António Guterres received yesterday the Lisbon University (UL) Award. The ceremony took place in the charismatic Rectory building and was attended by numerous personalities from society.
The award, created with the support of Caixa Geral de Depósitos, aims to distinguish an individual who has contributed to the development of Science or Culture and to the international promotion of the country.
Engineer, graduated from Instituto Superior Técnico, former Prime Minister of Portugal, current Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres has been committed to the defense of "a society with more knowledge, fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable, concerns demonstrated early on as a university student," said Luís Ferreira, UL's Dean.
The ceremony was presented by Catarina Furtado Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund, who accepted the invitation because she has a "deep admiration for the honored figure and for being a volunteer. Throughout the speech, the presenter spoke of the various forms of violence that exist around the world, but highlighted "the forms of gender-based violence" that "are a step backwards in civilization" and called for good "political practices that promote gender equality.
This was followed by four musical moments by the Youth Choir of the University of Lisbon, with themes fitting to the figure of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Dances that called for the strength and unity of the slaves and a musical arrangement by Lopes Graça allusive to Beira Baixa, the region where António Guterres was born.
Luís Ferreira, the event's cicerone, made the honors with a speech in which he highlighted the personality and the path taken by a man who "early on revealed his attachment to social causes, transforming them into political causes. A student with a 19 average, he attended Instituto Técnico and is "a source of pride" in the words of Luís Ferreira, who recalled "the student crisis and the impact of these movements on the creation of democracy," where in his opinion "António Guterres played a decisive role."
Paulo Moita de Macedo, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Caixa Geral de Depósitos, was the gentleman who followed and recalled past times in conversations he had with António Guterres where he already expressed his desire to "be more useful to do other causes" and, with this phrase, "the start of a career. What he does "is public service of high impact," he added, ending his speech by addressing directly the figure of the night; "engineer António Guterres, a successful researcher was lost, a citizen of the world was gained."
The audience gave a standing ovation in unison that reflected appreciation and pride to the man who has been two terms as UN Secretary-General and has since faced some of the most difficult moments, instability, humanitarian and climate crises. Aware of his role, but above all the work that is done thanks to the many collaborators of the Institution he leads, he began his speech by thanking and praising the workers of the various humanitarian agencies, volunteers, peacekeepers, "so important in deterring armed groups" in scenarios where peace is sought but not yet implemented, and the role of Portugal, "which has been exemplary in the policy of welcoming refugees."
We live in a time of "a civilizational regression" and as an example he gave human rights and especially gender inequality. He called for non-resignation to these contexts of violence that open the newspapers daily, especially because "we cannot accept that a war becomes normal."
Climate change, another front of António Guterres' fight, was not a forgotten issue in his speech last night and he warned, "we are losing the fight against climate change." Luís Ferreira who also addressed the subject, gave detailed data namely on the floods in Pakistan, which caused chaos to "33 million people" who were left with "their lives turned upside down."
António Guterres received this award from the hands of the President of the Republic, the award "was born by the hands of the then former Dean Sampaio da Nóvoa," he said. Old acquaintances, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa recalled a phrase he uttered a few years ago regarding the honoree, "he is the best of the best" and justified by saying "I was thinking of a generation, mine."
The award is decided by a jury, chaired by the Rector of the University of Lisbon, Luís Ferreira, and this year unanimously nominated António Guterres. A man of causes, he forwarded the value of the award to the Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR), a Non-Governmental Organization for Development (NGO) he created and which plays an important role in supporting and welcoming refugees on national soil.
Paulo Macedo, during his speech, recalled that in ancient Greece when someone died they asked, "Have you lived with passion?" The answer came from the mouth of the President of the Republic, who gave several examples of this manifestation, in the various actions of this "citizen of the world" as he was called several times yesterday, during the session awarding the Lisbon University Prize.
The session ended with the fado singer Mariza, who filled the room with her voice, dispensing a microphone during one theme, and where she interpreted three songs.