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07.02.2019

We need a global student voice!

President of NUS Norway Håkon Rangaard Mikalsen at The annual National SDG Conference Bergen
President of NUS Norway Håkon Rangaard Mikalsen at The annual National SDG Conference Bergen

We are ready to take the next step in building a global student movement, said the president of The National Union of Students in Norway (NUS Norway), Håkon Rangaard Mikalsen, in his opening speech at the annual National SDG Conference in Bergen, «re:thinking/re:working»

Good morning!

Internationalisation is an ethical imperative. We live in a racist age. Brexit and the US elections have both revealed that if communities do not embrace racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and national diversity, then the world as we know it will cease to function.

At the same time, poverty is declining.

Our planet is facing challenges of the extreme. At the same time, we see studies showing that the youth never before has been this engaged in solving these challenges. And we have the SDGs

Its like a Dickens novel

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness

Three years ago. Here at the University of Bergen. My old university. Student activists from all over the world gathered and contributed to a global declaration demonstrating a statement of values for a global student voice. The birth of the «The Bergen Declaration»

The Bergen Declaration aims to increase cooperation between student organisations and build a network that can develop into a global movement.
At that time Fernando Galan, President of the European Students’ Union stated: This document is just the beginning of something bigger, and the start of a long term process.”

A Global Student Voice will not be built all at once, but the Bergen Declaration sets the foundations from which a global student movement can be shaped. Now more than ever before, students need to stand together in solidarity and demand our rights to self-organise, to enjoy freedom of speech and accessible education.

I acknowledge that the current model of society is not respecting the environment and that this causes dramatic consequences. These effects include climate change, deforestation, mass extinctions of animals, and other plant based species, notwithstanding the alarming effect this has on humans globally. I think Al Gore called it “An inconvenient truth”

In light of this, we must acknowledge the serious nature of the issue and act immediately to address it. For this reason, I welcome all global initiatives that share these principles and support them to continue working to enhance global environmental sustainability, and demand students’ voices should be heard.
Further, I also claim that education is one of the most important tools for providing global citizens with the necessary skills and opportunities to fight climate change, empowering individuals and building resilient communities that will challenge the current development model which is causing harm to the planet and its people.

The SDGs are not perfect. But I guess its the best thing we got.
The Agenda 2030 is about transforming the world.
Of course that involves a lot of challenges
But the opportunities.
Eradicating poverty
Universal peace
Heal and secure our planet

Its within reach. If we just do our part.

Our host for this conference, rector Olsen said that “Students are a driving force for us all, and we must make sure to work with them and meet them on the way. “

But today students lack global representation.
Work with us on that issue.
Then we can solve the challenges of the world together.

Because rector Olsen is onto something. In fact, in the audience today we have Fasiha Hassan. The student peace prize laureate, awarded by norwegian students.

She is a driving force in South Africa for transformation of society. She is, the student movement in South Africa is, what the Bergen declaration is meant to represent.

Universal cooperation in the defence of students’ rights, public education and access to education for all. Working together, through our shared principles, will ensure that globally, students voices are heard and that united we are stronger in the face of threats to our education.

We are ready for the next step to build a global student movement.
We need the support of you to achieve it.
Its within reach.
To ensure that the students can have our say in the transformation that is yet to come.
It always seems impossible until its done

Thank you for your attention

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