#UN; #UNSDGs; #SDGs; #Covid19Impact; #GlobalSolidarity; #ParallelThreats
Geneva, Jul 9 (Canadian-Media): The dramatic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have laid bare “weaknesses in our systems and societies”, a top official told the UN’s key international forum on sustainable development which began on Tuesday, warning that “a new dynamic” is needed to overcome the negative shocks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, while primarily a health crisis, also quickly became the worst human and economic crisis in decades”, Mona Juul, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), told the inaugural meeting of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development, which will run until 16 July.
“It has exacerbated the already difficult situation for millions of people living in poverty”, she added.
Under the auspices of ECOSOC, the HLPF aims to chart a clearer path for countries to trigger a better recovery, share experiences and fend off challenges in pursuing the Global Goals, while sharing strategies to tackle the pandemic and help countries meet their commitments by 2030.
In the face of the current crisis, “meaningful progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could not be more urgent”, Ms. Juul said, urging the meeting to be “a springboard for greater solidarity and cooperation”.
Pointing to the “remarkably ambitious” 2030 Agenda, and the “strong global framework for financing its implementation”, the ECOSOC chief called the UN “a powerhouse of world-changing ideas and global coordination”.
In closing, she encouraged the participants to “show the world” that we can rebuild better as we move forward by inspiring actions to improve lives.
“We need all hands on deck to get this work done”, concluded Ms. Juul.
SDG more urgent than ever
Introducing the Secretary-General’s progress report on the SDGs, Liu Zhenmin, UN chief for economic and social affairs, pointed out that the development goals are “all the more urgent” as the world confronts this “crisis of historic proportion”.
“A truly transformative recovery from COVID-19 must be pursued”, he said. “One that reduces the risk of future crises and equips us to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change”, he added.
Against the backdrop of the UN’s 75th anniversary, Mr. Liu maintained that responding to the pandemic requires “a surge in international cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism”.
Long road ahead
While demonstrating the implications of COVID-19 on the SDGs, the progress report reveals that the world is coming up short.
Before the pandemic, some strides and key targets had been achieved, such as the availability of mains electricity to more than a billion more people between 2010 and 2018, as well as a decline in global maternity mortality by 38 per cent.
However these gains were met with stalled or reversed progress in other areas, including a rise in the number of people suffering from food insecurity and inequality, along with the knowledge that climate change is occurring even faster than anticipated – 2019 was the second warmest year on record and concluded the warmest decade since records began.
Amidst COVID-19, the global community finds itself confronting “parallel threats linked to health, economic and social crises [that] have crippled countries and left us at a standstill”, Mr. Liu stated.
“As of the beginning of July, the death toll has reached to over 500,000 and continuing to climb, with almost no country spared”, he added.
The effects of the pandemic have overwhelmed health systems globally; caused businesses and factories to shut down; kept 1.6 billion students out of school; disrupted global value chains and the supply of products; and is expected to push 71 million back into extreme poverty.
The poorest and the most vulnerable, are being affected disproportionately, with women and children bearing the heaviest brunt.
The crisis has significantly affected the livelihoods of 1.6 billion informal sector workers, equaling half of the global workforce, exacerbating the vulnerability of one billion slum dwellers and disrupted lifesaving interventions.
It has also triggered a surge in domestic violence against women and children.
Indicating drops in world trade by 13 to 32 per cent, foreign direct investment by up to 40 per cent, and remittances to low- and middle-income countries by 20 per cent in 2020, Mr. Liu noted that “even developed countries are struggling to cope”.
Required: Global solidarity
The report underscores the urgent need for global solidarity and cooperation.
Mr. Liu supported the Secretary-General’s call for a coordinated, comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 per cent of the world’s GDP, along with his push for measures that give developing countries the financial firepower needed to weather the storm.
'“Overcoming the crisis and getting back on track to achieve the SDGs will require leadership, foresight, innovation, finance and collaboration among all governments and all stakeholders”, Mr. Liu stressed. “In the coming days, we must fully use the potential of the HLPF to catalyze global action”.
#UN; #ShipCrew; #strandedAtSea; #COVID19Restrictions
New York/Canadian-Media: Around 200,000 cargo ship crew members are stranded at sea, beyond the length of their contracts due to COVID-19 restrictions, placing a major strain on their physical and mental health. New UN guidelines were published on Thursday, aimed at helping the industry better protect human rights at sea, as new COVID variants threaten to further delay crew turnover.
The UN estimates that some 200,000 seafarers are stranded at sea due to COVID-19 restrictions. Image credit: IMO/Hedi Marzougui
The Human Rights Due Diligence Tool, provides a wide-ranging checklist co-developed by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), for all businesses involved in the maritime industry.
The agencies are warning about a possible surge in the number of crewmembers stranded at sea due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions.
Unchecked, they fear the situation could return to the heights of the September 2020 crew change crisis, when 400,000 seafarers were stranded at sea around the world.
“Seafarers are at the heart of the global supply chain. They are also at the mercy of COVID-19 restrictions on travel and transit. This has led to hundreds of thousands of seafarers being denied repatriation, crew changes, shore leave and ultimately being forced to stay working on ships long beyond their contracts”, explained IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim.
He added that the new tool represents an important step forward for the maritime industry. It provides a practical approach for cargo owners, charterers, and logistics providers to “ensure [seafarers] are put first and foremost as they work to deliver the goods that people need and want”.