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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High-level Event: Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights to Achieve Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

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(Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/justice-statue-dublin-ireland-626461/)

The UNPD, UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of Argentina, and the Permanent Mission of Austria co-organized such an event on the eve of High-Level Political Forums (HLPF) to set the tones for further discussion on SDG 16 and concerning issues. Ms. Ana Maria Menendez considered the HLPF to be the timing for taking stocks of all efforts reviewing the progress done so far. The forum should also investigate the linkages between SDGs, in particular, goal 5, 10, and 16 concerning the topic of today. On gender equality, society should strive to establish norms and mechanisms to address the problems women and girls face in accessing justice and human rights protection. Goal 10 establishes the principle of non-discrimination in all institutions while goal 16 similarily calls for access to justice for all.

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Evaluations from the Executive Board of UNDP/UNPF/UNOPS: Plenary Meeting 6

The Executive Board of UNDP, UNFPA, and UNOPS came together to reconsider revised points to UNFPA’s policy for the prevention, response to and elimination of gender-based violence and harmful practices. Both the Director of Evaluation Office representative and the Executive Director touched upon updating policies to specify definitions, principals, and standards that have been previously established within the UNFPA. Four established areas regarding transparency highlighted within the UNFPA Evaluation Policy were discussed, with emphasis on joint evaluation (assessment of UN agency inter-relationships, i.e, UNFPA and WHO) and system-wide evaluation (assessment of UN as a whole). The Executive Director emphasized on result based management to take lessons learned from prior experiences to implement into new policies locally, regionally, governmentally, and internationally.

Delegates agreed on the necessity of UNFPA and cooperation between countries as well as sectors within the UN as a whole. The delegate from Switzerland on behalf of 20 other countries raised general concerns on resource allocation as well as the idea of system-wide joint evaluations, which was countered by the Director of Evaluation in explaining that resource allocation protects funding for the centralized evaluation core. Transparency will be combated with continued annual budget reports. More details regarding gender and human rights updates were also requested. Mexico highlighted a demand in attention for sexual and reproductive health treatment, specifically in younger people to strengthen political, economical, and social ties while Belgium voiced concerns for budgeting issues.

Meeting: Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund/United Nations Office for Project Services – Plenary Meeting 6

Date/Location: 23 January 2019, Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: Executive Board: Director of Evaluation Office representative; Executive Director of UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS; Burkina Faso; Switzerland (on behalf of 20 other countries); Mexico, Botswana, Belgium, Sweden

Written By: WIT Representative Jessica Shi

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

High Level Political Forum 2017: Impact Investment and Innovation for SDGs

UNDP is on a journey to connect development assistance with impact investment. Impact investing is an investment that aims to generate specific benefits of social or environmental effects along with financial gains. Impact investing includes venture capital, private equity, debt and range of philanthropic investment tools. UNDP has agreed with the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia to create a national SDGs Innovation Lab and the work is going on towards achieving SDG’s through impact investment which involves promotion of new financial mechanisms as a vehicle of change for the public sector.

UNDP

INSEAD Business School is committed to “business as a force for good”, the issue of leveraging impact investment for development is particularly relevant for INSEAD and hence their partnership with Armenia and UNDP to bring about innovations in SDG’s. The panel altogether believed in three things – collaborate, understand and implement. Stanford Change Lab believes that, SDGs do not exist in isolation and cannot be solved in isolation. So the problems that haven’t been solved in the past, past solutions cannot be used. Therefore, creating new solutions become a design task. And that is exactly what Stanford Change Lab is providing platform for. Mr. Jones believes that, the SDG’s make sense to investors and they make sense to development, so it is all inter-connected. Therefore, innovation in SDG’s are important and should be looked at from the eye of impact investment which gives opportunities for many new business models and growth for upcoming entrepreneurs. Armenia believes in facilitating an enabling environment for letting innovation come through and ultimately achieving SDG’s through impact investment mechanism, which would also boost the economy of their country.

Meeting: High Level Political Forum 2017: Impact Investment and Innovation for SDGs

Date/Time/Location: July 13, 2017, 10:00 AM – 01:00 PM; Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: HE Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Permanent Representatives of Armenia to the UN; Ms. Cihan Sultanoglu, Assistant Secretary General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS; Mr. Bradley Busetto, UN Resident      Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia; Mr. Hans Wahl, Director of Social Entrepreneurship Programme at INSEAD; Alex Khachatryan, Director, Center for Strategic Initiatives of the Govt. of Armenia; Mr. Garo Armen, Founder and Chairman of Children of Armenia Fund; Mr. Souren Aloyan, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Dasaran Educational Program; Ms. Marie Lou Papazian, MD, Tumo Center for Creative Technologies; Mr. Banny Banerjee, Director, Stanford ChangeLabs; Mr. Kevin Jones, Co-founder and Convenor, Social Capital Markets, SOCAP; Mr. Mika Pyykko, Project Director, Impact Investing, Sitra

Written by: WIT Representative Harsh Agarwal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

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

Oceans Conference

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

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

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

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

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

Speakers:

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

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Families, Education and Well-Being

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

International day of families

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