The Founding Board of the Global Humanitarian Forum.

In October 2007, personalities from all over the world under the leadership of the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, were brought together in Geneva joining forces in order to establish the “Global Humanitarian Forum” (G.H.F.).

The Global Humanitarian Forum is a non governmental organisation, open to cross-cultural, cross-sectoral and pan-regional ideas and initiatives. It functions within a spirit of high ethical standards and common humanitarian values and principles independently of any political or national interests. The Forum aspires to become “the network of networks”, to function for the benefit of the vulnerable groups of people, to stand by the side of those people that need help and to intervene as much preventively as repressively.

Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, H.R.H. Princess Haya of Jordan and Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

Initially, the Forum will focus on the humanitarian impact of climate change.

Mr. Annan, in his inaugural speech, underlined that the basic aim of the Forum is to foster dialogue and broker partnerships that strengthen the international community’s ability to address more effectively the current and emerging humanitarian challenges. The Forum also intends to turn the ideas into actions that will better serve the most vulnerable ones that are in humanitarian need. Particular emphasis will be placed on prevention-based activities.

To achieve the aims of the Forum, Mr. Annan has chosen personalities of international prestige, well known for their political, scientific and humanitarian work, who will form the Foundation Board of the “Global Humanitarian Forum”.

The UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and President of the “Foundation for the Child and the Family”, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, accepted the invitation of Mr. Annan and became a Founding member. “Today, Geneva becomes the base of operations of a special initiative for the entire humanity”, stated Mrs. Vardinoyannis on her arrival at the Forum. “The establishment of the Global Humanitarian Forum, under the leadership of Mr. Kofi Annan, sends the message of hope and awakening of the global community for confronting the impacts of climate change that threaten our planet and the people on it. A new era of international collaboration begins, through which prevention-based activities towards threats such as poverty, lack of food and safe water, massive migration, wars, will become a priority. It is a great honour for me to be called by Mr. Kofi Annan to participate in the Foundation Board of this organisation and to be given the opportunity to contribute to this effort”.

Mr Annan’s invitation has also been accepted by: HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, Mrs. Mary Robinson (Former President of Ireland), Mr. Ricardo Lagos (Former President of Chile), the President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr Rajendra Pachauri (Nobel Peace Laureate 2007), Mr. Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Laureate 2006), Mr. Amartya Sen (Nobel Economics Laureate 1998), Mr. Blaise Godet (Permanent Representative of the Swiss Confederation to the UN), Mr. James Wolfensohn (Former President of the World Bank Group),

Mrs. Catherine Bertini (Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme 1992-2002), Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi (Former Foreign Minister of Algeria), Mr. Michel Camdessus (Honorary Governor of the Bank of France), Mr. Jan Egeland (UN Under-Secretary-General), Mr Ivan Pictet (businessman), Mrs. Barbara Stocking (Director of Oxfam Great Britain), Dr. Mary Chinery-Hesse (Vice-President of the National Development Committee of Ghana) and others.

Prior to the official presentation of GHF, the first meeting of the President and the members of the Foundation Board was held in Geneva in order to discuss about the objectives and strategy of the organisation.

Mrs. Vardinoyannis proposed that a meeting to be held in Athens along with an international congress. She further stated that according to the scientists’ forecasts, the Mediterranean area will be influenced by the climate change within the next years; hence, the sensitisation and collaboration of all scientists and relevant institutions would be of particular importance.

After having met with the members of the Foundation Board, Mr. Annan pointed out inter alia, before a large audience: “Climate change is one of the central issues of GHF, since it influences the lives of millions of people, especially in the developing countries, creates massive migration waves and humanitarian crises, increases poverty and social deprivation”.

A speech was, then, given by the Nobel Peace Laureate 2007 and Chairman of the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who rung the bell about the threats due to climate change. “The problem” said, “is urgent and direct action is required, because the more the heat waves, the dry seasons, the frequency of hurricanes etc. increase, the greater the impacts are as far as people’s health, food production, food safety, access to safe drinking water and natural environment are concerned”.

Mr. Jeffrey Sachs, Professor at Columbia University, also spoke referring to the climatic change as a challenge for sustainable growth.