#UN; #SDGs; #EradicatePoverty; #Covid19Pandemic; #ECLAC
Geneva, May 19 (Canadian-Media): As the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc across the world – with the most vulnerable suffering the most – the UN chief said on Tuesday that the task of eradicating poverty and achieving the development goals “has never been more challenging, more urgent and more necessary”, UN reports said.
In Niger, 1.6 million vulnerable children are affected by humanitarian crises, including border closures and COVID-19 containment measures. Image credit: © UNICEF/Juan Haro
“Our objective remains clear: to help countries navigate and accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fully respecting the principle of national ownership”, Secretary-General António Guterres said, opening the first-ever virtual session of the Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Operational Activities for Development Segment.
While a “renewed spirit of collaboration” and UN reforms have “put us on the right footing”, he flagged that the coronavirus pandemic has “raised the bar even higher”.
“We now have a triple imperative”, the UN chief maintained, namely responding urgently to help stem the transmission and impact of the pandemic; to help people safeguard development gains and protect lives, working with partners to ensure that all recovery efforts follow the 2030 Agenda, and advance the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In 2018, the Organization reformed its development system, including by making UN Country Teams – under the independent leadership of Resident Coordinators, or RCs – better adapted to local needs.
In confronting this triple challenge, Mr. Guterres outlined that RCs are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) as they lead the health response; the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on socio-economic support involving all Country Team members; and Regional Economic Commissions on debt, trade and other macroeconomic dimensions.
Noting the achievement of gender parity along with a significant improvement in geographic diversity, he maintained that they are being recognized as “the empowered and impartial leader of the UN development system at country level”
“Step by step, we are building an even stronger and more diverse cadre of Resident Coordinators”, the UN chief asserted.
The Secretary-General shared tailored proposals for a better organized, more collaborative UN development system at regional levels, “one that is more able to tackle cross-border challenges and leverage regional policy expertise for SDG results”.
He set out a detailed plan to boost UN efforts across the SDG’s social, economic and environmental dimensions and underscored the need to “continue to step up cooperation in core areas” that have strong links and the greatest impact, such as rooting out poverty and leaving no one behind, as well as climate change, gender equality, economic transformation and employment and partnerships — including south-south cooperation.
The UN development system relies on “a strong coordination backbone”, stressed Mr. Guterres.
“Working together - with our foot on the pedal and our eyes on the 2030 Agenda - we will get through this crisis and reach our destination — protecting hard-won development progress and accelerating our joint efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in this Decade of Action”, concluded the UN chief. “Thank you for your commitment”.
ECOSOC President Mona Juul stressed that this time of rapid re-prioritization, “is not about making a choice between COVID-19 response or the 2030 Agenda”.
“On the contrary”, she stated. “Our commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has not changed, but the urgency to act, has”.
With the most vulnerable people and countries being hit the hardest, Ms. Juul called COVID-19 “a harsh reminder” of structural inequalites, arguing that the UN’s response to the crisis must be guided by the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development; “in short: leaving no one behind”.
And on the ground, the UN provides resilience to “make a real difference in the lives of people” towards dignity and equality, she emphasized
“Together, we will deepen our efforts during this Decade of Action - to recover better, and build a healthier, greener, fairer and a more resilient world. A world of solidarity”, concluded Ms. Juul.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), underscored that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed failures of economic structures, social protection systems and welfare schemes.
“Hence”, she said, “a ‘new normality’ is not the way forward; we must rethink the development model and consolidate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, leaving no one behind, sustained”.
#UN; #GenderGap; #ScienceMaleOriented; #GenerationEquality; #WomenInScience
New York, Feb 10 (Canadian-Media): Fewer than 30 per cent of the world’s scientific researchers are women: that’s just one of the statistics showing how many challenges remain for women and girls in the scientific field, as the world marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on Tuesday.
Pledging to end the gender imbalance in science, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for the Day that “dismantling gender stereotypes” was an essential step.
He highlighted the fact that “girls and boys perform equally well in science and mathematics, but only a fraction of female students in higher education choose to study sciences” and called for more supportive career development for women scientists and researchers.
Science can bring life-changing benefits
In her statement issued to mark the Day, UN Women’s Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, reinforced that message, specifying that “science and innovation can bring life-changing benefits, especially for those who are furthest behind – such as women and girls living in remote areas, the elderly and people with disabilities”.
Highlighting also the importance of science for decent work and jobs of the future, including in the green economy – essential to tackle the climate crisis - Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said that there was a clear need to “break gender stereotypes that link science to masculinity”.
Paid less, published less
According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are published less, paid less for their research and do not advance as far as men in their careers.
UNESCO data from 2014-2016 shows that globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in information and communications technology (ICT), where women represent only three per cent, and natural science, mathematics and statistics, where the figure is five per cent.
“If we are to be able to address the enormous challenges of the 21st Century – from climate change to technological disruption - we will need to rely on science and the mobilization of all our resources”, said UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay.
“It is for this reason that the world must not be deprived of the potential, the intelligence, or the creativity of the thousands of women who are victims of deep-seated inequality and prejudice.”
The International Day was established in 2015, following the adoption of a General Assembly resolution, signalling the international community’s interest in achieving equality and gender-parity in science for sustainable development, and recognizing that full access and participation in STEM subjects is imperative for the empowerment of women and girls.
Window of opportunity
Marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a roadmap for the rights of women and girls, 2020 offers a fresh opportunity for progress towards gender parity.
The UN Secretary-General said the anniversary was a chance to “bring new urgency to promoting women’s and girls’ access to science education, training and jobs”.
The UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign aims to accelerate gender equality actions and mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
With six diverse Action Coalitions to tackle the unfinished business of gender equality, one focus of the campaign is on “Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality”, which aims to “catalyse action for game-changing approaches that provide new opportunities to women and girls, while addressing barriers to connectivity, digital inclusion and digital equality”.
UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka added that “Generation Equality was also a chance to ensure that the business community, including those in the STEM sectors, has a stake in and a responsibility for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community”.
#UN; #ILO; #SDGs; #Indigenous; #TribalCommunities; #Poverty; #ILOConventionNo169
United Nations, Feb 3 (Canadian-Media): Indigenous and tribal communities are around three times more likely to face extreme poverty than others with women “consistently at the bottom of all social and economic indicators”, UN labour experts said on Monday, UN News agency reported today.
Women walk in the street in La Paz, Bolivia. Image credit: ILO/R. Lord
Highlighting new data showing that disproportionate numbers of indigenous people live on less than $1.90 a day – 18.2 per cent versus 6.8 per cent of non-indigenous people - the International Labour Organization (ILO) insisted that millions are being held back by a “spectre of poverty”.
The problem warrants global attention because this at-risk population is significantly larger than was previously thought, ILO insists.
According to the UN organization, there are more than 476 million indigenous people globally, the majority of whom live in relatively prosperous countries.
At the same time, support for the only international treaty that protects their rights - Convention No. 169 - is weak, it maintains.
Only 23 of ILO’s 187 Member States have signed the convention on the rights of indigenous peoples in the 30 years since it was adopted.
This means that only around 15 per cent of indigenous peoples stand to benefit from the treaty’s focus on implementing policies and legislation designed to combat poverty and unfair treatment and promote equality through inclusive dialogue and best practice.
Focusing on the world of work as a key indicator of the lives of indigenous people, the ILO found that far more of them are active in the informal sector - by 20 per cent - compared with other workers.
And based on data from 23 countries that are home to more than 80 per cent of indigenous people, the ILO report found that indigenous women face the biggest challenges too.
In addition to having the lowest chance of completing basic primary education, only about one in four indigenous women is in salaried work, compared with one in two non-indigenous female workers.
Indigenous earn less
Researchers also noted that even when they are in salaried work, indigenous people earn around 18 per cent less than the wider workforce.
According to the ILO, there are more than 5,000 distinct indigenous communities worldwide, in some 90 countries.
Regionally, Latin America and the Caribbean are home to the highest proportion of indigenous and tribal people, at 8.5 per cent of the total population - far more than the entire population of Colombia.
Data from nine countries in this same region also showed that these indigenous communities constituted almost 30 per cent of the extreme poor – the highest proportion across all global regions.
Mirroring this trend elsewhere, ILO underlined that in Africa, the more than 77 million indigenous people there – six per cent of the wider population – accounted for 24 per cent of the continent’s extreme poor.
In Asia and the Pacific, the region’s 335 million indigenous people comprised over seven per cent of the total population, and almost 16 per cent of the extreme poor, based on data from five countries.
The trend was also identified to a lesser extent in Northern America, where the over seven million indigenous people constituted over two per cent of the wider population and 3.5 per cent of the poorest members of society.
Let them be heard
ILO believes that indigenous people’s views need to be heard in order to put in place sustainable social justice policies that are detailed in Convention No. 169.
These will help to tackle the problems that indigenous people face, including poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change, the UN organization believes.
Nonetheless, although “several countries” have designated agencies for indigenous affairs and have made the “greatest progress” so far, there have been too few opportunities for engagement with minority communities to date, the ILO maintains.
Kenya (Africa), Jan 1 (Canadian-Media): Together, Kenya and Uganda kick-start a Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by partnering with the UN to address challenges that transcend country borders. By Siddharth Chatterjee (Kenya RC) and Rosa Malango (Uganda RC), media reports said.
Close to the Kenyan border, the small border town of Moroto in northeast Uganda is known for its dukas or small shops that sell traditional woodwork, pottery and weavings.The people of Moroto also raise cattle that graze on the surrounding scrub grassland. With 7500 inhabitants, the community depends on food crops such as corn and cassava, a starch that some of us know as yuca and manioc.
Like many other places in Africa, Moroto has been affected by climate change which has deeply impacted livelihoods, especially for women and children.
It is no coincidence that it has also become a conflict-prone area. Just beyond Moroto, at the Kenyan-Uganda border, conflicts that were previously contained and worked through at the local levels, started to escalate with political, economic, social and cultural implications across bordering countries.
The UN Resident Coordinator, sometimes called the RC, is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level. In this occasional series, UN News is inviting RCs to blog on issues important to the United Nations and the country where they serve.For the families, the conflicts have had devastating consequences, from lost wages to losing loved ones. It’s led to a rupture of community social protection networks. It has also meant weaker political institutions of governance and the disruption of essential services. This destruction of traditional livelihoods also increased the number of people that are internally displaced, with no place to call home.
Cattle-raising is a common activity in northeast Uganda. Image credit: UN Uganda.
Communities like the Karamoja Triangle can ill-afford to lose more ground. This ancient collection of communities with a shared socio-cultural heritage, live on the lands that straddle the borders between Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda.
Women, men and children from the area are highly vulnerable to climatic variations such as drought that renders households perennially without food and limited options for work.
In Turkana, in northwest Kenya, more than two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line; adult literacy is around 20 per cent and, despite its huge potential for tourism, raising livestock and mineral deposits, its contribution to the national gross domestic product is less than 5 per cent. Poverty and drought remain the main drivers of conflict.
There is only one way to tackle challenges that transcend their borders, such as climate change and conflict: together. The governments of Kenya and Uganda partnered with the UN and broke ground on a new bi-national agreement for sustainable peace and development in the climate change affected and conflict prone Turkana-Pokot-Karamoja region, bordering the two countries.
Conversations began a year earlier when ministers from Kenya and Uganda, held consultations in Uganda on how best to address conflicts and climate change.
The aim was to develop the Karamoja Cluster as a single socio-economic zone, with joint policies and programmes that will build opportunities and hope for these indigenous communities particularly for young people.
A shared journey to deliver the SDGs
This joint programme bridges the humanitarian, development and peace “nexus” to build resilient communities – those that can better withstand crisis. The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are guiding efforts by the UN in Uganda and Kenya to invest in indigenous capacities to detect, prevent and manage conflict triggers and also to mobilize support from national governments, business leaders and development partners.
#UN; #SDGs; #DisabilityInclusion
Doha (Quatar), Dec 7 (Canadian-Media): The international community has agreed truly ground-breaking frameworks to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, including in the context of development, but there remains a significant gap between these ambitions and the reality experienced daily by millions of persons with disabilities, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a conference in Doha on Saturday.
Eight-year-old Filomena, born with spastic quadriplegia and epilepsy, and her mother colour in drawings at the psychosocial rehabilitation centre in Maputo, Mozambique. (8 October 2018).
Image credit: © UNICEF/Amminadab Jean
With 181 State Parties, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is among the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaties and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes a firm commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the international community's quest for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet.
But wide gaps remain between these ambitious steps and the daily reality faced by the world’s estimated one billion persons with disabilities, some 80 percent of whom live in developing countries where they are among the most marginalized in any crisis-affected community.
Barriers still exist; stigma fuels discrimination “The number of persons with disabilities living in poverty and hunger is higher than, and in some countries double, that of the general population,” the Deputy Secretary-General said in her remarks to the opening ceremony of the Doha International Conference on Disability and Development.
She said that compared to the general population, persons with disabilities face far more barriers when accessing health care. “Globally, the percentage of persons with disabilities who are employed is half that of persons without disabilities,” she said, adding that they are also less likely to attend school and complete primary education.
In all regions, stigma faced by persons with disabilities abounds, compounded by a lack of understanding of their rights, and of the value of their contributions to society. Ms. Mohammed stressed that stigma continues to fuel systemic discrimination, with persons with disabilities denied equal access to education, the work force, health care and opportunities to participate in public life.
“And, for many persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls, the discrimination is multiplied,” she said.
More must be done to reverse ‘untenable situation’ “This situation is untenable. It goes against our collective commitment to human dignity, our obligations under international law and the strong business case for disability inclusion,” said Ms. Mohammed, declaring: “It is up to us – leaders from government, business, civil society, organizations of persons with disabilities, international organizations and others – to turn this situation around.”
Earlier in her remarks, the UN deputy chief noted “the tireless efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser”, whom hailed as “one of the most dedicated advocates we have for improving education around the globe and ensuring no one is left behind, especially persons with disabilities.”
Ms. Mohammed went on to recall that in September, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. And in doing so, he called on people everywhere to join a global movement for people and planet – for social inclusion, for climate action and for gender equality.
“In answer to this call, we must step up our collective performance on disability inclusion,” said Ms. Mohammed.
Four key areas of action Setting out key areas where progress was necessary, the Deputy Secretary-General said that some countries still need to work harder to increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data, disaggregated by disability, to inform their approaches to disability inclusion.
Further, resources are critical, and she said governments should be making disability inclusion a priority within their national budgets. “Existing resources have to be spent in a more disability-inclusive manner and more resources have to be allocated towards inclusion of persons with disabilities,” she said.
Ms. Mohammed also called for improved accessibility, which she underscored as “a precondition for the full inclusion and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in our society.”
Finally, she urged support to persons with disabilities in conflict and humanitarian settings.
The United Nations is committed to assuming our responsibility to advance the rights of persons with disabilities in everything that we do – UN deputy chief Amina Mohammed
“This year we have seen several positive developments,” she explained, pointing to the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), which for the first time, has persons with disabilities as a priority area; and the adoption by the UN Security Council in May of its first resolution on protection of persons with disabilities in armed conflict.
“Now we must work together to bring the commitments of these documents into action,” she said.
Ms. Mohammed said that through collaboration across UN Offices and Agencies, UN Country Teams, Regional Commissions and the UN Secretariat, practical assistance and training materials have been prepared and delivered to countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America to help navigate the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.
This past June, the Secretary-General launched the first-ever United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, a framework for action by the UN System. “The Strategy is our commitment to persons with disabilities – establishing the foundation for the systemic and sustainable change we need,” said Ms. Mohammed, explaining that it calls for action in four core areas of responsibility: leadership, strategic planning and management; inclusiveness; programming; and organizational culture.
The international community has made many advances in recent years in terms of disability inclusion. “But we have much more to do. As we look ahead to the Decade of Action, all of you have an essential role to play.”
#UnitedNationsEnvironmentProgramme; #EndangeringMarineLife; #HuamHealth
New York, Nov 4 (Canadian-Media): Each year, an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean – equivalent to a full garbage truck dumped into the sea every minute - the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Monday.
Trash at a beach in Bali where the UN Environment Programme launched the Clean Seas Campaign. Photo Credit: UNEP/Shawn Heinrichs
Between 60 to 90 per cent of the litter that accumulates on shorelines, the surface and the sea floor is made up of plastic.
The most common items are cigarette butts, bags, and food and beverage containers. Consequently, marine litter harms over 800 marine species, 15 of which are endangered. And plastic consumed by marine species enters the human food chain through fish consumption.
Alarmingly, in the last 20 years, the proliferation of microplastics, microbeads and single-use plastics have made this problem even more pronounced.
Most people associate marine plastic pollution with what they can see along coastlines or floating on sea surfaces. But microplastics and microbeads pose a hidden challenge as they are out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.
Clean Seas Campaign“What’s in Your Bathroom?”, UNEP asked on Monday, as part of a campaign to raise awareness on the harm caused by plastics in personal care products and shifts that can be made to reduce plastic footprints.
Microplastics listed on cosmetic ingredients
Now in its second phase, it is shining a light on specific aspects of marine litter, such as plastic pollution generated by the cosmetic industry.
Many consumers are not aware just how much plastic there may be in the personal care items they use daily on their faces and bodies.
From the plastic in packaging to the under-5mm microplastics hidden within the products, including beads or glitter, they are designed to wash down the drain, travel through rivers and ultimately end up in the sea.
Microplastics are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants and attract waterborne toxins and bacteria that stick to their surfaces. Because they look like food, they are eaten by fish, amphibians, insect, larvae and marine animals as well as seabirds and other marine life, blocking digestive tracts and causing physical problems.
In addition to endangering marine life, the health implications of microplastics on humans are not yet fully known, but considering their prevalence in clothes, food, water and cosmetics, are expected to be far reaching.
For the next week, UNEP is inviting consumers everywhere to examine products in their bathrooms and switch out those with microplastics for safer alternatives.
New York, Oct 21 (Canadian-Media): For the seventh year in a row, fashion mogul and UN Goodwill Ambassador Michael Kors, launched his Watch Hunger Stop campaign on Monday - an initiative that supports the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in its work to feed schoolchildren around the world.
Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o (left) and fashion mogul and UN Goodwill Ambassador Michael Kors speak at UN headquarters in New York about the Watch Hunger Stop campaign, a partnership between Michael Kors and the World Food Programme (WFP). Image credit: UN News/Joon Park
This year’s theme, “Food is Love”, is based on the simple principle that food is essential; and yet one-in-nine people are going to bed hungry, Mr. Kors said, speaking alongside Black Panther star, Lupita Nyong’o, the 2019 campaign’s celebrity partner, at a meeting to promote the initiative at UN headquarters on Monday.
“I am very proud that seven years in, we are almost at 19 million meals,” Mr. Kors told event attendees, adding that progress made so far “is just the tip of the iceberg if we can keep making noise.”
For every Watch Hunger Stop t-shirt or tote bag purchased from the brand’s retail store or official website, Michael Kors will donate 100 per cent of the profits (amounting to 100 meals for every $25 spent) to WFP.
The company is also leveraging the influence of social media, promising to donate 100 meals to the agency for every social media photo featuring the merchandise tagged with #WatchHungerStop.
As the largest humanitarian agency fighting global hunger, WFP leads hunger relief operations in 83 countries, helping feed around 86.7 million people each year through emergency relief, resilience building, school meal programmes and tackling gender disparities.
Behind conflict, the agency cites climate change as one of the leading global causes of hunger, but the problem is solvable, Kors and Ms. Nyong’o encouraged.
For less than a cup of coffee, 50 cents, WFP can deliver a meal, amounting to a small sacrifice by one to better the life of another, Ms. Nyong’o said.
“I think food and hunger are often taken for granted, especially in a land of plenty that we live in in America”, the Academy Award-winning actress stressed, explaining that being involved with the Kors campaign meant giving a new face and further attention to the issue to “get us a little closer to the goals” the UN – and the international community – have promoted to end hunger, by 2030.
Since 2013, Mr. Kors has teamed up with figures including actress Kate Hudson and singer Hailee Steinfeld, to bring visibility to food insecurity around the globe, and recognize World Food Day, marked annually on 16 October.
This year, Michael Kors will donate up to two million meals to WFP through 31 March of 2020.
United Nations, July 19 (Canadian-Media): Unless progress is accelerated, Asia and the Pacific are on course to miss all of the 17 Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Executive Secretary of the UN regional commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), told UN News at the Organization's Headquarters on Wednesday.
A woman boat-driver in Mekong Delta, Vietnam. (23 July 2014). Credit: ESCAP/Taufan Wijaya
Under-Secretary-General Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana was in New York to take part in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the main UN platform for monitoring the progress that countries are making towards the Agenda, which is the UN’s blueprint for ending poverty and preserving the planet.
ESCAP’s latest Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report shows that, when it comes to some of the Goals, the region is actually going backwards. These are the goals related to access to clean water and sanitation (Goal 6), decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), and responsible consumption and production (Goal 11).
There are, said Ms. Alisjahbana, several reasons for this: “There is water scarcity, because of the pressure of urbanization, and the management of natural resources and the environment are making the situation worse. As for moving towards sustainable consumption, that has to do with behaviour and lifestyle. With increasing wealth you consume more, but what you consume is something that is actually not sustainable.
Governments, said the head of ESCAP, must ultimately be responsible for investments in sustainable development. Investing in basic infrastructure costs money, but there is a considerable multiplier effect, that has a positive effect on the economy. Countries with smaller financial resources should look at raising money through fiscal reforms rather than looking for aid, and risking becoming dependent, she added.
The Progress Report complains about a lack of data, an important point because, says Ms. Alisjahbana, without the correct data you can’t track progress, or evaluate the best actions to take going forward. Improved data must go hand in hand with improved capacity for analysing data, which means national statistical offices, and SDG monitoring.
Despite the many challenges facing the region’s efforts to achieve the Goals, Ms. Alisjahbana remains optimistic. The situation, she believes, can be turned around, through better cooperation, as well as the abundant talent and expertise found in the region.
United Nations, July 18 (Canadian-Media): We can realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 “if we all stay together and step up our actions”, Inga Rhonda King, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ESOSOC), said on Thursday.
Women farmers in a community hard hit by drought gather in Kenya. To deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, new ways of collective action are needed. Credit: World Bank/Flore de Preneuf
“Even though the global picture is mixed”, she stated during the closing of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), “we have made encouraging progress, sometimes despite political and other headwinds”.
According to Ms. King, during the past two weeks, the chief global forum for reviewing successes, challenges and lessons learned on the road towards reaching the 17 SDGs, has mobilized and inspired action towards fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and yet “we are currently not yet on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030”.
“To deliver, we need to move out of our comfort zones in pursuing new ways of collective action”, she stressed, “and we need to adapt and transform at a much swifter pace”.
The HLPF has heard how countries are pursuing the goals, including detailed plans from 47 seven nations who presented voluntary national reviews.
“At a time of intense domestic pressures and significant challenges to multilateralism, their determination is an indication of the robust engagement and meaningful country ownership of the 2030 Agenda”, the ECOSOC president underscored.
Looking ahead, she pointed out that “we can expect that the SDGs will be more systematically incorporated in designing plans and policies, with a focus on interventions that have potential multiplier effects across the SDGs”.
She also acknowledged the need to include SDG planning in national budgets as well as integrated financing strategies and to “enshrine them into our institutions and societies”.
Empowerment, equality and inclusion
The Forum also reviewed, analyzed progress and looked at the influence of, six individual SDGs in supporting empowerment, equality and inclusion.
“You have heard from countries in special situations and delved into issues related to multidimensional poverty, inequality, education, prosperity, the planet, peaceful societies and international cooperation”, she said, adding that she will capture key messages and recommendations in her President’s summary.
SDG goals under the spotlight:
“The actions we projected will contribute to accelerating implementation”, Ms. King affirmed.
“They will help to enhance coherence and integration in our efforts at home and the world over”.
‘Ambitious decade of action’Ms. King said it is “essential that we launch an ambitious decade of action that puts the world on a new trajectory for SDG achievement” to “kick-start a new phase of SDG implementation, with concerted, transformative action to end human suffering and protect our planet”.
In September, she flagged that Member States and others can take the HLPF’s messages to the SDG Summit, Climate Action Summit and the high-level meetings on universal health coverage, financing for development and the SAMOA Pathway, an action strategy for Small Island Developing States.
“Let us commit to take transformative actions between now and the 2020 summit on the UN anniversary”, she urged.
She thanked all who contributed the Forum, especially the participants “for their unwavering commitment to ensure we deliver on the promises of the 2030 Agenda”.
“I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow at the High-level Segment of ECOSOC, where we will have the opportunity to look out into the future and discuss visions and projections for the SDGs and as well as other related long-term trends and scenarios”, concluded Ms. King.
Inclusion, empowerment and equality, must be ‘at the heart of our efforts’ to ensure sustainable development, says UN chief
#inclusion; #empowerment; #equality
United Nations, July 17 (Canadian-Media/UN): The world’s people are demanding “transformative change that is fair and sustainable,” Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday, calling on government leaders to use the upcoming slate of key United Nations meetings in September to “kickstart a decade of delivery and action for people and planet.”
His call for concrete action was the cornerstone of his address to ministers attending the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) – the main UN platform monitoring follow-up on States’ actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr. Guterres observed that the HLPF was “zeroing-in” on the power of SDG action “to support empowerment, equality and inclusion”, and urged the participants to “ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion”.
“The evidence is clear: Development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive – and rising inequality hinders long-term growth,” he said.
Alongside the impacts of globalization and rapid technological change, “inequality raises economic anxiety, erodes public trust, and undermines social cohesion, human rights, peace and prosperity”, according to the UN chief.
Meanwhile, “mounting evidence” illustrates the “transformative results of equality and inclusion”, particularly of women, in higher gross domestic product, greater stability, and enhanced private sector performance and institutional effectiveness, he pointed out.
“For all these reasons, the 2030 Agenda places the goals of inclusion, empowerment and equality, leaving no one behind at the heart of our efforts”, Mr. Guterres stated.
Yet, four years after its adoption, “we are not yet on track and must step it up”, he said, citing extreme poverty, inequality, global unemployment, gender inequality and climate change, among others.
Agenda 2030 and the ‘Inclusion Imperative’
And in all these areas, he acknowledged, “the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries will suffer the most”.
The UN chief drew attention to “four key conclusions” to advance the “Inclusion Imperative”, beginning with "dramatically" scaling up SDG investments as "our best tool of prevention".
Five high-level critical meetings in September:
Secondly, he emphasized that “global climate action must be advanced in a manner that reduces inequality”, including by shifting to a greener economy that could create 24 million jobs globally by 2030 while safeguarding the 1.2 billion jobs that depend on a stable and healthy environment.
Next, he said that “We must step up implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, as people whose contribution to sustainable development, in countries of origin and destination, “is absolutely critical”.
And fourth, leaving no one behind and achieving the SDGs “is inherently linked to human rights, diplomacy and prevention”, according to the UN chief, who reinforced the need for “a strengthened global commitment to end conflicts and displacement and tackle root causes”.
He stressed that the conclusions emerging from the Forum “are rooted in the pressing need to address the Inclusion Imperative and provide us with important insights as we look ahead to September”.
'We can do better'
In her opening remarks, Inga Rhonda King, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) summarized the first five days of the Forum, saying that countries had been mobilized around the 17 SDGs, voluntary national reviews had been shared by 142 countries, SDG progress had been tracked and children had spoken about the future they want.
While acknowledging the hard work of many countries, she contended that “we need to do more, to do it faster and to be more transformative”.
She urged the participants to “understand how we can do better, advise each other and forge new partnerships”, noting that “our conclusions will reverberate in the September SDG Summit.”
Ms. King assured the group that their ideas would be included “on how to make this Forum even more vibrant and action-oriented” during the upcoming General Assembly.
“I hope that our discussions will encourage our Heads of State and Government to come back in September ready to announce ambitious acceleration actions”, she said in closing.
'Make it count'
“We have eleven years to deliver” on the 2030 Agenda, General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa, opening the Ministerial Segment.
“Let’s use the coming days to lay the groundwork not only for the SDG Summit, but indeed for the whole of high-level week”, she said, referring to the Assembly’s annual general debate, and adding that we have “five days to make it count”.
Ms. Espinosa underscored the import of addressing urgent challenges “as they pave the way for longer-term risks and opportunities”, including the need to be “fully inclusive” and to empower girls and women.
She detailed that she has been working with Member States to ensure their contributions to the 2030 Agenda, including the preparations for this HLPF and September’s SDG Summit.
“That has been the overarching vision and the driving force” behind the “priorities set out for this session”, she explained.
Ms. Espinosa also encouraged participants to use the September high-level week, at which time five summit-level meetings will be convened, “to be more ambitious and to announce accelerated measures and specific steps that respond to the urgency of the challenges we face”.
Those meetings “represent a key opportunity to demonstrate that multilateralism works – that it can deliver tangible benefits to people’s lives”, Ms. Espinosa spelled out.
The goals under review at the Forum focus on education, economic growth, inequality, climate change and peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
Diplomatic achievements of the century
Together with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the 2030 Agenda is one of the “most important diplomatic achievements of this century”, Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson told the Forum.
Pointing out that both concluded in 2015, she called them “tangible proof of the benefits of multilateralism and a rebuke to the narrow agendas of nationalism, isolationism and self-interest”.
If implemented in full, the Chair of the Elders – a group of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela who work for human rights and a sustainable future – maintained they are “a pathway to a world where poverty, inequality and conflict will not blight the life chances for millions of people currently denied the opportunity to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms”.
Noting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, she reminded the meeting that staying at or below 1.5°C warming above pre-industrial standards was “the only safe level for the whole world” because warming to 2°C would “cause considerable risk to the planet”.
“We can no longer afford to regard the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement as voluntary”, flagged Ms. Robinson, citing a UN report in May detailing the loss of biodiversity and potential extinction of one million species.
She stressed that the full implementation of both reports has become imperative “to secure a liveable world for our children and grandchildren”.
“We have a global crisis and we must treat it as such”, she stated, saying that the HLPF “provides an opportunity to take an honest look at what all States have achieved and what more we need to do on the SDGs, so that when world leaders convene in New York in September for the SDG Summit, they can come with more than just words”.
A former UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Ms. Robinson underscored the importance of working together, saying: “We will not overcome the key existential challenges facing our world today, from nuclear weapons to climate change, if we spurn cooperation”.
“This High-Level Political Forum is a moment to be bold and to demand real ambition from leaders”, she asserted, adding that “playing safe or doing business as usual will not deliver the results the world needs”.
Limit global warming
Delivering the final keynote speech, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee stated that “climate action and sustainable development are inseparable” and presented three points of linkages between the two.
First, he flagged that “the current warming is already producing negative impacts on natural and human systems, seriously impeding progress toward some SDGs”.
Second, he noted the “ambitious” climate goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius “creates a trade-off for some SDGs and balancing the goals will be a challenge”.
And finally, he detailed that while climate actions produce “new opportunities for the economy, environment and society”, they are contingent upon “international cooperation, with social justice and equity being core aspects of climate-resilient development pathways”.
Mr. Lee informed the HLPF that currently, the global average temperature is one degree Celsius higher than the preindustrial level, noting, however, that “the warming is not uniform”.
“Most land regions are experiencing warming greater than this one-degree average”, he said, spotlighting that “the Arctic temperature is two to three times higher”.
Moreover, he conveyed that “up to 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas where the warming already exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level for at least one season”, which has caused notable disruptions in human livelihoods.
In summary, Mr. Lee advocated for collective efforts “at all levels”, to limit global warming to 1.5C, which should take into account equity and effectiveness, “to strengthen the global response to climate change and achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication”.
“The result will be a cleaner, sustainable, more productive, and stronger global economy”, he concluded.
According to IPCC, by limiting warming to 1.5 degrees rather than 2 degrees C, we will have:
The number of possible partners on the Global Goals journey are “legion”, according to the SDG Advocate, including bankers and investments bankers, insurance companies and pension providers “who are starting to see that sustainable investment can be profitable and will be the key to financing the future of the Goals”.
Singling out rising global hunger, greenhouse gas emissions and lack of essential health services, his next key word “urgency” pressed for a harder focus on all SDG targets, “to exploit their deadlines”.
“They make urgency real and tactile and measurable”, Mr. Curtis stressed. “That’s what they’re for”.
His third word was “opportunity”.
“This is what the Goals give us”, he said, “a unique opportunity”.
The SDG roadmap can guide us, “negotiated with the passion and determination and imagination” to end inequality and injustice, he argued.
In closing he said “now” was the moment “to go for broke with deep urgency, with radical partnerships and with a sense of this unique human opportunity.”
“And you are the generation of people with power in the United Nations and power in every country in the world, who could and must make it happen”, concluded the SDG envoy.
Three little words
Screenwriter for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary, among others, SDG Advocate and renowned filmmaker Richard Curtis delivered a keynote speech underscoring that the UN “carries their hopes and dreams for a better world”.
He selected “three key words” surrounding the SDGs, beginning with partnership.
“There are so many possible partners for the Goals”, Mr. Curtis said. “No-one denies we’re all in a boat on a wild sea” with everyone’s skills available: “Some to build the boat, some to guide it, some to row the boat, some when the boat sinks, like [Syrian swimmer] Yusra Mardini, to grab the ropes and swim the boat to safety”.
Inga Rhonda King, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and María Fernanda Espinosa, General Assembly President, at the podium of the opening of the High-level Segment of the ECOSOC and the Ministerial Segment of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe