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Programme Director’s Message – October 2021

Getting The Message Out and Taking Action

I am sure we are all aware of the Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) taking place in Glasgow 1-12 November this year and the crisis facing our world if we do not achieve limiting global warming to 1.5C. But what is happening globally and what can we do, individually and collectively, to achieve it?

I am a scientist (medical) and reliable data is essential in my view. However, telling the story makes more sense to more people. So, here goes…

Where to start? At home or abroad? Can they be separate? No they can’t! What happens in our own personal backyard affects everyone and, most importantly, the futures of succeeding generations. This applies to your children and grandchildren, and mine. So let us start with them but at UN level initially.


UN at 75 – 2020

World in Progress I

Figure 1 – Valentin Flauraud for Saype – Swiss-French artist Saype (Guillaume Legros) poses in his giant ephemeral landart painting.

“Guillaume Legros, or “Saype”, an artist name inspired by the contraction of the words “say” and “peace”, is famous for his invention of an eco-friendly painting process. His special technique allows him to create huge frescoes directly on the grass. In two weeks, there will be nothing left due to the regrowth of the grass.”

Last year, World in Progress I was unveiled during the commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The dove in the centre symbolises peace. “The basic idea is that on the one hand when talking about children, we ask ourselves what responsibility we have towards them. But, on the other hand, they are the ones who will have the world of tomorrow in their hands. This means that we must really learn to live together in a world that is also hyper-connected”, he said.


UN General Assembly 2021

Moving forward one year to the General Assembly in New York, World in Progress II appeared. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said “World in Progress II is perfectly suited to our time and place. First, it is, in all senses, a big picture. Both its execution and its subject are monumental and ambitious. Then we understand that it shows two children, designing their ideal world together”, and  “…just like the artwork, the United Nations’ mission extends far beyond what we can see around us… Most of it lies out of our view. Our work is multilateral, and multi-generational. And each of us plays an essential part in creating the whole.”


World in Progress II

Figure 2 – Valentin Flauraud for Saype – The giant fresco made by artist Saype represents peace and youth participation.

Soroptimists – and friends

We frequently advocate for working from local to global so what now? How can we do so? The UN app ‘ActNow’ offers many suggestions. In addition, see the UN Environment Programme report. This has lots of interesting information but take a look at the graphic below. This fits neatly with the ActNow advice and comes from an organisation at which our SI UN representatives advocate on our behalf. One of these, Mary Muia, is a speaker at this year’s Federation Programme Action Committee. As well as Mary we have Avani Awasthee from India and Dr Bonnie Waring from Imperial College London.

But that is all global, I hear you say. Yes but come locally to Glasgow and COP26. We have been granted a stand in the Green Zone (the ‘public space’) on 8/9 November – the days for gender and science. We are allowed only 3 people on the stand so Soroptimist International Past President Ann Garvie (SI Glasgow), SIGBI President Cathy Cottridge (SI Southend-on-Sea) and I (SI Cardiff) will be there.

We would not be there if it were not for all our members’ hard work and the evidence submitted demonstrating Programme Action across the whole of Soroptimist International, from local to global. So well done everyone!

We could not achieve what we do without working together and with multiple partners worldwide. Keep up the good work and see you at:

  1. Federation Programme Action Committee meeting at 13:00-17:00 on Thursday 28 October where you will be able to listen to the great speakers mentioned above and discuss future action in breakout rooms with fellow delegates. Register here
  2. SIGBI Conference – Fri 29/Sat 30 October where there is an exciting array of speakers, including Dr Asha de Vos from Sri Lanka
  3. COP26 – more information to follow in early October.

For those of you who are not soroptimists, why not explore joining us and helping with this important work?

See you there in person or virtually!

Kay Richmond
SIGBI Programme Director