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

Second Meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

high_level_political_forum_on_sustainable_developmentThe discussion assembles a panel of eminent scientists, policy makers, as well as senior UN officials, who will address how science is instrumental in ensuring the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The second meeting of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development commenced at the United Nations. A panel discussion that aimed to monitor the SDGs, build an effective review mechanism and strengthen science and policy networks was conducted as part of the negotiations.

Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic opened the discussion by stating that the SDGs were an aspirational and ambitious goal but with the right scientific and technical analysis they could be achievable. He highlighted the following four areas of interest that are crucial in writing the Sustainable Development Report for the Post-2015 agenda: Investments into institutions and niche markets, enhancing human capacity, learning and technology, deployment of system diffusions and conducting science based multi-stakeholder assessments.

H.E Csaba Körösi echoed similar points raised by Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Mr. Alexander Roehrl and stated that the scientific community has been involved with the SDGs since its inception. Scientists have been mastering the information and substance and are guiding the Open Working Group (OWG). However, he highlighted three focus areas for the scientific community that would accelerate the progress of the OWG. One, help setting indicators. Two, help testing the coherence of the system and three, report on system transformation as a whole. He concluded by stating that is was crucial to know, through tangible parameters, how much progress has already been made.

Ms.Tanya Abrahamse summed up the panel discussion by stressing upon the importance of accessibility of information and data. She posited that scientific evaluation should be presented in a manner that could be easily understood by local populations, which in turn would empower them to act upon that evidence.

Title: “Strengthening science-policy links for reviewing progress on sustainable development”
Organiser: International Council for Science (ICSU); UN DESA; UNEP
Speakers: Gordon McBean, President, International Council for Science; Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied System Analysis; Alexander Roehrl, Division for Sustainable Development, DESA; H.E.Csaba Körösi, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals; Elliot Harris, Director, UNEP New York Office; Tanya Abrahamse, CEO, South African National Biodiversity Institute
Date: 30 June 2014
Location: Conference Room 5 (NLB), UN Headquarters
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

High Level Political Forum: Harmonising Existing Measurement Efforts

image001A meeting was convened to discuss plans to harmonise existing measurement efforts under the High Level Political Forum’s (HLPF’s) current review function. Chair of the panel, Mr. Ullah opened by highlighting the immense opportunity provided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to coordinate and subsequently align the goals and measurement methods at the private, national, and international levels. Currently, 80% of the post-2015 SDGs do not have measurement mechanisms in place.

Ms. Beishem started the dialogue by giving context to the HLPF’s current review function. At this moment, the HLPF resolution mandates that reporting be voluntary, state-led, and provide a platform for partnerships. But to finalize the remainder of review effort, and to attempt designing a framework for all countries to follow, a few things must fall into place. They need an efficient review in limited number of meeting days, secretariat services for preparation and follow up, ways to integrate existing reviews and report, and financial funds for less developed countries.

Mr. Greenfield added to the panel by challenging the audience to imagine a world where societal and business priorities were aligned, one where the purpose of markets would be to deliver our highest human priorities. He argued that the first step is to empower nations to start adopting measurements and goals beyond simple GDP levels, which seems to be the assessment used to evaluate a country’s world standing. Mr. Betrazzi closed the discussion by highlighting three avenues through which alignment of the national, international, and corporate sectors can be achieved. First, technical work is necessary to increase the linkage in methodologies. Next, a political element to put pressure on the corporate world. Finally, raising awareness through the SDGs about the importance of accurate and efficient measurements.

Meeting Title: Harmonising existing measurement efforts under the HLPF’s review function
Speakers: Marianne Beisheim, Global Issues, SWP; Pietro Bertrazzi, Manager Policy and Advocacy, GRI; Chair Farooq Ullah, Executived Director, Stakeholder Forum; Oliver Greenfield, Convenor, Green Economy Coalition
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room C
Date: 30 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Briefing on The Secretary-General’s Climate Summit

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Prior to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in 2015, Climate Summit 2014 will be held on 23rd of September to galvanize climatic actions. A briefing on this Summit was held to address the planning of the Summit’ programme. The Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team will be available for Member States to make inquires for preparation of the Summit.

A representative from EOSG stated that Head of States and Governments will deliver their national climate policies after the Secretary-General’s opening speech.The National Action and Ambition Announcements should provide new or scaled-up ambitions and actions, for instance, demonstrating the investment in resilience, pricing of pollution, the involvement and mobilisation of private actors on climate action. Also the national announcements must convey the message of placing the world on a less than 2 degree pathway that aligns politics and economics.

Heads of State and leaders from finance, business and civil society will announce multilateral and multi-stakeholders action initiatives with respects to energy efficiency and renewable; climate finance; adaptation, resilience and disaster risk reduction; transport, cities, forest and agriculture as well as climate pollutants. The action initiatives need to express the urgency of capitalizing the Green Climate Fund and mobilizing the $100 billion. Thematic discussion on climate science, co-benefits of climatic action, economic case for action and voices of climate frontlines will showcase innovative policies and practices.

While Climate Summit 2014 will not cater any side events, a Climate Week in New York City will take place from the 22nd to 28th of September to provide an alternative platform for governments, businesses and civil society’s public engagement. Finally, the representative highlighted there will be no negotiated outcome from this Summit. The results of the summit will be captured to catalyze ambitious action on the ground and mobilise political will for a global legal climate agreement by 2015.

Meeting: Briefing on The Secretary-General’s Climate Summit
Speakers: Representative from Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 27 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Global Citizenship through Multilingualism

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rebuilding Timbuktu’s Past for Mali’s Future

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To appeal for support of its work in restoring Malian monuments, the UNESCO hosted a press conference to inform the press on the progress. Ms. Jensen opened the conference by underscoring that destruction of culture “destroys not only the past, but also the future”. Citing Security Council Resolution 2164 and the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, Ms. Jensen stated that the destruction of heritage sites inflicted in the city of Timbuktu, home to 16 World Heritage Sites, was illegal.

Turning the nuances of UNESCO’s assistance in rebuilding the Islamic mausoleums, Mr. Assomo highlighted that it is the local imams, masons and custodians of the mausoleums that determined the assistance required from UNESCO. He explained that the locality of the team is largely due to the fact that the restoration work is a sign of returning to normalcy to the people of Timbuktu, and leaving it to the hands of the locals empowers them to create conditions of peace and reconciliation. Mr. Assomo also highlighted the restoration work made to the Timbuktu manuscripts, a significant part of the city’s heritage. In this regard, UNESCO took up the responsibility of hosting a global summit on manuscripts in Mali to gather the best practices of restoration. He also appealed for a further funding of eight million dollars on top of the current funding to complete the unfinished business of restoration.

Responding to a question from the floor regarding the possibility of negotiating with the perpetrators of destruction, both representatives from UNESCO highlighted that the organization has, within their role as a normative agency of the UN, condemned such actions. It also alerted member states on the scale of damage and the need to intervene.

Meeting Title: Press conference on “Rebuilding Timbuktu: The restoration of an intellectual and spiritual capital and its vital role in Mali’s post-conflict recovery”
Speakers: Ms. Vibeka Jensen, Director of UNESCO Office in New York; Mr. Lazare Eloudou Assomo, UNESCO Representative to Mali; Members of the UN Correspondent Association
Location: Press Briefing Room, United Nations
Date: 27 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

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 

New ways to provide food assistance

ImageTo encourage innovative means to provide food assistance to regions in need of humanitarian aid, Ambassador Patriota convened a panel discussion on this matter. In doing so, the Ambassador highlighted the Brazilian application of cash transfer to implement the “Bolsa Familia” safety-net programme as a way to motivate families to send children to school and to clinic check-ups.

In the context of short-term action, Mr. Mogwanja highlighted the difference between direct provision of food aid and cash-transfer style food assistance, the latter being preferable as it is a more economically sustainable tool. Mr. Janz stated that cash-transfer is a viable form of food assistance, as it pinpoints to the problem of lack of purchasing power of disaster victims without having crippled the local agricultural market by flooding the market with relief food. Mr. Janz elaborated on the benefit of cash-transfer food assistance, stating that it gives disaster victims dignity by giving them choices in food and enhances efficiency of aid by reducing the logistical cost of transporting food aid. Ms. Souza stated how the World Food Programme implemented the cash-transfer in conjunction with local purchase of relief material to further enhance food assistance’s positive impact to the local economy, a point which Ambassador Boureima echoed when detailing the “Nigerien feeds Nigerien” initiative in his country.

Speaking on behalf of the donors, Ms. Fink-Hooijer stated that the donor community in general support the cash-transfer initiative, but adopts a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the effectiveness of large-scale implementation in disaster relief. Ambassador Shearman echoed this point, and added that he hopes future cash-transfer can be implemented in form of cash handout instead of voucher to further reduce its distortion of the local market.

Meeting Title: Cash Transfers, Local Purchases and Social Safety-Nets: Bridging the Divide between Assistance and Development
Speakers: Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; H.E. Ambassador Boubacar Boureima, Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations; Darana Souza, Programme Coordinator for World Food Programme; Udo K. Janz, Director of UNHCR Office in New York; Israel Klug, Project Coordinator of PAA Africa Programme; Minister Counsellor Nuria Mohammed, Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Florika Fink-Hooijer, Policy Director of ECHO; Martin Shearman, Ambassador for Development and Human Rights, UK Department for International Development; H.E. Ambassador Michael Grant, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations; Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of UNDP; Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Advisor of OXFAM; Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch of UN OCHA
Location: Conference Room 5, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

A new generation of Analytical Tools for Preparedness and Resilience

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This morning, a panel discussion on analytical tools for humanitarian decision-making was held at the United Nations. Ms. Hooijer opened the discussion by stressing the fundamental need of analytical tools to assist policy makers in visualising multi-layer crises and making informed evidence-based decisions.

Mr. Williams took the floor and introduced InfoRM (The Index for Risk Management), the first global, objective and transparent tool for understanding the risk of humanitarian crises. He pointed out the birth of InfoRM provided the capacity to build people’s resilience through prioritisation, risk profiling and trend analysis that allowed different actors to be well prepared and make better responses. Mr. Williams commented InfoRM was an adaptive tool due to its global coverage, transparent data and flexible methodology and had been widely adopted by FAO, OCHA, ECOSOC, UNICEF, World Food Programme etc. Mr. Williams hoped for a broader adoption of this tool so that resources can be aligned.

Ms. Scott presented a roadmap that can help build resilience after risk assessment. Ms. Scott stressed that resilience can only be brought about when it is integrated in all parts of the system. Ms. Scott pointed out current humanitarian focus was simply on adaptive capacity, as systems become less exposed to shock. She saw the urgency for transformation mainly in the individual/household level and also national level to make a total system change where the shock will no longer be an impact. Ms. Scott emphasised that social capital and role of host family were most critical in resilience building.

Ms. Ribeiro, on behalf of Brazil, was in favour of analytic tools in helping the country to get informed, prepared and making sure money was well spent in a sustainable and preventive manner. Ms. Ribeiro highlighted the success story of the adoption of cash transfer programme and local purchases of food as resilience-building instruments to alleviate extreme poverty, reduce risk and promote resilience.

Meeting: A new generation of analytical tools for preparedness and resilience
Speakers: Ms. Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO; Mr. Craig Williams, Chief of the Field Information Services Section (FISS), OCHA; Ms. Rachel Scott, Senior Humanitarian Advisor, OECD; Ms. Adriana Telles Ribeiro, Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Lessons Learned from Typhoon Haiyan

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H.E. Mr Libran Cabactulan stated that the Typhoon Haiyan has taught significant lessons to the Philippines and other member states. All partners and shareholders, shared the cost and capacity to make response more effective. Ms Kang highlighted that the 2004 Indian Tsunami reflected the need for a fundamental reorientation in humanitarian response and the Typhoon Haiyan response gave us an opportunity to assess the same.

Following, Ms Nanette Salvador-Antequisa stated that ‘Ecosystem Work for Essential Benefits’ with their respective partner organisations have provided relief to 10,000 families. The challenges they faced were in areas such as storage, distribution, funding for the transportation of the goods and retaining their staff because of lack of resources (technical and financial). Further critically addressing the Cluster, she stated that they should be based on more practical issues and should give platform for local groups to have a greater voice.

Mr Andy Featherstone highlighted the key findings and recommendations of a high-end study, ‘Missed Again: making space for partnership in the Typhoon Haiyan response.’ First, the partnership of National and International NGOs strengthened the relevance, effectiveness and coverage of humanitarian assistance, through utilizing their respective resources: proximity to and knowledge of communities and their technical and financial resources. Second the humanitarian leadership and coordination mechanisms had an international look and feel. Third, the recommendations were as follows: (i) create an enabling environment for partnership; (ii) the need to ‘localise’ surge responses; (iii) an obligation to prioritise preparedness.

Next, Mr Butch Meily spoke on the role of the private sector in the Typhoon Haiyan response, where they plugged the gaps in government sector response. A case in point: the Department of Education needed emergency food aid, so instead of using the government process of bidding, the private sector, provided food aid for 27,000 students for one month. Lastly Mr Randolph Kent, questioned the sustainable impact of private sector within the humanitarian sector. He importantly highlighted that we must identify the core business interest of the companies in engaging with humanitarian assistance i.e. economic incentives and interests, and not just limit their involvement to philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. 

Meeting Title: The role of partnerships in humanitarian response: lessons learned from Typhoon Haiyan
Speakers: Chair- H.E. Mr Libran N. Cabactulan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to the UN; Moderator- Ms Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Panellists- Ms Nanette Salvador-Antequisa, Executive Director, Ecosystem Work for Essential Benefits; Mr Butch Meily, President, Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation; Mr Andy Featherstone, Co-author of new research commissioned by ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Tearfund documenting the application of partnership approaches with national and local actors during the response to Typhoon Haiyan; Mr Randolph Kent, Co-author of a recent series of studies commissioned by UN OCHA, ODI, HPG, and Vantage Partners, and supported by DFID, on business community ad public-sector partnerships in disaster response.
Location: Conference Room 7, NLB, United Nations, New York.
Date: 24 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark