Universal primary education as a tool to eradicate poverty

Asia –Pacific Regional meeting on the theme “Education and the Millennium Development Goals” will be held on 24 March in Jomtien, Thailand

In conjunction with the 10th High-Level Meeting on Education for All (EFA), the meeting will be co-hosted by the Government of Thailand and DESA, in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The meeting is part of the preparatory process for the 2011 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education”.

A broad cross section of regional stakeholders will gather to discuss trends, challenges, and policies and programmes on education in Asia and the Pacific and their impact on the achievement of the Millennium development Goals (MDGs).

Panelists and experts will examine approaches to use universal primary education as a powerful driver to eradicate poverty, reduce child and maternal mortality, promote gender equality, and ensure sustainable development. A special session will also showcase best practices and new initiatives from across the region.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/newfunct/amr2011thailand.shtml

ECOSOC decided on dates and topics of its forthcoming meetings

The Economic and Social Council held its 2011 organizational session from 15-18 February in New York

During the session, the Council adopted a number of decisions pertaining to the dates of its forthcoming meetings, contained in document E/2011/L.1. The Council decided that its 2011 High-level Spring Meeting with the BWIs, WTO and UNCTAD will be held from 10-11 March 2011.

The Council also decided that its substantive session for 2011 will be held from 4-29 July in Geneva, as follows: high-level segment, from 4 to 8 July (a.m.); the dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions, on 8 July (p.m.); the coordination segment, from 11 – 14 July (a.m.), the operational activities segment, from 14 July (p.m.) to 18 July (a.m.), the humanitarian affairs segment from 19-21 July; the general segment, from 22-28 July; and the closing of the session on 29 July.

The Council also decided that the 2011 operational activities segment will be devoted to the progress on and implementation of General Assembly resolutions 62/208 and relevant follow-up resolutions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

The Council also adopted decision E/2011/L.2 appointing the United States representative to the Council and the Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.

The Council decided to postpone decisions pertaining to the themes of its 2011 humanitarian affairs segment; and the item on regional cooperation, to a later date.

During the session, the Council heard a number of briefings, including on progress in implementing General Assembly resolution 64/289 on system-wide coherence by the Deputy Secretary-General, the Executive Director of UN-Women, and the Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA.

On the “World Economic Situation and Prospects 2011” a briefing was held by the Director, Development Policy and Analysis Division, DESA and on the global food prices by FAO, WFP, IFAD and the coordinator of the UN system’s High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. Regarding the UN System Chief Executives Board (CEB), the audience was informed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, DESA.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/

Debt relief and market access to address poverty

Commission for Social Development concluded its 49th session held in New York from 9-18 February

The Commission for Social Development wrapped up its 49th session by approving without a vote five draft resolutions calling for wide-ranging steps, from support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the upcoming review of the action plan on ageing to improving the lot of youth, persons with disabilities and families.

Three of the five texts recommended specific action by the Economic and Social Council. By the terms of the resolution on the social dimensions of NEPAD, the Council, concerned that Africa is the only continent not on track to achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and deeply concerned how the recent economic, food and energy crises and climate change may hinder Africa’s social development objectives, would urge continued support of measures such as debt relief, improved market access, official development assistance (ODA) and technology transfer to address poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Further to that text, the Economic and Social Council would encourage all development partners to implement the principles of aid effectiveness and NEPAD into their development assistance programmes, and encourage the international community to support African countries in addressing climate change through financial and technological resources and capacity-building to support adaptation and mitigation.

The Council would also encourage African countries and their development partners to put people at the centre of Government development action and to secure core investment spending in health, education and social safety nets.

A draft on preparation for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family would have the Economic and Social Council urge Governments to view 2014 as a target year for national policies and strategies to improve the well-being of families. The Council would ask the Commission to consider several themes to guide preparation of the Year, including family poverty and social exclusion, ensuring work-family balance, and advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity, and to review preparations as part of its multi-year programme of work until 2014.

By a text on further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and mainstreaming disability in the development agenda, approved as orally revised, the Council would call upon Governments and United Nations bodies and agencies to include disability issues and persons with disabilities as they reviewed progress towards achieving the Millennium targets and expedite efforts to include in their assessment the extent to which persons with disabilities would be able to benefit from efforts to achieve the Goals. The Council would also call upon Member States to enable persons with disabilities to participate as agents and beneficiaries of development.

While welcoming the Special Rapporteur’s work on disability and noting his report, the Council would ask the Special Rapporteur to boost awareness of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, and the Standard Rules; and promote the mainstreaming of disability issues in development programmes and strategies at the national, regional and international levels.

It also asked the Special Rapporteur to contribute to the preparation of the high-level meeting of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly and incorporate the priorities of the international community in strengthening efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development efforts. It expressed its concern at the insufficient resources for the Special Rapporteur and asked him to submit an annual report on his activities in implementing the present resolution at the Commission’s fiftieth session.

With regard to the resolution, the European Union regretted that compromises could not have been achieved in all aspects of the text. It believed attention should be paid to all vulnerable groups, such as women and girls, and supported the inclusion of references to gender perspective in the text. It also favoured the extension of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate until 2014.

By a fourth text, on policies and programmes involving youth, the Commission urged Member States to work with youth-led organizations and stakeholders to implement the World Programme of Action for Youth as well as consider including youth representatives in their delegations at relevant discussions of United Nations bodies.

It called upon Member States to promote the well-being of youth by developing effective national policies and programmes that addressed youth poverty and unemployment, and support the creation and functioning of independent youth councils and junior parliaments. It also called on donors to contribute to the United Nations Youth Fund to expedite implementation of the action programme.

Further to that text, the Commission asked the Secretary-General to strengthen the United Nations Programme on Youth within existing resources of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, so as to meet the increased demands of the programme to support, evaluate and review youth development.

By a fifth draft, on modalities for the second review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, the Commission endorsed the timeline for carrying out the second review of the Madrid Plan of Action and invited Member States to identify actions they had taken since the first review, with the aim of presenting the information to the regional commissions in 2012.

It encouraged those commissions to keep aiding the review and appraisal process through several activities, such as promoting the networking and sharing of experiences and helping Governments gather and analyse information. It asked the United Nations system to keep supporting Member States by providing technical assistance for capacity-building.

It also asked the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Commission’s fiftieth session that would analyse the preliminary findings of the second review and appraisal exercise as it identified prevalent and emerging issues, and to submit a report to the Commission’s fifty-first session, to be held in 2013, that would envelope the conclusion of the second review and appraisal process.

Also during the meeting, the Commission adopted the draft report of its forty-ninth session and the provisional agenda of its fiftieth session. It took note of the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the resolution on promoting social integration; his report on poverty eradication; the Secretariat’s note on emerging issues: social protection; the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development; as well as his note on the nomination of members of the UNRISD Board.

After closing the session, the Commission opened its fiftieth session to elect its Bureau, re-electing by acclamation Jorge Valero Briceño as Chair, and Olisa Cifligu (Albania), Susanne Fries-Gaier (Germany), Eduardo Menez (Philippines) and Najla Abdelrahman (Sudan) as Vice-Chairs.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/csocd/2011.html

Adoption of forest resolution and launch of Forest 2011

9th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF9) was held from 24 January – 4 February in New York

Adoption of forest resolution and launch of Forest 2011 Government delegates, members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), and representatives from intergovernmental organizations and major groups gathered at the 9th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF9) from 24 January – 4 February in New York. During the High-level Ministerial Segment, the International Year of Forests (Forests 2011) was launched at the General Assembly Hall; four Ministerial roundtables were held, as well as a dialogue with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.

The main theme of the session was forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication. This included issues of community-based forest management, social development and indigenous and other local and forest-dependent communities, as well as social and cultural aspects. The session also assessed progress made on the implementation of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests and towards the achievement of the four global objectives on forests.

The key outcomes from the session were the adoption of the resolution on Forests for People, Livelihoods and Poverty Eradication and the Ministerial Declaration.

The resolution captured essential elements to achieving sustainable development, including recognizing the sustainable management of all types of forests as a critical means to eradicate poverty, significantly reduce deforestation, halt the loss of forest biodiversity and land and resource degradation, improve food security, and access to safe drinking water and affordable energy, including development of sustainable alternative energy sources and improved energy efficiency and productive agricultural land. The resolution also called for particular consideration for local livelihoods.

Ministers considered the International Year of Forests, as a landmark opportunity to raise awareness and strengthen political commitment and action worldwide, and agreed to transmit the Declaration to the Rio+20 Conference as the contribution of the UNFF.

They recognized that forests are crucial for sustainable development and the achievement of the IADGs including the MDGs, and have significant contribution in addressing the global challenges related to food security and agriculture, energy, water, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, combating desertification and land degradation, conservation of biodiversity, watershed protection and disaster risk reduction. They stressed the need to reverse current deforestation trend that causes 13 million hectares of forest loss each year.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/forests/session.html

Launch of the International Year of Forests (Forests 2011)

The International Year of Forests was officially launched, as part of the High level Segment, on the morning of 2 February in the General Assembly hall in New York. The event was extremely well attended, with between 500-600 attendees from Member States, major groups, Collaborative Partnership on Forests members, and other major stakeholders.

The ceremony was presided over by H.E. Mr Joseph Deiss, President of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly. High-level speakers were interspersed with film clips from the winning films of the International Forest Film festival comprised the ceremony.

A video message from Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon opened the ceremony, recognizing the importance of the International Year of Forests and the role that forests play in the environment, the global economy and the well-being of people all over the world.

Speaking as an official emissary of President Paul Kagame, H.E. Mr. Stanislas Kamanzi, Minister of Environment and Lands, Rwanda, announced his country’s border-to-border landscape restoration initiative (long term target by 2035, forest restoration action plan by 2015).

International Year of ForestsThe ceremony also featured the premiere of two films. The first was a short animated Public Service Announcement, showcasing the importance of forests in our daily lives. The second film premiered at the ceremony was a short film by International Filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, titled “Of Forests and Men,” narrated by UN Goodwill Ambassador Edward Norton. The films are now available on the official Forests 2011 website.

The ceremony closed with “Felix & Friends”, a Plant-for-the-Planet Children’s Initiative, presented by Plant-for-the-Planet’s 13-year-old founder Mr. Felix Finkbeiner. The initiative called everyone, both children and adults, to commit to planting 1 trillion trees worldwide, or 150 trees per person. Mr. Finkbeiner was joined at the podium by H.E. Mr. Deiss at the end to perform the “Stop Talking, Start Planting” message.

For more information: www.un.org/forests

General Assembly President H. E. Mr. Joseph Deiss: Webcast

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: Video message

Short animated Public Service Announcement

International Filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand: Short film

Plant-for-the-Planet Children’s Initiative: Felix & Friends

International Year of Forests Activities

In addition to the launch ceremony, International Year of Forests events took place throughout the two week session of the ninth session of UNFF9.

In an outreach effort directed to both everyone on the UN grounds and the greater New York City area, the Forests 2011 logo was projected onto the side of the Secretariat building on the night of 3 February, the second day of the high level ministerial segment. The logo was projected throughout the night, visible even from Queens.

All 11 winners of the International Forest Film Festival were screened at the North Lawn Building during the second week of UNFF9. Some directors of the winning films also attended their screenings to introduce their films and provide a brief question-and-answer session afterwards. Short clips of the winning films are now available on the Forest Film Festival website.

International Year of ForestsThe ceremony also featured the premiere of two films. The first was a short animated Public Service Announcement, showcasing the importance of forests in our daily lives. The second film premiered at the ceremony was a short film by International Filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, titled “Of Forests and Men,” narrated by UN Goodwill Ambassador Edward Norton. The films are now available on the official Forests 2011 website.

The International Year of Forests team also organized a video message program for the second day of the High Level ministerial segment. Working in coordination with the Department of Public Information and UNTV, ministers and high-level members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests gave short video messages on the International Year of Forests. These messages will be edited and then posted on the Forests 2011 website.

Member states also held their own celebrations for the International Year of Forests. The United States Forestry Service held a reception at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, both Croatia and Turkey held photo exhibitions.

For more information: www.forestfilmfestival.org

Financial support for Major Groups for Rio 2012

DESA was awarded a €350,000 grant by the European Commission for supporting Major Groups and global civil society preparation and engagement for Rio 2012. The grant will ensure informed, enhanced and broadened participation of civil society representatives, including the private sector, in the Rio 2012 preparatory process and the Conference itself.

For more information: uncsd2012@un.org

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