Planning for Peace Day Philadelphia 2023: The Importance of Peacebuilding in Sustainability

By Enya Xiang

Summer planning has begun for the International Day of Peace on September 21! On June 13, local leaders and organizations came together at the Philadelphia Ethical Society to prepare for a day which highlights the fight for justice and peace in Philadelphia and globally. 

Adopted in 1981, the United Nations International Day of Peace (Peace Day) is observed in cities across borders as a shared date for all of humanity to contribute to peacebuilding. The theme of Peace Day 2023 is Actions For Peace: Our Ambition For the #GlobalGoals, realizing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and underlining peace in combating the climate crisis.  

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres emphasizes the commitment to peace in combating climate change: “Peace is needed today more than ever. War and conflict are unleashing devastation, poverty, and hunger, and driving tens of millions of people from their homes. Climate chaos is all around.”

Founded in 2011 as a grassroots initiative, Peace Day Philly began organizing local Peace Day events that collaborates with local organizations and offers programs related to global peace. Their founding mission is to empower all people to collaboratively build a more peaceful and just world.

Past Peace Day activities included film screenings, discussions, guest speakers, music, and art exhibitions. Peace Day Philly plans to build on these initiatives by hosting a week-long Peace Week from September 16 to 21, which will include individual and partnered events. On June 13, local organizations discussed their work related to peace and brainstormed ideas collaboratively for this year’s celebration.

Dr. Christiaan Morssink from the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, also winner of GPA’s 2017 Globy Awards, advocated for “peace between nations, but also peace within nations” as well as “peace at the city-level and bringing it to the level of nation.” He suggested highlighting the issue of water security to tie to the 2023 theme of sustainability. 

Other organizations attending the Peace Day planning event included Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center, Granny Peace Brigade, Interfaith Philadelphia, Philadelphia Ethical Society, CeaseFirePA, The Peace Center, Coalition for Peace Action, ArtWell, and House of Umoja. Peace Week also has local government support from the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, and School District of Philadelphia. 

Planning will continue throughout the summer and will consider the pressing local and global issues of today, notably the ever-present threat of climate change and a Russian-Ukraine war which just passed its one-year anniversary.This year is also the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

But as Dan L. Thomas from the Peace Center states, “When there’s something that makes us uncomfortable, there is the chance to try something new.”

If you are interested in getting involved, visit and click on the “What Can You Do?” tab.