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27 Nov

Caribbean government officials review impact of UN country support through its Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework

  • 27 November 2019 |

BRIDGETOWN – Senior Caribbean government officials and United Nations representatives are gathering in Barbados this week to assess the initial three years of their collaboration through the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF), and to agree on strategies for strengthening this mechanism.

Some 50 participants are attending the MSDF Annual Coordination Meeting (ACM), which is being co-hosted by the Government of Barbados and the UN Barbados and the OECS from 27 to 28 November 2019 at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados.

Discussions will review the effectiveness of the MSDF, which is designed to support more direct access to technical expertise from the United Nations and – through integrated, multi-country initiatives - facilitate the resource mobilisation and partnerships needed to move regional development efforts forward.

The meeting will also discuss progress of UN System reform and its potential to deliver innovative collaborations and strategic approaches for tackling the range of sustainable development challenges being addressed within the MSDF. Among the most pressing of these concerns are climate change resilience, social inclusion, and protecting vulnerable populations.  Participants will also explore the means of strengthening the UN’s support to regional governments through continued implementation of the MSDF.

In his welcome, Mr. Didier Trebucq, Chair of the MSDF Regional Steering Committee and UN Resident Coordinator Barbados and the OECS, thanked the Government of Barbados for their continued partnership with the UN.

“Supporting all states in the Caribbean to achieve sustainable development, remains of paramount importance to the United Nations Development System. The MSDF intends to facilitate a more efficient and effective development system to support governments in achieving the SDGs, especially through dedicated support to all SIDS. The UN in the Caribbean will be further strengthened to deliver at the country level,” Trebucq said.

The Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework is a USD$197.9 million facility of UN support to Caribbean governments for achieving the SDGs and delivering on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other international development agreements.  The four MSDF priority areas are: An Inclusive, Equitable and Prosperous Caribbean; a Healthy Caribbean; a Safe, Cohesive and Just Caribbean; and a Sustainable and Resilient Caribbean.

Eighteen UN agencies contribute to the implementation of the MSDF, with individual UN agencies continuing to focus on areas of their mandate through their respective country programmes and strategies.

In her opening address, the Hon. Marsha Caddle, Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment Barbados, welcomed UN support while echoing that the MSDF remains relevant for responding to regional developmental priorities.

“The MSDF will not be all things to all people and all countries but it can provide an opportunity to address issues that require action, attention and investment at the regional level. Countries are at different stages of development. It [MSDF] gives us a chance to tackle the issues which require a regional approach and with the UN working as One,” Minister Caddle said.

To date, the UN MSDF has mobilised partner governments and other stakeholders around the SDGs. A number of countries’ national development plans are well aligned with the 2030 Agenda. The MSDF has also allowed for strengthened inter-country cooperation and UN mobilisation in responding to disaster relief, recovery and resilience-building in the Caribbean.

A Joint SDG Fund as well as the Caribbean component of the Spotlight Initiative (a programme for tackling family violence and gender-based violence at the national and regional levels) are other examples of UN-government cooperation at work.

Virtual policy networks as well as knowledge sharing through regional trainings and workshops, often in collaboration with CARICOM, the OECS and other regional entities have been key features of MSDF cooperation.

Through the MSDF, the UN remains a committed partner to Caribbean countries as they pursue their national strategic priorities, by achieving the SDGs and delivering on the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Minister Caddle thanked the UN System for continuing to recognize the importance of a regional approach to development.

“Together we are stronger. Together we deliver for the people of the Caribbean to ensure that no one is left behind,” Trebucq said.

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25 Nov

Caribbean Representative M. Alison McLean statement re: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – 25 November

  • 25 November 2019 |

Work on preventing and ending violence against women at the global, regional and national levels shows that there is widespread impunity for sexual violence and rape. UN Women-supported research conducted here in the Caribbean in the past two years reinforced that violence against women and girls (VAWG) including rape is so entrenched and normalised that both men and women have a high tolerance for its manifestations.

Notwithstanding women’s well known and often touted gains in public life and the introduction of laws, policies, and initiatives to promote women’s equality, prevailing socio-cultural attitudes that perpetuate unequal and hierarchical power relations reinforcing notions of female subordination and male domination, mitigate against these gains and in turn fuel VAWG. 

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women Campaign is focusing on rape as a specific form of harm committed against women and girls, in times of peace or war.  The UN System’s 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls activities begin on 25th November under our 2019 global theme: Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!

The UN Women-supported research, which is available for four Caribbean countries to date, shows non-partner sexual violence (NPSV) which includes rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching and sexual harassment, is reported at significantly higher rates than  intimate partner sexual violence and a significant risk factor is being young. 

In Guyana, most women reporting sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) reported being forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to (8 per cent) and nearly as many women reported having sexual intercourse with their partner because they were afraid to refuse (7 per cent). On the other hand, 20 per cent - or 1 in 5 women - in Guyana reported non-partner sexual abuse in their lifetime, with 13 per cent experiencing this abuse before the age of 18.

One-fifth of Jamaican women reported being sexually abused before reaching 18 years of age. Further 1 in 7 reported that their first sexual experience was before the age of 15 years. Under Jamaican law, the age of consent is 16 years old; any sexual intercourse under that age is statutory rape.

The Suriname GBV prevalence survey revealed that the prevalence of NPSV among all women (14 percent) is almost double that of sexual IPV (8 percent). In Trinidad and Tobago, the prevalence of NPSV (21.3%) is almost four times higher than that of sexual IPV (5.0%).

Without reliable and relevant data, it is not possible to adequately treat, reduce and prevent violence against women and girls. Representative for UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean, Ms. Alison McLean has noted that: “UN Women has invested significantly in supporting member states in strengthening capacities to fill the data gaps on violence against women and girls.

Working with regional partners, the Caribbean Development Bank and CARICOM, we developed the CARICOM Prevalence Survey Model.  The CARICOM Model is based on the long-tested global World Health Organization (WHO) model which is considered internationally to be the best practice for national, population-based studies on prevalence data on GBV. This CARICOM model also allows us to capture information on the consequences of GBV for women, their children and families, women’s help-seeking behaviours and risk and protective factors for violence.  It allows in a real way for the voices of women and girls to be heard.”

National-level efforts should seek to de-stigmatize the experience of intimate partner violence and to shift gender norms and roles in order to create a society in which violence against women is openly rejected and firmly addressed.  Information on where women seek help and where they do not should inform how services to support victims should be designed and located. Data on women and girls’ vulnerabilities, partner characteristics and other socio-demographic factors should guide how to prevent and respond to this violence.

The MCO Caribbean Representative has further stressed: “UN Women, along with other UN agencies will be using the data gathered from these surveys to support national efforts to prevent intimate partner violence through school-based and community-based initiatives; including working with men and boys through Batterer Intervention and Prevention programmes; and private sector initiatives that prevent work-related spill overs of family violence to create safe spaces at work”.

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10 Nov

Progress toward sustainable development is seriously off-track

  • 10 November 2019 |

Op-ed by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, first published by the Financial Times (www.FT.com)

 

People around the world are taking to the streets to protest against rising living costs and real or perceived injustice. They feel the economy is not working for them — and in some cases, they are right. A narrow focus on growth, regardless of its true cost and consequences, is leading to climate catastrophe, a loss of trust in institutions and a lack of faith in the future. 

The private sector is a critical part of solving these problems. Businesses are already working closely with the UN to help build a more stable and equitable future, based on the Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 global goals were agreed by all world leaders in 2015 to address challenges including poverty, inequality, the climate crisis, environmental degradation, peace and justice, by a deadline of 2030. 

There has been some progress in the four years since the global goals were adopted. Extreme poverty and child mortality are falling; access to energy and decent work are growing. But overall, we are seriously off-track. Hunger is rising; half the world’s people lack basic education and essential healthcare; women face discrimination and disadvantage everywhere. 

One reason for the faltering progress is the lack of financing. Public resources from governments are simply not enough to fund the eradication of poverty, improve the education of girls and mitigate the impact of climate change. We need private investment to fill the gap, so the UN is working with the financial sector. This is a critical moment for business and finance, and their relationship with public policy. 

First, businesses need long-term investment policies that serve society, not just shareholders. This is starting to happen — some major pension funds are cutting fossil fuels from their portfolios. And more than 130 banks with $47tn in assets have signed up to the Principles for Responsible Banking, designed in collaboration with the UN. They represent an unprecedented commitment to business strategies that align with the global goals, the 2015 Paris Agreement to prevent global temperatures from rising, and banking practices that create shared prosperity. I urge all financial institutions to sign up to this transformation. 

Second, we are finding new ways for the private sector to invest in sustainable growth and development. In October, 30 leaders of multinational companies launched the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Allianceat the UN. Top executives at Allianz and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are among those who have publicly committed to acting as agents of change in their own companies and more widely. They are all already backing major sustainable infrastructure investments including clean, accessible energy projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the use of innovative financial instruments to mobilise billions of dollars for food security and renewable energy. They will now take on an even bigger role in channelling capital towards sustainable development, matching opportunities with investors. 

I hope all business leaders follow their lead, investing in the economy of the future: clean, green growth that provides decent jobs and improves people’s lives for the long-term. Business must move further and faster if we are to raise the trillions of dollars required to meet the global goals. 

Third, we call on business leaders to go beyond investment and push for policy change. In many cases, companies are already leading the way. Sustainability makes good business sense. Consumers themselves are exerting pressure. One investor described sustainable finance as a “megatrend”. But private finance is often battling subsidies for fossil fuel that distort the market and entrenched interests that favour the status quo. Major investors including Aviva warn that subsidies for fossil fuels could decrease the competitiveness of key industries, including in the low carbon economy. Governments lag behind, reluctant to change outdated regulatory and policy frameworks and tax systems. Quarterly reporting cycles discourage long-term investment. Fiduciary duties of investors need updating to include broader sustainability considerations.

We need business leaders to use their enormous influence to push for inclusive growth and opportunities. No one business can afford to ignore this effort, and there is no global goal that cannot benefit from private sector investment. 

It is both good ethics and good business to invest in sustainable, equitable development. Corporate leadership can make all the difference to creating a future of peace, stability and prosperity on a healthy planet.

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01 Nov

‘When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole, pay a price’, UN chief

  • 01 November 2019 |

“Without journalists able to do their jobs in safety, we face the prospect of a world of confusion and disinformation”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned in a statement released ahead of the International Day to End Impunity Against Journalists, which falls on 2 November.

“When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price”, added the UN chief. “Without the ability to protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and contribute to decision-making, is severely hampered”.

Killings and attacks on the rise


A new study from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, underscores the risks that journalists face, showing that almost 90 per cent of those found responsible for the deaths of more than eleven hundred of them, between 2006 and 2018, have not been convicted.

The report, “Intensified Attacks, New Defences”, also notes that killings of journalists have risen by some 18 per cent in the past five years (2014-2018), compared to the previous five-year period.

The deadliest countres for journalists, according to the statistics, are Arab States, where almost a third of the killings took place. The Latin American and Caribbean region (26 per cent), and Asian and Pacific States (24 per cent) are the next most dangerous.

Journalists are ofen murdered for their reporting on politics, crime and corruption, and this is reflected in the study, which reveals that, in the past two years (2017-2018), more than half of journalist fatalities were in non-conflict zones.

In his statement, the Secretary-General noted the rise in the scale and number of attacks on journalists and media workers, as well as incidents that make their work much harder, including “threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them”.

A high-profile example is the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. The case is being followed by independent UN human rights expert Agnès Callamard, among others, who has suggested that too little has been done by the Maltese authorities to investigate the killing.

On Friday, as Haiti continued to face a protracted, violent crisis that has led to the deaths of some forty-two people, and eighty-six injured, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on all of those involved in the violence to refrain from targeting journalists, and respect the freedom of the media to do its job: at least one journalist is among those killed, and nine other reporters have been injured, according to Ms. Bachelet’s Office (OHCHR).

Keep Truth Alive


This year UNESCO has launched the #KeepTruthAlive social media campaign, which draws attention to the dangers faced by journalists close to their homes, highlighting the fact that 93 per cent of those killed work locally, and featuring an interactive map created for the campaign, which provides a vivid demonstration of the scale and breadth of the dangers faced by journalists worldwide.

The Day is being commemorated with a flagship event in Mexico City next week on 7 November – an international seminar entitled “Strengthening regional cooperation to end impunity for crimes and attacks against journalists in Latin America” – and events are also taking place in 15 other countries, including an exhibition of press cartoons, under the headline: “Draw so as not to write them off”, at UN HQ in New York, which honours the memories of French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, murdered in Mali on 2 November 2013.

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