Daily Archives: July 24, 2012

Collaboration, Education, Innovation: Northeastern University’s Emerging Markets Symposium

Last Thursday’s Fourth Annual Emerging Markets Symposium was a morning of critical discussion and inspiration as business leaders and academics tackled the topic of  “Winning in Emerging Markets”. The symposium, held by Northeastern University’s Center for Emerging Markets and led by director and professor Ravi Ramamurthi, focused on sharing lessons from experience in order to look to a future of economic collaboration in rapidly growing economies around the world. The speakers came from various sectors and experience levels, from seasoned CEOs to students currently building start-ups abroad; this made for a dynamic and interesting morning.

The symposium began with an inauguration by Governor Deval Patrick. In his remarks he focused on education, innovation, and infrastructure as the drivers of a developing economy, adding that Massachusetts has been and is developing in all of these key areas. He stated that eastern Massachusetts has the highest concentration of colleges and universities worldwide, that the Commonwealth is a center for innovation, and touched on infrastructure projects that are ongoing in the western part of the state. He urged that now is the time for Massachusetts to become even more involved in the global economy, beginning with our universities, saying “This globalized economy is all about an explosion of knowledge, and we have that in spades.” According to the Governor, committing to investment in education and innovation in the Commonwealth creates a “platform for future growth” and makes Massachusetts an enticing business partner for cities and countries with emerging markets.

After Governor Patrick gave his remarks, the symposium opened up for a question and answer period during which he answered frankly to questions about future trade missions, specifically on the African continent,  and job creation. The rest of the morning was filled with engaging presentations from a diverse group of speakers, all building on Patrick’s key points of education, innovation, and collaboration.

Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO and COO for EMC Corp. Centers of Excellence spoke to the strength of collaboration throughout global offices and stressed the importance of working with and hiring local staff to tailor one’s business to emerging markets’ standards. Working in emerging markets means being willing to liaise between local and global, Sao Paulo and Boston. In a CEO panel, Luis Bonell of Liberty International and Giri Chakravarthi of Emhart-AsiaStanley Black & Decker presented on “Capturing Business in Emerging Markets”.

A map of global emerging markets

Despite the differences in their sectors, insurance and household tools/ fasteners respectively, both underscored the importance of having a deep understanding of market dynamics and local cultures as a key to success. Ventia Kontogouris, of Venkon Group, LLC., talked about creating businesses from scratch in emerging markets, speaking from her 20+ years of experience in venture capital investments in India. Again, she highlighted local to local collaboration as paramount in doing good business across the globe. Nigel Burton, Chief Marketing Officer at Colgate-Palmolive, was the luncheon keynote, focusing his remarks on marketing challenges in various local contexts and giving voice to the perspective of a large multinational corporation with a larger presence in emerging markets than in traditional, western markets.

Jola Venture’s SolPod for crop dehydration

A definite highlight of the morning for many were two wonderful presentations from Northeastern students on their personal experiences in Cameroon and Uganda, and the work they’ve undertaken in these regions. Michael Cantalino presented the business model for his start-up, Jola Venture, a company that provides solar powered food dehydrators for farmers. Elizabeth Cherchia shared her experience with Northeastern’s Engineers Without Borders and her water security projects in a Ugandan village. Their dedication was inspiring and garnered praise from the distinguished speakers for ensuring us that our future in emerging markets will be a bright one.

The key words of the day were education, innovation, collaboration and cultural competency- words we live by here at UNA-GB. Our Model UN and classroom programming serve nearly 3,000 students in the greater Boston area, teaching them valuable skills in problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking through various cultural lenses. While corporations are making their mark on emerging markets, we’re doing work right here in Boston to prepare young leaders for a promising future in a globalized world.

And stay tuned… exciting news to come about one emerging market in particular and our 2012 UN Day Luncheon!!

-Jessica Pires

A Glimpse At It All

Influential moves were made with the decisions of UN Headquarters this week, as the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was re-elected for a second term.

Celebrities were also spotted around the globe supporting the missions and goals of the organization. The week started off strong, with the Vienna Energy Forum 2011 in Vienna, Austria as celebrity and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger made the opening keynote speech in his homeland, proud to be given the opportunity to speak at the event. Actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie also visited refugees in Turkey and Italy in support of World Refugees Day 2011. Later in the week, singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira visited children in Israel inspiring them to reach towards the world of education.

Following in the footsteps of Shakira, the UN is encouraging involvement in the development of education specifically in Southern Sudan. The region will be officially independent of the country of Sudan itself early next month and is in looking for a developed start to educate its future. The UN also urges the need for midwifery services in the world to give children a future from the second they are born, with the potential of saving 3.6 million lives a year. Not only helping the children, but also saving the mothers, as the first ever UN International Widows’ Day was also recognized this week.

Beyond youth and education, great concern is discussed this week of drug use and violence in the world and its effect on global security. The global environment is also being effected, as rainforests in Honduras and Indonesia and previously a Wildlife Sanctuary in India earlier in the week are being effected.

Here in the US this week, as the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supports US President Obama’s decision to begin withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, in hopes that the country’s leadership will begin to develop on its own. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also encouraged the importance of our national involvement in climate control with the development of our cities. With support of our cities’ progress, he pushes towards environmentally-friendly considerations to be made for the future. Along with the his encouragement of these environmentally-friendly considerations, a new goal has been made for 2015, as the importance of sanitation needs be available to half of those in need today.

The week has finished with purpose, as we look forward to new beginnings and developing changes and ended the week with the UN Public Service Day. Join another celebrity and learn about more global affairs over the weekend. Tune into “Nepal’s Stolen Children” documentary with actress Demi Moore about trafficking and what can be done to help the future.


V-Day Comes to Boston

It was a full house at the V-Day Spotlight Boston 2011: Violence Against Women and Girls of Post-Earthquake Haiti event Friday, March 18th. Sunny skies and teasing summer temperatures did not deter the dozens of guests who turned out to learn how we can join the movement against gender-based violence in Haiti. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Forum@UNA-GB and the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights (CWHHR) at Suffolk University and aimed to highlight the increasing sexual violence against women in Haiti and raise awareness, funds, and local support to stop the rising trend.

The event was inspired by V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Since its creation in 1998 V-Day has been a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations (watch a great new video about V-Day’s work and mission here). In addition, each year V-Day spotlights a particular group of women who are experiencing violence with the goal of raising awareness and funds to put a worldwide media spotlight on this area. In 2011, V-Day’s Spotlight Campaign is on the Women and Girls of Haiti and calls attention to the high levels of violence against women and girls of Haiti and the increased rates of sexual violence since the devastating earthquake that of January 2010.

The Boston 2011 Spotlight evening began with refreshments and was followed by a brief PowerPoint presentation by Rachel DiBella, lead project coordinator at the Victim Rights Law Center and member of both the Women’s Forum and the CWHHR. Her presentation focused on informing the audience of the past and present state of Haiti, the staggering surge in violence since the earthquake, and the nearly nonexistent judicial reprimand.

Following the presentation, guests heard from two incredibly knowledgeable and experienced panelists Carline Desire and Brian Concannon. Desire, Executive Director of The Association of Haitian Women in Boston (AFAB) spoke about the history of the Haitian women’s movement and gave listeners an insider’s glimpse into the lives and circumstances of many Haitian women’s lives. She outlined the many reasons women are at risk to violence and also why often cases of rape are not reported. Desire closed her discussion with words of hope and  emphasized the importance of supporting grassroots organizations in Haiti, United States aid and fair policies toward Haiti and also changing the ways we socialize our children concerning the treatment of others.

Next, Concannon, Director at The Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH) spoke giving the audience an insider judicial perspective on the legal processes, or lack there of, in Haiti. He assured the importance of speaking with our representatives in the United States about the importance of international aid within the budgets. He also told listeners about the current efforts, by his organization and others, to bring these women justice. There is much work to be done but progress is made through the strength of the voices of us all. For example, IJDH’s submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review of Haiti keeps the global community up to date on the strengths and shortcomings on the ground in Haiti and tomorrow, March 25th, IJDH along with 3 other organizations will testify before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC on the crisis of this violence in Haiti.  They will underscore the constant threat of sexual violence faced by women and girls in Haiti’s displacement camps and the need for immediate implementation response.

All funds raised through the event were used to support a revolutionary national program in Haiti lead by a coalition of women activists, including longtime V-Day activist Elvire Eugene, in order to ensure a lasting impact on the ground and support the V-Day program which will establish three safe houses. Each house will have also have an office of legal assistance for survivors of violence. In addition, the campaign is working towards the construction of four legal assistance offices and will provide advocacy support for 19 community based organizations throughout the country doing anti-violence work.

A huge thank you goes out to all who joined us for this event and another thank you to V-Day whose 2011 Spotlight Campaign ensures that thousands of women and men throughout the world will be exposed to the issues facing women and girls in the devastated region.

Remember it is not too late to help! There are many opportunities to be active here in Boston! Check out Karen Ansara’s Blog to stay updated on issues in Haiti, attend Wheelock’s innovative event this Monday to help us gain perspective on the conditions in Haiti, DONATEeducate yourself, speak out and be a part of the movement!


GEARING Up for the Launch of UN Women

I’m sipping coffee in the Vienna Café located in the North building of the United Nations.
To my right, an African Ambassador is conducting an interview on the struggle for women’s empowerment in Liberia. State delegations clad in colorful dress drift by en route to their sessions. It’s the third day of the fifty-fifth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and a potent moment in the history of women’s empowerment. Today will bring the official launch of UN Women and I’m sharing in this experience as a representative of Amnesty International’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group (WHRCG). The WHRCG is a newly formed consultative committee responsible for advising on AIUSA’s Women’s Human Rights campaign strategy in order to promote and protect women’s human rights around the world.

With the launch of UN Women happening tonight, an atmosphere of anticipation hangs heavily in the hallways, sessions and shared spaces. I’ve encountered both genuine excitement and optimistic realism in my conversations with delegates from member states. The number of NGO delegates in formal sessions is limited due to renovations of the U.N. facility, so not everyone is able to attend all of the sessions. To make up for this, there are approximately 250 parallel events happening simultaneously in locations near to the UN that delegates can choose to attend according to theme and interest.

On Tuesday, the first official day of the 55th CSW, I had the pleasure of meeting with Polly Truscott, AI’s Deputy Representative to the United Nations. Polly took excruciating care to share up-to-date information relative to the UN and AI’s women’s rights priorities. We discussed the issues most pertinent to the WHRCG priorities: I-VAWA, Indigenous Rights, CEDAW, Maternal Mortality and UN Council Resolution 1325.

During our meeting, I learned AI has is playing an important role in The Global Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, which has advocated over the past five years for the creation of UN Women. Now that UN Women is established, GEAR exists to monitor how UN Women implements promises it has made, works to see that civil society participation is formalized and ensures women’s rights groups are consulted about the program and future of UN Women.  GEAR is calling for UN Women to implement an adequate system of consultation and is stepping up to say that women’s rights groups and NGO’s have not been adequately consulted on UN Women global strategy, as promised.

Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women and former president of Chile, has demonstrated exceptional commitment to women’s empowerment. Yet there is still critical work to be done. In the corridors, word is out that planning sessions on UN Women’s global strategy in the works, but no one is clear which women’s groups have been invited to be part of this process. Doesn’t the establishment of UN Women call for a new, collaborative paradigm? Isn’t the greatest strength of women’s solidarity expressed through sharing and exchange? Shouldn’t there be close consultation with women on the ground at such a crucial moment? When will their voices be heard? In the excitement and optimism of this historic day, my hope is that we do not lose sight of what really matters: ensuring accountability, efficacy and results from UN Women.

Make sure to tune in to tonight’s live webcast from UN Headquarters of the official launch of UN Women, featuring Michelle Bachelet and emceed by CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour, with other distinguished speakers and performers.

-Written by UNA-GB guest blogger Alisa Roadcup, former Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Coordinator for Amnesty International USA and PhD Student in International Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.  Roadcup is a delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women this week.  She’s blogging about her experiences for Amnesty International USA, CounterQuo.org, and the United Nations Association of Greater Boston.

Boston’s Meet and Greet with UNA-USA President

A cozy back room in one of Boston’s oldest gathering places was the perfect setting for the most recent event held by the United Nations Association of Greater Boston.  On the evening of Friday January 14, 2011 guests bundled up and braved the elements to attend the networking meet and greet with Edward Elmendorf, President of UNA-USA.

The event, held at the Union Oyster House, was a successful gathering of voices from many corners of the globe. There was a warm excitement in the air that encouraged connections. Among the wide array of attendees were members of the UNA-GB Board and Advisory Council, community members and students. As a guest I could not help but feel humbly nostalgic as we gathered to share ideas and hopes for a more peaceful global community in the heart of the city that hatched a revolution for freedom.

During the second half of the event Elmendorf called on his 40+ years of experience in foreign affairs to provide guidance and inspiration to listeners. He spoke to the group about the role of the UN, the United States and each individual as we shape the 21st century. He called attention to the mission of the UNA and the many influences affecting global policies today.  He especially emphasized the importance of each person and the power of a united cause.  One direct way for us to get involved on a local level is to become advocates for a stronger UN and stronger foreign affairs policies.  Elmendorf shared UNA-USA’s advocacy agenda for 2011, which included the 4 core issues of securing US-UN funding, advancing human rights through the UN, encouraging US ratification of international treaties; and supporting the Millennium Development Goals.  These are issues that we all can take on and work to gain support for among our friends, family, and elected officials.

Following his speech Elmendorf addressed many thought-provoking issues raised by event goers during a question and answer session. He responded to both criticism and praise for the UN. One suggested book he recommended was Thomas Weiss’ “What’s Wrong with the UN and How to Fix It”, as well as UNA-USA’s official publication “A Global Agenda: Issues Before the UN.” In closing he provided advice to those interested in increased involvement on the local, national and international levels.

Overall the meet and greet was a great kick-off to the 2011 year! We are excited for what’s in store this year and hope you’ll join us, and join the conversation on how we all can engage on issues of international significance today, tomorrow and in the future!