‘We want books not Nukes!’
The first Voices Youth award goes to World Future Council Youth Ambassador, Kehkashan Basu
August 5, 2020: The inaugural Voices Youth Award, a prestigious new prize to honour youth actions for a nuclear-weapons-free world, has been won by World Future Council Youth Ambassador Kehkashan Basu, a student and youth activist from Toronto, Canada who grew up in the United Arab Emirates.
The award is being established by Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, a global faith-based coalition. It will be presented to Ms Basu as part of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Accord, a video event on August 6, 8 and 9, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of the other commemorative events for the 75th anniversary is a World Future Council interactive art action outside the Euronext Stock exchange in Amsterdam. The action will highlight the nuclear weapons industry which is promoting the nuclear arms race, and will call for an end to investments in the industry.
The Voices Youth award is established to highlight the nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament legacies of Mikhail Gorbachev and George Shultz, who are members of Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, and to inspire youth to take up this mission in order to abolish nuclear weapons globally. A youth organization or a young individual that successfully engages youth in this important effort will be honoured each year as they carry-on the effort to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons.
‘In the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the Soviet Union, and George Shultz as Secretary of State for U.S. President Ronald Reagan, recognised that ‘A nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought’, an understanding that helped end the Cold War,’ says Alyn Ware, Director of the World Future Council Peace and Disarmament Program. ‘Current leaders of USA, Russia and other nuclear armed States have relinquished this understanding, and we thus drift closer to potential catastrophe. This award is a wake-up call that gives voice to youth who are acting for the survival of current and future generations.’
Ms Basu, who was born on World Environment Day (June 5, 2000), has been active in peace and environmental action since she was 8 years old. She founded the Green Hope Foundation when she was 12, and from 13-15 years old served as the UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Programme) Global Coordinator for Children & Youth. At 16 she was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize. She is a constant speaker at UN and civil society forums highlighting the connections between peace, disarmament (including nuclear disarmament) and sustainable development. She is also an active member of the Youth Section of Abolition 2000, the global civil society network to eliminate nuclear weapons, and a participant in the World Future Council’s Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign.
‘We are delighted that Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons has decided to honour Kehkashan with this award,’ says Maria Espinosa, Member of the World Future Council and President of the 73rd UN General Assembly (2018-2019). ‘Ms Basu is an inspiring speaker and visionary campaigner. She effectively informs and engages youth and the not-so-young in key UN initiatives and processes, such as the sustainable development goals and the global ceasefire campaign. And she advocates convincingly for a reduction of global military budgets – and especially the nuclear weapons budget – to better address the COVID-19 pandemic and advance peace and sustainable development.’
‘I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this award, and am deeply grateful to “Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons” for highlighting the critically important role of young people in peacebuilding , non-proliferation and disarmament,’ says Ms Basu. ‘This award also vindicates my belief that we cannot solve these pressing issues by only rhetoric – the need of the hour is collaborative action at all levels. I believe that education is the most powerful tool to create a peaceful and sustainable world. So my call to action is ‘We Want Books, Not Nukes!’
‘Kehkashan is a young woman who does not only operate in advocacy but also engages in the field working with youth primarily affected by inequality, lack of access to education and safety,’ says Marzhan Nurzhan, Coordinator of the Abolition 2000 Youth Network, in which Kehkashan is an active member. ‘She’s been voice of underrepresented young people across the world to lead the way for nuclear disarmament, sustainability and peace bringing interdisciplinary aspect into play.’
‘Kehkashan is a visionary young women who actively turns youth passion for a sustainable world into effective policy action,’ says Vanda Proskova, Social Media Coordinator for the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign. ‘She engages children and youth with government representatives, legislators and United Nations leaders in positive, solution-oriented approaches to issues affecting us today – including how we can better invest for a sustainable future. She is an incredible inspiration for youth (and adults!) around the globe.’
Ms Basu has also been a leading voice for youth, peace and disarmament in events organised by the coalition partners of Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, which are United Religions Initiative, Charter for Compassion, Parliament of the World’s Religions, and Religions for Peace. She played key roles, for example, in the 2018 Summit of the Parliament of Religions in Toronto and at the 2019 Accelerate Peace Conference at Stanford University.
For more information or for interviews with Ms Basu, please contact:
World Future Council Youth Ambassador
Phone: +1 647 334 8410
Coordinator, World Future Council Peace and Disarmament Program
Phone: +420 773 638 867
World Future Council Acting Media and Communications Manager
Phone: +49 40 307091416
About the World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) consists of up to 50 eminent global change-makers from governments, parliaments, civil society, academia, the arts, and business who have already successfully created change. We work to pass on a healthy planet and fair societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying and spreading effective, future-just policy solutions and promote their implementation worldwide. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organization under German law and finance our activities from institutional partnerships and donations. For information visit www.worldfuturecouncil.org