Leaving No One Behind: Tackling Inequalities In the Post-2015 Development Agenda

A.post-2015_12The meeting began with H.E. Anna Maembe’s remarks on Tanzania’s successes and challenges regarding sustainable development. As she pointed out, Tanzania has made significant achievements, like reducing its infant mortality rate and increasing primary education enrollment. It has, however, also faced difficulties in reducing poverty in rural areas as well as mitigating gender-based violence.

H.E. Juan Sandoval emphasized the need for reliable data in measuring social progress with a human rights perspective. He stated that the inclusion of youth, members of local and provincial communities, as well as the use of national indicators is necessary for sustainable development.

Mr. Roche stated that no target is achieved within a country unless all social groups meet the target, and that disadvantaged groups need to “catch up” in order to achieve national success. He addressed framework issues, disproving the belief that inclusion of marginalized groups inhibits progress. In fact, most of the countries that reduced inequality gaps and did not exclude disadvantaged groups achieved 6% faster progress.

Lastly, Mr. Bhattacharya addressed the issue of the meaning of “Leave No One Behind.” The definition, in the context of a universal agenda, applies to inequalities within countries as well as amongst them. He also stated that convergence is the common core issue in the goal of closing inequality gaps, and systemic concerns are the strongest interventions in achieving this.

Meeting: Leaving no one behind: Tackling inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda
Date & Location: 19 March, 2015, Conference Room 8, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers:
Elizabeth Stuart, Research Fellow, ODI; Jose Manuel Roche, Head of Research, Save the Children; Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Chair, Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals; Peter van der Vliet, Dutch Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN; H.E. Anna Maembe, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children, Tanzania
Written By WIT Representative: Elise Freeman
Edited by WIT Representative
: Philip Bracey

Child Labor & Slavery – DPI/NGO Special Briefing with 2014 Nobel Laureate

96300941Susan Bissell began this briefing by reminding the audience of the 168 million children toiling in child labor or slavery. These crimes deprive children of their right to a protected and healthy childhood and to an education. A great majority of countries have ratified legal frameworks for responsibilities and commitments to children and there is no lack of political commitment to tackle child labor and slavery. There is, however, still a need to challenge cultural norms at national and subnational levels that allow for its continued presence. There is demand by many actors to have stakeholders do more. Bissell recommends that greater data on child slavery be used in order to encourage more effective action.

Mr. Satyarthi added that for every statistic on child labor, there is a cry, and for every figure, a face. This cry is one for freedom; to simply be a child. He believes that we cannot achieve development goals without a strong commitment against child labor. We must dream that every child will achieve primary education instead of being forced into marriage or given guns instead of toys.

There is also a vicious cycle between poverty and child labor–children are preferred as workers because of their low cost. As a result, there must be clear language in the Sustainable Development Goals to combat child labor and slavery. In Mr. Satyarthi’s words, “The number of child laborers has been decreased and it is good news, but we have to work harder. The number of child slaves did not decrease at all. We did not make progress in the most heinous crime against humanity.” To combat child slavery, Satyarthi says we must (1) strengthen the UN system and build belief in multilateralism; (2) address the need for deeper and broader interagency cooperation; and (3) ensure that the UN be proactive rather than reactive.

 

Meeting: DPI/NGO Special Briefing with 2014 Nobel Laureate
Date & Location: 17 March 2015, ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Maher Nasser, Moderator, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information; Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, Programme Division, UNICEF; Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Chairperson, Global March Against Child Labor.
Written By WIT Representative: James Victory
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Commission on the Status of Women – OECD Development Centre Side Event

csw-logoMs. Northover stressed the importance of addressing the social norms of males and females, focusing on eradicating female genital mutilation and discussed the difference between male and female violence. She further stated that gender equality is essential to SDGs focused on eradicating poverty. Ms. Nordstrom presented evidence of gender discrimination through statistics in order to show where it exists. This information is necessary in the effort to improve the lives of women.

It is difficult to change social norms–no country is free from discrimination. Indeed, while some nations have excellent constitutions that promote equality, customary laws and norms may actually prevent the implementation of those laws. Gender equality is a prerequisite for a transformative agenda that empowers women and men and allows people to contribute to their societies. Today’s speakers affirmed that there should be a world in which all people are free from violence, benefit from public services (education and health), have sexual and reproductive rights, economic and ownership rights, access to assets, and paid employment.

Ms. Nowacka discussed gender gaps in employment, education, and mortality rates. More specifically, she examined laws that discriminate against women, the prevalence of early marriage, and the effectiveness of legal implementation. Customary laws negate progressive gender equality codes in many countries. Gender equality, she said, requires constant vigilance and investment. Ms. Nowacka focused on the effect of early marriage on female education, employment, and income and addressed the need to invest in human capital. Mr. Crownover introduced a program that educates adolescent males on gender equality. Ms. Chandra highlighted the weak practice of gender equality laws, saying that women are viewed as a burden (especially through the dowry practice), which has led to increasing cases of missing girls. People do not want to invest in their daughters. Stronger measures need to be taken within the government to ensure laws are followed.

Meeting: OECD Development Centre side event to 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Jointly held with the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finalnd: Achieving Beijing: The Role of Social Norms for Gender Equality
Date & Location: 11 March 2015, Conference Room 7, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Moderator Baroness Lyndsay Northover, Department for International Development (DFID), UK, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development; Nina Nordstrom, Director, Unit for Human Rights Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Helsinki; Keiko Nowacka, OECD Development Centre, Gender Programme Coordinator; John Crownover, Care International, Programme Advisor and Gender and Youth Development Expert; Shailaja Chandra, Former Chief Secretary of Delhi
Written by WIT Representative: Ellie Guner
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Roadmap for ECOSOC Dialogue on Longer-term Positioning of UN Development System

            711-1This meeting discussed ECOSOC’s roadmap for the long-term vision of the UN Development System, which is oriented towards entering into inclusive and purposeful discussions that will help direct the future of the UNDS from a system-wide perspective. The dialogue occurs in a segmented fashion, with each segment focusing on a particular function of ECOSOC.

            Several sessions of the dialogue have already occurred, focusing on several key challenges facing UNDS, including the task of implementing the post-2015 development agenda in a way that ensures its universal application and the integration of economic, social, and environmental development. The Integration Segment as well as the Humanitarian Affairs segment, both of which will occur later this year, were discussed at today’s briefing.

            The overall focus of this year’s Integration Segment will be achieving sustainable development “through employment creation and decent work for all,” both of which are incorporated in the proposed SDG #8. Full and productive employment and decent work for all are understood to be among the most effective roads leading out of poverty, thus linking their achievement to the ultimate success of the sustainable development agenda as a whole. Mr. Drobnjak noted that, unfortunately, economic growth in many countries has not led to a corresponding rise in decent work opportunities. This, combined with youth unemployment, has contributed to growing inequalities and increased social strife. Further, the continued onset of climate change threatens to erode development gains made thus far.

            The Humanitarian Affairs Segment is expected to produce a strong resolution that strengthens the coordination of the emergency humanitarian assistance supplied by UN emergency services as well as ensuring that these mechanisms remain relevant to current global challenges and the future landscape of humanitarian assistance needs. In addition to the presence of several high-level government and civil society leaders, the Humanitarian Affairs segment will also feature the formal inclusion of affected people.

Meeting: Roadmap for ECOSOC Dialogue on longer-term positioning of UN Development System (informal briefings for non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council)
Date & Location: 16 March 2015, Economic and Social Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: H.E. María Emma Mejía Vélez (Colombia), Vice-President of the Council; H.E. Vladimir Drobnjak (Croatia), Vice-President of the Council; H.E. Mohamed Khaled Khiari (Tunisia), Vice-President of the Council
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Advancing Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls for a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda

gender equality 3 _640This meeting featured distinguished panelists, member states, and civil society organizations that discussed the critical importance of incorporating benchmarks and policies dedicated to promoting gender equality and female empowerment within the transformative post-2015 development agenda. In particular, representatives stressed the necessity for prioritizing the economic and political empowerment of women through offering women greater opportunities within both the public and private sectors.

Ms. Kabeer focused on the wide variety of gender stereotypes that serve as barriers towards enabling women to effectively participate in politics and urged the adoption of infrastructure and public services that will enable women to thrive in society. Ms. Kabeer looked favorably upon establishing a standalone goal in the SDGs dedicated to promoting gender equality in political life. Ms. Clark described a robust vision for improving the lives of women around the world, as empowering women is essential to the success of both the international community and the sustainable development goals. The representative from Montenegro proclaimed a commitment toward facilitating the inclusion of women in the economy and developing a cooperative approach for all stakeholders. The economic empowerment of women not only assists them, but also contributes to global poverty reduction. Additionally, the delegate from Brazil affirmed that gender equality can only be achieved through the collaboration of civil society and governments.

Furthermore, representatives emphasized the significance of strengthening both accessibility and quality of education, seeing as how education is integral in instilling foundational and transferable skills that will benefit women that are becoming active global citizens. Mr. Osothimehin spoke about analyzing education holistically and improving standards of innovation, which would allow adolescent girls the ability to develop a comprehension of technical and vocational skills. Next, Ms. Hayshi alluded to alarming gender inequities like discrimination, lack of equal pay, and violence, which serve as impediments toward female empowerment. Finally, the President of the General Assembly concluded the debate by pointing out that sustainable development cannot be attained without valuable contributions from women.

Meeting: High-level Thematic Debate on Advancing Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls for a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda
Date & Location:
Friday, 6 March 2015, UN Trusteeship Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers:
Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science; Helen Clark, Administrator of United Nations Development Programme; Irina Bokova, Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund; Yoko Hayashi Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director for Programs United Nations Children Fund; Representative from International Labor Organization; Representative of Montenegro, Representative of Latvia, Representative of Ecuador, Representative of Zimbabwe, Representative of Finland, Representative of Ukraine, Representative of Brazil, Representative of Canada.
Written By WIT Representative:
Parth Shingala
Edited By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Official Launch of the 2015 Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction

savethedateMr. Meza-Cuadra opened the meeting by saying that sustainable development will not be sustainable without risk reduction. The Secretary-General proclaimed that sustainability starts on March 14th in Sendai, Japan, during the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The increased number of natural disasters has cost the world roughly $3 billion each year. The poorest countries are hit hardest when disasters strike, and 90% of fatalities come from low- and middle-income countries. Mr. Maskrey described how the world is reaching a breaking point as 1.5 planets are needed to sustain the current consumptions of water resources and carbon output. Mr. Sareer spoke about how Maldives was ready to transition into a middle-income country; however, it took 10 years to rebuild what the 2004 tsunami destroyed. Food security, water sources, ecosystems, and economies are all at stake with climate change.

Mr. Nkwain mainly spoke about the vulnerability of developing countries. He also mentioned that the information that we have about risk prevention needs to be effectively utilized for it to be useful. Mr. Binger spoke about the Caribbean countries and stated that SIDS have very limited areas of development due to restrictions on land. Developmental assistance needs to focus more on SIDS, as they are the most vulnerable due to their small area and isolated nature. The final speaker was Mr. Mayer, whose main point centered around the need for the world to move towards a culture of disaster prevention. Disaster warning systems need to be relied upon more in order to prevent casualties and infrastructure damage. He finished the speech by stating that it is up to everyone in the room to help implement disaster risk reduction in the future.

Meeting: Official launch of the 2015 Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction (by the Secretary-General of the United Nations) (organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR))
Date & Location: Wednesday, 4 Februrary 2015, Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru to the UN; Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General; Andrew Maskrey, Coordinator of the United Nations Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk. Reduction (GAR); Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the UN; Margaret Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction; Stan Nkwain, United Nations Development Programme; Albert Binger,  Energy Science Advisor at Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; Thomas Mayr-Harting, EU Head of Delegation to the United Nations
Written by WIT Representatives: Paige Stokols and Brian Lee
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Partnerships for Success: NGOs, Youth, and the UN

B-TAcMtIEAACyG6The DPI/NGO Briefing Division organized and led a panel to discuss topics centered on Partnerships for Success: NGOs, Youth, and the UN. Dr. Hunter opened up the panel by asking what youth empowerment means to the audience, and then went on to state that there are over 400 youth representatives that speak on behalf of NGOs worldwide. The next speaker, Ms. Nesheiwat emphasized the point that all youth representatives had the same underlying mission–to create a better future for the world. Ms. Viktoriia then stated, “youth is not an excuse for inaction or an excuse for lack of awareness or responsibility.” She continued by saying that creating a strong network of youth professionals would benefit not only the youth, but society and the United Nations as a whole. Giving a platform to speak about causes important to the representatives is central to empowering the youth. Ms. Taveras listed some of the successes of the UNADR, such as reaching out to over 6,000 students at the International Conference of the Americas. She also expressed social media engagement with youth as a key factor in worldwide change. She then spoke on behalf the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy, and its role in global involvement through its Center for UN and Global Governance Studies. Ms. Taveras spoke passionately about youth involvement,  saying that having a strong desire to change the world is unstoppable. Ms. Ukaigwe discussed ENDA’s various collaborations, such as their Youth in Action Team that partnered with the African Movement of Working Children and Youth to ensure the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals related to children. She also claimed that many of ENDA’s initiatives coincide with the SDGs. She, too, was animated when she discussed youth engagement, convincing the audience of the impact of youth action.

Meeting: Partnerships for Success: NGOs, Youth and the UN
Date & Location: 26 February 2015. Conference Room 2, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers:
Dr. Bill Hunter, Director, International Outreach; Lehigh University, Lehigh University representative at the United Nations; Ms. Amanda Nesheiwat, Youth Representative, Foundation for Post-Conflict Development; Ms. Viktoriia Brezhenuik, Youth Representative, World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations; Ms. Gabriela Taveras, Youth Representative, Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic; Ms. Joy Ukaigwe, Youth Representative, ENDA Tiers Monde (Environmental Development Action in the Third World, Dakar, Senegal)
Written By WIT Representatives: Elise Freeman and Daniel Cho
Edited By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

General Meeting of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development

image18_866Ms. Reagan introduced the Sustainable Energy for All Forum that will take place this upcoming May at the United Nations. The main objectives of the forum are to address universal access to energy, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy. Mr. Sciarratta then discussed ecotourism and some of his involvement with FAF. Through his work, youth interested in activist movements and policy have been able to synthesize and join together through cultural experiences. Mr. Jordan touched upon groups like the International Ecotourism Society that work to unite communities and promote eco-friendly tourism. He stated that people must respect the systems of foreign lands. He used the example of an American throwing away a film wrapper in a small Indian town. This one action can have ripple effects, as the foreign land may not be equipped to further break down that material. In order to pursue sustainable livelihoods, individuals must develop platforms for educational purposes on fair trade, a mindset of less consumption, and land preservation. Dr. Kohona gave a historical presentation on Sri Lanka, which included information about its creation, the purpose of the Cultural Triangle, Buddhism, endemic species, and a multitude of artifacts. Sri Lanka has worked hard to retain the natural beauty of its land. Currently, 22% of land mass is maintained forests, and the government is working to raise this percentage to 30%. Ms. Flake discussed the endeavors of Honduras and its support of sustainable tourism, as 80% of Honduras’s economy is in the tourism sector. Honduras has a diverse ecosystem that includes the largest tropical forest in Central America, coral reefs, canyons, caves, parks, and protected areas. To uphold such rich biodiversity, Ms. Flake stated that the government must create a strategy instilling tourism sustainability.

Meeting: NGO Committee on Sustainable Development General Meeting
Date and Location: 25 February 2015; UN Church Center, New York.
Speakers: Ms. Margo LaZaro and Ms. Yvonne O’Neal, Co-chairs; Mr. Modou Cham, Secretary; Ms. Ornesha Reagan, Special Consultant for the UN Executive Office of the Secretary- General Sustainable Energy for All initiative- SE4ALL Forum and Independent Development Researcher on Eco-tourism; H.E. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN; H.E. Ms. Mary Flores Flake, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Honduras to the UN; Mr. Patrick Sciarratta, Executive Director of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Advisor to the Permanent Mission of Sao Tome and Principe; Mr. Richard Jordan, Representative of the Royal Academy of Science International Trust at the UN
Written by WIT Representative: Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Meeting of the Group of Friends of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

UNIDIRMr. Napolitano introduced UNIDIR and the institute’s goal to maintain autonomy. UNIDIR aims to ensure its own evolution, express member state support, maintain contact with Geneva to develop new projects, and build constituencies. Mr. Sareva emphasized how UNIDIR faces a threat to its existence and operation because of low funding. UNIDIR has an institutional budget, but no working capital. The budget, which supports resources needed to run the institute and its projects has been decreasing. This funding comes from a small budget subvention, overhead from projects (about 20%), and voluntary contributions. Mr. Sareva expressed that member states must provide the funds that they promised in Geneva. UNIDIR’s dependence on a small group of countries is risky, so they are looking to expand their donor base to NGOs and private donors. The current stability fund goal is $1 million, which can be allocated and replenished accordingly.

The UN has introduced a new, integrated resource management system, UMOJA, which makes UNIDIR’s business processes obsolete because they cannot continue providing staff contracts. UMOJA also prevents management systems from allowing fund cross borrowing and it requires UNIDIR to keep reserves (creating a lack of working capital). UNIDIR’s unique structure maintains institutional independence and allows for a wide mandate that covers arms control and related security issues like nuclear disarmament. UNIDIR works with new, emerging security issues and has crosscutting work that aids stakeholders. It also has strong convening power, is practical and effective, and frames agendas to inform and motivate collective action.

Switzerland’s representative expressed support of UNIDIR and agreed with Austria that a “Plan B” is needed as time continues to run out. Most members in the meeting agreed that the UN Disarmament Commission needs to be utilized to gain support on the political level.

 

Meeting: Meeting of the Group of Friends of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) (organized by the Permanent Mission of France)
Date & Location: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015; 11:00 am to 12:15 pm; Conference Room E
Speakers: Jarma Sareva, Director of Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations; Moderator Tomas Napolitano, Representative of the French Mission to the United States (Political Affairs and Security Council)
Written by WIT Representatives: Ellie Guner and Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

2015 Winter Youth Assembly: Bridging the Gap Between Youth Employment and Global Development

YABanner1The 2015 Winter Youth Assembly empowers the youth to become active members of their communities and participants in the shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ms. Bokova stated that each person is unique and that individual voices matter for shaping a better future. Representative MacDonald focused on the necessity of introducing gender equality to younger ages to create a stimulating social environment and workforce, saying that men need to understand that discrimination against women is not just a woman’s issue, but humanity’s issue. Governments should focus on planning their own conferences instead of waiting for regional ones.

Representatives from the UN Youth Delegate Program discussed their experiences and promoted the involvement of younger people in delegations. Being a part of the global decision forum enables youths to be active at the UN as opposed to just being observers. Mr. Alhendawi emphasized that current business communications must change and be directed towards the younger audience. The commitment of the UN is not to work for the people, but with the people. Twenty years ago, delegates made an agreement to help young people succeed. The Secretary General is requesting that each delegation take on at least one young member by September. Youth movements and representatives are essential for creating frameworks that support the young people of the future. Representative MacDonald explained that one must know and understand what their rights are before they can advocate for them.

Ms. Thomas introduced three members of the Microsoft YouthSpark Team. Microsoft works to ensure that as many young people as possible have the skills they need to get employment and advance finding opportunities. As the world is becoming more technology enabled, an education with computer science is becoming increasingly important.

Meeting: 2015 Winter Youth Assembly: Bridging the Gap Between Youth Employment and Global Development
Date & Location: Wednesday, February 11th, 2015. Conference Room 2, UNHQ, New York.
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Simona Miculescu, Permannet Representative of Romania to the United Nations; Patrick Sciarratta, Executive Director of FAF; Irina Bokova, Director-General United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO; Henry MacDonald, Permanent Representative of Suriname to the United Nations; Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Yvonne Thomas, Microsoft
Written By WIT Representative: Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey