Nov 11, 2015 Venla Väkeväinen
The interview with President Ahtisaari was part of Slush Impact, a program within Slush for startups and social innovators addressing the global development agenda and making positive societal contribution.
The discussion dealt with the notion that innovating together allows for increased creation of impact. President Ahtisaari emphasized that it is essential to be able to have close collaboration with innovative startups, and not to be in isolation. For greater impact, President Ahtisaari advised NGOs, startups and third sector companies to be well prepared when they present their cases. Moreover, he instructed to be very clear on what they can do, and to take care of the relationships that they create.
In 2000, after his presidency, President Ahtisaari founded his own ‘startup’ Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). CMI was established to continue the legacy of President Ahtisaari in helping the international community to enhance its capacity in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and post-conflict statebuilding. CMI is a Finnish non-profit organisation that prevents and resolves violent conflicts around the world. CMI works closely with all parties to conflict using unofficial dialogue to forge lasting peace. The President emphasized how much CMI has developed over the past 15 years. Today, the organization is supported by governments, foundations and private companies working with them. Moreover, the President emphasized that his colleagues need to be the best in the world — and that they are.
In the discussion, the celebration of 70 years of the UN was brought up, and that much has changed over the years. However, President Ahtisaari emphasized that the UN needs to do much more to ensure a safe place for people to live, referring to the current global refugee crisis.
President Ahtisaari strongly believes that every conflict can be solved. In relation to this notion, he emphasized that the most important factor for all of us is that we respect the values that we have grown with. Moreover, President Ahtisaari highlighted that we need everyone to contribute to the negotiation work. It is vital for peace mediators to be able to have the support of other countries as well.
The President emphasized the importance of the Nordic welfare model. Economic growth is required in order to maintain the model of welfare that we are accustomed to having. Ahtisaari stated that in order to support startups, NGOs, and third sector companies, we all need to put our energy together. Nevertheless, the President emphasized that work remains to be done for all of us.
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