Co-building our shared futures starts now 

Published: 27 June 2022

Summary of the People’s Global Summit, ‘Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind’ which took place June 29 – July 2

The People’s Global Summit, ‘Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind’, June 29 – July 2

Opened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, the People’s Global Summit, ‘Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind’ is a starting point for a continuing global conversation, in which the broken social contract with the planet and with each other, took centre stage, and in which we have played the role of both contributors and co-organisers, with partners from around the world. For full details please visit the Summit website 

The first summit (29 June – 2 July) is an experiment not unlike the far more localized initiatives of citizen assemblies seen in Scotland and throughout COP26.

During the Summit people shared their experiences and stories in diverse ways through live discussion panels, open mic chat rooms, storytelling, interviews, cultural expression, and keynote addresses from political and civil society leaders. All contributions submitted to the Summit are available and free to view from 3 July on the Summit YouTube Channel.  

Everyone is invited to view these contributions and to comment. The contributions and feedback received to date have been distilled into the first version of “The People’s Charter for an Eco-Social World.”  The Charter is a living document and reference point that will grow as the world’s populations share their solutions to our joint challenges, so all people can live with confidence, security, and peace in a sustainable world. The Charter will be submitted as an invitation and call to action to the world’s leaders gathered at the 2022 United Nations High-Level Political Forum and World Assembly. The People´s Global Summit will continue to convene, promote and support local and global action to unlock the means to co-design and co-build a new eco social world.    

The UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (UNESCO RILA) launched the Summit on 29 June with a live panel discussion streamed from the new Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre (ARC) at the University of Glasgow. The panel “Those Left Behind: Radical Dependency, Arts and Refuge” featured Professor Alison Phipps. Dr Hyab Yohannes, Tawona Sithole (Ganyamatope), and Dr Piki Diamond. Their intervention focussed on four dimensions of what is ‘left behind’ and ‘who is left behind.’ Together they called for policy and practice to welcome and integrate forms of knowledge and understanding from communities and peoples who are at the sharp end of experiencing loss and damage in eco-cultural life. The panel posed the challenge of realising and codifying cultural justice widely within governmental and intergovernmental actions. 

The panel demonstrated through the examples of those who have lost their lives making unsafe and impossibly dangerous journeys when fleeing war and persecution that benign notions of “progress” produce destitute humanity. The panel noted that it is not only those humans whose lives are constantly at stake who are left behind. What is truly left behind is our ethical responsibility towards one another and the natural world. The erosion of our capacity to share, care, co-exist and stay grounded is the greatest challenge of our time. 

View the panel discussion and the UNESCO RILA recorded contributions on the UNESCO RILA People's Global Summit YouTube Playlist

We followed our panel with workshops by UNESCO RILA staff and Artists in Residence. A music session led by Dr Gameli Tordzro started with the passing of a calabash and other percussion instruments and sparked an impromptu dance session in the heart of the ARC. Song soon flowed through the atrium, with the participants coached through a Ghanaian song of movement before reflecting on the power of shared song and rhythm. 

Next, Brittnee Leysen immersed the participants in a soundscape of birdsong, the sound of the sea, and Māori waiata (song) by Shanara Wallace. This journey began in the Highlands and Islands before taking listeners south to Glasgow, and across the sea to Aotearoa New Zealand. Participants identified ‘home’ in the soundscape, which differed for everyone; with some people connecting with the sound of the sea, and others with the wind and birdsong. 

MIDEQ researcher, Naa Densua Tordzro, introduced participants to the language of fabric in Ghanaian culture. Beautiful hand-dyed fabric was measured and cut by participants, whilst they learned how to style hair wrapping according to the message you were trying to convey: being in mourning, having a ‘child abroad’ or being wealthy, and holding a certain level of status in society. 

Finally, the morning ended with Ganyamatope bringing the participants back to the themes of the summit and leaving no one behind. After working through a series of short spoken word exercises, the participants worked collaboratively to create a shared poem for their experience of the summit thus far: 

Bringing someone with you, always walk in pairs, 
But be cognisant of political Western contextualization. 
Language comes from the animal that we are. 
Everyone and everything stays together, grounded. 

In the Arizona desert the great saguaro, the huge iconic cactus is understood by the Tohono O’odham peoples as beings with personhood. Elements of the natural world are now endowed with rights.  au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au. I am the land, and the land is me, as the te Reo Māori proverb says. Indeed, we are both culture and nature. 

The process of constructing The People’s Charter for an Eco-Social World has just begun. This Summit is one step on the journey of a continuing process for sustainability, justice, and equality for all it raises awareness but also acts. We urge everyone everywhere to continue to make their voices heard: What values, policies and practices do you think are needed to give the planet and everyone and everything on it safety and security? Heed this call to action and join us to work together for our shared future.  

For further information please contact the UNESCO RILA Secretariat on 

First published: 27 June 2022

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