Soualiga
Menu

Soualiga (6301)

Guterres calls for ‘maximum restraint’ following drone assault on key Saudi oil facility

INTERNATIONAL, 15 September 2019, Peace and Security - The UN Secretary-General appealed on Sunday for “maximum restraint" following a wave of drone attacks claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, against a huge Saudi Arabian State-owned Armco petroleum processing facility, which threatens to disrupt global oil supplies. 

Yemen-based rebels who have been fighting a Saudi led coalition, creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, said they were responsible for the aerial assault early on Saturday, but the United States said there was no evidence to back that up, and accused Iran of an “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply”. 

Iran firmly denied any responsibility on Sunday, and reportedly increased tensions around the region by pointing out that US facilities were within range of Iranian missiles. 

Saudi oilfields have been the target of attacks by Houthi forces during the past year, which control much of the territory close to the Kingdom’s southern border with Yemen, but the attack was unprecedented, with Aramco reportedly saying the impact would be to cut output by around 5.7 barrels per day; more than 5 per cent of the world’s supply of crude oil. 

In a statement issued by the Spokesperson for António Guterres, he said that “the Secretary-General condemns Saturday’s attacks on Aramco oil facilities in the Eastern Province in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia claimed by the Houthis”, and “calls upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint, prevent any escalation amid heightened tensions, and to comply at all times with International Humanitarian Law. 

On Saturday, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, described the military escalation as “extremely worrying”, and urged “all parties to prevent such further incidents, which pose a serious threat to regional security, complication the already fragile situation, and jeopardize the UN-led political process.” 

Tensions rose in June between Iran, the US, Saudi Arabia and nations involved in the global oil trade, over the key oil shipping lanes around the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, involving tankers damaged at sea, leading to the downing of both Iranian and US drones, while other tankers were seized. 

Read more...

UN chief urges ‘active, substantive and meaningful participation’ on International Day of Democracy

INTERNATIONAL, 14 September 2019, Human Rights - On the International Day of Democracy, the United Nations chief urged each Government to respect its citizens’ right to “meaningful participation” in the political process.

“At heart, democracy is about people”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for Sunday.  “It is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation, and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights”.

While saluting all who “strive tirelessly to make this happen”, he affirmed that these values and aspirations “cannot be seen as tokens or lip service” but must instead be “real in people’s lives”.

“Yet the International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high”, Mr. Guterres continued. “People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalization and technology”. 

He attributed this to their seeing “conflicts going unresolved, a climate emergency going unanswered, injustice going unaddressed, and civic space shrinking”. 

“As we mark Democracy Day, I urge all Governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation”, concluded the Secretary-General.

Read more...

In The Bahamas, Guterres sees impact of ‘Category Hell’ hurricane, ‘powered by climate change’

INTERNATIONAL, 14 September 2019, Humanitarian Aid - The UN chief saw for himself the deadly power of Hurricane Dorian on the shattered islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama on Saturday, describing it as more like a “Category Hell” disaster, than the official Category 5 designation used by meteorologists. 

Dorian was “Category Hell”, said Secretary-General António Guterres, “but he was not powered by a devil. We have always had many hurricanes, but now they are more intense, and more frequent, and they are powered by climate change.” 

He said it was key for the international community to learn two things from the monster storm which struck on 1 September, killing at least 50 people, while around 1,300 are still reported missing: 

“We need to stop climate change, we need to make sure that we reverse the present trend when climate change is running faster than we are, and second, that countries like The Bahamas that do not contribute to climate change - but are in the first line of the devastating impacts of climate change - deserve international support, to be able to fully respond to the humanitarian emergency, but also for the reconstruction and the building resilience of the communities on the islands.”

Although Tropical Storm Humberto brought ominous new rainfall to the island nation over Friday night, before moving away, the UN chief – who spent much of the day talking to Bahamians and showing solidarity with those affected – was able to visit what one Government minister later described as their “ground zero”, of Abaco and Grand Bahama, on Saturday morning.  

Taking to Twitter, he said he was “horrified” by the level of devastation. “I’ve never seen anything like this” he noted, despite spending 10 years in some of the most crises-ridden parts of the world, as head of UN refugee agency, UNHCR

‘This kind of systematic destruction is unique’ 

Mr. Guterres spoke after surveying the scene, to international emergency responders and Bahamians involved in the Government relief effort in Abaco: “I have to say that I have seen in my life in different capacities, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, cyclones, I don’t remember seeing such a systematic level of devastation. Even when I came two years ago to Dominica...This kind of systematic destruction is unique.” 

Thanking all of the search and rescue workers from nations far and wide, international NGOs and UN agencies on the ground, he said that the destruction he had witnessed was “a demonstration of how dramatic natural disasters are becoming, increasing in intensity and in frequency and how vulnerable countries like the Bahamas are in relation to these natural disasters.” 

“It is clear that this acceleration is very much linked to human activity, triggering climate change and of course the Bahamas are not contributing much to climate change...So this solidarity is absolutely essential, and the international community needs to be able to express it very strongly.” 

He thanked them all for working “with an enormous determination, and enormous solidarity, and enormous generosity” in “very tough conditions.” 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres (l) speaks to medical staff in Nassau, Bahamas at a centre for people who fled Hurricane Dorian, by UN Photo/OCHA/Mark Garten

The UN chief noted that although some sceptics of the aid effort expressed a view that middle-income countries like The Bahamas should not be supported in the face of disasters like Dorian, “it’s a wrong idea, especially with middle income countries that have high levels of vulnerability to external shocks, they are not responsible for.” 

Now is obviously still the emergency phase, he said, “but then there will be reconstruction, resilience, recovery; and this will require massive investments, from the Government, and international support of course will be absolutely essential”. 

The expectations of all Bahamians would need to be carefully managed, he noted, praising the extraordinary effort on the part of the Government and people, to deal with the devastation that will impact the economy and society for months to come. The international community has a “huge responsibility to support the Bahamas”, adding that as Secretary-General, he would be “saying that “everywhere I go”. 

As the UN chief left the capital of the island nation later on Saturday, one Government minister thanked him for speaking to the world about the reality Bahamians now find themselves in: “I really thank you on behalf of the Prime Minister and the people of our country, for taking the time, and coming and looking at ‘ground zero’ for yourself.” 

Read more...

In visit to hurricane-ravaged Bahamas, UN chief calls for greater action to address climate change

INTERNATIONAL/CARIBBEAN, 13 September 2019, Climate Change - World leaders attending the upcoming UN Climate Action Summit are being urged to show up armed not with speeches but with plans to achieve carbon neutrality, reduce emissions and improve adaptation.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued the charge on Friday during a visit to The Bahamas, which continues to reel from the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian. UN agencies are on the ground to support relief efforts in the affected islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Speaking to journalists in the capital, Nassau, the UN chief expressed international solidarity with the Government and people of the island nation.

“In some areas, more than three-quarters of all buildings have been destroyed, hospitals in ruins or overwhelmed, schools turned into rubble. Thousands of people will continue to need help with food, water and shelter, and many more facing the uncertainties of the future after having lost everything,” he said.

Mr. Guterres noted that the climate crisis has generated “turbocharged” hurricanes and storms, which are occurring with greater intensity and frequency. And without urgent action, climate disruption will only get worse, packing what he described as “a triple punch of injustice.” 

“First, the worst impact is on countries with the lowest greenhouse emissions; The Bahamas are a very good example of that.  Second, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people in those countries who suffer most, and again, the same has happened with the communities in The Bahamas. And third, repeated storms trap countries in a cycle of disaster and debt.”

While the financial cost of Hurricane Dorian has not yet been determined, Mr. Guterres estimated it will be in the billions of dollars.

“The Bahamas cannot be expected to foot this bill alone. These new large-scale climate-related disasters require a multilateral response.  Climate financing is one element,” he said.  “We must reach the target of $100 billion per year from public and private sources, for mitigation and adaptation in the developing world, as rich countries have been promising for nearly a decade. And we must improve access to development financing. In cases like the Bahamas, I strongly support proposals to convert debt into investment in resilience.”   

Above all, Mr. Guterres called for greater global action.

“The entire international community must address the climate crisis through rising ambition and action to implement the Paris Agreement. The best available science, as reported by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, says we must ensure collectively that global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees.  And it says we have a window of less than 11 years to avoid irreversible climate disruption and that we must reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” he continued.

“And this is why I am asking all leaders to come to the climate summit with plans, not speeches, in New York in one week’s time.”

Shelter visit for evacuees from storm-hit islands

Visiting a shelter for hurricane evacuees later in the day, the UN chief met many who were also refugees from Haiti, and higlighted the generous support that had been given to them by the Bahamian Government and people.  The presence of so many vulnerable refugees showed how important international support was, " in order to help the Bahamas cope not only with the impact of the storm, but also with need to be able to assist populations that are very vulnerable of foreigners living in the country, many of them undocumented".

He reiiterated the need for climate action, now: " It is totally unacceptable that we go on subsidizing fossil fuels. It's totally unacceptable that such a large number of coal plants are being built in the world. It's totally unacceptable that we don't make an effort to put a price on carbon. If we don't reverse the situation we’ll see tragedies like this one multiplying and becoming more and more intense, more frequent."

Asked what the UN's key role is in response to the hurricane now, he said that intensifying the international effort was key, "because there is a lot of immediate aid that's necessary and there is reconstruction that will require also that solidarity. And at the same time, we all need to do everything we can to reduce the risks that have had such a tragic impact in the Bahamas and (the) means to fight climate change effectively."

Read more...

Monsoon destroys Rohingya shelters, sparking record UN emergency food agency response in Bangladesh

INTERNATIONAL, 13 September 2019, Humanitarian Aid - Unusually heavy monsoon rains have inundated shelters in refugee camps in southern Bangladesh creating “havoc”, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday, as it launched its biggest emergency response of the year for displaced Rohingya families.

At a regular briefing in Geneva, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said that 16,000 people had received food assistance in just 24 hours - more than all those reached since the monsoon season began in June.

The flooding was “much bigger” than usual, Mr. Verhoosel insisted, adding that the area of Teknaf was worst-affected, thanks to record rainfall this week.

Relaying information from colleagues in Cox’s Bazar – a series of camps that have been home to hundreds of thousands of mainly Rohingya refugees since they fled a military operation led by the Myanmar military in the summer of 2017 – Mr. Verhoosel said that some families had lost everything.

Host communities have also been badly affected, with more than 800 people temporarily displaced by flooding receiving food assistance.

“All that was in the house was basically washed away; what they use as a bed or what they use to cook, or everything was basically lost,” Mr. Verhoosel insisted. “They have nothing to cook (with), they have nothing to sleep (on), most of the clothes have been lost. Basically, the little things that they’ve rebuilt since they arrived in the camp was lost in one night of rain.”

Situation ‘could deteriorate’ without more funding

In an appeal for funding, the WFP official explained that it costs $16 million every month to feed almost 900,000 refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

For the time being, the agency has supplies prepositioned at strategic locations around the camps which can be distributed quickly.

But without the continued support of the international community, their situation could deteriorate rapidly, Mr. Verhoosel maintained.

One of the problems Bangladesh faces is that it is a low-lying country which is prone to flooding during the monsoon season, which usually lasts until October.

The country has also had more erratic monsoons and downpours in recent years as a result of climate change which WFP has sought to counter, by planting 100,000 trees in the camps and host communities to mitigate landslides and flooding.

In addition, engineering and disaster risk reduction work has been ongoing for more than a year and the camps “are significantly safer than they were earlier”, Mr. Verhoosel insisted, citing slope stabilization works and better road and drainage systems.

Security restrictions ‘should not impact on refugees’

In a related development, and in response to journalists’ questions about reported telecommunications restrictions in Cox’s Bazar following protests there, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) insisted that those seeking shelter should not be prevented from contacting relatives or friends living elsewhere.

“The Government of Bangladesh does have an overall responsibility for ensuring security and safety of the Rohingya who are sheltered in Cox’s Bazar,” UNCHR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said. “Given the humanitarian nature of the Rohingya refugee settlements, we would recommend the adoption of security measures that do not impact upon the ability of refugees to access basic services and rights and live safely.”

Highlighting how useful technology is for refugees wishing to communicate with “family and friends and humanitarian agencies”, Mr. Mahecic insisted that this was especially the case in emergency situations, like the one happening now.

Read more...

Delhi Declaration: Countries agree to make ‘land degradation neutrality’ by 2030, a national target for action

INTERNATIONAL, 13 September 2019, Climate Change - A major UN conference on fighting desertification agreed on Friday to make the Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving “land degradation neutrality” (LDN), a national target for action.

The Governments which are party to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), met in the Indian capital of New Delhi over ten days for COP14, adopting a series of breakthrough measures in the accord, known as the Delhi Declaration.

Besides the LDN agreement - whereby countries have pledged to halt the degradation of land to the point where ecosystems and land use can no longer be supported - there was a landmark decision to boost global efforts to mitigate and manage the risks of crippling drought.

Countries will also now be expected to address insecurity of land tenure, including gender inequality; promote land restoration to reduce land-related carbon emissions; and mobilize innovative sources of finance from public and private sources to support the implementation of these decisions at a national level.

“We have woken up to the fact that we will see more frequent and severe droughts, a phenomenon that will be exacerbated by climate change”, said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.

“To my mind, this was the COP where we put people at the heart of what we do”, he added, with Parties adopting a breakthrough decision on land tenure rights and drawing on the “unique voices, experiences of youth and women.”

Mr. Thiaw also drew attention to the contribution of COP 14 to the upcoming Climate Action Summit in New York, stressing that land restoration, at scale, is one of the cheapest solutions to address the global crises of climate and biodiversity loss.

He said the key message to the upcoming New York Summit was clear, “investing in land, unlocks multiple opportunities.”

The UN desertification chief also drew attention to the role that the private sector can play in land restoration going forward. He said it was important for businesses to be incentivized to help conserve land for sustainable use, through national regulations that support sustainable land management, and reward conservation, restoration and innovation.

The Conference drew the interest of nearly 9,000 participants. Delegates, including ministers, heads of United Nations and intergovernmental bodies, youth, local governments, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organizations

Prakash Javadekar, India’s Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change and President of COP 14, reiterated the country’s commitment to achieving land degradation neutrality by the SDG target year of 2030. He also promised to provide effective leadership to the UNCCD during his two-year presidency.

Read more...

INTERVIEW: Poverty, education and inclusion top new General Assembly President’s priority list

INTERNATIONAL, 13 September 2019, UN Affairs - Back in June, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was elected by acclamation to preside over the 74th session of the General Assembly, which kicks off in New York in just over a week.

In his first major interview with UN News, Mr. Muhammad-Bande highlighted poverty eradication, quality education, and inclusion as his top priorities.

The new General Assembly President has had an outstanding academic career in political science, in which he received a B.Sc from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, an MA from Boston University in the United States, and a Ph.D from the University of Toronto, Canada.

UN News/Nam Cho | General Assembly President-elect Tijjani Muhammad Bande speaks to UN News. (September 2019) 

He has been the recipient of many awards and honours,  most notably, Nigeria’s Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR); one of his homeland's highest honours.

In terms of the coming year, he tells UN News that "education is really a complex matter. Whoever is denied an education is denied almost everything”. With education “we are likely to have less hate, we are likely to have better understanding…we are likely to have more equality”.

On the upcoming 75th anniversary celebration of the UN’s founding, he said there was a need to mark this important event “in the history of the Organization and of the world, and of politics in general. “It should remind us as to the purposes of the Organization, its limitation and its promise and this promise is what we should all keep in mind.”

UN News began by asking him to outline his main priorities:

GA President: My three main priorities, aside from the normal priorities of all Presidents of the UN General Assembly - aside from peace and security, which is fundamental - the three other ones are, poverty eradication, quality education, and inclusion.

UN News: You had mentioned in your election speech that you would work for the world's most vulnerable and you mentioned poverty eradication and education. Can you give us an idea of how you intend to go about these priorities? Any concrete initiatives?

The whole idea is that all Members are able to help others at times by showing what they have done, which has worked, which has not worked, and what support they are able to give to others on a short-term basis.GA President: There have been a lot of initiatives over a long period of time concerning methods and norms, concerning the eradication of poverty and the connections between poverty and many other afflictions. And I think (it’s important to work with) Member States to look at those things, and see what within those parameters they're able to work with others to achieve.

So, it is a whole range of things that can happen if we are able to listen to each other in terms of our needs and our ability to work together in solving or mitigating some problems.

UN Photo/Mark Garten | Newly Elected PGA for the upcoming 74th session of the General Assembly speaks to reporters at the Stakeout. (September 2019) 

UN News: You will become President of the General Assembly during a time of great distrust between nations. How will you bring them together on the world stage?

GA President: Well, first (we must) keep reminding ourselves why this Organization was established in the first place.

This is vitally important because a lot of things go wrong by not getting us to reflect on what might be the case, should we not have this Organization in terms of chaos, in terms of ability to deal with, say, pandemics, in terms of ability to deal with issues - even migration and refugee issues.

So when you remind people as to what might happen and these are not at times, just theoretical constructs, these are realities that we can draw people to historically, to say look what has happened, look what might happen if we do not listen a bit more, if we do not cooperate a bit more.

In terms of the whole notion that as representatives of Members States, we should show respect to others, because they are here, because they are also members and they have a voice. They have things to say, which we must listen to.

And it is only through this approach that we're able to achieve results.

UN News: You've spoken about improving how things are done at the UN. What are some of the ideas that you would like to implement?

GA President: It's simply to go back to some of the discussion, which is all over the place concerning how various organs are able to coordinate their work to reduce overlap, to also learn from what others are doing and reduce the overlap in terms of cost.  Let us say that in the next five years, it's a different kind of conversation we should be having concerning synergy, concerning (our) ability to join efforts to achieve results.

UN News: Your mandate coincides with the historic moment, the UN's 75th anniversary. What are your thoughts on the UN's work and, and its future?

GA President: It has had also a very good basis from its beginning. We have had a few areas in which we didn't do as well concerning, for example, genocide in Rwanda. There are many other areas in which, for example, norms concerning health issues and pandemics, issues relating to agriculture, issues relating to counter-terrorism, there is an emergent view, and, some constraints concerning the need not only to work together, but also (take) action on the ground on these matters.

There's a lot of excitement around the system and outside the United Nations itself concerning the need to mark this 75th anniversary as important in the history of the Organization and of the world and of politics in general.

It should remind us as to the purposes of the Organization, its limitation and its promise and this promise is what we should all keep in mind.

UN Web TV | President of the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session. 

UN News: Do you think it's an occasion to celebrate multilateralism and what it has accomplished?

GA President: Oh, it is a celebration – to celebrate multilateralism and also to look at forces that hinder our full achievement of multilateral approaches to solving some of the problems.

UN News: Do you have any plans for improving gender parity at the UN?

GA President: I think the improvement is really in implementing what we've agreed to, that is to restate and to also act in a concerted manner to see that no one is left behind regardless of gender or race or religion. All elements offered, representations are important - gender certainly, given the equality of men and women in terms of numbers as well. So this is really crucial and the United Nations has shown a lead in this. It has its issues, but you have seen efforts that are very determined…And of course, during the Presidency of 74th (session), we have the opportunity also of dealing with Beijing+25. It gives us another platform to reflect further and see whether we're able to find, even more effective means of ensuring gender equality.

UN News: I'm going to go back to your second priority. You mentioned education; can you tell us why it's so important for you and how it translates on the ground? Its impact?

GA President: Education is really a complex matter. Whoever is denied an education is denied almost everything. Look at the connection between education and employment, education and equality, education and a sense of your rights, and around the globe, we expect with more access to education, better curricula, we are likely to have less hate, we are likely to have better understanding, we are likely to have a better economy, we are likely to have more equality. People are born into certain position. It's only education that equalizes everything and everyone. It is important.

UN News: Finally, what would you like your legacy to be in September 2020?

GA President: Well, I think I would not want to give a broad view of what to do other than to say that we would want to know that as a team, and part of a team, we have pushed those matters of importance to the world, in a fair and transparent manner. And that whoever comes after us will find it easier to address some of these issues going forward.

Read more...

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace

INTERNATIONAL, 13 September 2019, Peace and Security - Just as the greatest global challenges cannot be solved by a single country, peace cannot be pursued in isolation, outgoing UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa said on Friday.

Ms. Espinosa was speaking at a high-level forum to mark the 20th anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of a Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

“Because peace is more than the absence of war, it needs constant nurturing through the pursuit of dignity and equality, of human rights and justice, of respect and understanding, and of cooperation and multilateralism”, she said.

As UN Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti pointed out, although peace is at the heart of the work of the United Nations, it is something that must be addressed daily.

“A culture of peace is inseparable from human rights, respect for diversity, and fairer societies,” she said.

“One main challenge as we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is to build more preventive and inclusive approaches that ensure the participation of women, young people and vulnerable, marginalized and non-represented groups.”

The Chef de Cabinet said working to achieve peace not only covers traditional notions of security but also challenges such as social injustice, the normalization of hate speech, terrorism, violence against women, and conflict.

Leymah Gbowee from Liberia knows many of these issues first-hand. She won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in uniting Christian and Muslim women to help end her country’s 14-year civil war.

She said peace is seen as the absence of bad, rather than the presence of good. However, instead of being “a fairytale of bland happiness”, she views it as quite radical.

“If we dig a little deeper into what a culture of peace actually looks like, it pushes us beyond understanding peace as the absence of conflict and being a positive state itself”, Ms. Gbowee told the gathering.

“A culture of peace creates an environment where people thrive and have their needs met. It looks like a population of satisfied people: healthy children, educated children, a functional health system, responsive justice structure, an empowered, recognized, appreciated and fully compensated community of women; food on the table of every home, and a lot more. It is the full expression of human dignity.”

The high-level commemorative event marked Ms. Espinosa’s final session presiding over the General Assembly, where all 193 Member States have equal representation.

In her goal to bring the UN’s main deliberative and policy-making organ closer to everyday people, she chose the traditional ruler of the Ashanti people of Ghana to deliver the keynote address: a historic first.

Representing a kingdom that has existed since the 17th century, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II ascended the podium wearing kente cloth and accompanied by two praise-singers.

He highlighted some of the UN’s accomplishments in preserving global security: for example, staving off nuclear war and preventing conflict between nations. However, as he observed, the landscape today is different.

“Warfare is no longer the threat we face from states; it is now a danger we face on a daily basis from our citizens and from all quarters. This new threat comes on the heels of an unprecedented trust deficit in political leadership at the national level. The effect of this trust deficit is to erode the capacity of political leaders to rally their people to coalesce around national interests. The consequence for peace and security cannot be overstated”, he said.

The Ashanti leader called for a new partnership between elected authorities and traditional governance, in the spirit of authentic collaboration.

Read more...

Around 12 million children may never see a classroom, UN data reveals

INTERNATIONAL, 13 September 2019, Culture and Education - New data published by the United Nations cultural agency on Friday, reveals that without taking urgent measures, around 12 million young children will never set foot inside a school, with girls facing “the greatest barriers”.

“According to our projections, nine million girls of primary school age will never start school or set foot in a classroom, compared to about three million boys”, said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  

According to updated information on the world’s out-of-school children from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), little or no progress has been seen in more than a decade.

“Four of those nine million girls live in sub-Saharan Africa, where the situation gives cause for even greater concern”, Ms. Azoulay continued. “We must therefore continue to centre our actions on girls’ and women’s education, as an utmost priority.”

A grim picture

Last year, roughly 258 million children, adolescents and youth between the ages of six and 17 were out of school.

This new data paints a clear picture of the difficulties ahead in achieving inclusive quality education for all, one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the international community for 2030.

It also confirms recent UNESCO projections showing that at the present rate, by 2030, one-in-six children will not be attending primary and secondary school at all, and only six in every ten young people will complete secondary education. 

The update also highlights the gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries. According to UIS figures, 19 per cent of six-to-11-year olds in low-income countries are out of school, compared to just two per cent in high-income States.

And the gap grows wider still for older children and youth, where some 61 per cent of 15- to 17-year-olds are out of school in low-income countries, compared to eight per cent in their high-income counterparts.

“We have just 11 years to make good on the promise that every child will be in school and learning”, UIS Director Silvia Montoya asserted. “Yet the new data shows us an unchanging and persistent picture of poor access and quality, year after year”.

But Ms. Montoya also flagged that “these challenges are not inevitable”.

“They can be overcome by a combination of intensive action and greater funding”, she maintained. “We need real commitment from every single government, backed by resources, to get the job done.”  

The new insight by UIS, the custodian of SDG 4 data, was released a week before the General Assembly meets in New York to examine progress towards the Global Goals and discuss the funding needed to achieve them.  

It also demonstrates the pressing need for renewed efforts and reliable data to monitor progress on education access, completion and quality to meet the goal of quality education for all.

Read more...

UNESCO food and culture forum dishes up fresh serving of SDGs

INTERNATIONAL, 13 September 2019, SDGs - Strengthening cultural heritage and culture-related food practices boosts social inclusion, economic development and well-being, the UN’s deputy culture chief told participants at the UNESCO agency’s World Forum on the matter, on Friday.

“Cultural policies today provide innovative responses in areas such as inclusion, technical and vocational education, employment, the preservation of cultural heritage and biodiversity,” Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO, Ernesto Otonne, said.

Speaking to some 200 international participants gathered in Italy’s Parma for the gathering, entitled, “Culture and Food: Innovative Strategies for Sustainable Development,” Mr. Otonne stressed that cultural practices rooted in traditional and local knowledge systems related to food, are important markers of environmental sustainability.

He stressed that food, in addition to nourishing us, forms communities’ socioeconomic identities, in the way it’s cultivated, processed, and prepared—as summed up in the event’s promotional video: “Tell me what you eat, I will tell you who you are”.

The forum, organized by UNESCO in collaboration with Italian authorities, hosted five panels focusing on food in relation to cultural identity, socio-economic development, education and sustainability, biodiversity and food security, and also highlighted UNESCO’s Creative Cities of Gastronomy—a network of cities promoting cultural industries at the heart of development.

One of the ways some 26 “Creative Cities”, Parma included, are striving to be more sustainable, is through cuisine. Each has adopted innovative, locally-adapted strategies and projects, such as cultivating indigenous crops, supporting urban farming, organizing food festivals and training programmed to showcase the linkages between culture, community and environment.

In the Italian city of Parma, pasta is being created using processes dating back centuries. There are more industrialized ways of producing the Italian food staple, Mr. Otonne told UN News, but the city’s people are committed to old ways as a means of preserving tradition.

The Creative Cities of Gastronomy make up part of the larger “Creative Cities Network,” totaling 180, which integrate different creative approaches from architecture to literature, and beyond, in their development plans. View the complete list of participating cities  here.

The Forum concluded on Friday with the adoption of the Parma Declaration, which reaffirms the necessity of reinforcing culture and food links to biodiversity and heritage preservation, supports healthy nutrition, and improves food production and consumption. 

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio