Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth Day


The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on Earth Day held a webinar on Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970 by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

The theme of the webinar ‘Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day’ was chosen by the SDSN. According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is a better measure of a nation’s progress than GDP and using social well-being as a goal drives better public policy.

The webinar was split into 6 sessions, and participants discussed how to engage with experts and community leaders on how various sustainable development initiatives across the globe are creating a more just and thriving society and how happiness is still alive amidst a global pandemic.


During the 5th session, participants discussed how Education for Sustainable Development(ESD) relates to happiness, discussed the importance of ESD in the context of COVID-19, and the future of ESD. 

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO, said that ESD empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability in a just society for present and future generations. Also, education is a key enabler to prepare this generation and the next to create a sustainable and happier world for all.

Meeting: Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day

Date/Location: April 22th, 2020; 09:00-11:00; Webinar

Speakers: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network         

Florencia Librizzi, SDG Academy  (Moderator)

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO 

Ms. Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens

Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education & Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Teachers College, Columbia University

Written By: WIT Representative Sehee OH

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Launch of World Drug Report

Today’s morning gathering, organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), was convened to celebrate the launch of the annual World Drug Report. Following a comprehensive review of the document, delegates were given the opportunity to voice their contributions regarding its content.

At the outset, Ms. Miwa Kato, the UNODC Director of Operations, introduced key findings of the World Drug Report. Expounding how drugs are the biggest source of funding for organized crime, Ms. Kato affirmed that their use and proliferation undermines sustainability of societal development. Ms. Ms. Chloé Carpentier of the Statistics and Surveys Section of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC was subsequently invited to appraise various aspects of the drug industry, including issues such as addiction treatment, incarceration, trafficking, and interception. Information regarding specific drugs, including cannabis, opioids, and psychoactive substances were further touched on.

With the floor open to comments from participants, delegates offered valuable input into policy-based solution development. Concerned with the conditions of the status quo, representatives from Mexico and Rwanda proposed a transition away from current security-heavy focus. Input from Colombia and Afghanistan suggested that, in addition to curbing drug supply, the roots of demand must be directly targeted. Furthermore, the expansion of communication networks through technology, practices of money laundering, and arrival of recent experimental substance were identified as pressing challenges to be addressed in the coming years.

Meeting: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Launch of World Drug Report

Date/Location:Wednesday, 26 June, 2019; 10:00-13:00; Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


Ms. Simone Monasebian, Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) New York Office;

Ms. Miwa Kato, Director for Operations, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);

Ms. Chloé Carpentier, Chief, Statistics and Surveys Section of Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);

Interventions from Representatives

Written by: WIT Representative, Izabela Zawartka


Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale

Entitled “Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale,” a webinar was organized by the Global Ghost Gear Initiatives (GGGI) to deliver information regarding the ongoing battle against the degrading impact of deserted fishing gear on the world’s oceans. It featured presentations from Mr. Andreas Merkl from UNCOA on Marine Pollution, Mr. Pingguo He from FAO, and Mr. Ben Kneppers from Bureo, who introduced their work regarding the issue of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gears (ALDFG).

The problem of oceanic pollution is becoming ever more pressing, necessitating the efforts and enhanced participation of international actors to formulate a consequential resolution. To begin the webinar, Ms. Ingrid Giskes explained how the GGGI, founded in 2014, contributes to the global environmental project by specifically targeting the elimination of harmful fishing materials known as “ghost gear.” Its innovative approach is divided among the Build Evidence, Define Best Practice and Inform Policy, and Catalyze and Replicate Solutions Working Groups.

Citing the first part Sustainable Development Goals 14 (SDG 14.1), to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, Mr. Pingguo He of the FAO identified issues of marine debris, ALDFG, and ghostfishing as prominent challenges of promoting the UN agenda. Efforts to require the marking of fishing gear to improve its traceability through the 2018 “FAO Voluntary Guidelines” were discussed, as Mr. He expounded how its implementation would facilitate states’ cooperation on the issue of ALDFG as well as illegal fishing and malpractice issues.

Two pilot projects concerning the marking of fishing gear have been carried out by FAO. The first one constituted of marking gear in a small-scale Indonesian gillnet fishery. It was part of a more holistic management approach, which included educational outreach and provided incentives for small-scale fishers to retrieve lost gear. Moreover, the organization encouraged regional harmonization through collecting stakeholders’ opinion on fish aggregating devices and promoting the advantages of these devices, such as the use of biodegradable materials.

In addition to the marking of abandoned fishing gears, Mr. Ben Kneppers from Bureo introduced his company’s model to eliminate fishing net pollution. Partnering with fisheries and local communities, in 2013, Bureo established a free program in Chile to collect and recycle abandoning fishing nets into premium products such as raw materials. This approach not only provides a solution for end-of-use fishing gear but also benefits local communities with employment opportunity and funding. Expansion of operations through the creation of the Net Positiva Program has increased this model’s reach and contribution to the solution of ALDFG.

In conclusion, the innovative and bold endeavors of organizations such as the GGGI, FAO, and Bureo are critical to fight oceanic deterioration. Hearing from the session’s featured speakers was an uplifting and motivating experience for all participants of the webinar.

Meeting: Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale

Date/Location: Tuesday, June 18th, 2019; 13:00-14:00; Online Webinar


Ms. Keondra Bills Freemyn, International Government Relations Manager, Ocean Conservancy;

Ms. Ingrid Giskes, Acting Director of Global Ghost Gear Initiatives;

Mr. Andreas Merkl, Co-Focal Point of the UNCOA on Marine Pollution;

Mr. Pingguo He, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);

Mr. Ben Kneppers, Co-Founder of Bureo

Written By: WIT Summer Interns 2019


Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The afternoon session of the “Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” was a continuation of the debate commenced in the morning, convened in order to hear comments from member states, as well as relevant NGOs, and IGOs. Nations such as India, Japan, and Jordan expressed their support through a multitude of ways; many countries have established disability acts which provide the disabled with accommodations in the work place or in school. Specifically, initiatives have been undertaken to educate these individuals on how to reach their full potential despite their disability, and funding has been provided for tools to help them (i.e cochlear implants, books in braille). Despite the progress underscored by the participants, many also sought to emphasize the necessity of future progress, including the enactment of more comprehensive policies regarding persons with disabilities.  The great potential to be unlocked by expanded employment of PWDs as well as technologies to facilitate communal, rather than institutional care, were discussed by the Representatives of the United Kingdom and Hungary, respectively. These disability acts also push for the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace and in schools instead of isolating them from society. It was emphasized how deaf children in several countries  often don’t have the opportunity to learn their region’s sign language until five years of age or older, thus putting them behind their fellow peers. It is essential that this circumstance be put to an end, and it should be encouraged to provide help for those who need help, no matter what condition they’re in, or what disability they have.

Meeting: General Debate of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Date/Location: Tuesday, June 10, 2019; 15:00-18:00; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

  • H.E. Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr, Permanent Representative of Liberia and Vice President of the Conference;
  • Representative of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Albania;
  • H.E. Ms.Cynthia Morrison, Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection of Ghana;
  • Distinguished Representative of the World Federation of the Deaf;
    His Royal Highness, Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein, President of the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Chair of Delegation of Jordan;
  • Representative of the Government Minister Department for Work and Pensions of the United Kingdom;
    First Deputy Minister of Ukraine;
  • Mr. Richard Dimech, Chief of Staff of the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights, and Social Solidarity of Malta;
  • H.E. Mr. Riyad Mansour Permanent Representative of the State of Palestine to the United Nations;
  • Mrs. Racardia Dennis, Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities of the Republic of Liberia;
  • H.E. Ms. Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations;
  • Distinguished Representative of the Christian Blind Mission;
  • Mr. Avremi Torem, Commissioner of the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Chair of the Delegation of Israel;
  • Coordinator for Social Affairs Ministry of Social Affairs, Justice, and Interior of the Principality of Andorra;
  • H.E. Mr.Finian McGrath, Minister of State for Disability Issues for Ireland;
  • H.E. Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations;
  • President of China Disabled Persons’ Federation;
  • Director of the National Service of People with Disabilities of Chile;
  • Director of the National Program of Disability and Chair of the Delegation of Uruguay;
  • Director of the Social Affairs and Inclusion Department of the European Commission, Chair of Delegation of the European Union;
  • Distinguished Representative of Disabled Peoples International;
  • Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau for the Equality of People with Disabilities, Switzerland;
  • Minister at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria;
  • Representative of India

Written by:WIT Interns Izabela Zawartka, Ikonii Chiabi, and Jenifer Miller