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Press Release - International Leadership Conference Opening

 “Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time:
The Role of Governments, Civil Society and Faith-Based Organizations”

February 12-16, 2016      Seoul, Korea

More than 600 delegates from over 60 nations—including over 140 current members of parliament and six cabinet ministers—gathered in Seoul, Korea, from February 12 to 16, 2016, for the International Leadership Conference (ILC) titled “Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time: The Role of Governments, Civil Society and Faith-Based Organizations.”

The purpose of the conference was addressing global issues that threaten humankind’s very existence, including climate change, violence and extremism, peace and security in Northeast Asia, and the role of lawmakers in peace and development.

“There is a new generation of children that may not outlive their parents,” warned Dr. Sun Jin Moon, the international chair of Universal Peace Federation (UPF), as she held back tears during her Keynote Address, given on Sunday morning, February 14, at the end of the Opening Session.

The conference was organized by UPF, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The founders are Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.

Dr. Moon’s Keynote Address was preceded by four distinguished speakers. Ambassador Jai-chul Choi of South Korea, designated an ambassador for Climate Change, praised the Paris Agreement of December 2015, which opened the way for greater buy-in and verification as well as the voluntary nature for nations to set emission reduction goals.

Professor Saburo Takizawa from Toyo Eiwa University in Japan highlighted the unprecedented refugee crisis that the world is facing. Most notable are the political refugees flooding Europe from international conflicts in the Middle East. But Professor Takizawa also noted “climate refugees” coming from situations of global warming, food insecurity and the scarcity of water.

The third speaker was Mr. Akhtar Ali, the mayor of the Nasinu Town Council of Fiji. He noted that rising levels in the oceans are not just a political issue and are also more than balancing a chemical equation. “Climate change is a war zone for Pacific island nations,” he observed. With some islands just one or two meters above sea level, a small rise in sea levels threatens their culture, their customs and their very existence as a people.

Hon. Maria Lapardo, a member of the National Congress of Argentina, praised UPF’s emphasis on the family, saying that global peace must be preceded by peace in the family and community. Then she recalled how, as a lawmaker addressing renewable energy in the capital, Buenos Aires, she was involved in creating a policy of free bicycles. At the end of her address she quoted Pope Francis, saying, “Economics may be a goal, but only to the extent it leads to a sustainable impact.”

In her Keynote Address that concluded the session Dr. Sun Jin Moon introduced the need for spirituality in addressing these global issues. The engine that will give us the “willpower” to attain these goals does not come from government policy alone, she said. “We [need to] draw on the great spiritual and moral traditions for inspiration, guidance and direction at this time,” she said.  “Spiritual inspiration … has most often been able to guide humanity to go beyond self-interest and to avoid what is called the ‘free rider’ problem.”

The conference opened with Dr. Thomas Walsh, the international president of UPF, reading a letter of congratulations from Nepalese Prime Minister, H.E. K.P. Oli. This was followed by a video message from President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati in the South Pacific. 

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