HLPF Informals

www.un.orgThe session was organized by the co-facilitators to get comments from member states and permanent observers of the United Nations, on the Ministerial Declaration for the 2016 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. Ambassador Gustavo, in his opening remarks, stated that this is the first to follow-up and implement the 2030Sustainable Development Agenda.

Ambassador Gustavo explained that the Ministerial Declaration, which was sent in a letter from the Co-facilitators to all permanent representatives and permanent observers on 13 June 2016 contain potential elements of the draft Ministerial Declaration.

Ambassador Gustavo further highlighted the importance of the “Global Sustainability Development Report” which was included in the Ministerial Declaration, stating that the scope of the report is one important component of the follow-up and review process for the 20130 Agenda on Sustainable Development and will inform the HLPF to make policy decisions to reduce poverty.

After the brief introductory statement, Ambassador Gustavo opened the floor to all permanent representatives and member states to comment on the HLPF Ministerial Declaration.

After comments from member states, Ambassador Gustavo opened the floor for other organizations or permanent observers to the United Nations to comment on the HLPF Ministerial Declaration.

The major call from the different organizations was the need for global partnerships at all levels to achieve the global sustainable development agenda.

Ambassador Gustavo ended the session by thanking all for the interventions and participation despite the short notice to prepare for this session. He handed over the floor to his Co-facilitator, Ambassador Gillian to give her final comments.

In her final words, Ambassador Gillian thanked everyone for their constructive work and that she looks forward to working with all on the HLPF.

Meeting: Informal consultations on the draft ministerial declaration of the high-level political forum on sustainable development for 2016, convened under the auspices of the Council, and the high-level segment of the 2016 session of the Council, convened by the co-facilitators (Australia and Peru).

Date/Time/Location: 16 June 2016/15:40 to 18:00/ Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: Co-facilitators from Peru (Ambassador Gustavo) and Australia (Ambassador Gillian Bird), delegates member states, stakeholders and NGO representatives.

Reported by:   Fred Yonghabi

Technology and the Sustainable Development Goals

Todays morning meeting revolved around realizing the potential science, technology and innovation has to help us achieve our SDGs. Mr. Kamen began by emphasizing the importance of creating scientists and engineers from our youth equally throughout the world. He showed two videos of his technology program, FIRST, a foundation that makes science just as enjoyable and entertaining to our youth as sports. He advised member countries to figure out a way to include their own FIRST programs in their respective states. Professor Co from Northwestern University continued the general assembly by promoting member states to work towards a future that can take advantage of our recourses and youth, such that one-day gasoline can be generated when needed and done so through renewable energy that will not contribute to climate change. He explained that partnerships of nations and a classification system of modern knowledge can make government funded research more accessible and help align target research with SDGs.

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Both Ambassador Joon and Secretary General Ki-Moon gave statements regarding the power of science and innovation. Mr. Ki-Moon stated that tech and innovation must not be limited to SDG17 or confined to the use of new technologies and software, rather innovation is a mindset and attitude we must utilize. He also noted that the Multi-Stakeholder forum will take place each year until 2030 to allow all sectors of society to work together and look outwards to include greater cooperation through parliaments. Mr. Nakicenovic represented the Group of 10 and spoke about their belief in the importance the forum holds in terms of STI and how central it is to human development and is the primary mechanism for achieving SDG. His plan is to increase the sustainable development plan of agenda 2030 and create a 2050 plan.

Meeting: Multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

Date/Time/Location: Monday, June 6, 2016; 10:45-13:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers:  Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of United Nations; Ambassador Oh Joon, President of ECOSOC; Mr. Dean Kamen, American entrepreneur and founder of FIRST; Professor Dick T. Co, Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University; Komal Ahmad, Founder and CEO of COPIA; Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director General/ Deputy CEO of the International Institute for Applied System.

Written by: WIT representative Amirali Agha-Khan

Edited by: WIT Administrator Modou Cham

Photo: www.ssr.titech.ac.j

Taboos, Sanitation, and Women’s Rights

The meeting convened on the impact of sanitation and water supply to the empowerment of women. Sanitation, in toilets or menstrual hygiene management, has been defined by the General Assembly as an essential human right. Evidenced through the creation of SDG 6, achieving gender equality through WASH has become a priority.

H.E. Ms. Lamilla stated that 2.5 billion people still lack suitable spaces to take care of their personal hygiene. According to the WSSCC, one billion people still resort to open defecation. H.E. contended that adequate sanitation is the minimum standard for a life of dignity. Access to water supply is also paramount.  According to WHO recommendations, an individual should intake a minimum of 5 liters of water/day, accessible to them within 1 km from home. In developing countries, women are oftentimes responsible for collecting water. When water access is far from home, women need to walk long distances to collect it. Consequently, this takes time away from their education and renders them prone to exhaustion and sexual abuse.  It is the obligation of the state to ensure public access to water; otherwise it is the poor who will suffer the most.

Panelists further discussed the importance of breaking social taboos around menstrual hygiene. As Ms. Agrawal noted, “The thing that we cannot speak of, is the thing that creates all human life.” Ms. Shrestha stressed that it is crucial to determine the root cause of such taboos. In western Nepal, menstruating girls practice “chaupadi” and remain secluded in sheds for fear of spreading illness and offending the gods. Taboos are often rooted in traditional beliefs.

Ms. Fry recommended forming partnerships with men, and educating girls on menstrual hygiene management before the onset of their periods which will help them avoid early pregnancies and marriages and keep them in school.

Meeting: “Achieving Gender Equality through WASH.”

Date/Location: Friday, March 18, 2016; 10:00 AM-1:00 PM; Conference Room E

Speakers: H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative, Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN; H.E. Ms. Anne Lammila, Ambassador for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Ms. Inga Winkler, Independent Expert on Human Rights, WSSCC; Ms. Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch; Ms. Miki Agrawal, THINX; Ms. Cecile Shrestha, WaterAid America; Ms. Mbarou Gassama, UN Women and South Asia: “Leave No One Behind” WSSCC/FANSA; Ms. Ramatoulaye Dieng, Senegal Ministry of the Environment; Ms. Absa Wade, Ministry of Gender, Senegal; Ms. Sarah Fry, FHI360/USAID WASH Plus

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Ebola Trend Report In West Africa

   Mr. Nabarro briefed the UN on Wednesday on Ebola and the work he has been doing. He mentioned that the number of people with Ebola in West Africa has declined in recent months even though the outbreak is not completely over. The good news is that transmission of the virus has stopped in Liberia and Sierra Leone and both countries are in a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance as they are determined to avoid a recurrence. The trend in Guinea is also positive and the country started its own countdown to having an interval of 42 days after the last case. Mr. Nabarro expressed his delight in the leadership that has been shown in all 3 of the affected countries and also at the way in which the international community continues to be engaged.

He also discussed his priorities going forward. First and foremost, Mr. Nabarro wants to ensure that survivors are able to maintain good hygiene, practice safe sex, receive psychological and medical support, and in some cases economic support as well. He also wants countries to have the capacity to protect, detect, and to respond in place to any possible resurgence. Finally, Mr. Nabarro wants to honor those affected by outbreak by making sure that such deadly diseases are dealt with in a better manner in the future.

For the WHO, Mr. Nabarro also had three recommendations that have been accepted by the WHO’s director-general. They included the WHO being neutral and free of political pressures, instituting a powerful and integrated program for outbreaks and emergencies, and independent oversight of the organization.

Meeting: Press briefing by the Spokesperson [Guest: Dr. David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Ebola]

Speaker: Dr. David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Ebola

Written By: WIT Representative Tania Makker

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Meeting on the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Manual on Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide

13604167335_0958c8da2b_bThis meeting commemorated the creation of the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Manual on Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide. Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson opened the panel by focusing discussion on developing tools to mobilize action.

Permanent Representative Gasana (Rwanda) stated that we are still witnessing major human rights violations in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Iraq, and Kenya that warrant our resolve. Though it is impressive to see the international community’s commitment since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Gasana believes that political will is lacking. Of course, in addition to political will, genocide prevention also requires civilian protection, warning systems, and swift, decisive action based on those warnings. Gasana believes that the current conflict-solving model, in which the Security Council manages genocide rather than preventing it, is problematic. He called upon the Security Council to collaborate more with the Special Office for the Prevention of Genocide.

Mr. Dieng stated that the statement “never again” is already a sign of failure: we must continue to take every effort to prevent what happened in 1994. Furthermore, he wanted everyone to refer to the “genocide in Rwanda” as the “genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda in which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were killed.” Dieng acknowledged that genocides are not committed in a vacuum; there are usually warning signs. He challenged the international community to pick up on these early warnings of impending violence and immediately begin taking preventative action.

In the Q&A session, someone asked if an overly cautious approach, in which every human rights violation was deemed a genocide, would undermine the significance of the term ‘genocide.’ Eliasson responded that, rather than trying to distinguish ‘genocide candidates,’ we need to analyze each country’s risks on a case-by-case basis.

Meeting: Meeting on the Jacob Blaustein Institute’s Manual on Human Rights and the Prevention of Genocide
Date & Location: 11 April 2015, Conference Room 11, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General; Eugène-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations; Adama Dieng, UNSG Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide; Felice D. Gaer, Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Roberta Cohen, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute
Written By WIT Representative: Alis Yoo

Community and Policy Action to Empower Women

2415633098_37d02e886aMs. Colakovic discussed the status of women in Bosnia, where 25% of peacekeepers are required to be women. Currently, 10 safe houses for women exist and victims of domestic violence are now more encouraged to report violence to NGOs and agencies working on issues related to domestic violence and protection. Ms. Colakovic stated that the most common form of violence is psychological followed by physical and sexual abuse.

Ms. Sisic asserted that to feel safe and protected is a human right. Violence against women and girls is a global human rights issue fueled by a global power imbalance. She stated that political action–not just political will–must be increased. Ms. Swahn explained that gender based violence and the global burden of alcohol are both barriers for development. People who are intoxicated have increased risk of rape and sexual violence, and very little research exists in areas where high levels of alcohol use take place, such as in African countries. Mr. Cortez introduced an initiative that UNDP and WHO are working together on to reduce alcohol consumption.  The goal of this conference is to interfere with health policy specifically in Africa, where alcohol policies have gotten stuck in draft phases.

Ms. Rojhani discussed how non-communicable diseases affect women and how they undermine sustainable development. At least half of the 40 million people with HIV are women, and women who have experienced violence are up to three times more likely to be infected with HIV. Women in general are less responsive to health systems because of a lack of screening, a “one size fits all” approach, and lack of access.

Meeting: Three Major Epidemics Burdening Women: Community and Policy Action to Empower Women (organized by the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina and IOGT International)
Date & Location: 18 March 2015, Conference Room E, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Kristina Sperkova, IOGT International; Aldijana Sisic, UN Trust Fund to End Women Against Violence; Adis Arnautovic, CEM Bosnia and Herzegovina; John Mututho, NACADA Kenya; Clifton Cortez, UNDP HIV, Health & Development Group; Ariella Rojhani, NCD Alliance; Monica Swahn, Georgia State University; H.E. Mirsada Colakovic, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN
Written by WIT Representative: Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Information Transfer’s 23rd International Conference: Our Children’s World

Ecology E 2012Dr. Durbak began the conference by reiterating that healthy people need a healthy environment. Accurate information regarding health and the environment is necessary to allow policymakers to make well-informed decisions. Governments must make use of the precautionary principle, which is based on the idea that we must “do no harm.” Common sense must be used in decision-making when scientific evidence is not available, and children must be educated to understand this idea.

Sustainable development goals, explained Mr. Seth, are not just different bullet points on a list. Instead, they exist as a map of interconnections and progress in one is dependent on progress in the others. In the future, development must not be addressed with more and more new policy frameworks, but rather with real implementation.

Dr. Shuman focused on the effect of the West African Ebola outbreak on children. Children are typically infected at lower rates because they are not caregivers, but once infected their mortality rates are very high. Over 3,700 children have been orphaned because of the current outbreak. These children are stigmatized and shunned because of the fear surrounding Ebola.

Air pollution, Dr. Thurston said, can be more dangerous for children than for adults. Taking action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will help the global environment as well as local health. In developing countries, coal burning and indoor biomass burning are serious health threats.

Dr. Ratzan discussed education’s role in increasing health literacy and advocated the utilization of mobile device technology to ensure good, valid health and environmental information is always only an arm’s length away.

Mr. Doyle highlighted the ability of social media to be harnessed as a vehicle to provide information to the public at the click of a button, helping us build a better future.

Mr. Gupta closed by urging young people to work together to create the world we need. This is a generation that is uniquely fitted to deal with current global crises. As essentially borderless people due to modern technology, the youth must ensure that cross-boundary connections are of humanitarian value. How we choose to associate with our interconnectedness will impact on way issues are dealt with.

Meeting: World Information Transfer 23rd International Conference: Our Children’s World
Location/Date: 1 December 2014, Conference Room 1, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Dr. Christine K. Durbak, Conference Chair and Founder, World Information Transfer, Inc.; H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations; Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director for Sustainable Development, DESA, United Nations; Dr. Scott Ratzan, MD, Adj. Prof., Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Emily K. Shuman, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan; Mr. Alex Konanykhyn, President, KMGi; Mr. Wayne Doyle, Director, Liberatrix Media Consulting, Inc.; Ms. Gianna Simone, Activist and Actress; Apurv Gupta, Youth Representative.
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Conclusion of Second Committee’s General Debate

image18_866The Second Committee continued and concluded the general debate. The representative of Bulgaria focused on the lack of participation of young people in the decision-making process. Bulgaria called for an inclusive post-2015 development agenda based on human rights. Next the representative of Fiji stated that a robust implementation of the post 2015 development agenda would only be as meaningful for SIDS, if a cohesive financing development structure focusing on the special needs of SIDS is implemented.

The representative of Jordan stated that eradication of poverty should be the core of the post-2015 development agenda. The representative of Liberia stated that the Ebola pandemic in the Mano River Union Basin have tested the fragility of their post conflict economies and disrupted their agriculture and other revenue generation activities.

Next the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlighted that the ‘State of Food Insecurity’ (SOFI) report showed that approximately 805 million people were estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14, down by 100 million over the decade: demonstrating that the hunger target of the Millennium Development Goal is within reach. FAO also stressed on the need to invest in adequate social protection mechanisms, including nutrition-sensitive safety net programmes, to promote sustainable and inclusive development.

Finally the representative of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stressed the critical connection between reducing disaster risk and ensuring poverty eradication and humanitarian and development interventions.

Meeting Title: Second Committee: Sixth Meeting
Date: 9 October 2014
Location:  Conference room 2, United Nations HQ, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

Non Communicable Diseases Country Profiles

ncd-profiles130 Today, at the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Non Communicable Disease Country Profiles (NCDs) 2014, Dr. Margaret Chan delivered an opening remark paying tribute to all countries for their determination to control NCDs, and adopted the 2011 UN Political Declaration. She released the NCD Country Profiles 2014, which provides an updated overview of the NCD situation in 194 countries. The report illustrated that while many countries have started to align their policies and resources with the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020, progress in countries has been insufficient and highly uneven, with the risk factors of tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol doubling from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Chan called for bolder and more urgent action to accelerate efforts to address NCDs. Furthermore, she addressed obese children as “warning signals” as they signify a future of chronically ill adults, and unbearable financial burdens on healthcare services.

Following, Dr. Natsag spoke about the introduction of an early cancer detection programme in her country, Mongolia. She further highlighted that there is almost 100% full primary health care coverage for the people of Mongolia.

Next, Dr. Oyarzun talked about the recently enacted laws in Chile on prohibiting the use of tobacco in specific open spaces, against driving under the influence of alcohol, and laws on monitoring the fast food market to address obesity. He claimed the laws against drinking and driving were fairly successful. Yet, he saw room for improvement concerning tobacco consumption, and he urged for the transformation of social norms.

Dr. Sahlawi spoke about the free health services in Kuwait, where the life expectancy of the population has reached 75 years. He addressed NCDs as not merely a health problem, but rather a multi-sectoral issue. It requires the involvement from ministries of health, finance and education.

Dr. Freeman talked about the importance in striking a balance between communicable and non-communicable disease prevention. He mentioned the regulations on salty foods in South Africa, and the role of media in health-education campaigns. Furthermore, approximately 330,000 girls have benefited from the recently introduced HPV vaccine in South Africa.

 

Meeting Title:Launch of the “World Health Organization Non Communicable Disease Country Profiles 2014”
Speakers: Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, Ms. Natsag Udval, Deputy Minister for Health of Mongolia; Dr. Jamie Burrows Oyarzun, Chile’s Under Secretary of Public Health; Dr. Khaled Al Sahlawi, The Under Secretary Health Minister of Kuwait; Professor Melvin Freeman, Ministry of Health in South Africa; Dr. Johan Carlson, Director-General of the Swedish Public Health Agency
Location: Trusteeship Council, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 10 July 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Tracy Lau
Edited By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan