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‘Green economy’ pioneer Pavan Sukhdev wins 2020 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

INTERNATIONAL, 27 January 2020, Climate Change - Renowned environmental economist and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Pavan Sukhdev was awarded on Monday the 2020 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, recognizing his groundbreaking ‘green economy’ work. 

Mr. Sukhdev, who received the award alongside conservation biologist Gretchen C. Daily, was the Special Adviser and Head of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative, a major project launched by then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to demonstrate that greening of economies is not a burden on growth but rather a new engine for growing wealth, increasing decent employment, and reducing persistent poverty.  

He was also appointed Study Leader (2008-2010) of the landmark initiative on ‘The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity’ (TEEB), a global UNEP-hosted study.  

When the first TEEB report was published, during the peak of the 2008 global financial crisis, news outlets around the world began to dedicate headlines to the staggering cost of deforestation to the global economy. 

Congratulations to @PavanSukhdev and Dr. Gretchen C. Daily - joint winners of the @TylerPrize for Environmental Achievement 2020. Their groundbreaking work is helping global efforts to protect our planet’s and .
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The TEEB report would go on to become a foundation for the Green Economy movement – an achievement for which Mr. Sukhdev is being awarded the 2020 Tyler Prize.  

“This award is equally a recognition of UNEP and its vibrant and active TEEB community,” said Mr. Sukhdev.  

But he stressed that: “You don't have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the environment. Just ask a farmer who now must rent beehives to pollinate his crops, because there are no longer enough bees in wild nature to do the job for free. But bees don't send invoices, so the value of their services is not recognized.” 

Achim Steiner, former UNEP chief who’s currently the UNDP Administrator, has said: “Pavan Sukhdev and Dr. Gretchen Daily have generated groundbreaking insights into the economic value of our natural environment – prompting decision-makers to implement new measures to protect our planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity. 

Having worked closely with Mr. Pavan over many years, Mr. Steiner added that he considered his work on the TEEB to be “truly transformative – it has generated a new narrative on the economic and social importance of nature’s services, and a new community of practice.” 

Mr. Sukhdev currently serves the World Wildlife Fund as President and Chairman of the Board, as well as Board Member for TEEB Advisory Board, Stockholm Resilience Centre, and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. 

Often described as the ‘Nobel Prize for the Environment’, the Tyler Prize is administered by the University of Southern California. 

On 30 April 2020, Mr. Sukhdev and Ms. Daily and will deliver a public presentation about their work at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. 

In a private ceremony on 1 May, the Tyler Prize Executive Committee and distinguished members of the international environmental community will join to honour the two new Laureates during a ceremony at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel in New York City. 


Societies must unite against ‘global crisis of antisemitic hatred’, Guterres urges

INTERNATIONAL, 27 January 2020, Human Rights - Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, and the six million Jews and others murdered on Nazi orders during the Holocaust, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told a ceremony in New York on Monday that the world must “re-commit to preventing any repetition of those crimes”.

“Our solidarity in the face of hatred is needed today more than ever, as we see a deeply worrying resurgence in antisemitic attacks around the world, and, almost unbelievable, also around us here in New York”, he said on Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  

The Kaddish resonates in the General Assembly Hall as the United Nations marks the 75th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
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Noting a rising trend in antisemitic hate crimes across the United States, he recalled that less than a month ago, a knife attack injured five at a Hannukah party in Monsey, and left four dead at a kosher supermarket in neighbouring New Jersey.

And he said that “the situation for Jews in Europe is, if anything, worse”. 

Citing incidents in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, he also noted that 2018 saw a 74 per cent jump in antisemitic attacks in France.

“There is a global crisis of antisemitic hatred; a constant stream of attacks targeting Jews, their institutions and property”, spelled out the UN chief.

Moreover, he maintained that the antisemitic upsurge was tied to “an extremely troubling increase” in xenophobia, homophobia, discrimination and hatred in many parts of the world, targeting people based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability and immigration status.

‘Normalizing hatred’

As Soviet army troops were stunned into silence while liberating Auschwitz 75 years ago, today the world must not look away at the enduring horrific details.

Mr. Guterres, called it “our duty” to continue looking, “to learn and to relearn the lessons of the Holocaust, so that it is never repeated”.

“The most important lesson is that the Holocaust…was the culmination of millennia of hatred, from the Roman Empire to the pogroms of the Middle Ages”, he continued. “My own country, Portugal, committed an act of utter cruelty and stupidity by expelling its Jewish population in the end of the fifteenth century”.

And he flagged that decades before Hitler’s rise to power, eastern Europe’s Jews were shipped to the African island of Madagascar

In recounting his visit to Yad Vashem two years ago, the UN chief was appalled to observe “the ability of antisemitism to reinvent itself and re-emerge over millennia”.

“It takes new forms; it may be spread by new techniques; but it is the same old hatred”, he said.

He pointed out that millions of people were desensitized to crimes against humanity taking place around them, warning, “we can never lower our guard”.

The Holocaust was “a complex operation arising from long-held prejudices” with societal corruption that ran throughout, from language to education and political discourse, the UN chief explained.    

He urged everyone to examine their own prejudices, “guard against the misuse of our own technology and be alert to any signs that hatred is being normalized”.   

Combating prejudice

When any group of people is defined as a problem, Mr. Guterres said, “it becomes easier to commit human rights abuses and to normalize discrimination against them”.

Combating prejudice requires leadership that fosters social cohesion and addresses the root causes of hatred.

An overriding objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to promote human rights and address discrimination and hatred.

“The Decade of Action I launched last week is aimed at stepping up support for countries around the world to build inclusive, diverse, respectful societies that provide lives of dignity and opportunity for all”, concluded the Secretary-General.

Reminder: ‘Promote peace’

For his part, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the General Assembly called the Holocaust “the most horrific genocide in human history”.

Noting the chilling accounts of the survivors, he emphasized the need to do more to ensure an “inclusive, peaceful and harmonious global community that encourages unity in diversity”. 

“They should remind us of the constant need to be vigilant by collectively promote efforts that discourage hate slogans and speeches, including other intolerable vices that fuel discrimination, xenophobia and other prejudices”, said Mr. Muhammad-Bande.

Pointing out that today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders, he stressed the need to educate the young about this and all heinous crimes to safeguard that the “atrocities of the Holocaust are not repeated”.

“We should always remember the victims of the Holocaust and ensure that their experiences serve as a constant reminder of the need to promote peace, harmony, tolerance, cooperation and inclusion in our collective aspirations for a more peaceful and prosperous world”, concluded the Assembly President.

Stand up for tolerance, human rights: Bachelet

In her message for the day, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet highlighted that the UN was established in response to “the murderous dehumanization and hatred propagated by the Nazi regime” during World War Two, to rebuild a “world of justice and peace”.

“But today”, she lamented, “people who are viewed as different are facing many forms of hatred, with even leaders fueling discrimination or violence against Jews, Muslims, migrants or other members of minority communities”.

Ms. Bachelet underscored that humanity must not be allowed to return to “this unjust and cruel mindset”.

The High Commissioner, lauded “the women, men and young people around the world who demonstrate their courage, empathy and principle by standing up for tolerance and human rights in the face of efforts to dehumanize and demonize people”.

A “permanent rampart” against the rise of hate requires a “principled education” of minds and hearts, maintained Ms. Bachelet.

She said a human rights education not only ensures that universal human rights principles and lessons of history are absorbed, but also empowers people to hold their governments accountable.

“It fosters a sense of common humanity while aiding people to make informed choices; to resolve conflict in a non-violent manner; and to participate responsibly in their communities and societies”, she upheld, adding “and I believe every country and community can benefit from them today”.


Libya: UN report urges accountability for deadly attack against migrant centre

INTERNATIONAL, 27 January 2020, Human Rights - Warring parties in Libya, as well as foreign governments supporting them, are being urged to investigate deadly airstrikes last July which killed at least 53 migrants and refugees at a detention centre in the northwest of the country. 

The appeal was made by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN human rights office in Geneva, which on Monday published a joint report calling for accountability for the attack targeting the Daman building complex, which houses the detention centre. 

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“As I have said previously, the Tajoura attack, depending on the precise circumstances, may amount to a war crime,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

“Libyans, migrants and refugees are trapped amid violence and atrocities that are in turn fuelled by impunity. Those guilty of crimes under international law must be held to account.”  

‘Tragic example’ of use of air power 

The Daman complex is in Tajoura, a town in the Tripoli district in north-western Libya, and comprises various facilities belonging to the Government of National Accord (GNA). 

The UN-backed administration is battling the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), which is aligned with a rival government in Benghazi, located in the east. 

Fighting between the two sides intensified in April 2019, after the LNA laid siege to southern Tripoli. 

The attack on the Daman complex occurred on 2 July 2019 when an “air-delivered bomb” struck a vehicle repair workshop there operated by the Daman Brigade, an armed group allied with the GNA, according to the report. 

Minutes later, a second airstrike hit the Tajoura Detention Centre, a large hangar which at the time held some 616 migrants and refugees.  Three sections of the building were impacted.   

One of the sections, which housed 126 people, sustained a direct hit. Forty-seven men and six boys were killed, and 87 other male migrants and refugees were injured.  

It was one of the deadliest incidents since the start of the new round of hostilities in April. 

The report found that while it appeared that the airstrikes were conducted by aircraft belonging to a foreign State, “it remains unclear whether these air assets were under the command of the LNA or were operated under the command of that foreign State in support of the LNA.”  

Regardless, international humanitarian law still applied. The report recalled that parties to the conflict knew the precise location and coordinates of the detention centre, which had suffered a previous hit just months before. 

Airstrikes behind most civilian casualties 

“The July 2019 attack at Tajoura is a tragic example of how the use of air power has become a dominant feature in Libya’s civil conflict, and of the dangers and direct consequences on civilians of foreign interference”, said UNSMIL chief Ghassan Salamé.  

“This is why the commitments made in Berlin on 19 January to end such interference and uphold the UN arms embargo must take hold.” 

The international community met in the German capital last Sunday in efforts to find a political solution to end the Libya crisis, which has seen increasing foreign interference. 

The UN joint report found at least 287 civilians were killed and around 369 others injured last year alone, with airstrikes accounting for 60 per cent of those casualties. 

New attack condemned 

The situation shows no sign of abating as UNSMIL on Monday condemned a missile attack against Mitiga Airport, near Tripoli’s centre.  At least two civilians were injured, while the tarmac and several buildings were damaged. 

“UNSMIL reiterates that attacks against civilian targets, especially public facilities, represent a blatant violation of International Humanitarian Law, and that repeated attacks against Mitiga Airport deprived two million residents in the capital of their only functioning airport,” the mission said in a statement posted on Twitter. 


End discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy

INTERNATIONAL, 26 January 2020, Health - Governments must put an end to the informal segregation and institutionalized neglect of hundreds of thousands of women and children affected by leprosy, an independent UN human rights expert said on Sunday, World Leprosy Day.

“Too many women and children affected by leprosy – also known as Hansen's disease – are victims of stereotypes, physical and verbal abuse, delays of diagnosis and lack of adequate care”, declared Alice Cruz, UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.

The UN expert expressed concern over the “complete lack of specific plans by States to address the particular needs of women and children affected by leprosy and to end discrimination and violence against them”.

Today is . Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes.
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Citing institutional reasons, Ms. Cruz’s last report said that too many cases of women and children who are affected, go underreported.

Although their immature immune systems appear to be more prone to leprosy, some 10 to 20 per cent of children stop taking medicines because available treatments are simply not appropriate for their age.

Moreover, almost half of affected women experience depression and/or suicidal thoughts.

“Affected people are not only those left furthest behind, they are actively being kept out of the agenda, out of history,” she said.

Discriminatory practices endure

Affected people and their families have been “systematically subjected to dehumanization in different cultural backdrops”, according to Ms. Cruz.

“Stigmatization remains institutionalized in the States’ architecture and functioning”, she said, noting that over 50 countries have hundreds of discriminatory laws against leprosy-affected people.

The UN expert welcomed improvements in the response of some Governments, including in awareness-raising activities, campaigns to improve detection and early diagnosis, and access to treatment.

Nevertheless, she regretted that too many States with high incidence rates and discriminatory laws did not reply to her requests for visits or had they yet arranged a visit, months after they accepted her request.

“States must abolish all discriminatory laws and implement the Principles and guidelines for the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members,” Ms. Cruz said, also calling for more inclusion of leprosy-affected women and children in the decision-making processes impacting their lives.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. They are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.


Deadly earthquake kills dozens in Turkey, UN stands in solidarity and offers support

INTERNATIONAL, 25 January 2020, Humanitarian Aid - United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was deeply saddened by the “loss of life and destruction of property” caused by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey on Friday night. 
Secretary-General @antonioguterres deeply saddened by earthquake 's Elazig province, extends condolences to the victims' families, as well as to the people and Government of Turkey.

Full statement here:

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on

The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction of property in the wake of an earthquake in Elazig province, Turkey. The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the

“The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Turkey”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement issued on Saturday. “He wishes those injured a speedy recovery”.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, AFAD, said that 25 people were killed in Elazig province – some 465 miles east of the capital, Ankara – and four in the neighbouring province of Malatya.

And the country’s Health Minister recorded more than 1,450 injured people.

State media in Syria and Iran both reported feeling tremors in their countries, and local media in Lebanon said that Beirut and Tripoli also felt the quake.

More than 400 aftershocks have been recorded, 14 of which had magnitudes over 4.0, according to AFAD.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless or with damaged homes as rescue teams from neighboring provinces worked throughout the night with floodlights, using their hands, drills and mechanical diggers to remove bricks and plaster from collapsed buildings in search of survivors.

“The United Nations expresses its solidarity with Turkey and has offered support”, concluded Mr. Dujarric.


UN heath agency: The time is now to 'act as one' in fighting infectious coronavirus

INTERNATIONAL, 25 January 2020, Health - Following confirmed cases of the Novel coronavirus in Europe, the United Nations health agency released a statement on the  need for the international community to work together as one to combat the infectious disease. 

The evolving outbreak that began in China is “a sign that every country needs to be ready to timely detect and manage outbreaks of any type”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday. 

Virus infections have now been reported on four continents, including in Australia, France and the United States, among recent travelers to China. Several other countries in Asia have reported cases as well.

WHO’s Regional Office for Europe has officially been notified of the first novel cases in Europe. Three cases have been confirmed in France and WHO is in contact with the relevant authorities. WHO encourages countries in the European Region to continue to prepare.
On Friday, France officially notified the WHO Regional Office for Europe of three confirmed cases – two in Paris and one in Bordeaux. All of them had travelled from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and are now hospitalized in France. 

“Timely action is fundamental for early containment”, underscored WHO, commending France for quickly notifying WHO and rapidly issuing a public communication, saying that it not only exemplified the proper steps forward, but also illustrated “an example of global collaboration and solidarity”.

WHO maintained that the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Europe were not unexpected.

“They remind us that the global nature of travels exempts no country from infectious disease spread”, WHO stated. “This also means that no country can afford postponing the establishment of all necessary measures to protect their people”. 

More than 1,300 cases have been confirmed worldwide, and 41 people have died, including a 62-year-old doctor at a Wuhan hospital who contracted the virus from a patient, according to State media.

At a time of uncertainty about how the virus originated and behaves, WHO spells out that “it is even more critical that countries, organizations and the international community act as one”. 

“We need to move as one region, as one world in scaling up our ability to prepare and respond together”, said the statement.

“The time is now to make ourselves ready”, said WHO, adding that, together with Chinese authorities, it is doing everything it can to investigate the outbreak.

Although the virus’ behavior remains unpredictable, the UN health agency upheld that “today we are offered a window of opportunity; today we must grab it to make the region and the world safer”. 


Combatting antisemitism requires ‘solidarity in the face of hatred’, says UN chief

INTERNATIONAL, 24 January 2020, Human Rights - Against the backdrop of a constant stream of attacks targeting Jews, their institutions and property, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Saturday of a global crisis of antisemitic hatred. 

As we see a deeply worrying resurgence in antisemitic attacks around the world, “solidarity in the face of hatred is needed today more than ever”, the UN chief told an annual Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony at New York City’s historic Park East Synagogue.  

He reflected upon the resurgence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists spreading venomous ideology and memes online that “poison young minds”.  

While the world is revolted by the horrific details of the Auschwitz death camps, Mr. Guterres maintained that everyone must look, learn and relearn the lessons of the Holocaust, so that it is never repeated.  

He said that because prejudice and hatred thrive on insecurity, frustrated expectations, ignorance and resentment, leadership that fosters social cohesion and addresses the root causes of hatred, is needed at all levels.  

An investment by all parts of society towards rooting out rising antisemitism, can be made, and done in a spirit of mutual respect, Mr. Guterres noted. 

Auschwitz liberation

In the lead up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Monday, the UN launched a poignant photo exhibition commemorating 75 years since Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi extermination camp, was liberated. 

More than 1.1 million people were estimated to have been murdered in that one camp in occupied Poland, nine out of ten of them Jews. 

Today, collective action against antisemitism and other forms of bias continues to be important for the dignity and human rights of all people everywhere. 


A busy year in the UN Security Council: more openness, diversity mark 2019

INTERNATIONAL, 25 January 2020, Peace and Security - With over 240 public meetings and a wider range of civil society briefers, the UN Security Council continued its push towards more transparency in 2019, a year marked by widespread popular uprisings and the erosion of hard-won international treaties.

Here are some key figures for the world’s top peace and security body last year:

On three occasions last year, sharply divided delegations presented competing draft resolutions, which resulted in the rejection of six proposed texts. China, France, Russia, UK and the US – the Council’s five veto-wielding permanent members – found themselves particularly at odds over questions of State sovereignty, trading sporadic accusations of interference in domestic affairs.

This is just a snapshot of the Council’s work in 2019 pulled from the annual round-up prepared by our hard-working colleagues in the Meetings Coverage section of the Department of Global Communications (DGC), who provide on-the-day summary coverage of the work of the main UN bodies at Headquarters, as well as of major conferences away from the house.

For an in-depth review of all the action in the Council last year, please go here.


The drive for quality education worldwide, faces ‘mammoth challenges’

INTERNATIONAL, 24 January 2020, Culture and Education - Aligning inclusive, quality education with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was centre-stage on Friday, as the President of the UN General Assembly held a high-level interactive meeting for the International Day of Education.       

“The education sector is wrestling with mammoth challenges worldwide”, said Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, in his message for the day.

As a former teacher, I know the life-changing power of education.

Universal access to quality and, now, life-long education is a right, and a necessity.

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Listing them, he said there was a “precipitate decline” in the quality and standards of education; a widening knowledge gap between students in technically advanced societies and those in developing countries; a crisis of learning in conflict zones; growing school bullying, and “the declining esteem of the teaching profession” overall.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande maintained that today’s education must “bridge the yawning gap” between the modern employment needs for specialized skills, and actual learning opportunities.

“School curricula have yet to anticipate and respond to workplace needs for hands-on, vocational, ICT applications, and sundry technical skills, while still advancing the traditional scholastic pursuits”, he stated.

Moreover, he highlighted, “the significance of the deficits in education outcome becomes obvious when viewed alongside the spiralling population crisis”. 

Education in a crisis

The fate of school children trapped in conflict zones deserves even more urgent attention.

According to UNICEF, in 2017, 500 attacks were staged on schools in 20 countries worldwide. In 15 of those 20, troops and rebel forces turned classrooms into military posts.

Thousands of children were recruited to fight, sometimes made to serve as suicide bombers, or forced to endure direct attacks.

“The learning environment may also be rendered unsafe by gun-toting, machete-wielding, gangs and unruly youths, and by sexual predators on school premises”, Mr. Muhammad-Bande said.

And natural disasters pose additional threats to the learning environment.

Fixing the learning crisis - Assembly President recommendations:

  • Ensure instruction does not decline.
  • Align school curricula and work needs for competencies and skills.
  • Promote gender equality, social mobility, inter-cultural understanding.
  • Safeguard that persons with disabilities are included in education.
  • Respond to learning challenges caused by conflict and weather.
  • Enhance the capacities of education systems working in tandem with Governments, education planners and administrators.
  • Bridge the current gender, digital and financing gaps in education.

Cyclones, hurricanes and storms are among the climatic conditions that periodically wreak havoc on school buildings and facilities, making learning difficult, if not impossible.

“The choices that education stakeholders make have direct impact on various social groups, particularly, disadvantaged groups like rural communities, the urban poor, persons with disabilities, and women”, upheld the PGA, noting that nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are female, mostly in under-developed countries.

Choice also becomes critical in the struggle to elevate the status of the teaching profession, recruit competent and motivated teachers, and expose teachers to innovative techniques.

But there are bright spots he said: “Forward-looking education policies have contributed to the attainment of SDG targets in some countries”, asserted Mr. Muhammad-Bande.

And participants at this year’s International Day of Education are given the opportunity “to share international good practices in inclusive quality education”.

Partnerships are key

Education enhances the “analytical, inventive and critical thinking capacities of human beings”, the Assembly President said, adding that in the process, it accelerates each nation’s technological attainments and economic growth.

“When a society remains perpetually under-developed, it must among other things re-evaluate its education system”, said Mr. Muhammad-Bande. “If the system is dysfunctional or does not facilitate the acquisition of pertinent knowledge and skills, the economy will, at best, stagnate, and at worst, collapse”. 

Bearing in mind the “tremendous amount of work” that lies ahead, he shared his belief that partnerships can play an important role in implementing and attaining the SDGs, which is why his office “has placed strong emphasis on engendering partnerships across key priority areas”, including education.

In conclusion, Mr. Muhammad-Bande urged Member States and other key partners to examine the feasibility and value-added support in establishing a network of key existing education networks to exchange information and ideas, "including sources of support, relating to all aspects of education”.

Power of education

“Education has the power to shape the world”, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spelled out at the podium.

“Education protects men and women from exploitation in the labour market” and “empowers women and gives them opportunities to make choices”, she said. 

Moreover, it can help change behaviour and perceptions, thereby fighting climate change and unsustainable practices. A quality experience in the classroom helps promote mutual respect and understanding between people; combat misperceptions, prejudice and hate speech; and prevent violent extremism. 

“Without education, we cannot achieve any of the SDGs”, Ms. Mohammed flagged.

And yet, with 2030 looming on the horizon, the world is lagging behind, prompting the Secretary-General to issue a global call for a Decade of Action, to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.

“The situation in education is alarming…because of the crisis in the number of children, young people and adults who are not in education”, as well as because many who are, are not learning. 

And refugees and migrants face additional challenges. 

According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the proportion of refugees enrolled in secondary education is 24 per cent, only three per cent of whom have access to higher education.

“We have the power to shape education, but only if we work together and really bring the partnerships that are necessary to provide quality education”, she concluded. “We have a duty to step up our efforts, so that quality education for all is no longer a goal for tomorrow, but a reality”. 

"Education is the cornerstone of the . If we fail in , the entire structure of development will fall down" - @AAzoulay

On , let's rethink what we learn & how we learn it to build the future we want! 

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Invest in education

Action for “the four Ps on which our future depends”, namely people, prosperity, the planet and peace, is imperative, according to the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and CulturalOrganization, UNESCO in her Friday message.

Although education is “a valuable resource for humanity”, Director-General Audrey Azoulay pointed out that it is “all too scarce for millions of people around the world”.

A global learning crisis, confirmed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, is a major cause for concern as it is also a crisis for prosperity, for the planet, for peace and for people”, she said, urging everyone to take action for education “because education is the best investment for the future”.

UNESCO has been charged with coordinating the international community's efforts to achieve SDG 4, quality education for all.

“First and foremost”, the UNESCO chief said, “our Organization takes action for people, by making education an instrument of inclusion and, therefore, of empowerment”.

Changing lives, transforming communities

For her part, Mona Juul, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, maintained that education is “the most powerful means to escape poverty”.

“It changes lives, transforms communities and paves the way towards productive, sustainable and resilient societies in which children – girls and boys – can reach their full potential”, she expanded, urging everyone to strengthen their efforts to manifest a world in which every child receives a quality education that allows growth, prosperity, empowerment and so they can “make meaningful contributions to communities big and small, everywhere”. 


FROM THE FIELD: Niger supporting the most vulnerable, as crises mount

INTERNATIONAL, 24 January 2020, Humanitarian Aid - The number of people requiring humanitarian assistance in Niger, a country which the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, says is “being assaulted on all fronts”, is expected to increase in 2020. 
Eighteen-year-old Cherif was forced to flee his village in northern Nigeria to Niger four years ago. UNOCHA/Eve Sabbagh

Currently, around 10 per cent of the population of the West African country, around 2.3 million people, requires humanitarian aid to survive.

Conflict, climate change and the arrival of refugees from neighboring countries have all combined to drive up the number of people who are not getting enough to eat, in what is already one of the world’s poorest nations.

But now, the Nigerien government, with the support of UN agencies, is helping the most vulnerable people.

The UN humanitarian agency’s Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, recently travelled to Niger to meet some of the those who are benefitting. Read more about their stories here.

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