Step towards a new world for locals – Benefits of the UN Academic Impact programme

On the 18th November 2010 in New York , at the United Nations Headquarter a new initiative, the Academic Impact programme (UNAI), has started. The global initiative in a nutshell means a commitment from the side of institutions to use education as an engine for addressing global problems.

The programm aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations (UN) in actively supporting ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution.[i]  It is based on the idea that the answers of the world problems, which the member states trying to answer on, in many case could be found at the scientific environment of the Universities. Ban Ki-Moon the Secretary General of the UN in his opening speech emphasizes the importance of the Universities: „The ideas bring the United Nations to life. A single idea can generate a breakthrough that saves millions of lives. A new technology can spare whole populations from hardship. Even a theory can unlock action for peace.”[ii] Furthermore, he is focusing on one very important thing, which is as important in AEGEE life as for the UNAI, namely being interdisciplinary, which „means that whether people study new theories of physics or timeless literary texts, their work can inspire progress worldwide.”

If you want to encourage your Dean at the University to join the initiative, you can tell him that the first step is that the University have to commit itself towards the  ten universally accepted principles, organise at least one event per year connected to the above mentioned principles, and after the event send a report to the UNAI team.

So far more than five hundred Universities from the 80 countries of the world already have joined the programme and are organising the events, conferences and other actions to support the principles of the United Nations. Check out here if your University is already a member.

Already in the first year of the programme, in January 2012, after initiative of AEGEE-Piliscsaba, responsible from that time for the contact, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Pázmány Péter Catholic University (PPCU) joined the programme.

On March 7, 2012, they already showed their enthusiasm and engagement towards the universal principles of the UN with hosting their first conference on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as exhibition in the framework of the UNAI initiative. Serving as the basis of the images of the “Picturing the MDGs! – Visualisation of the Millennium Development Goals”, the international event took place on 24-28th  August 2011 at AEGEE- Piliscsaba, featuring participants from five different countries. The aim of the get-together was to visually introduce the MDGs, as pictures are arguably more expressive than words.  They are clearly capable of revealing the most salient problems of the affected countries.

The conference was a professional completion of a year-long cogitation about the MDGs. The opening address was conveyed by Eszter Lukács, the Member of Presidium at UNA-H and Professor of UNAI-affiliate Széchenyi István University, Győr, Hungary. The speeches, delivered by the representatives of the Amnesty International and numerous other NGOs of global coverage, tackled the issues of poverty, hunger and maternal health and were followed by an afternoon session dedicated entirely to the Rio+20 conference and sustainability concerns expanded with a presentation by PPCU lecturer Tamás Szigetvári.

Aware of the fact that fifty percent of the Earth’s population is under 30, the organisers believe that the voice of young people needs to be heard more than ever before. Therefore they deployed a “good practice” for the implementation of global partnership by inviting young speakers not only from Hungary, but also from Ukraine, Germany and Albania to share their ideas about building transnational networks and sustainable ways of living.

However, what would be the benefits for your local? Since in AEGEE-Piliscsaba the organisers made the connection with UNAI programme, their reputation at the University – including the administrative departments as well as students and teachers  – raised up. This is not just something wherewith you can build a closer connection with Universities or using it for a better fund-raising option, but it is a possibility for increasing the number of high-quality local or even European events, the commitment of AEGEE towards high principles and a continuation of the last successful flagship project, the „Beyond Europe” project.

For any further questions about the membership procedure or the conference, please do not hesitate to ask the author.


Written by Dóra Kocsis, AEGEE-Piliscsaba & 

Liaison Officer trainee of AEGEE towards the United Nations

[ii] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Remarks at launch of the United Nations Academic Impact In.UN News centre