From the 11th to the13th of November, 45 heads of state and leaders of international organizations gathered in Paris and online for the fourth edition of the Paris Peace Forum (PPF). Launched in hybrid format, this year’s summit centered on global cooperation efforts to deliver solutions to ongoing pandemic-related challenges.
Check out Hannah's experience volunteering at the Forum this year:
Forum attendees included French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Senegalese President Macky Sall, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa to name a few. Sciences Po is one of the eight founding members of the PPF, and as a PSIA student, I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer as an Official Delegation Greeter and Notetaker—roles which consisted of welcoming and escorting attendees, as well as taking notes on several of the Forum’s 74 debate sessions.
Beyond its role in convening heads of state and multinationals, the PPF’s project-based focus and exhibition component makes this summit unique. Each year, the Forum invites organizations to present projects aimed at improving global governance and sponsors ten of the most promising ideas. Selected projects this year include Sentinel, a pandemic early warning and response system used for virus detection; the OECD AI Policy Observatory, a hub for public policy analysis on AI; and the Decimals Fund, which supports scientists in the Global South to study SRM (solar radiation management geoengineering).
United By Technological Governance and Climate Change
The 2021 forum further serves as a platform for world leaders to launch initiatives and pledges in the fields of technological governance, climate change, pandemic response, and cybersecurity. One such pledge was the “International Call to stand up for children’s rights in the digital environment,” which was signed by eight heads of state and companies including Amazon, Google, YouTube, Meta, Microsoft, and Twitter. Other initiatives included the “Net Zero Space” project, aimed at reducing debris in Earth’s orbit; the “Climate Change and the Armed Forces” initiative, which convened 22 Ministers of Defense to reduce emissions from the armed forces; and the EU and the U.S.’s decision to join the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace”.
To help facilitate these efforts, the PPF recruited 150 volunteers for the forum—103 of which were Sciences Po students. Volunteer roles consisted of welcoming and guiding attendees and journalists, assisting in running forum workshops, providing technical support, as well as note taking. As an Official Delegation Greeter, I had the opportunity to welcome and guide the Japanese delegation, which included the Japanese Director-General for International Affairs in the Ministry of Defense, Yasushi Noguchi. As a Notetaker, I (quite literally) had a front row seat to diplomacy in action.
Over three days, I took notes on numerous debates with attendees including Senegalese President Macky Sall, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly, as well the Director General of the IMF and the Presidents of the African Development Bank Group and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. As an American, it was a particular highlight to attend Kamala Harris' opening speech, as well as debates from U.S. delegation members whose diplomatic and leadership qualities I have long admired. Such speakers included John Kerry, the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate, and Gayle Smith, the State Department’s Coordinator for Global COVID Response and Health Security.
Overall, my volunteer experience proved to be an intensive three-day crash course in global governance and an ideal complement to my International Economic Policy coursework. To observe, up close, how world leaders negotiate, debate, and form consensus on the world’s most pressing issues was an experience I will never forget.
By Hannah Pedone, first year master student in International Economic Policy, PSIA
Thank you to the PPF volunteer programme officers Morgane le Dantec and Katherine Brown, as well as the PPF leadership team and Sciences Po, for this unique volunteer experience.