Watch a playlist of the evening’s speakers
Uncorrected transcript: Check against delivery
FREDERICK KEMPE: So, wow. Please give it up to the American Pops Orchestra… I was going to say, this is the first time that the Atlantic Council in its sixty-year history has had a live orchestra on stage, but they’re actually above stage. There they are. And it’s the best walk-up music I’ve had in the ten Atlantic Council Global Citizen Awards that we’ve staged previously. This is our eleventh, after two years off. And I can see just through getting people to their seats and getting—the conversations you’re having, we’re hungry. We haven’t been at this dinner—this is the first time in three years that we’ve staged this dinner.
So “Some Enchanted Evening.” The tune is from 1949, South Pacific, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Andrew Lloyd Weber, who knows something about these things, called it, “the greatest song ever written for a musical.” So Luke, his orchestra, our producer, Robert Pullen of Nouveau Productions, and our Director of Signature Events Lauren Holland, and all the rest of the amazing Atlantic Council team, that many of you know so well through the work you do together with us. We’ll give you a few more surprises this evening, connecting Broadway to Cipriani Wall Street, and through you, to all the rest of the world.
Sadly, there’s nothing enchanted about the global challenges we face, adding up to one of the more volatile moments in our organization’s sixty-year history. Putin’s war in Ukraine is in its seventh murderous month. Inflation and recession are biting. Climate threats and cyber risks are proliferating. The Atlantic Council doesn’t ever despair at challenges. Rather, working alongside all of you, we see solutions. As our mission statement promises, we exist to shape a better future together with partners and allies.
Now, many of you today watched the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. I talked to the ambassador from the UK, Dame Karen Pierce, who I’m just delighted has taken [the] time to be with us this evening after such an historic day. Dame Karen, if you could stand so we could all applaud you. I think the words I heard today were “somber celebration.” I’ve seldom heard those words together so often, because it was somber but it was also a celebration. And I talked to the ambassador before coming out here. Why is it that so much of the world has stopped today? Why is it, in so many major cities of the world, just spontaneously people are putting on their own recognitions and looking after this time?
And I think we sort of agreed that there was a hunger for the continuity that she represented. But it’s not just a continuity. It’s a continuity of purpose. It’s the continuity of an institution at a time of volatility that makes us feel anchored. And it is the continuity of purpose, a continuity of institution.
Now, I would never pretend that the Atlantic Council can replicate that. But certainly, the continuity of purpose and the solidity of institutions is what we hope we’re celebrating here, alongside the fact that we’re celebrating some quite remarkable honorees, some worthy individuals. And you’ll hear in a moment about them from Adrienne Arsht, the executive vice chair of our board.
At the same time, through your presence and support, you are contributing to the Atlantic Council’s purposeful, nonpartisan, values-driven work, driven by the conviction that resourceful individuals and communities like ourselves can and do make a difference.
So it’s now my honor to introduce the remarkable Adrienne Arsht, who embodies so much of what’s best about the Atlantic Council. She presides over this dinner as our executive vice chair of the board, representing all of us at the Atlantic Council, including our chairman, John Rogers, her fellow executive vice chair, Steve Hadley, all the board members, International Advisory Board members, who are here.
Adrienne is the founder of two centers at the Atlantic Council, the Arsht Latin America Center and the Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center. She is an inspiring businesswoman and philanthropist who makes things happen.
It’s my honor to introduce and bring to the stage Adrienne Arsht.
ADRIENNE ARSHT: Hugs are back, especially since I know all of you took a COVID-19 test before you got here.
Fred, thank you so very much for your kind words. We are so very grateful to you for all that you do at the Atlantic Council.
On behalf of our chairman, John Rogers, members of the Atlantic Council board, as well as the Council’s International Advisory Board, it’s a pleasure to welcome you all to the 2022 Global Citizen Awards.
I started today at 4:00 a.m. watching the gathering for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. How many of you in the room were up and doing that?
Rarely, if ever, will we have an opportunity to spend six hours focused on a great world leader. The ceremony bore witness to centuries of history and tradition. The crowds that lined every street demonstrated, in a palpable way, what it is to have been a global leader.
It’s particularly thrilling for me tonight to welcome you all back after our two-year COVID-19 hiatus. I know that you will agree that this special evening was worth waiting for. But you don’t necessarily have to make up and eat twice as much.
Tonight we have the great pleasure of celebrating five extraordinary honorees: Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. I don’t know where you are, but we’ll see you. President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo. The two newest applicants to join NATO, the Republic of Finland under the leadership of President Niinistö, and Sweden, under the leadership of Prime Minister Andersson. And as they say, [last] but not [least], our Academy Award-winning actor, philanthropist, and activist Forest Whitaker.
These five honorees truly embody what it means to be a global citizen. The collective actions have and will continue to impact individuals and communities on a worldwide scale for decades to come.
In addition, tonight we will pay tribute to two extraordinary individuals, one, [the] death—tragic death—[of] the former prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, and the second, the British monarch who was for more than seventy years as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Evenings like this are so very necessary. They remind us of the importance of global citizenship and how the actions of just one person can impact a generation and, indeed, the world.
So I thank you, all of you, for your support of the Atlantic Council, and thank you for being here tonight.
ANNIKEN HUITFELDT: Good evening. It’s a pleasure to be here with you all on this very, very special occasion and is a particular honor for me to be celebrating two fellow Nordic countries, two countries that are such strong allies and also friends to Norway, to their European neighbors, and, indeed, around the globe.
For many decades, Finland and Sweden had foreign policy space on neutrality and nonalignment. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine changed this.
When Finnish and Swedish ambassadors submitted their letters of application to the NATO [headquarters] in May, the sentiment in no way was, finally! When Norway took the decision to join NATO back in 1949, our prime minister at that time had really hoped he would be accompanied by Sweden and Finland. He hoped to bring the Nordic countries together under the Atlantic security guarantee.
In fact, the year before, when he did not manage to establish a unified Nordic defense alliance, he got so depressed that he escaped to his cabin… So, his minister of defense had to drive out personally to persuade him to come back to Oslo where, actually, Prime Minister Churchill was visiting. With this background, it was a special occasion for NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, my fellow Norwegian, to receive the applications.
Over the past years, Finland and Sweden have been increasingly integrated in NATO exercises. This will allow them to work together with NATO from day one. For Norway, [its] membership will be an important element in the security architecture in the High North. As a neighbor to Russia, our aim is, as has always been, to maintain low tension in the High North.
This is an aim we share with Sweden and Finland. When the terrible war in Ukraine broke out, I spoke to my friends, Anne and Pekka—foreign ministers from Sweden and Finland—on a daily basis. And on the first weekend, we all change our long-standing practice of not supplying weapons to countries at war.
Finland and Sweden’s membership process is moving quickly forward. Nearly all NATO members have now approved their membership.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we honor the global citizens. This is a type of both Sweden and Finland deserve through their strong and decisive actions. I’m, therefore, so happy to present this year’s Global Citizen Awards to both [the president of Finland] and Prime Minister Andersson of Sweden.
SAULI NIINISTÖ: Ladies and gentlemen, and esteemed members of the Atlantic Council, unfortunately, I can’t be there with you, but I want to thank the Atlantic Council for granting me the Global Citizen Award. It is a great honor.
For more than six decades the Atlantic Council has worked to strengthen the transatlantic bond. Many who are there tonight have dedicated their life and work to nurturing relations across the Atlantic. The past months have shown that bond not only remains strong; it is becoming ever stronger.
The transatlantic communities are unified and unwavering in [their] support to Ukraine. We continue to defend our values and foundational principles of democracy. The mission of the Atlantic Council, shaping the global future together, now has an urgent ring to it. The transatlantic bond has many strands—cultural, commerce, security, politics, and more.
Preparing for this speech, I tried to think, what its essence is for me personally. It has long roots. It’s woven from early memories of a young boy in the Finnish countryside in the 1950s of America’s sports, music, and movies, where good always won over evil. It is the flavor of the ultimate American symbol, Coca-Cola. But most of all, its formation has been guided by literature. From Hemingway to Bellow, from Vonnegut to Auster, from Morrison to Egan, and many others: literature has been my window to understanding the American soul.
In my political life, I have always seen it as fundamentally important to Finland to anchor firmly in the transatlantic community. We have long been a close partner of NATO. Now we are taking the next necessary step and becoming an ally. Finland’s decision to apply for NATO membership was a true triumph of democracy. In the Finnish parliament, it got a 94 percent majority. I’m happy to admit that the US Senate did even better with a 95 percent majority for ratification of Finland and Sweden’s membership. I would like to thank all the senators who supported us.
Also, to those who have had their doubts, Finland has a reputation [for] taking its commitments seriously. As a NATO member, we will commit to the security of the whole alliance, to the security of all allies. To paraphrase President Kennedy, we intend to not only ask what NATO can do for us, but what we can do for NATO. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting five US presidents. To all of them, my message has been the same. We are interlinked through our values, our economies, and our history, and through our future.
Yes, Europe needs the US. But the US also needs Europe. As the world grows more and more insecure and divided, it is imperative that we come even closer together. The economic consequences of the current war underline the need for ever-closer cooperation to boost our resilience. We need to take a serious look at our supply chain dependencies and critical industries. But we must set our horizons beyond the needs of the moment.
Our future competitiveness and national security will be closely tied to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biotechnologies. Technological standardization is already becoming an arena for geopolitical competition. We need to keep up. And we need to ensure that technology will be developed and used in line with our values. Efforts are already underway to increase cooperation among the so-called techno-democracies. This approach has my full support.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to once again thank the Atlantic Council for this honor, and for all your efforts to strengthen our transatlantic community, our bond. The historical record is impressive, but [the] work is far from complete. Let us use this moment to better prepare for future challenges. Shaping our global future together is now more vital than ever. Thank you.
PEKKA OLAVI HAAVISTO: Anniken, my good friend Anne Linde, ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure and honor to receive the Global Citizen Award of the Atlantic Council on behalf of President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö.
We sincerely appreciate that our president, together with our dear neighbor Prime Minister Andersson, is receiving the recognition this very year during [which] the transatlantic bond has strengthened in an unprecedented manner. We are dealing with an exceptional crisis that violates the very key norms of our global order. [The] UN Charter is very clear: Use of force against territorial integrity is not acceptable.
You all have been deeply impressed by the courage of the Ukrainian people and their determination in defending their own country. Russia’s attack caused a ripple effect throughout the neighborhood. Finland and Sweden have drawn their conclusions. The two nations, with long traditions of independent defense but increasingly close security cooperation with their partners, decided to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
European and transatlantic partners have acted extremely united during Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. We need to remain resilient and keep on strengthening the transatlantic cooperation. We need to maintain and renew the international rules-based system built on the values we share. We truly appreciate the strong support we are receiving from our valued partners, the US, and others.
Thank you very much.
ANNE LINDE: Dear Anniken, it’s Nordic cooperation. It’s always a little, you know—here and there, but in the end we always manage to get the best out of it.
Dear Anniken, dear Pekka, dear Fred—where are you? He’s not here. Well, dear Fred anyway, excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen, thank you for the warm reception. It is my great privilege to accept the Atlantic Council Global Citizen Award on behalf of my prime minister, Magdalena Andersson.
Prime Minister Andersson is deeply honored to be placed in such distinguished ranks as those are the part of the present honorees, including Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. This award is special for many reasons. It reflects some of the finest ideals and aspirations of transatlantic cooperation. It recognizes the pivotal role that cooperation plays in promoting freedom, peace, and prosperity for everyone in Europe and North America. And it highlights the valuable contribution close ties can make to shaping the global future.
For sixty years, the Atlantic Council has championed these ties through bridgebuilding, intellectual excellence, and leadership. Thank you for recognizing the contribution of Finland and Sweden. This award is a great honor, not only for my prime minister but also for my country.
Ladies and gentlemen, for generations Europeans and Americans have shared many formative experiences. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is no exception. As a student here in the United States in the mid-1990s, she benefited early on from the transatlantic spirit. I know that her transatlantic mindset has been a great asset for her as prime minister and the first woman to hold Sweden’s highest political office.
Ladies and gentlemen, after the outbreak of the Second World War, Eleanor Roosevelt famously stated this is no ordinary time. Today we are once again at a critical juncture. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine reminds us of the darkest days of European history. What is at stake is not only people’s lives and the statehood of Ukraine, but also the entire international system that was created after the Second World War to promote freedom, peace, and prosperity.
In times like this, it is good to be among friends. I thank the United States for your impressive support to Ukraine and for your sustained engagement in European security. For Sweden, Russia’s aggression against a sovereign and democratic neighbor was a watershed moment. Our decision to apply for NATO membership marks the end of more than two hundred years of neutrality and nonalignment. And with Sweden and Finland as members, NATO will also be stronger.
We are security providers with sophisticated defense capabilities. We are champions of freedom, peace and prosperity and human rights. We have a strong and longstanding partnership with NATO, including participation in all NATO-led missions. And my message is this: You can count on us. Sweden and Finland will continue to be your friends and partners, and, once the ratification process is complete, also committed allies.
Ladies and gentlemen, over these past few months we have seen transatlantic unity at its best. Together we have responded with strength to Russia’s aggression and provided unprecedented support to Ukraine. In Europe, we have made bold decisions to step up cooperation in areas ranging from energy security to sanctions. And we have set the European Union on a new path of enlargement, including by granting Ukraine the status of candidate, as well as for Moldova. These steps will also benefit transatlantic cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen, the fabric holding the transatlantic community together is strong. We have shared interests and values and close historical, cultural, and personal ties. And history has taught us that transatlantic cooperation is our best tool for tackling pressing common and global challenges.
This is why the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine also offers a glimmer of hope. Putin’s aggression has helped revitalize and strengthen the transatlantic relationship at a crucial moment in history.
On behalf of my prime minister and my country, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our American friends for your commitment to the transatlantic relationship. And to the Atlantic Council, this award is a testament to the importance of our common transatlantic endeavors.
VICTOR L.L. CHU: When we talk about a global citizen, we think that he must have a will to rise above his national politics to promote multistakeholder interests to achieve global common good. On July 8, Japan lost its longest-serving prime minister, Prime Minister Abe, in the most unthinkable and unfortunate circumstances. Japan has lost a great leader who provided an extended period of political stability, and the world has lost an effective interlocutor that was willing and able to promote global trade liberalization and global collaboration in security and defense. In 2016, the Atlantic Council was pleased to award Prime Minister Abe our annual Global Citizen Award. And he’ll be remembered fondly by our community.
VICTOR L.L. CHU: Ladies and gentlemen, her majesty the queen was the finest example of distinguished global citizenship. Her dedication to duty, her unfading effort to reach out to all sectors of society—whether it’s Britain, the commonwealth, and the rest of the world—really [gives] us the finest example of how each of us can contribute to global harmony, success, and prosperity. And she has done it for seventy years, with great humility, common sense, and the highest degree of integrity. I suggest to all of us that we should follow her majesty’s fine example, and we should remember all her wonderful work and achievements fondly in the many years to come.
VICTOR L.L. CHU: When I last met the queen, she asked me, “How is Hong Kong doing?” And for many of you who have met the queen, however calm you try to be, you become nervous. And these words came out of me automatically. I said: “Your Majesty, the queen’s so central and Hong Kong is still—the queen’s so central. Nothing has changed.” She smiled and approved. So we’ll remember the queen very fondly.
FREDERICK KEMPE: If you could all rise in a standing ovation for the British ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce.
KAREN PIERCE: Thank you, Fred. Thank you, everybody. It has been the honor of my life to represent the queen in Washington, and before that at the UN, and before that in Afghanistan. I had not meant to be emotional, but you have collectively shown so much warmth, so much respect, and so much fellowship to the royal family and the United Kingdom today. And I just wanted to say thank you, America. Thank you, Atlantic Council. Thank you for being the closest of allies.
Thank you for recognizing the place the queen holds not just in our hearts, not just because of her friendship with America—and I’m going to include horses in that, in case there’s anyone from Kentucky but also the—what she has represented in the world. When I looked at the abbey, and I was much more composed looking at the abbey at the embassy ceremony this morning, when I looked at the abbey and saw all those world leaders who have been kind enough, gracious enough to come to the United Kingdom to pay their respects, and you’ve suddenly realized what seven decades really means—that’s from Eisenhower to Biden.
When you think of all the things that [have] happened, the queen has not just been there at moments of national grief and national commemoration for the United Kingdom. She truly has represented the passage of time and history in one person. And as I looked at her funeral, that combination of the state on the one hand and its people on the other, paying tribute to a sovereign who’d been on the throne for seventy years, who’s been in the world for seventy years, who’d had impact in the world in the commonwealth, which she loved. I do not think we will see that like again.
So I just wanted to say thank you. With apologies for intruding, but I wanted to say thank you very much to the Atlantic Council. Thank you enormously for those tributes to the queen. As I say, I held it together until I saw those tributes when I hadn’t expected to see them. It’s the honor of my life to serve her. It will be the honor of my life to serve the new king. I am his majesty’s ambassador. But you are all our closest friends. You are our closest allies. And the queen knew that. And she also knew her place in the system.
When President Reagan came to the UK, she spoke not just of our common kinship and our common heritage. She spoke very eloquently, I think, of the common values which she described as [beginning] in the Magna Carta but given vivid re-expression by the founding fathers. And I think that translation over centuries—and now we have the warmest of relationships and the special relationship. I think the queen would be very moved. I think the royal family will be very moved to know of your tribute tonight.
But I think the greatest service we can do to her memory and those of the presidents she’s met [is] to continue this network of democratic values, this sense that we make a choice. We choose freedom. We choose consensus. We choose open debate. Those are the words that she herself used alongside her commitment to public service and duty, which King Charles has reiterated. I wanted to say thank you very much to our American friends and to the Atlantic Council. Thank you.
FREDERICK KEMPE: Madam Ambassador, thank you for that. We make a choice. We choose freedom. The relationships we have with these countries—with these ambassadors—with these ministries are deep. It’s not tonight that we honor and we move on. It’s we are devoted to this relationship, and the Atlantic Council and our staff every morning wakes up saying to itself, how can we improve the state of the world; saying to itself, how can we be relevant in these trying times?
So, I’m just really moved by the ministers of Norway, and Finland, and Sweden, and now, the ambassador of the UK. And we’re going to move on now to a new relationship that we’re forming with Indonesia, which we’re really excited about.
We open this evening with some enchanted evening. You probably noticed that we moved on to dreaming the impossible dream. First debuted on Broadway in 1965—when the Atlantic Council was in its infancy, having been created only four years prior—and we didn’t know where NATO would go. We don’t know where the European Union would go. We didn’t know where our community of values and democracies boldly would go, but we’ve come a long way.
Nearly six years later, the Atlantic Council’s more global than ever before. With more staff, more impact, and more resources to conduct our critically important work around the world thanks to all of you.
When I talk about our work, I love quoting the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, who said, quote, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” And that’s how we think about the Atlantic Council and our community.
And with that, I’d like to salute our Global Citizen Awards co-chairs for tonight. I’m delighted to say it’s a long list. I’m going to ask those that I name to stand and remain standing as I call their names, and then, I’d be delighted if the audience can hold its applause as I call out these names—though sometimes we’ve found that difficult for the audience, but we will do that.
So, here are the co-chairs for this evening. Adrienne Arsht. Google… Lippo Group, represented by John Riady. Robert J. Abernethy. Ahmet M. Oren. Air Products, represented by Seifi Ghasemi. African Rainbow Minerals, represented by Patrice Motsepe. Atlas Technologies, represented by Guang Yang. Blackstone, represented by Stephen A. Schwarzman. Teresa Carlson and Andre Pienaar. The Chopivsky Family Foundation, represented by George Chopivsky, Jr. First Eastern Investment Group, represented by Victor Chu. Edelman, represented by Richard Edelman. Eni, represented tonight by Marco Margheri. Ambassador C. Boyden Gray. HIF Global, represented by Meg Gentle. Hunt Consolidated, represented by Hunter Hunt. Krull+, represented by Alexander V. Mirtchev. Laurel Strategies, represented by Alan H. Fleishmann and Dafna Tapiero… Lockheed Martin, represented tonight by Katherine Wheelbarger and Laura Brent. George and Kristen Lund. Majid Al Futtaim, represented by Alain Bejjani. Mapa Group, represented by Mehme Nazif Gunal. William Marron. Penguin Random House, represented by Markus Dohle. Richard Attias Associates, represented by Richard and Cecilia Attias. S&P Global, represented by Douglas L. Peterson. Saab, represented by Micael Johansson. SICPA, represented by Philippe Amon. SK Group, represented by Chairman Tae-Won Chey. Nader Tavakoli. And then, finally, Gaurav Srivastava.
And so please join me in a huge round of applause for the co-chairs for tonight’s dinner.
I’m also delighted to announce we are a place that turns on a dime, gets things done. I’m also delighted to announce that, thanks to Gaurav Srivastava’s support, and also that of General Wes Clark, a member of our board, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and the Indonesian Ministry of Defense and Minister Prabowo, and the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut, who is here tonight, we will be hosting an international conference on food security alongside the G20 in Bali in November.
So thanks to all of you for being our supporters and our partners in this new endeavor.
I want to do a special salute to two people, one of whom you’re going to hear from very soon, but one of whom you’ve heard from already. First of all, Victor Chu, that tribute to Prime Minister Abe and to the Queen, they were both beautiful. But more than that, you are the founder of this dinner. We cooked up this idea back in, I think, 2010. Is that right? And so thank you for your vision. Thank you for your leadership of this. And, of course, our inaugural awardee was Klaus Schwab. And he’ll be out to introduce our next awardee soon.
But join me in a round of applause for Victor Chu and Klaus Schwab… With that, I invite you to turn your attention to the screens as we salute our next awardee, President of Indonesia Joko Widodo.
KLAUS SCHWAB: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor for me to introduce Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia… Starting as a businessman and mayor of his home city, Surakarta, in 2005, President Jokowi entered politics with the aim to serve the people, to work for the people.
As the mayor, he devoted himself to eradicating poverty and reducing crime, paying spontaneous visits to the population, particularly to poor neighborhoods and marketplaces, always ready to hear what the people have to say. His determination to serve people continued throughout his career as he became the governor of Jakarta and then the president of Indonesia in 2014.
He was the first Indonesian president without military or elite political background and his victory symbolized the victory of democracy in the country of over seventeen thousand islands, three hundred ethnic groups, and 280 million people. Serving for the second time now, President Jokowi has worked tirelessly to accomplish socioeconomic development in Indonesia by launching anti-corruption schemes, universal health care, and education programs and infrastructure development across the country.
When I received the Global Citizen Award in 2010, the world had to manage its first systemic crisis after the financial collapse that occurred just before. The world mastered this crisis because there was still the need and the will for cooperation.
President Widodo, you are confronted not only with one but with multiple interrelated crises and, again, we all know those crises can only be resolved by common efforts of the global community. If you want to avoid the danger of global disintegration and fragmentation, the G20 meeting in November provides the world with possibly the last opportunity to demonstrate that, ultimately, we are all part of a common human destiny.
To make this G20 summit a success, it needs a chair of extraordinary talent and capability and someone who enjoys the trust of all parties involved.
Mr. President, with your humble, visionary, and peace-pursuing leadership, we are in the best hands. So President Joko is not just a man of the people of Indonesia, but he is also the man who embodies the spirit of global cooperation, a catalyst for collective peace and prosperity. I’m honored on behalf of the Atlantic Council to present this year’s Distinguished Global Citizen Award to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. And to receive the award in his stead, his excellency, Foreign Minister Reno Marsudi.
RENO L.P. MARSUDI: Well, Professor Schwab, thank you very much for your very nice introduction… Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor for me to receive the Global Citizen Award 2022 from Atlantic Council on behalf of President Joko Widodo.
As President Joko Widodo said, we need a new paradigm to build a peaceful, fair, and prosperous world. A paradigm of collaboration. Indonesia will be at the forefront [of] advocating [for] this paradigm. In [a] world where pessimism abounds, Indonesia wants to inspire hope and confidence. In [a] world that is divided, Indonesia strives to become a bridge builder. And in [a] world full of challenges, Indonesia is determined to be part of [the] solution. I do believe these are all traits of a global citizen. And wish us luck for the upcoming G20 summit in Bali, November this year. I thank you very much.
JOKO WIDODO: Thank you Prof. Klaus Schwab for the introduction
I thank the Atlantic Council for awarding me with the Global Citizens Award
I would like to dedicate this award to the people of Indonesia who together with me, have persevered in facing the many challenges. Similar to many other developing nations, we face a multitude of domestic challenges: global challenges such as climate change, health crisis, food crisis, energy crisis, and financial crisis have also become priority policy agendas.
All of these [require] strong commitment as well as accurate and effective policies.
As the president, I am supported by the peaceful, diverse, and united Indonesian people who work together in a democratic political system.
The Indonesian government and I continue our efforts to actively participate in promoting international cooperation that upholds mutual peace and prosperity.
We utilize Indonesia’s position as the G20 [president] to develop a resilient global health architecture as well as an inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
This global citizen award is important for me but what is more important is a peaceful, fair, and prosperous world. Thank you.
KLAUS SCHWAB: After having had the honor to introduce an extraordinary statesman in the political realm, I will now have the opportunity to introduce a great business statesman, Sundar Pichai.
Many in the audience may know my special definition of leadership. Leadership comprises five dimensions: brain, soul, heart, muscles, and good nerves. And you, Sundar, are certainly one of the very few who excels in all of those five dimensions. Brain stands for professionalism, soul for mission and values, heart for passion and compassion, muscles for the capability to translate objectives into action. And finally, in the world of today, we all need good nerves to deal with its uncertainty and complexity.
As far as brains [are] concerned, Sundar, your credentials on the professional level are certainly extraordinary. Growing [up] in Chennai and after your studies in India, you went on to receive a master’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Wharton School. Your joined Google as an employee in 2004 and became the CEO of Google in a little over ten years, in 2015. And soon afterwards, the CEO of Alphabet. I think this trajectory speaks for itself.
And now to your soul, or in other words your compass, your vision, which has been at the core of the success of your company. Making Alphabet one of the most valuable and successful companies in the world. And to be always at the forefront of technological progress and being a key enabler of digital transformation. As far as muscles are concerned, you have continuously achieved the ambitious objectives which you have set out. And you did so with good nerve, always remaining a low-key and modest person, and serving as the conductor of a great team.
But what really makes you a business statesman is your heart. Your passion and your compassion. And it has touched so many people around the world inside and outside of your company. In response to the shock of Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, you immediately came to the help of the Ukrainian people. And you were personally involved. You helped to raise fifty million dollars in donations, as well as provide practical help in the form of thousands of Chromebooks and learning platforms directly to Ukrainian high school students.
You also continue to combat mis- and disinformation campaigns, which directly impacts the plight of the Ukrainian people. You were one of the first companies to apply the sanctions regime against Russia, while at the same time keeping Google research services open to allow Russians to remain in touch with global perspectives. Your engagement in Ukraine is just one demonstration of true corporate global citizenship, having the courage to speak out and act when fundamental values are violated and humanitarian engagement is needed.
It gives me the great pleasure to hand over to you, Sundar Pichai, this Global Award, Citizen Award, as a shining example of how business can truly serve as a force for good.
SUNDAR PICHAI: Thank you, Klaus, for that generous introduction and for your steadfast leadership of the World Economic Forum.
I know our collective thoughts tonight are with the United Kingdom and all the people around the world mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her legacy of public service continues to be an inspiration to many of us.
I also want to say a sincere thanks to Fred Kempe and the Atlantic Council for the important work you do to shape our global future. And, of course, thank you for bringing us together tonight. We needed it after the pandemic.
I’m truly humbled to receive this award. It’s even more meaningful to receive it alongside such an accomplished group of honorees. Congratulations to all of you.
Above all, tonight we are here to honor another group that deserves our focus—the people of Ukraine, who continue to face unspeakable hardship, and those working tirelessly to help them; people like Dimitri, an entrepreneur I met based in Kyiv. In 2021, Dimitri founded a startup to provide online mental-health services. When the war began, he committed to offer mental-health care to all Ukrainians, especially those who can’t afford to pay for it. He’s now reinvesting 100 percent of his profit towards that goal.
Or people like Tomic, a Polish journalist who shares his passion for science through YouTube. Seeing the destruction the war was causing to kids’ education, he worked with a teacher and interpreter to launch a new Ukrainian-language science channel. It has meant that children forced to leave Ukraine could use YouTube to keep learning in Poland.
I’m also thinking of ten-year-old Yana, who left Ukraine with her family and enrolled in school in Poland. With the help of Google Translate, she has made a new best friend despite the language barrier. Yana and her family are among the seven million refugees from Ukraine in Europe today. The need is unprecedented, and so is the response.
When I was in Warsaw last spring, I was struck by how many Google employees were hosting multiple families in their homes. That was typical in the region. And the generosity continues today.
In the US, I’m inspired by the effort to welcome Ukrainian and Afghan newcomers. Again, it’s led by everyday people who are stepping up to help. The private sector can scale these efforts and fill gaps with technical expertise, resourcing, and innovation. Google has long supported immigrants, Dreamers, and refugees.
Since 2015, Google has provided more than $45 million in grants and thirty thousand hours of our employees’ time to help refugees. We’ve also directly supported refugees and newcomers through our products. This is a cause that’s embedded in Google’s DNA and it’s one I care deeply about.
More than twenty years ago I immigrated to the US When I arrived, I was met with open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance, all of which helped ease my path. Looking back on that period of my life what I remember most are the people who made me feel welcome. Because of them, I started to feel as much a part of this country as I did growing up in India. It was my choice to come to the US.
For refugees, it’s often not a choice at all. That’s why we need to work even harder to make sure they feel supported on their journey. The opportunity to help more people feel welcome is why I agreed to co-chair the CEO Council for Welcome.us. It’s a nonprofit focused on welcoming Afghan and Ukrainian newcomers to the US, and the council is a broad base of businesses like Accenture, Amazon, ManpowerGroup, Pfizer, and more. Nazanin Ash, the CEO of Welcome.US, is with us tonight.
We are focused on helping refugees with initial resettlement, matching people with jobs, and raising awareness via our megaphone as business leaders. The goal is to create solutions that can be repeated and scaled. It’s especially important at a time when there are more than a hundred million people displaced from their homes, a number that will only grow as the threats of climate change, food security, and economic uncertainty increase.
As we build a global response, we have a responsibility to ensure people everywhere can benefit from the opportunities technology creates, be it creating the infrastructure that widens access, advancing technologies that can enable progress, or making sure the internet remains free, open, and safe for everyone.
Across all of this work, it’s important that we are actively addressing the challenges of disinformation, cyberattacks, and other harms. Equally, we must also remain optimistic about the power of technology to improve lives.
I’m excited about the partnerships we have formed to do that across business, government, and civil society, and, with the leadership of institutions like the Atlantic Council, those we’ll create in the future.
I look forward to working with you all to expand opportunities and help people feel welcome wherever they are.
HANS VESTBURG: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to congratulate all the recipients tonight. Fantastic achievement. A little bit extra for me, being from the Nordics, seeing that Sweden and Finland get a well-deserved prize tonight. Thank you very much, Sweden and Finland.
It’s been a great evening so far. And thanks to the Atlantic Council for having us all here tonight to celebrate stewardship and responsible leadership. I’m extremely proud to be here with you tonight to introduce someone who you might know as the Oscar-winning role in The Last King of Scotland, or groundbreaking work in The Butler, or fan-favorite role as Zuri in Black Panther. But I don’t know him that way. The man we’re here to celebrate tonight, I know as my friend, as my colleague, as an activist bringing conflict resolution to areas of the world that need it most.
Of course, by this point, you all know who I’m talking about, Forest Whitaker. You see, I don’t watch movies often, so when I met Forest more than ten years ago, I didn’t know that he is one of the greatest actors of our time. I met him through his passion for peace and service to the most vulnerable in our society, and relentless determination to take action around the world. That’s the Forest I know. Forest has a gift. He uses his own experience, his own skills, and translates them into meaningful conflict resolution tactics.
What started as a project ten years ago with [a] child soldier in Uganda, inspired by his time taping The Last King of Scotland, became a worldwide nonprofit organization called Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, or WPDI, stretching from Uganda and South Sudan to Gabon, Cameroon and Chad, Mexico, South Africa, and even the United States. It was founded on a vision to empower youth to become conflict mediators and community builders, all in pursuit of peace and sustainable development. WPDI, under Forest’s leadership, delivered concrete, scalable peacekeeping [solutions] that are sure to impact generations to come.
I’m a Swede, so you can hear, who loves numbers. So let me quantify his impact so far. Over the last ten years, WPDI has trained over 9,600 individuals, 60 percent of which are women, armed more than 180 schools with conflict-resolution programming, supported over three hundred businesses, engaged upward 32,400 participants, and benefitted about 110,000 people through peacebuilding events, and hosted over ninety community dialogues in the communities that need it the most. And Forest, he is just starting.
This and more is why I know Forest first as a humanitarian and one of the greatest peacekeepers of our time. I’m so proud to be a longtime board member of WPDI and to call Forest Whitaker my friend. And WPDI’s ten-year anniversary, something we’re formally celebrating tomorrow night, I couldn’t be more excited to honor the work Forest has accomplished so far and to see what he [does] next.
I wouldn’t be doing my job as a board member if I didn’t share that you can learn more about his work and support WPDI’s mission on their website. Tomorrow is our biggest fundraiser of the year and Forest makes every dollar matter.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce a 2022 Global Citizen Award recipient, peacekeeper, worldwide humanitarian, special envoy for peace and reconciliation for UNESCO, and Oscar-winning actor, Forest Whitaker.
FOREST WHITAKER: Thank you all. And thank you, everyone at the Atlantic Council. I’m honored and I’m humbled to be with you.
Honored to be standing beside such inspiring fellow honorees and humbled to accept this award on behalf of the young peacemakers we work with at the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative. Four of these leaders are joining us here tonight. They’ve emerged from the grip of conflict to dedicate their lives to spreading peace. This award is for them and the staff that’s here with us… I was cheering quest for peace.
Today, we see violence breaking out across the world from South Sudan to Ukraine to countless areas that don’t make it to the headlines, stealing from young people their innocence and their lives. Amid global turmoil, our leaders call for peace. We all dream of peace. Here tonight we have to ask the question, what is peace? Is it simply the absence of violence, or does enduring peace require more than that?
I learned the answer more than fifteen years ago. I was speaking with an aid worker in Uganda who started a program to return former child soldiers to their families. The night before he placed the first child back to his family. It should have been a cathartic event, a cathartic moment. Instead, the aid worker’s eyes filled with tears. He explained that once the boy had returned home, he’d killed his eight-year-old sister. That boy had been removed from war, but he never knew peace. So the cycle of violence resumed.
At the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, we have spent the past ten years deep in the world’s most conflict-ridden regions, exploring what true and enduring peace requires. We found that peace requires healing from trauma, learning to communicate productively with each other, meeting everybody’s basic needs. And we found that peace requires the ability to aspire, ensuring all people can nurture peace about the futures that they want, and believe that they can work to achieve them. This more complex understanding of peace requires so much more of us.
Because if peace is nothing but the absence of violence, then we do our part simply by not joining in the fight. But once we see everything peace needs to flourish, we see that it’s something that we can and must actively work towards together. We can seek to be like Simon from Uganda, former child soldier who escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army, built a thriving electronics business, and is now offering vocational training to orphans and street youth, so they too can aspire for better lives.
We can seek to be like Michael of South Sudan, who when soldiers militarized a school in his neighborhood, stood in front of a tank and explained how vital the school was to the community, till the soldiers agreed to depart. We can seek to be like Victor from Mexico, who is here with us today. He created a business to grow nutritious foods, employing three hundred families and feeding hundreds more. Then he used the proceeds from that to open an indigenous community center.
No matter who you are, no matter where you are, you can help support efforts like these. When you see wrongdoing in your community, you can speak up. When all seems well in your community, you can stand up and work proactively to build peace for everyone. You can use your platforms to draw attention to the issues you care about. You can start or join organizations that share your ideals and work to realize them. Simply spread compassion. Peace can begin with something as small as a smile or a kind word to someone who needs it.
Because, as the peacemakers in this room and around the world remind us, to truly achieve peace it must be more than an ideal we lift up, out from songs, or wear as a pendant around our necks. Peace must be something that we build every day, together.
Thank you so much for this moment.
FREDERICK KEMPE: So, Forest, I want to thank you for those inspirational words. In fact, coming close to the close of tonight’s program, I want to quote you, Forest. Quote: “Leadership is not about epic decisions, it’s about choices we make in our daily lives.” That is why we’re here tonight to celebrate people, like Forest Whitaker and our honorees, who have dedicated themselves and their life’s work to improving the state of the world—doing something beyond what they have to do in their daily life through the daily choices they make—as in the Forest Whitaker quote—and sometimes through their epic decisions.
So, on behalf of the Atlantic Council, Forest Whitaker, and all other honorees, thank you.
Tue, Aug 23, 2022
Six months, twenty-three lessons: What the world has learned from Russia’s war in Ukraine
New Atlanticist By
Our experts break down how this conflict has transformed not only military operations and strategy, but also diplomacy, intelligence, national security, energy security, economic statecraft, and much more.
Mon, Aug 8, 2022
When will Sweden and Finland join NATO? Tracking the ratification process across the Alliance.
New Atlanticist By
With this tracker, the Atlantic Council team is keeping tabs on the countries that have ratified the amended NATO treaty—and handicapping the political prospects for ratification in the rest.
Wed, Aug 31, 2022
The war in Ukraine is an opportunity to upgrade the transatlantic architecture. Here’s how.
New Atlanticist By
Atlantic leaders should treat the current conflict—just as they did the Cold War—as an opportunity to improve institutional capabilities.