Highlights Vol 25, No. 01 - January 2021

More than a game – recovering better with sports

Sport is all about participation. It has the power of bringing together individuals, communities and countries, often bridging cultural, ethnic and national divides. But as COVID-19 has ravaged through our world, it has taken a heavy toll on both professional and recreational sports.

As the pandemic hit, many sporting events were postponed or cancelled to protect athletes and audiences alike. It was only months into the crisis that players were able to return to arenas, thanks to much innovation and collaboration. In most cases, fans were still absent, and the come-back had varying consequences for the athletes and their families.

“The world of sport was among those sectors most visibly affected — hard and early,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a new advocacy brief, ‘Recovering Better: Sport for Development and Peace Reopening, Recovery and Resilience Post-COVID-19’, launched by the United Nations on 15 December 2020.

Co-led by UN DESA and UN-Women, the new brief was collaboratively drafted by sport focal points in a large number of UN entities including the World Health Organization, UN Office for Drugs and Crime, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, International Labour Organization, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children’s Fund, UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, UN Climate Change, UN Environment Programme and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism.

The brief sets out a vision to support the reopening, recovery and resilience of sport, calling for team spirit among nations, organizations and social groups to achieve the global goals. It also presents critical actions to be addressed across four key areas – promoting human rights and combatting discrimination; ensuring equal access to sport and physical activity; safeguarding participants; and ensuring integrity in sport.

“Already a pioneer and promoter of inclusive and sustainable development in an unstable and unequal world, the sporting world must now redefine and redesign itself, not only to improve its resilience to future shocks, but to broaden its contribution to the world’s efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Guterres said.

Learn more about the role of sports for peace and development in the new brief ‘Recovering Better: Sport for Development and Peace Reopening, Recovery and Resilience Post-COVID-19’

Forests are essential for a green recovery from COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on lives and economies around the world. As countries continue to work to turn the tide of the pandemic, plans and measures are being put in place to set us on the path to a green recovery. Forests have a key role to play in these efforts.

“Forests offer nature-friendly solutions for a green recovery from the pandemic,” said Alexander Trepelkov, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat in UN DESA. “Investing in forests is a critical component in building sustainable, resilient and fair societies, capable of withstanding future pandemics and global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss,” he added.

Forests provide a wide spectrum of benefits and services, supporting the health and livelihoods of millions of people. For the rural poor, forests are a critical source of food, fuel, income and well-being.  “Historically, forests have provided a safety net in times of crisis, and we are seeing this to be the case during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Trepelkov. “Forests are a lifeline for some of our most vulnerable populations, including those living in rural areas, indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities,” he added.

It is in our best interests to safeguard forests. If current rates of deforestation and forest degradation continue unabated, it could lead to more zoonotic diseases, like COVID-19, in the future. Healthy, well-managed forests, on the other hand, are the foundation for long-term sustainability in addressing water scarcity, mitigating climate change and ensuring energy and food security.

The UN Forum on Forests Secretariat in UN DESA is working to support our path to recovery by providing analytical products to inform decision-making. In 2020, the Secretariat produced two policy briefs highlighting how forests can contribute to sustainable recovery from the pandemic.  Currently, the Secretariat is undertaking an initial assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sustainable forest management, including the impacts on the forest sector, and forest-dependent people, indigenous peoples and local communities. As part of this assessment, an expert group meeting will be held on 19-21 January 2021.

Photo: Mariana Latii (UN DESA’s International Forest Photo Contest)

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