Striving for a Safe and Secure Internet: Recent recommendations to protect the digital environment

The development of information and communications technologies (ICT) facilitated all three pillars of the United Nations’ work – peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development. The internet facilitated developmental progress by expanding opportunities for cooperation, even despite the global pandemic. 

However, the rapid growth of digital technologies around the world is creating new possibilities for conflict. The Security Council held its first-ever open debate on maintaining cybersecurity on Jun 29. Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted the rising number of malicious digital activities in recent years.

Existing and Emerging Threats

A number of states are developing ICT capacities for military purposes. Adoption of such offensive postures for the hostile use of technologies undermines trust, and might eventually result in unintended armed response and escalation. 

On a civilian level, infrastructures nowadays rely heavily on ICT to provide essential services to the public, such as medical facilities, financial services, energy, water, transportation, and sanitation. Malicious ICT activities against critical infrastructure and critical information infrastructures hamper the livelihoods and well-being of individuals. The lack of cybersecurity also hampers trust in public institutions.

No state, no individual is sheltered from these digital threats. Different sectors shall pool resources together and find a prompt solution to prevent online confrontations and attacks.

Effective Practices

The Open-ended working group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) and the Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing responsible State behavior in cyberspace in the context of international security (GGE) published reports to affirm that international law and the Charter of the United Nations are applicable to maintaining peace and stability by promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment. 

Concrete measures include confidence-building which enhances transparency to avoid misperception and misunderstandings and to reduce possible tensions. Regions, cross-regional and inter-organizational exchange of information are complementary to the work of the UN in promoting confidence-building measures. Another area was capacity-building, which improves the national ability to prevent or mitigate the impact of malicious ICT activities. As such, the UN assists member states to develop the skills, human resources, policies, and institutions to increase their resilience and security. Lastly, regular institutional dialogues are to be held to raise awareness and build trust. Regulatory efforts must be built on a multilateral platform to ensure uniform results. 

Current obstacles

Despite the need for international coordination against cyber threats, 75% of Africa’s population has insufficient or even no access to the internet at all. The international framework needs to be equitable and address the threats in underprivileged societies. The UN must leave no one behind and offer technical assistance to small developing countries. 

Cyber security is only possible when all stakeholders act collectively. Let us work together for safe and secure internet.

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng


Creating and rolling out an effective cyber security strategy

A Rising Reign without Regulations: Responsible use of humanitarian data

Throughout the last two years, the pandemic has compelled humanitarians to rapidly meet evolving and growing needs of the population in a fast-changing landscape. Border restrictions and lockdowns have facilitated the development and use of new technologies and innovative techniques. Such technological advancements have fostered faster, more accessible and more effective humanitarian actions. 

On June 24, a High-Level Panel Discussion was held to discuss the use of new and emerging technologies and innovations in the collection of humanitarian data. Panelists shared the previous achievements in providing humanitarian aid with data collected. For instance, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) collaborated with Facebook to collect big data and identify the differentiated impacts to different groups of victims affected by the Australian bushfire. Providing such information to emergency managers significantly improved the response plan to future disasters. In general, collection of national demographic data allows humanitarian assistance to be more predictable and directed.

Responsible Data Usage

Despite the achievements, the use of big data analytics subjects beneficiaries to the risk of infringement of personal privacy. Humanitarian actors must preserve humanitarian principles and ensure responsible data usage.

Responsible data usage generally refers to a collective duty to prioritise and respond to the ethical, legal, social and privacy-related challenges that come from using data in new and different ways in advocacy and social change. It includes three principles: (a) provision of transparent and reader-friendly data policies while obtaining prior consent, (b) protection from using personal data for unfair discrimination, and (c) respect to the expectations of the people affect by prohibiting third-party access to the data. Public trust, which comes from responsible and ethical data usage, is a cornerstone for further digital innovation.

The main threat to responsible data usage is often monetary motives. Around the world, there have been little restrictions on sale and purchase of personal data, in addition to the legal defence of ‘consent’ even if regulations prohibit it. In fact, an estimate of over US$ 19 billion was spent by American companies alone in 2018 in acquiring consumer data, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In the context of humanitarian assistance, this creates a novel form of corruption.

Next Steps Forward

Data coordination is currently an unchartered territory. The United Nations called for systematization of the guidance, framework and best practices on data responsibility to ensure a minimum common standard imposed across all stakeholders. A holistic approach to accountability must be adhered to by all humanitarians, not only UN organizations but also its local partners. 

Furthermore, the pace of technological advancement is nearly always faster than that of legislation and policy development. Enforcement of established rules and regulations may not be sufficient to eliminate unethical use or sale of data. Humanitarians and data-handlers must be trained to exercise their independent judgment to ensure responsible data usage at root. Authorities must also strengthen the incentives for better practices.

Writer: WIT Intern Tracy Cheng


Ministerial Session of the 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit

The Ministerial Roundtable of the 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit explored the interlinkages between Rio conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification, as well as their positions in supporting the transformation of the food systems.

The session was commenced by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, France Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, who highlighted the inseparable relationship between climate change and the current socio-economic and environmental affairs, and urged for collective actions at all levels through the Food System Summit and the three Rio conventions to build a sustainable future for all.

A moderated roundtable with Member States followed to discuss opportunities to build synergies between the Rio conventions on the environmental issues and bring remarkable impacts on combating global hunger and malnutrition. As emphasized, unsustainable agricultural practices are the driving causes of climate change, biodiversity loss and desertification, and these impacts, in turn, exacerbate poverty, food insecurity and conflict, etc. To break the vicious circle, all stressed governments’ paramount role in mainstreaming nature through political decision-making, and incentivizing all stakeholders into making environmental-friendly decisions in investment, business and consumption. In addition, it is essential for all countries to promote nature-based solutions in agricultural production and ensure all farmers can strengthen their resilience in adapting to the impacts of climate change and deliver more quality, healthy food in the market. Lastly, all highlighted the importance to rethink and connect the Rio conventions for delivering multi-beneficial actions on nature restoration and food system transformation.

Representatives of the three Rio conventions then provided their perspectives on the conventions’ principles, and underlined the importance to implement policies in a holistic and circular approach to account for the interlinkages between all environmental issues and social well-being.

Meeting: 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit, Ministerial Roundtable on UN Food Systems Summit and Rio Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification

Date/Location: Wednesday, July 28, 2021; 03:00-04:30; Red Room, Rome, Italy


Dr. Martin Frick, Deputy to the Special Envoy, Food Systems Summit Secretariat;

Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France;

Ms. Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Spain;

Dr. Thongplew Kongjun, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives, Thailand;

Mr. Christian Hofer, General-Director of the Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland;

Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), United Kingdom;

Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Ministry of Environment, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Egypt;

Prof. Dr. Rameesh Chand, Member of Nitiaayog, India;

Ms. Marije Beens, Vice Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Netherlands;

Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD);

Ms. Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity;

Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);

Dr. Inger Andersen, Chair, UN Task Force and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Iris Sit

14th session of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Mr. Binota Moy Dhamai, as the opening speaker, set the scene for the meeting. On one hand, he indicated that the right of self-determination is a foundational right, without which indigenous peoples’ human rights, both collective and individual, cannot be fully enjoyed. The right of self-determination as recognized in article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Draft report on achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a focus on self-determination explained how indigenous people exercise, defend, and support the right of self-determination in local, regional, and international contexts. The importance of revitalizing the indigenous language and other cultural practices was emphasized, which was further illustrated by other speakers. Nonetheless, challenges in achieving self-determination lie in the lack of constitutional recognition of the indigenous people. The Expert Mechanism reports called upon states to recognize the land, participation, and consultation of indigenous peoples.

On the other hand, the Draft study and advice on the Rights of the Indigenous Child under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples took a human and children’s rights-based approach to tackle existing gaps in areas such as education and child welfare. The Draft study examined the current legal framework. Speakers further discussed the status of the exercise of the rights of indigenous children worldwide, which includes non-discrimination, the right to be heard, the right to life, the right to education, the right to health, the socio-economic rights, cultural and language rights, access to justice and interactions with child justice systems. They agree in general that states should take the necessary measures to protect indigenous children, particularly girls.

Date/Location: Tuesday, Jul 13, 2021 and the meeting was held virtually.

Speakers: Binota Moy Dhamai, Member Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Ambassador Sally Mansfield, Permanent Mission of Australia, Geneva; Group of Indigenous Children of Bangladesh, Child Participant (Supported by Save the Children); Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF Youth) Priscilla, (youth); New Zealand, Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) Charlotte Beaglehole, General Manager Policy; Dujuan, Aboriginal Youth, Australia (youth) (Video); UNICEF, East Asia and Pacific Region, Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Child Protection Specialist; Maleya Youth Group; Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Network on Climate Change and Biodiversity (BIPNet) and Maleya Foundation Jami (youth); Hannah McGlade, Member, UN Member Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; New Zealand Human Rights Commission (Item 3) Tricia Keelan, Deputy Chief Executive; Bangladesh Indigenous Youth Forum, Toni Chiran, Organizing Secretary; Ton Kla Indigenous Children and Youth Network, Pinsuda (youth), Vice President; Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, Cleopatra Tripura; Whareroa marae, and the Ngāti Kuku Māori peoples (of Tauranga, Aotearoa New Zealand), Joel Ngātuere; Bangladesh Jatiya Hajong Sangathan, Mita Hajong; Indonesia, Anindityo Primasto, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia, Geneva; Inter State Adivasi Coordination Committee (ISACC), India, Elina Horo; New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development), Geoff Short, Deputy Secretary Policy Partnerships; Yingiya Guyula, Member of Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, Australia; Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples/Aotearoa Independent Monitoring Mechanism, Tina Ngata; Nineveh Center for Minority Rights; Indigenous Peoples Organisation (IPO) Australia, Cathy Eatock; Hawai’ Institute for Human Rights, Joshua Cooper; New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), Anne Dennis Chairperson; National Native Title Council -Australia, Kado Muir, Chair and Ngalia Leader; West Papua Interest Association, Ronald Waromi; Indigenous Peoples Organization (IPO) Australia, Virginia Marshall, Executive Board Member; New Zealand Human Rights Commission (Item 8), Tricia Keelan, Deputy Chief Executive; Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, Gam A. Shimray; Whareroa marae, and the Ngāti Kuku Māori peoples (of Tauranga, Aotearoa New Zealand), Awhina Ngātuere; Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), Abdi Akbar; TAKAD (Taskforce Against Kaiduan Dam), Diana Sipail; Megan Davis, Vice Chair, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng

Informal plenary consultation on the review of the functioning of the Resident Coordinator system

The Resident Coordinator (RC) system is a reform adopted 4 years ago. It is an independent, empowered, and impartial system aimed at improving leadership and coordination in program countries.

Mr. António Guterres, General Secretary of the United Nations (UN), was pleased to report the achievements of the RC system. Immediate objectives were met as the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) came in line with national priorities and agency mandates. Significant improvement in transparency and accountability from country to global levels was also seen. As such, program states responded more effectively to cross-border challenges and rendered greater support for sustainable development goals.

Despite the early success, Mr. Guterres recommended introduced some areas of improvement, including effective allocation of the skillset of RC tailored for the local setting, acquisition of the right tools to make a transformation with partnerships, especially financial institutions, and provision of unique and adequate incentives to prompt reforms at scale. Mr. Guterres further called upon the General Assembly to reinforce the dual accountability function to enhance transparency and facilitate mutual information exchange.

The key challenge faced by the RC system is that the current hybrid funding model has failed to provide an adequate and predictable level of resources. UNDP cannot continue its programs without additional funds. Mr. Guterres proposed that every member state shall contribute no less than 1.5% of assessment to the UN system. He suggested pooling capital from the Regular Budget of the UN or, alternatively, imposing a 1% levy on tightly earmarked funding.

Member states recognized unanimously that the RC system had brought about crucial improvement in coordinating the pursuit of SDG sustainable development goals. With regards to the proposed increase in financial contribution, formal consultation will be held in due course.

Date/Location: Monday, Jun 7, 2021, 3:00-4:30PM and the meeting was held virtually.

Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. Movses Abelian, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management [Moderator]; Representatives of Algeria, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, Eritrea, France, Guinea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Tajikistan, Russian Federation

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng

Representation matters! Ensuring Equitable Participation of Persons with Disabilities

More than one billion people suffer from disabilities, consisting of approximately 15% of the world’s population. Systematic discrimination poses a huge barrier to their participation in all aspects of society. As a result, persons with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty. With a significant population, their inclusion in all development activities is essential to ensure equitable policy-making.

On Jul 16, 2021, a side event at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held to raise awareness of the lack of deaf representation at the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In fact, there has only been 1 deaf member throughout the history of the Committee and there is no deaf member on the Committee today. This trend of a lack of deaf representation limits the functioning of the UN Disability Rights Architecture. 

The History of Disabled Representation

As early as 1982, the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) to provide fundamental principles for policy-making related to persons with disabilities. In 1993, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities was adopted to set out further guidelines. They continued to operate until the Convention was signed to supersede these older recommendations.

On 30 March 2007, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was ratified by Member States to protect the human rights and dignity of disabled persons. The Convention, which took effect in 2008, is a legally-binding international treaty. Together with its Optional Protocol (OP), they provide the comprehensive normative framework for Member States to ensure that disabled persons are included in all development efforts at different levels.

This marked a milestone by recognizing disabled persons as holders of rights, rather than as objects of charity, medical treatment and social protection. It allows them to live in dignity and autonomy, just like any other ordinary member of society.

Implementation of the Convention

Like many other international treaties, the major area of difficulty lies in the translation of principles and provisions into everyday planning and implementation. At an international level, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was established to monitor implementation with monitoring functions. At a national level, State Parties were required to design national implementation and monitoring mechanisms pursuant to article 33.

According to the Guidance Note published for UN Country Teams and Implementing Partners, the first and foremost entry point was to ensure the early involvement of disabled persons and their representative organizations in the consultation and planning processes. Furthermore, the inclusion of disability rights should be promoted in government-led analysis. Monitoring and evaluation were also conducted by UN agencies and their partners to constantly review and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of programmes on disability rights. 

In a nutshell, it is essential to provide the marginalized groups with an opportunity to partake in governance and decision-making, especially when it affects them directly. We must all recognize the rights of disabled persons to build a more equitable world.

#disabilityrights #CRPD #disabilities #UnitedNations

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng


Unlock investment in the SDGs: Fostering innovative financing and strengthening global debt sustainability

The 13th informal meeting of High-Level Political Forum 2021 explored policy recommendations to scale up public and private financing and unlock catalytic investments for the achievements of the SDGs.

The global debt sustainability challenges

The lack of fiscal space and the mounting risk of sovereign debt distress has become critical stumbling blocks for developing countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Under the brutal hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries experience unprecedented collapses of domestic revenue while weighing with urgent financial need to address the overlapping issues of health, climate, environment, recovery and inequalities. Unfortunately, while most developed countries have progressively moved on through advanced technological inputs and plentiful fiscal backups, the developing world continues its financial dilemma in balancing their mounting debt payments and addressing their severe developmental crisis, which not only upends their economic recovery, but could also generate new debt crisis. As of 2020, a significant record of sovereign credit rating downgrades and defaults was observed in many LDCs and MICs, causing large debt overhangs and chronically restrained economic recoveries for the subsequent years. Governments leave no choice but to continue borrowing and investing, thus lead to a vicious debt cycle with everlasting liquidity shortage and debt vulnerability, which also widens the global financial gap of recovery and SDG achievements. It is thereby essential for global actions to recognize the systematic issues of the current economic conjuncture and develop new financing instruments to pave an equal-paced COVID-19 recovery and SDG achievements for all.

Transformative measures to unlock public and private SDG investments

To foster innovative and transformative measures in strengthening global debt sustainability and creating fiscal space for SDGs investments, international debt architecture reform and sustainable debt management are imperative, which include supporting information, coordination, adaptation, and equity. Increasing debt information requires high transparency from governments, which could not only facilitate informed lending decisions from the creditors, but also increase governments’ accountability in financial transactions. Coordination-wise, effective partnerships between multilateral financial institutions, development partners, debtors and creditors are needed for more sustainable and effective reform. Moreover, when considering states’ eligibility for debt assistance, it is paramount to recognize countries’ vulnerabilities rather than solely their national income, which could lead to a more targeted and inclusive service for those who needed. As for equity, it is of utter urgency to ensure greater participation from LDCs and MICs in the international debt architecture to rebalance the global political decision-making dynamics. In addition, effective combinations of private-public investments are equally crucial for SDGs advancements. Innovative financial instruments including sustainability/green-linked bonds are excellent means to incentivize local and foreign private investments and help developing countries to close the SDG gaps. Other measures such as progressive taxation and digital market transformation can also effectively elicit domestic resources for further SDGs investments. 

On the one hand, the effectiveness of SDGs investments heavily lies on governments’ willingness to undertake policy reforms and transform the economy in a sustainable direction. On the other hand, it is a global responsibility to ensure all emerging markets and developing countries can be adequately financed under a sustainable international debt architecture for an equal opportunity to recover and achieve the SDGs.


Meeting Title: High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2021), 13th Informal meeting

Date/Location: Monday, July 12, 2021; 09:00-11:30; The meeting was held virtually


Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya (Ukraine), Vice President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development program, Brookings Institution;

Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC;

Ms. Joyce Chang, Managing Director and Chair, Global Research, JP Morgan;

Ms. Anna Gelpern, Professor at Georgetown University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics; etc.

Written by: WIT-UN Representative Iris Sit

The SDG realization: Mobilizing science, technology and innovation and strengthening the science-policy-society interface

Earlier this month, an informal meeting of the High-Level Political Forum 2021 explored the challenges and opportunities for mobilizing science, technology and innovation (STI) and strengthening the science-policy-society interface to support the implementation of SDGs.

STI: The benefits and the risks

The global progress of STI has been revolutionary, promising tremendous benefits to the societies, which have been even more evident in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state-of-the-art technologies in vaccine development have provided powerful means to fight and eradicate the disease; meanwhile, the advancement of ICT allows people to work remotely, resume economic activities and build social connections across the world. On the other hand, the discoveries of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and 5G networks are expected to be the backbones of our societies for the next decade, advancing global economic, social and environmental development to an unprecedented extent. Despite the immense potential for STI in SDGs realization, challenges abound. Around half of the world’s population remains digitally unconnected, creating a digital divide that hinders numerous lives in the enjoyment of STI services. The weak alignment between current STI and SDGs has also exacerbated inequalities in vulnerable communities including women and indigenous people, undermining the global achievements of the 2030 Agenda.

Sustainable and transformative STI pathways towards SDG realization

To ensure effective mobilization of STI in SDG realization, a better science-policy-society interface is utterly needed. Policymakers should focus on enhancing the availability of open data for STI in tackling social issues, while ensuring the nature of these STI are in alignment with the sustainable development principles. Moreover, multi-stakeholder partnerships in scientific research, open innovation and youth nurturement should be further strengthened for global digital transformation. To address the global digital divide, inclusiveness should be put in the utmost priority of STI advancement. It includes strengthening the participation of women and indigenous communities in the sector, who are often underrepresented; as well as providing universal STI services through provision of digital infrastructures, affordable Internet, and digital literacy skills for the unconnected people. It is also important to build public trust in STI related to all areas of sustainable development, and it is policymakers’ and companies’ responsibility to prevent exacerbation of violence, hate and inequalities in such means.

Advances in STI should be harnessed to enhance equal opportunities and access to basic services so no one is left behind. Governments and the international community have a central role in providing directionality to innovation activities to ensure STI is driven by considerations of inclusiveness and sustainability. The pandemic is a wake-up call for effective bilateral and multilateral cooperation to collectively address the sustainability challenges and accelerate the global progress of SDGs through the means of STI.


Meeting Title: 2021 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2021), 11th Informal Meeting

Date/Location: Friday, 9 July 2021; 11:15-13:15; The meeting was held virtually


Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya (Ukraine), Vice President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Mohammad Koba, Co-Chair of the 2021 STI Forum, Ambassador and Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations;

Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU);

Mr. Andrejs Pildegovičs, Co-Chair of the 2021 STI Forum, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations;

Ms. Cherry Murray, Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s 10 Member Group to Support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, Professor of Physics and Deputy Director for Research, Biosphere 2, University of Arizona; etc.

Written by: WIT-UN Representative Iris Sit

2021 ECOSOC Integration Segment

The 2021 ECOSOC Integration Segment held on 2 July discussed policy recommendations from ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and the UN system on sustainable and resilient COVID-19 recovery and effective achievement of the 2030 Agenda to prepare the thematic review of HLPF 2021.

A pandemic that turned into a socio-economic crisis

The unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and further exacerbated multidimensional inequalities across the world, threatening the global progress of achieving the SDGs. Its socio-economic impacts are estimated to be four times worse than the 2008 financial crisis, causing the most devastating global economic recession, putting workers at risk of destroyed livelihoods and pushing millions into extreme poverty. While these impacts are significant to a global extent, most are disproportionately affecting people in developing countries, and those in vulnerable groups such as women and girls, young workers, migrants and refugees, etc. To properly address the socio-economic crisis and attain a sustainable recovery, integrated and transformative policy responses with sustainability criteria at core are needed.

A sustainable and resilient recovery: Paving for the achievement of SDGs

To address SDG16: peace and justice for all and effective institutions in the COVID-19 responses, strengthening institutions, governance and the rule of law is crucial. Governments should ensure a transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory process of decision-making, with full participation of stakeholders including vulnerable and marginalized groups at all stages. In addition, governments should also adopt progressive taxation to redirect fiscal resources to the most vulnerable, such as providing adequate liquidity assistance and debt relief programs. In response to the worsening crime rate and social instability under COVID-19, governments’ efforts in crime prevention, offender rehabilitation and integration, and corruption counteraction are utterly essential to a harmonized and inclusive society.

To promote sustainable and just economies, policy responses should focus on achieving SDG8: decent work and economic growth; SDG10: reduced inequalities; and SDG12: responsible consumption and production. These include market prioritization on clean and efficient energy, electric and hybrid transport, smart agriculture and green infrastructure. Comprehensive support on economic transformation and productive capacity enhancement for developing countries should also be provided through equitable access to finance and education on science, technology and innovation.

Recovery policies focusing on strengthening human well-being and capabilities should be centered around SDG1: no poverty; SDG2: zero hunger; and SDG3: good health and well-being. The development of human-centered policies and science-based solutions, in particular, is imperative to effectively relieve poverty, food insecurity and impacts of climate change in developing countries. Digital connectivity and reliable data are thus required to accelerate the innovation and decision-making process. On the other hand, the implementation of universal health coverage and free COVID-19 vaccination for all should also be executed urgently to ensure equitable access to human rights services.

Although the pandemic has exposed our existing vulnerabilities and reversed the progress of achieving the SDGs, it is certain that with multilateralism at heart of policy responses, there is hope for a sustainable recovery and the achievement of the SDGs.


Meeting Title: 2021 ECOSOC Integration Segment

Date/Location: Friday, 2 July 2021; 09:00-11:00 and 12:00-14:00; Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


Mr. Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United

Nations, Vice-President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations;

Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP);

Mr. Alessandro Cortese, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in Vienna

and Chair of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) at its 30th session;

H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations in New York and Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at its 65th session;

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and many more

Written by: WIT Representative Iris Sit

MSME Day 2021: Promoting resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery in the post-COVID-19 world

The celebration of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2021 emphasized the importance for MSMEs to achieve a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery in the post-COVID-19 world. The virtual event was joined by ministers, senior officials of UN entities, representatives of business support organizations and entrepreneurs to address barriers, showcase best practices and identify big ideas with MSMEs at the center of achieving the SDGs.

MSMEs: the bedrock of our societies

Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), though insignificant in business scale, have been the most crucial backbone of global economic and social development. They account for 90% of businesses, 60-70% of employment, and 50% of GDP worldwide. The abrupt outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic however, has caused unprecedented damages to the MSMEs, especially those led by women, youth, ethnic minorities and migrants, resulting in numerous bankruptcies, loss of livelihoods and widened inequalities. Albeit the improved global growth prospect in 2021, an uneven recovery trend has been seen. With LDCs struggling with COVID-19 rebounds and vaccine shortages, conditions remain rough for their MSMEs to recover and contribute to achieving SDGs in the long term.

A resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery

To achieve a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery of MSMEs, measures are needed to not only adapt to the devastating impacts of the pandemic, but also account for the ongoing effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution to ensure utter resilience to future shocks.

From the government perspective, easy access to financial and digital business support systems for MSMEs are essential, these ensure high efficiency in immediate support for MSMEs. Government can also promote digital business solutions through MSMEs programs to facilitate their transition of business models and strengthen their productivity and resilience during such unprecedented time. To ensure inclusive access to digital technologies for all MSMEs, governments should also provide adequate digital infrastructures in both urban and rural areas, filling the gap of the digital divide among MSMEs.

From the entrepreneurs’ perspective, particularly young and female entrepreneurs in the LDCs, technical support, corporate partnerships and flexible business targets are essential elements to sustainable business operations during crises. However, to overcome barriers for women- and youth-led businesses in making more environmental investments, green financing opportunities, incentives and grants are desperately needed to enable their proactive engagements in achieving the SDGs.

From the perspective of business support organizations, emphasis on education, training and women-youth empowerment on digital innovations are key foundations to address the structural constraints of MSMEs in LDCs and reduce productivity gaps among businesses. Through multilateral efforts, it is anticipated that MSMEs can not only survive, but thrive in the post-COVID-19 world with resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery strategies.


Meeting Title: MSMEs: Key to an inclusive and sustainable recovery – Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2021

Date/Location: Monday, 28 June 2021; 08:00-11:45; The meeting was held virtually


Mr. Winslow Sargeant, Incoming Chair, ICSB;

Ms. María del Carmen Squeff, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nation;

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs;

Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre;

Ms. Isabelle Durant, Acting Secretary General, UN Conference on Trade and Development; and many more

Written by: WIT Representative, Iris Sit