Tag Archives: United Nations

UN rights chief concludes China trip with promise of improved relations

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article from the United Nations

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet during her visit to China, in Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. (Photo from OHCHR)

At the end of her official visit to China, the first such trip in 17 years, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet announced new areas of engagement between her office and the Chinese Government on rights issues, and summarized the many rights issues raised during her six-day May mission.

During Saturday’s virtual press conference, Ms. Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, outlined the new opportunities for dialogue between her office and the Chinese authorities that were discussed during the visit, which include an annual senior strategic meeting, and a working group that will meet in Beijing and Geneva, as well as online.

The working group, explained Ms. Bachelet, will discuss specific thematic areas, including development, poverty alleviation and human rights, minority rights, business and human rights, counterterrorism and human rights, digital space and human rights, judicial and legal protection, and human rights.

The High Commissioner pointed out that, as her Office does not have a presence in China, the working group will allow for structured engagement on these and other issues, and provide a space for her team to bring specific matters of concern to the attention of the Chinese Government.

Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong on the agenda

During her mission, Ms. Bachelet spoke with a range of government officials, several civil society organisations, academics, and community and religious leaders. In addition, she met several organizations online ahead of the visit, on issues relating to Xinjiang province, Tibet, Hong Kong, and other parts of China. 

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Question for this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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In Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, Ms. Bachelet raised questions and concerns about the application of counterterrorism and de-radicalisation measures and their broad application, and encouraged the Government to undertake a review of all counterterrorism and deradicalization policies, to ensure they fully comply with international human rights standards, and are not applied in an arbitrary and discriminatory way.

On the Tibet Autonomous Region, Ms. Bachelet reiterated the importance of protecting the linguistic, religious, and cultural identity of Tibetans, and allowing Tibetans to participate fully and freely in decisions about their religious life, and for dialogue to take place. 

Regarding Hong Kong, Ms. Bachelet urged the Government to nurture – and not stifle – the tremendous potential for civil society and academics in Hong Kong to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. She described the arrests of lawyers, activists, journalists and others under the National Security Law as “deeply worrying”, and noted that Hong Kong is due to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee in July.

“To those who have sent me appeals, asking me to raise issues or cases with the authorities – I have heard you”, she declared. “I will continue to follow up on such issues and instances of concern on a sustained basis”.

‘China has a very important role to play’

The rights chief praised China’s “tremendous achievements” in alleviating poverty, and eradicating extreme poverty, 10 years ahead of its target date. 

The country, she added, has gone a long way towards ensuring protection of the right to health and broader social and economic rights, thanks to the introduction of universal health care and almost universal unemployment insurance scheme. 

A number of other developments in the country were welcomed by Ms. Bachelet, including legislation that improves protection for women’s rights, and work being done by NGOs to advance the rights of LGBTI people, people with disabilities, and older people.

The UN rights chief underscored the important role that China has to play, at a regional and multilateral level, and noted that everyone she met on her visit, from Government officials, civil society, academics, diplomats and others, demonstrated a sincere willingness to make progress on the promotion and protection of human rights for all. 

(Editor’s note: Bachelet’s trip does not support US propaganda claiming that China is engaged in genocide in Xinjiang.)

UN climate report: It’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from the United Nations

A new flagship UN report on climate change out Monday (April 4) indicating that harmful carbon emissions from 2010-2019 have never been higher in human history, is proof that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, António Guterres has warned, with scientists arguing that it’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.


© UNICEF/Sebastian Rich. A young boy collects what little water he can from a dried up river due to severe drought in Somalia.

Reacting to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Secretary-General insisted that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable.

His comments reflected the IPCC’s insistence that all countries must reduce their fossil fuel use substantially, extend access to electricity, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen.

Unless action is taken soon, some major cities will be under water, Mr. Guterres said in a video message, which also forecast “unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals”.

Horror story

The UN chief added: “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahreinheit) limit” that was agreed in Paris in 2015.

Providing the scientific proof to back up that damning assessment, the IPCC report – written by hundreds of leading scientists and agreed by 195 countries – noted that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity, have increased since 2010 “across all major sectors globally”.

In an op-ed article penned for the Washington Post, Mr. Guterres described the latest IPCC report as “a litany of broken climate promises”, which revealed a “yawning gap between climate pledges, and reality.”

He wrote that high-emitting governments and corporations, were not just turning a blind eye, “they are adding fuel to the flames by continuing to invest in climate-choking industries. Scientists warn that we are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate effects.”

Urban issue

An increasing share of emissions can be attributed to towns and cities, the report’s authors continued, adding just as worryingly, that emissions reductions clawed back in the last decade or so “have been less than emissions increases, from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings”.

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Question for this article:
 
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Striking a more positive note – and insisting that it is still possible to halve emissions by 2030 – the IPCC urged governments to ramp up action to curb emissions.

The UN body also welcomed the significant decrease in the cost of renewable energy sources since 2010, by as much as 85 per cent for solar and wind energy, and batteries.

Encouraging climate action

“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”

To limit global warming to around 1.5C (2.7°F), the IPCC report insisted that global greenhouse gas emissions would have to peak “before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030”.

Methane would also need to be reduced by about a third, the report’s authors continued, adding that even if this was achieved, it was “almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold”, although the world “could  return to below it by the end of the century”.
Now or never

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F); without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which released the latest report.

Global temperatures will stabilise when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. For 1.5C (2.7F), this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2C (3.6°F), it is in the early 2070s, the IPCC report states.

“This assessment shows that limiting warming to around 2C (3.6F) still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.”

Policy base

A great deal of importance is attached to IPCC assessments because they provide governments with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.

They also play a key role in international negotiations to tackle climate change.

Among the sustainable and emissions-busting solutions that are available to governments, the IPCC report emphasised that rethinking how cities and other urban areas function in future could help significantly in mitigating the worst effects of climate change.

“These (reductions) can be achieved through lower energy consumption (such as by creating compact, walkable cities), electrification of transport in combination with low-emission energy sources, and enhanced carbon uptake and storage using nature,” the report suggested. “There are options for established, rapidly growing and new cities,” it said.

Echoing that message, IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair, Priyadarshi Shukla, insisted that “the right policies, infrastructure and technology…to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour, can result in a 40 to 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”

World Theatre Day March 27

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

From the website of the International Theatre Institute

World Theatre Day (WTD) was created by the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and was celebrated for the first time on 27 March 1962, the date of the opening of the “Theatre of Nations” season in Paris. Ever since, each year on that date, World Theatre Day is celebrated on a global scale.

The goals of World Theatre Day, as with International Dance Day are

° To promote the art form across the world.

° To make people aware of the value of the art form.

° To enable the dance and theatre communities to promote their work on a broad scale so that opinion leaders are aware of the value of these forms and support them.

° To enjoy the art form for its own sake.

One of the most important actions for the WTD is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which, at the invitation of the ITI, a figure of world stature shares her or his reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau. The message is translated into different languages and distributed widely. See www.world-theatre-day.org for more information and ideas about how to mark World Theatre Day.

Letter to the Members and Friends of ITI – a Statement for Peace and a Constructive Dialogue

Dear members and friends of the International Theatre Institute, dear fellow human beings

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Question for this article:

The theatre, How can it contribute to the culture of peace?

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In 1948, with much of Europe and the wider world in ruins at the aftermath of World War II, it was the great cultural institutions of the time that pulled the civilization out of the mire. The ITI has been founded for using the performing arts for mutual understanding and peace.

Now, the world is upside again and the International Theatre Institute must stand again as a beacon of peace and unity for its members, the performing arts, and the world as a whole.

This letter sets forth the ITI’s stance on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the ensuing humanitarian crisis.

First, we wish all the members and friends of ITI, and the people who suffer, are safe. We ardently hope for a speedy ceasefire, and for the guns to fall silent. We wish that governments, the artists and the people are building up a respectful dialogue to solve the situation.

The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” Since its inception, ITI has followed this tenet of UNESCO,and uses education and culture to inform, inspire and engage people everywhere to foster understanding and respect for each other. Through the international exchange of knowledge and practice in the performing arts, ITI intends to deepen mutual understanding and increase creative cooperation between all people of the performing arts.

ITI is a global alliance of people from all ethnicities, nationalities, and religious backgrounds; the commitment to the humanitarian path must always be fostered. Our extension of friendship and cultural understanding through the performing arts is needed now, more than ever. We must double our efforts to make sure all are included in our alliance, regardless of the country they hail from.

In times of war and political upheaval, it is the people who suffer most. We must work to alleviate this. As such, ITI will never punish or exclude members based on the decisions of their government. Our purpose is to overcome divisions, and to keep the lines of communication wide open between all peoples of the world.

We stand for peace and freedom!!!

Mohamed Saif Al-Afklam, President of International Theatre Institute

Tobias Biancone, Director General of ITI

3 March 2022

UN Women Executive Director re-ignites ambition for Generation Equality by sharing her bold vision for the future at CSW66

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Forum Generation Equality

On 16 March, at a high-level dialogue against the backdrop of the 66th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous gathered with Action Coalition Leaders and global Generation Equality actors to reflect on the concrete progress made since the Generation Equality Forum in Paris and to share her bold vision to ensure future success.


UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous

“It is time to look towards the future and the journey ahead of us to translate the promises of Generation Equality into implementation and impact in the lives of women and girls in all their diversity around the world. We must not lose focus and the sense of urgency and partnerships that characterized the Generation Equality Forum,” said Ms. Bahous.

“You can count on my full engagement and UN Women’s leadership and support as we march forward together,” she added, re-iterating her firm commitment to prioritize action on the key next steps of the Generation Equality journey. Ms. Bahous outlined three priorities for the way forward: accountability for existing commitments and support for implementation; generating new commitments; and continuing to promote the multistakeholder and intergenerational nature of the Generation Equality, as an example of inclusive multilateralism.

The flagship event marked the culmination of a 24-hour-long Generation Equality mobilization at CSW66, filled with over thirty events led by partners around the world. The diverse events convened under the 24-hour umbrella – including dynamic sessions on the Action Coalitions, Global Alliance for Care, and the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action as well as events on strengthening partner engagement in Generation Equality co-convened by the adolescent girl groups together with Member States and others – demonstrated that the momentum of the Generation Equality agenda continues to build globally and become increasingly rooted locally.

Building ambition for Generation Equality

For the flagship event culminating the 24-hour arc, actors who have been heavily involved throughout the Generation Equality process joined Executive Director Sima Bahous in reflecting on the vision for the future, sharing their ambition for the coming years.

Acknowledging Ms. Bahous’s commitment to supporting the continuous and meaningful engagement of young people and adolescent girls, Anika Jane Dorothy, member of the former Generation Equality Youth Task Force, emphasized that the youth will continue “to mobilize, to organize and to challenge the status quo” throughout the Generation Equality journey ahead.

Monica Aleman, Senior Programme Officer at the Ford Foundation pointed to the timeliness of Generation Equality, explaining that in the current global landscape, global engagement and cooperation on gender equality action through UN structures is critical. “We cannot do this work on our own. We have to find ways to coordinate and work with others,” Aleman emphasized.

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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“We have a long voyage ahead of us to ensure a strong and permanent change,” added Élisabeth Moreno, Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities for the Government of France. “We must continue working in a collaborative manner; only then will we achieve real progress. I strongly believe that together, we all can.”

Innovation and action

Shifting focus from the future vision to concrete progress on the ground, Action Coalition Leaders gave positive updates on the implementation of commitments made at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris.

Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary-General of CARE International, outlined CARE’s strategy to support at least an additional 10 million women and girls to gain control over their finances and access opportunities through either creating or strengthening existing savings and loans associations. The initiative is currently being implemented across 10 African countries as a core component of CARE’s commitment as a Leader of the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights.

Over 95 partners have stepped up as Leaders of the Action Coalitions and are in the process of implementing bold commitments for women and girls. Together with the Commitment Makers they have made over 2,000 commitments to drive concrete results by 2026, with 1,000 of these commitments having been made since the Forum in Paris.

Launching tools to drive accountability and progress

Ensuring transparency and mutual accountability for commitments is essential for achieving and measuring progress. The online Action Coalitions Commitments Dashboard that was unveiled at the event will play a key role in establishing this.

The Dashboard makes all commitments accessible, searchable, and visible to all. It therefore represents a key building block of the Accountability Framework that will monitor and measure progress for the next 5-years.

“If we are to truly achieve transformative change it means not only giving a seat at the table, but placing the right tools and resources in the hands of women, girls and gender-diverse people,” said Jeevika Shiv, National Youth Gender Activist for UN Women in India and MAKAAM Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch, as she outlined the progress made on the Accountability Framework to date.

The Framework is being developed collaboratively with a group of Action Coalition leaders and will be formally launched at the upcoming UN General Assembly in September.

“Onwards, together!”

The energizing dialogue highlighted the opportunities that the Generation Equality 5-year journey holds as an accelerator for fulfilling the promises of SDG-5 and the overall 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through strengthened partnerships and multilateral cooperation.

In her closing remarks, Executive Director Sima Bahous reflected on the shared sense of urgency to drive progress that clearly emerged throughout the discussion and underscored the imperative of fully leveraging the Generation Equality platform as a vehicle to do so.

Rounding off the event with a message of solidarity, Moderator Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Member of the GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion, said, “for those of you that have been part of this journey, and for all of those joining us now – onwards, together!”

Historic day in the campaign to beat plastic pollution: Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the United Nations Environment Program

Nairobi, 02 March 2022 – Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) today in Nairobi to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.


Scene from video of UNEP meeting

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said the President of UNEA-5 and Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Espen Barth Eide. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.” 

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various nations, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. It is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will convene a forum by the end of 2022 that is open to all stakeholders in conjunction with the first session of the INC, to share knowledge and best practices in different parts of the world. It will facilitate open discussions and ensure they are informed by science, reporting on progress throughout the next two years. Finally, upon completion of the INC’s work, UNEP will convene a diplomatic conference to adopt its outcome and open it for signatures.

“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“Let it be clear that the INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy,” Andersen added.

Plastic production soared from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at US$522.6 billion, and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040. The impacts of plastic production and pollution on the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution are a catastrophe in the making:

Exposure to plastics can harm human health, potentially affecting fertility, hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity , and open burning of plastics contributes to air pollution .

By 2050 greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal would account for 15 per cent of allowed emissions, under the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (34.7°F).

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(Click here for the article in French or here for the article in Spanish

Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution through ingestion, entanglement, and other dangers.

Some 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into oceans. This may triple by 2040.

A shift to a circular economy can reduce the volume of plastics entering oceans by over 80 per cent by 2040; reduce virgin plastic production by 55 per cent; save governments US$70 billion by 2040; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent; and create 700,000 additional jobs – mainly in the global south.

The historic resolution, titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument” was adopted with the conclusion of the three-day UNEA-5.2  meeting, attended by more than 3,400 in-person and 1,500 online participants from 175 UN Member States, including 79 ministers and 17 high-level officials.

The Assembly will be followed by “UNEP@50,” a two-day Special Session of the Assembly marking UNEP’s 50th anniversary where Member States are expected to address how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Quote from the Government of Japan: “The resolution will clearly take us towards a future with no plastic pollution, including in the marine environment,” said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Japan’s Environment Minister, whose draft resolution contributed to the final resolution. “United, we can make it happen. Together, let us go forward as we start the negotiations towards a better future with no plastic pollution.”

Quote from the Government of Peru: “We appreciate the support received from the various countries during this negotiation process,” said Modesto Montoya, Peru’s Minister of Environment, whose draft resolution, proposed with the Government of Rwanda, contributed to the final resolution. “Peru will promote a new agreement that prevents and reduces plastic pollution, promotes a circular economy and addresses the full life cycle of plastics.”

Quote from the Government of Rwanda: “The world has come together act against plastic pollution – a serious threat to our planet. International partnerships will be crucial in tackling a problem that affects all of us, and the progress made at UNEA reflects this spirit of collaboration,” said Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment. “We look forward to working with the INC and are optimistic about the opportunity to create a legally binding treaty as a framework for national ambition-setting, monitoring, investment, and knowledge transfer to end plastic pollution.”

The full text of the adopted resolution

UNEP@50: A time to reflect on the past and envision the future

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, was the first-ever UN conference with the word “environment” in its title. The creation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was one of the most visible outcomes of this conference of many firsts. UNEP was created quite simply to be the environmental conscience of the UN and the world. Activities taking place through 2022 will look at significant progress made as well as what’s ahead in decades to come.

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP )

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

For more information, please contact:

Keisha Rukikaire, Head of News & Media, UN Environment Programme – rukikaire@un.org/


Moses Osani, Media Officer, UN Environment Programme – moses.osani@un.org/
 

UN Women : Five young women on the forefront of climate action across Europe and Central Asia

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from UN Women

Women and girls are powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation and must be included in the design and implementation of climate action. Without their leadership, knowledge and participation in climate responses today, it is unlikely that solutions for a sustainable planet and gender-equal world tomorrow will be realized.

Across the Europe and Central Asia, women and girls are advancing feminist climate justice and leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response. They are mobilizing local, national, regional and global climate movements and harnessing the transformative power of feminist leadership to face the unprecedented challenges of our times.

Ainura Sagyn, 33, is an ecofeminist, computer software engineer, and CEO of Tazar  [Become Greener], a startup mobile application that connects waste producers with recyclers and educates consumers about waste management in Kyrgyzstan. She actively promotes women’s rights, gender equality and environmental issues through her technological activism.

Some 65 per cent of Tazar app users are unemployed women with children who sell sorted recycled waste to earn points they can exchange for prizes such as deposit money from a bank or cosmetics, all from partners who are mostly women entrepreneurs. They have collected more than 10 tonnes of waste since the end of 2020. Sagyn and her partner Aimeerim Tursalieva also launched a Tazar Bazaar platform that sells eco-friendly products made by women entrepreneurs, which helps support local businesses, women entrepreneurs and promotes eco-consumption.

“Women, in particular, are disproportionately affected by climate change due to their lack of access to natural resources management, limited mobility in rural areas and by being excluded from decision-making processes,” says Sagyn, who aspires to extend her startup to promote environmentalism in other Central Asian countries.

Gabriela Isac, 29, is an environmental activist, co-founder of the Seed It Forward  volunteer agroforestry initiative and a project coordinator at the EcoVisio  grass-roots ecological non-profit in Moldova.

With the Seed It Forward team, she organizes tree-planting events, consults civil society organizations, local public authorities, schools and the general public on environmental issues, and educates them through informational materials on trees, composting and permaculture. They have planted over 50,000 trees and bushes, while their recent environmental campaign reached more than 1.5 million people online.

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Question related to this article:
 
What is the relation between the environment and peace

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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“Moldova is quite vulnerable to climate change. Though the effects are not as disastrous yet as in other parts of the world, climate change increases an already existing burden on women. Women often work in rural areas and take the least-paid day jobs in agriculture. Women’s welfare is directly affected by the harvest, which in the low-tech agricultural system of Moldova highly depends on climate,” says Isac.

Ania Sauku, 19, is an active voice for gender equality, climate action and youth empowerment in Albania. She is one of the incumbent Albanian Youth Delegates to the United Nations, where she advocates for climate issues and sustainable development and shares the perspective of youth in her country.
She raises awareness on climate change and feminism and how they are inextricable from one another. Sauku believes that for many people in Albania, climate change is still not an issue, and that gender equality and climate are not related. Together with her team, she organizes movie nights on environment, protests and marches for climate justice, and other educational initiatives to raise awareness about climate change and intersectional feminism.
“Climate crisis does not affect us all in the same way and often women are the most vulnerable to this crisis, especially women from marginalized communities such as women of ethnic minorities, women of colour, women with disabilities, queer women, women living in poverty, and other women and girls at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression,” says Sauku.

Pakizat Sailaubekova, 29, is an environmentalist, project manager at Greenup.kz public fund and a co-founder of the Recycle BIRGE  [Recycle Together] ecological movement in Kazakhstan. She won the “>Tereshkevich Youth Environmental Award  for her eco-activism and a 3.2.1. Start!  eco-project grant.

She organizes public and corporate clean ups, climate-related events, conducts eco-consulting and gives various educational lectures on household waste and living an eco-friendly life. Together with colleagues, Sailaubekova has organized 43 clean ups with the participation of over 1,700 people. They have also collected and transferred more than 4,000 kg of recyclable materials for processing and implemented 14 large-scale environmental projects.

“The role of women in preserving nature is enormous,” she says, adding that 95 per cent of the eco-volunteers and the participants in their environmental campaigns are women and girls. “Women are at the forefront of solving many environmental problems, each at their own level. Our organization is also founded solely by women.”

Sanne Van de Voort, 27, is Advocacy Officer for Women Engage for a Common Future  (an international ecofeminist network), and an NGO representative on the Dutch Delegation to this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

She believes that feminist climate justice recognizes the intersectionality of climate and environmental issues and how each individual is affected differently by climate change and can lend their unique experiences to finding solutions. As an Advocacy Officer, she works to ensure that Dutch and international decisions taken on climate and environmental issues reflect the needs, perspectives and solutions of women and feminists across the world, especially from the Global South. In her new role as a Dutch NGO representative to CSW, she contributes to preparations and priority-setting in the Dutch Government’s CSW delegation alongside other Dutch civil society organizations.

“We need changes that start putting people and planet over profit,” says Van de Voort. “A system that puts equality, sustainability and justice at the centre, instead of the exploitation of natural resources at the expense of biodiversity and a healthy environment.”

Ukraine: UNESCO statement following the adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release March 3 from UNESCO

Following the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Resolution on Aggression against Ukraine, and in light of the devastating escalation of violence, UNESCO is deeply concerned by developments in Ukraine and is working to assess damage across its spheres of competence (notably education, culture, heritage and information) and to implement emergency support actions.

The UNGA Resolution reaffirms the paramount importance of the UN Charter and commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and it demands “that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine.”

The Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, fully concurs with the opening remarks made by the Secretary-General at the Special Session of the General Assembly, during which he said that “this escalating violence — which is resulting in civilian deaths, including children – is totally unacceptable.”

In addition, she calls for the “protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage, which bears witness to the country’s rich history, and includes its seven World Heritage sites – notably located in Lviv and Kyiv; the cities of Odessa and Kharkiv, members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network; its national archives, some of which feature in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register; and its sites commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust.”

Consistent with its mandate, UNESCO demands the immediate cessation of attacks on civilian facilities, such as schools, universities, memorial sites, cultural and communication infrastructures, and deplores civilian casualties, including students, teachers, artists, scientists and journalists. These include women and children, girls especially, disproportionately impacted by the conflict and displacement. 

In the field of education, Resolution 2601 adopted in 2021 by the UN Security Council states that UN Member States are to “prevent attacks and threats of attacks against schools and ensure the protection of schools and civilians connected with schools, including children and teachers during armed conflict as well as in post-conflict phases”. The General Assembly Resolution of 2 March expresses grave concern at reports of attacks on civilian facilities including schools. In this regard, UNESCO strongly condemns attacks against education facilities, with the damaging of at least seven institutions in the past week, including the attack on 2 March on Karazin Kharkiv National University.

The nationwide closure of schools and education facilities has affected the entire school-aged population — 6 million students between 3 and 17 years old, and more than 1.5 million enrolled in higher education institutions. The escalation of violence hampers the protective role of education, and the impact may be far-reaching including in neighbouring countries.

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(Click here for a French version of this article.)

Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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In the field of culture, UNESCO underlines the obligations of international humanitarian law, notably the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two (1954 and 1999) Protocols, to refrain from inflicting damage to cultural property, and condemns all attacks and damage to cultural heritage in all its forms in Ukraine. UNESCO calls also for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2347.

In this respect, UNESCO is gravely concerned with the damages incurred by the city of Kharkiv, UNESCO Creative City for Music, and the historic centre of Chernihiv, on Ukraine’s World Heritage Tentative List. UNESCO deeply regrets reports of damage to the works of the celebrated Ukrainian artist, Maria Primachenko, with whose anniversary UNESCO was associated in 2009.

UNESCO condemns also the attack that affected the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial, the site of one of the largest mass shootings of Jews during World War II, and calls for the respect of historic sites, whose value for education and remembrance is irreplaceable.

In order to prevent attacks, UNESCO, in close coordination with the Ukrainian authorities, is working to mark as quickly as possible key historic monuments and sites across Ukraine with the distinctive emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention, an internationally recognised signal for the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict.  In addition, UNESCO has approached the Ukrainian authorities with a view to organising a meeting with museum directors across the country to help them respond to urgent needs for safeguarding museum collections and cultural property. In cooperation with UNITAR/UNOSAT, UNESCO will be monitoring the damages incurred by cultural sites through satellite imagery analysis.

In the field of access to information and freedom of expression, UNESCO recalls its previous statement  underlining obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2222 to protect media professionals and associated personnel. It further notes, as in the same resolution, “media equipment and installations constitute civilian objects, and in this respect shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals, unless they are military objectives”.

In this respect, UNESCO is deeply concerned about reports of the targeting of media infrastructure, including the shelling of Kyiv’s main television tower on 1 March 2022, with multiple reported fatalities, including at least one media worker, as well as cases of violence against journalists and attempts to restrict access to the Internet.

In a conflict situation, free and independent media are critical for ensuring civilians have access to potentially life-saving information and debunking disinformation and rumours.

At the request of a group of Member States, the UNESCO Executive Board will hold a Special Session on 15 March “to examine the impact and consequences of the current situation in Ukraine in all aspects of UNESCO’s mandate”.

UNESCO designations and sites in Ukraine

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Elements on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
10 UNESCO University Chairs
78 UNESCO Associated Schools
UNESCO Creative Cities
UNESCO Learning Cities
UNESCO Category 2 Institute
Inscriptions on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Media contact :

Lucia Iglesias Kuntz,+33 1 45 68 17 02, l.iglesias@unesco.org
Thomas Mallard, + 33 1 45 68 22 93, t.mallard@unesco.org

UN Women: International Women’s Day celebrates the contribution of women and girls as climate solution multipliers

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

A press release from UN Women

Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, explores the ways in which women and girls are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response around the world, contributing powerful leaders and change-makers to a more sustainable future for all. 

During the International Women’s Day official UN Observance, Secretary-General António Guterres emphasizes the important role of  women and girls in fighting climate change. “We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world. We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality.”

Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources, which climate change threatens the most. However, despite increasing evidence, there is still hesitancy in making the vital connections between gender, social equity and climate change. At the same time, progress made towards a more gender-equal world is being obstructed by multiple, interlocking and compounding crises, most recently, the ongoing aggression against Ukraine. Whatever the crisis, from conflict to climate, women and girls are affected first and worst. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.

“We have seen the impact of COVID-19 in increasing inequalities, driving poverty and violence against women and girls; and rolling back their progress in employment, health and education.  The accelerating crises of climate change and environmental degradation are disproportionately undermining the rights and wellbeing of women and girls”, said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous. “We have today the opportunity to put women and girls at the centre of our planning and action and to integrate gender perspectives into global and national laws and policies.  We have the opportunity to re-think, re-frame and re-allocate resources. We have the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of women and girls environmental defenders and climate activists to guide our planet’s conservation. Climate change is a threat multiplier. But women, and especially young women, are solution multipliers”.

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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As exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic and social fallout impacted women and girls disproportionately, further challenging their ability to withstand the impacts of the climate and environment crises. The pressures of juggling work and family, coupled with school closures and job losses in female-dominated sectors meant even fewer women were participating in the workforce, with about 113 million women aged 25–54, with partners and small children, out of the workforce in 2020. 

Climate change also drives increased vulnerability to gender-based violence. Across the world, women bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water and fuel, tasks that climate change makes more time-consuming and difficult. Scarcity of resources and the necessity of traveling further to obtain them may open women up to more violence including increased risk factors linked to human trafficking, child marriage or access to resources to protect them from gender-based violence.  

Women and girls are taking climate and environment action at all levels, but their voice, agency, and participation are under-supported, under-resourced, under-valued and under-recognized.

Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality. Solutions must integrate a gender perspective into climate, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes; promote and protect women environmental human rights defenders; build resilience of women and girls and their organizations; strengthen prevention, response and recovery from sexual and gender-based violence and improve; and invest in gender specific statistics and data to amplify the relationship between gender and climate. 

Commemoration events around the world

International Women’s Day commemoration events globally will include ministerial meetings, rallies, marches, media workshops, storytelling and content production, photo exhibits, celebrities’ engagements, and social media activations. 

UN Women offices will join the commemorations through a variety of events including inter-generational cross-thematic dialogs in Thailand, a virtual gallery  telling the stories of climate champions from Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Viet Nam, a regional over 110 Stock Exchanges  are hosting for the eighth consecutive year bell-ringing ceremonies to demonstrate their support for women’s rights and gender equality. In Abu Dhabi ADX Trading Hall, the ceremony was joined by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia during her official visit to UAE.

In Photoville  in New York and at the World Expo in Dubai, the United Nations Department of Peace Operations, in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and UN Women will present the photo exhibition “In Their Hands: Women Taking Ownership of Peace”. The exhibition profiles 14 women from around the world who have mediated with armed groups, participated in peace talks, advanced political solutions and advocated for women’s rights and participation. Their stories come from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Lebanon, Yemen and Colombia. The exhibit also profiles the local women photographers who took the photos, telling the story through their lenses.

Join the online conversation using the hashtag #IWD2022 and following @UN_Women.Download the social media package here, and for more news, assets and stories, visit UN Women’s editorial, In Focus:  International Women’s Day.

United Nations : Commission on the Status of Women 2022

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An announcement from UN Women

The sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place from 14 to 25 March 2022. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSW66 will take place in a hybrid format. All side events and parallel events will be fully virtual.

Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world are invited to contribute to the session.

Themes

Priority theme: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes;

Review theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work (agreed conclusions of the sixty-first session);

Bureau

The Bureau of the Commission plays a crucial role in facilitating the preparation for, and in ensuring the successful outcome of the annual sessions of the Commission. Bureau members serve for two years. In 2002, in order to improve its work and ensure continuity, the Commission decided to hold the first meeting of its subsequent session, immediately following the closure of the regular session, for the sole purpose of electing the new Chairperson and other members of the Bureau (ECOSOC decision 2002/234).

The Bureau for the 66th session (2022) of the Commission on the Status of Women comprises the following members:

° H.E. Ms. Mathu Joyini (South Africa), Chair (African States Group)

° Ms. Pilar Eugenio (Argentina), Vice-Chair (Latin American and Caribbean States Group)

° H.E. Ms. Antje Leendertse (Germany), Vice-Chair designate (Western European and Other States Group)

° Mr. Māris Burbergs (Latvia), Vice-Chair designate (Eastern European States Group)

° Ms. Hye Ryoung Song (Republic of Korea), Vice-Chair designate (Asia and Pacific States Group)

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Questions for this article
 
Does the UN advance equality for women?

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Preparations

Expert Group Meeting: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes

Organization of the Session

The Commission’s two-weeks session includes the following activities:

Organization of Work

Side Events

All side events will take place virtually. Information about side events and activities organized outside of the formal programme of the session

Session Outcomes

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme during its 66th session will take the form of agreed conclusions, to be negotiated by all Member States.

CSW66 Draft Agreed Conclusions

The Commission will review, as appropriate, its methods of work, taking into consideration the outcome of the process of alignment of the agendas of the GA and ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, with a view to further enhancing the impact of the work of the Commission.The Commission will make a recommendation on how best to utilize the year 2025, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

NGO Participation

Overview

Eligibility

Arrangements

Opportunities for NGOs to address the Commission

UN chief calls for Olympic Truce to build ‘culture of peace’ through sport

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the United Nations

Secretary-General António Guterres is urging the world to “build a culture of peace” through the power of sport, calling for nations to observe the Olympic Truce, endorsed last week through a resolution of the UN General Assembly.  


OC/Milos Bicanski Beijing 2022 – Handover Ceremony of the Olympic Flame in Athens, Greece.

Amidst spreading conflict and rising tensions, he reminded that the appeal calls on all parties to observe a ceasefire throughout the course of the upcoming winter games.

‘A date with history’

In the spirit of “mutual understanding, hard work and fair play”, the top UN official noted that athletes competing from around the world “have a date with history”.

“In a few days, our human family will come together in Beijing for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games”, the UN chief said in his message encouraging everyone to strive for the Olympic ideal.

“This spirit inspires us all”, he said.

Beyond sports

Mr. Guterres said that the Olympic Truce represents “a chance to overcome differences and find paths towards lasting peace”.

As the world strives to end the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged everyone to “unite for a safer, more prosperous and sustainable future for all”.

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(Click here for the message in Spanish and here for the message in French.

Question for this article:

How can sports promote peace?

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During a recent press conference, he lauded  the game Games as being “an extremely important manifestation in today’s world of the possibility of unity”, mutual respect, and cooperation between different cultures, religions and ethnicities.

Above political dispute

The Olympic Truce has a 3,000-year-old history, dating from when the Ancient Greeks established the sacred truce of Ekecheiria to allow the participation in the Olympic Games of all athletes and spectators from the Greek city states, which were otherwise almost constantly engaged in conflict with one other.

General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid appealed  to all Member States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce and to undertake “concrete actions at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony”.

“I also call upon all warring parties of current armed conflicts around the world to boldly agree to true mutual ceasefires for the duration of the Olympic Truce, thus providing an opportunity to settle disputes peacefully”, he added.

Remaining neutral

UN resolution 76/13, entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, was co-sponsored by 173 UN Member States and adopted by consensus.

It called for the observance of a truce during the 2022 Beijing games, beginning seven days before the start of the Olympic games, on 4 February, until seven days after the end of the Paralympics.

It also encouraged all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in using sport as “a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

IOC President Thomas Bach described  the resolution as “a great recognition” of the Games’ mission “to unite the best athletes of the world in peaceful competition and standing above any political dispute”.

“This is only possible if the Olympic Games are politically neutral and do not become a tool to achieve political goals”, he spelled out.