Highlights Vol 24, No. 01 - January 2020

Happy 75th Birthday, United Nations!

The United Nations makes a difference in the lives of everyone, everywhere. From providing food and assistance to 91.4 million people in 83 countries, supplying vaccines to 45 per cent of the world’s children, to working with 196 countries to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius. The examples are many of how this 193-Member-State strong global organization makes an impact on the ground. This year, we will commemorate and reflect on the organization’s first 75 years of existence by inviting YOU to join the largest-ever global conversation.

The United Nations saw the light of day in 1945, when it was created in the wake of the devastating World War II, with pledges to save future generations from the atrocities of war and reiterate faith in fundamental human rights. Since then, the organization has played a vital role on the world stage, bringing countries together in addressing problems that transcend national boundaries and which no country can solve on their own.

But where do we stand today in our joint efforts for a sustainable and better future for everyone? As the United Nations kicks off its 75th anniversary, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for a global reality check, turning to the people of the world through a global listening tour, launched on 1 January.

Through this UN75 initiative, the United Nations is embarking on the largest, most inclusive conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want. The organization is calling on people from all walks of life to join dialogues hosted both online and offline, throughout the year. By bringing together people’s voices and views in this way, the organization seeks to find out how enhanced international cooperation can help realize a better world by 2045, when the UN will celebrate its 100th birthday.

UN75 will ask three big questions: 1. What kind of future do we want to create? 2. Are we on track? 3. What action is needed to bridge the gap? The answers will be presented via four innovative data streams, building the first-ever repository of crowd-sourced solutions to major global challenges.

The UN75 dialogues, together with a ‘‘1-minute-survey’ that anyone can take, opinion polling in 50 countries and artificial intelligence sentiment analysis of traditional and social media in 70 countries, will generate compelling data to inform national and international policies and debate.

Through this worldwide listening exercise, the UN75 initiative aims to foster a greater sense of global citizenship and to empower a critical mass of international actors to address global issues. The views and ideas generated, will be presented by the Secretary-General to world leaders and senior UN officials on 21 September 2020 at a high-level event to mark the anniversary.

Find out how to join the UN75 conversation here and take the 1-minute survey right away. Have your say. Shape your future!

The biggest global conversation on the world’s future starts right now.

For more information: UN75 – Shaping our future together 

UN DESA leads preparations for major 2020 conferences on sustainable transport and the ocean

The need for collective, accelerated action to realize the Sustainable Development Goals is more apparent than ever, with one scientific report after the other, showing that more urgent action is needed at all levels to achieve the 17 goals by 2030. This year, UN DESA will take the lead on two major issues crucial for the well-being of our planet and the life it hosts – sustainable transport and healthy oceans.

Coinciding with its 75th anniversary, the United Nations has kicked off a “Decade of Action and Delivery” to inspire new policies and investments for SDG implementation, and UN DESA is boosting these efforts by organizing two major conferences: the Global Sustainable Transport Conference (5-7 May, Beijing, China), which will work towards securing inclusive, resilient and low-carbon transport solutions; and the 2020 UN Ocean Conference (2-6 June, Lisbon, Portugal), that will look to scale up ocean action based on science and innovation.

Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, will serve as Secretary-General of both conferences, and UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals is already busy with preparations as the conferences’ Secretariat. The events will build on the outcomes of the previous UN conferences on sustainable transport (2016) and the ocean (2017), and draw from recent discussions and reports including the Global Sustainable Development Report 2019, the 2019 SDG Progress Report and reports on global warming and the ocean and cryosphere from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

First, in May, all modes of transport—road, rail, aviation and waterborne—will be addressed in Beijing at the Global Sustainable Transport Conference. Recent scientific and technological advances will be deliberated, and the concerns of vulnerable groups and developing countries will receive particular attention. Key transport objectives, such as access for all, green mobility, low carbon solutions, efficiency and safety, will be discussed.

The Global Sustainable Transport Conference, which is being convened by the UN Secretary-General, will comprise plenaries, parallel thematic sessions and special forums. These forums—the Ministers’ Forum, the Business Forum and the Science, Engineering and Technology Forum—will highlight game-changing contributions from a wide array of government offices, businesses and civil society organizations. The official programme will be complemented by side events, field visits and an exhibition.

The outcome of this Sustainable Transport Conference will be a forward-looking visionary statement calling for global action to further advance sustainable transport worldwide. There will also be a Conference summary, and a compilation of voluntary commitments, partnerships and initiatives to support sustainable transport.

In June, the UN’s attention shifts to the state of the world’s ocean as the UN Ocean Conference is co-hosted by Portugal and Kenya. The Ocean Conference will consist of plenary sessions and eight interactive dialogues addressing challenges and opportunities to implementing SDG 14 and its ten targets with a special emphasis on scaling up ocean action through science and innovation.

The Ocean Conference is expected to result in an intergovernmentally agreed declaration, summaries of the interactive dialogues and a list of new voluntary commitments in support of SDG 14.

The progress and commitments made at both conferences will build on the UN’s recent work in these subject areas and provide valuable context and inputs to July’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York, the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference  (CBD COP 15) in Kunming, China, and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to take place in Glasgow in November. Together, they will help show the world that there is political will, interest from businesses and collective desire for SDG action.

“The window for action is small—just a decade—and the need is urgent,” said Mr. Liu. “The way forward is also clear. All we need now is to get it done!”

Follow Us