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27 Dec

General Assembly approves $3 billion UN budget for 2020

  • 27 December 2019 |

The UN General Assembly on Friday adopted a budget of $3,073,830,500 for the United Nations to cover the year 2020 .

This is an increase of approximately $8 million on what was initially requested by Secretary-General António Guterres.

It also marks the first time since 1973 that the UN is adopting an annual budget instead of a two-year one.

The General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which covers administrative and budgetary matters, had discussed and approved the budget earlier in the day. The Assembly then moved further to consider and adopt it, based on the committee’s reports.

In congratulating the committee for the successful conclusion of its work, General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande stated that the budget adoption and other major decisions by the committee would be critical to the good functioning of the UN.

He said: "The proposed programme budget for 2020, which provides necessary resources to the UN Secretariat to implement its various tasks, also prepares us well for entry into the Decade of Action for SDG implementation." 

All UN Member States are expected during the coming year to step up efforts towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are designed to bring about a better world for all people while also protecting the natural environment.

The 17 goals include ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality and taking urgent action to combat the effects of climate change.

World leaders agreed the SDGs in 2015 with a deadline of 2030 to achieve them.

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25 Dec

UN chief offers the world wishes for ‘peace and a blessed New Year’

  • 25 December 2019 |

While visiting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres extended wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a blessed New Year. 

“In these turbulent and trying times, we must stand together for peace and harmony”, said the UN chief.  “And that is the spirit of this season”. 

He told the Pontiff that his “vision, guidance and example” reflects this in abundance.

Meeting with the Pope just a few days before Christmas was especially meaningful for Mr. Guterres.

“My deepest thanks to you, your Holiness, and my best wishes, to all those celebrating, for a Christmas in peace and a blessed New Year”, he concluded.

For his part, Pope Francis advocated for building trust and goodwill among people.

"Confidence  in dialogue, in multilateralism, in the role of international organizations, in diplomacy as a tool for comprehension and understanding, is indispensable for building a peaceful world," he said.

Likewise, the head of the Catholic Church considered that  "Christmas, in its authentic simplicity, reminds us that what truly counts in life is love."

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17 Dec

Sexual Harassment affects both women and men and can incur significant social and economic costs in the Jamaican Workplace

  • 17 December 2019 |

Kingston, Jamaica December 2019: UN Women National Private Sector Specialist for the Win-Win: Gender Equality Means Good Business Programme in Jamaica, Dr. Denise Chevannes-Vogel, has underscored the fact that although the majority of victims are women, sexual harassment is experienced by both women and men and is perpetrated regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. “It is unwanted and unwelcome and can result in significant social and economic costs in the Jamaican workplace,” she said.

Dr. Chevannes-Vogel pointed out that sexual harassment leads to an intimidating and hostile work environment in which workers become demotivated, discouraged, emotionally fragile and broken. “They leave and this can result in the cost of having to retrain workers or in very expensive lawsuits,” she noted.

Dr. Chevannes-Vogel was speaking during a “Multimedia Sensitisation Forum for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Private Sector Workplace” on Wednesday (December 11, 2019) hosted under the auspices of the regional programme Win-Win: Gender Equality Means Good Business”a strategic partnership between UN Women, the European Union and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The forum follows recent discussions by a joint parliamentary committee on the proposed Sexual Harassment Act 2019 which seeks to protect all women and men from unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and crude sexual behaviours that affect quality of life by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Almost 50 representatives from private sector organisations, government, civil society and women’s groups, international development partners and trade unions attended the event. The Win-Win programme promotes the economic empowerment of women, recognizing them as beneficiaries and partners of growth and development. In the Caribbean, where the majority of households are headed by single women, women’s economic independence is important to support their families. Sexual harassment can ultimately impact continued employment and ability to earn an income.

In Jamaica, the Win-Win Programme is working with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport through the Bureau of Gender Affairs to develop an awareness and communications campaign around the upcoming Sexual Harassment law in Jamaica.

Senior Director, Bureau of Gender Affairs, Mrs. Sharon Coburn Robinson said members of the public are invited to take part in the process by submitting their contributions to the House of Parliament by 23 December ,“Once the submissions are made the Joint Select Committee will make a determination as to how soon it is heard and how are taken on each sitting.” She said the sittings will be held weekly starting in January 2020 to make sure the legislation is swiftly treated.

source : UN Women Caribbean

 

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10 Dec

Deliver ‘significant results now’, UN General Assembly President tells COP25 climate conference

  • 10 December 2019 |

It is “imperative” that the COP25 climate conference underway in Spain delivers “significant results now”, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), said on Tuesday.

“Science is unequivocal on the urgency to act, both at global and national levels”, he told the conference to address the climate crisis - officially known as the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Mr. Muhammad-Bande recalled the consensus reached through the Paris Agreement to limit the rise in temperature to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and efforts to hold it to 1.5ºC. 

And yet, if current trends in global emissions continue, they will cause further warming; and humans will face increasingly severe and extreme weather events.

“Lands are being degraded. Forests, ecosystems and biodiversity are being lost. Our oceans are facing pollution, acidification and loss of coastal habitats”, he spelled out.

Recurrent climate disasters are becoming global and borderless; causing unprecedented human and socioeconomic costs; and threatening progress in reducing global poverty and improving people’s lives.

Let’s not ‘go down with the ship

Risk reduction measures have the potential to “safeguard up to 280 million people at risk of displacement due to sea level rise”.

“It is our decision: to go down with this ship or to change course immediately”, he underscored. “This is the time to act”.

“We are defined by our actions, and every day we have a moral obligation to take action in favour of the next generation and beyond”, Mr. Muhammad-Bande concluded. “I am confident we will rise to this challenge”.

Nuclear energy solutions

On his first official trip as the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi highlighted the role that nuclear power can play in the global transition to clean energy.

“Variable renewables, such as solar and wind, are vital to the clean energy transition, but they alone cannot meet countries’ growing energy needs”, he maintained, adding that nuclear energy can “provide the continuous, low-carbon power to back up increasing use of renewables”.

Moreover, nuclear power can be “the key that unlocks their full potential by providing flexible support – day or night, rain or shine”, upheld the IAEA chief.

And many States believe that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve sustainable development and meet global climate goals without significant use of nuclear energy.

He pointed out that “nuclear power provides around one-third of the world’s low-carbon electricity and already plays a significant role in mitigating climate change”.

Out of time

“Each year at COP we are told that the window of opportunity could close soon”, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said on the urgency of climate action.

“The window of opportunity is closing now,” she warned. “My message is this. We need your decisions. We need your leadership. We are out of time.”

Action for the most vulnerable

People around the world are being affected by one extreme weather event after another. But refugees, stateless people, and internally displaced often reside in climate change "hotspots", leaving them exposed to secondary displacements, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

So Tuesday saw the timely launch by 12 international organizations of the Alliance for Hydromet Development, agreeing to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to deliver high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems and hydrological and climate services.  

Pointing out that “the science is clear”, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, told COP25 that “ambitious climate action requires countries to be equipped with the most reliable warnings and best available climate information services”.

“The Alliance is the vehicle to collectively scale-up our support to the most vulnerable”, he concluded.

For her part, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Laura Tuck underlined the important role of the Alliance.

“It’s good to see everyone formally coming together through this Alliance and committing to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries in the provision of hydromet and early warning services,” she said. “This will help ensure we are coherent, consistent, and efficient in the way we are supporting countries to prepare for climate risks and protect people.”

COP25 will lay the groundwork for next year’s defining climate change conference, when countries must submit new climate action plans under the Paris Agreement.

 

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05 Dec

Caribbean Member States endorse first-ever Regional Strategic Framework for cooperation with IAEA

  • 05 December 2019 |

From 18 to 20 November 2019, fifteen representatives of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States joined delegates from CARICOM regional organisations at the Agency’s Vienna headquarters to review and endorse its Regional Strategic Framework (RSF) – a platform for aligning IAEA support with States’ current development priorities.

The RSF identifies the primary concerns, opportunities and obstacles associated with nuclear-supported development in the Caribbean, particularly in the fields of agriculture, food safety and security, human health, energy planning, radiation technologies and radiation safety. The document draws attention to not only the benefits of nuclear techniques and technologies, but also to the most commonly-encountered challenges that may prevent or delay the implementation of those technologies. Moreover, the RSF addresses cross-cutting issues on which the success of nuclear applications may depend, notably: communication and outreach, partnership-building and gender mainstreaming, as well as guidance for the subsequent monitoring and evaluation of technical cooperation activities.

The Framework was created following meetings in 2018 and 2019 among stakeholders and decision-makers from IAEA Member States in the Caribbean seeking to work more closely together and to leverage the available resources and capacities in the region. They explored how best to tackle development issues cooperatively, and how to collectively implement nuclear-derived solutions with IAEA assistance, supported by a Regional Strategic Framework that would align Agency support with existing development priorities. The year-long development process included several rounds of regional stakeholder reviews and IAEA expert assessments, which supported the crafting of a coherent and consensus-based list of priorities for the Caribbean.

“The Regional Strategic Framework represents a significant step in developing future programming in the Caribbean region. As such, it will serve as a framework within which future [technical cooperation] projects can be developed, implemented and monitored, thereby promoting stronger cooperation amongst regional stakeholders,” said Luis Longoria, Director, IAEA Technical Cooperation Division of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Also addressing the RSF review meeting, were high-level representatives, Ambassador Lourdes Victoria-Kruse, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic, and Marieta García Jordán, Minister Counselor and Alternate Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN Office in Vienna. They highlighted the close, cooperative ties between IAEA-CARICOM Member States and the intergovernmental Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Sciences and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL) through which most IAEA Member States in the Latin America and the Caribbean have committed to promote the use of nuclear techniques for peace and development.

Meeting participants included National Liaison Officers and National Liaison Assistants from eight IAEA Member States - Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. They were joined by representatives from the Caribbean Agriculture Health and Food Safety Agency, the Caribbean Agricultural Development Institute, Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

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