Homegrown solutions to African problems and innovative practices in humanitarian action

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The event aims to showcase innovative models in private-public sector partnerships in humanitarian financing.

Ms. Jeanine Cooper opened the panel discussion by stating that helping is an integral part of the social fabric of Africa and therefore finding solutions in response to humanitarian crises is something very innate to the community.

Mr. Muhamad Sani Sidi’s address was about locating best practices learning from the 2012 flood in Nigeria. It was the largest natural disaster the country has ever seen, displacing over 2.3 million people. As an outcome, public-private partnerships have strengthened in the region. The Federal Government of Nigeria allocates 1% of total national income towards disaster management. Furthermore, the private sector too played a key role by raising and allocating 84 million US Dollars towards the disaster. However, the disaster coupled with the problem of insurgency in the country pose many humanitarian problems such as the closure of educational institutions in Nigeria.

Mr. Ahmed Idris shared success stories from Kenya. He posited that young people are vital to the progress of Africa as more than half of the population of the continent is under the age of 20. This reflects a growth in literacy rates as more children in the 21st century attend school compared to their older counterparts. Furthermore, technology is playing a key role in aiding humanitarian assistance. In Kenya technology helps authorise humanitarian assistance and aid documents from the government within five days.

Mr. Sunday Babatunde echoed similar innovative ideas highlighted by Mr. Ahmed Idris and Mr. Muhamad Sani Sidi. He addressed a need for governments to develop support systems that encourage these novel responses to old problems relating to humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, he stated that OCHA AU has a humanitarian assistant team with 23 members states and many UN Agencies that support initiatives of the African Union for coordination and Africa Disaster Management Platform.

 Meeting title: “Homegrown solutions to African problems and innovative practices in humanitarian action”
Speakers: Ms. Jeanine Cooper, OCHA representative to the AU and ECA; Mr. Ahmed Idris, Kenya Red Cross; Mr. Sunday Babatunde, OCHA regional civil military coordinator (Africa Region); Mr. Muhamad Sani Sidi, Director General, NEMA-Nigeria
Location: Conference Room E, United Nations HQ, New York 
Date: Thursday, 26 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Trends in Humanitarian Financing: do resources meet the needs?

UntitledHumanitarian crises and needs in 2013 was extraordinary, the level of international humanitarian response rose to a record high of US$22 billion. As crises developed or emerged over the year, the numbers of affected people fluctuated. In light of that, financial resources are increasingly stretched. At the United Nations panellists gathered to discuss and identify how resources can more effectively channelled in order to meet the needs of affected civilians.

H.E. Ambassador Nusseibeh commenced the meeting by highlighting 2012 as a year of “recurring disasters” during which there was a stark change in the number of high-level humanitarian crises in 2013. Millions of people were affected by various crises, which stretched international response and funding. In particular adversity in South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen affected hundreds of thousands of people and called for significant international humanitarian response.

Ms. Swithern emphasised that South Sudan and Syria now appear at the top of the list of nations in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. This is due to the ongoing conflict driven crises in these respective countries. The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Turkey and Japan were the largest government donors in 2013. He stressed that even though the international humanitarian response has increased significantly, it is still not enough to fully meet the ever-growing global needs.

Mr. Strohmeyer briefly explained the importance of looking at various funding mechanisms and developing multi-year strategies as funding moves through chains of transaction in varying lengths and complexity. He also stated that in order to improve the effectiveness of resources, it is necessary to provide independent, transparent and accessible information.

It is clear that national and local NGOs form an essential part of the humanitarian response. Ms. Genel introduced a Turkey-based NGO ‘Support to Life’, which works internationally on humanitarian principles. Despite NGO assistance Ms. Genel emphasised that domestic government resources are substantial and should continue to be the key driver of long-term development.

Meeting Title: Trends in humanitarian financing: do resources meet the needs?
Speakers: Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations; Ms. Sophia Swithern, Programme Leader, Global Humanitarian Programme of Development Initiatives; Mr. Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief, Policy Development and Studies Branch (OCHA); Ms. Sema Genel, Director, Support to Life (Turkey)
Location: Conference Room C, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited By WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Cross-Regional Perspectives on Democratic Accountability

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This afternoon a meeting was convened on the linkages between human rights, rule of law, and democracy, and their effects on public service delivery. Ms. Miculescu began the meeting by stating that transparent and accountable institutions, as well as active participation and inclusion of all citizens in policy-making processes, are imperative for efficient public service delivery, democracy, and human rights.

Following this introduction, Dr. Spehar spoke about how democratic accountability is relevant for development, how to ensure democratic accountability in public service delivery through horizontal accountability (state institutions that hold each other accountable) as well as through vertical accountability (the role of citizens, civil society, and the media to hold government institutions accountable), and how democratic accountability can be assessed by using various governance indicators. The most effective democratic accountability comes from the interplay between formal accountability mechanisms like checks and balances within the government, and civil society working together.

Mr. Hilale then spoke about how Morocco has worked to decrease corruption, and promote human rights by reforming and creating accountable institutions. Furthermore, Mr. Hilale stated that gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as human rights education and training, are necessary to uphold the rule of law and have good governance in order for democratic accountability in public service delivery to exist.

Next, Ms. Tan spoke about how Singapore’s strong commitment to rule of law and democratic accountability in public service delivery helped by Singapore’s relatively quick development. She also highlighted how holding democratic elections, equality of opportunity, and a collaborative relationship between the government and its citizens are necessary for democratic accountability.

Mr. Ulibarri then spoke about how in 2004, two former Costa Rican presidents were prosecuted for corruption charges. He stated how shocking this was for the nation, and that in order to promote accountability and eradicate government corruption a country needs strong legislation, guaranteed access to public information for its citizens, and an accepted and enhanced role for civil society to promote good institutions. To conclude, Mr. Massimo stated that democratic political processes are fundamental to inclusive development, and necessary for democratic accountability. It’s important to take into account how responsive government institutions are, and the role that actors and policy makers play in public service delivery.

 

Meeting Title: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Sharing Cross-Regional Perspectives on Democratic Accountability in Public Service Delivery
Speakers: H.E. Ms. Simona Miculescu, Permanent Representative of Romania; Dr. Elizabeth Spehar, Director of European Division, UN Department of Political Affairs; H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of Morocco; H.E. Ms. Karen Tan, Permanent Representative of Singapore; Mr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the UN
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7, New York 
Date:
9 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Acceleration Sustainable Energy Deployment through Support for Energy Innovation

On the first day of the Sustainable Energy for All Forum, the second session focused on catalysing investment through innovative business models.

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Mr. Zindler, a representative of the Bloomberg team, started by introducing his field, which focuses on new energy technologies and investment in clean energy. Mr Zindler highlighted the current challenges for policymakers, especially in developing countries. Firstly, it is difficult to find the appropriate level of support for renewables, given the uncertainty over costs. Allocating support costs equitably, integrating renewables into the grid and preparing for cost parity are equally difficult. Therefore, he would like to come up with ideas about promoting innovation for policies and financials, efficiently in the near future.

Mr. Sarkar followed by highlighting the current challenges in terms of energy efficiency implementation in the developing world since different countries use different financial instruments. Therefore, he introduced three implementation models to tackle the challenges and financing gap categorized under the Energy Efficiency Fund (EE Fund), namely the public model, private model and public private partnerships (PPPs). He emphasized that PPPs has a possibility of bringing in new sources of financing for funding public infrastructure and service needs. Some countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Korea and India are already implementing the EE Fund. This fund would be able to support energy efficiency, renewable energy and promote economic development and energy security.

Mr. Roders, who moderated the meeting, concluded the session with an example – introducing the innovative programming for climate change, which is a performance-based financing for projects and sectors. One of the advantages of this programming is that it catalyses the engagement of the private sector, including PPS, risk-mitigation and structured financing tools, global certification, standards programs and SME Small Grant Program.

 

Meeting Title: Accelerating Sustainable Energy Deployment through Support for Innovation
Speakers: David Rodgers, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Climate and Chemicals, GEF; Ethan Zindler, Head of Policy Analysis, Bloomberg New Energy Finance ; Ashok Sarkar, Senior Energy Specialist, World Bank
Location: UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
Date: 4 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Advancing progress in Africa beyond 2015: a youth perspective

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The third session of the Forum on Youth 2014 focused on the theme of creating an enabling environment for youth to thrive in post-2015 Africa. Moderating the panel, Ms. Ibrahim emphasized that the Youth Bulge in Africa makes a continent of talents, but these valuable human resources are often not translated into the desirable outcomes due to the lack of opportunities.

Mr. Bah stated that a more strenuous effort is required to give African youths the education they want. While African governments are firm in the conviction that education is important, such conviction is not matched by their budgetary commitment. The “business as usual” attitude is not good enough for post-2015 education, as Africa is the only continent where the secondary school completion rate has not increased in the past decade.

Ms. Agyemang commented that social inclusion of women is crucial for unleashing Africa’s potential. The paternalistic worldview of some communities curtails women from exercising their land rights, and thereby limiting Africa’s opportunities. She said that through further education, human rights and good governance can be infused into the communities as core values.

Mr. Hachonda spoke on the advancements needed in the area of reproductive health through comprehensive sexuality education. He believed the lack of such education is culpable for denying girls full reproductive rights.

Ms. Allam stated that African youth are enthusiastic advocates for climate change, and juxtaposed their enthusiasm with the lack of cooperation among African governments. She called for international cooperation in the transfer of know-how to combat climate change, for assistance should not only come in monetary form.

One recurring contribution from the floor was that African youths are ready to see to it the changes they want, and are not be content with being in the periphery of the decision-making process.

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Meeting Title: Advancing progress in Africa beyond 2015: a youth perspective
Speakers: Ms. Hadeel Ibrahim, Founding Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation (Moderator); Mr. Chernor Bah, Chairperson, Youth Advocacy Group for the Global Education First Initiative; Ms. Danielle Agyemang, Program Coordinator and Liaison to the World Youth Movement for Democracy–NED; Mr. Holo Hachonda, Member, High-Level Task Force for the ICPD, and Program Director, BroadReach Healthcare; Ms. Mariam Mohamed Abdullah Abdelhafiz Allam, National Coordinator of the Arab Youth Climate Movement.
Location: United Nations Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber
Date: 2 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Promoting Youth Employment

Creating decent jobs for a more sustainable future

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The speakers today are confident that the youth population should be at the epicenter for vision and transformation. Ms. Agbarakwe discussed the awareness of youth power and international influence to pressure governments and ensure their voices are heard. However the world is lacking an action plan, locally, nationally and globally, to prevent the exclusion of youth from the workforce and to connect them with important training particularly in entrepreneurship and agriculture. 

Mr. Nik Hartley, Chief Executive Officer of Restless Development, drew statistics on Tanzania where 50% of the population is under 15, fertility rates are 5 children per mother, 800,000 young will need to entre the job market every year, and as 8% of young people turn to criminal offenses, there is a clear need for high youth employment and inclusion.  

Ms. Goldin expressed concerns that youth make up 40% of the world’s unemployed, as they can be vulnerable to long term unemployment, with little opportunity for advancement and skill enhancement. Governments operate inefficiently as they face monetary losses from missed taxation opportunities, and high benefits payments. Ms. Ollivierre and Ms. Trettebergstuen emphasized the importance of training young people in entrepreneurship, as current education systems don’t always facilitate students with skills necessary for employment and sustainable business.

Mr. Landi explained that 9/10 jobs are created in the private sector and agreed with Mr. Dino Corell that not just quantity but the quality of employment must be monitored to ensure that young people are respected and given equal and fair employment standards. The discussion expressed a need for the youth civil society and governments to work alongside employers in a collaborative training experience acting as a stepping-stone into the work environment.

Ms. Taylor declared there is no single solution but there must be an unwavering commitment to the inclusion and engagement of the youth population in the current agenda setting, which paves the way for development into their future.

 

Meeting Title: Promoting Youth Employment – Creating Decent Jobs for a more Sustainable Future
Speakers:
Ms. Nicole Goldin – Director of Youth Prosperity and Security Initiative at Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ms. Alian Ollivierre – Barbados Youth Development Council (iVolunteer Barbados) and SIDS Caribbean Focal Point, Mr. Dino Corell – Programme Analyst, International Labour Organization, Mr. Matteo Landi – Industrial Development Officer and Youth Employment Expert, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Ms. Esther Agbarakwe – Co-founder, Youth Climate Coalition of Nigeria, Ms. Anette Trettebergstuen – Member of the Labour and Social Affairs Committee of Norway,  Ms. Andrea Taylor – Director of North America, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft Corporation
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 2 June 2014
Written by WIT representative:
Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

#Youth2015: Realising the future they want

Opening of the Forum on Youth 2014 

“The future is yours so you have your own prerogatives to raise your voices. There is no plan B because there is no planet B. ”

– H.E. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

As emphasised by H.E. Secretary General, today’s youth are leaders in all areas from technology to politics, the arts to science. Already young people are making their mark on history by altering traditional power structures. H.E. Ban Ki-moon asked that the youth continue to play their crucial role challenging and transforming the future.

H.E. Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), praised our youth as catalysts for change, as their imagination and energy innovates societies to grow and achieve a greater quality of life. H.E. Martin Sajdik asked the world to include the youth population, totaling 1.8 billion, to revolutionize our global system as providers, problem solvers and mentors.

 H.E. John Ashe, President of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly, explained his desire for youth to get involved especially as nations are working together towards setting agendas post 2015. These ‘sustainable development goals’ aim to transform our world by 2030, a period that will be run by leaders who are the youth of today. Therefore youth participation is essential so that their vision is encapsulated in the UN’s mission.

Youth Advisor for CIVICUS Alliance, Ms. Brittany Trilford shared that 85% of the youth population lives in developing countries. These people are the next generation of workers, leaders and activists. Therefore they should be targeted in development schemes.

Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, explained the global connection amongst young people, through the same struggles to realise the same aspirations. Mr. Alhendawi believes an important element to the post 2015 agenda should be the role of young women as assets and drivers for development.

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Meeting Title: United Nations ECOSOC Forum on Youth 2014: Opening Session
Performance by: Lisa Russell Spoken Word Artists
Speakers: President of the Economic and Social Council H.E. Martin Sajdik,  Secretary-General of the United Nations H.E. Ban Ki-moon, President of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly H.E. John Ashe, Youth Advisor of CIVICUS Alliance Ms. Brittany Trilford, and United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 2 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications

NYU panel discussion

The Razom Sponsored ‘White Papers’ were put together in a collaborative effort to assist government, media and civil society to understand what has happened in Ukraine from a legal perspective and to predict and prepare for what will happen next.

Ms. Ivanna Bilych, co-author of the white papers, reiterated the illegality of the Crimea referendum, which breaches the Ukraine Constitution, territorial integrity and voters’ rights. The referendum was completed in just ten days, holding citizens at gunpoint, clearly violations of democracy and international law.

Mr. Alexander Gudko explained that the closest precedent is the Turkey and Northern Cyprus annexation, which was not recognized by the international community as a separate state and therefore this legal framework and response should be exercised again for the Crimean situation.

Mr de Moura Sena reminded the meeting of the energy ties between Russia and Ukraine as Russia builds a new pipeline for natural gas. Russia would face much higher development costs if the pipe were built along the deep seabed, rather than using the Crimean coast. The tensions surrounding European energy needs and Russia’s ability to provide this energy are central to this Crisis.

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A key element to the Crimean situation is Russia’s violation of the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances, signed by all members of the Security Council and Ukraine. It was issued to ensure Ukraine would forfeit its nuclear weapons in return for complete political independence and freedom from threats or use of force against territorial integrity.

Dr. Paul Goble declared that Vladimir Putin has disregarded international law and human rights on his own personal agenda for power and expanding the Russian empire. Dr. Goble emphasised that a major step for western nations should be to provide alternative Russian language entertainment and news, to replace the existing Moscow TV. Moscow TV, being the Russian language entertainment monopoly, is manipulated to destabilise neighbouring countries in subversive attacks ordered from the Kremlin.

 

Meeting Title: Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications
Speakers: Mary Holland of NYU School of law, Ivanna Bilych General Counsel for Razom, Paul Goble expert in the post-Soviet region, Alexander Gudko and Matheus de Moura Sena co-author of the White papers, Giorgi Kvelashvili Senator Counselor for Georgia at the UN and Adrius Kalindra from the OSCE.
Location: NYU School of Law, New York
Date: 29 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

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 

Urbanisation a transformative tool for Sustainable Development

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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.

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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