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An Interactive Forum Based on the Sustainable Development Goals


Held on November 1, 2021 from 4.15-6.15pm GMT at Stirling Castle, Scotland

Les Simm, Executive Director, International Forum for Understanding

‘Nuclear War and Climate Change: The Urgency for Action’
Christine Parthemore, Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Strategic Risks


‘Existential Threats and Interconnected Solutions’
Lydia A. Omuko-Jung, Doctoral Researcher at DK Climate Change, University of Graz & Legal Analyst at C2LI
Aigerim Seitenova, Human Rights Professional, CrossCulture Fellow, OSCE #Perspectives2030
Sahil Shah, Policy Fellow, European Leadership Network; Advisor, Office of the Exec-Sec, CTBTO
Dr. Hyab Yohannes, International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council
Heather Wokusch, Director of Development, International Forum for Understanding (Moderator)

Tour of Stirling Castle

* This event was held on the first day of the COP26 Climate Summit






Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a roadmap, we mark an important milestone in promoting
intergenerational, apolitical, and constructive dialogue aimed at contextualizing climate change while
mitigating the existential threat of nuclear warfare and its resulting environmental impact.







Nuclear Warheads


Degree Limit For Temperature Rise








Meet the speakers and organizers


Christine Parthemore

Christine Parthemore is Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), the parent organization of the Center for Climate and Security. Christine has deep experience addressing issues ranging from the security implications of climate change to countering weapons of mass destruction, including in the U.S. Department of Defense, security think tanks, and academia. She is also Director of CSR’s Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons and Manager of CSR’s Climate-Nuclear-Security Project, and was a founding Board Member of CSR.
Her current work covers issues in countering weapons of mass destruction, arms control and disarmament, innovation and technology trends in national security, and the security implications of climate change. Christine has been an adjunct professor in the Global Security Studies program at Johns Hopkins University since 2010. In 2016 she was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Tokyo, where she researched Japan’s approach to international civil nuclear cooperation.

Asle Toje

Asle Toje is the Deputy Leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. He is a foreign policy scholar and a former Research Director at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. Toje is a regular contributor to the Norwegian foreign policy debate, including as a regular columnist in the Dagens Næringsliv, Utrop and Morgenbladet. Toje is a proponent of Neoclassical realism. In the Norwegian foreign policy discourse he has been a proponent of democracy, market economy, the rule of law, and liberal conservatism. Toje is considered to belong to the same intellectual tradition as Francis Fukuyama. Toje has in recent years spent most of his time on issues at the intersection of nuclear disarmament, peace and geopolitics.

Lydia A. Omuko-Jung

Lydia is a Kenyan Attorney specialising in Climate Change Law and Policy. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Law and Political Science, University of Graz and a doctoral candidate within the Doctoral Programme Climate Change. Her research focusses on climate change litigation and on legal aspects of consumption-based climate policies. She is also engaged as a Legal Analyst at the Climate Change Litigation Initiative (C2LI) based at University of Strathclyde.
She previously worked as a litigation counsel in a lawfirm in Nairobi where she represented government and non-governmental entities in national and regional courts within East Africa on public law and environmental law cases. She has consulted for subnational governments in Kenya on mainstreaming climate change considerations into sectoral legislations and policies and formulated climate-related policies for them.

Aigerim Seitenova

Aigerim Seitenova is a human rights professional from Kazakhstan with more than three years of experience in the civil society sector of Kazakhstan with particular focus on human rights and peace education, youth and feminist activism.

She worked as the Head of the Department of Programmes in local NGO 'Wings of Liberty' based in Astana, Kazakhstan. Her interests center on the most efficient ways of increasing human rights knowledge by engaging and empowering young people, raising awareness about different human rights violations on the local, regional and global levels. Aigerim is an expert for the OSCE #Perspectives20-30 where she contributed to the chapter on human rights and peace education. Her interests also focus on critical analysis of the international human rights law in particular feminist and the so-called TWAIL (Third World Approaches to Law) critiques. She also collaborated with UN Women in Kazakhstan by coordinating the Civil Society Advisory Group.

An alumni of EU Global Campus Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratization in the Caucasus, Aigerim is currently finishing her postgraduate degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex as a Chevening Scholar.


Hyab Yohannes

Hyab Yohannes is a researcher at the University of Glasgow and holder of the UNESCO RILA PhD Scholarship. He worked formerly for entities in Egypt, including UNHCR, IOM, Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA), and Saint Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS). In the UK, Hyab worked as a community organiser and refugee education and training adviser. He is currently involved with organisations such as Right to Remain Ltd, and YAS.
Hyab is originally from Eritrea and now a ‘naturalised’ UK citizen, becoming a rights-bearing subject for the first time since he was born. As a former refugee and a researcher, Hyab’s lived, professional and research experience allowed him to bring a unique experience and perspective to the issues facing forced migrants such as refugees, stateless people, and people seeking asylum. He is a Member of the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC) which assists the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in combating trafficking in persons.

Les Simm

Les Simm founded the International Forum for Understanding and serves as its Executive Director.

Les works in the business sector, with governments, the UN, INGO’s and other entities in areas ranging from security risk management and business resilience to humanitarian operations and disaster relief. He has expertise in nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and verification, security sector reform and countering transnational organised crime.

Having trained as a psychiatric nurse in his early career, Les has long-term interest in mental health and wellbeing. Les is a passionate supporter of the SDGs with a particular focus on project implementation and making a demonstrable and direct impact on people’s lives.


Heather Wokusch

Heather Wokusch is Director of Development for the International Forum for Understanding and Executive Director of its MESPERO and projects.
A firm believer in Impact Tech and the democratization of knowledge, Heather is an expert in virtual learning. Her most recent project is designing and creating Climate Change in Context.
Heather’s international career in human resources, education, cross-culture, and media has spanned five continents and multiple fields. She consults on intercultural communication and organizational development (including digital transformation, leadership development, employee engagement, change management, strategy, and globalization).
Public outreach is a specialty, whether keynoting at global events, moderating high-level diplomatic panels, guiding technical-expert interactive workshops, or moderating a televised broadcast with an in-person audience of 10,000 people. Her Manhattan-based television interview series has won US national awards.
Heather specializes in pandemic-related mental health and emotional wellbeing. She is developing Digital Mental Health Communities while consulting various entities about burnout prevention and mitigation.

Meet the Youth Council


Nour Barakeh

Nour is doing her M.A. in Public Administration at Central European University with a focus on the Sustainable Developments Goals and environmental policies to combat climate change. She previously studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus and graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Damascus University. Through her scientific academic study and artistic work, she strives to understand society from different viewpoints.
Having gained experience ranging from theater and dance to social work and journalism, her goal is to support the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering young people. In that regard, Nour has conducted numerous contemporary dance workshops with internal refugee children in Syria.
She was featured by the Austrian broadcaster ORF on the occasion of the International Day of Peace and UNHCR for International Women’s Day. Her theater piece ‘Not a Fate’ – about peace-building among youth in conflict situations – was performed at an event hosted by the Second President of the Austrian Parliament. She has spoken on numerous high-profile panels on refugee and migration issues highlighting young, female voices such as at European Forum Alpbach 2018 alongside former UN SG Ban Ki-Moon and former Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

Mădălina Boț

Organising Team

Mădălina Bot is interested in what could be done with those glimpses of agency in countless structures and systems – is there any place for an honest empowering of individuals? Her background in a diversity of Romanian NGOs and public institutions kept her searching for concrete answers to this generic research question. Currently pursuing a Masters in International Relations at Central European University (CEU), Vienna, she focuses on those lived experiences that are usually left out from institutional analysis.

Mădălina also works as Communications Officer for the International Forum for Understanding. She is the head of the Youth Council for the ‘Nuclear Climate Change’ event.


Sophia Fehrenbach

Sophia studies a Master of Public Administration at Central European University in Vienna. She earned her undergraduate degree in International Relations from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently participating in a mobility exchange program to the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Sophia is passionate about equality, peace and democracy. In her research, she focuses on political extremism, radicalisation processes and the prevention thereof. Moreover, she is interested in transitional justice processes, the role of religion in conflict resolution and the future of mediation.
Her current projects include the publication of a podcast on Islamic State returnees to Germany, research assistance in the "Counterterrorism And Safeguarding in Response to Islamic State (CASIS) Project and support for "the Building Resilience against Violent Extremism and Polarisation" (BRaVE) project, funded by the European Commission's Horizon2020 programme.

Manuel Hammelsbeck

After studying journalism and forestry, Manuel Hammelsbeck turned full-time to the camera. As his father had produced documentaries about wolves as early as the 1990s, Manuel trained his photographic eye from an early age.

In 1995, Manuel met Dr. Jane Goodall. Manuel has been close with Dr. Goodall ever since and supports her in her mission.

In 2014, Manuel founded his production company "Open Window Media". He looks back on a large number of reports for online media and TV. He also produced reports about the Arctic and Uganda´s chimpanzees for the prominent Austrian documentary format ORF UNIVERSUM.

In 2020, Manuel worked as production assistant for cinematographer Richard Ladkani, who in 2019 won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at Sundance.


Adina Hibbert

Masters’ student, studying Terrorism, International Crime and Global Security (MA). Undergraduate degree in Medical Science.

A highly motivated and driven individual with a big passion for humanitarian relief. Has four weeks of experience volunteering in Ghana, taking part in; outreaches, providing medical aid and clean water, helping with construction work and teaching English, maths and science to children.

A sports enthusiast, having 12+ years experience of Classical Ballet (RAD) - from Grade 1 to Intermediate level, 6+ years of Figure Skating and more recently Horse Riding on Bangor Universities’ Equestrian Team. Has a Full Colours Sports Award.

Interests include: Humanitarian Relief, Aid Work, Cultural Understanding, Diversity, Trauma and Human Trafficking.


Stefan Lercher

Stefan studies Politics, Sociology and East European Studies at University College London. His interest in the subject lies in the contemporary international relations and political-societal issues faced by Eastern European and post-Soviet countries.

Before his studies, Stefan worked as a social care worker for the Jewish Community Prague in the Czech Republic, learning from the diverse histories and lives of all generations in a region marked by constant change. Next to that, he is a representative in the Students’ Union and has engaged on several levels of student representations, conferences and seminars, concerning youth as much as European foreign policy.


Dr. Suad Mohamed

Originally from Somalia, Suad has also lived in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Austria. She speaks six languages: Somali, Arabic, German, English, Hindi and Urdu.
Suad graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Karachi. She works as a Social Medical Consultant (including psychological counseling) at Diakonie Österreich and as an Assistant Consultant at the Austrian Red Cross. She is a certified counselor regarding female genital mutilation (FGM) issues and is active in related community outreach. SDG 3 is especially important to Suad.
Suad is a sought-after panelist and presenter, known for her storytelling skills in a variety of areas. She has spoken at the United Nations on interreligious topics, contributed to a migration and health panel at European Forum Alpbach, and contributed to high-level events including at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and at an International Peace Day celebration hosted by the Second President of the Austrian Parliament.
Suad aims to spread awareness about refugee and migration issues, to improve the healthcare and pharmaceutical systems in developing countries, and to empower women. She often quotes Oprah Winfrey: ‘You become what you believe.’
Suad is the Founder of the Somalia Health Club which is a space to help the global Somali community meet with Somali health professionals and ask questions regarding medical topics, especially in relation to Covid-19 and vaccines (Instagram).

Christopher Zwölfer

Christopher has previously studied Business, Economics and Social Sciences with a focus on Economics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and is now studying Political Science at the University of Vienna. He has a particular interest in improving lives economically and socially through public policy.

His passion for civic engagement and intercultural exchange were fuelled by his work at the 2016 “Peace and Sustainable Development: Intergenerational Challenges” conference in the United Nations office in Vienna. By working with people from different cultures and backgrounds prior to and throughout the event, Christopher learned the importance of interpersonal relations and democratic processes in attempting to reach common goals.



Stirling Castle