An Evening of Hope and Resilience with the University of Liege

Launch of the UNI for Change platform by the ULiège Green Office in Belgium

by Kingbadantee Sabir,
June 6, 2024

On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, the Boulevard du Rectorat in Sart Tilman, Belgium, hosted an inspiring evening as part of the Festival Rêve Général and Festival Nourrir Les Campus. This event marked the launch of the UNI for Change platform by the ULiège Green Office, aimed at supporting the ULiège community in social and environmental actions.

The evening began with a warm welcome, setting the stage for the main event—a session by Runa Khan, Founder of Friendship and Honorary Patron of the Green Office family. Runa shared her journey, the challenges facing Bangladesh, and the lessons the world can learn from these experiences. Her talk was delivered in English with a French-speaking translator, highlighting the importance of commitment and resilience in the face of adversity.

Following the conference, a dynamic debate moderated by Séverinne Dieudonné explored themes of hope and the positive impacts of commitment. Notable figures such as Princess Esméralda of Belgium, climate expert Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, economist Sybille Mertens, Nicolas-Antoine Moussiaux, and engaged ULiège students joined the discussion, underscoring the vital role of collective action in driving social and environmental change.

The evening concluded with a “glass of friendship,” fostering community spirit, followed by a traditional Bangladeshi meal, offering attendees a taste of the rich culture Runa Khan represents.

The Role of Universities in Promoting Sustainability

Universities play a crucial role in advancing sustainability by fostering research, innovation, and education on environmental issues. They serve as incubators for ideas and solutions that can address global challenges like climate change. ULiège, through its Green Office and the UNI for Change platform, sets a commendable example by integrating sustainability into its core activities and encouraging its community to engage in social and environmental actions.

The event at Sart Tilman celebrated the launch of UNI for Change and paid tribute to individuals like Runa Khan, who embody hope and resilience. Through her leadership, integrated and sustainable development has transformed lives in challenging environments. Her role as Honorary Patron of the Green Office family underscores her enduring impact on social and environmental justice.

By championing sustainability and climate adaptation, universities like ULiège are paving the way for a more resilient and equitable future. Their efforts show that through education, research, and community engagement, academic institutions can make significant contributions to global sustainability goals.

Friendship’s Impact and Climate Adaptation Efforts

Since 2002, Friendship has been a lifeline for nearly seven million people annually in Bangladesh, focusing on critical areas such as healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, and climate adaptation.

In response to rising sea levels and increased salinity, Friendship has spearheaded a mangrove afforestation project. These mangroves serve as natural barriers, protecting coastal communities from severe weather events. Over the years, Friendship has planted thousands of mangrove saplings, covering vast coastal areas. This initiative not only safeguards communities against cyclones and tidal surges but also restores biodiversity, providing habitats for various marine and terrestrial species. Additionally, the mangrove forests support sustainable livelihoods, as they are a source of fish, crabs, and honey, empowering local communities to protect and benefit from their environment.

Friendship’s floating hospitals provide essential medical services to isolated riverine communities. These hospitals, equipped for everything from basic check-ups to critical surgeries, ensure that even the most remote populations have access to quality healthcare.

To bolster climate resilience, Friendship promotes sustainable agricultural practices and implements early warning systems for natural disasters. These initiatives help communities anticipate and respond to climate-related challenges, reducing their vulnerability and enhancing their resilience.

Education is at the heart of Friendship’s mission. By establishing schools in remote areas, Friendship ensures that children receive quality education despite geographical barriers. This commitment to education equips the next generation with the skills they need to create a better future.

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