The Blue Economy: Perspectives from the private sector

One important side event during the Ocean Conference held last week at the United Nations was the meeting co-organised by the Ocean Foundation and Rockefeller & Co. on the topic “The Blue Economy”.

The meeting started with a speech from Mr Mark J. Spalding’s, who highlighted that the ocean generated economic values that were not usually quantified, and that we should stop taking the ocean for granted. He further stated that the old ocean economy, such as offshore oil and gas, was short-sighted and unsustainable. Mr. Spalding has worked with the Ocean Foundation to identifying business activities that comprise a sustainable blue economy.

In addition to the discussions, Mr Rolando F. Morillo presented the concept of ‘circular economy’: a restorative and regenerative model which emphasizes on reducing, reusing and recycling. It can enable increased value while reducing dependence on scarce resources. Mr. Rolando has faced challenges at the Rockefeller Foundation on how to crack the linear mindset as some companies may felt ‘locked in’.

Meeting: The Blue Economy (Perspectives from the private sector)

Date/Location: Thursday, June 8, 2017; 18:15-19:30; Conference Room 7, United Nations Headquarters,NewYork,NY
Speakers:  Mr Mark J. Spalding, the President of the Ocean Foundation; Mr Rolando F. Morillo, Vice President and Equity Analyst for the Sustainability and Impact Investing Team, Rockefeller & Co.

Written by: WIT Representative Brady Leung

Understanding the Nexus and Implications for People on the Move

This meeting aimed to highlight the linkages between migration, climate, and declining ocean health, and to show the international, regional, national, and local impacts of marine overexploitation. At the nexus of climate change and detriment to ocean health discussed in this meeting also lies fights to eradicate poverty, improve food security and quality of life, the increasing severity of natural disasters, and climate change’s impact on migration.

Oceans Conference

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Mr. Ashraf El Nour opened this meeting by outlining how climate change-related ecological modifications to the ocean have direct consequences on the economy, environment, and quality of life for island and coastal populations, particularly in Small Island Developing States.

Data collected by the International Displacement Center suggests that since 2008, around 22.5 million people are displaced annually as a result of natural disasters of climate change ramifications; most of these individuals come from coastal areas and small island states. Millions of people are still at risk for future displacement, but contemporary initiatives have begun looking towards indigenous populations architectural and agriculture traditions for their flexibility and harmonious congruence with the environment.

The ocean is a transit platform for irregular migration and contributes to migrants missing at sea, border problems, humanitarian problems, and international insecurity. The panelists called for an innovative approach to migration and reconfiguring how we conceptualize refugees so that we might include those who are forced to relocate because of climate-related circumstances.

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Meeting: Ocean Health, Climate Change and Migration: Understanding the Nexus and Implications for People on the Move

Date/Location: Monday, June 5, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room A, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Mr. Ashraf El Nour, Director, IOM Office to the United Nations; Mr. Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina, Director General of the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Center, Madagascar; Ms. Francoise Gail, Scientific Advisor, Ocean and Climate Platform; Mr. John Tanzer, Leader WWF Global Ocean Practice; Ms. Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, Thematic Specialist, Migration, Environment and Climate Change, IOM; Hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Madagascar in New York; Lead Organizer: International Organization of Migration (IOM) with Partner: WWF

Written By: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

2017 Executive Board Annual Session of UNDP, UNPF, and UNOPS

The Annual Session 2017 of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), and the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS) met for the second day in New York on Wednesday, 31 May 2017.

In the morning, the Executive Board called upon the Member States to provide feedback on its Draft UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021. Delegates agreed that the UNDP should “focus more on its comparative advantage,” but not “overreach.” In particular, the UNDP should prioritize areas such as the strengthening of national capacity, poverty eradication, gender equality, and environmental sustainability, etc. They also agreed that an integrated approach to coordinate with other UN development agencies and cooperate with the private sector was necessary.

In the afternoon, the Executive Board members discussed the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO)’s assessment reports on the UNDP’s evaluation policy and institutional effectiveness. Indran A. Naidoo, IEO Director, reported that there were signs of improvements in both areas. However, he noted that the budget allocated to evaluation had not been fully utilized. The new measures to increase institutional effectiveness may also not be sustainable due to the lack of resources and sustainable funding models.

Meeting: Annual Session 2017 of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services

Date/Location: Wednesday, May 31, 2017; 10:00-17:00; Conference Room 3, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN; Tegegnework Gettu, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Acting Administrator; Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director Bureau for Policy and Programme Support; Indran A. Naidoo, Director, UNDP Independent Evaluation Office; Helge Osttveiten, Director, UNDP Office of Audit and Investigations; Representatives of the Republic of Moldova, Japan, Belarus, Norway, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Cuba, Brail, and the Russian Federation

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

How scientific knowledge on oceans contributes to the implementation of national action plans on climate and human-induced changes

Oceans Conference

The Ocean Conference held at the United Nations from 5-8 June, 2017 brought together many experts on oceans, civil societies and governments to organize different side events. Some of these events were co-organized and facilitated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with Governments and relevant organizations  by sharing on-the-ground experiences, lessons learned, and insights into transformative actions and partnerships, including partnerships through the Sustainable Ocean Initiative.

One of the first side events on June 5th, organized to bring in marine scientists and discuss the contribution of scientific knowledge on oceans to the implementation of national action plans on climate and human-induced changes. The moderator Jessica Faieta from UNDP opened the meeting by reminding the audience that the deadlines for achieving the SDG 14 (Oceans) were 2020 and 2025. Considering how pressing the issue was, she said, this side event was crucial to identify knowledge gaps and contribute towards ocean national action plans. Echoing Faieta’s view, representatives of the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and UNDP shared the challenges their countries and organization were facing, and their work in this area.

Marine experts also shared their knowledge about the ocean, including its importance, the impact of its change on the ecosystem, and the way the ocean works. In addition, Dr. Alberto Piola and Dr. Jose Muelbert highlighted that the warmer the ocean is, the lower would be the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Also, because the speed of ocean warming differs in different countries, some countries’ oceans are warming much faster as a result. Due to the fact that 40 percent of the global population live near the ocean, and 11 percent of the largest cities are very close to the ocean, the implications of warming causes a considerable impact on the human population, and the ecosystems. “Life started in the ocean,” Muelbert cautioned, “if we are not careful, life will end because of changes in the ocean.”

Meeting: How scientific knowledge on oceans can contribute to the implementation of national action plans on climate and human-induced changes

Date/Location: Monday, June 5, 2017; 09:00-10:30; Conference Room 6, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers:

Ms. Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); H.E Francisco Domínguez Brito, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of Dominican Republic; H.E. Diego Moreno, Vice Minister, National Secretary of Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Government of Argentina; Dr. Alberto Piola, Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project (SOCCOM), and Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI);  Dr. Jose Muelbert, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande and IAI;  Dr. Rebecca Klaus, Senior advisor and expert in Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Protected Areas, Cousteau Society;  Mr. Nik Sekhran, Director for Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP.

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Families, Education and Well-Being

This briefing was co-organized by the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) and the Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI NGO) in observation of the International Day of Families on May 15th, 2017.

International day of families

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The speakers discussed the vital role of early childhood education in a child’s development and the role of parental education to ensure family well-being. In addition, the relation between corporate responsibility, work-family balance, and the global home index was depicted. Furthermore, the speakers conveyed the role of media within a child’s development and within the promotion of parental involvement.

 

 

Eduardo Garcia Rolland conveyed how the relationship between genes and the environment is closer than ever before. He expressed that within the first year of life, the brain grows at a pace of 700/1000 new neural connections per second. The plasticity of the brain is greatest within the first year of life. This stage is considered as the most important for a child’s development. Rolland discussed how 204 million children are not developmentally on track. He cited an increase in attendance to early childhood education as a way to augment a child’s development.

Patricia Debeljuh discussed how parents working long hours in a job that lacks flexibility can cause damage to the quality of their life. She expressed the necessity of families for the maintenance of sustainable societies.  Diego Barroso depicted how parenting education is highly effective. He cited the importance of legislative support for families. Following this, Michael Robb discussed how media can impact the development of a child. Background television was cited as an issue which can have a negative impact on the quality and quantity of the interaction between a parent and a child.

Meeting: Briefing entitled “Families, Education and Well-Being”

Date/ Location: Thursday, May 18, 2017; 11:00-12:45; Conference Room 4
Speakers: Esuna Dugarova, Policy Specialist, UNDP; Eduardo Garcia Rolland, Early Childhood Development ECD-Specialist, UNICEF; Patricia Debeljuh, IAE Business School, Austral University; Diego Barroso, Director of Family Enrichment Courses. Coordination and Expansion, International Federation for Family Development; Michael Robb, Director of Research, Common Sense Media
Written By: WIT Representative Donna Sunny

 

The Situation in the Middle East

The Security Council met for its 7954th meeting on 30 May 2017. It addressed the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen.

The meeting brought attention to the prevailing humanitarian situation in Yemen. The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien briefed the Security Council that Yemen was facing “the largest food security crisis in the world”, with 17 million people in need of food, of which 6.8 million just “one step away from famine.” Besides, half of all health facilities are now closed, and yet, the Yemeni people are still suffering from communicable and preventable diseases. The recent outbreak of cholera is also alarming. They both stressed that these threats were avoidable, subject to the international community’s support.

Meeting: 7954th Meeting of the Security Council – “The Situation in the Middle East”

Date/Location: Tuesday, May 30, 2017; 10:00-11:30; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN Special Envoy for Yemen; Stephen Rothwell O’Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; Radhya Almutawakel, Chairperson, Mwatana Organization for Human Rights; Representatives of Bolivia, Uruguay, and Yemen

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Educating Hearts and Minds: Parents’ Role in Helping Their Children Thrive

 

Celebrating the International Day of Families on 15 May, the Permanent Mission of Samoa and the NGO Committee on the Family co-organized an event entitled “Educating Hearts and Minds: Parents’ Role in Helping Their Children Thrive” on 18 May 2017. It served to remind stakeholders of how they could contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development at the individual level.

To open the event, His Excellency Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia discussed the role of families from the international agreements’ framework. He specifically brought attention to the Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR) on rights to marriage and family. Although parenting is perhaps the most challenging task, he said, it has the biggest impact on society as “charity starts at home.”

Despite the consent about the significance of parents, the panelist Prof. Mesurado’s research study on the relationship between family interaction and well-being raised questions during the meeting. Participants particularly asked whether the fact that 90 percent of her respondents were highly educated would generate biased results. A representative from a university in Africa also expressed strong disappointment over her conclusion about Africa’s unhappiness solely based on little data collected from Kenya.  Families are considered important in creating social impacts, but have seldom been addressed in the United Nations, said Elisaia. He hoped that more UN meetings would be held to address families in the future.

Meeting: Educating Hearts and Minds: Parents’ Role in Helping Their Children Thrive
Date/Location: Thursday, May 18, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Ryan Koch, LDS Charities; H.E. Mr. Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa; Lynn Walsh, Universal Peace Federation; Prof. Maria Mesurado, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Austral University, Argentina; Eve Sullivan, Parents Forum; Renata Kaczmarska, UN Focal Point on the Family
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

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UN SDG 4

Government’s Unprecedented and Rushed Decisions to Continue the Use of Toxic Chemicals Found in Children’s Toys

Earlier this month, an unprecedented agreement was made during 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the Stockholm Convention (SC) to add three toxic chemicals to the treaty while allowing loopholes for two of them, Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).
Recent studies conducted by IPEN, a global network of over 500 organizations committing to a toxic-free future, find both toxic chemicals in children’s toys. Due to their nature of being persistent, highly toxic, traveling long distances and building up in the food chain, the SC’s expert committee did not recommend a lot of the proposed exemptions. However, the COP8 agreed to include a long list of exemption clauses in the SC’s Annex A. They include exempting the production and use of commercial DecaBDE for certain vehicle parts such as global positioning systems, components of radio disks, automobile seats, etc. Regarding SCCPs, members also agreed on specific exemptions such as its production and use for transmission belts, lubricant additives, and secondary plasticizers in flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC), except in toys and children’s products.

Discussing the meeting’s implications, Dr. Olga Speranskaya, IPEN Co-Chair, was particularly concerned about the influence of the treaty’s amendments on developing countries, where customers are not well-informed due to the lack of labels. “Customers will unknowingly buy and expose their children to these chemicals because governments were not bold enough to demand that the industry labels them,” warned Dr. Speranskaya.
Another controversial decision made during the meeting include agreeing to allow recycling materials containing toxic flame retardants (PentaBDE and OctaBDE) found in furniture and e-waste, which would widely contaminate children’s products according to a new IPEN study.
Contrary to upholding the meeting’s theme, “A Future Detoxified,” IPEN Senior Advisor Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith mentioned delegates’ mockery that the meeting paved the way for “A Future Toxified,” by exposing workers, children’s toys and recycling streams to toxic chemicals.

Meeting: The eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (SC COP8)

Date/Location: April 24 – May 5, 2017; Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, Geneva, Switzerland

Written By: WIT Representation Jadice Lau

Edited By: Fred Yonghabi

 

Press Briefing on the launch of the World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2017

A press statement regarding the launch of the report World Economic Situation and Prospects was released by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) today. The latest report presents bad news on the world’s progress toward achieving some of the major Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the 2030 Agenda

Regarding the world’s GDP growth, Diana Alarcón and Dawn Holland of DESA presented it was forecasted to rise by 4.7 per cent and 5.3 per cent in 2017 and 2018 respectively, which is significantly below the SDG target of at least 7 percent. The report warns that under the current growth trajectory without a decline in income inequality, 35 percent of the population in Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) will remain in extreme poverty by 2030.

Concerning world trade, it has begun to rebound from the 2008 global financial crisis. However, it is mainly due to the rising import demand and contribution of East Asia and South Asia. On the contrary, the rise in commodity price driven by conflict and domestic pressure in Latin America and Africa is not yet resolved.
Apart from the income and trade targets, Alarcón and Holland said the report also identified some positive elements in the environmental area. For example, the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) has been reduced while the use of renewable energy has increased. However, they remarked that the trend could be easily reversed should the major CO2 emitting countries demonstrate faster growth, and the public and private sectors do not continue to support the use of renewable energy.
Addressing the overall lack of progress, Alarcón and Holland explained that political actors played a significant role. Among others, they particularly pointed toward the high level of uncertainties in international policies, such as the recent renegotiations of trade relations in the United States and Europe, financial market relations, and Brexit.

Meeting: Press briefing by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on the launch of the World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2017
Date/Location: Tuesday, May 16, 2017; 11:00-11:30; Press Briefing Room, S-237, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers:
Diana Alarcón, Chief, Global Economic Monitoring Unit, Development Policy and Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), United Nations;
Dawn Holland, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Global Economic Monitoring Unit, Development Policy and Analysis Division, DESA, United Nations
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Edited By: Fred Yonghabi

Making Eradication of Poverty an integral objective of all policies

The meeting was organized in two sessions at the United Nations headquarters to discuss what it will take to make eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies.

The key points highlighted during the discussions showed that destabilizing poverty in Africa is a result of climate change causing drought, conflict, and instability.  Conflicts in
Sub-Sahara particularly increases the poverty levels and instability of the population.  The representative from DESA stressed the importance of adherence to the Paris Agreement.
Ambassador Charwath, in addition, stressed the need for more integration of power sources which includes women.   This is particularly important in promoting reproductive rights and sexual education at the highest level of government.
Overall, the panel members stressed the importance of partnerships of ECOSOC and NGO’s with other government sectors within the continent of Africa.

Meeting: Making Eradication of Poverty an integral objective of all policies: What will it take?

Date/Location: Wednesday, May 10th, 2017; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters NY

Speakers:

  • Morning session moderated by Mr. David Mehdi Human, Director of the Office of The Special Advisers on Africa.
  • Afternoon session moderated by Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary General and Head of Office in NY, United Nations Environment Program with key speakers H.E. Mr. Philip Charwath, Deputy Permanent Representative to Austria to the United Nations, Chair of the Commission on Social Development at its 55th session.
H.E Mr. David Donoghue Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations. Chair of commission on the Status of Women at its 62nd Session.
Ms. Christina Popescu, Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations, Vice -Chair of the Commission on population and development st its 50th session.
Prof. Jose Antonio Ocampo Professor from Columbia University.

Written By: Amadeus P. Shebinsky

Edited By: Fred Yonghabi

 

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