“Sustainable Societies: Responsive Citizens”

Participating in international conferences to help societies worldwide is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Four Medical Mission Sisters and two Associates attended the 64th U.N. Department of Public Information Conference in Bonn, Germany, from September 3 – 5, 2011. 1,500 people from 70 countries representing non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups gathered around the theme, “Sustainable Societies: Responsive Citizens.”

Sister-Doctor Elizabeth Vadakekara, our Assistant Society Coordinator; Sister Celine Paramundayil, our U.N. representative; German Sisters Mariotte Hillebrand and Monika Ballani; and Associates Petra Schrey and Dunja-Maria Bischof represented our Community.

Opening the conference, Kiyo Akasaka, the U.N.’s Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, highlighted the challenges of “food, energy, finance, water and climate” and noted that worldwide climate change negotiations are at a crucial stage. Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator of the U.N. Volunteers program, noted, “Sustainable societies need responsive citizens – people who rise to the challenge, take action of their own free will, and work towards a better and brighter future…in a nutshell, for sustainable development to work, we’re going to need to get as many people as possible involved in a coordinated way and with a collaborative spirit.”

Our Sisters and Associates appreciated the vitality and optimism among the attendees, the noted speakers who gave the “big picture” and the opportunities to network and share in smaller workshops. Short phrases like, “Stop talking, start planting,” and “Connect the dots” stayed in their minds. One need not get involved in big campaigns; it is enough to make conscious decisions about our own use of energy each day.

Sister Mariotte Hillebrand shares, “Sustainable societies need social justice – and that for me means an option for the poor – access to the resources of the earth for all people, economic development, the protection of the environment, and a responsible use of natural resources by all people.”

October 15, 2011