By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on September 5, 2014
In November 2015, Atlanta will have at least 21 of the 30 living recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in the city for the annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
It is expected to be the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates at any Summit ever – greatly surpassing the most successful Summit to date – the one held in Chicago in 2012, which attracted nine living recipients.
The 2014 Summit in Capetown, South Africa, to be held from Oct. 13-15, has confirmed 13 so far.
“We could hold the Summit tomorrow, and it would be better than Chicago in terms of funding and number of laureates,” said Mohammad Bhuiyan, CEO of 2015 Nobel Peace Laureates Summit. “We have raised more money than Chicago – $1.5 million, and we still have 14 months to go.”
Jim Winestock, a retired United Parcel Service executive who is serving as a Summit advisor, said Atlanta also has commitments from 16 of the 20 organizations that have
received Nobel Peace Prizes. By comparison, seven organizations attended the Chicago Summit – also the most so far.
So far, United Parcel Service Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. have signed on as significant sponsors of the 2015 Summit, both companies confirmed.
“We will be a significant sponsor of the event,” said Ben Deutsch, a Coca-Cola spokesman. “With Atlanta serving as the global stage, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates will bring people together to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. We believe the actions that come out of the Summit will have a positive and lasting impact on civil society and help further The Coca-Cola Co.’s commitments to empowering women, conserving water and advancing health and well-being.”
UPS spokesman Andy McGowan said the company was honored to be a sponsor of the Summit. “Being a strong corporate citizen began with UPS founder Jim Casey, who made it a mission to help build stronger communities around the world. And that commitment continues today through partnerships like this one,” McGowan said.
UPS CEO Dave Abney and Coke CEO Muhtar Kent will co-chair the 2015 Summit’s CEO Council.
Several other pieces already are falling into place. Assuming he is re-elected, Gov. Nathan Deal will host the official opening dinner on Sunday, Nov. 15 at the Georgia Aquarium for 750 VIP guests.
The Rotary Club of Atlanta will host the Monday lunch for their members and the 750 VIPs at the Thomas Murphy Ballroom at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Bhuiyan said the honored guests are expected to include heads of state from various countries, about 3,000 global leaders, 2,500 college students from overseas, 5,000 college students from states outside of Georgia, 10,000 college students in Georgia as well as thousands of high school students.
The plenary sessions will be held at Philips Arena, and the break-out sessions will be held at the GWCC.
A major gala to kick-off the year leading up to the Summit will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus will be an honored guest at the Gala, which will include several international entertainers.
“We will have about 800 people, and we are almost sold out,” said Shamima Amin, the chief operating officer of the Atlanta Summit.
Yunus, who was a major force behind Atlanta winning the 2015 Summit, also will be the speaker at the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 29.
Laura Turner Seydel, who is chairing the Atlanta Host Committee, said the Summit already is creating “a buzz” in the city as organizers are gearing up for what could be one of the most significant global events in the city since the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Although the committee has already raised $1.5 million, Bhuiyan said efforts have barely begun. The goal will be to raise $5 million to host the event and another $5 million to create a permanent legacy project in the community.
“We don’t have all the pieces worked out for the legacy piece yet,” Bhuiyan admitted. “Professor Yunus wants the Atlanta Summit to be an action-oriented Summit and significantly larger than any other previous summits. He also wants media from all over the world to come to Atlanta to take the message back to their home country.” Bhuiyan added that the focus so far has been on putting together a strong host committee and in trying to get 100 percent participation from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
The Atlanta Summit also will have another major highlight. The plan is to award the annual International Children’s Peace Prize during the Atlanta Summit.
The Children’s Peace Prize, an initiative of the KidsRight Foundation, has been awarded annually in Amsterdam since 2005 to a child who has made a significant contribution to advocating for children’s rights. Last year, the award was given to Malala Yousafzai, a strong advocate for education who became world famous after surviving being shot by a Taliban gunman.
“We are just so excited about bringing this summit to Atlanta,” said Winestock, who compared the international scope of the event to the Olympics.
Bhuiyan said the four-day Summit will include many events that are still in the planning stages.
The Summit leadership has tentatively selected SEMCO Productions as the event planner.
Before becoming CEO of the Atlanta Summit, Bhuiyan was president and CEO of Yunus Creative Lab Inc. Professor Yunus has said he considers Atlanta to be his second home after Bangladesh because of its civil rights legacy.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is embracing the prospect of hosting the Summit next year, according to spokeswoman Anne Torres.
Asked if there were any concerns about the Summit’s plans, she said: “as far as the city’s role is concerned, everything is moving along according to plan.”
Torres also said the purpose of the Summit fits perfectly with the theme of the city. “Atlanta’s history of diversity and inclusiveness, and commitment to civil and human rights, make it the ideal host city of the 2015 World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates,” Torres said. “This summit will not only showcase our city on a global stage, but bring together thousands of leaders from all over the world to discuss and promote democracy and world peace.”
World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
When: Nov. 15-19, 2015
Where: Philips Arena, Georgia World Congress Center
30 living Nobel Peace laureates
20 Nobel Peace Prize organizations
3,000 global leaders
2,500 college students from abroad
5,000 U.S. college students
10,000 local college students
25,000 high school students
Nobel Peace Laureate Hosts
President Jimmy Carter
Professor Muhammad Yunus
Gov. Nathan Deal
Mayor Kasim Reed
Sen. Johnny Isakson
Sen. Sam Nunn
David Abney, Muhtar Kent
Atlanta Host Committee
Summit Organization CEO: Mohammad Bhuiyan
Committee Chair: Laura Seydel
Summit Advisors: Sonny Deriso and Jim Winestock
Summit Organization COO: Shamima Amin
Members: John Ahmann, Ed Baker, Joe Bankoff, Moses Boyd, Colin Brady, Martha Brooks, Rodney Bullard, Candace Byrd, Jason Carter, Rodney Cook, Larry Ellis, Helene Gayle, Michael Golden, Ernest Greer, Sheffield Hale, Robert Hall, John Hardman, Charles Harman, Virginia Hepner, Henry Huckaby, Doug Hooker, Bob Hope, Ron Jackson, Bernice King, Elizabeth Kiss, Milton Little Jr., Dennis Lockhart, Teri McClure, Penny McPhee, Pat Mitchell, C. David Moody, William Pate, Daye Penrod, Palaniswamy Rajan, Jonathan Reckford, A. J. Robinson, Mark Rosenberg, Raktim Sen, J.Rutherford Seydel, Suresh Sharma, Jagdish Sheth, Doug Shipman, Pradeep Sinha, Ninfa Sounders, Louis Sullivan, Beverly Tatum, Lizanne Thomas, Clyde Tuggle.
Advisory Members:Steve Brereton, Kathy Calvin, Shan Cretin, Tim Gannon, Jonathan Granoff, Ira Helfand, Kranti Karpe, David Ives, Sharon Stone, Monica Yunus