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

World family organization

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

 

Advertisements

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

 

Making the Case for Marine Protected Areas

The meeting was in preparation for the first major conference on the ocean that will be held 5-9 June 2017. The panel was comprised of ambassadors from three Small Island Developing Countries (SIDs) including Nauru, Seychelles, and Palau, a science researcher, and an artist.

Marlene Moses from Nauru first started the panel discussion by reviewing the development history of international cooperation on the ocean. She emphasized that the ocean, as it accounts for 97% of the Earth’s surface, was “at the very heart of our identity”. Protection of the ocean, therefore, becomes a critical issue, as can be seen in the SDG 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Following that, participants offered important insights into the three aspects of marine protection: financial, scientific, and artistic.

Addressing the financial aspect, Ronny Jumeau from the Seychelles explained that marine protection was as much a practical problem as a moral one. The central issue was, how these SIDs can pay for marine protection. Despite the fact that only 30% of SIDs belong to low-income countries, most of them still need to take domestic welfare provision and existing debt into consideration. Jumeau, therefore, shared his country’s innovative fundraising methods such as blue bonds and debt swap. Similarly, Palau is facing this financial challenge as it has committed to protecting 500,000 square kilometers of its Exclusive Economic Zone. Ngedikes Olai Uludong introduced the new policy of the Palau government: Pristine Paradise Environment Fee (PPEF).

Addressing the scientific aspect, Narrissa P. Spies explained why setting up bigger, more isolated marine protection areas is important to safeguarding marine resources. Finally, addressing the artistic aspect, Asher Jay illustrated her artwork and the importance of communicating the message of marine protection to the public at large.

Meeting: Event on “Making the Case for Marine Protected Areas”
Date/Location: Thursday, April 27, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers:
Marlene Moses, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the United Nations;
Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations;
Ronny Jumeau, Roving Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues for Seychelles;
Narrissa P. Spies, Native Hawaiian Scientist (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Biology, University of Hawaii);
Asher Jay, National Geographic Explorer;
Kate Brown, Global Island Partnership
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Edited By: Fred Yonghabi.

Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: From victims to change agents through decent work

The side-event was part of the Sixteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Its main purpose is to launch its new report “Indigenous peoples and climate change: From victims to change agents through decent work”.

Martin Oelz from ILO first reported the key findings. He highlighted that indigenous peoples, despite their vulnerability to climate-induced threats and challenges, can be agents of change to achieve the SDGs and spur green growth based on their traditional knowledge. Oelz further demonstrated the contribution of the indigenous peoples by presenting some numbers. For example, indigenous peoples account for 5% of the world population, but they care for about 22% of the earth surface and protect 80% of remaining biodiversity on the planet.

UN SDG 8

United Nations SDGs 

Panelists then expressed their views in support of protecting indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge. Sudatta Chakma from Bangladesh presented with his country’s efforts to protect the livelihood of ethnic minorities. Robert Glasser, Sille Stidsen, and Rishabh Kumar Dhir agreed with the ILO report that indigenous peoples are “at the vanguard of running a modern economic model based on the principles of a sustainable green economy”. They strongly believed that governments should learn from their traditional wisdom to achieve economic empowerment and environmental protection simultaneously.

Joann Mae Spotted Bear, a representative from Lakota, one of the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains of North America, made interventions during the panel discussion. She condemned the US government for threatening their clean water and land by approving the construction of Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline.
Overall, participants emphasized that the report launched by ILO enriched the ongoing discussion on the indigenous people’s related issues, including human rights, social justice, employment, traditional knowledge and climate change.

Meeting: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: From victims to change agents through decent work
Date/Location: Wednesday, April 26, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers:
Martin Oelz, Senior Specialist on Equality and Non-Discrimination – Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, International Labour Organization (ILO)
Sudatta Chakma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Chittatong Hill Tracts Affairs, Government of Bangladesh;
Robert Glasser, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, (UNISDR);
Sille Stidsen, Senior Adviser, Human Rights and Development, Danish Institute of Human Rights;
Rishabh Kumar Dhir, Technical Officer, Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, International Labour Organization
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Edited By: Fred Yonghabi.

Identifying and Mitigating Long-term Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster: Building the Case for Continued International Cooperation

 

The Round Table Discussion was co-organized by Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations, Project Chernobyl, and Russian American Foundation. It brought together representatives from different countries, international organizations and scientists to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day. Its main purpose was to showcase the post-Chernobyl experience and discuss its implication for continued international cooperation on other technological threats.

Country and international organization leaders expressed their appreciation of the global collaboration efforts to identify and mitigate Chernobyl’s consequences. Representatives from Belarus, the Russian Federation, UN DESA and Kazakhstan especially thanked UNDP for its leadership, and scientists as well as the WHO for their quantitative studies on medical consequences in the affected region. Participants of the Round Table Discussion including the representatives from Belarus, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, WHO, IAEA, the United States, and Chernobyl Children International also shared the important contribution of their countries and organizations.

The invited scientist Valentina Drozd from Project Chernobyl turned the attention to the greater challenge now: helping to solve the puzzle of a virtual epidemic of thyroid cancer around the world. Her research identified this phenomenon in Belarus and other countries including the United States. Mary H. Ward found that contamination of drinking water with nitrates caused by agricultural fertilizers, animal, and human waste was one of the leading factors for the dramatic rise in the radiation-induced thyroid cancer in Belarus. At the same time, Yuri E. Nikiforov also suggested genetics mechanisms of post-Chernobyl cancer.

Throughout the meeting, participants emphasized that the terrible suffering experienced by millions after Chernobyl can be alleviated in part through the efforts of the international community to advance medical and scientific knowledge, which will benefit untold millions around the world.

Meeting: Round Table Discussion “Identifying and Mitigating Long-term Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster: Building the Case for Continued International Cooperation”
Date/Location: Wednesday, April 26, 2017; 15:00-18:00; Conference Room 8, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers:
Dmitry Mironchik, Head of Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus;
Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations;
Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, UNDESA;
Rusian Bultrikov, Deputy Permanent Representative, Minister-Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations;
Dr. Nata Menabde, Executive Director, Office at the United Nations, WHO;
Valentina Drozd, MD, PhD, Head of International Department of “Project Chernobyl”;
Xolisa Mabhongo, Representative of the IAEA Director General, Director of the IAEA Office in New York;
Matthew Dolbow, Counsellor for Economic and Social Affairs, United States Mission to the United Nations;
Mary H. Ward, Ph.D., Senior Investigator, National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Occupational and Environmental (Rockville, USA);
Kathleen Ryan, Chairperson of US Board, Chernobyl Children International;
Yuri E. Nikiforov, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology; Vice Chair of the Department of Pathology; Director, Division of Molecular & Genomic Pathology (Pittsburgh, USA)
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature to Commemorate International Earth Day.

 

Earth Day

costaricaguide.com

The meeting commemorates the International Mother Earth Day. With a focus on Earth jurisprudence, the meeting is separated into two parts. The first part addresses how Earth jurisprudence is currently being applied across different disciplines. The second part examines how Earth jurisprudence and Rights of Nature can forge a thriving relationship between humans and the Earth.

In the first panel discussion, Chandhra Roy-Henriksen urged governments to include the indigenous peoples in the on-going dialogue. Liz Hosken agreed by sharing her experiences in working with indigenous peoples in Africa and Amazon since 2004. She encouraged governments to revive indigenous traditions and adapt them to the modern world. Klaus Bosselmann focused on the role of nation-states. In order to gain legitimacy, he prompted them to draw the examples of Germany and New Zealand, and act as “trustees of the natural environment”. Peter G. Brown and Linda Sheehan both condemned the current economic models as “absurd” and unsustainable. Instead of measuring GDP, they suggested taking the energy flow into consideration.

In the second panel discussion, Jean-Paul Mertinez encouraged the arts and media industry to transmit more Earth-central world views nationally and internationally. Germana de Oliveira Moraes discussed how harmony with nature is a precondition for all the 17 SDGs. Pallav Das referred to a recent court ruling from India. As innovative as the decision may seem, he argued that it could be counterproductive due to the difficulty of defining the rivers’ rights and responsibilities.
Throughout the meeting, a common theme that was re-emphasized is that human beings are not superior but depend on nature. The challenge is, however, how to get all the Member States involved.

Meeting: Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature in Commemoration of International Mother Earth Day

Date/Location: Friday, April 21, 2017; 10:00-18:00; Trusteeship Council, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers:
Chandhra Roy-Henriksen, Chief of the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues;
Liz Hosken, Director, The Gaia Foundation, South Africa;
Klaus Bosselmann, Professor of Law and Founding Director of the New Zealand Center for Environmental Law, University of Auckland; Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Ethics Specialist Group;
Peter G. Brown, Director, Economics for the Anthropocene Project, McGill University, Canada;
Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of Planet Pledge, USA;
Jean-Paul Mertinez, Producer I Studio Director, Illumina Studios & Media Ltd., UK;
Germana de Oliveira Moraes, Professor of Constitutional Law in the Federal University of Ceará and Federal Judge in Ceará, Brazil; Co-founder of Pachamama Nation (Violeta Molina);
Pallav Das, Co-founder of Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, India; Environment and Communications Consultant
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

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.

img-project12-en

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