United Nations Launch Event Held at Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights

By: Nathan Lindsey Intern, Office of Sustainability Initiatives

Earlier this year, the United Nations designated Greater Atlanta as a Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) for Education on Sustainable Development, making it the 6th RCE in the U.S. and the 166th in the world. The Greater Atlanta RCE is a diverse network of local stakeholders committed to advancing and teaching United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local and regional scales.

Emory partnered with Georgia Tech and other regional institutions to lead the development of the RCE, which officially launched at an event on October 10th, 2018, at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. The launch event was especially inspirational because it coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ciannat Howett, Director of the Office of Sustainability for Emory University and Emory Healthcare and co-founder and co-lead of the RCE, remarks that “the Greater Atlanta RCE works to locally implement the global goals of a sustainable and just future expressed in the UN SDGs.  Therefore, it was appropriate and exciting to launch our network at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The Center has been a generous and supportive partner to the RCE, and we look forward to continuing to partner to inspire and empower our students and all community members.” 

Dr. Jennifer Hirsch, the Director of the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain at Georgia Institute of Technology and RCE Greater Atlanta co-founder and co-lead, was enthusiastic that “after almost two years of work getting to this evening, it was energizing and encouraging to see such a diverse crowd turn out – including so many students from many different institutions. The planning was also very participatory, with students, faculty, and partners putting together the event and the educational materials. I’m honored and excited to be involved from the beginning!”  

The Center for Civil and Human Rights donated their entire facility to the Greater Atlanta RCE network for the launch event. The Center’s exhibits highlight key points of the Civil Rights Movement such as the Freedom Rides, the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and the integration of public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Other exhibits included “Who, Like Me is Threatened,” “What are Human Rights,” “Human Rights in Action,” and “The Move, Free, Act Gallery.”  The purpose of these exhibits is to present how human rights have advanced, but also highlight areas of improvement, such as LGBTQ rights, freedom of expression, gender equality, and the rights to work and to receive an education.  

In addition, the event also focused on the SDGs. The Greater Atlanta RCE has chosen to focus on 7 SDGs that are the most relevant to the metro Atlanta area: SDG 1: No Poverty; SDG 2: Zero Hunger; SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being; SDG 4: Quality Education; SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 13: Climate Action. 

Students from Kennesaw State University created exhibits for each of the focus SDGs and related the SDGs to the exhibits at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Exhibits displayed how each SDG relates to Atlanta as well as the world. Students also gave presentations of their work, demonstrating how the SDGs could be implemented in everyday life.  

Speakers who focused on various SDGs as part of their careers spoke at the event, including Amol Naik, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Atlanta, and Peter Zimmerli, Swiss Consul General of Atlanta.   

To join or learn more about the Greater Atlanta RCE network, please visit this website or the RCE Facebook page. There is also a component of the network specifically tailored toward college students and recent graduates called the RCE Youth Network. Any interested students can reach out to Alicia Wun at alicia.may-lin.wun@emory.edu or Nathan Lindsey at nathan.lindsey@emory.edu.

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