Volume 17, No.04 - April 2013
Global dialogue on development
A major online campaign has been launched asking youth to share their ideas and thoughts on how science, technology, innovation and culture can help shape a sustainable world
Aimed at bringing the voices of youth into the important discussions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) ahead of its annual meeting in July, and to engage young people on how STI and culture can facilitate change, ECOSOC gathered youth representatives, young corporate leaders and opinion leaders for a Youth Forum Event on 27 March.
A few days prior to this event, the Council kicked off a major online campaign, “Innovate Your Future”, by creating a forum on Facebook to gather input from all over the world. Hashem Bajwa, CEO of DE-DE, the company behind Thundeclap, on 27 March also announced a brand new ECOSOC page on their platform launched to seek worldwide support to help empower youth and shape future innovators.
Featuring a number of planned online and offline activities highlighting this year’s main theme on “Science, technology and innovation (STI), and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs”, the campaign on Facebook and Thunderclap will run through 1 July when world leaders come together for the ECOSOC annual meeting in Geneva. The goal is to help shape decisions and include the voices of youth at this important event.
By signing up on Thunderclap, the online community can show that they believe that all young people should get a solid foundation in the sciences and that they want to help give youth the power to transform societies, improve economies and sustain the planet.
The Thunderclap message will be released on 1 July, asking Member States at ECOSOC to help empower youth to accomplish this.
Sign up on Thunderclap today. Innovate your future. Be part of the now.
Show your support on Thunderclap:
Share your ideas on ECOSOC’s Facebook Forum: http://bit.ly/InnovateYourFuture
Follow @UNECOSOC and #InnovateYourFuture on Twitter
The tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF10) will take place in Istanbul on 8-19 April
Focusing this year on economic development and forests, the meeting will assess the overall progress made on the implementation of the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on all types of Forests as well as the achievement of its four Global Objectives on Forests, which are critical components of the work of the UNFF.
Being instrumental in providing leadership on sustainable forest management policies and practices, the Forum will in addition to technical and political deliberations on the many important issues on the agenda, also feature the winners of the 2013 Forest Heroes Award, the International Forest Film Festival, and the International Forest Photograph Awards.
For more information:
DESA News feature article “Forests – sustaining livelihoods of people worldwide”
United Nations Forum on Forests 10
The Commission on Population and Development will meet in New York on 22-26 April
The Population Commission was established by the Economic and Social Council in 1946 and later renamed to the Commission on Population and Development in 1994. Its primary role is to follow-up on the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and as a functional Commission assisting the Council, to monitor, review and assess the implementation of the Programme of Action at the national, regional and international levels.
The Commission is composed of 47 Member States elected by the Economic and Social Council for a period of four years on the basis of geographic distribution. Since 1994, the Commission meets once a year.
The theme this year will focus on “New trends in migration: demographic aspects”
For more information:
DESA News feature article – “Focusing on new trends in migration”
46th Session of the Commission on Population and Development
The first-ever International Day of Forests was celebrated worldwide on 21 March
For centuries forests have been a source of food, fibre, livelihoods, resources and water. They are also central to combating climate change, but until today, and despite a multitude of special days honouring or commemorating key elements of human life, there has never been a globally recognized day for paying homage to the world’s forests.
That has changed now that the United Nations General Assembly has designated 21 March as the International Day of Forests “to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests”.
In a message for the new International Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “By proclaiming the International Day of Forests, the United Nations has created a new platform to raise awareness about the importance of all types of forest ecosystems to sustainable development.”
“On this first International Day of Forests,” he continued, “I urge Governments, businesses and all sectors of society to commit to reducing deforestation, preventing forest degradation, reducing poverty and promoting sustainable livelihoods for all forest-dependent peoples.”
Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, notes that “forests are inextricably linked to our social and economic value, to our bonds with nature and the health of ecosystems. Hence, we cannot think of them in isolation. It is up to us to make these connections and establish the policies, laws and institutions required. It is up to us to implement sustainable forest management.”
Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, says: “The first United Nations International Day of Forests is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate our unique relationship to forests and trees.” She continues: “This is the day for the whole world to celebrate not only the gifts that forests and trees provide us, but also to unsung heroes, those who make a difference for your forests, your trees and your communities. Find them among you and thank them.”
The International Day of Forests comes a little more than two weeks before national ministers convene in Istanbul, Turkey, from 8-19 April for the tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests. The Forum has been instrumental in providing leadership on sustainable forest management policies and practices. In addition to technical and political deliberations on the many important issues on the agenda, the session will also feature the winners of the 2013 Forest Heroes Award, the International Forest Film Festival, and the International Forest Photograph Awards.
For more information:
International Day of Forests
To mark the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day and the moment of the Equinox, Nikhil Seth, Director of DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development, rang the Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 20 March
The Equinox is the time when the Northern and Southern Hemispheres get the same amount of sunlight and days and nights are equal in duration. “It conjures a vision of equality and balance in nature,” said Mr Seth. “We need this equilibrium between human economic and social aspirations as well as the Earth’s carrying capacity and ecological boundaries,” he stressed.
He sounded the bell at precisely 7:02 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, when the Sun started to cross directly over the Earth’s equator, and described the moment of the Equinox as a time for reflection and introspection.
“It reminds us to care for our people and our planet – both under severe stress. Awareness of these pressures and a determination to act to alleviate pain and suffering, to address human deprivation and the environmental crisis, have never been greater,” he said.
“The greatest challenge that humankind is facing is how to build an equitable and balanced economy in a world of finite resources,” he added.
The Japanese Peace Bell was presented to the United Nations in June 1954 by the United Nations Association of Japan. It was cast from coins collected by people from 60 different countries including children, and housed in a typically Japanese structure, resembling a Shinto shrine, made of cypress wood.
It has become a tradition to ring the bell twice a year: on the first day of Spring, at the Vernal Equinox, and on 21 September to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. In 2002, the General Assembly set 21 September as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.
For more information: UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
The intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development goals (SDGs) called for in the Rio+20 Outcome Document convened its first meeting in the UN General Assembly Hall in New York on 14-15 March
The meeting commenced with opening remarks by General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Secretary-General stressed the urgency of the OWG’s task.
“The MDGs have united the world and inspired action, Mr. Ban said. “We must do our utmost to focus attention and accelerate progress.” He said that the focus of the Goals, the eradication of poverty and promotion of health, education, as well as economic and social development, would retain their prime importance and would need to be addressed in the sustainable development goals. “But the sustainable development goals must go further to integrate more comprehensively environmental sustainability, he pointed out, because, “Humanity is pressing hard against the planet’s ecological boundaries.”
He expressed the hope that the multiple strands of the post-2015 process would come together and culminate in 2015 in the adoption of a unified and coherent global agenda: “One balanced, aspirational set of sustainable development goals should lie at the core of such a development agenda.”
The OWG is mandated to submit a report, containing a proposal for sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action to the 68th Session of the General Assembly, which would start in September 2013. By late 2014, General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić said, “Member States should be in a position to promulgate the Sustainable Development Goals–the single-most important element of the post-2015 agenda.”
Various Member States expressed their views on different aspects of the OWG and SDGs. Many underlined that the process of developing SDGs should be an open and transparent one, and most stressed the importance of integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Their statements can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP).
Representatives from major groups also took the floor, emphasizing that the Rio+20 Conference highlighted the importance of engaging all stakeholders and major groups in the sustainable development process going forward. Members of the OWG were called on to design multi-stakeholder mechanisms to ensure participation, transparency and accountability.
The meeting was webcast and a recording of it can be viewed on the SDKP.
For more information:
Statements on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP)
Recording of webcasts available on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform