HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 08 SEPTEMBER 2020
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CLEAN AIR FOR BLUE SKIES
Today, the UN held a virtual observance event on the first International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, which was marked yesterday, officially. The theme for the Day is Clean Air for All.
In a video message, the Secretary-General noted that around the world, nine out of every ten people breathe unclean air. Air pollution causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year. It also threatens the economy, food security and the environment.
The Secretary-General said that as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the world needs to pay far greater attention to air pollution, which also increases risks associated with COVID-19. He added that this year’s lockdowns have caused emissions to fall dramatically, providing a glimpse of cleaner air in many cities. But emissions are already rising in some places, surpassing pre-COVID levels.
The Secretary-General called on governments still providing finance for fossil fuel-related projects in developing countries to shift that support towards clean energy and sustainable transport. He also urged all countries to use the post-COVID recovery packages to support the transition to healthy and sustainable jobs.
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., the Secretary-General will be joined by the World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General, Professor Petteri Taalas, to brief you on the United in Science 2020 report.
The report provides the latest information on greenhouse gas concentrations, the impact of COVID-19 on emissions, and the emissions gap compared to the Paris Agreement targets.
The Secretary-General will brief in the press briefing room and Mr. Taalas will brief remotely. The Secretary-General will make the opening remarks, followed by a presentation by Professor Taalas. Our Secretary-General will then take a few questions before leaving Professor Taalas to continue with his briefing.
KOREA GLOBAL FORUM FOR PEACE
Yesterday, the Secretary-General spoke by video message to the Korea Global Forum for Peace.
He stressed that it is important that the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and the United States continue the dialogue that they started in 2018. He added that diplomacy is the only pathway to sustainable peace and denuclearization.
“You have our solidarity as the Korean Peninsula faces the pandemic, floods and typhoons. It is crucial that the two Koreas address these and other challenges together,” he added. He encouraged all parties to imagine a future of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. The United Nations fully supports your efforts, he added.
SECURITY COUNCIL/FRANCOPHONIE MEETING
This morning, members of the Security Council were briefed on the cooperation between the “Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie” (OIF) and the United Nations. Bintou Keita, the Under-Secretary-General for Africa, said that, as the OIF marks its 50th anniversary, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for strengthened and renewed multilateralism to face challenges of our times.
She reminded members of the Council that cooperation within and between international organizations is one of the pillars of multilateralism, adding that the close partnership between the UN and the OIF is fully in line with that logic.
I have an update from our UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on the Protection of Civilians sites. These sites were set up to provide sanctuary to thousands of people fleeing violence when the civil war erupted in 2013. The security situation has improved significantly since the signing of the peace deal in 2018 and the formation of a new government. People in the camps are moving freely each day between the sites and towns to go to school, shop in the markets and to work.
Last September, the UN Peacekeeping Mission provided a report to the Security Council on future planning for the Protection of Civilians sites in country, at the Council’s request.
Since that time, the Mission has been working to gradually transition the sites to more conventional camps for internally displaced people where humanitarian services will continue. In this regard, it has carried out security assessments on each of the sites and found no external threat.
The Mission has, therefore, withdrawn its troops from the Bor and Wau POC sites and will continue with others as the situation permits. Ultimately, all Protection of Civilians sites will transition to be the responsibility of the South Sudan Government. The UN Mission continues to do its utmost to ensure the protection of civilians. Importantly, withdrawing from these sites means that the troops who were assigned to these Protection of Civilians sites can be redeployed to hotspots to protect people whose lives are in immediate danger, in line with the mission’s mandate.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO/DR. DENIS MUKWEGE
I’ve been asked about the situation in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as it relates to the protection of Dr. Denis Mukwege.
I can tell you that The UN Peacekeeping Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) remains committed to the security of Dr. Mukwege and the Panzi clinic in Eastern DRC. Although a number of COVID cases among our peacekeepers have had an operational impact, we have continued to work closely with Dr. Mukwege and the Congolese authorities, as well as international partners to ensure that his security needs and those of the clinic are addressed in an effective and sustainable manner. This approach requires us to continue developing greater local capacity among the national police, with support from the Mission and other international partners.
The personal security of Congolese personalities is a responsibility of the national authorities, but the Peacekeeping Mission is providing all possible support within its limited means.
The UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today welcomed the disembarkation of 300 Rohingya refugees in Indonesia.
The group had repeatedly tried to disembark over the past seven months to no avail. Refugees reported that dozens passed away throughout the journey from Cox’s Bazar.
UNHCR staff in Aceh are supporting local authorities to assess the needs of the refugees. The immediate priority is to provide medical care as required. IOM is working with its partners to ensure shelter, water, and core needs are met in the coming days. All of these disembarked Rohingya refugees will be tested for COVID-19 in accordance with standard health measures in Indonesia for all arrivals.
We have an update from our UN team in India, led by Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien, on their work to support Government-led health and socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic, with over 4.2 million confirmed cases to date.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has assisted with contact tracing of 8 million cases, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has trained 2.2 million health workers in Infection Prevention and Control, reaching 650 million children and families with life-saving information. The UN team has also supplied personal protective equipment.
To reach the most vulnerable, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) helped 100,000 migrant workers access social protection and reached 100,000 sanitation workers with safety kits and 4,000 metric tonnes of dry rations.
And the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) trained 5,300 sanitation workers on safe waste disposal. UNFPA also helped develop a helpline directory for women in distress and supported guidelines on reproductive and adolescent services during lockdown, while the International Labour Organization (ILO) supported guidelines for gender responsive job recovery.
The UN in India is also supporting the Government’s anti-stigma campaign, with over 170 million social media impressions in August alone.
In the Amazon region, the UN and humanitarian partners today released a Tri-national Action Plan seeking $10.4 million to support Government responses to the urgent needs in the border area between Colombia, Peru and Brazil over the next year.
This triple border area is home to nearly 209,000 people and  per cent of them are indigenous. The area, which has been traditionally neglected, is currently witnessing the highest COVID-19 mortality rates per 100,000 people in the world.
The Tri-national Action Plan has an emphasis on the initial response in the sectors of health, food and nutrition, emergency shelter and water, and basic sanitation and hygiene.
A new report released today urges governments to ensure public procurement increases sustainability and does not harm people or the environment.
The report, released by the UN Forum on Sustainability Standards, explores how government spending can drive the uptake of special rules and standards that guarantee that the products we buy do not hurt the environment and the people who make them.
The Forum is made up of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
Today is International Literacy Day. This year the Day is focusing on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” especially on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.
The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, with an emphasis on youth and adults. The Day also aims to give an opportunity to analyze the role of educators, as well as to formulate effective policies, systems, governance and measures that can support educators and learning.
UN RESIDENT COORDINATORS
The UN Development Coordination Office tell us that four new UN Resident Coordinators (RCs) are ready to be announced. Those are for Albania, Cameroon, Ecuador, and Jamaica.
All of them are appointed by the Secretary-General and follow the confirmations from the respective host Governments.
Fiona McCluney of the United Kingdom is the new Resident Coordinator in Albania, while in Cameroon the new Resident Coordinator is Matthias Z. Naab of the United States. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Lena Savelli of Sweden will serve as our RC in Ecuador and Garry Conille of Haiti is the new Resident Coordinator in Jamaica.
In this leadership position they will boost the coordination among UN entities to support national and local efforts to address and recover better from COVID-19 and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
We are also proud to announce that we will remain with full gender parity among all our RCs covering 162 countries and territories. More information on the UN Sustainable Development Group website where you will find the list of all our colleagues.