Everything we do has an impact on the people around us and on the environment.
We care about this and, where we can, engage with issues we feel strongly about.
Besides being a chaotic and dark year, 2020 had its good sides too: we acknowledged that buying local is what we may actually need, that hugs are not to be taken for granted and how being jet-lagged is in fact not that bad.
Another heartfelt effect of 2020 was realizing that there may be others around us who had it worse – and not just now.
UNIBA Partners and the Brussels Office have decided to support a Brussels-based charity and everyone is more than welcome to contribute.
Les Biscuits are doing more than the association’s title: it is a charitable organisation which aims to maintain social connections for vulnerable people in Brussels, whether homeless or otherwise.
Their activities are focused on two types of events: biscuits, food and warm drinks social Fridays and monthly cultural evenings.
The organization needs donations in order to prepare the food parcels, purchase event tickets, as well as to provide individual support (administrative, medical, legal and so on).
More information here >>>
Un-Zoom Our Communication
UNIBA Partners is concerned about Zoom’s indifference to the welfare of its huge base of users.
We do not want to expose our participants to a supplier whose privacy protection claims and assurances of end-to-end encryption cannot be trusted.
We do not want to be associated with a supplier who has enabled hackers to gain access to video conferences, harassing participants and displaying graphic material during school courses in India .
We strive to work with suppliers who care about their clients and won’t just cut them off.
Until these issues have been fully addressed, we will not initiate any Zoom calls and will avoid participating in them where we can.
It’s a first step towards a carbon neutral organization.
Our worldwide network cannot thrive on video conferencing alone, nor is the train an option for our overseas travel needs. Inevitably therefore we rack up quite a few air miles, recognizing that the cost of the ticket alone does nothing to repair the damage caused by CO2 emissions.
We use CO2Logic to offset these emissions and will continue to search for additional ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
Supporting the Fight against FGM
UNIBA Partners joined its staff in supporting GAMS, a Belgian group committed to fighting female genital mutilation (FGM).
GAMS founder Khadidiatou Diallo was born in Senegal where she was mutilated when she was 7, forced to marry aged 12 and had her first child at 14. She only learned how to read and write when she arrived in Belgium in the 1980s.
It was while researching FGM for her thesis My Devastated Garden that Khadidiatou discovered the complete absence of any rational or religious foundation for FGM, highlighting FGM as what it is: shocking, systematic violence against women.
GAMS Belgium provides a community where women can find support and dialogue with others who have experienced similar trauma. The organization also provides individual support & counseling, organizes awareness raising workshops and, importantly, trains professionals across many different disciplines, including medical and social workers.
To help: GAMS Belgium and similar organizations need support and donations.
The Climate - It's an Emergency
We decided to follow the Guardian newspaper in referring to environmental topics on our agenda and in our presentations as the “Climate Crisis”.
“Climate Change”, the term we used before, was comfortably neutral – and utterly misleading when we think of the terrible consequences, including the Australian bush fires.
Finding the right words is critical to what we do.
Scandal after scandal relative to abusive and manipulative use of user data prompted us to conclude that our values are so different from those of the social media platform that we should cease to be present here. We continue our presence on LinkedIn.
Talking Mental Health
Our Lisbon conference ended with a speech from Petra Velzeboer, a mental health consultant. Petra knows about mental health from tremendously difficult personal experiences growing up inside a destructive religious cult.
Her own fight for positive relationships with herself and others encouraged Petra to become an outspoken mental health advocate.
Her interactive presentation emphasized five aspects of wellbeing: connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and, most importantly, give.
Despite the unseasonal heat and total absence of shade, a group of UNIBA Partners’ volunteers stayed in Cape Town after our 2018 conference and joined children and staff of a pre-school in Cape Town’s Imizamo Yethu neighbourhood to build a sustainable, water efficient vegetable gardens for the school.
This and other projects are run by Call 2 Care - more about the foundation can be found here.
Lemonbooks squeeze more value out of our meetings. These little notebooks, custom-designed for participants at each one of our Global Conferences collect key ideas and thoughts from the conference. Produced in Germany from locally-recycled materials, the pocket-sized books become individual reminders of what mattered, an artboard for any scribbles, and a souvenir of where we spent time together.
Bags with a Conscience
For years, we have aimed to responsibly select the suppliers we work with, both for our Brussels' office day-to-day activities, as well as for the various conference giveaways, banners and gifts we need every year.
Textiles, in particular, are a pollutant which was why the bags for our 30th Anniversary conference came from a workshop in Romania, where they are produced from organic cotton by people with disabilities.
Fear, Hope & Resilience
We closed the 30th Anniversary Conference with a reference to the human side of resilience. We invited Aeham Ahmad, a Damascus-born pianist, to share his raw journey with the audience through his soulful music. More information about Aeham and his story can be found here.
Sunrise Children's Village
Geraldine Cox, a speaker at our Singapore conference, founded the Sunrise Children’s Village to give war orphans in Cambodia the hope of a future. Geraldine shared her story as the adoptive ‘mother’ of over 400 orphaned, abused or otherwise traumatised children in Cambodia.
Today, Sunrise supports whole communities with healthcare, clean water, sanitation and education facilities so that families can prosper.
UNIBA Partners conference participants donated over $15.000 USD allowing the village to purchase a ‘tuk tuk’ as well as school books for the children at Sunrise Children’s Villages.
Share the Info, Spare the Trees
UNIBA Partners’ conferences became paperless thanks to our conference app which replaced the many paper-based meeting handouts.