HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2020
Today, the Secretary-General will give a virtual Eid Message at an interactive discussion with Member States representing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The theme of the discussions will be Covid-19 Solidarity: Promoting Co-Existence and Shared Responsibility.
The Secretary-General is expected to remind Member States that our world is like one body, and as long as one part is affected by this virus, we all are affected. Now more than ever, solidarity and unity must be our leading principles.
PROGRAMME BUDGET 2021
Yesterday, the Secretary-General presented his proposal for the programme budget for 2021 at a virtual session of the Advisory Committee on the Administrative and Budgetary questions (ACABQ). He noted that the meeting was happening at a time when the pandemic has put the lives of billions of people around the globe in turmoil, inflicting grave suffering and destabilizing the global economy.
In response, he said, the United Nations has mobilized fully to save lives, stave off famine, ease the pain and plan for recovery. The Secretary-General said that we are open for business and are running the Organization from thousands of dining tables and home offices.
Regarding recent reforms, he added that reform is on track and beginning to yield results. Resident Coordinators covering 162 countries and territories now have a direct reporting line to his office, enhanced analytical capacities and coordination tools, as well as support from a strengthened development coordination office.
The new management processes and structures have proven instrumental in enabling the Organization to remain open and function effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretary-General said that, to fully implement the mandates entrusted to us, we will require a total of $2.99 billion in 2021, which represents a net reduction of 2.8 per cent compared to 2020, despite additional initiatives and mandated activities.
As this stage, he added, no resources have been included for COVID-19, as the programme budget proposals were largely put together before the pandemic came on scene and the situation is still evolving.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance, warned that COVID 19 is disrupting routine vaccination efforts around the world. They said that this is putting about 80 million children under the age of one at risk of diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio.
More than half of the 129 countries where data was available reported moderate-to-severe disruptions, or a total suspension of vaccination services during March-April 2020 period this year.
Measles campaigns, for example, have been suspended in 27 countries and polio campaigns put on hold in 38 countries.
On 4 June, at the Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders will come together to help maintain immunization programmes and mitigate the impact of the pandemic in lower-income countries.
From Bangladesh, where Cyclone Amphan made landfall earlier this week, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that some 10 million people in Bangladesh have been impacted by the storm with 17 people having been killed.
Early reports indicate there has been $130 million in damage inflicted by the cyclone so far. Nearly 331,000 homes have been damaged and at least 100,000 people have been displaced, in addition to those already evacuated.
Aid agencies are helping the Government of Bangladesh to distribute food and shelter items, as well as to set up clean water sources and latrines.
In Cox’s Bazar, more than 100 shelters have reportedly been destroyed and nearly 1,500 damaged, affecting more than 7,000 Rohingya refugees. Refugee volunteers are working to support and protect the community.
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Sanda Ojiambo of Kenya as the new Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.
As the second woman to be appointed in this role, she will succeed Lise Kingo of Denmark. The Secretary‑General is deeply grateful to Ms. Kingo for her dedication and strategic leadership in steering the work of the Global Compact and broadening its contribution to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Ojiambo, who assumes the role on 17 June, will bring to the job 20 years of experience. She will lead the Global Compact in its next phase to mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders and bring the full weight of the private sector to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In response to questions I've received on the situation with the UN Mission in Mali, following an article that appeared in Foreign Policy yesterday, I can tell you that we don’t entertain speculations about the senior positions. Suffice it to say that the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, has the full support of the Secretary-General.
SOUTH AMERICA APPEAL
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) today launched an urgent appeal seeking $21.2 million to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities in ten South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The agency said South America is now becoming one of the most affected regions worldwide, occupying the third place in terms of number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, after the U.S and Europe.
IOM’s regional plan for South America focuses on addressing immediate health concerns as well as the longer-term socio-economic impact of the virus. It also aims to counter misinformation that can lead to anti-migrant sentiment, stigma and xenophobia.
Today is the International Day of Biological Diversity. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today said urgent action is needed to safeguard the biodiversity of the world's forests amid alarming rates of deforestation and degradation.
In its State of the World's Forests report, the two agencies warned that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses since 1990, although the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades.
In addition, the COVID-19 crisis has thrown into sharp focus the importance of conserving and sustainably using nature, recognizing that people's health is linked to ecosystem health.
The full report is online.
FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
The High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond is scheduled to take place on 28 May, next Thursday.
The event is being convened by the Secretary-General, along with the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica, and will aim to set a definite pathway to concrete and effective solutions on critical sustainable development finance issues that threaten to adversely impact billions of people over the next two months.