Chantal Grevin, "ambassador" of the NGO New Humanity to UNESCO, shared with us something about her life, her work, and a new proposal for the United World Week.
"From my window everything looks white," Chantal Grevin tells me via Skype, with her beautiful French accent. "A lot of snow has come down, mixed with ice." Chantal lives with her family in Arny, in the French Citadel of the Focolare Movement, 35 km south of Paris. In a few days, she will turn 69 and she is preparing to celebrate her birthday with her family - her husband, their four children, and their eight grandchildren.
Chantal is a jurist and, for many years, she has been working in her local city hall as a citizen rights consultant. Since 2008, she has been the lead representative of New Humanity, the NGO inspired by the values, culture, and life of the Focolare Movement (Movimento dei Focolari), to UNESCO.
What does it mean for the international NGO New Humanity to be a UNESCO partner?
"UNESCO is a UN agency specialized for education, science, culture, and communication. Its basic mission is ‘building peace in the minds of people.’ Therefore, it is clear that we have our place as an NGO to collaborate with UNESCO: to bring our experience in education for peace, to share our best practices in all the countries where we are operational, and to build partnerships on viable projects. In particular, we are called to collaborate on issues that are very important for the future of humanity, such as facing the challenge of climate change, finding solutions for violent extremism ... and many others!"
What is your role at UNESCO as the representative of the NGO New Humanity?
"I'm a kind of ‘ambassador.’ My role is to create a connection between UNESCO, which represents 195 Member States, and our NGO, which has its own way of educating for peace and has so many concrete projects, such as the United World Project. In addition, New Humanity cooperates with delegations from every country, because States are very interested in getting to know the good initiatives that are implemented in their territory. By doing so, we contribute to enrich UNESCO with our reflections and our experiences. We also work with NGOs that operate in our same field, to organize international forums on topics that UNESCO is interested in exploring. The next Forum in which we are scheduled to participate is on climate change and the role of NGOs in the necessary transformations of societies."
How can young people participate in the NGO New Humanity?
"Youth participation is extremely important. It is a priority for UNESCO to involve young people in political decisions. Much more than us, the elderly, they have the power to understand and change the world of tomorrow, and to circulate ideas at a fast rate. We are fortunate because we are an intergenerational NGO, where young people have their place and develop their own actions. As to UNESCO, many of our youth have already introduced their ‘seeds of brotherhood’ to the UNESCO National Commissions in their respective countries. I saw this is a great way to develop a true partnership with UNESCO."
Chantal, you know that the youth of the Focolare have a dream, don’t you?
«Sure I do! The recognition of the United World Week at the United Nations».
What would you recommend them to make this dream come true?
"It is important for the Youth for a United World of the different nations to inform the UNESCO National Commissions about all the actions they put in place during the United World Week in their respective countries. They can say: this is what we are doing here to build a more united world. If all the Youth for a United World who carry out relevant actions in areas that are of interest to UNESCO, such as culture, education, science, peace, communication, etc., reported about these actions, it would be a step forward for the recognition of the United World Week on a global level. In short, we need to work so that ambassadors are informed and become convinced about the United World Week. We must persuade them that it is something that can do good for their country and for all the countries in the world."
This is a good challenge to meet, also in view of the 2018 Genfest in Manila.