Putting People First in AI – High Level Presentation of the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

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This meeting of the Slovak Republic/OECD: Putting People First in AI was convened to discuss OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence. Representatives from around the world gathered to discuss how we should act in this digital era.
First, H.E. Mr. Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen said that OECD has launched an AI policy that provides an online hub for open dialogue that implements AI principles. It is opened to any interested countries beyond OECD members. H.E. Darja Bavda Kuret, an Ambassador of Slovenia, said that digitalization like the Internet of Things, machine learning and AI transforms our economy. However, there is a huge gap since some people do not even have any access to the internet while big companies utilize AI. She asked, “How are we going to investigate that no one is behind?” Furthermore, H.E. Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe from Zambia asked, “How do we handle the inequality of social opportunities?”
Consequently, Knudsen answered the questions by saying that it is through accountability and transparency. He further questioned, “Who owns the data of this world? Is it an individual or the state or the party?” He said that it is a huge problem and we need a harmonization. Not only that, we need to care about AI and climate change. It is impossible to reduce CO2 without science, technology, and innovation. We should utilize AI to protect humanity from climate change.
Moreover, a representative from Canada said consumer protection is important. We need public education and should be responsible for innovation. We also need government funding for this. A representative from Columbia said that the government should commit this 4th industrial revolution. We should reduce inequality in this digital economy, and we should include trust and security.
Robert from UNDP said that development is redefined by technology. How to democratize technology such as big data, blockchain and IoT is important. We need a new business model that is more accessible to any income level. He emphasized that data is so important that the system gets more efficient with more data. Also, Steven from UNICEF said there should be human-centered AI. Nudsen concluded that the ethical issue is so important. Transparency is about consumers; consumers should know what they are consuming with a computer. Also, we need to share the data to become successful.

Meeting Title: Slovak Republic/OECD: Putting People First in AI

Date/Location: Thursday, 7 November, 2019; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 12; United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers:

H.E. Darja Bavda Kuret, Ambassador of Slovenia;

H.E. Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the UN;

H.E. Mr. Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, Deputy Secretary General, OECD;

A Representative from Canada;

A Representative from Columbia;

Robert from UNDP;

Steven from UNICEF

Written by: WIT Representative, Won Ah Oh

People and Nature – Solutions to Accelerating Progress Towards the 2030 Agenda and Averting Planetary Catastrophe

Co-organised by Costa-Rica, the Delegation of the European Union with YouNGO, UNEP, WWF and UNDP, delegations and civil organizations convened to discuss solutions that can accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. The meeting specifically called for collaborative climate action, where the balance between nature and humans can then be restored and sustained.

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HLPF: A Review of SDG 13

The meeting entitled “Review of SDG implementation and interrelations among goals: Discussion on SDG 13 – Climate action including the link to the Climate Action Summit and six action portfolios,” was convened this morning under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council’s High Level Political Forum. The purpose of the gathering was to review progress towards SDG 13, and to demonstrate the inter-linkages between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The structure of the meeting consisted of remarks by four resource persons, and five lead discussants, with intermittent comments from member states and other stakeholders.  

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Addressing​ ​the​ ​Climate​ ​Change-Migration​ ​Nexus​ ​and​ ​its Implications​ ​for​ ​Peace​ ​and​ ​Security​ ​in​ ​Africa

In observance of Africa Week 2017, the African Union Permanent Observer Mission introduced the issue of climate change and its implications on migration, peace, and stability in Africa, seemingly in an effort to garner international support/funding.

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Credit: OSAA /Africa Week 2017 (  )

The Moderator Mba stated that despite Africa’s minimal contribution to the issue of climate change, the continent remains extremely vulnerable to the environmental effects it causes. He claimed that these effects, such as desertification, flooding, and other natural disasters, threaten food stability and lead to forced migration, violent conflicts, and an increased presence of extremism in African nations. For this reason, he urged that climate change and Africa’s instability be seen as linked issues.

Many speakers cited the desertification and subsequent rise in migration and extremism in the Lake Chad region as an example of this climate change-migration nexus. Mr. Jason Lamin, a representative of the private sector, suggested that Africa’s weak infrastructure exacerbates the issue, and that investment in Africa would greatly improve the situation. Ms. Vera Songwe’s remarks echoed those of Mr. Lamin, claiming that while Africa has the resources to be a sound investment for the world, political advocacy must be done to secure these investments.

Others, such as Ms. Carla Mucavi, favored a home-grown solution, suggesting an inclusive rural transformation that would create jobs, strengthen food security, and reduce rural poverty. In light of the focus on migration, Mr. Ashraf El Nour noted that migration has been historically positive for Africa, but that the forced nature of the migration caused by climate change is what leads to regional conflicts. All speakers seemed to agree on the urgency of this issue, and the responsibility of organizations such as the UN to come up with a sustainable solution.

Meeting:​ ​​High-level​ ​event​ ​on​ ​—​ ​​“Addressing​ ​the​ ​Climate​ ​Change-Migration​ ​Nexus​ ​and​ ​its Implications​ ​for​ ​Peace​ ​and​ ​Security​ ​in​ ​Africa”

Date/Location:​ ​​Thursday,​ ​October​ ​19,​ ​2017;​ ​10:00-13:00;​ ​Economic​ ​and​ ​Social​ ​Council Chamber,​ ​United​ ​Nations​ ​Headquarters,​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​NY

Speakers:

  • H.E.​ ​Mr.​ ​Anatolio​ ​Ndong​ ​Mba,​ ​Moderator,​ ​Permanent​ ​Representative​ ​of​ ​Equatorial​ ​Guinea​ ​to the​ ​United​ ​States;
  • H.E.​ ​Ms.​ ​Liberata​ ​Mulamula,​ ​Visiting​ ​Scholar​ ​and​ ​Acting​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Institute​ ​for​ ​African Studies​ ​at​ ​the​ ​George​ ​Washington​ ​University
  • H.E.​ ​Prof.​ ​Victor​ ​Harison,​ ​Commissioner​ ​for​ ​Economic​ ​Affairs,​ ​African​ ​Union​ ​Commission H.E.​ ​Prof.​ ​Fatma​ ​Zohra​ ​Karadja,​ ​Member,​ ​African​ ​Peer​ ​Review​ ​Panel​ ​of​ ​Eminent​ ​Persons
  • Mr.​ ​Achim​ ​Steiner,​ ​Administrator,​ ​United​ ​Nations​ ​Development​ ​Programme
  • Mr.​ ​Ashraf​ ​El​ ​Nour,​ ​New​ ​York​ ​Liaison​ ​Office​ ​Director,​ ​Food​ ​and​ ​Agriculture​ ​Organization​ ​for Migration
  • Ms.​ ​Carla​ ​Mucavi,​ ​New​ ​York​ ​Liaison​ ​Office​ ​Director,​ ​Food​ ​and​ ​Agriculture​ ​Organization​ ​of​ ​the United​ ​Nations
  • Mr.​ ​Jason​ ​Lamin,​ ​Founder​ ​and​ ​Chief​ ​Executive​ ​Officer,​ ​Lenox​ ​Park​ ​Solutions
  • Mr.​ ​Jamil​ ​Ahmad,​ ​New​ ​York​ ​Liaison​ ​Office​ ​Deputy​ ​Director,​ ​United​ ​Nations​ ​Environment Programme
  • Ms.​ ​Vera​ ​Songwe,​ ​Executive​ ​Secretary,​ ​United​ ​Nations​ ​Economic​ ​Commission​ ​for​ ​Africa

Written​ ​By:​ ​​WIT​ ​Representative​ ​Andrea Estrella

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

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

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

Partnerships for Sustainable Action

 

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In the December 20th session Professor Jan W. Dash discussed climate action as a matter of justice, ethics, and human survival. He emphasized that all SDGs are tied to climate change and that humanity has the power to reduce dangerous effects that climate change had on our planet’s health and biodiversity. H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sareer spoke on behalf of Small Island Developing States. He discussed the 300 partnership listings and the Samoa pathway. He reinforced the Maldives’ commitment to these partnerships and the necessity of the participation of all stakeholders. H.E. Mr. Odo Tevi reiterated the need for more efficient work to ensure that the SDGs are implemented and stay relevant. He also expressed the need to ensure oceans’ health and that countries enforce nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Dr. Christine K. Durbak shared the relevant work that she and World Information Transfer have provided over the last few decades. The Conference of NGOs began the committee on SDGs in the late 1980s, when WIT was invited to join. WIT focused on connecting the global community’s resources on human health and the environment.

Dr. Judy Buster-Otto discussed mental health and quality of life resolutions in the 2030 Agenda. She explained the work of the WHO and shared how the NGO-SDG forum can work through shared input and ideas, linkages to stakeholders, and advocacy with missions. Ms. Hawa Diallo noted the 66th DPI/NGO conference held in 2016 in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea. She shared the goals of the conference and the action plan for a youth program/agenda. She briefly explained the next conference and the TOGETHER initiative. Ms. Emilie McGlone briefly introduced Peace Boat organization and a few related upcoming youth initiatives and summer programs. Mr. Marc Jourdan expressed his aim to promote SDGs in Dominican Republic. He shared projects in schools and towns based in recycling and sustainable agriculture. Mr. Daniel Perell explained the importance of engagement with the larger NGO body and creating platforms for NGOs to target relevant goals. The election of the of the NGOCSD-NY Executive Board for 2017 ended the session.

Meeting: “Partnerships for Sustainable Actions in 2017 & Beyond”

Date/Location: Tuesday, 20 December 2016; 13:00 to 15:00; Boss Room, Church Center for the United Nations, 777 UN Plaza

Speakers: Professor Jan W. Dash (NGOCSD-NY Lead Adviser on Climate Change; Managing Editor of the Climate Portal website); H.E. Dr. Caleb Otto Ambassador of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Ahmed Sareer Ambassador of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Odo Tevi Ambassador and of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations; Dr. Judy Buster-Otto (Adviser to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations); Dr. Christine K. Durbak (Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations; Founder and Chair of World Information Transfer; President of the K. Kovshevych Foundation); Ms. Hawa Diallo (Public Information Officer; NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Section Department of Public Information); Ms. Emilie McGlone (Director of Peace Boat US, New York Office); Mr. Marc Jourdan (UN Programs & Outreach Manager; Global Foundation for Democracy and Development); Mr. Daniel Perell (Global Organizing Partner of the NGO Major Group; Representative for Bahá’í International Community to the UN, New York; Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development)

Written By: Renée S. Landzberg, WIT Representative

 

50 Years of Human Rights Covenants

 

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Wednesday, October 19th,  the General Assembly celebrated and discussed the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). His Excellency Peter Thomson began by summarizing the success that the Human Rights Covenants have had over the past fifty years. He stressed that the covenants have transformed lives by changing constitutions and laws and legally obligating states to recognize and protect individual human rights. He iterated the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and argued the need for the Agenda and the covenants to proceed jointly. Additionally, he pointed out that the adherence to the covenants is necessary in achieving SDG 16 (promoting peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development), upon which all the other SDGs are reliant. Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed the idea that promoting human rights pushes states toward greater stability. Furthermore, he argued that the Paris climate change agreements found their roots in the ICCPR and ICESCR, and they promote the right to highest attainable standard of health. The Representative of Chile on Behalf of the Latin American states added that the ICCPR and ICESCR are both closely linked to sustainable development, an integral part of human rights.

Mr. Waleed Sadi expanded on the importance of the coordination and cooperation between both of the covenants. He pointed out that the United States had both signed and ratified ICCPR, but had only signed ICESCR. The Representative of the United States expressed the importance of promoting human rights in the United Nations and emphasized a strong commitment to doing so. Additionally, she argued that the ICCPR guarantees steady progress towards the goals outlined in ICESCR.

Meeting: “Implementation of Human Rights Instruments: Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, October 19th, 2016; 10:00; General Assembly Hall

Speakers: His Excellency Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly; His Excellency Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations; Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Waleed Sadi, Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Representative of the Asia-Pacific group; Representative of Georgia on behalf of Eastern European states; Representative of Chile on behalf of Latin American states; Representative of the United Kingdom and Ireland on behalf of the Western European states; Representative of the United States

Written By: Anna Prisco, WIT Representative

 

Responding to Zika: Prevention is Better Than the Cure

The Beautiful Risk

Today, H.E. Oh Joon began the briefing with introducing its agenda concerning the need for international cooperation and building preparedness in the face of the public health crisis due to the rise of the Zika virus and cited possible contributing factors to the outbreak, including climate change.  Then, Dr. Menabde and Dr. Espinal spoke of the WHO’s and PAHO’s objective of investigating and responding to microcephaly and other neurological disorders related to the Zika outbreak by enhancing surveillance measures to monitor the spread of the virus, communicating with communities to dispel stereotypes about the virus and encourage safe sex among pregnant women and their partners, and researching the virus’ consequences.  Next, Dr. Kachur mentioned the CDC’s need for forming better monitoring systems for the virus, enhancing laboratory systems, training workforces, and establishing more field offices to further investigate the disease, as well as creating better tests to differentiate symptoms of the Zika virus from other diseases, such as dengue and chikungunya.

Additionally, Dr. Henriques spoke of the evolution of the virus in Brazil since the beginning of 2015 and mentioned that the rise in cases of microcephaly is what alerted health professionals to the possibility of a Zika outbreak.  He also stated that although the government is dealing with many unanswered questions concerning the current scientifically unproven link between microcephaly and the Zika virus and the future consequences of the disease, Brazil’s Ministry of Health’s main priority is to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus and support women and children.  Finally, Mr. Wahba cited that there are 503 cases of the Zika virus in Haiti and that development, human rights issues and underfunding are impediments to helping achieve progress in this matter within the country.

Meeting: Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2016 Session: Briefing on the Zika Virus

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, February 16, 2016; 15:00-17:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: His Excellency Ambassador Oh Joon, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from the Republic of Korea; Dr. Natela Menabde, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Office at the United Nations (UN) in New York City; Dr. Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis at the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO); Dr. Patrick Kachur, Principal Deputy Director of the Center for Global Health at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Cláudio Maierovitch Pessanha Henriques, Director of the Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance at the Ministry of Health in Brazil; Mr. Mourad Wahba, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations (UN) Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Port-au-Prince

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: BBC News