HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC​,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2020

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL/PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC OF KOREA'S NET-ZERO ANNOUNCEMENT
The Secretary-General is very encouraged by President Moon Jae-in’s announcement of the Republic of Korea’s commitment to get to net zero emissions by 2050. This is a very positive step in the right direction after Korea’s exemplary Green New Deal which was announced in July. 
With the announcement the Republic of Korea, the world's 11th largest economy and 6th largest exporter, joins a growing group of major economies committed to lead by example in building a sustainable, carbon neutral and climate resilient world by 2050. 
The Secretary-General now looks forward to the concrete policy measures that will be proposed and implemented to reach this goal. This includes the Republic of Korea submitting in time for COP 26 a revised 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which is more ambitious and consistent with its new commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. 

NORDIC COUNCIL 
Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke to the Nordic Council, via a live video link, saying that a new, effective multilateralism is needed to provide global governance on issues that concern us all including the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Regarding the climate crisis, the Secretary-General called on Nordic countries to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement ahead of next year’s COP26. He also asked them to maintain and enhance their financial commitments to support developing countries. 
“It is my hope that members of the Nordic Council will serve as the global model for a green, inclusive and sustainable recovery,” he told them. 
The Secretary-General also commended the Nordic Council for its commitment to multilateralism and leadership on efforts to address the COVID-19 emergency in an effective way. 

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL/VIRTUAL TRIP TO COLOMBIA 
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will be on a “virtual trip” to Colombia today and tomorrow. This is the first virtual country visit since the outbreak of the pandemic and the trip will highlight the importance of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, marking its 20th anniversary on 29 October.
The virtual visit also enables the Deputy Secretary-General to witness the United Nations in Colombia, working with national and local authorities and civil society organizations - including the response to the pandemic, development challenges and peace consolidation. 
She will be accompanied by Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo. 
Ms. Mohammed and her delegation will be meeting by videoconference with various officials, including President Iván Duque. They will also talk to women human rights defenders and women leaders and discuss the advances and challenges in implementing the 2016 Agreement. 
The last time the Deputy Secretary-General visited Colombia in person was in 2015 for the launch of the Inter-Institutional Commission for the Sustainable Development Goals.

NAGORNO-KARABAKH 
As the Secretary-General has stated unequivocally, we strongly condemn all attacks on populated areas impacted by the conflict, including the strikes on the city of Barda, which reportedly killed and wounded many, as well as the ongoing reported shelling of Stepanakert/Khankendi and other localities in the Nagorno-Karabakh zone of conflict. There can be no justification for such attacks.
We again reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to immediately implement the humanitarian ceasefire that the parties have committed to and fully abide by their obligations to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. The ongoing hostilities are unacceptable and must stop immediately.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement issued today that in one month of fighting, more than 130,000 people have been displaced, 76 schools and kindergartens damaged, and one maternity hospital shelled. Countless children are being scarred by the psychological impact of daily exposure to rocket and missile attacks in civilian areas.

SYRIA
In Syria, the United Nations conducted a one-day inter-agency visit to Idlib governorate in north-west of the country. Yesterday, the UN humanitarian agencies visited a displacement camp in central Idlib, supported through funding from the Central Emergency Fund. They met members of the displaced community, who continue to live under extremely difficult conditions. They also met with humanitarian personnel and local authorities, and visited warehouses storing supplies for winterization and COVID-19 response in the area. 
Missions such as these help the UN gain a first-hand understanding of the humanitarian situation and current needs in the north-west. 
Some 2.8 million people -- half of them children – remain in need of humanitarian assistance in north-west Syria. The UN humanitarian cross-border assistance provides a lifeline for millions in this area whom the UN cannot reach by other means.

PAKISTAN
Regarding Pakistan, we strongly condemn the attack on a religious school in Peshawar yesterday that reportedly killed at least eight students and injured more than a hundred people, some of whom were children and teachers. The Secretary-General conveys his condolences to the families of the victims, and the people and Government of Pakistan.

SOMALIA
An update on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia which continues to be one of the most complex, fragile and protracted in the world. 
Our humanitarian colleagues report that 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance through 2021, due to the impact of the recurrent climatic shocks, armed conflict and insecurity and displacement amid the pandemic. 
Flooding this year has impacted nearly 1.6 million people, destroyed farmland and infrastructure and increased the risk of water-borne diseases. In addition, a desert locust infestation since January has impacted 685,000 people. 
The number of people facing food insecurity is expected to rise from 1.3 million in September to about 2.1 million through December, in the absence of humanitarian assistance. 
We, along with our partners, have reached over 2.3 million people with aid this year. While 61 per cent of the $1.01 billion Humanitarian Response Plan has been received to date. That is about $618 million. Funding per sector remains disproportionate, with more than half of the clusters receiving less than 35 per cent of required funding.

COVID-19/CABO VERDE 
In Cabo Verde, our Resident Coordinator Ana Patrícia Graça is leading the UN team in supporting the Government’s response to the pandemic. Our team has reprogrammed $17 million of funds previously geared for work on sustainable development.  It has mobilized an additional $4 million to support national efforts to save lives and livelihoods.  
Through a Crisis Response Coordination Platform set up with the Government, we have provided support for a socioeconomic impact assessment, in partnership with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the European Union.  
Through the COVID-19 data portal, our team is also reporting on the socio-economic impact of the crisis in Cabo Verde, focusing on vulnerable communities. This includes the provision of vaccines to more than 7,000 children under one year of age; assistance to more than 700 essential health workers; and remote-learning access to more than 66,000 children. Meals are also being provided to more than 26,000 primary school children, 100,000 people are receiving cash assistance and 14,000 small business have access to support programmes.  
More data from the UN team in Cabo Verde and the UN work in other countries is available on the Development Coordination COVID-19 data portal - data.uninfo.org.

FORESTS
A new report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) warns that unless efforts to restore the world’s forests are scaled up, we will not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
To date, 63 countries and other entities have committed to restoring 173 million hectares of forest land - an area half the size of India - and regional responses such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) and Initiative 20×20 in Latin America are making significant advances.
However, the report argues that much more needs to be done at the national, regional and global scale to meet commitments under the Bonn Challenge, which aim to restore 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2030, and other international pledges.