Posted on July 10, 2019

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), has emphasized the need for education to be interconnected with every aspect of sustainable development to decision-makers from around the world, at the headquarters of the United Nations (UN).

Participating in a key policy discussion at the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2019, a global forum designed to drive progress toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Her Excellency Sheikha Hind outlined how fostering human development through education is at the core of Qatar’s vision for a sustainable future – and nationwide efforts to realize this vision. During the session focusing on SDG 4 – which calls for inclusive, equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for everyone – Her Excellency Sheikha Hind told an audience including senior UN figures and ministers from UN member states that if all the SDGs identified by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are to be achieved on a worldwide scale, they must be similarly intertwined with education.

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind’s trip to the US has also seen her sign the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, established by global corporate sustainability initiative the United Nations Global Compact and international gender equality champion UN Women. QF’s support for these Principles reflects its commitment to inclusive education, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to drive positive social change, and nurturing a new generation of female leaders and role models who have integral roles in Qatar’s development journey.

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Taking place from July 9-18 under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), HLPF 2019 is the latest edition of the UN’s main sustainable development platform. Attended by representatives of governments, UN bodies, international organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from 197 UN member states, it provides nations with an opportunity to exchange their experiences of working toward implementing the SDGs, highlight their efforts and successes, and identify actions and solutions that can accelerate progress toward achieving the 17 goals.

Following a speech by Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, the discussion on SDG 4 – chaired by Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC – explored its links with other goals and targets under the 2030 Agenda, and the policy changes and long-term commitments required to ensure connectivity between the SDGs is maximized for global society’s benefit. Speaking at the session, Her Excellency Sheikha Hind said: “Education has to evolve in line with individual and societal needs, reflect a world where disruption is a way of life, and retain its fundamental principles while not reducing its scope to try new things. It must excite and inspire young people by demonstrating that it is their pathway to opportunity and the realization of their goals – and it must be a cornerstone of sustainable development as a whole.

“Economic growth, productive employment, the reduction of inequality, and peaceful and inclusive societies only become possible through education of the kind identified by SDG 4. At the same time, providing such education only has a purpose if people can see, and believe in, what it leads to and why it matters. “This sense of interconnectivity is why the Sustainable Development Goals are at the heart of Qatar’s development, alongside our own national vision. Human development is at the core of this vision – connecting all sectors, all stakeholders, and all of society – and it can only happen through the brand of education that SDG 4 defines, and Qatar Foundation provides.”

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During the session – moderated by Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF – Her Excellency Sheikha Hind explained how QF’s unique model of quality, inclusive education interconnects with all sectors in Qatar, enabling young people to see and follow a direct pathway into fields from which they can contribute to the nation’s sustainable development vision while also achieving their personal goals. She also spoke about how QF’s partnerships with Qatari organizations such as Qatar Fund For Development, Education Above All, and Teach For Qatar intensify the national and international impact of its efforts in the sphere of education.

Among the other speakers were Professor Kazuhiro Yoshida, Co-Chair of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, and Director of the Center for the Study of International Cooperation in Education, Hiroshima University, Japan; Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, and former Minister of Education and Literacy, Burkina Faso; Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO; and John McLaughlin, Deputy Minister, Education and Early Childhood Development, New Brunswick Province, Canada.

The Women’s Empowerment Principles call for corporate action to promote gender equality and female empowerment, and have been endorsed by over 2,000 business leaders around the world. At the signing ceremony, Her Excellency Sheikha Hind discussed QF’s contribution to empowering women in Qatar, and its role as a national and regional driver of inclusivity, with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.