El Niño, A Continuing Global Threat

 

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In this session, the General Assembly discussed the environmental and socioeconomic effects of El Niño, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with extreme and dangerous impacts on global weather patterns. H.E Mr. Peter Thomson began and stated that El Niño has directly affected over 60 million people globally. The negative effects on communities worldwide have been profound, including malnutrition, waterborne diseases, and limitations to healthcare and educational resources. Additionally, he highlighted El Niño’s detriment to the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals. In many cases, El Niño’s weather patterns have already undermined progress made since the SDGs were implemented in 2015. H.E. Mr. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez brought attention to Peru’s exceptional vulnerability to natural disasters given its geography. As a result, Peru has instituted preventative measures and increased focus on risk management. He noted that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set clear global targets for disaster risk management.

The Representative of Ecuador added that the peak period of El Niño ended in May, however the economic impacts remain difficult to measure. He explained that El Niño has decreased harvest crop volumes, destroyed rural infrastructure, and increased food insecurity in the region. He emphasized the importance of the government prioritizing water accessibility. H.E. explained that water can be used for energy and agricultural irrigation as well as for drinking and sanitation. In addition to the federal government taking action, he acknowledged the importance of coordinating solutions with local governments to ensure the safety to all people in Ecuador. He urged other countries to adopt a proactive, rather than reactionary, approach to natural disaster, and stated that Ecuador’s early actions can save thousands of lives.

Meeting: Plenary Meeting, “Action-Oriented Recommendations to Address the Socioeconomic and Environmental Impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño Phenomenon,” (Item 13).

Date/Location: Wednesday, 2 November, 2016; 10:00 to 13:00; United Nations Headquarters, General Assembly Hall

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, Permanent Representative of Peru; Distinguished Representative of Ecuador

Written By: Anna Prisco, WIT Representative

 

Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People

A special committee meeting was convened to discuss the situation of Puerto Rico, with regard to the granting of independence to colonial countries. The meeting was based on the General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) that affirms independence to colonial countries and people and recognises the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence.    

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Petitioners drew attention to the major political challenges facing Puerto Rico, resulting from its relationship with the United States: (i) the United States military presence in Puerto Rico; (ii) the imprisonment in the United States of pro-independence Puerto Ricans; and (iii) the application of the death penalty to Puerto Ricans convicted on federal charges. They, therefore, emphasised on the need to defend their inalienable right to sovereignty, which has been denied to them for many years.

Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, stressed that the government of the United States has the ministerial and moral duty to act upon the 54% of votes rejecting the commonwealth status. It is imperative upon the international community to find a common objective and a mechanism whereby the people of Puerto Rico can determine their status without any colonial restraints.

Ms. Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, highlighted the plight of workers who have been majorly challenged by American businesses and have consequently suffered economic damages. Furthermore, petitioners also underscored that Puerto Rico is the fourth country for military recruitment in the US. In 1917, 27,787 Puerto Ricans fought WWI and thousands of them lost their lives or are suffering from PTSD, arthritis, brain damage and severe disabilities.

Most petitioners posited that even though the US is seen as a major proponent of human rights, its colonial rule in Puerto Rico can be seen equivalent to a form of slavery. Mr. Juan Dalmau, denouncing the role of international community stated that the subordination of Puerto Rico is a testimony to the failure of the idea that the relation between nations should be conditioned as per international law.

Meeting Title: Granting of independence to colonial countries and people
Speakers: (Chair)H. E. Ambassador Xavier Lasso, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations; Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commisioner of Puerto Rico; Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, human rights activist; Mr. Juan Dalmau, Candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
Location: CR2, CB, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Early Childhood Development – Essential in the Post 2015 Development Agenda

Today at the United Nations, the twelfth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development commenced. It marks a weeklong platform for debate on the methods of work of the Rio+20 outcome document, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system.
A special event co-hosted primarily by Colombia, Ecuador and Italy aimed to strongly move forward in the approach to ensuring early child development as an important indicator to drive human development. H.E María Mejía stated that 6.6 million children die around the world each year due to preventable diseases and highlighted that “early age, thus, becomes the only time one can shape success for a society”. Ms. Cecilia Vaca further emphasized the political importance of early child development. Using the 2008 Ecuadorian constitution (that prioritizes the state, society and family) as the prime example, she urged member states to establish a developmental path within their judicial frameworks that recognizes the rights of the child to education and healthcare above all.

ImageH.E Sebastiano Cardi emphasized the significance of maternal healthcare. He posited that children’s health is closely linked to and dependent upon the healthcare instruments prevalent in countries for expecting mothers. Mr. James Wolfensohn strongly upheld the notion that unless governments of developing countries deal with young people, their health and education, there can be no future for the society.

All panelists were in tandem that child development and maternal healthcare are quintessential prerequisites to sustainable human development. The event concluded by giving a sense of possibility that this challenge, with the continued effort of member states, civil society and other stakeholders, can become every child’s reality.

 

 

The Foundation for Sustainable Human Development for 2015 and Beyond was a special event that coincided with the 12th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development (OWG). The event aimed to push forward the importance of child development in achieving sustainable human development.

 

Meeting Title: “Foundation for Sustainable Human Development for 2015 and Beyond”
Moderator: Ms. Pia Britto, Global Head of Early Childhood Development, UNICEF
Speakers: H.E María Emma Mejía, Permanent Representative of Colombia; H.E Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy; Ms. Cecilia Vaca, Minister of Social Development, Ecuador; Mr. James Wolfensohn, former World Bank President; Mr. Lu Mai, Secretary-General, China Development Research Foundation; Ms. Tessa Jowell, MP, Member of United Kingdom Parliament; Ms. Louise Zimanyi, Executive Director, Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development; and
Date: 16 June 2014
Location:
Conference Room 2United Nations Headquarters, New York
Written by WIT Representative:
Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Urban Prosperity and Urban Inequalities

Pathways and Concerns for the Future

Vladimir Drobnjak the Vice President of the Economic and Social Council opened the meeting by noting that 67 million new urban dwellers would reside in cities and towns within developing countries before 2020. It is therefore clear that leaders around the world have a very important role to navigate and plan for these impacts on their cities now to ensure equitable and effective urbanisation.

Mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Parks Tau explained that when communities took responsibility for inclusive programs by creating partnerships with the private sector, expenditures on the government went down and communities benefitted greatly. Mayor Tau also explained the importance for clean energy initiatives to meet the needs of urbanised areas, which Johannesburg has already begun approaching through 150 hybrid public buses; these buses run on a mix of biofuel and diesel and will be operational by the end of 2014.

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While the urbanization of African nations offers the chance for dramatic economic growth and empowerment through development there are strong concerns for the inequalities that could arise. Mr Carrasco, Prefect of Azuay in Ecuador, shared his conclusion that inequalities were due to limited access to services and the trend towards decentralization of the State. Mr Carrasco recommended that citizens be included in the processes of planning, building and implementing development procedures to encourage participation and strengthen the social fabric of new urban populations.

H.E. Michal Mlynár, Ambassador of Slovakia, and Ms. Carmen Griffiths explained the impact of urbanization could be disproportionately challenging on women. Ms. Griffiths emphasized concerns towards the large levels of crime in cities, particularly crimes against women. H.E. Mlynár explained inequalities among urban populations had increased in the last 20 years, and stressed that security was among the fundamental human rights that people expected, yet leaders failed to recognize that security challenges were often rooted in inequalities.

 

Meeting Title: Economic and Social Council 16th meeting: Dialogue on “Urban prosperity and urban inequalities”
Speakers: Vladimir Drobnjak Vice President of the Economic and Social Council, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira from UN-Habitat, H.E. Mayor Mpho Parks Tau of Johannesburg, Mr. Paul Carrasco Prefect from Azuay, Zoubida Allaoua representing Sustainable Development at the World Bank, Carmen Griffiths from Construction Resource and Development Center Jamaica, H.E. Michal Mlynár Ambassador of Slovakia, Professor Paul Romer from New York University
Date: 28 May 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark