Thursday, November 2, 2017

WEIF2017 - Leveraging the power of entrepreneurship for sustainable development

This week, I am in Bahrain for the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum, the only global conference of its kind drawing attention to the role of the business persons and leaders in sustainable development.

The World Forum was organized from 31 October to 2 November by the UN Industrial Development Organization and the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Among the many highlights,  the one thing that stood out the most was the Forum's  focus on women entrepreneurs.

In addition to a special plenary panel on addressing the challenges faced by women in industry, the Forum made a strong and specific call for promoting and empowering women business leaders in its outcome document, the "Manama Declaration."

Video: UN News

If you are interested, here is a small selection of my coverage on the World Forum (for more, visit www.un.org/news):

Monday, October 16, 2017

Japanese comedians blend laughter with the global development goals

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In Kyoto, Japanese comedians tackle UN Global Goals

Jeffrey Brez, Chief of NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events of DPI, 3rd from right, and Kaoru Nemoto, Director of UNIC Tokyo, 4th from right, represent the United Nations at a special event held in the margins of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival. Photo: UNIC Tokyo/Takashi Okano
UNITED NATIONS 13 October 2017 – Japanese comedians on Friday competed to make people laugh by weaving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their performance at a United Nations-supported special event in Kyoto, the country's cultural centre.

“It is fascinating to see so many people take interest in SDGs with today's comedy performance as an entry point, thanks to the influence of entertainment,” said Kaoru Nemoto, Director of UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Tokyo.

“Laughter can open up people's minds, and comedy and entertainment can break barriers.”

This creative experiment was made possible by UNIC Tokyo's special collaboration launched earlier this year with Yoshimoto Kogyo, an entertainment giant with some 6,000 comedians under its management.

Jeff Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events of UN Department of Public Information, said that the UN needs the help of the creative community to spread the word about this master plan to guide the planet to a sustainable future through 2030.

“The challenge of SDGs is that it is complex and that we need time to address. We would like to help bring everybody on board and engage in this important agenda, through simple and down-to-earth messages,” said Yoshimoto Kogyo President and Chief Executive Officer Hiroshi Osaki.

According to a news release from the event organizer, five groups took to the stage wearing a rainbow of colored t-shirts emblazoned with a SDG's logo. Each group had to choose at least three of the 17 Goals in to their routine.

Last up were Non-Style, a duo who managed to incorporate 11 Goals as they portrayed a baseball player and his girlfriend as the player plans to give her a birthday present. Ms. Nemoto, who served as the judge, decided to award Non-Style the prize of United Nations goods.

The event was part of the 4th Kyoto International Film and Art Festival.

The festival opened on Thursday and runs through Sunday, at the Nishi Hongwanji Temple, a World Heritage site designated by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

SDGs-themed events during the festival also include a screening of a short promotional movie on SDGs produced by top Japanese creators, and a game for children to collect 17 SDGs stamps featuring the comedians' messages.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sustainable Development Goals - the global development agenda - 'take off' in Nepal's skies through a unique partnership between UNDP and Yeti Airways

The following story was published on the United Nations News Centre (http://www.un.org/news). It has been reproduced here given the importance of the issue. Photographs and other material bear their original and respective copyright and restrictions. No part of this article shall be attributed to this website, please credit United Nations News Centre or other institutions, mentioned in the original work, as appropriate.

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SDGs ‘take off’ in Nepal’s skies with UN development programme-airline partnership

UNDP Country Director for Nepal Renaud Meyer (left) and Yeti Airlines CEO Umesh Chandra Rai aboard an aircraft bearing the UN SDGs branding at Kathmandu airport. Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi, UNDP Nepal

UNITED NATIONS 3 October 2017 – Through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a private aircraft company, airplanes flying in Nepal’s skies will bear UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) branding icons, disseminating the globally-agreed targets far and wide.

“This is a powerful example to show the world that in partnership with the private sector, the [2030 Agenda for] Sustainable Development can really take off,” Renaud Meyer, the UNDP Country Director for Nepal, said in a news release announcing the new aircraft livery.

Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi, UNDP Nepal
“We are very pleased to see these airplanes flying in Nepali skies, spreading messages on how we can tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges,” he added.

In addition to the SDG-branded aircrafts, the partnership between UNDP and Yeti Airlines also includes the Goals features on airport shuttle buses and boarding passes, information leaflets on sustainable development, social media campaigns as well as a link on the airline’s website for donating to UNDP programmes in country.

Thousands across the landlocked mountainous country, including those residing in remote areas – where aircrafts provide a vital transport and connectivity link – are expected to be informed about the SDGs through concrete and action-oriented messages, noted the news release.

Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi, UNDP Nepal
Also under the partnership, UNDP and the airline will undertake joint initiatives to raise awareness on sustainable development, and mobilize stakeholders and advocates for its implementation.

The partnership will also explore, adopt and promote innovative and sustainable business models in the aviation and tourism industry that would help Nepal meet some specific SDG indicators in the areas of climate change adaptation, poverty reduction and gender equality, it added.

The SDGs, adopted by UN Member States in 2015, have a specific goal on partnerships, including with the private sector given their potential to mobilize resources, technology and innovation to aid and accelerate the implementation of the overall sustainable development agenda.

“In Nepal, we have been exploring ways in which the UN could help the local businesses grow more responsible and SDG friendly,” said Mr. Meyer, expressing hope that more such “inspiring” joint initiatives will be unveiled to help the country meet the global development goals by 2030.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Humanitarian Country Team – the UN's relief coordinating entity at the national level – activated in wake of Nepal floods

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UN humanitarian team activated in Nepal in wake of severe floods and landslides

People displaced by the floods take temporary refuge along a road in southern Nepal. Photo: UNICEF Nepal/2017/NShrestha
UNITED NATIONS 15 August 2017 – The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has been activated in Nepal to support response efforts in the aftermath of severe floods that have hit the nation, the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the country has said.
According to a humanitarian update issued by the office, as of 11:00 AM local time, 14 August, at least 66 people – including children – have been killed, 35 are missing, and many have been displaced following large-scale flooding and landslides in the wake of the worst rains to strike Nepal in 15 years.
“The full extent of the disaster is not yet known [as] many affected areas remain inaccessible due to damaged roads and bridges,” read the update.
It also noted that rapid assessments are being conducted in the impacted districts and that initial reports show that power and Internet connectivity has been disrupted in some areas and transport infrastructure has been damaged. A major airport located in Biratnagar city (in the south of the country) has been completely inundated.
There is also growing concern for water-borne diseases and health facilities in at least two districts (Mahottari and Banke) have been completely flooded.
“Anecdotal information from the field indicates that a significant number of pregnant and lactating mothers, disabled and other vulnerable groups are affected,” the update added.
The disaster comes at a time when the landlocked Asian nation was struggling to recover from the 2015 earthquakes. Some five of the 27 affected districts are also earthquake-affected, while four of them were hit by floods a year prior, the update mentioned.
The UN Resident Coordinator's office also noted that the impact of the current floods could be exacerbated by pre-existing social and economic disparities, with some of the affected districts having the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) scores in the country.
“Experience from the 2014 floods that affected Banke, Bardiya, Dang and Surkhet [districts] indicates that in [areas] where malnutrition is already a concern, the onset of such an emergency can have a sudden and severe impact on malnutrition rates,” added the humanitarian note.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Global funding fall in support for education having worst impact in poorest countries

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Falling aid for education putting global goals at risk, warns UN agency

Children at Bahadoub 2 school in Timbuktu, Mali. © UNICEF/PFPG2013P-0035/Harandane Dicko; via UN News Centre
UNITED NATIONS 6 June 2017 – Against the backdrop of aid allocations to education falling for the sixth year in a row, the United Nations agency mandated with promoting education globally has called on the donor community to focus more attention on the vital sector, especially in countries where needs are the greatest.

According to a policy paper by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Global Education Monitoring Report, total aid to education stands at $12 billion – 4 per cent lower than the figure in 2010.

“Aid remains far short of what is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, putting our commitments at risk,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, in a news release announcing the findings.

“[Resources] need to be multiplied by at least six to achieve our common education goals and must go to countries most in need,” she cautioned, calling on donors not to shift their attention away from the poorest countries.

Based on newly released data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee, the study revealed that aid to basic education, such as support to pre-primary and primary education, as well as adult education and literacy programmes – stands at $5.2 billion, 6 per cent lower than the amount in 2010.

It also noted that, while humanitarian aid to education reached a “historic high” – increasing almost 55 per cent from 2015 to 2016 – education received only 2.7 per cent of total aid available and less than half (48 per cent) of the amount needed.

In terms of national contributions, the United States and the United Kingdom were the two largest donors to basic education, but their allocations fell by 11 per cent and 9 per cent respectively in 2014-2015.

In contrast, contributions from Norway and Germany increased by 50 per cent and 34 per cent respectively, noted the UN agency.

A chart depicting the fall in the share of aid to basic education to low income countries
Fall in the share of aid to basic education to low income countries. Source: UNESCO Policy Paper; via UN News Centre
The UNESCO policy paper, Aid to Education is Stagnating and Not Going to Countries Most in Need also voiced concern over skewed allocations by donors leading to aid not reaching places it is most needed.

Sub-Saharan Africa, home to over half of the world's out-of-school children currently receives less than half the aid to basic education it used to in 2002, and only 26 per cent of the total aid to basic education globally.

This contrasts to the 22 per cent allocation to the northern Africa and western Asia region, where 9 per cent of children are out of school.

Calling for urgent action to rectify the problems, UNESCO urged donors to “reverse the move away from education” and focus their attention on campaigns such as the Global Partnership for Education Replenishment campaign which is seeking to raise $3.1 billion between 2018-2020 and programmes such as the Education Cannot Wait fund (established in 2016) that aims to raise $3.85 billion by 2020, with the potential to transform the delivery of education in emergencies.