Towards a Pollution Free Planet

Towards Pollution free planet

UN Environment Assembly

In response to the growing environmental pollution dilemma, the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) presented the diverse effects of pollution on our ecosystem, as well as upcoming environmental literacy events to build momentum for tackling this global challenge.

Mr. Harris began the open-ended meeting by introducing a variety of global pollutant factors that harm human health. These include: poor air quality, exposure to lead, exposure to asbestos, polluted water and inadequate sanitation, and exposure to pesticides. Mr. Harris also revealed how pollution harms ecosystems, listing contaminated crops, the disruption of pollinating insects, marine pollution and the 500 “dead zone” regions as examples.

In addition, Mr. Harris referenced to multiple upcoming open-ended sessions hosted by the UNEP regarding its pollution-free goal, including “Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum”, “Science, Policy and Business Forum”, and “Sustainable Innovation Expo”.

Mr. Harris explained that throughout these various sessions, the UNEP will identify and promote opportunities for green investments, explain connection between science and environmental solutions and facilitate partnerships with investors.

A question was asked regarding the number of current prime ministers registered to participate in the listed upcoming sessions.  Mr. Harris revealed that 69 ministers have currently registered, and that he anticipates many more by November.  A suggestion was made to include an African storyteller in the upcoming sessions.  I questioned the initiatives taken to include youth in these open-ended sessions and educate them regarding the current environmental issues.  Mr. Harris alluded to the recent social media initiatives taken by his organization.

Meeting: Open-Ended Meeting on — “Towards a Pollution Free Planet”

Date/Location: Thursday, November 16, 2017; 10:00-11:30; Conference Room #12, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Mr. Elliott C. Harris, Moderator, UN Assistant Secretary-General Director

Written By: WIT Representative Timothy Stephens

 

 

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Ending impunity for crimes against journalists: strengthening implementation and the case of women journalists

UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of Greece, and the New York Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists held a panel discussion to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. This discussion was about the increasing violence against journalists, focusing on female journalists.

Ms.Theofili discussed how an increase in gender based violence and discrimination makes women leave the field of journalism because of fear. This deprives them of their freedom of speech and deprives society of their views and voice. Ms. Menendez communicated how vital freedom of expression and press is because without informed citizens, corruption will thrive. She said that between 2006-2016, 900 journalists were killed, and 90% of these cases remain unresolved, relating back to impunity.

Mr.La Rue focused on three main points of the UN Plan of Action of Safety of Journalists: prevention, protection in moments of immediate violence, and prosecution including conducting full investigations in all cases. Also, he talked about how SDG 16 is focused on freedom of speech, but full access to information is essential to all goals. Mrs. Basu showed a clip from her documentary and mentioned that journalists are the bridge between society and democracies.

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Ms. Wickrematunge shared her personal story of being followed and how her husband was killed because of his reporting. After his death, she had a target on her back; even within the news world there was a systematic need to suppress her. She said the panel did a good job of humanizing journalism, dispelling the idea that journalists are asking for it because they put their lives on the line with their choice of career. Ms. Ferrier emphasized how social media saturates the consequences for speaking truth because online perpetrators act boldly without fear of repercussions.

Meeting:  Panel Discussion on —“Ending impunity for crimes against journalists: strengthening implementation and the case of women journalists”

Date/Location: Thursday, November 2, 2017; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 8, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Ms. Penelope Manis, Senior Director of Programming, CNN International; Ms. Maria Theofili, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN; Ms.Ana Maria Menendez, Under-Secretary-General for Policy, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General; Mr.Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO; Ms. Nupur Basu, Independent journalist and documentary filmmaker from India; Ms. Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge, award winning investigative journalist and editor from Sri Lanka; Ms. Judy Taing, Senior Officer on Gender and Sexuality, ARTICLE 19; Ms. Michelle Ferrier, Associate Professor in E.W Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University; Mr. Christophe Deloire, Director-General of Reporters Without Borders; Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Written By: WIT Representative Nicole Matsanov

COP 23 – Private Sector Engagement Critical to Combat Climate Change

Meeting: Enhancing Resilience of and Crowding in Public and Private Investment for Climate Change Adaptation

Date/Location: November 8, 2017, 10:30 – 12:00, UNDP Pavilion – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, Global Environmental Finance Unit, UNDP; Head of Environmental Protection Department of Bosnia; Representative of Malawi; Representative from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)

Written By: Marli Kasdan

Over the last two weeks at COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, one consistent theme was the need to harness private sector investment in order to meet the ambitious goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The UNDP pavilion held a side event on how different types of private sector actors can and should be included in the climate change adaptation agenda. The meeting began with Mr. Kurukulasuriya from UNDP giving opening remarks about the need to harness private sector engagement to combat climate change, with a focus on the reality that the climate change problem cannot be solved with public money alone. A stable policy environment and governments who are willing to actively engage with private sector actors can help leverage private finance and pave the way for larger funding streams to come into developing countries to be used for climate change adaptation.

The Head of the Environmental Protection Department of Bosnia continued the discussion by emphasizing that bringing in private sector finance for climate change adaptation should be linked with the broader Sustainable Development agenda in order to engage with private sector actors who may already be involved with sustainable development but have not yet realized the benefits of working in the climate change area. Furthermore, the Representative of Malawi spoke about how the private sector can engage with local actors to produce technology driven climate change adaptation solutions. In Malawi, an effort is underway where mobile phone operating companies are working with the agricultural sector to use telecommunication services to disseminate information for early warning systems that track climate induced hazards which affect farmers, such as droughts. Malawi has policies in place that create an enabling environment for private sector investment in climate change adaptation strategies, and it presents a good example of how country governments can engage with the private sector to find solutions to climate change challenges.

The meeting concluded with a representative from FAO speaking about FAO’s work with farmers, fishermen, and rural entrepreneurs. An emphasis was made surrounding the gender gap in the private sector, and how women’s enterprises are valuable private sector actors. Overall, this event highlighted the need for private sector investment for climate change adaptation, and demonstrated that governments working with private sector actors, such as the telecommunications companies in Malawi, can produce innovative solutions to meet climate change adaptation challenges.

COP 23 – Transformational Adaptation Solutions to Combat Climate Change

 

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With COP coming to a close at the end of the last week a noticeable theme throughout the negotiations and side events was on transformation – the notion that a fundamental change in the way we tackle climate change is needed if we are going to meet the Paris Agreement target of keeping global average temperature rise below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. With current emission levels as they stand now, the world is not on track to meet this ambitious goal. However, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect to combat global warming, adaptation to the increased risks posed by climate change induced threats, such as severe droughts, floods, cyclones, etc., is of equal importance. To address this issue, the UNDP pavilion held an event on the need for transformational and innovative solutions for climate change adaptation.

The event began with remarks from Saleem Huq from ICCAD, who focused his remarks on how the Green Climate Fund (GCF) could be used as a catalyst for transformational change, but the way they solicit projects with short term funding and a short term outlook prevents the GCF from helping to drive any true transformation. Mr. Huq emphasized that investment in a time bound project cannot be transformational because transformation involves the generational change of societies, and it means investing in the next generation who can deliver on transformation. In line with this, Mr. Huq emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in the GCF to allow room for experimentation and longer term investment in projects for climate change adaptation.

The meeting continued with the Representative from Colombia, highlighting similar issues with the GCF surrounding whether or not it helps to drive transformational change. GCF projects are based on 5-year funding cycles, and it is unlikely that transformational change can be produced in such a short window. The point was also made that there is no common definition surrounding transformation, making projects that could produce transformation difficult to implement when actors do not even agree on a shared vision of transformation.

The meeting concluded with Dr. Robinson, who presented some of her most recent research on climate change resilience and transformation. Her research found that the concept of transformation is donor driven, meaning that the donor agencies, development banks, and multilateral institutions that fund climate and development projects are driving the agenda surrounding transformational change for climate change adaptation. This is problematic because donors typically fund projects on 5-year funding cycles. Dr. Robinson was critical in her analysis of the likelihood for transformational change to take effect in a 5-year time span. This demonstrates that transformational change to meet the adaptation needs of developing countries to deal with the effects of climate change need to take the long view by having longer funding cycles and more inclusion of project recipients in the planning and agenda driving phase.

Meeting: Catalyzing Innovative Solutions and Transformational Adaptation to Climate Change

Date/Location: November 9, 2017, UNDP Pavilion – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Mr. Saleem Huq, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD); Representative of Colombia; Dr. Stacy-Ann Robinson, Brown University

Written By: Marli Kasdan

COP 23 – Focus on Youth and Women Investment in Land to Combat Climate Change

Last week at COP, a side event was held at the UNDP pavilion on youth and women investment in land and natural resources for climate change mitigation, where UN experts, country representatives, and NGO leaders came together to discuss climate change and its strain on food security and smallholder farmers in Africa, and how investment in land is an effective way to combat this issue and make food security more sustainable. The meeting began with Mr. Garrity, the Drylands Ambassador for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, making a statement on the need to map and collect data on the expansion of farmer managed land practices. He explained how women farmers and youth are using these practices to increase acacia tree cover on their farms, which improves the land quality and provides households with raw materials to harvest from the trees. Next, the Minister of Environment of Ethiopia, Dr. Gemedo, gave a statement on the need for range land restoration in Ethiopia, where technology and market linkages are a priority, along with grassroots level community organization that builds on existing indigenous knowledge for sustainable land management.

The meeting continued with Mr. Hémeryck, the Director General of SOS Sahel, (an NGO that works on land restoration in the Sahel region of Africa) who spoke about SOS Sahel’s work in Ethiopia, where the organization supports 500,000 youth farmers in land rehabilitation, and its work in Burkina Faso, where SOS Sahel supports 8,000 women in their agro-forestry land management system, which improves soil quality and generates income for these women. Mr. Hémeryck stated that their organization does not delegate solutions from the top down, rather they work to support farmer-driven initiatives. Furthermore, Ms. Watanabe, the Global Manager for UNDP’s Small Grants Program (SGP), announced its new partnership with SOS Sahel, where the two organizations will work closely to improve sustainable land management and agro-ecology through community based solutions.

Next, another partnership was announced by the representative from Burkina Faso, who reported on Burkina Faso’s partnership with SOS Sahel to work together on programs for mobilization of resources, development of service centers, and land regeneration techniques. The meeting concluded with the SGP Advisor on Land Degradation, Forest Management, and Community Based Adaptation giving a statement on SGP’s main areas of work, which include $135 million in grants and more than $152 million in co-financing to support projects in the areas of agro-ecology and agro-business, sustainable forest management, technology for water and energy use production systems, and pasture rehabilitation and rangeland management. As the effects of climate change in the Sahel region become more severe with an increase in the frequency and intensity of droughts that cause food crises and collapse of ecosystems, sustainable land management will continue to be of the utmost importance for improving livelihoods in the Sahel region.

Meeting: Youth and Women Investing in Land and Value Addition on Natural Resources to Mitigate Climate Change

Date/Location: November 9, 2017, 4:30 – 6:00, UNDP Pavilion – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Mr. Dennis Garrity, Drylands Ambassador for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification; Dr. Gemedo Dale, Minister of Environmental, Forest, and Climate Change of Ethiopia; Rémi Hémeryck, Director General, SOS Sahel; Ms. Yoko Watanabe, Global Manger, Small Grants Program (UNDP); Representative from Burkina Faso, National Coordinator of the Great Green Wall Initiative; Small Grants Program, Advisor on Land Degradation, Forest Management, and Community Based Adaptation (UNDP)

Written By: Marli Kasdan

Focus on Least Developed Countries at COP 23

COP 23

COP 23 – the UN yearly climate change conference kicked off in Bonn, Germany last week, where heads of state, NGOs, academics, and private sector partners all came together to discuss the threat of climate change and solutions to keep global average temperature rise below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. One of the primary issues at the conference is how least developed countries (LDCs) should deal with climate change – a problem they had little hand in creating, yet suffer dis-proportionally from. The Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) was formed at COP 7 in Marrakesh to help LDCs navigate the issue of climate change within the climate negotiations. To give an update on their work, the LEG met the first day of COP to discuss their work in supporting LDCs on adaptation.

According to the UNFCCC, adaptation “refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts.” With this definition as a background, the meeting began with Mr. Jewber, Chair of the LDC, who stressed that adaptation is a priority for vulnerable countries to climate change, yet finance, technology, and capacity for adaptation activities are extremely limited. Most climate finance is skewed towards mitigation, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), rather than adaptation. Mr. Santana, a member of the LEG, continued the meeting by discussing the LEG’s vision to provide support to countries to achieve better adaptation planning and processes in their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), with finance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Thus far, GCF approval rates for NAP funding have been incredibly slow – only 5 NAPs have been approved so far and only 2 have actually received their GCF funds (Liberia and Nepal), although other countries’ NAPs are in the pipeline for approval.

Mr. Jariu from the GCF Secretariat responded by saying that the GCF has received 38 NAP proposals as of October 2017, with 15 of these coming from LDCs, and that the GCF is focusing on quality of planning and increased guidance and knowledge sharing in its review and approval of NAPs. Next, the UNFCCC Secretariat made a statement affirming its support for the work of the LEG, and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) gave a statement outlining its 24 projects that are in the pipeline for implementation in LDCs in the amount of $170.5 million. The meeting concluded with a representative from The Gambia who gave his view on adaptation planning and finance, which included challenges related to low financing and weak national capacity for implementation. Issues surrounding adaptation financing at COP will continue to be a highly debated topic, and LDCs will only be able to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement if appropriate funding that includes more finance for adaptation is mobilized.

Meeting: Work of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) in Supporting the LDCs on Adaptation

Date/Location: November 7, 2017, 6:30 – 8:00, Room 9 – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Gerbru Jewber, Chair of the LDC; Aderito Santana, Member of the LEG; Pa Ousman Jarju, GCF Secretariat; Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat; Alpha Jallow, Representative from The Gambia

Written By: Marli Kasdan

 

Drafting a Treaty to Regulate Transnational Corporations and Human Rights

Meeting: Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights

Date/Location: 23 October, 2017, 15:00 – 18:00; Building E Room 20, Palais Nations

Speakers: State representatives from Nicaragua, the Philippines, Russia, Egypt, Cuba, Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Chile, Norway, Switzerland, Australia; NGO Representatives from the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Organization of Employers

By: Marli Kasdan

 

Last week the Human Rights Council (HRC) convened a meeting to discuss the drafting of a new, legally binding treaty on states’ obligations in regard to the regulation of transnational corporations (TNCs) and human rights. The discussion centered around how, if at all, states should regulate TNCs and their human rights practices through a legally binding treating.

The first two statements during the general debate from Nicaragua and the Philippines expressed their support for a legally binding instrument that obligates states to regulate TNC business practices and human rights. The statements emphasized the need for victims of human rights abuses at the hands of TNCs to have access to legal recourse. However, Russia’s statement focused on the need to fully implement the existing UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (which include regulations surrounding TNCs and human rights), instead of creating a new legally binding treaty. Further comments during the debate paralleled these two opposing viewpoints – with some states taking the position that a legally binding treaty is needed to establish a compliance mechanism and ensure that TNCs do not regularly violate human rights with impunity, while other states took the view that the existing UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights already outline these provisions and are sufficient.

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Statements from Egypt, Cuba, Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Chile supported the creation of a legally binding instrument, citing the need for states to regulate TNC activities in order to protect human rights and provide access to justice for people whose rights are violated. Furthermore, the statement from Bolivia emphasized the unbalanced regulation in the current legal framework, where TNCs have required binding laws to protect their investments in the form of international arbitration clauses for decades, but no binding norms exist to protect human rights from abuse by TNCs.

Nevertheless, many states, including Norway, Switzerland, and Australia, emphasized the need to work within the existing Guiding Principles, which are based on years of consensus building between states, businesses, and human rights advocates, and already cover provisions for protecting human rights from TNC abuses (albeit in a non-legally binding way). These statements emphasized that a focus on the creation of a new instrument has the potential to detract from the implementation of the Guiding Principles, which are already firmly established. These statements also expressed concern that the proposed treaty would only regulate states’ obligations surrounding TNC activities, as opposed to a wider variety of businesses.

Unsurprisingly, leaders of pro-business NGOs, including the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Organization of Employers, expressed their reluctance for the creation of a treaty. In line with statements made by state delegations against the creation of a treaty, international business leaders expressed concern that this treaty would only cover TNCs and not other types of businesses, including domestic businesses. However, domestic businesses are already covered by domestic law, underscoring the need for the creation of a legally binding instrument to regulate TNCs within international law because TNCs often fall into a legal grey area when it comes to state regulation since they operate in multiple countries.

UNCTAD Meeting on Investment, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development

Meeting: UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): Multi-year Expert Meeting on Investment, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship for Productive Capacity-Building and Sustainable Development, fifth session

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Speakers: Representatives from Ecuador, India, Kenya, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and France

Date/Location: Monday October 9, 2017; 15:00-16:30; Building E Room 26, Palais Nations, Geneva

Written By: Marli Kasdan

 

On Monday at Palais Nations, UNCTAD convened a meeting on the need to reform international investment agreements (IIAs) in order to spur foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries – an important source of finance when it comes to meeting the SDGs. As it stands, IIAs are mostly ineffective in creating a significant increase in the flow of FDI to developing countries that have signed on to them. Furthermore, most IIAs have strict Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses – mechanisms that provide for arbitration in the event of disputes between investors and states. However, the clauses give investors many more rights and protections than the state, creating an unfair environment where investors rights’ are privileged. Since ISDS clauses are biased towards investors, and in most cases IIAs have not produced the volume of FDI necessary to adequately finance the SDGs, the need for IIA reform was called for across the board.

The meeting began with a statement from Ecuador, which emphasized the negative effects of ISDS arbitration and highlighted the need for more specific definitions of protection standards when it comes to the environment and human rights in new IIA arbitration clauses. Next, India spoke about the many bilateral investment treaties (BITs) it signed from 1990-2013, with most containing arbitration clauses so broad that they were detrimental to India’s economy. India called for the need to balance rights and obligations in arbitration clauses and the importance of focusing on alternative models of dispute settlement, such as mediation, in future IIAs. The representative from the Kenya Investment Authority spoke about how FDI is the largest and most constant source of external finance for developing countries, and he called for reform that will meet the objective of attracting private sector investment for sustainable development.

Most developed country governments that spoke during this meeting also agreed on the need for reform. The statements from developed country delegations all highlighted the importance of IIAs and the need to modernize them in order to harness finance for sustainable development. As part of IIA reform, the Netherlands explicitly called for a reference to the right of developing countries to regulate their investments, the need for corporate social responsibility, and more safeguards in ISDS arbitration. Furthermore, Spain called for the need for reform that strikes a balance between the public interest and a healthy relationship with investors. In addition, Switzerland emphasized how IIAs are beneficial because they increase legal security and predictability in international investment, although they are in need of continued examination and adjustment. Lastly, both Spain and France called for the creation of a multi-lateral EU investment court to regulate ISDS going forward.

While all country governments who spoke at this meeting, in addition to academics and NGOs, called for the need to reform IIAs and BITs, the process of achieving this reform is going to be difficult. As it stands, IIAs overtly benefit investors and developed countries, even though one of the main goals identified by UNCTAD is that IIAs should spur private sector investment for sustainable development in developing countries. Due to the power imbalances present in IIAs and the entrenched nature of the system, reform is fraught with competing priorities. A major challenge going forward is the issue of previously concluded IIAs and BITs with restrictive ISDS clauses, and what is to be done with these formerly concluded agreements during the reform process.

UNHCR Executive Committee Meeting

Meeting: United Nations High Commission for Refugees – Executive Committee Meeting, 68th Session

Date/Location: Monday, October 2, 2017; 15:00-18:00; Assembly Hall – Palais Nations, Geneva

Speakers: M. Yackoley Kokou Johnson, Ambassadeur extraordinaire et plénipotentiaire, Représentant permanent de Togo auprès de l’Office des Nations Unies à Genève; H.E. Mr. Peter Sørensen, Ambassador, Permanent Observer to the United Nations Office at Geneva for the European Union; S.E. M. Lejeune Mbella Mbealla Ministre des relations extérieures de la cameroun; Lt. Gen. Abdurahman Bello Dambazu, Minister of Interior for Nigeria; Mr. Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, U.S. Department of State

Written By: Marli Kasdan

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UNHCR met for its 68th executive committee meeting last week in Geneva at Palais Nations. The meeting began with representatives of member states and international organizations convening on Monday for the General Debate in order to discuss pressing issues faced by refugees across the globe. Framed by the protracted crisis in Syria that is causing widespread displacement in the Middle East along with massive refugee flows to Europe, the ethnic cleansing that has forced Rohinyga Muslims to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh, protracted displacement in the Lake Chad Basin stemming from Boko Haram, and a rising tide of populism across Europe and the United States fueling animosity towards refugees, the debate was ripe with commitments across the board to “do more for refugees”. However, UNHCR and the member states of the UN will only live up to this commitment if words are turned into action. Below are highlights from this meeting:

The debate began with Ambassador Yackoley Kokou Johnson from Togo speaking on behalf of the African Group. He stressed that the full support of the international community is essential in order to address refugee crises in Africa, noting that the UNHCR budget for Africa is severely underfunded. There is a funding gap of over 50%, with actual funding for UNHCR operations in Africa only financed at 27%. Ambassador Johnson discussed the importance of using cash based transfers to address humanitarian crises in order to stimulate the local economy and provide a sense of empowerment and choice to those who receive assistance.

Ambassador Peter Sørensen spoke on behalf of the EU and its member states. His address focused on the need to mobilize funds for refugees, and he outlined the top priorities for the EU in its response to refugees and migration. These priorities included development oriented with a focus on reducing aid dependency and fostering self-reliance, as well as a major focus on protection and empowerment of women and girls in refugee situations. He also noted the EU Commission’s recommendation to resettle 50,000 refugees across Europe over the next two years.

The Minister of Exterior Relations from Cameroon, Lejune Mbella Mbella, spoke about the sharp rise in migration and humanitarian crises, particularly in Africa. He emphasized that Africa, and in particular Cameroon, share an outsized burden of hosting refugees compared with the rest of the world. His main focus was on the more than 90,000 Nigerian refugees residing in the northern region of Cameroon due to displacement from violence caused by Boko Haram. The delegate from Nigeria, Abdurahman Bello Dambazau, followed this statement by praising the cooperation between Nigeria and Cameroon to voluntarily repatriate Nigerian refugees who want to return home.

Lastly, the delegate from the United States, Mr. Simon Henshaw, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration, spoke about U.S. support for refugees worldwide, despite the recent anti-refugee sentiment coming from the Trump administration. The United States called on the government of Myanmar to allow UN access to Rakhine state and urged further international engagement in responding to the Rohingya crisis. He also spoke about the crisis in Syria and announced that the United States pledged $697 million for new humanitarian assistance in the region. In conclusion, Mr. Henshaw emphasized the use of cash based transfers in response to humanitarian emergencies and the need to put the dignity and safety of refugees at the center of effective refugee response.

Eleventh Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Name

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Representatives gathered to discuss the United Nations Global Geo-spatial Information Management through a variety of discussions. The conference began as the  representative of the Netherlands was nominated president of this conference by acclamation. He began the discussion by claiming new data storage and distribution techniques should be reflected in the work of the UN. By adapting to new circumstances, the conference should continue to fulfill its mandate and role by taking the steps to maintain the quality of digitized databases. The Director of UNSD continued the conversation, asking the quality of information to be used in its appropriate context. He stated the main challenge regarding the integration of various information systems, statistical and geospatial, is their efficacy. Such systems must come together into one national information integrated system such that it can support the various policy concerns at the local, regional, and national levels. Furthermore, better communication is necessary as well, as member states are shown to be doing good work, but struggling to connect such work to the events at the high policy level so that they can receive sufficient resources. In addition to the election of the president, the officers of the conference were elected as well, along with the chairs, vice chairs, and rapporteurs of the four technical meetings. Ormeling then presented about the importance of national geospatial information. He claimed the SDG metrics for monitoring and measuring processes are vital to determine the lifecycles of SDGs, as geographical locations need identification. He reinstated the UNGGIM is not physically doing any work in member states, but rather giving advice and providing procedures. The meeting ended as Kerfoot presented about milestones of the past conferences, covering various aspects of their work including advancing national standardization, outreach to Africa, and establishing and improving operations.

Meeting: Eleventh United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names by the Economic and Social Council

Date/Location: Tuesday, August 8th, 2017; 10:30-13:00; Conference Room 3

Speakers: Representative of Germany; Representative of Netherlands; Director of UNSD; Representative of Canada; Representative of New Zealand; Representative of Canada; Representative of Indonesia; Representative of Australia; Representative of Norway; Representative of Palestine; Representative of South Africa; Representative of Azerbaijan; President of Conference; Director of UN Department of Statistical Information; Helen Kerfoot, Representative of Canada; Ferjan Ormeling

Written By: WIT Representative Janet Lee