Rotary members meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace
More than 240 Rotary members and other guests gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 March for Rotary at the European Union, a special event that explored how Rotary and the European Union can work together to achieve peace.
The meeting was the first of its kind at the European Union (EU) and was modeled on the tradition of Rotary Day at the United Nations. Rotary members, EU officials, and business leaders at the two-hour event asked how business and civil society organizations like Rotary can work with the EU to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build more peaceful and stable societies.
Françoise Tulkens, a professor and former vice president of the European Court of Human Rights, moderated the meeting, which included presentations from Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs, and fisheries; Jean de leu de Cecil, general secretary of the board of Colruyt Group; Rene Branders, president of the Belgian Federation of Chambers of Commerce; and John Hewko, Rotary general secretary.
Vella emphasized the importance of working with business and civil society to achieve the development goals. He also recognized the important role Rotary can play in this global effort.
“You have a massive asset, your vast network, and you can use it to bring community stakeholders together in order to turn the SDGs into reality. Rotary International is uniquely placed to create transformational alliances between business and civil society, pushing forward the implementation of our common agenda,” said Vella.
Hewko highlighted Rotary’s efforts to address the ongoing migration crisis and foster inclusive economic development.
"At Rotary, we believe that we can only respond by forming smart partnerships in which the EU, governments, civil society, the private sector, and other organizations all play an important role. This is why the growing relationship between Rotary and the European Union is a cause for optimism,” said Hewko.
Because the EU supports the global polio eradication effort, organizers of Rotary at the European Union are confident that there are other opportunities for collaboration between the organizations.
The event was coordinated with the European Commission and organized by Michel Coomans and Hugo-Maria Schally, RI representatives to the EU, with the support of Kathleen Van Rysseghem, Philippe Vanstalle, and Nathalie Huyghebaert, the governors of the Rotary districts in Belgium and Luxembourg.