UNITED IN SCIENCE
Today, as you will have seen, the World Meteorological Organization released its United in Science report, which says that COVID-19 did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Instead, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue at record levels, committing the planet to dangerous future warming.
In a video message, the Secretary-General said that the report shows how off course we are.
Costly fires, floods and extreme weather events are increasing everywhere, he said, adding that these changes are just the beginning of worse to come unless there are immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Secretary-General urged countries to act now to prevent further irreversible damage and underscored that COP26 this November in Glasgow must mark that turning point.
CLIMATE LEADERS ROUNDTABLE
On Monday at 9 a.m., the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Island, Boris Johnson, will hold an Informal Climate Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action. The Roundtable will address the gaps that remain on the actions urgently needed from national governments - especially the G20 – on mitigation, finance and adaptation. We do expect a stakeout afterwards with the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister, that may be slightly before noon on Monday.
Hans Grundberg, our new Special Envoy for Yemen, is in Riyadh to meet with senior Yemeni and Saudi officials as well as other diplomats.
Mr. Grundberg will meet with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, Foreign Minister Ahmed Bin Mubarak, House Speaker Sultan Barakani and representatives of Yemeni political parties, among others. He will also meet with senior Saudi officials, ambassadors of the UN Security Council permanent member states to Yemen and the US Special Envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking.
This is Mr. Grundberg’s first visit to Riyadh since he took office as the UN Special Envoy. He is keen to engage with Yemenis and other key interlocutors on how to find a durable solution to the conflict and reach an inclusive political settlement that ends the war and meets the aspirations of all Yemeni people.
YEMEN – humanitarian
Just to give you an update on the dire humanitarian situation there. Our humanitarian colleagues warn of the conflict’s growing toll on civilians. Fierce fighting in Ma’rib has displaced more than 1,800 people last week, bringing the total number of new displacements in the governorate to more than 27,000 men, women and children since the beginning of 2021.
Yemen’s economy is on the verge of complete collapse. The Yemeni rial is now trading at more than 1,100 to the dollar in Government-controlled areas – that’s a depreciation of more than 80 per cent since the start of the crisis. This is contributing to surging food prices in a country where more than half the population is facing acute food insecurity and five million people are close to starvation.
With the generous support of donors, we along with our partners have been able to prevent famine and scale up assistance across Yemen. Today, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is 54 per cent funded, having received $2.1 billion of its $3.85 billion requirement.
Next Wednesday, on 22 September, there will be a high-level event on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which will be convened on the margins of the General Assembly. Hosted by Sweden, Switzerland and the European Union, the event will be an important opportunity for the international community to show their solidarity with the people of Yemen, including through the announcement of contributions to the humanitarian appeal.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is now in Pakistan, where he is holding talks with Government officials and reviewing the refugee response in Pakistan.
As you know, Grandi just concluded a three-day visit to Afghanistan. During his visit to Kabul, he had meetings with the interim Afghan government, as well as some of the hundreds of UN and NGO staff that have stayed on the ground to maintain and deliver humanitarian aid.
For its part, the International Organization for Migration today said that it continues to expand its relief operations across Afghanistan. This month, IOM has provided emergency shelter and relief items to more than 5,000 people in Kabul, Ghazni and other districts.
IOM has also resumed community development activities in six provinces, constructing school buildings and irrigation and other water supply systems to mitigate the effects of drought. We do hope to have Mr. Grandi here in person at some point on Monday and that will give you a chance to talk to him.
The Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamet Annadif, is participating in the second extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to address the situation in Guinea. That summit is taking place in Accra in Ghana.
In his remarks, Mr. Annadif stressed that the UN remains concerned about the situation and will support any initiative by ECOWAS to help Guinea regain a peaceful political and social framework, which will necessarily include a return to constitutional order. He also conveyed the message that the Secretary-General is very concerned about the repeated attempts and unconstitutional changes that are taking place in the West African sub-region.
The UN Children’s Fund today said that eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, schools for nearly 77 million students in six countries continue to be almost completely closed.
According to UNICEF, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Panama are among the countries that kept schools closed the longest. In total, an estimated 131 million students in 11 countries have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning. Around 27 per cent of countries worldwide continue to have schools fully or partially closed.
To call attention to the 18 months of lost learning and to urge governments to reopen schools as soon as possible in a safe way, UNICEF and partners, such as UNESCO and the World Bank, are coordinating a “freeze” of content not education-related on their social media channels for 18 hours. The “freeze” started today at 9 a.m.
Today our colleagues in Thailand, said that the UN system led by Gita Sabharwal, our Resident Coordinator, is supporting authorities to boost vaccine confidence, especially vulnerable groups including migrants and the elderly.
The World Health Organization is leading a campaign to counter vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. It has also helped to upgrade two labs, delivered more than 30,000 pieces of protective equipment, and launched multi-lingual hotlines to support 2.8 million migrants.
We are also helping prisons address COVID-19, with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime delivering 1.5 million surgical masks following reports that thousands of inmates were infected.
UNICEF continues to deliver more than 400,000 relief supplies and thousands of learning kits to vulnerable families. It has also launched a new help-centre for COVID-affected children.
NOON BRIEFING GUEST TOMORROW
Tomorrow my guest will be Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who heads the UN Peacekeeping department and he will be here to brief on peacekeeping operations ahead of the start of the new General Assembly session.
At 7:00 p.m. on Saturday in Brooklyn, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, will launch In Their hands: Women Taking Ownership of Peace, a photo exhibition which is part of the Photoville festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and it’s on Pier 1 in Brooklyn.
This exhibition, curated by the UN Department of Peace Operations, the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and UN Women, profiles fourteen women peace activists through the lens of women photographers in peace operations settings in the Middle East, South America and Africa. You can also see it online and it’s an easy ferry ride.