WORLD OCEAN’S DAY

Goal-14

In his opening remarks, H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, addressed the issue of environmental justice with regard to rising sea levels, ocean temperature rise, and fishery decline – all of which pose increasing threats to the wellbeing and livelihoods of Pacific island nations whose actions towards global climate change have remained minimal. Palau calls upon stronger global partnerships that allow for a united mobilization towards SDG 14: Life Below Water, as well as funding to help island nations face the challenges they will come across in the upcoming years.

During the keynote address, Mr. Nainoa Thompson shared his first-hand experiences whilst aboard the Mãlama Hanua Worldwide Voyage, Polynesian Voyaging Society, and their visitation to 27 countries. Bringing awareness on the environmental issues faced by island nations, as well as expressing their values and indigenous knowledge, the organization seeks to connect with diverse communities and scientific practices in order to strengthen innovation and capacity building. Inspiring the world to navigate toward sustainability, the Voyage reminds us of our ‘Island Earth’ and the responsibilities we have to protect it. By understanding and caring for our natural environment we can set it as a priority, and only then, develop an economy around it. The Voyage articulates an identity based on the ocean, and calls upon leaders to not simply read and sign declarations but to commit to solutions, foster innovation, and use entrepreneurship to support and achieve SDG14.

Meeting: Permanent Mission of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations: World Oceans Day – Voyaging to a Sustainable Planet

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, June 8, 2016; 15:30 – 18:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: H.E Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau; Pomai Bertelmannn; Nainoa Thompson, Master Navigator and President, Polynesian Voyaging Society; U’ilani Hayes Halau Ku Mana; Dr. Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative of Palau to the UN

Written By: WIT Representative, Lena Courcol

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

The New Urban Agenda

 

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Photo: UN-Habitat

The Breakfast Series began by Ms. Ramdas’ opening address in stating the vision of Ford Foundation of creating a society that embraces diversity, equity and creativity by combating spatial inequalities under the new Urban Agenda. She emphasized the importance of including youth and women at not only consultation stages in anti-inequalities policy formulation, but also in the decision-making process. To support such vision as well as the formation of Habitat III’s Zero Draft, she concluded her speech by assuring Ford Foundation’s full commitment in this regard. The Panel Discussion commenced with the Moderator’s speech, stating that notwithstanding spatial inequalities have been an issue, gender or income-based inequalities persist. Note that inequalities are narrower at upper strata of the society, she then urged civil society and member states to work collaboratively to put their attention on young women that face both poverty and gender-based discriminations. From NGOs’ perspective, Ms. Katcha stated that rather than dwelling in the Zero Draft’s details, it is more important currently to shift our focus to high-level political negotiation since the effectiveness of any commitment on the Zero Draft could not be translated into reality without member states’ recognition, adoption and proactive participation. In addition, note that the New Urban Agenda is a strategic transformation that engages the Sustainable Development Goals, the Agenda must shed light on improving urban-rural linkage since gender-based inequalities differ at urban and rural settings and it is only by doing so can we align to SDGs’ principle of “leaving no one behind”.

At the grassroots level, Ms. Thross expressed her concerns over the persistence of routines and bureaucracy that exist not only in national governments, but also the United Nations, whereby hindering grassroots and civil society to channel their voices to the power-holders. In response to this, Ms. Katherine suggested to formalize the relationship between governments and civil society under the new Agenda. Also, she pointed out that besides young women, the current Agenda has completely left behind elder women; note that its population is projected to thrive, it is of urgent need for the new Agenda to incorporate discussion over them in its formulation. Concluding the meeting was the Moderator’s remark in suggesting the importance of globalizing the new urban agenda, that is, to contextualize its content prior to its adoption at local level.

Meeting: Habitat III Civil Society Breakfast series on critical issues in the New Urban Agenda – Gender and the New Urban Agenda

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, 8 June, 2016; 08:00 – 10:00; 11/F, Ford Foundation

Speakers: Ms. Kavita N. Ramdas, Former Representative of Ford Foundation at New Delhi, Ms. Violet Shivutse, Moderator; Shibuye Community Health Workers, Ms. Denini, Representative from Maasai Women Development Organisation (MWEDO), Ms. Katcha, NGO representative, Ms. Thross, invited participants from an African grassroots community, Ms. Katherine, Former Diplomat

Written by: Raphael LEUNG

Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

 

Delivering an AIDS-free Generation

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Today’s afternoon meeting held by the UNAIDS council presented a panel of well renowned HIV/AIDS activists, expressing their plea for the continued support of the UNAIDS program in order to one day have an AIDS-free society. The President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, began by praising UNAIDS’ commitment in acting swiftly and their intensified efforts to end HIV transmission. Five years since the UN has joined forces in the global fight to end child transmission of AIDS, significant progress has been made. Noted, was the fact that since inception, 33% of pregnant women now have access to treatment that allows them to stop AIDS from transferring to their newborns. Speakers addressed that an AIDS-free generation requires much more action that is aligned with Agenda 2030. Transmission rates must decrease significantly between mothers and their children by scaling up treatment for the mothers. Work on the ground, directly with the affected population and promotion of access to treatment and funding to countries that are overwhelmed by the epidemic need to be considered.

The Executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, then took the stand and thanked all the countries that are joining the UNAIDS mission to eliminate children born with AIDS. He mentioned that stigma is still one of the biggest challenges behind the fight against HIV/AIDS and that member states must all partner up to stop it. A video was shown of the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya thanking the 21 Sub-Saharan African countries for their unwavering support and partnership. It was mentioned that the only 100% effective way to stop the transmission of AIDS from mother to child is to target adolescent girls and ensure their prevention from getting infected. The meeting ended with the General Assembly President thanking all who participated and showed.

Meeting: Delivering an AIDS-free Generation

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, June 8, 2016; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 3

Speakers: Ms. Whoopie Goldberg, Host of the View; Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of UN General Assembly and Ambassador of Denmark; Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive director of UNAIDS; Mr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health in South Africa, Monica Geingos, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; Annie Lenox, acclaimed singer and songwriter and founder of SING; Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to combat HIV/AIDS; Piyasakol Sakolsataydorn, Minister of Public Health of the Kingdom of Thailand

Written by: WIT representative, Amirali Agha-Khan

Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

Technology and the Sustainable Development Goals

Todays morning meeting revolved around realizing the potential science, technology and innovation has to help us achieve our SDGs. Mr. Kamen began by emphasizing the importance of creating scientists and engineers from our youth equally throughout the world. He showed two videos of his technology program, FIRST, a foundation that makes science just as enjoyable and entertaining to our youth as sports. He advised member countries to figure out a way to include their own FIRST programs in their respective states. Professor Co from Northwestern University continued the general assembly by promoting member states to work towards a future that can take advantage of our recourses and youth, such that one-day gasoline can be generated when needed and done so through renewable energy that will not contribute to climate change. He explained that partnerships of nations and a classification system of modern knowledge can make government funded research more accessible and help align target research with SDGs.

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Both Ambassador Joon and Secretary General Ki-Moon gave statements regarding the power of science and innovation. Mr. Ki-Moon stated that tech and innovation must not be limited to SDG17 or confined to the use of new technologies and software, rather innovation is a mindset and attitude we must utilize. He also noted that the Multi-Stakeholder forum will take place each year until 2030 to allow all sectors of society to work together and look outwards to include greater cooperation through parliaments. Mr. Nakicenovic represented the Group of 10 and spoke about their belief in the importance the forum holds in terms of STI and how central it is to human development and is the primary mechanism for achieving SDG. His plan is to increase the sustainable development plan of agenda 2030 and create a 2050 plan.

Meeting: Multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

Date/Time/Location: Monday, June 6, 2016; 10:45-13:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers:  Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of United Nations; Ambassador Oh Joon, President of ECOSOC; Mr. Dean Kamen, American entrepreneur and founder of FIRST; Professor Dick T. Co, Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University; Komal Ahmad, Founder and CEO of COPIA; Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director General/ Deputy CEO of the International Institute for Applied System.

Written by: WIT representative Amirali Agha-Khan

Edited by: WIT Administrator Modou Cham

Photo: www.ssr.titech.ac.j

International Year of the Family

arton3606The meeting began by Ms. Yang’s introduction of the Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes. She explained the strong correlation between family policies and sustainable development, with an emphasis on the way in which poverty reduction can be facilitated as a result of formulating sustainable family policies.

In enlisting members’ support of the resolution concluded in the report outlining the outcome of the 54th Session of the Commission, Mr. Jinga introduced the deliberations result and thus the resolutions that contain states’ action on the recommendations presented. He also stressed that the political guidance provided by the Commission is crucial to eliminate poverty at 2030 by leaving no one behind. Further, he expressed his concern that in the midst of globalization, technological advancement and social development – drivers of inequalities that are continuingly growing, it is important for relevant stakeholders (civil society, academia, nation states and private sector) to clearly identify different inequalities and their drivers by including vulnerable and marginalized group in policy formulation, therefore translating commitment into result by 2030 under the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

To add-on the discussion on alleviating gender inequalities, the Representative of Mexico cited the amendment of it’s own constitution by avoiding discriminatory languages in classifying people with different gender and sexual orientation, therefore creating an equal society – a successful move that could be taken reference of.

The Commission concluded the meeting by approving three draft resolutions as outlined by the said report for the adoption by ECOSOC with one on the Commission’s future organization and working methodology, another on social dimensions of the new partnership for Africa’s development, followed by the last one on strengthening social development in the contemporary world. Whilst the first and the last resolutions were endorsed unanimously by consensus, a rare vote was required by member states on the second one, with a vote of 26 in favour, 16 against, with no abstentions. A point observed by the writer is that those in favour are predominantly developing countries whilst naysayers are mostly developed ones like Japan.

The meeting was then adjourned, and would be resumed on 3th June, 2016 at 10:00 with follow-ups that include but not limited to questions related to international cooperation on economic and environmental issues.

Meeting: The 28th Meeting of Commission for Social Development of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Social and human rights questions: Social development, Session 2016

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, 2 June, 2016; 15:30 – 18:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: His Excellency Mr. Ion Jinga, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations; Former Chair of the Commission for Social Development of the Economic and Social Council, Ms. Wenyan Yang, Chief of Social Perspective on Development Branch, United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development, President of the Meeting, Representative of Mexico

Written by:  WIT Representative, Raphael LEUNG

Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

 

To Embrace Autism Together

The conference was convened to discuss ways in which the global community can address autism through the SDGs.  As a panelist, H.E. Mr. Momen highlighted the importance of perceiving people with autism as individuals. We must accept their differences, for they are also human and thus have the same essential human rights. He further noted that there can be no talk of health without addressing mental health. Ms. Ban Soon-Taek stated that the equal participation of people with autism is required in order to create the inclusive societies laid out in the 2030 Agenda.

Ms. Wright reminded the assembly that 193 member states have voted to help the nearly 70 million people with autism. Through her organization’s initiative, Light it Up Blue, 147 countries have pledged to light their countries blue in dedication to the rights of people with autism. Starting with the Empire State building, 10 of the world’s tallest buildings would join the initiative and “go blue”. She further acknowledged the accomplishments of the coordinated Autism Speaks and WHO initiative: “Parent Skills Training for Caregivers of Children with Developmental Delays and Disorders”. The program delivers both parents and families with the skills needed for the management of developmental disorders such as autism. The goal is to empower families to take control.

Next, Dr. Nabarro claimed that effective development is one in which all people can participate in as much of life as possible. Thus, the treatment of autism must move beyond simply a health issue and enlist wider societal involvement. Dr. Shore shared his own experience as an autistic child and the ways in which his parents helped in his development and return to school. We must look at what a person with autism can do and move from awareness to acceptance and finally appreciation.

Meeting: “Addressing Autism: Strategies for the Global Community in Relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”

Date/Location: April 1, 2016; 15:00-18:00; Trusteeship Council Chamber

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN; H.E. Ms. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the UN; H.E. Mr. Syed Akbaruddin, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN; Ms. Ban Soon-Taek, Spouse of the UN Secretary-General; Ms. Suzane Wright, founder of Autism Speaks; Dr. Stephen Shore, Professor at Adelphi University in New York; Dr. David Nabarro; Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Closing the Digital Gender Gap

The final side event of the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women hosted a panel discussion on closing the digital gender gap. Ms. Riazi began the presentations by sharing her personal story about pursuing a career in STEM. She highlighted the issue of girls’ hesitations to join the field of technology, despite being avid users of it. Later, she cited multiple statistics on the value of having women in the workforce, particularly in technology. According to her, achieving an end to digital divide between men and women could add up to $12 trillion in economic growth.

Next, Mr. Garcia emphasized that better steps have to be taken to obtain clear data on Internet users and digital literacy. Effective data can lead to stronger public policies. Following, Mr. Musharakh shared what his country, the United Arab Emirates, has done to close the digital gender gap. Fifty-seven percent of women in UAE universities pursue STEM. They are encouraged to not only be users of technology, but also become content creators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Although UAE has been successful, Mr. Musharakh admitted that there is still much more to be done globally.

Ms. Lindsey introduced her Connected Women initiative, which will increase the proportion of women in the customer base by 2020. She also stated that women are willing to use up to 10% of their income on mobile ownership because it is a tool of empowerment. Finally, Ms. Ball wrapped up presentations by pointing out that mothers with access to technology would benefit their children and family.

Meeting: Technology Empowering Women: Closing the Digital Gender Gap to Achieve Agenda 2030

Date/Location: Thursday, 24 March 2016; Ex-Press Bar; UN Headquarters; NYC

Speakers: Gary Fowlie, Head of ITU Liaison Office to the UN (moderator); Atefeh Riazi, Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Information Technology Officer, UN Office of Information and Communications; Juan Carlos Mendoza Garcia, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the UN; Jamal Al Musharakh, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the UN; Dominica Lindsey, Senior Manager of Research Strategy & Evaluations GSMA Connected Living; Andrea Ball, Executive Director of American Mothers

Written By: WIT Representative Julianne Jeon

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Centro de Investigacion Para La Accion Feminina

Joining Forces to Prevent Violence Against Women

The event concentrated on how governments and NGOs can cooperate in preventing violence against women. Panelists from Australia shared their own perspectives on how to galvanize change and incorporate youth.

Ms. Welgraven spoke of ways in which NATSIWA has helped overcome indigenous family violence. To change violence, it is important to change the minds of youth. In indigenous communities, women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalized because of family violence or related assaults. Most often, victims are ashamed and remain silent. Ms. Welgraven called for urgent action and the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in decisions. There must be a rise in indigenous-specific programs and services with a concomitant increase in public funding.

Ms. Gissane, spoke of the new Young Women’s Advisory Group (YWAG). The group consists of 10 young women working to promote comprehensive sexuality and respectful relationships education in the national curricula of Australia. The initiative works to connect young ladies to the rest of the women movement and thus foster intergenerational partnerships. Through the launching of a survey, “Let’s Talk: Young Women’s Views on Sex Education,” YWAG has gathered responses from 1000 young women. The results demonstrated that young women want more sex education and believe that their current curricula are limited and outdated.

Both Ms. Gleeson and Ms. Patty highlighted the importance of galvanizing change through the education of respectful relationships in schools. The young generation of Australia does believe in equality, but at the overt level. Due to structural barriers, youth struggle to connect with manifestations of violence against women. It is up to schools, which are essential cultural points in a child’s education, to educate on respectful relationships. Schools must also be safe platforms for kids facing violence to speak up and be heard.

Meeting: “Galvanizing Change: Engaging Young People to Create a Future Free from Violence.”

Date/Location: Thursday, March 17, 2016; 10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; Consulate Room, the Westin Grand Central

Speakers: Ms. Clara Gleeson, Our Watch and YWCA, Australia; Ms. Vicky Welgraven, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance, Australia; Ms. Louise McSorley, Office for Women, Australia; Ms. Rosie Batty, Luke Batty Foundation; Ms. Hannah Gissane, Equality, Rights, Alliance, Australia

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Flickr

The SDGs and Negative Attitudes Towards Migrants

Fleeing persecution: The Syrian migrants run after crossing under the fence to Hungary at the Serbian border

The meeting was convened to discuss the measuring of sustainable development goals and targets related to migration. Attention was drawn towards the disproportion in recruitment and employment between migrant and non-migrant workers. Mr. Hovy argued that the task for 2017 is to desegregate such disparities.

In measuring targets related to human trafficking, Mr. Fowke cited targets 5.2 and 8.7 which address violence against women and children, respectively. He advocated for a global indicator that can apply to entire populations and aid in desegregation. Moreover, in order to adequately measure statistics of human trafficking, we must ensure the inclusion of hidden and undetected cases of trafficking victims. Right now, there is no existing methodology to accurately count the number of victims worldwide. He also noted that in terms of the prevalence of populations at risk, the focus of the SDGs on only beneficiaries does not accurately define the overall at-risk population. We need a numerator but also a denominator. We need a percentage and not just a total number.

Next, H.E. Mr. Eliasson recognized that large movement of people has become a prominent feature in the emerging global landscape. Through the 2030 commitment to confront challenges and improve lives, states must leave no one behind and help those farthest behind. Currently, the latter includes migrants, refugees, and displaced persons. H.E. noted the current negative regard for migrants that has pervaded throughout the International Community. We must move towards a positive global role and an appreciation for the beauty of diversity in societies. He concluded by calling on all states to uphold the provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 protocol. Managing and protecting the dignity and rights of migrants irrespective of their statuses could help bring an end to poverty and an increase in global prosperity.

Meeting: Fourteenth Annual Coordination Meeting on International Migration (organized by the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA))   

Date/Location: Friday, February 26th, 2016; 10:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00; Conference Room 11

Speakers: Ms. Yongyi Min, Chief of SDG Monitoring Unit, DESA; Mr. Martin Fowke, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime; Mr. Bela Hovy, Moderator; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Responding to Zika: Prevention is Better Than the Cure

The Beautiful Risk

Today, H.E. Oh Joon began the briefing with introducing its agenda concerning the need for international cooperation and building preparedness in the face of the public health crisis due to the rise of the Zika virus and cited possible contributing factors to the outbreak, including climate change.  Then, Dr. Menabde and Dr. Espinal spoke of the WHO’s and PAHO’s objective of investigating and responding to microcephaly and other neurological disorders related to the Zika outbreak by enhancing surveillance measures to monitor the spread of the virus, communicating with communities to dispel stereotypes about the virus and encourage safe sex among pregnant women and their partners, and researching the virus’ consequences.  Next, Dr. Kachur mentioned the CDC’s need for forming better monitoring systems for the virus, enhancing laboratory systems, training workforces, and establishing more field offices to further investigate the disease, as well as creating better tests to differentiate symptoms of the Zika virus from other diseases, such as dengue and chikungunya.

Additionally, Dr. Henriques spoke of the evolution of the virus in Brazil since the beginning of 2015 and mentioned that the rise in cases of microcephaly is what alerted health professionals to the possibility of a Zika outbreak.  He also stated that although the government is dealing with many unanswered questions concerning the current scientifically unproven link between microcephaly and the Zika virus and the future consequences of the disease, Brazil’s Ministry of Health’s main priority is to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus and support women and children.  Finally, Mr. Wahba cited that there are 503 cases of the Zika virus in Haiti and that development, human rights issues and underfunding are impediments to helping achieve progress in this matter within the country.

Meeting: Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2016 Session: Briefing on the Zika Virus

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, February 16, 2016; 15:00-17:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: His Excellency Ambassador Oh Joon, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from the Republic of Korea; Dr. Natela Menabde, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Office at the United Nations (UN) in New York City; Dr. Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis at the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO); Dr. Patrick Kachur, Principal Deputy Director of the Center for Global Health at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Cláudio Maierovitch Pessanha Henriques, Director of the Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance at the Ministry of Health in Brazil; Mr. Mourad Wahba, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations (UN) Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Port-au-Prince

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: BBC News