World hunger rates are increasing alongside an uptick in climate change-correlated events such as droughts, cyclones, and hurricanes. Food systems are taking a hit. Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley called on the world to empower the world’s most vulnerable populations, including the hungry and impoverished, when fighting against climate change. Beasley poignantly reminded participants that “poor people, who have the smallest carbon footprint, are paying the harshest price.”
Increased media consumption and levels of education do not correlate with an increased capacity to understand polarized views. Media has the ability to ferment division in society, as well as unify diverse groups of people. Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, Melissa Fleming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Maria Exner, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Die Zeit Online, and Stephen Hawkins, Director of Research at More in Common, spoke with BBC World Service Group representative Emily Kasriel about bringing polarized audiences together through media. The panelists expressed agreement that the way our world consumes media impacts the way we view and act towards one another, and that the most impactful storytelling crossed opinion divides.
Climate problems are forcing industries to reinvent themselves. Cyrill Gutsch, Founder and CEO of Parley for the Oceans, spoke about growing his environmental organization that provides space and builds partnerships to address the major threats towards our oceans. With moderator Daphne Burgida Ewing-Chow from Forbes, Gutsch discussed the latest Parley program, “Future Island Nation”, launched at UNGA74, which will work with its first partner, the Republic of the Maldives, to develop a scalable framework for governments and private sector leaders to adapt in response to ocean and climate threats.
Moderated by Nathalie Hutchinson from UN News, Sarah Brown, Chair of the education non-profit TheirWorld, and Justin van Fleet, President of the same organization, discussed how to address the global education crisis – with 260 million children worldwide not going to school. They emphasized the importance of awareness raising and innovative partnerships. Education, they said, cannot wait.
The World’s Largest Lesson is an educational platform encouraging young people around the world to learn about and take action on the SDGs. Alison Bellwood, Project Everyone, Semiye Michael, Founder, DEAN Initiative, and Siobhan Lynch, Avanti Communications, discussed the process of carrying out the World’s Largest Lesson in Nigeria, which calls for a unique set of solutions independent of digital technology. The discussion was moderated by Aida Cama of Deutsche Welle.
The representatives of Germany, Finland and Spain, alongside Charles Nouham from the Stakeholder Forum, stressed the importance of collaboration between local, regional and national councils in order to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs. They agreed that young leaders must be recognized for their efforts and contributions. Spain noted that a lack of public awareness of the SDGs will be addressed through an awareness-raising campaign (“Become the SDGs”) aiming to mobilize individuals. Finland has created public sustainable life surveys, allowing citizens to measure their own carbon footprint and make personal improvements.
Priscilla Schwartz, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone, and Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, joined Aida Cama from Deutsche Welle to discuss action related to SDG 16 (peace and justice). Schwartz emphasized that the commitments made must now be translated into actions. She also asserted that governments, civil society and all stakeholders must collaborate with one another to achieve Goal 16, and they must also understand the contextual nuances of the world — especially in places affected by conflict. Ramos reminded the audience that children are among the most vulnerable of groups in need of justice and that the need for efficient legal systems is at the core of the SDGs.
Ambika Samarthya-Howard, Head of Communications at WITNESS spoke to Jamie Angus, Director of World Service Group, Edith Lederer, UN Bureau Chief of the Associated Press, and Kingsley D. Uranta, Partnerships and Broadcast Manager of Channels TV Nigeria on disinformation and the media. Samarthya-Howard drew a distinction between disinformation and misinformation, with disinformation being more of an intentional spread of “fake news.” Angus pointed out that a great deal of misinformation exists and can be just as dangerous, citing misinformed anti-vaccine articles as a prime example. Lederer said that in her lifetime, trust and hope in the media had plummeted and that attribution of information was very important. Uranta emphasized the media’s responsibility to use the same media that are perpetuating the wrong information to perpetuate accurate information.