60 Ways the United Nations Makes a Difference


31 Protecting the ozone layer

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have been instrumental in highlighting the damage caused to Earth's ozone layer. As a result of a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, the world's Governments are phasing out chemicals that have caused the depletion of the ozone layer, replacing them with safer alternatives. The effort will spare millions of people from the increased risk of contracting skin cancer due to additional exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

32 Seeking a global solution to climate change

Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. The United Nations has been at the forefront in assessing the science and forging a political solution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which brings together 2,000 leading climate change scientists, issues comprehensive scientific assessments every five or six years: in 2007, it concluded with certainty that climate change was occurring and that human activities were a primary cause. The 192 members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are negotiating a long-term agreement that would both guide countries in reducing emissions that contribute to climate change and help countries adapt to its effects. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and other UN agencies have been at the forefront in raising awareness.

33Clearing landmines

The United Nations is leading an international effort to clear landmines in some 30 countries ?including Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Mozambique and the Sudan ?that still kill and maim thousands of innocent people every year. The UN also works to protect people from danger, help victims to become self-sufficient and assist countries to destroy stockpiled landmines.

34Providing food to the neediest

The World Food Programme, the world's largest humanitarian agency, reaches on average 90 million hungry people in 80 countries every year, including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people. WFP food aid is designed to meet the special needs of women and children, those most often affected by hunger. School feeding projects provide free lunches or take-away meals to more than 17 million schoolchildren ?with each meal costing just 19 U.S. cents. The agency's logistical capacity spans the technological spectrum, from loading food onto donkeys and yaks to airlifts to satellite networks to monitor deliveries. Over the past four decades, WFP has provided 78.3 million metric tons of food aid to nearly 1.4 billion people in most of the world's poorest countries, an investment of $33.5 billion.

35Fighting hunger

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) leads long-term global efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum, where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO also helps developing countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all.

36Preventing overfishing

Sixteen per cent of the world's fish stocks are overexploited, and 8?per cent have become significantly depleted or are recovering from depletion. FAO monitors marine fishery production and issues alerts to prevent damage caused by overfishing. To address that problem, FAO and its member States have worked together to produce the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted in 1995.

37Banning toxic chemicals

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants seeks to rid the world of some of the most dangerous chemicals ever created. Adopted in 2001, the UN Convention targets 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals that can kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause cancer and reproductive disorders and interfere with child development. Other UN conventions and action plans help to protect biodiversity, address climate change, protect endangered species, combat desertification, clean up regional seas and curb cross-border movements of hazardous wastes.

38Protecting consumers?health

To ensure the safety of food sold in the marketplace, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the World Health Organization, working with Member States, have established standards for over 200 food commodities, safety limits for more than 3,000 food containers, and regulations on food processing, transport and storage. Standards on labelling and description work to ensure that the consumer is not misled.

39Combating terrorism

The UN has put in place the legal framework to combat international terrorism. Thirteen global legal instruments have been negotiated under UN auspices, including treaties against hostage-taking, aircraft hijacking, terrorist bombings, terrorism financing and, most recently, nuclear terrorism; 63 countries had ratified all of them by June 2005. A new comprehensive convention against terrorism is being drafted. The UN Counter-Terrorism Committee oversees how countries abide by the commitments undertaken in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks and coordinates counter-terrorism cooperation. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and other UN agencies have assisted more than 100 countries in strengthening their ability to fight terrorism.

40Promoting reproductive and maternal health

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), by promoting the right of individuals to make their own decisions on how many children to have and when, through voluntary family planning programmes, has helped people to make informed choices and given families, especially women, greater control over their lives. As a result, women in developing countries are having fewer children ?from six in the 1960s to three today ?slowing world population growth. ?When UNFPA started work in 1969, under 20 per cent of couples practiced family planning; the number now stands at about 61 per cent. UNFPA and several partners also help to provide skilled attendance at birth, access to emergency obstetrical care and expanded family planning programmes to reduce maternal deaths.

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60 Ways the United Nations Makes a Difference

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