During the opening of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, members of the public and private sectors gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York to honor those who have contributed to the achievements of the UN Millennium Development Goals and helped to promote South-South Cooperation.
Heads of State and Government, UN officials, Permanent Representatives to the UN, celebrities, entertainers, and members of the private sector were present to honor the cause of South-South cooperation. The theme of the event was “Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development.
The event was co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Antigua & Barbuda, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN), International Organization for South-South Cooperation (IOSSC), and South-South News, under the guidance of the South-South Steering Committee for Sustainable Development (SS-SCSD).
Mr. Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda and co-host of the event, honored the evening’s award recipients as well as paid tribute to the efforts of IOSSC and South-South News. “South-South cooperation and dialogue mean a great deal, but in terms of what this organization has been able to do through media, through engagement, through information and so on, has done a tremendous amount of work, bridging the gap between developed and developing countries.”
The evening’s main event came with the honoring of former South African President Nelson Mandela with the South-South Humanitarian Achievement Award. Mr. Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel, also received a Humanitarian Achievement Recognition for her advocacy for education and children’s welfare. Zindzi Mandela and Josina Machel stood in place to help honor their parents and expressed gratitude for their recognition. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, and Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, were also among the awards recipients. They helped convey the message that while important advancements are being made, leaders in the global South must make sure that today’s youth are prepared for the innovation and technology of tomorrow.
The event also saw a variety of performances from artists across the musical spectrum. Talk show host Arsenio Hall’s band, the Posse 2.0 led by Robin Dimaggio, was the featured musical set of the night. Yvonne Chaka Chaka performed an inspirational tribute song to the Mandela family. David Paich, of famed rock band Toto, received a lifetime cultural achievement award recognizing his contributions through music heard around the world.
The evening, succeeding in its goal of honoring those who push forth efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, left attendees with a new sense of optimism and momentum for furthering South-South cooperation.
The South-South Awards is held annually to highlight contributions towards advancing the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development, and honor the ways in which governments, academia, civil society, and members of the private sector advance sustainable development in the global South.