THE UNITED NATIONS: “A COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE

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From the left are: Sisters Mary Akinyi (K), Patricia Shanahan (US), Adele Ndona (DRC), JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador (Peru), Fidelia Chukwu (N) Christiana Sidi (N), Florette Mbonzi (DRC), and Praxides Awino (K)

July 2018, was an especially busy month at the SNDatUN office in New York. The United Nations (UN) hosted several significant conferences, including the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals. The HLPF was attended by eight Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from the United States, Peru, Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sisters were in the US to participate in the congregation Networking for Mission conference which took place in Boston with over 300 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates, and co-workers from different parts of the world in attendance.  As part of the experience of the global mission of the congregation, some Sisters came to New York for a UN orientation and to attend the second half of the HLPF. I felt very privileged to host our Sisters in New York for five days and to acquaint them with some of the works of the United Nations, and the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as an accredited non-governmental organization to the Economic and Social Council of the UN.

Below are short reflections from some of the Sisters on their UN experience:

 Praxides Awino and Mary Akinyi, SNDdeN – Kenya: It was interesting to learn more about the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals and its global agenda for change which focuses on the environmental, social and economic impact on people in the different continents. After listening to different presentations, it came to our understanding that the UN as an international organization was founded to meet the objectives of the SDGs by promoting the rights and well- being of individuals.

 As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we can relate to what the UN does because we promote justice and peace, and the well-being of the people we serve in ministry.

 Vision 2030, with its slogan of ‘leaving no one behind’ was clear from the reports of all the countries gathered from the different regions of the world for the HLPF voluntary national reviews of the SDGs. But the question is whether “they preach water and drink wine.” It makes a difference when leaders walk the talk!

 It was evident that young people were not left out as ‘Youth Skills Day 2018’ was 2celebrated. As present and future leaders in a fast-changing world, young people gathered at the event shared their hopes, challenges and frustrations. One such hope was the need to support the youth with adequate digital skills necessary to transition into the future global market.

 We thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for the opportunity given to us to attend the conference and Sr. Amarachi for inviting us to the UN forum where we will never be the same as we first came. We hope to put what we have learned and heard into action. As Nelson Mandela says, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

 Christiana Sidi, SNDdeN – Nigeria “Attending a few sessions of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, particularly listening to reports on the SDGs, challenged me to take a step further. I realized more than ever the need to spread words among Sisters in my unit, staff and students in our Notre Dame schools back in Nigeria on the call to action in promoting and achieving the 2030 Global Agenda in our countries.

3 I was struck by reports from countries in similar economic and socio-political situations as my country. It was very clear that we are all struggling with same or similar issues, irrespective of the geographical location, race or ideology. As the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of pollution.” We all therefore, must make efforts to eradicate poverty and ignorance from our world. People have a responsibility to hold their governments accountable to their commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

 My experience at the UN also affirms my belief in the interconnectedness of the human race. Every person is impacted positively and/or negatively by the actions or inactions of the other. As I left the UN, I am resolved to inculcate the ideals of the UN in my work and everyday life henceforth.

 I thank the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and Sister Amarachi Grace Ezeonu for this wonderful opportunity at the UN. We are indeed a global community!”

SNDdeN JuanaJacqueline Castillo Salvador – Peru. “It was a great experience to learn 4more about all the work done at the UN. My heart shuddered repeatedly as I toured the United Nations, because I felt the MEMORIES there are kept alive in our great and fragile world by the actions of mankind. I perceived the force of action emerging from the United Nations the world, especially to the countries that make up the organization. The work of the United Nations is arduous and essential, and I want to continue working from home to contribute to this GREAT COMMUNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE. “

 Read more: Ministerial Declaration of the 2018 HLPF: https://bit.ly/2B1tKZ4

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SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS: TOOL FOR REDUCING EXTEREME POVERTY AND INEQUALITY

5The World Banks defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day. The organization estimates that about 10.7% of the world’s population or 760 million people still live in extreme poverty. World leaders made a commitment in 2015 through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030. SDG 1 calls for an “End to Poverty in all its Forms Everywhere.” Access to Social Protection or social security has been identified as key to achieving SDG 1. Therefore, SDG 1:3 states that governments “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 to achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.” As described by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Social Protection or social security are set of policies and programmes designed to reduce and prevent poverty and vulnerability across the life cycle. This includes nine main areas: child and family benefits, maternity protection, unemployment support, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, health protection, old-age benefits, disability benefits and survivors’ benefits.

The Director-General of the ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder, notes that “when access to essential benefits and services is guaranteed for mothers and children, for persons with disabilities or illness, for the elderly and unemployed, countries actually make their economies resilient while ensuring the human rights to social security.” Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 people around the world have access to universal social protection coverage as indicated in the 2017 – 2019 World Social Protection Report. Governments must therefore, recognize that providing social protection for the people is not only the right and just thing to do, it is actually a very economic smart thing to do. Countries that have made efforts in expanding their safety net programmes have seen a rapid decline in the rate of poverty and experienced economic growth.

Read more:

ILO World Social Protection Report 2017 – 2019: https://bit.ly/2CyyaTn

Infographic : https://bit.ly/2BbsTV2

HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: “TRANSFORMATION TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE AND RESILIENT SOCIETY.”

1The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a meeting of the Member States of the United Nations under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The 2018 forum will be held from 9 – 18 July. The HLPF is tasked with the central role of the follow-up and review of the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development. And the highlight of the forum is the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). As part of the follow-up and review mechanism of the SDGs, the VNRs facilitates the sharing of experiences, lessons learned and challenges by the Member States with a view to implementing the SDGs. Forty-seven countries will be conducting the National Voluntary Reviews during the 2018 forum. The HLPF platform provides opportunities for partnership among the Member States. Civil society organizations, UN agencies, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders also actively participate in the forum.

The following goals, including goal 17 (Strengthen the Means of Implementation and 2Revitalize Global Partnership for Sustainable Development), will be reviewed during the 2018 HLPF. The central theme for the 2018 HLPF is, “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Society.”

 

  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 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

 

Read more:  2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals: https://bit.ly/2AiOSVE

“WORLD HEALTH DAY 2018 UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE: EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE

1Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a human right. According to the Director- General of the World Health Organization (WHO), “no one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access healthcare services.” Sadly, a recent report by the WHO indicates that about half the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential healthcare services. In order to highlight this issue, the WHO focused on Universal Health Coverage for the 2018 World Health Day commemorated on 7th April. WHO describes Universal Health Coverage as “means where all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardships. These would include the full spectrum of essential quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.”

ACTION: World leaders made a commitment in 2015 through the Sustainable Development Goals to provide health care for all by the year 2030. Do you know what2 progress your country is making to achieve this goal? Everyone can take the lead towards universal health coverage! Make your voice heard, start a local campaign on UHC. Click here to find out what you can do to educate yourself on this very crucial issue. Become an advocate for UHC, for those who otherwise cannot afford healthcare in your country!

Read more:   

World Health Day; https://bit.ly/2BxaPE6

Download World Health Day advocacy kit: https://bit.ly/2rCXC6n

WHO facts on universal health coverage: https://bit.ly/2jM1D4w

 

MOTHER EARTH DAY: “END PLASTIC POLLUTION!”

1April 22nd is International Mother Earth Day. The theme for the 2018 earth day is: “End Plastic Pollution.” International Mother Earth Day is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance, and our responsibility to care for the earth. Earth Day also provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports. The theme for this year’s celebration is very timely. Plastic waste has become so pervasive that Mother Earth is almost “drowning in the ocean of plastic pollution.” Take a look around your environment, and you will be amazed at the number of items within your view that are made of plastic. It is estimated that there are over 150 million tons of plastic in the ocean. Plastic pollution is not just limited to the ocean, the land is also heavily polluted.  They say, it takes an average of 450 years for plastic to decompose!

ACTIONS: Say NO to, or at least resolve to minimize the use of plastic materials such as shopping bags, bottled water, straws, cups, etc. Plant a tree, if possible. Plant something organic!!!

Related Sustainable Development Goals:  Picture1

 

Learn more:

United Nations Environment Programme: https://bit.ly/2vvDIza

Religions for Peace Leaders Call for Action to Protect the Earth: https://bit.ly/2qOIsdt (video)

International Mother Earth Day – Animated: https://bit.ly/2FNeZLk (video)

Plastic pollution primer and action toolkit: https://bit.ly/2IWbvo3

POVERTY AND INEQUALITY: DRIVER OF VIOLENT CRIME IN ANY SOCIETY

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

2018 WORLD SOCIAL JUSTICE DAY: “WORKERS ON THE MOVE: THE QUEST FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE”

5February 20, is the World Day of Social Justice. The pursuit for social justice is at the core of the United Nation’s global mission to promote development and human dignity. “Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.” (UN)

The theme for the 2018 World Day of Social Justice is, “Workers on the Move: The Quest for Social Justice.” The majority of people migrate in search of work. The International Labour Organization (ILO), estimates that there are about 150 million migrant workers the world over. Fifty-six percent of these are men and forty-four percent are women. According the ILO Director General, Mr. Guy Ryder, “migrant workers, like all workers, are entitled to fair treatment, and fair treatment for migrant workers is also key to preserving the social fabric of our societies and to sustainable development.”

Read more:

World Day of Social Justice: http://bit.ly/1gjPbzb

International Labour Organization: http://bit.ly/1gjeDtB