The Sustainable Year

Ms. Thompson opened the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) meeting by highlighting that we need to develop sustainable energy and overcome financial challenges. Energy is critical to global development, but the future cannot depend on fossil fuels. In addition Energy efficiency and technology can provide universal energy access for all. The international community must replace fossil fuels by addressing the financial constraints of renewable energy. A committee, designed to investigate sustainable energy investments through public and private sectors, has proposed a draft report to catalyze investments by 2020. The report identifies significant financial gaps. Mr. Gulati illustrates that traditional and non-traditional investments are needed to accomplish three objectives: access, renewables, and efficiency. Also, Policy reforms need to attract capital, and address aggregation mechanisms and the lack of capacity.

Main issues focus on dealing with capital flow, de-risking environments, creating a predictable framework, and blending. Public and corporate governments must become financially viable, attract capital, and keep consumer costs fair. Mr. MacGeorge introduces the problem of channeling funding into countries below investment grade level. Sustainable Energy for All has a challenge of filling a $45 billion dollar gap. Not many renewable energy projects are attractive to financiers because of un-developed technology. Governments in low-income countries cannot take on the challenges of renewable energy, placing the burden on uninterested private developers. Another challenge lies in creating an attractive risk and return balance. Risk is only lessened when preparation of the project and policy mechanisms are improved. Larger projects generate more interest, leaving many middle-sized projects in an ignored category. Aggregation initiatives are being used to make assets appear more attractive to investors. Ambassador Pedersen related sustainable energy back to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

 

Meeting: Event on “Financing Sustainable Energy for All” (organized by the Special Representative of the Secretary – General for Sustainable Energy for All)

Date/Location: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015; 1:15 pm to 2:45 pm; Conference Room 12

Speakers: Abyd Karmali, Managing Director, Climate Finance, Bank of America Merril Lynch; Elizabeth Thompson; Richard MacGeorge, Lead Infrastructure Finance Specialist, World Bank; Mohinder Gulati, Chief Operating Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative; Ambassador Geir O. Pederson, Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations

Written by: Ellie Guner

Edited by: Modou Cham

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Girls Education

The Population Division organized and led the expert panel to discuss the known scientific knowledge on the main substantive issues on how population is an important factor in sustainable development and the sustainable development goals. The main panelist opened up the discussion with a PowerPoint highlighting how changes in age structure and demographics lead to a favorable working population. Having a favorable working population then leads to large socioeconomic improvements associated with behavioral changes and even societal health benefits. The next speaker, Sajeda Amin, led and introduced the Population Council’s work on livelihoods for adolescent girls. She stressed the need to invest in adolescent girls from not only a human rights perspective, but more of a strategic standpoint as well. The price of not investing in this demographic is high, as maternal morbidity rates, gender-based violence and HIV patients increase. To invest in this demographic, she stressed that investing in a girl’s education and providing resources to control fertility influences population growth. Dr. Amin showed a graph showing an inverse relationship in South Korean women, where fertility rates and female labor participation were directed in opposite directions. Thus, achieving sustainability depends critically on “investments in girls in settings where they are at high risk of dropping out of school, early marriage and early childbearing.” The next speaker, Mr. Eloundou-Enyegue talked about the demographic dividends gained from a changing population, in terms of health. He elaborated to state that there are many possible points of integration between sustainable development and population. He further addressed these variables between sustainable development and population including the growing economic inequality across the world. In closing, the main panelist stated that there is a clear correlation between population growth and the ability to sustain development, and stated that addressing these two issues collectively will pay dividends in the future.

Meeting: Expert panel on “Integrating Population Issues into Sustainable Development, Including in the Post-2015 Development Agenda” (organized by the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA))

Thursday, January 22, 2015; 10:00-13:00; Conference Room 5

Speakers: Dr. Sajeda Amin, Senior Associate of the Population Council; Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University

Written By: Daniel Cho

Edited By: Modou Cham

Ideas And Trends That Can Shape The Lives Of Present And Future Generations

imagesA moderated dialogue took place at the 2nd meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to address the emerging challenges that will affect future generations. Making reference to Rio+20 ‘The Future We Want’ report, Mr. Mcbean affirmed the need to promote intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development. He highlighted the negative impacts of climate change, particularly loss of biodiversity and frequent disasters, deteriorate the quality of life in a global and intergenerational scale. Taking into account uncertainty always exists, he demanded a sense of reality and adoption of better risk management.

Mr. Nakicenovic saw education as the critical tool for human capacity building. He urged for sustainability revolution to proceed at a greater speed and, by all means through SDGs, universal access of energy, sanitation and education beyond 2030 can be achieved to fully eliminate inequality across all scales in future generations. Mr. Daives introduced the Wales Bill to illustrate good governance and decision-making for the long term. He quoted “the Bill has the power to resolve intergenerational challenges beyond the term of one government and beyond the scope of government alone”. The mechanisms of the Bill includes the setting of national long-term development goals, the requirement of public settings to demonstrate how their policies can meet national long-term goals and establishment of an independent future generation commissioner with legal power to advocate for the long-term.

Mr. Szabo discussed the role of national institutions in safeguarding future generations. He highlighted both industrialized and developing countries suffering from important structure problem and national institutions can initiate public dialogue on the long-term wellbeing of society, help cultivate environmental literacy and help the national implementation of UN Policies in the safeguarding of the needs of future generation. Finally, he pointed out many institutions adopted the Budapest Memorandum to promote the spread of national institutions for future generations and to safeguard their interest in the SDGs target.

Meeting Title: Ideas and trends that can shape the lives of present and future generations
Speakers: Mr. Gordon McBean , President-elect, International Council for Science; Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic , Deputy Director of IIASA, Director of Global Energy Assessment, and professor of Vienna University of Technology; Mr. Peter Davies, Sustainable Futures Commissioner for Wales, UK; Mr. Marcel Szabó , Deputy-Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Responsible for the Protection of the Interest of Future Generations, Hungary; Ms. Catherine Pearce , World Future Council
Location: Trusteeship Council, UNHQ, New York
Date: 1 July 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by Wit Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Global Citizenship through Multilingualism

A special event on youth and multilingualism, co-organized by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), Department of Public Information (DPI) and ELS Educational Services, was held at the United Nations Headquarters today. The event was held to celebrate the power of languages to connect people around the world by bridging divides and enriching our understanding of the human experience.Image

Sixty highly-talented students from twenty-six countries representing all regions of the world, were selected through an essay writing competition, and honored with the opportunity to make presentations on the UNAI principles relating to education and global citizenship.

Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal congratulated the students for their highly commendable linguistic skills as they were asked to write essays on global citizenship in a language that is neither their mother tongue nor their usual medium of instruction. Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal emphasised on the ability of the youth to address complex global issues and articulate a vision for an interdependent world by bringing creative energy, fresh ideas and new paradigms for the future. He further added that the students embodied the spirit of the United Nations Charter, which lays out the outline for a more peaceful, balanced and a harmonious global community.

Students highlighted the importance of global citizenship and proposed ways of achieving it. The proposals extensively focused on the purpose of equal education, which is to make every child gain access to more opportunities through education. Investment in quality education will foster interest in the minds of the youth to know, understand and experience other languages and cultures. Students also laid stress on the importance of solidarity for achieving peace. The world needs to be united to resolve global problems and the key for discussing and advancing ideas for global citizenship is education. Thus, educational institutions should aim to promote global oriented programs for their students in order to prepare them for the future.

Meeting Title:Global Youth Forum on Multilingualism: Many Languages, One World
Chair: Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
Location: General Assembly Hall, North Lawn Building, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 27 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Women’s Empowerment at the Regional Level: Focus on Developing Countries

womenThe Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board 2014, under item 6 of the agenda, discussed efforts towards empowerment of women at the regional level, and gender related challenges faced by developing countries.

A report on the joint field visits of the Executive Boards of UNDP/ UNFPA/ UNOPS, UNICEF, UN Women and WFP to Panama and El Salvador, was presented at the United Nations headquarters today. The purpose of these visits was to learn about the role, functions and efforts of various UN entities at the regional level, where delegations visited project sites in different areas.

The highlight of today’s meeting was Ciudad Mujer (Women’s City), which is a flagship project of the El Salvador Government. The Secretary for Social Inclusion of El Salvador, Dr. Vanda Pignato, emphasized that women undergo numerous disadvantages due to lack of opportunities through various dimensions of human development. Ciudad Mujer, therefore, deals in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, response to violence, education and vocational training, processes to strengthen economic autonomy, food security and integral childcare, all in compliance with the Millennium Development Goals. This initiative by El Salvador has inspired other delegations in their efforts towards women’s empowerment.

Delegations highlighted the importance of collaboration between government institutions and civil society with support from several UN agencies to combat violence against women, which is widespread in developing countries. They also highlighted the importance of ensuring that women’s rights are protected and fulfilled.

H.E. Mr. Gonzalo Koncke Pizzorno, in support of developing countries, underscored that the method used to classify developing countries in the UN forum does not take into account the challenges faced by these countries. The challenges are multifaceted and therefore, developing countries require special consideration through holistic answers and approaches.

 

Meeting Title: 5th Meeting of the Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board 2014
Speakers: H.E. Mr.Gonzalo Koncke Pizzorno, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Uruguay and President of the Board of Executive Directors of UN Women; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Executive Director Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations; Ms. Lakshmi Puri Deputy Executive Director, Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. John Hendra Deputy Executive Director, Policy and Programme Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Dr. Vanda Pignato, Secretary for Social Inclusion of El salvador
Date: 19 June 2014
Location: CR 2, CB, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

 

General Assembly Debates the Future of Human Security

human-securityThe President of the General Assembly convened an open debate to “reflect on our perspectives on human security, safety and freedom”. The Deputy Secretary-General opened the debate by urging states to put human security at the center of the future development framework. He was followed by Professor Gasper, who defined the human security approach as a set of language for describing security challenges and highlighted the “human-centric, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-based” nature of the approach. Mr. Alia elaborated on this point by stating the holistic human security policies of his country, Benin, which provide for basic human needs such as education, AIDS prevention and child and maternal healthcare. He added that these basic provisions are enablers of state-building, and cited the example of literate citizens registering their identity to practice their full rights of citizenship. Ms. Dicapo highlighted the importance of members’ contribution in continuing the UN system’s promotion of the human security approach. The debate continued with Professor Pulhin who explained how the approach should be applied to alleviate the effects on migration and conflicts brought about by climate change. Ms. Keita, quoting the example of empowered Malian women in the nation’s reconciliation, called for more participation from civil society in applying the approach.

State parties speaking in the debate, including the EU, Slovenia, Japan, Costa Rica and South Africa, supported the UN’s work in promoting human security. Japan urged the Secretary-General to further mainstream the approach in the work of UN agencies and the SDGs. Brazil said that to prevent the approach from being only a set of rhetoric, the international community must also consider how it can be applied to contemporary challenges such as food security and large-scale surveillance. While Russia supported the approach, she believed that it is only the national governments that should decide how to implement it.

Meeting Title: UN General Assembly Thematic Debate: “Responding to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century: Human Security and the post-2015 development agenda”
Speakers: H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe, President of the United Nations General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General; Professor Des Gasper, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam; Ms. Sonia Dicapo, Chair of the Advisory Group of the UN Trust Fund for Human Security; Professor Juan Pulhin, University of the Philippines; Ms. Oulie Keita, Director of Programs Freedom House, Board member of WANEP Mali.
Location: Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 18th June, 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Charting the Course For the Education We Want

To inform the community on the progress of achieving “Education for All” through the Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO and UNICEF hosted an information meeting to provide updates on their work. Ms. Jensen highlighted the enormity of the task of incorporating education for all as a distinct developmental goal, which has its roots in the 1990s. She cautioned the audience that the visionary goal of ensuring “equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning” in the zero draft must not be watered down in subsequent deliberations, a mistake learnt from the lessons of the Millennium Development Goals.Image

Mr. Vedeler mentioned the importance ensuring quality education, and how it is reflected in the zero draft targets by aiming at educating children that are not only literate, but are also equipped to work and become global citizens. His remarks on the importance of qualified teachers are also echoed by Ms. Wulff, who stated that some countries have more than 50% of teachers who are not qualified to teach. Ms. Wulff also stated the importance of motivating teachers by means of improving their compensation and restoring respect to the profession.

Miss Crosco intervened on the point of monitoring and evaluation, and stressed the positive role that the civil society has played in shaping education development should be maintained in the SDGs monitoring process. On the technical aspect of monitoring, Mr. Antonisis stated the need to develop new measurable indicators for intangible goals such as students’ acquisition of problem-solving skills and equity in education achievement. However, he also made an encouraging statement on the positive progress in developing these new indicators so far. The Deputy Permanent Representatives of two sponsoring states, Argentina and Brazil, showed their support to UNESCO and UNICEF, and shared their countries best practices in achieving education for all.

Meeting Title: Beyond 2015: The Education We Want Information Meeting
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Guilherme de Guiar Patriota, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil; Ms. Josephine Bourne, UNICEF Global Chief of Education; Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in New York; Mr. Dankert Vedeler, Chair of Education for All Steering Committee, Ms. Antonia Wulff, Education International Coordinator for Education and Employment; Ms. Camilla Crosco, Co-Chair of EFA Steering Committee; Mr. Manos Antoninis, Senior Policy Analyst for Education For All Global Monitoring Report.
Location: Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 16 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

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

Tourism as a Potential Tool for Peacebuilding Efforts

A panel discussion, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Austria, the World Tourism Organization and the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education of the University of Klagenfurt, was held today to address the importance of tourism as a tool for peacebuilding process. Mr. Sajdik opened the discussion by sharing how tourism played the vital role in his own country, Austria, in recovering prosperity after World War II. He believed tourism can be a source of sustainable economic growth as well as the well-being for people. He carried on by highlighting tourism as building block for peace and harmony in which cultural dialogue and exchanges are embraced and promoted.

earth-in-our-handsw

Mr. Rifai referred tourism as global peace industry, where tourists could freely engage in local communities and share stories with one another, meanwhile break barriers to embrace multicultural understanding. He anticipated stability and peace could be uphold and foster in this age of travelling if we called upon ourselves to be global ambassadors, promoting mutual understanding, tolerance and peace through tourism. Mr. Al-Nasser, then elaborated by pointing out tourism is an enabler for peace and development, fosters exchange of ideas and objectives and helps to make awareness of the diversity of cultural backgrounds.

Ms. Wohlmuther, the author of International Handbook on Tourism and Peace, introduced her work and discussed how tourism can overcome conflict and culture peace in eight domains of actions. She illustrated the connection between tourism and peace by means of case studies of Alps-Adriatic Region, Columbia, Myanmar and emphasized the importance of global citizenship education as top priority to raise global awareness and develop empathy for diversity. She called for the practice of peace-sensitive tourism, a new terminology used in her book, to foster peace, promote justice and humanity and to solve conflict in non-violence manner.

Meeting Title:

Speakers: Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in New York; Taleb D. Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization; Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations; Cordula Wohlmuther, author of International Handbook on Tourism and Peace
Location: United Nations, NLB 7, New York
Date: 13 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau

Orientating the Post-2015 Agenda

The second day of the Forum on Youth focused on young people’s input into the post-2015 development agenda. Image

Mr. Russell-Moyle opened the proceeding by reaffirming that it is the tradition for young people to be agents of change. He urged young people to adopt various roles and strategies to make their voices count, whether it be respectfully communicating their wishes or passionately protesting against the darker shades of society. He encouraged advocates not too lose sight of the long-term goal of making young people the center of decision-making, for their work may “not reach our skyscraper of ambition, but will build our foundation of success”.

Mr. Awasthi briefed the conference on the consultation of young people on the post-2015 agenda. He believed that the crowdsourcing exercise of the Global Partnership on Youth on the post-2015 agenda provides a good reference point on which member states can refer to when consulting youth domestically. Mr. Awasthi pointed out several differences between the ideas raised by the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development and that in the crowdsourcing process, and said that such differences illustrate the need to consult young people on issues of their concern. For instance, young people spoke out strongly in demanding the SDGs to enshrine provision for education in ICT, reproductive health and human rights, which is overlooked by member states in the Open Working Group.

The Forum continued with breakout sessions on the five thematic priorities identified in the crowdsourcing process, namely education, employment and entrepreneurship, health, peace and personal security and governance and participation. Meetings discussed the youth collaborative document proposing goals and crucial targets for the youth population: ‘The Global Youth Call: Prioritizing Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. 

 

Meeting Title: Post-2015 working sessions (“#Youth2015: Realizing the future they want”)
Speakers: Mr. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Vice-President, European Youth Forum (Keynote Speaker); Mr. Prateek Awasthi, Technical Analyst, Adolescents and Youth, United Nations Population Fund (Moderator of Interactive Dialogue); Various Youth Delegates.
Location: United Nations Headquarters, Conference Room 1
Date: 3 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark