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;                        Civil Society Declaration: Social Protection Floors as the Preeminent Strategy for eradicating poverty.


Mr. Antonipic-3o Guterres began his new mandate as the ninth United Nations Secretary General on January 1st.  Speaking shortly after he took the oath of office on December 12, 2016, Mr. Guterres commended his immediate predecessor, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his leadership in charting out the future of the UN with the Sustainable Development Goals. He also highlighted the strategic priorities of the UN as; working for peace, supporting sustainable development, and reforming its internal management. Mr. Guterres stressed among other things, his desire to work with Member States on structural, legal, and operational measures to make the zero-tolerance policy a reality as he pledged to make human dignity the core of his work as the UN Secretary General.

On December 15, Mr. Guterres fulfilled one of his pledges; “to respect gender parity and geographical diversity,” by appointing three women as core members of his team. These team members and their respective appointments are; Ms. Amina Mohammed of Nigeria who is the deputy Secretary General, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil and Ms. Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea as his Chef de Cabinet and Special Advisor on Policy.

As he assumed office on January 1, Mr. Guterres pledged to make 2017 a year for peace.

Watch Mr. Guterres:



Amina Mohammed of Nigeria.  UN Photo


Enter a captionMaria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil


Kyung-wha Kang of the Rep. of Korea.  UN Photo











By patience-mpelaPatience Mpela, SNDdeN  I was pleased to be present at the United Nations (UN) for the 2016 UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme of the forum, which took place from July 11-22, was “Ensuring that No One is Left Behind.” The HLPF, I learned, is a platform for review geared toward the implementation of the SDGs by Member States. Twenty-two countries voluntarily reviewed their progress in the implementation of the SDGs during the forum.

It is imperative that African leaders, within their respective countries, take the implementation of the SDGs by 2030 very seriously. Illiteracy, inadequate healthcare services, gender inequality, lack of clean water, lack of energy, and many other challenges, are still prevalent in many African countries. Leaders must be held accountable to their qcommitment to achieve the 17 SDGS by 2030. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would be well advised to engage in monitoring the levels of advancement made by respective governments, in the implementation of the SDGs, while educating the citizens on the goals so that they also may become informed. In the implementation of the SDGs, governments must not focus solely on cities. Every corner of the society and every single individual must be included to “ensure that no one is left behind.”



Leaders of the 193 Members States of the United Nations gathered in New York for the 71st General Assembly (GA) of the organization from September 19-21.  Their deliberations focused mainly on the following: Refugees and Migrants, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The High Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants, held on September 19, was the first of its kind. The General Assembly called on the Heads of State and Government to arbitrate on the large movement of Refugees and Migrants. The aim of the assembly was to establish a blueprint for an improved international response to refugee and migrants’ issues, and to strengthen the governance of international migration. You may download the outcome document from the Summit, known as the “New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.” United States President Barack Obama also hosted the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on September 20. The objective of this summit was to appeal to governments to pledge significant new commitments regarding refugees.


September 20, was dedicated to the Sustainable Development GoaYear 1: Event to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda 
and the Sustainable Development Goalsls, which the MemberStates adopted about this time last year. Lastly, deliberations on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change took place on September 21. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Member States to ratify, accept, or commit publicly to ratifying the agreement. Sixty countries have so far ratified the agreement. These 60 countries account for 47.76% of global gas emissions. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention (accounting for estimated 55% of the total global emissions) have ratified the instrument.  Key objectives of this agreement include limiting the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and allocating US $100 billion yearly in climate finance for developing countries by 2020.

Learn more: Climate Agreement:


Pope Francis Addresses General Assembly: A Bright Day at the UN

pope-new-york-un_3453388b    A Bright Day at the UN

In his address to the UN, Pope Francis’ reminded member states that they must “set aside partisan and ideological interests and sincerely strive to serve the common good”. His challenge applies to nations, regions, localities and individuals as well.

Pope Francis’ inspiration resonates beyond the Catholic Church. At the closing of recent intergovernmental negotiations, Ambassador Kamau of Kenya remarked: “I want to send a message to the Holy Father Pope Francis… not because we are Catholics, we are not, but because he has continuously prodded us on over the last few days and weeks to maintain a very high level of ambition and a true dedication to the very issues central to this agenda – on poverty, on the suffering and the forgotten  –  and of Sustainable Development.”


milkcow1-kolpingugandaUganda Kolping Society helps people support their families by making loans of cows. Families use some of the milk for themselves and sell the rest, giving them a small but steady income and keeping everyone healthy. Loans are paid back by raising the calves for a year and then passing them to other families. Microfinancing Partners in Africa and Heifer International have similar projects. (choose your language)


In 2012, SOCO International, a London-based oil company, announced plans to press ahead with oil exploration in Africa’s oldest National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site, Virunga Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This beautiful land, containing the greatest biodiversity of all the parks in Africa, will be irreparably damaged if drilling for oil is allowed in its boundaries. Since 1925, many individuals and groups, including UNESCO, have worked to protect Virunga, but the challenges are many, including conflict in the area and plunder of natural resources.


UN photo

UN photo

Sustainable Development Goals currently being formulated at the UN include Goal 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” and 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”; both goals prohibit any actions that endanger the earth’s heritage locations, including Virunga National Park.

Watch award-winning film Virunga (trailer) (film on Netflix)

Managing Congo’s Natural Resource Wealth :

There is enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for anybody’s greed.
Mahatma Gandhi