WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY. WORLD OCEANS DAY

3The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. Hence, to care for humanity, we must care for nature. In his message to mark the 2020 World Environment Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Mr. David Boyd warns that countries should take urgent action to protect the environment and stop climate disruption, biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and diseases that jump from animals to humans. He noted that at least 70 percent of emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 are crossing from the wild to people.  June 5 is observed as World Environment Day. First launched in 1974, this day, according to the UN, has grown to become the UN’s biggest annual event, advocating for environmental action and raising worldwide awareness of the need to increase protection for the planet’s long-term survival.  The main focus of the 2020 World Environment is on biodiversity. Colombia was the global host of the 2020 World Environment Day.

8 June is also observed as World Oceans Day. Oceans are described as4 the lungs of the planet because it provides 70 percent of the oxygen on the earth planet.

Did you also know that?

§  Oceans absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, thereby buffering the impacts of global warming.

  • Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein
  • Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. (UN World Oceans Day)

Read more:

2020 World Environment Day virtual event. https://bit.ly/2MzhDoY

World Oceans Day; https://bit.ly/3dfdlOy

 

 

 

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: WE ARE ALL IN THE FIGHT TOGETHER!

The current COVID-19 pandemic has once more highlighted the interconnectedness and2 vulnerability of the human race and our ecosystem. One of the lessons from the tragic coronavirus pandemic is that what affects people living even in the remotest parts of the planet has ramifications for others thousands of miles away. We live in such a globalized world where walls, no matter how high or secure they may be, can no longer shield any community from the impacts of the misery or good fortunes of their neighbors or even people in ‘far away’ lands. The other is the devastating consequences of human activities on the environment to human health, and the ecosystems –human health and global planetary health are interconnected.

We will be “playing the ostrich” if we merely concern ourselves with just what happens within our borders without being troubled by what is happening in other parts of the world. Lesson 101 from the current coronavirus pandemic is that we are all in this boat together.  And to survive, we must paddle in synch. This reality has several advantages, as well as challenges. But I believe the benefits far outweigh the difficulties if individuals, communities, and governments would reach out to the other in the spirit of *ubuntu.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, consistently calls for a global corporation in tackling the coronavirus. According to Dr. Tedros, global solidarity is an absolute necessity if we must win the war against the COVID-19. There have been heartwarming stories from around the world about individuals, organizations, and communities reaching out to others in creative ways during this challenging period, despite fears and concerns for personal safety. With the significant advances made in the fields of science and technology, the human race is better equipped in this 21st Century to respond effectively to any pandemic, with concerted efforts of the stakeholders.

The quote below is from an American philosopher of religion, Loyal D. Rue, which I think speaks to our current reality:”The universe is a single reality – one long sweeping spectacular process of  interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens; it is evolution happening. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold; it is the unfolding drama itself… This (great cosmological) story shows us in the deepest possible sense that we are all sisters and brothers -fashioned from the stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code, and threatened by the same evils. This story … humbles us before the magnitude and complexity of creation … It bewilders us with the improbability of our existence, astonishes us with the interdependence of all things, and makes us feel grateful for the lives we have. And not the least of all, it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting solemn and collective responsibility for the future.” (Loyal D. Rue)

*Ubuntu: A Zulu term meaning “humanity”, but often used in a more philosophical sense to indicate “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

 

TACKING COVID-19 – THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)

1As the UN agency tasked with the responsibility to coordinate global public health issues, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to play a leading role in managing the COVID-19 pandemic by offering technical and logistical assistance to countries and communities around the world.  The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and his team give regular live updates on the coronavirus pandemic on the UNWEBTV. You can also access the latest information about the COVID-19 from the WHO website: https://www.who.int/

 

PAN-AMAZON SYNOD: “AMAZONIA: NEW PATHS FOR THE CHURCH AND AN INTEGRAL ECOLOGY”

In October 2019, a Synod of Bishops for the Amazonia region will convene in Rome to deliberate on the theme: “New Paths for the Church and an Integral Ecology. According to

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Pope Francis and an indigenous woman

 

Pope Francis, the aim of the Synod is “to find new ways for the evangelization of that portion of the People of God, especially the indigenous, often forgotten and without a perspective of a good future, also for the cause of the crisis of the Amazonian forest, lung of fundamental importance for our planet.”

The Pan-Amazon Synod is a timely meeting that will also hopefully draw global attention and galvanize actions on the unjust situations resulting from activities of extractive and agricultural businesses. These activities have impacted negatively on the Indigenous communities in the Amazonia.

 

Read the preparatory document to the Synod: https://bit.ly/30ugRP5

UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CONFERENCE (COP23): CALL TO HOLD TO PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT PATH

4 Two years into the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, (COP23) was held in Bonn, Germany, from December 6 to 17. Against the background of the  horrific natural disasters around the world in recent months, there was a unified call by participants at the Conference to “hold to the path of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.” The effects of climate change are undeniably being felt by billions of people around the world, especially those already living in the most impoverished, vulnerable parts of the globe. For people living in Small Island Countries, the impacts of climate change are daily realities as they watch their homes gradually submerge in water.

In his opening remarks at the COP23, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres5 described climate change “as the defining threat of our time.” It is therefore, our duty — to each other and to future generations — is to raise the ambition to combat it.”

The conference ended on Friday, November 17, with participants expressing a renewed sense of urgency and the need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

Read more;

United Nations Climate Change Conference: http://bit.ly/2yr0tFB

Draft Outcome Document: http://bit.ly/2yY1RvC

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: “TOGETHER FOR PEACE, RESPECT, SAFETY AND DIGNITY FOR ALL”

5September 21 of every year is observed as the International Day of Peace.  World Peace Day which was established in 1981 by a United Nations resolution is designed to provide a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. The theme for the 2017 World Peace Day is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. This theme reflects the spirit of the TOGETHER campaign, a global initiative launched during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016 by the United Nations system in partnership with its 193 Member States and all the stakeholders ‘in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.

Below is the UN Secretary General’s message on the 2017 World Peace Day;

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Children in Zataari camp, Jordan.  Couresty; UN/Rababah

“On the International Day of Peace, we reflect on the cruel price of war.  Ruined schools. Bombed hospitals.  Broken families.  Refugees searching for hope.  Countries in crisis.  The United Nations was born from a terrible World War.  Our mission is to work for peace — every day and everywhere.  No group interest, national ambition or political difference should be allowed to put peace at risk.   

On this International Day, we call for a global ceasefire.  We must never — ever — stop pressing for an end to armed conflict.  Peace is the right and desire of all people.  It is the foundation for progress and well-being – happy children, thriving communities, and peaceful, prosperous countries.  Let us pledge to work together – today and every day – for the peace we all yearn for and deserve.”

Watch the UNSG Message on 2017 World Peace Day: http://bit.ly/2x2eDsY

Watch the PeaceChannel: http://bit.ly/2cRy3Zj

 

 

THE UNITED NATIONS OCEAN CONFERENCE: “SAVE OUR OCEAN”

#1The impact of human activities on the health of oceans and seas, and the urgent need for action to protect this part of our planet, were the focus of discussion during the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference, which took place in New York from June 6 to 9. In his opening remarks at the conference, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, appealed to governments and other stakeholders for increased collaboration to protect the oceans. According to Mr. Guterres, “improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we cannot afford to fail.” He urged governments to allocate funds towards pledges for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Mr. Guterres also called for improved data collection and the sharing of best experiences.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Peter Thomson, also lent his voice to the #2call to protect the oceans. He appealed to participants at the conference in these imparting words, stating; “We are here on behalf of humanity; to restore sustainability, balance, and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the ocean.” Mr. Thomson described as “inexcusable” actions such as dumping the equivalent of one large garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute of every day, which is said to be driving fish stocks to the points of collapse, and destroying marine life through acidification and deoxygenation.

The ocean plays an integral role in the health and wellbeing of humans and other species because it generates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, human activities such as dumping of waste products into the oceans and seas threaten the health of global water sources (and as a result, our health too). The need to protect the ocean has never been more urgent, as we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change.

Below are some basic facts you need to know about the ocean and sea. Courtesy of Sea Change Project (www.seachangeproject.eu)

*The Ocean is Planet Earth’s Life Support System: The Ocean plays a fundamental role in supporting life on Earth by regulating our climate. It does this by storing and transporting huge amounts of heat, water and greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide). By absorbing heat as well as large amounts of carbon dioxide, the ocean lessens the effects of climate change experienced on land. However, this comes at a cost to ocean health and therefore human health. We can reduce the stress we put on the ocean and limit further climate change by decreasing our carbon footprint (a measure of environmental impact in units of carbon dioxide).

 *Seafood and Human Health: From ancient times, fisheries and aquaculture (the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants) have been an important source of food. These activities also provide economic benefits to millions of people engaged in harvesting, culturing, processing and trading along the world’s seashores and waterways. Today, we are facing the challenge of growing demand for seafood together with declining catches from the world’s marine fisheries. Therefore, well-managed fisheries are essential to continue providing food into the future.

 *Marine Pollution and Human Health: Many of our waste products end up in the sea. This includes visible as well as invisible waste such as chemicals from personal care product and pharmaceuticals that we flush down our toilets and drains. Once in the sea, these pollutants can move through the ocean, endangering marine life through entanglement, ingestion and intoxication.

 * The Ocean – A Treasure Trove for Human Medicine: The Ocean is home to a vast variety of organisms, diverse in their adaptations to the marine environment. Marine organisms produce an abundance of natural products to defend themselves against predators, to locate mates, to communicate and to compete for space and food. Many of these compounds have no terrestrial equivalents and are unique in terms of chemical structure and biological activity. There are 7 marine-derived medicines in clinical use; Trabectedin, Eribulin Mesylate, Cytarabine, Brentuximab, Ziconotide Vidarabine, Omeg-3- acid ethyl esters.                                                                                                                                                                                                  *The Sea and our Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Spending time by the sea has long been associated with health benefits and a sense of wellbeing. Acknowledging the importance of the sea’s influence on our mental and physical health, the Blue Gym concept refers to using the coastal environment specifically to promote health and wellbeing by increasing physical activity, reducing stress and building stronger communities.

 Read more: UN Ocean Conference; http://bit.ly/2lGShXP

THE UNITED NATIONS: BRINGING PEOPLE AND ISSUES TOGETHER TO PROMOTE COLLECTIVE ACTION FOR A SUSTAINABLE WORLD

Picture 1Leonore Coan, SNDdeN; SNDatUN Delegate for the 55th Commission for Social Development: Early February (1-10, 2017), the United Nations hosted the 55th session of the Commission on Social Development. Priority theme for the 2017-2018 review and policy cycle of the Commission for Social Development would be “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all” The aggressive goal for the Commission is to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030.

The Commission plenary sessions and side events planned by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in collaboration with members of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) presented information to effect policy development for the Sustainable Development Goals and suggested strategies for implementation by UN member states.

Having an opportunity to attend sessions of the Commission for the first few days of the meeting was a privilege.  I was honored to attend a few of the side events and two plenary sessions addressing the issues of youth and people with disabilities.

 The meetings I attended during my few days addressed the inclusion of youth especially Picture 2
girls in planning programs and strategy sessions. Including youth in development programs will impact continued future development. I interpreted this to suggest that women attending planning sessions and program developments in their respective communities to bring youth, especially girls, to the meetings. They are not too young to learn. This concept was promoted at a side event on “Women as agents of change in building a shared society” sponsored by Club de Madrid/UN Women/ UNDESA/DSPD.

On Friday morning I observed the plenary session where representatives from several countries presented prepared statements committing their respective member states to inclusion of persons with disabilities into the mainstream of decision making for the development of good solid communities.  At the end of the scheduled presentations, a member of the CSO asked to speak.  This individual was observably disabled. His oral presentation was hesitant because of limited verbal articulation. What he asked of the Member States was “a place at the table” for these planning sessions for inclusion. In all Member States presentations, he heard the promise of fiscal and humanitarian inclusion through budget and programming but no mention of physical inclusion in decision making. His statement was clearly heard.

Picture 3My time was limited but the Agenda of the 55th session of the Commission was and is extensive.  As time passes the Agenda expands.  Addressing the issues presented with the 17 Sustainable Goals is a lifetime work for everyone.  In promoting the work of the Goals, the UN is hoping to achieve successful implementation by the year 2030.

Read more:  55th Commission on Social Development; http://bit.ly/2j9xFIM                        Civil Society Declaration: Social Protection Floors as the Preeminent Strategy for eradicating poverty.

INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY: MIGRATION ISSUES GETTING NEW ATTENTION AT THE UN ____________________________

newsletter-6The United Nations (UN) celebrates International Migrants Day on December 18. Issues related to migration are currently receiving greater attention at the UN than in the past. On September 19, the UN General Assembly made up of the 193 Member States, adopted the landmark New York Declaration on Migration and Refugees. As part of this initiative, a very intensive process involving Member States, as well as the active participation of the private sector, civil society, migrants and diaspora, has begun with the intent of producing a Global Compact on Migration. The process will be very rigorous, and will span throughout 2017 to the early part of 2018. The main objective of the initiative is to have the Global Compact on Migration document ready for adoption by the UN Member States in 2018.

In his speech at the adoption of the New York Declaration on September 19, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, indicated that the event represents a breakthrough in the collective efforts of Member States of the UN to address the challenges of human mobility.  The Global Compact on Migration will only increase in its impact once adopted.

Read more: Migration issue getting new attention at UN: migration-issues-worlds-refugees

 

GOOD NEWS FOR THE PEOPLE AND PLANET: PARIS AGREEMENT ENTERS INTO FORCE

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The threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was reached on October 6, 2016. To date, 76 of the 197 Parties have ratified the agreements of the Convention. The current status for the Agreement stands at 191 Signatories and 81 Parties. With the required 55% of total global emissions reached, the Paris Agreement will now enter into effect on November 4, 2016.

This motion will mark the beginning of a long journey and the collective commitment of the international community towards saving our planet. Click here to see the countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement. Read more: http://bit.ly/245GrVi