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Press Release: Grammy Award Winning Singer/Songwriter and Actress, Ashanti, joins Leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Norway, and the UN to help Beat Plastic Pollution.


H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa


Making the United Nations relevant to all people

Global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies

Grammy Award Winning Singer/Songwriter and Actress, Ashanti, joins Leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Norway, and the UN to help Beat Plastic Pollution.

President of UN General Assembly, Environment Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, and Permanent Representative of Norway announce ‘Play it Out’ concert to tackle plastic pollution on 1st June 2019 in Antigua.

New York, 30 April – The President of the UN General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa, today joined Molwyn Joseph, Environment Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway, to welcome special guest Ashanti as a headliner at the upcoming ‘Play it Out’ concert to tackle plastic pollution.

“At the heart of my Presidency is a firm belief that multilateral solutions, involving a diverse group of stakeholders, are the only sustainable and efficient way to deliver results,” noted President Espinosa. “The challenge of plastics is one that spans the entire globe…every region, every ocean, every environment is impacted. We must work on this together. Play it Out purposefully brings together Member States, the private sector, philanthropic groups and individuals, and focuses this combined energy on a joint solution.”

“We have all seen the images of turtles choking on straws, or birds wrapped in plastic, and it’s devastating,” noted Ashanti. “But these images, while emotional, don’t capture how massive this problem really is. This concert is about raising awareness, it’s about educating people to the seriousness of the situation.”

Up to 15 million tons of plastic litter are dumped into the ocean each year. Most of this has the potential to persist in the ocean for long periods, to travel with ocean currents across long distances, and to accumulate in habitats far from its point of origin. In fact, while most plastics are designed to last, their breakdown has been shown to result in microplastics that have been found everywhere from the insides of marine wildlife to the deepest parts of the ocean to the tops of mountains.

Along with Ashanti, the concert, which aims to Play it Out 2 Phase it Out, will be co-headlined by Machel Montano, the so-called ‘Soca King of the World’.

Joining the pair will be a lineup of artists and performers covering different regions, demographics and music styles. They include American indie-rock band St. LuciaBomba Estéreo, an electric-duo hailing from Colombia; Nico & Vinz, an R&B act from Norway; Rocky Dawuni, Ghana’s premiere reggae artist and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador; and Grammy nominated German DJ/producer Robin Schulz. The event will also feature top local artists, including Ricardo Drue and Claudette Peters. Antigua’s Kanneh-Masons, who recently performed at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, will also perform.  

Additionally, the concert will feature an array of speakers including dignitaries, policymakers, celebrities, and representatives from the scientific, philanthropic and academic communities. This includes actor, co-founder of Lonely Whale, and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, Adrian Grenier.

“We are thrilled to have this amazing lineup of artists and speakers,” said Minister Joseph. “Being the first country in the region to ban single-use plastic, Antigua and Barbuda is proud to host this event and we hope that this festival will bring international awareness to the harmful effects of plastics to our oceans.” 

“It’s shocking how prevalent plastic litter in our oceans really is,” stated Mona Juul, Norway’s Ambassador to the United Nations. “And yet, people are taking action, and we see that very clearly in the Caribbean. Norway’s hope is that this concert will not only highlight the problem but showcase the opportunities for clean and healthy oceans. Norway believes that we need a new global agreement to combat marine litter. We hope that the concert will be a platform to also move that agenda forward. It is also an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how important regional cooperation is for contributing to solving this growing problem.”

The concert, set for 1 June in Antigua, will expect to see an audience of up to 20,000 people attend live, with thousands more following online at http://webtv.un.org/.

“Plastics have revolutionized our world, offering affordability and convenience, and no one disputes that,” stressed President Espinosa. “But poor consumption and production patterns, the lack of environmentally sounds waste management systems, and use of single-use plastics, is devastating our ecosystems, and our own health and well-being. Our campaign, of which this concert is a part, will hopefully bring about change in behaviors from producers and consumers alike.”

Hashtags: #PlayitOut #BeatPlasticPollution


The ‘Play it Out’ concert is part of the Campaign Against Plastic Pollution, launched by the President of the UN General Assembly in December of 2018, and is aimed at tackling plastic waste both on the global level as well as within the UN itself. The concert will be hosted by the Government of Antigua and supported by the Government of Norway. Other campaign supporters include the Government of Monaco, the Government of Qatar, UN Environment, UNOPS, TKG | The Krim Group, and Lonely Whale.


“We can no longer afford the cost of single-use plastic, on our health, oceans and ecosystems. Initiatives like ‘Play it Out’ are important because they galvanize people, communities and leaders to take the kind of transformative action we need to secure the future for people and planet.” - Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director, UN Environment

"We are excited to be able to support the UN efforts to fight against pollution in our oceans. Coming from Norway we have always had such a close relationship with the water and marine life. We want to make sure we can preserve and improve the quality of our oceans for future generations." - Nico and Vinz

“Since 2017, Bomba Estéreo has been working on the campaign #SiembraConciencia to create awareness for environmental issues with fans around the world. We believe that change must come from individuals, not politicians. When people change small habits, it can reduce a huge impact on the earth. We’re 7 billion. Any small change in our daily habits is enormous. We also work on promoting conservation for Colombia’s most vulnerable ecosystems. We are currently creating a song with Parley for the Oceans based on whale sounds. So, we’re very pleased to be part of this event to help spread this essential message!” - Bomba Estéreo

“Plastics or plastic particles have been found everywhere from the Mariana Trench to the inside of whales to the tops of the Pyrenees; clearly this is a global problem that needs to be addressed. St. Lucia is very excited to lend our voice to the cause and Play it Out 2 Phase it Out.” - St. Lucia

“As a musician, my main occupation is creation, which means you start looking at the environment and nature around you. I wrote a children’s book called Boy Boy and the Magic Drum about Trinidad in which I pointed out that our nation has been recycling for over 150 years by turning dirty oil drums into steel drums for music. I have also become vegan and meditate to have a healthier relationship with the environment. It is also challenging to find a way to do carnival in a responsible manner while keeping the culture alive. This is why I am involved in projects like this and my music brings a message which I believe is positive and inspirational.” - Machel Montano

“We consume plastic at a rate that is almost hard to imagine… up to a trillion plastic bags a year! And that’s just the bags, what about all of the other items that are out there, floating in our oceans or clogging our streams. I hate to think of what will happen if we continue on this course. This concert is about getting people and companies and countries on board; it’s about changing how we produce and consume; it’s about saving the world around us.” - Robin Schulz

“We are at a decisive moment in the history of humanity where we need action across cultures, peoples and nations to address the urgent issue of plastic pollution. As musicians and players of instruments we have a unique and pivotal role to amplify this urgency and spur people to immediate action.”  Rocky Dawuni

“Our work to put an end to plastic pollution is critical now more than ever, which is why I am supporting the President of the General Assembly's concert and its message of collaboration and its spotlight on tangible solutions. We have seen excellent examples of collaboration in the Caribbean where regional governments, the UN, and civil society groups have worked together to ban single-use plastics. I look forward to celebrating what we can achieve together alongside the President of the General Assembly, the UN Environment and my organization Lonely Whale." – Adrian Grenier









For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Mark Seddon, Media Adviser to the President of the General Assembly, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Mobile: 917 378 1659; 

Monica Grayley, Spokesperson to the President of the General Assembly, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Telephone: +1 212 963 6988.

For questions related to the 'Play It Out' Concert, please contact:

Carl Mercer, Campaign Adviser, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Mobile: +1-347-652-5933

Caribbean Governments Focus on Repositioning Countries Towards Achieving Sustainable Development

17 May 2019- Ministers and senior government officials from across the Caribbean have called for repositioning vulnerable, indebted Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on the path to sustainable development. This, during the 19th meeting of the Monitoring Committee of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

“our focus continues to be on building the necessary skills and institutional capacity, so that those of you who have responsibility for implementing sustainable development at home are better positioned to meeting the challenges of integrated sectoral planning and policy coherence which are essential factors to the successful implementation of Agenda 2030”.

Raúl García-Buchaca
Deputy Executive Secretary for Management and Programme Analysis of the ECLAC

Welcoming the Member Countries and Associate Members of ECLAC, the Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Dennis Moses, noted that “Trinidad and Tobago had been the beneficiary of a range of technical cooperation activities over the current biennium. Indeed, we have found a reliable and trusted partner in the UN ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean. We have also come to rely on ECLAC as a subregional think-tank, which facilitates increased contact and cooperation among us, the membership”.

The current Chair of the CDCC, Minister with Responsibility for External Affairs of Saint Lucia, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, echoed these words, and further underscored that “important take-aways from the sessions this week include the importance of institutional, operational and policy coherence for more effective integrated sustainable development planning; the value of a strong network of national focal points in this regard; the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; we find the best fit for our own national circumstances, and we will have to find innovative ways to strengthen our capacity for data capture and analysis to meet the monitoring and reporting obligations of the 2030 Agenda”.

To reposition vulnerable, indebted Caribbean SIDS on the path to sustainable development, senior government representatives, economists, statisticians, non-governmental organization officials and civil society leaders discussed the importance of building stronger synergies between the agendas of SIDS and SDG implementation.

Highlighting the efforts undertaken by ECLAC’s subregional headquarters for the Caribbean in this regard over the past twelve months, Director of ECLAC Caribbean, Diane Quarless, underscored that “the Port of Spain team remains enthusiastic and committed to providing targeted and substantive support to meet the specific needs of our constituents in the Caribbean. We have completed another year of initiatives in research, policy analysis, provision of technical assistance and building institutional capacity to advance the sustainable development process in the sub-region”.

full story on ECLAC website

UN launches stamps to commemorate the importance of bees on the international day

#WorldBeeDay #SavetheBees

The United Nations Postal Administration of the Department of Operational Support will celebrate World Bee Day on 20 May 2019 by issuing three stamp sheets showcasing bees and flowers.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution declaring 20 May annually as World Bee Day. The resolution was co-sponsored by 115 Member States, as a result of Slovenia’s initiative in 2017 to raise public awareness about the importance of bees and other pollinators and the need to protect their natural habitat. Carla Mucavi, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liaison Office in New York, commented:

“Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in increasing crop yields and promoting food security and nutrition. Without pollinators, FAO cannot achieve a world without hunger and World Bee Day recognizes the importance of these tiny helpers and will increase awareness of the need to protect them.”

Close to three-quarters of the world’s crop species depend, at least in part, on bees and other pollinators, conforming to the major characteristics of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, feeding people (SDG 2) and nurturing the planet (SDG 15). Pollinators contribute to building resilient livelihoods and creating new jobs, for poor smallholder farmers in particular, satisfying the growing demand for healthy, nutritious food as well as non-food products [SDGs 1 and 9]. The bees being featured are Cadeguala (diphaglossine bees), Bombus (bumblebee) and Melissodes (long-horned bees). The photographs are provided by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center of the United States Geological Survey. The stamp sheets are designed by Rorie Katz of UNPA.

Check out the stamps below.


For more detailed information about World Bee Day, please visit: https://www.worldbeeday.org/ and about protecting bees, please visit: https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/bees/ #WorldBeeDay #SavetheBees

To purchase these stamps, as well as other UNPA products, please visit unstamps.org. You can also visit the UNPA stamp shops in New York, Geneva and Vienna. The stamp can be used to mail postcards and letters around the world, provided they are sent from the UN headquarters in New York, Geneva or Vienna respectively.


Press statement by UNSDG for Latin America and the Caribbean on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

PANAMA CITY, 17 May 2019—In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant progress in protecting and recognizing the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sexual characteristics. This progress is worthy of celebration and brings us closer to the path laid out by the ambitious Sustainable Development Agenda, which is anchored by the principle of leaving no one behind.

Some of the region’s most important achievements in the promotion of rights include the recognition of civil unions between people of the same sex1 , equal marriage2 and the recognition of gender identity for trans people3 . In terms of protection, some countries in the region have made progress in adopting anti-discrimination laws, due to the evidence regarding the prevalence of discrimination, violence and hate crimes experienced by people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

On the other hand, the Resolution to address the causes of disparities in access and use of health services by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, approved in September 2013 by the Ministers of Health of the Americas, recognizes that stigma and discrimination have real and adverse effects on the health of LGBTI people4 .

While these advances are important, we must recognize that progress has not been the same in all countries and there are still important challenges around ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. In the region, nine countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, with penalties that include life imprisonment.

Prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people have a broad impact on human rights and public health, including the ability of LGBTI people to access justice, protection, healthcare, education, work and other rights inherent to citizens.

Laws that criminalize consensual relationships between adults of the same sex, that impose discriminatory restrictions on public discussion of the rights of LGBTI persons or the work of LGBTI organizations and human rights defenders, violate international human rights standards. There is no progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while there are citizens whose rights and opportunities are restricted.

Public prejudice against LGBTI people can never justify such laws, nor restrictive measures. Rather, it requires states to take specific measures to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination, to foster a context of respect and to overcome such prejudices through public education.

Recently, the Inter-American Human Rights System reiterated, through the Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, that sexual orientation and gender identity are categories protected by the American Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, any rule, act or discriminatory practice based on these characteristics of people is prohibited.

The defense of human rights, without discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is one of the pillars of the United Nations. Under this mandate, the United Nations Sustainable Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean calls on States to comply with their human rights obligations, without any type of discrimination.

1 Chile and Ecuador 

2 Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and some states in Mexico

3 Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia

4Resolution CD52/18: Addressing the causes of disparities in health service access and utilization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons.

Message on World Press Freedom Day 2019

A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.

No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.

This is especially true during election seasons -- the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.

Yet while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred.

Civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate.

And with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harssasment against journalists, including women.

I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity.

According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018.

Hundreds are imprisoned.

When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.

Thank you.

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