If life gives us lemons, let’s make lemonade !
4 Jun 2020

Yes we all can: ageing with commitment, creativity, and dynamism !

The Association of Former International Civil Servants for Development (Greycells) was created 12 years ago. Greycells has always been inspired by Charles Darwin’s “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.

When Greycells celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Palais des Nations in 2018 we innovated by launching “Intergenerational dialogues on SDG’s issues” that brought together former international civils servants and international millennials with local seniors and millennials from Geneva.

The intergenerational dialogue

In the first intergenerational dialogue, in collaboration with UNOG and its Perception Change Project, millennials and seniors exchanged their respective views, expectations, roles and responsibilities on the SDGs. In the second intergenerational dialogue, organized in association with “Cité Seniors”, participants tried to respond to the question: Is gender equality a utopia? and shared their visions on what to do to move towards equality.

The third intergenerational dialogue, organized in partnership with UNOG and the Geneva Press Club, intended to contribute to the commemoration of the 100 years of the International Civil Service (ICS) and aimed at discussing its role at the core of multilateralism as well as to explore alternatives to rethink and reinforce the ICS in today’s shaken international system.

In 2018 and 2019, Greycells collaborated with the Master of Advanced Studies in European and International Governance of the University of Geneva; and with IO-Talent and the Geneva Sustainable Development Innovation Training Program, via multidisciplinary groups of Chinese students on study tours in international Geneva.

Covid-19 is NOT the last global challenge, it is only the latest.

— Greycells

Training, advice and simulation sessions for millennials

Greycells regularly organizes training, advice and simulation sessions for millennials aspiring to join the United Nations or its specialized agencies as well as activities contributing to the professional integration of qualified migrant women. Greycells joined and started collaboration with the NGO Ageing Committee Geneva, the Platform of Associations of Seniors of Geneva, the UN Staff 1 % for Development Fund and the NGO Committee on Intergenerational Solidarity. Greycells has also been supporting and facilitating contacts with the “Peace Incubator” project of the Rotary Club Genève International.

Greycells is a regular participant, promoter and contributor to activities organized by the International Geneva Welcome Centre (CAGI) and has had the privilege to participate in the jury of Eduki’s yearly competition of Swiss primary and secondary schools around the different themes of the SDGs.

In 2019, Greycells joined a research project led by the Right to Development, Sustainable Development, and Economic and Social Rights Branch of the OHCHR and a network of universities worldwide aiming at analyzing the impact of government budgets on Human Rights.

Greycells participated in November 2019 in the 12th Meeting of the UNECE Working Group on Ageing and together with the Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND), submitted a motion to set up an ad hoc Expert Group on “Ensuring Digital Inclusion and Digital Literacy of Ageing Population”, in particular in emergency situations. When such motion was submitted, no one would have imagined how relevant the consideration of the specific needs of older persons in emergency planning, preparedness and response would be just a few months later when the world would move to a new era.

The Chinese zodiac assumes a repeating 12‑year cycle, starting with the year of the Rat and it so happens that 2020 was the start of a new cycle, which indeed is and feels like the start of a new era. Greycells started the new cycle in the best possible way since we were honored by Mr Michael Møller, former Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, and a long-time supporter of Greycells, who kindly agreed to become our Honorary President.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

— Charles Darwin

“Grey Talks” amid COVID‑19 pandemic

To adapt to the onset of the COVID‑19 pandemic, Greycells launched “GREY TALKS”, online presentations by guest speakers, followed by lively interactions with participants from all ages. The updated program and films of previous sessions can be accessed at : GREYTalks

Through virtual meetings, Greycells adapted its participation to this year’s Eduki’s competition; to the Master of Advanced Studies in European and International Governance of UNIGE; to our session with IO‑Talent and with our partner, BestTop, which is a mentoring program for students in Singapore.

Reaching the objectives of the SDGs by 2030 looks more challenging than ever, and intergenerational action and solidarity as well as a new, more effective and inclusive multilateralism, are required. Crises are levers of change, let us not miss this unique opportunity!

Greycells intends to rise to the challenge during and after the COVID‑19 and when we will reach the “new normal”, we will be more active than ever, giving back to the younger generations and in the process living fully and intensively with family, colleagues and Greyfriends.

Join now, the juice is worth the squeeze!

* Alejandro Bonilla Garcia is President of Greycells, Manuela Tortora is the Vice-President, and Cécile Molinier is the Executive Committee Member. Greycells is the Association of Former International Civil Servants for Development.
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