The Oceans We Need for the Future We Want

Mr. Miliband explained that the Global Ocean Commission bridges ocean experts with business communities to explore environmental and political interests. Experts are concerned with the loss of ocean biodiversity due to increases in technology, demand for resources, and subsidies. The Global Ocean Commission proposed an SDG and addressed the Implementing Agreement to deal with the lack of governance in parts of the high seas, provide monetary benefits, and build partnerships. The Implementing Agreement solves the need for clearer routes in unprotected areas of the ocean and addresses the use of genetic marine resources. The decline of the ocean is evident, bringing a new matter to the debate: urgency.

The Global Ocean Commission promotes transparency among stakeholders and aligns interests (political) with UN leadership, national leadership, and economic incentives. Ms. Richards discussed the importance of the Implementing Agreement for marine biodiversity, climate change, ocean acidification, and SIDS. Strategies must be developed to sustain the ocean and stabilize SIDS’ economies. Governments need to promote swift and decisive action to protect, conserve, and share marine resources. Existing measures to conserve biodiversity are negligent. Saving the ocean is a joint effort. Mr. Deaner mentioned there are a couple of “ocean problems” piling up. He stated that countries are at a crucial point for tackling problems and offering solutions. The deepest dilemma agencies are facing is governance of the ocean. Part of the solution is creating a global, complementary framework to align current ideas for ocean sustainability. Ms. Svensson emphasized the need to have global and regional work linking climate change to ocean issues and the land to the sea. Human actions on land lead to waste in the ocean from higher plastic content to acidification. She concluded that the ocean is an economic, social, and cultural problem and not just an environmental issue.

Meeting: The Oceans We Need for the Future We Want: High time for the BBNJ to make the call to action

Date/Location: Wednesday, January 21st, 2015; 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm; Conference Room 5

Speakers: David Miliband, Co-Chair of the Global Ocean Commission; Max Diener, Legal Consultant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; Lisa Emelia Svensson, Sweden’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas, and Freshwater Support; Shorna-Kay Richards, Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica

Written by: Paige Stokols and Ellie Guner

The Economic and Social Council Sets the Stage for its 2015 Session

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Today the opening of the 2015 Session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was held at the United Nations Headquarters, where the ECOSOC adopted a provisional agenda and took action on two draft decisions.

Mr. Sajdik congratulated the 2014 Session for being successful. In its 2014 session, the ECOSOC integrated the Segment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the First High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The HLPF met under the Council Auspices, further consolidating sustainable development within the framework of the UN system and solidifying the implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda.

Mr. Sajdik added that the council aims to build on the 2014 achievements for the 2015 session. The new session will be significant as it coincides with the negotiations toward the development of the post-2015 agenda. The session will include in-depth reviews of internationally agreed goals, a developmental operational forum and an examination of the constantly evolving trends in development cooperation. All of these objectives will be supported by the functional organs, regional bodies and committees. Mr Sajdik emphasized that engagement should be deepened among members states and civil society members in order to achieve successful outcomes.

The Council successfully adopted it’s provisional agenda and the draft decisions based on two themes: “Managing the Transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals:  What Will it Take?” and  “Achieving Sustainable Development Through Employment Creation and Decent Work for All.”

Meeting Title: Opening of the 2015 Session of the Economic and Social Council

Speakers: H. E Mr. Martin Sajdik (Austria), Council President.

Location: Economic and Social Council, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: 21 July 2014

Summary Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar

Edited by: Suzy Hallak

Bringing Young People To The Forefront Of SDG Monitoring

download (1)Plan International convened a panel to seek best practices on consultation method involving young people, so that the future monitoring process of the sustainable development goals can include effective participation of young people.

The Chair opened by asking young advocates if they know of any institutions of consultation in which young people’s view can be collected. One institution discussed is the UN Young Delegate programme, in which member states nominate young people of their country to speak in the Third Committee of the General Assembly. While there is enthusiasm surrounding this proposal, there are concerns as to whether the programme can reach out to the most marginalized children in a country. Further, there are also questions as to whether the Youth Delegates can reach out to their constituencies during their tenure in New York, which is core to their task of representing young people in their country.

Further consultation mechanisms, such as universal periodic review mechanism used by the UN Human Rights Council are advocated as possible means to involve young people in monitoring the progress of the SDGs. The mechanism’s provision for civil society to write shadow reports in response to member states’ submission allow young people to pinpoint lapses in the country’s progress and areas for improvement. The role of national Youth Advisory Board, a mechanism mentioned and strengthened in the Colombo Declaration of Youth, is also highlighted as a possible means of monitoring and consultation.

Attention is also paid as to whether the outcome of the monitoring process can be fed back to the decision-makers, as there are worries as to consultation of youth being reduced to a mere public relations exercise. Concerns about the decision-makers’ capacity to engage with young people were also raised, as some young delegates mentioned their experience of being patronized when making suggestions.

Meeting Title: Youth participation in monitoring to ensure accountability for the post-2015 development framework
Speakers: Representative from Plan International, Representative from Overseas Development Institute, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and Youth Delegates
Location: Conference Room 7, North Lawn Building, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 2 July 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Breaking the Silo Approach in implementing the SDGs

downloadOne overarching characteristic of sustainable development is its three-pillared nature, which encompasses economic, environmental and social sustainability. To ensure that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) truly integrate the three pillars, Ambassador Sajdik convened an interactive dialogue on breaking the “silos mentality” to sustainable development .

Mr. Netshitenzhe spoke on the administrative reforms required to break the silo-approach to development, which included bringing together all government actors in the planning process, aligning the planning cycle of different government agencies, and maintain a hierarchical discipline to ensure that subsidiary agencies see to it the developmental plan initiated by the centre of government. He also highlighted the role of involving the science and private sector in implementing sustainable development. Ambassador Drobnjak echoed this point, stressing that the bottom-up consultation process will provide synergy to the solutions.

Ms. Hickey introduced the forum to the concept of Natural Capital Accounting, which is an exercise of quantifying the natural resources and analyzing ways to maximize the sustainability of the resources. She is followed by Ms. Ramma, who provided a case study of using Natural Capital Accounting to find out how to achieve optimal use of Mauritius’s water resources. Instead of continuing its sugar-cane planting economy, which uses 48% of Mauritius’s water resources but generate only 1.1% of its GDP, finding suggests that transition to production of ethanol from the sugar cane can lead to increase in GDP and improve import-reliant energy sector of the country.

In closing, Ms. Invanova added that science educators need to adapt to a interdisciplinary approach to educating future scientist, and move away from the sectorial, differentiated studies of individual topics. She believed interdisciplinary programmes involving education of science, international relations and financial literacy can equip our future generations with the skillsets to solve problems of their time.

Meeting Title: Moderated Dialogue “From silos to integrated policy making”
Speakers: His Excellency Martin Sajdik (Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council; Mr. David Nabarro, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Food Security and Nutrition, and Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement; Mr. Joel Khathutshelo Netshitenzhe, Executive Director, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, and member of the National Planning Commission, South Africa; His Excellency Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations, and Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council; Ms. Indoomatee Ramma, Chief, Resource Management Division, Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute, Mauritius; His Excellency Ferit Hoxha, Permanent Representative of Albania to the United Nations; Mr. Ousainou Ngum, Executive Director, Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) International, Nairobi; Ms. Maria Ivanova, Co-Director, Center for Governance and Sustainability, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston, on behalf of the major group of scientific and technological community; Ms. Valerie Hickey, Sector Manager, Agriculture and Environment Services, World Bank
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 2 July 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by Wit Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Private Sector’s Current State of Play in the SDG Process

masthead_resourcesDr Louise Kantrow opened the discussion by noting the paradigm transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, wherein the role of the private sector has grown. ICC coordinated the Global Business Alliance 2015, which brought together global and regional business organisations aimed at constructively engaging with the post 2015 process and the UN agencies. The key points from the private sector perspective are the following: effective governance, rule of law, and security are critical enablers to achieve the SDGs; poverty eradication involves economic growth and jobs creations; and therefore it is crucial to address the informal employment and low governance challenges arisen in many developing countries.

H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou recognised that the global environmental and social challenges should be addressed through mobilising private finance for SDGs, innovative and technologically advanced business models. There is a move in the approach of the private sector from maximising profits for shareholders to stakeholders and the planet should be considered a stakeholder. Ms Esin Mete, then addressed the importance of agriculture and rural development as primary drivers to address poverty reduction and food security.

Mr Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro stated that 75 million young people are currently unemployed. It is imperative to not just address the quantity but the quality of jobs available. As economic growth does not automatically create jobs, the private sector is the core driver of jobs. He then addressed the critical need to create a safe environment for workers as every 15 seconds one worker is killed due to working accidents: making it a world epidemic.

Finally Ms Katharine Maloney underlined the fundamental beliefs of KPMG to explain their active participation in the consultations of the post 2015 agenda. First, they recognise the paradigm shift explained previously by Dr Louise Kantrow. Second profitability and developmental agenda are not mutually exclusive. Third, business and social values are inextricably linked. Fourth, the private sector can provide a lot more than money, for instance real ideas, innovation, technical know how and a lot more resources.

Meeting Title: Private Sector Briefing: Current State of Play in the SDG process
Speakers: Dr Louise Kantrow, ‎Permanent Representative to the United Nations at International Chamber of Commerce; H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou, Permanent Representative of Republic of Benin to the UN; Ms Esin Mete, Director General, IFA (International Fertilizer Industry Association); Mr Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro, Deputy Director of the ILO Office for the United Nations; Ms Katharine Maloney, Director, Development and Exempt Organizations (DEO) Practice at KPMG LLP.
Date: 3 July 2014
Location: Conference Room 5, NLB, United Nations, New York.
Written by WIT Representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda

unnamedAs part of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), a side event was convened to discuss how small food producers and family farms can support the achievement of sustainable development through sustainable agriculture and food systems. H.E. Mr. Grigsby opened the dialogue by highlighting how crucial a world free from poverty, hunger, and malnutrition is in the ambitious post 2015 development agenda. But this goal cannot be achieved without a shift to more productive and resilient food systems that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. If we can economically empower small farmers through access to knowledge, social production, and viable markets, they can serve as these sustainable food systems.

H.E. Mr. Aguiar Patriota continued the discussion by focusing on the impact of large scale farming in Brazil. While these commercialized farms provide Brazil with the wherewithal to become a powerful actor in the international community, they have a less desirable social and environmental impact. These farms lead to a decrease in jobs, resulting in sizable migration flows internally that compound the pre-existing problems of big cities in Brazil.

Ms. Brennen-Haylock commented on how investing in these small food producers can empower them to become critical agents of change for a future of food and nutrition security for all. Investments directed towards family farmers enhance their capacity to invest in their own productivity, as well as helping them address new market demands and environmental pressures. To close, Ms. Brennen-Haylock stressed the concerns of women in agriculture. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This would raise the total agricultural output in development countries by 2.5-4%, and thus reduce the number of hungry people in the world by a staggering 12-17% – a number that would go a long way in decreasing world hunger.

Meeting Title: Small food producers and family farmers as agents for change for sustainable agriculture and food systems in the post-2015 agenda
Speakers: Dr. Jes Weigelt, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; Dr. Molly Anderson, College of the Atlantic’s Sustainable Food Systems Program; H.E. Mr. Sylvester M. Grigsby, Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia; Ms. Sharon Brennen-Haylock, FAO; H.E. Ambassador Irene Susan Natividad, Ambassador from Philippines; H.E. Mr. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Ambassador from Brazil; Mr. Jesse Laflamme, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs; Ms. Adrienne Gardez, UN Global Compact
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 6
Date: 1 July 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited By WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon 

Strengthening the Science-Policy-Society Interface for Achieving Sustainable Development

sdg2The economic, social and environmental challenges facing societies range from regional to global in scale. There is an urgent need for the international science community to develop the knowledge and strengthen the science-policy-science interface for achieving sustainable development. Therefore, it is crucial to shape effective responses and foster global justice, which would facilitate progress toward sustainable development goals. The global change research community plays a central role in understanding the functioning and human impacts of Earth System.

Mr. Mc Bean introduced Future Earth, an international scientific community, which serves as a global platform for international science collaboration. It aims at providing knowledge required for societies in the world to face risks posed by global environmental change and to seize opportunities in transition to global sustainability. The key objectives are to build and connect global knowledge to intensify the impact of research and find new ways to accelerate sustainable development. Mr. Nakicenovic pointed out that the global problems, including access to water; food and energy need to be resolved immediately. He emphasized vigorous investment is needed in human capacity and knowledge, in order to create a niche market for sustainable development systems. Ms. Abrahamse echoed Mr. Nakicenovic’s comments. She specifically talked about the importance of the easy access to information, which would empower and create solutions for solving the grand societal challenges.

Mr. Ullah introduced the bipolar linear system – “The pipeline approach” in understanding the concept between consultation and collaboration. He also highlighted it is essential to maintain the independence of science so as to contribute to problem solving and foster innovation, leadership and competitive advantage. Mr. Davies addressed the issues between good governance and sustainable development. He concluded by underlining the need for an overarching vision on poverty eradication, and the development of partnerships to sustain a strong science-policy interface.

Meeting Title: Strengthening the science-policy-society interface for achieving sustainable development
Speakers: Gordan Mc Bean, President-elect of the International Council for Science; Nebojsa Nakicenovic Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis; Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of South African National Biodiversity Institute; Farooq Ullah, Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum; Peter Davies, Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Future
Location: ECOSOC, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 1 July 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by Wit Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

From Rio+20 to Post-2015: Towards an Integrated and Universal Sustainable Development Agenda

unnamedThe second meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development commenced today at the United Nations Headquarters. The theme for the forum this year is -“Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals”.

His Excellency Sajdik, opened the meeting by highlighting the significant role of Rio+20 conference in establishing processes that have been working together towards the Post-2015 agenda. The international community, therefore, should aim to bring the working elements together to form an integrated development agenda that speaks universally of all the member state citizens around the world. Mr. Bapna identified three characteristics of sustainable development as absolutely crucial: (i) An integrated agenda that recognises the social, economic and environmental dimensions as equally important, (ii) A universal agenda to truly tackle emerging global challenges and (iii) A transformative agenda with focus on governance.

Mr. Körösi emphasised that sustainable development is a contract among generations and a political commitment between countries, aimed towards long term changes. It is imperative that we impose discipline in order to set out a working mechanism between goal setting, designing the implementation process and conducting it. With regards to the working mechanism, Mr. Patriota posited that the member states are expected to translate the roadmap provided by Rio+20 into the Post-2015 agenda through establishing effective institutions.

Ms. Frankinet stressed that sustainable development requires an integrated approach; all the working steps must be built on expertise and cooperation. Both the political class and the public must be willing to take the SDGs implementation at the national and international level. Mr. Bhattacharya added that this integration, which essentially means combining the three pillars of sustainable development, can be achieved by the inclusion of a fourth pillar called ‘governance’ that will bind the three pillars together.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka drew attention to women empowerment and gender equality as being vital to achieving sustainable development. Women have been recognised as the enablers and beneficiaries of sustainable development goals and therefore, we cannot achieve integrated goals without considering gender equality.

Meeting Title: Moderated dialogue: “From Rio+20 to post-2015: towards an integrated and universal sustainable development agenda”
Panellists: His Excellency Martin Sajdik (Chair), President of the Economic and Social Council; Mr. Manish Bapna, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute; His Excellency Csaba Körösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations and Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals; Her Excellency Bénédicte Frankinet, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations; His Excellency Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Mr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (Dhaka) and Chair of Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
Date: 30 June 2014
Location: Trusteeship Council, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

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The Eighteenth Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was held this morning. The main purpose of the meeting is to elect 12 members to replace those whose terms are due to expire on 31 December 2014.

Ms. Curry mentioned the State of Palestine has become a party to the Covenant since the last election in June 2012. Currently, there are a total of 188 States parties. In addition, the Committee has continued to adopt recommendations in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. At present, the Committee is working on several general recommendations concerning women asylum seekers, refugee and stateless women, rural women, access to justice, girls’ and women’s right to education, climate change and natural disasters. The Committee also adopted statements on thematic issues such as treaty body strengthening; strengthened cooperation with UN Women; the role of women in the process of political transition in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia; sexual and reproductive health and rights; and women’s rights in the post-2015 development agenda.

Moreover, the Committee has continued to streamline and harmonize its working methods in order to improve the management of time and resources. They will incorporate the guidelines on independence and impartiality of members of the human rights treaty bodies.

On 9 April 2014, the General Assembly adopted resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system. At the outset, the Meeting elected Ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, Deputy Ambassador of Spain as its Chair upon his nomination from the Western European and other States. Ambassador Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda and Dragana Anđelić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina were elected as Vice-Chairs and twelve experts were being elected in a single round of voting.

Meeting Title: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: 1st Meeting
Speakers: Ms. Gaynel Curry, Acting Chief of the Global Issues Section within the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Representative of the Secretary‑General; Ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, Deputy Ambassador of Spain
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York 
Date: 26 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Post-2015 Agenda

crpdTo fully implement and incorporate the provision of the Convention is indeed a long term process; it requires active cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders, national and local authorities.  The United Nations called on Member States to review the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to exchange related experiences and achievements. Representative of Saudi Arabia started off introducing its specialized agency called ‘’Saudi Human Rights Commission” (SHRC), which monitors the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and raises awareness on these rights. He reaffirmed the importance of strengthening international cooperation in order to optimize the benefits of persons with disabilities, enhances their self-confidence, and achieves their full partnership in their societies without any discrimination.

Similarly, Romania recently launched a new initiative called COMBAT – Counselling, employment Opportunities, changing Mentalities; eliminate Barriers, Accessibility and Training. This allows the persons with disabilities to contribute to the professional development, so as to create and consolidate a strong motivation for training and integration in the labour market. Canada also demonstrated a solid record on disability-inclusive laws, policies and initiatives to reduce barriers for persons with disabilities.

To promote inclusion and respect for diversity for all, Canada suggested a new development framework – prioritize poverty eradication and address the most marginalized first. Canada does invest on persons with disabilities, which mainly focuses on traditional health interventions, as well as inclusive education, community-based rehabilitation and access to employment. Speaking about inclusion, the first ever Iranian female gold medallist in Paralympics, Zahra Nemati was present at the meeting today. Representative of Iran shared Zahra’s story, she competed in Taekwondo before her paralysis. Her story not only inspires women and girls in Iran, but also all around the world. “Hope is the torch of life, never surrender to obstacles”, she said.

Meeting Title: Incorporating the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda
Speakers: Representative of Saudi Arabia; Representative of Romania; Representative of Canada; Representative of Iran; Representative of Qatar; Representative of Chile; Representative of Nicaragua
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 4
Date: 11 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong