02By Juliana Marques Boyd: There has been a significant increase in violent crimes in many cities around the world in recent years. According to the  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2013 Global Study on Homicide, over 437,000 people were intentionally killed in 2012. The fundamental question remains: what causes our society to be so violent? Though many attribute violent crimes to factors such as mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, it can be inferred that inequality and poverty are the greatest drivers of violence. A recent World Bank study indicates that the inequitable distribution of income contributes to a feeling of unfairness among disadvantaged individuals which leads them to seek compensation through criminal activities. The study also states that crime is determined by a ‘cost-benefit analysis.’ For instance, when the poorest people have fewer or sometimes no economic opportunities and there is a profound income gap between the rich and the poor, they tend to seek financial compensation through crimes such as robbery and kidnapping for ransom. The study suggests that rapid poverty alleviation programmes would lead to a decrease in crime rates in various countries .

Inequality occurs when wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few individuals. Poverty caused by inequality is a major threat to public security and its presence undermines the achievement of sustainable peace and development. In his departing speech to the UN General Assembly in 2016, President Barack Obama warned that, “a world where 1% of humanity controls as much wealth as the bottom 99% will never be stable.” This fact was highlighted in a report presented by OXFAM to the world economic and political leaders at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The 4report revealed that only eight men own wealth equal to the combined wealth of 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. This report warns that left unchecked, growing inequality threatens world peace and security, and undermines the fight to end poverty. Large corporations and the super-rich are also reasons for widening income inequality, according to the report. It argues that by having low-cost labor, paying little taxes, optimizing revenues to their shareholders, and influencing and ensuring that regulations work in their favor—corporations accumulate large sums of fortune at the cost of the well-being of the general population. The report ultimately suggests that in order to reverse this trend, it is necessary to design a “human economy,” which emphasizes better societies and benefits to the larger portion of the population.

To break the cycle of inequality and poverty so that the next generation can live in a peaceful and sustainable world, it is vital for both the local and national governments, as well as the international community to ensure access to social services and economic opportunities, especially to minority communities who often are the most marginalized. The UN 2030 Agenda provides the framework for governments to achieve a just and equitable society by 2030. And this is possible in our lifetime!

Read more: Inequality and violent crime; http://bit.ly/2FpfhYN

An economy of 99%; http://bit.ly/2EYEdTH

“It’s been proven, less inequality means less crime;” http://bit.ly/1y6Bsc0


SDGSSince Rio + 20 which was held in Brazil in 2012, NGOs, UN agencies, and UN country delegations have been working to make the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more realistic and more universal. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) placed a lot of expectations on the developing countries with few demands on developed countries. The SDGs will require all countries to respond to things like inequality and care of the earth. Added to the 17 goals that you see here are specific targets and measurable indicators.

To see targets and indicators for each goal, go to: http://tinyurl.com/o9ulbye

Sustainable Development Goals – Target date is 2030                                   

 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


image001 carrying water

Photo: wunrn.com

“In developing nations the responsibility for collecting water every day falls disproportionately on women and girls. On average they spend 25 percent of their day collecting water for their families. This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family, or attending school.”  www.unwater.org/   (Choose your language)

     Work for the human right to clean water and sanitation for all.


Anne Kertz KernionAnne Kertz Kernion (www.cardsbyanne.com) is not present at the United Nations but her words of wisdom certainly apply to NGOs and all who are working for global change:

“Lately, I’ve been avoiding the news because I’m feeling beat up. Bad news streams to us every hour of every day, bombarding us relentlessly, and it all frays my spirit. So it’s a welcome relief to hear some good news for a change, and the latest statistics tell us this: the world is actually getting better in many measurable ways. The per capita rates of violence, poverty and disease are going down, while educational opportunities and childhood survival rates are going up. This data gives us reason to be hopeful. For example, violent crime has fallen 50% since 1992, more people are living in democratic countries than ever before, the average lifespan has increased worldwide, and more children go to school regularly. But good news doesn’t usually qualify as ‘news,’ so we don’t hear about all of these positive trends. Simply put, the drumbeat of bad news does not reflect the reality of the numbers. And numbers count. We ARE making the world a better place, slowly but surely.

I’m not suggesting that we should all retire and begin eating bonbons beneath the shade of a palm tree. ‘Better’ does not mean perfect. There is still a lot of work to be done for those suffering from disease, hunger, climate change, violence, etc. But let’s not lose sight of the progress we’ve made. Let’s continue to ‘keep on keeping on,’ using our human ingenuity to bring about even more improvement to our world. … And remember what the numbers tell us. The world is getting better in many ways.”

View UN Millennium Development Goals Progress Chart 2014:  http://bit.ly/1vxjJK3

Listen to Anne Murray’s A Little Good News:    


Amarachi Grace Ezeonu 1By Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN

Efforts of NGOs to influence policy formulation have been very evident in the current discussion on the “post-2015 Agenda” on sustainable development at the United Nations. As the deadline for the well celebrated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws very close, it is clear that some countries have not and may not be able achieve many of these goals before 2015. For this reason, the UN member states are currently engaged in discussions on what shall happen after 2015 in terms of these unattained goals. This discussion is being tagged the “post-2015 agenda.” The overarching theme for the “post-2015 agenda” is sustainable development.

I was so fortunate during my time at the UN to attend the fifth and sixth sessions of the Open Working Group where member states and civil society organizations engaged in discussion on the “post-2015 Agenda” during the months of November and December. What was very evident to me was how hard NGO representatives worked during these discussions to submit their statements. They also organized different events during the sessions to push for pertinent issues to be included in the “post-2015 agenda.” Some of these significant issues included climate change, migration, human rights, poverty eradication, and empowerment of women. The NGOs present at these Open Working Group sessions networked to make their voices heard on these issues.


Highlight from previous issue (2012):

At a special event during the recent UN Commission on Social Development, Sister Kristin Hokanson spoke about the global impact of our ground-breaking Photovoltaic Project in Congo and Nigeria.  Principal and founder of Notre Dame Virtual School (NDVS), Kristin highlighted NDVS’ special educational projects which link Notre Dame Schools in support of the Photovoltaic Project. Through technology, NDVS students around the world are analyzing electrical graphs coming out of project sites in Congo and Nigeria, studying about Solar Power and water purification systems, and using E-languages to connect with each other. Truly the Power of the Sun is shining everywhere!

Kristin Hokanson, SNDdeN

“The experience made me realize how an idea to build solar-powered energy can unite a community to achieve life-sustaining goals. At the United Nations I observed NGOs striving to create a world in which all live with dignity and respect. A key to the eradication of poverty is using our technology network where we can communicate in ways never thought possible. It is through all types of technology that we are creating a better world, and what better place to share this experience than the United Nations.”


Update:  In 2013, the 10th anniversary of the Power of the Sun Project, the Sisters of Notre Dame embarked on a campaign to raise another $1 million to establish additional full sites in Congo and provide supplementary equipment and materials to multiple sites in Nigeria.




Amarachi Grace Ezeonu 1By Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN

A few of the activities of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations include the following roles: policy advocacy, information dissemination, awareness raising, development education, joint operational projects, providing technical expertise, and collaborating with UN agencies, programs and funds. NGOs fulfill these roles individually or by networking with other like-minded groups to form committees and sub-committees on different issues such as Anti-Trafficking of Persons, Working Group on Girls, Financing for Development, Education, Social Development, Poverty Eradication, and various others. NGOs enrich the capability of the UN through providing their field experience and insights to various networks and during UN sessions and associations.

Statements (oral or written) by NGOs at UN sessions are often considered credible and valued because of their expertise and contact with people at the grassroots. According to ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31:

“Written statements relevant to the work of the Council may be submitted by organizations in general consultative status and special status on subjects in which these organizations have a special competence. Such statements shall be circulated by the Secretary General of the United Nations to the members of the council …”

meetingThough most NGOs work with people at the grassroots, however, their presence at the UN is invaluable because this affords them the leverage to also influence policy formulation at global, regional and national levels on some of the issues which directly or indirectly impact on the lives of people these organizations work with. NGOs may not be able to directly challenge member states of the UN who have not lived up to their commitments to the conventions and treaties they have signed and ratified, but these countries are often very aware that the NGOs are watching. Therefore, this monitoring compels them to strive to honor their commitments.

For more information, go to:



Highlight from previous issue (2012):

In 2000 the United Nations agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to address the needs of the world’s poorest by 2015. While efforts to achieve the original MDGs continue, the UN has launched a global conversation to determine steps after 2015. An Inter-Governmental Working Group is preparing Sustainable Development Goals, and a High Level Panel of twenty-six members of government, civil society and the private sector is working on a Post-2015 Development Agenda. Beyond2015, a coalition of 400+ organizations, is also addressing this issue. UN Agencies are leading nine thematic consultations and more than fifty national discussions. Countries participating in consultations include Brazil, Peru, Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa; plans are in place to add more countries to the list. For an overview of the entire Post-2015 process, go to www.beyond2015.org (in English, French, and Spanish).

An opportunity to participate in a collaborative effort between the United Nations and civil society: The World We Want Campaign invites people around the world to share their visions for the post-2015 world. Materials are accessible in multiple languages. Go to www.worldwewant2015.org/ and click on your language.



The UN Millennium Development Goals effort brought about significant improvements since the year 2000, but too many children are still not in school. Education continues to be a priority as governments now focus on the next 15 years. Proposed Goal for 2030: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

8_24104_photo_smallAs NGOs prepare for the 65th Annual DPI NGO Conference to be held in New York at the end of this month, they are putting a spotlight on Education. One proposed side event will focus on four important “Zeros” — Zero Exclusion, Zero Discrimination against Girls, Zero Child Labor, and Zero Child Marriage — which, when accomplished, will add up to Positives for Global Education.

  • View a UN exhibit showing what some children go through in order to attend school:  Journeys to School 
  • 10-12 November 2014, Aichi-Nagoya, Japan: World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, organized by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)    UNESCO Conference
  • In current UN MyWorld surveys, the #1 global priority for all ages, genders, countries, and educational levels is “a good education”.
  • Notre Dame Online connects the educational ministries of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, facilitates global networking, and provides a forum for teachers and students to share educational resources
  • Google for Education provides online tools and programs for the classroom

Education is vital for fostering global citizenship.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon


Girls MDGsIn the last newsletter, you may remember a list of questions asking about the experience of girls regarding fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We received a very thought-provoking response from Manju, Sindhu, and Poonan with the assistance of Dr. Pooja Kandula at Nari Gunjan (Danapur), the school begun and directed by Sr. Mary Sudha of the Patna province of the Sisters of Notre Dame. This response, together with other submissions, was given as testimony at a UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting sponsored by Canada and Turkey. The information sent to us by the girls in many countries was gathered and presented by the Girl Advocates of the Working Group on Girls.

Girls Nari GunjanGirls from Nari Gunjan are very articulate on the ways in which village girls are excluded from education, health care, and nutrition. Descriptions of effective education at the school, overcoming discrimination due to caste and the pressure to marry early, made a deep impression on the audience. One of the ministers from Canada is also a pediatrician and she was very vocal in support of the passion evidenced by the Girl Advocates as they shared what had been sent to them. Our girls from Nari Gunjan in Danapur shared further about the work that they do when they go back to the village for holiday: teach their younger siblings to read and write, teach numeracy to their parents, share what they learn about HIV/AIDS and malaria and how to prevent it, and the need for nutritious food and clean water. They worried about the needless deaths due to girls giving birth at an early age and envisioned a crèche for those mothers and babies who survived so that the young mothers could learn to care for healthy children.