of Joseph Gordon Levitt looking into the camera and saying ‘Yep, I’m a feminist, and I think men can be feminists and support’.”
  • “I think it’s important to remember that if men have more strength and weight to their words in an unfair way, then men need to be part of the solution in using that weight and strength they were unfairly given to realign the balance.”
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