The Victoria Forum 2024
The Victoria Forum 2024 - Building Trust for a Shared Future


The Role of the United Nations’ CIFALs in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals for Bridging Divides

Under the leadership of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Global Network of 24 International Training Centres for Authorities and Leaders (CIFAL) build capacity, expertise, and training around the world to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including ending poverty, responding to climate change, and reducing inequalities. The University of Victoria will mark becoming the 24th CIFAL member on March 23, 2022.

The Victoria Forum is organizing a webinar to examine the contributions of the CIFALs global network in bridging economic, social and environmental divides. This event will bring together leaders from the CIFALs network, representatives of the UN and a moderator from the Senate of Canada to discuss the following questions:

  1. What is the rationale for CIFALs?
  2. What are the contributions of CIFALs in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
  3. What are the challenge and opportunities for CIFALs in bridging economic, social and environmental divides?

Webinar #2

March 23, 2022

9 am – 10 am PST

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Senator Mary Coyle

A long-time champion for women’s leadership, gender equality, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mary Coyle has forged a distinguished career in the post-secondary education and non-profit sectors, with a focus on international and local development.

She holds a diploma in French Language from the Université de Besançon in France and a Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literature with a major in French and a minor in Spanish from the University of Guelph. After working for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as a Cuso International cooperant in Botswana, she earned a Master of Arts in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. She subsequently worked as a rural development advisor in Indonesia and later to support two State Islamic Universities develop their community engagement strategies.

For the next decade as Executive Director of Calmeadow, Ms. Coyle helped the organization pioneer the creation of the world’s first commercial micro finance bank, BancoSol, in Bolivia and establish the First Peoples Fund to provide micro loans to First Nations and Métis communities in Canada.

In 1997, she joined St. Francis Xavier University, serving as Vice President and Director of the school’s Coady International Institute, a world-renowned centre of excellence in community-based development and leadership education. During her tenure, the Coady International Institute grew significantly, enhancing its global education and innovation agenda and expanding programming for women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.

Since 2014, Ms. Coyle has worked as the Executive Director of the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at St. Francis Xavier University, a centre devoted to developing student leadership. She also continues to work as an advisor and facilitator for various organizations, including the Haitian Centre for Leadership and Excellence and the Friends United Indigenous Arts and Culture Initiative. Mary Coyle played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and the Indian School of Microfinance for Women.

She has 3 daughters, Emilie, Lauren, and Lindelwa, and 7 grandchildren.


The Honourable Robert Rae

The Honourable Robert Rae Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York

Before his appointment by the Government of Canada, Mr. Rae served as Canada’s special envoy on humanitarian and refugee issues, continuing the important work that he began in 2017 as Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar while also addressing other pressing humanitarian and refugee issues around the world. The former premier of Ontario and former interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Mr. Rae was elected 11 times to federal and provincial parliaments between 1978 and 2013. He stepped down as a member of Parliament in 2013 to return to legal practice and, in particular, to work with Indigenous communities and continue his work in education, governance and human rights. His passion for social justice dates back to his early days in student politics and community service.

Dr. Ebru Canan-Sokullu

Vice-President, Public Affairs and Thought Leadership · Canadian Marketing Association

CIFAL ISTANBUL DIRECTOR UNITAR, United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Dr. Canan-Sokullu has been the coordinator of the Scientific Research Project on “Deliberative Democracy Approach to Post-War Integration of Immigrants funded by Bahçeşehir University Scientific Research Grant Programme. She received (July 2017) British Council Newton Fund Researcher Links Grant (Grant No: RLWK6-261786650) for co-organising the network on Political, Economic, Social, and Legal Aspects of Hosting Migrants and Refugees with University of Essex. She received the “European Foreign and Security Studies Programme” fellowship (2005-2007) for the completion of PhD and Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship granted by VolkswagenStiftung, Compagnia di San Paolo di Torino and Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. She was awarded the 2005 “Alexander George Graduate Paper Award” of International Studies Association (2005) and “Marie Curie Fellowship (2003-2004)”.

Mr. Alex Mejia

Senior Advisor, Global Marketing, Brand Building & Business Transformation

Director of UNITAR’s Division for People and Social Inclusion UNITAR, United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Mr. Mejía was appointed Director of UNITAR’s Division for People and Social Inclusion in 2018. Within the Division, he also serves as Senior Manager of UNITAR’s Social Development Programme (SDP), which he has lead since October 2012. Prior to these posts in Geneva, Mr. Mejía served for three years as Director of UNITAR’s Hiroshima Office in Japan, and for four years as Director of UNITAR’s CIFAL training centre in Atlanta, USA. In his current capacity, he serves as Director of UNITAR’s global network of 21 training centers, and is also responsible for several other programmes within UNITAR’s Division for People and Social Inclusion, including the Nigeria Project Office and the Human Mobility Programme managed out of New York.

President Kevin Hall

University of Victoria

Kevin Hall is the eighth president and vice-chancellor in the University of Victoria’s 57-year history. President Hall is an innovative academic leader known for his strong commitment to sustainability, innovation, community engagement, and an unwavering belief in truth, respect and reconciliation, equitable access to education, and equity, diversity and inclusion. Throughout his career as a senior administrator working for three world-class institutions, Hall has served at many levels and functions at a university—from faculty member, research centre director and department chair, vice-president and senior deputy vice-chancellor of global engagement and partnerships at the University of Newcastle (UON) in New South Wales, Australia, and now as president and vice-chancellor at the University of Victoria.

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