23 October 2015

Global Dignity Day 2015: My Stroll with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway

Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, is the heir apparent to the Throne of Norway. In 2003 he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a particular focus on the UN Millennium Development Goals and the effort to cut global poverty in half by 2015. As Goodwill Ambassador he travelled to Haiti, Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Guatemala, Burundi, Mongolia and Botswana.

A former member of the World Economic Forum’s group, Young Global Leaders (YGL), Crown Prince Haakon in 2006 alongside two other YGLs, Pekka Himanen and John Hope Bryant, founded the Global Dignity initiative, an independent, non-political organization that promotes the universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life.

In course of this stroll we looked back at the MDGs and projected into the future with the SDGs juxtaposing them with the need for each and every one of us to live dignified lives as we all work towards the betterment of this place we call home, earth.

Looking back at the MDGs

Crown Prince Haakon: First of all I think it has been quite valuable to have these 8 concrete goals that the world set for itself in year 2000 to be reached by 2015. And we have made quite a lot of progress on the whole. There are obviously challenges and quite a lot more to do, and many difficulties in the world. But if you look at these 8 goals, we have been able to halve extreme poverty; we have made a lot of progress on each of these goals. We have not been able to reach all of them, but like everything else in the world there’s some positive and some negative.

We have been able to reach some of the goals which I think we should celebrate but of course halving extreme poverty and getting to the point where we have 500 or 600 million people living in extreme poverty is obviously not good enough. We can’t stop until we eventually eradicate extreme poverty in the world.

I think the goals made the global community more focussed on what we’re trying to achieve.

The Crown Prince receives an award from UNDP's Helen Clark for more than ten years as Goodwill Ambassador for the UNDP (Foto: UNDP)

Looking Ahead: The SDGs by 2030

Crown Prince Haakon: I think it’s really interesting that we now have a new set of goals which is the Sustainable Development Goals or the Global goals as some people call them now. I think it’s going to be interesting to follow the progress in the years to come and I certainly hope that we’d be able to end extreme poverty by 2030. I do think it is actually possible but obviously we need to stay focus, and also build on peace and find solutions to various problems in the world.

Why Global Dignity Day?

Crown Prince Haakon: It started because we had a meeting for younger people below 40 that were gathered together by the World Economic Forum, and we were talking about the big challenges of health, education, environment, poverty alleviation, etc. And we started talking about the fundamentals and source of positive change; and where does the will and motivation to create a better world come from? We discovered it comes from the force of dignity, and maybe we can build something around that for young people.

Pekka Himanen, John Hope Bryant, and I started talking about it, and from this idea, just saying we need to have a reflection around dignity and our common humanity for young people, we had people saying “yes, we want to be part of it”. We created a curriculum for young people in schools and so they have a workshop on ethics and values and a leadership course in a 2-hour package. 

So we put forward this idea and it’s been taken up by many volunteers around the world. On Wednesday the 21st we will have more than 65 countries having some sort of global dignity day activity, and more than 400, 000 people will be reached by this initiative.

The Royal Family greets the Children's Parade in Asker outside Skaugum.
Life as a Royalty: Do you get everything you want for free?

Crown Prince Haakon: (laughs) there’s a bit of challenges also with my life, but of course I am very fortunate, and I see it as an opportunity to do something for other people, which is something I value.

Working in the Non-Profit Sector

Crown Prince Haakon: I’ve always been interested in the big questions; why is there inequality, injustice? And those sorts of things. I fall short of my own ideals often—maybe every day. But that’s not the important thing, I think the important thing is that when you have this aspiration that you can do something positive both for yourself and for everybody around, and by that kind of thinking I think we can move the world in the right direction. And we all have a part to play; all of us.

For more about Global Dignity Day click here.

Food for the Soul: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." (Romans 13: 1-2, ESV)

(Images Credit: Julia Marie Naglestad, Det kongelige hoff; UNDP; Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB scanpix)

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