Former heads of state and government, and key personalities from around the world gathered at the Ismaili Centre for a reception organised by the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Council for Portugal, to coincide with the Education for Shared Societies conference which took place at the Gulbenkian Foundation on 16-17 October 2018 in Lisbon.
The 110 attendees were joined by notable Portuguese personalities such as the former President of Portugal Jorge Sampaio, who inaugurated the Ismaili Centre in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam in 1998, the former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, and the current Secretary of State for Education João Costa.
During his welcome remarks, Nazim Ahmad, Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat, thanked the respected statesmen and stateswomen present saying, “We acknowledge and are deeply appreciative of your efforts to strive for a better world, where all have a place, irrespective of origin, race, or creed, and where all may have equal access to education, health care, and social advancement.”
The President of the Club of Madrid and former Latvian president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, thanked the Ismaili community and said, “We hope that this event will remind us that being responsible for governance and for foreign affairs is easier if you are dealing with people who have (an) inner spiritual conviction.”
The World Leadership Alliance - Club of Madrid is composed of 95 former presidents and prime ministers from 65 countries, and is the largest forum of former heads of state and government. As a non-profit organisation, its aim is to strengthen democratic leadership and governance, and address crisis and post-crisis situations.
Its Education for Shared Societies conference brought together leaders of civil society and academia to identify transformative practices for schools to employ in introducing a curriculum on pluralism, diversity, mutual understanding, and respect for others.
Prior to the event, an exhibition entitled The Living Sea, comprising of photographic work by Prince Hussain was inaugurated at the Ismaili Centre. The exhibit, which focuses on the underwater environment and shines a positive light on aquatic life, was highly commended by guests.