In case you missed it Vol 24, No. 02 - February 2020

State of our world

Climate-induced fires, rising inequalities, political unrest and a bleak economic forecast; last year was a very turbulent one. How can we make sense of it? UN DESA recently released two major reports on the global economy and the state of global inequality, which offer solutions that could get us out of our predicament and back on the sustainable track.

The climate crisis, as well as persistently high inequalities, and rising levels of food insecurity and undernourishment, is affecting the quality of life in many societies and fuelling discontent, warns the 2020 World Economic Situation Report (WESP).

The UN DESA experts behind the report are unequivocal in their call for “massive adjustments” to the energy sector, which is currently responsible for around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.

If the world continues to rely on fossil fuels over the next few years, and emissions in developing countries rise to the level of those in richer nations, global carbon emissions would increase by more than 250 per cent, with potentially catastrophic results.

The report’s authors insist that the world’s energy needs must be met by renewable or low-carbon energy sources, which will lead to environmental and health benefits, such as lower air pollution, and new economic opportunities for many countries.

However, the 2020 WESP finds that the urgent need to switch to clean energy continues to be underestimated, noting that countries are continuing to invest in oil and gas exploration, and coal-fired power generation.

This report describes the reliance on fossil fuels as “short-sighted”, leaving investors and governments exposed to sudden losses, as the price of oil and gas fluctuates, as well as contributing to deteriorating climatic conditions, such as global warming.

“Risk associated with the climate crisis are becoming an ever-greater challenge”, concludes the report, and “climate action must be an integral part of any policy mix”.

Strategies and technology for a transition to a clean economy that delivers accessible to reliable and decarbonized energy already exist, continues the report, but will require political will and public support. Failure to act will significantly increase the ultimate costs.

For its part, UN DESA’s World Social Report 2020 shows that inequality is growing for more than 70 per cent of the global population, exacerbating the risks of divisions and hampering economic and social development. But the rise is far from inevitable and can be tackled at a national and international level, the report concludes.

Income inequality has increased in most developed countries, and some middle-income countries – including China, which has the world’s fastest growing economy.

The challenges are underscored by UN chief António Guterres in the foreword, in which he states that the world is confronting “the harsh realities of a deeply unequal global landscape”, in which economic woes, inequalities and job insecurity have led to mass protests in both developed and developing countries.

“Income disparities and a lack of opportunities”, he writes, “are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations.”

For more information:

2020 World Economic Situation Report (WESP) 

World Social Report 2020

February Monthly Briefing on the World Economic Situation and Prospects

When persons with disabilities lead and participate, the whole world benefits

Every year on 3rd December, the world marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, promoting the participation and inclusion of over 1.5 billion people who live with some kind of disability today.

This year, the International Day celebrated the leadership of persons with disabilities in making the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality.

“When we secure the rights of people with disabilities, we move closer to achieving the central promise of the 2030 Agenda – to leave no one behind,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for the day.

He stressed that the UN is determined to lead by example on disability inclusion. The most tangible proof of that is the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy launched in June last year to raise the UN’s standards and performance on disability inclusion across all areas of work around the world.

Speaking at the International Day celebrations at the UN New York Headquarters, Assistant Secretary-General at UN DESA Elliot Harris said that the 2030 Agenda cannot be implemented unless persons with disabilities can participate meaningfully as agents of change. “When persons with disabilities lead and participate, the whole world benefits,” he stressed.

Activists for the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities also spoke at the event, sharing their vision for a more inclusive, tolerant world that they would like to see in the year 2030.

“From the perspective of persons with disabilities, I envision a world where a lot of my accomplishments, what I am talking about, what’s [considered] so ‘exceptional’ — I want to see that being the norm,” said Thomas Iland, author, motivational speaker and certified public accountant who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 13.

“I want people to really tap into their own potential so that they can become their best selves and live the life that they want,” he added.

Annika Emmert, a 14-year-old sport and disabilities advocate shared her inspiring story of finding strength and resilience through playing soccer: “It’s one of the things I’ve never wanted to give up, no matter what people said to me. Throughout my life, other players have always thought of me as an easy mark and always seen my differences as a weakness. But I’ve always proven them wrong.”

For more information: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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