NEW YORK: Upon receiving the ‘Champion for Global Change’ award at the United Nations Foundation’s Global Leadership Dinner in New York, His Highness the Aga Khan suggested that the question was not whether government action or private enterprise was more effective, but rather how these sectors can become effective partners in the quest for development.
“The partnerships that will most dramatically change the world are those in which all three components—private, public and civil society institutions—can connect in all-embracing common efforts,” he said.
The Aga Khan told the audience that the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the United Nations Foundation were aligned in their emphasis on creating and sustaining enabling environments, working in “countries of opportunity,” and on creating public-private partnerships, which have been key factors in AKDN’s work in many fields and in many countries.
Presenting the award to the Aga Khan, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated the Aga Khan on his Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years of his service as Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shi’a Ismaili Muslim Community, and founder of AKDN, as well as for his tireless dedication to improving the lives of people everywhere. “As a global leader he continuously demonstrates that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” he said.
Noting that the most important aspect of the Aga Khan’s work was pluralism, Annan said, “The world, especially in these difficult times, needs people of vision and goodwill like the Aga Khan. He is a living example that there is no inevitable contradiction between religion and democracy, that pluralism and diversity are possible, and that interaction of cultures enriches and empowers humanity.”
“Instead of sitting on the sidelines in a world of suffering, they have acted with courage and commitment to help solve problems alongside the UN,” commented Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of UNF on the contributions of the five honorees, adding: “Tonight, we recognise these incredible leaders and the lesson they’ve taught us: to reach a better world, we shouldn’t turn our backs on each other; we should extend our hands.”
“With the wisdom, the tolerance, and the compassion of His Highness the Aga Khan, I think we can win the battle for a better world,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, at the ceremony.