Urbanisation a transformative tool for Sustainable Development


This week the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is hosting a segment on the integration of sustainable development focusing on the role of Urbanisation. H.E. Vladimir Drobnjak, Vice-President of ECOSOC, expressed that urbanisation has and will play a transformative role to meeting economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. H.E. Drobnjak explained that cities are innovative spaces, which drive social change and provide opportunities that can lift populations out of poverty. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasised that expanding government capacities and planning urbanisation is critical to ensure that policies and frameworks create equitable and constructive environments.

Urbanisation leads to higher wages, provides basic infrastructure and services, while also stimulating the private sector that creates jobs and new stakeholders to provide public goods. As African nations become more urbanized people can be empowered to build secure futures. President Paul Kagame discussed his own nation Rwanda whom, twenty years after genocide, continue searching for solutions to repair the social dimensions of everyday life. President Kagame noted the capacity of urbanization to repair and unify his people whom are moving to cities faster than ever before in search of a higher quality of life.

Vice-President of Colombia, H.E. Angelino Garzon, insisted that the future agenda must not discriminate against the poor as part of the problem but instead include low-income workers as part of the solution. H.E. Garzon reminded states leaders of their duty to provide populations with education, safe water, basic sanitation, transport, a healthy environment, decent work and access to land.

H.E. Isabelle Picco, Vice-President of the general assembly raised concerns for the effects on climate change, as 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions are concentrated in cities. Mr. Joan Clos challenged governments to utilize innovative abilities towards energy strategies, ensure sustainable urbanisation and stimulate environmental protection alongside development.


Meeting Title: Economic and Social Council’s opening of the Integration segment focusing on Urbanization
Speakers: Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, H.E. Vladimir Drobnjak, Vice-President of the General Assembly H.E. Isabelle Picco, Secretary-General of the United Nations H.E. Ban Ki-moon, President of the Republic of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame, Vice-President of the Republic of Colombia H.E. Angelino Garzon, H.E. Michael Bloomberg of United Nations Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Mr. Joan Clos
Date: 27 May 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Images: CBD of Hong Kong and Melbourne 

Intellectual Property Rights And Access to Medicine

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 19 February 2014

During a meeting on intellectual property and access to medicine, issues such as trade, HIV, responsibility and the ethics of patent laws were discussed. James Love, the director of Knowledge Ecology International, a NGO that deals with intellectual property on public health, cyberlaw, and competition, spoke about the differences between a research and development approach and a intellectual property approach. The current AIDS drugs, Mr. Love explained, are more heavily patented than ever. The existence of some organizations and programs, like The Global Fund, have allowed for new markets in even the poorest countries, and these new markets have also pushed more patents. Mr. Love emphasized that the purpose of trade agreements is not to increase prices or expand patent laws, but to sponsor research and development. He asked, “How can groups promote the efforts of research and development and detach it from the price of those drugs?” Mr. Love proposed ideas for how to rectify the current situation by incentivizing research and development, and eliminating patents for HIV drugs, at least in America. 


Yawo Tenou, a representative of UNDP, shared his own experiences growing up in Botswana, a poor country severely affected by AIDS and a lack of access to medicine. He described many experiences where friends would loose both of their parents to AIDS and then be sent off to distant family, unknown would be the continuation of their education or livelihood. Mr. Tenou described the contextualization of intellectual property rights and how they impede on access to healthcare, proposing a balance for international trade laws to not affect treatment of diseases. Citing the Venice Statue of 1474 that rewards inventors and retains the right of government to act in the publics interest, Mr. Tenou advocated for generic competition to drive price down and allow access to higher quality treatment. Eleven out of the twelve treatments for non-communicable diseases approved by the FDA, cost over 100,000 USD per year per patient in the USA. The UNDP provides policy and technical assistance in the countries that need help accessing treatment and medicine. 

Meeting Title: Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines 

Key Speakers: Jean-Francis R. Zinsou (UN Ambassador of Benin), UNAIDS representative, James Love (Director of Knowledge Ecology International), Yawo Tenou (UNDP), Dr. Harry Ostrou (Researcher and geneticist)

Written By WIT Representative: Stephanie Harris 

Preventing Another Rwanda in Our Future

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 15 January 2014

Key figures that were involved in the genocide in Rwanda twenty years ago have gathered to seek further prevention and change towards future atrocities. The Ambassador from Rwanda began by inviting, “the world to remember,” the significance of lives that were lost during the genocide. She then discussed the positive change that has taken place in Rwanda since the time of genocide, such as an increased life expectancy among civilians and a total of 1 million making their ways out of poverty. The Deputy General of the United Nations, Mr. Jan Aliasson, pointed out that Syria is in a similar situation that Rwanda was placed in twenty years ago and continued to warn for another possible genocide event in Syria.


The Force Commander of the UN Mission for Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire, gave an inspiring speech reminding everyone that children cannot and should not be used as an instrument for war. He pointed out the irony, that he was back in the same room that he had been in twenty years ago, remarking on the same genocide event, except back then, there was a much smaller audience and less interest in the issue. Ms. Eugenie Mukeshimana, the Founder and Executive Director of the Genocide Survivors Support Network, shared her own childhood experience during the years of genocide. She emphasized the security she felt by having the Belgian soldiers by her side, and went on to state the importance of educating the next generation about the cruelty of crimes so that a child born today can look at the world differently twenty years later. The speakers came to agree that a genocide should not be in anyone’s future, and that we must do everything we can to prevent the upcoming generations from having to experience such crime.

Meeting Title: Special Event on Understanding Early Warning of Mass Atrocities Twenty Years after the Genocide in Rwanda (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Rwanda, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and the Department of Public Information (DPI))

Key Speakers: Representative from Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Ambassador from Rwanda, Deputy Secretary General of UN (Jan Aliasson), Force Commander of UN Mission for Rwanda (Romeo Dallaire), Founder and Executive Director of the Genocide Survivors Support Network (Eugenie Mukeshimana)

Written by WIT intern: Yoo Jin Erin Kim