After Davos, UN paves way forward in addressing ‘most pressing global challenges’

Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination Thomas Gass. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

28 January 2015 – On the heels of the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United Nations has reiterated its commitment to leading the charge on development, gender equality and climate issues by including the voices of the global citizenry in the decision-making process and leveraging breakthrough technologies to create more participatory systems.

2015 is set to be a critical year for the UN and its Member States as they confront the imminent deadline for achieving the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDG), lay the foundation of the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) and work to achieve a meaningful global agreement at the end-of-year Paris climate conference in an effort to ensure that no one is left behind.

In addition, the energetic debate around the future SDGs is widely considered to be a chance to reflect on the international community’s successes and failures, and invest in resilience by placing the most vulnerable, especially children, at the centre of the UN’s forward-looking efforts in elaborating a post-2015 agenda. According to the Organization, this means shifting from an agenda that prioritizes the more achievable targets, to a universal agenda that prioritizes tackling vulnerability, by identifying and mitigating risks. This is our collective and ambitious vision for the fight against poverty.

“The new development agenda is about identifying vulnerable groups and risks, mobilising new change-makers, empowering women and building resilience,” affirmed Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Gass.

At the heart of the UN’s efforts, however, lies a critical need to create solidarity movements that connect citizens together across the globe, build resilience in communities and tackle fragility through new partnerships between governments, the private sector and citizens themselves.

To that point, the UN is tapping into new technologies to build and drive movements of young people who are rising up to make their voices heard. Citizen-sparked campaigns fuelled by digital media, for instance, are helping to drive social movements which are ushering a new era of partnerships and political change.

Among the inclusionary campaigns launched by the UN at Davos, UN Women’s HeForShe IMPACT 10X10X10 generated particular enthusiasm as it begins its focus on engaging governments, businesses and universities to make concrete commitments to advance women’s empowerment.

At the same time, other initiatives, such as the #NoLostGeneration campaign, will help direct public attention towards those millions of children affected by the Syria crisis by harnessing breakthrough technologies. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Jordan, for example, partnered with video artist and filmmaker, Chris Milk, to produce Clouds Over Sidra – a virtual reality experience that transports viewers to a Syrian refugee camp. By leveraging breakthrough technologies, such as virtual reality, UNICEF and partners can create solidarity with those who are normally excluded and overlooked, amplifying their voices and explaining their situations in compelling ways.

These partnerships also signify a new shift in communication and the use of technology for development with a focus on creating empathetic immersive experiences and engaging new audiences. It is hoped that projects such as this will add to the discourse, amplifying people’s voices and inspiring leaders to make bold commitments first at Davos and throughout the year.

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