The Sustainable Development Goals in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Malaysia:
08 October 2021
No Denying It - The UN Climate Action Podcast
There’s no denying it - we have to tackle the climate emergency. Burning fossil fuels to get energy has to end. It's doable but it's going to take solutions in every industry, at every scale, in every nation in the world.
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30 October 2020
Decade of Action
Deliver #ForPeopleForPlanet. We have 10 years to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. The year 2020 kicks off a reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda. Demonstrate action through ambition, mobilization and game-changing outcomes for people and for the planet.
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21 June 2021
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now. Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.
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15 October 2021
Malaysia elected to the Human Rights Council
The United Nations in Malaysia congratulates the Government of Malaysia for its third-time election to the Human Rights Council for the term 2022-2024 and for its progressive pledges and commitments. We applaud the government’s commitment under its theme of “Unity for Humanity” to fulfill its obligations under core human rights instruments such as Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). We also welcome Malaysia’s pledge to mainstream human rights standards across policies and engage on other human rights treaties. The United Nations in Malaysia will continue to support Malaysia’s efforts throughout the Universal Periodic Review process. The Monitoring Matrix, mapped to relevant human rights conventions alongside the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an invaluable tool. Also, being one of only a few countries that use the OHCHR’s National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD) provides a breakthrough opportunity for Malaysia. The United Nations also stands ready to support South-South cooperation and experience sharing in the region and beyond, building on Malaysia’s recent interactions with Special Rapporteurs on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, Cultural Rights as well as on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children, including Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and other Child Sexual Abuse Material. We welcome Malaysia’s commitment to raise human rights awareness among all stakeholders in a national effort to realise the right to development for all, protect and promote cultural rights, engage in climate action, and roll out the national action plan on business and human rights.
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08 October 2021
A habitat for all
Read the original story published by UNDP here... It is 7 a.m. and there is a flurry of activity. The road up to Bukit Kiara is long and steep, but it does not deter hikers, runners, and cyclists. They pour out of their houses and apartments, past 163 Retail Park, past the Plaza Mont Kiara offices, past the mak cik warong’s opening day under the highway. The Recreationists march uphill with so much vigour, it is as if they are desperate to escape their enclosed offices and apartments (or maybe they have a 9 a.m. office Zoom call to return to). The entrance to the Kiara Hill trail is at the end of the road on the hilltop. Some hikers choose to drive up to the park. In the same parking lot where hikers park cars, you may also notice construction workers readying for work and hopping on motorbikes. But most people do not notice. A quick search through online Kiara Hill groups using the terms “worker”; “foreign”; “squatter”; “construction” also yields no results. Both online and offline, these populations do not seem to interact despite sharing an ecosystem. At 8 a.m., as the Recreationists exit their cars and enter the forest for recreation, the Construction Workers hop on their motorcycles and enter the city for work. Some sort of temporal partitioning, it would seem. Through the Di Sekitar Kita (“Around Us”) Urban Biodiversity Challenge (April through September 2021) we sought to (re)discover nature in Malaysian cities, especially habitats and biodiversity that may be “under the radar,” as well as explore the norms, values, attitudes and perceptions of Malaysians towards the plants and animals that live in our towns and cities. Drawing from what we learned, we present five lessons for biodiverse and resilient cities: Green space matters, but how it is distributed matters more. [Community] Better distribution of green space increases accessibility and brings nature closer to us, but this is a double-edged sword—more integrated green space may cause conflict. [Conflict] Cities are a gateway to understanding and appreciating the complexity of biodiversity and ecosystems. [Complexity] Citizen science is a great way to (re)discover and reconcile with nature. [Curiosity] Beyond protecting existing green space, we must create new ones—hand in hand with people and nature. [Creation] Jump to any of the sections by clicking on the links above or using the navigation panel at the top of this page; or read through the article in its entirety!
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07 October 2021
Our secret weapon
Read the original article by UNDP in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam here... Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, with transport, buildings, energy, and waste management accounting for the bulk of urban emissions. By 2050, two-thirds of our global population will live in urban areas. Nearly 90% of the growth in urban population will occur in Asia and Africa. As urban populations in these regions continue to grow and have greater material prosperity, there will be a corresponding rise in the consumption of resources and energy - and generation of waste. Increasingly, the battle for the planet will be won or lost in cities. Low Carbon Cities Data shows that cities consume 78% of the world’s primary energy. The numbers don’t lie - cities are the biggest contributors to climate change. Consequently, they are also our best shot at reversing our carbon trajectory. Cities are the key to achieving our global climate goals. Part of the solution A majority of Malaysia’s carbon emissions are clustered within urban areas, with the energy sector making up a staggering 80% of total emissions. As such, the energy sector holds the biggest potential on reducing emissions in terms of carbon and cost savings. It is estimated that over MYR46.9b (USD$11.2b) in energy spending can be saved between 2016 to 2030, according to one joint study. By investing in a variety of low carbon solutions such as renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, and integrated waste management, cities can transition into green and sustainable development pathways while creating new jobs within these emerging sectors. Setting low-carbon action plans, each with their own greenhouse gas inventories to help track low-carbon actions already in the works, cities like Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Malaysia, Seberang Perai and Melaka have made commitments to minimize their carbon footprints. They’ve also joined city alliances like the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the C40 City Business Alliance. Furthermore, 64 local authorities are now part of the Low Carbon City Framework Programme launched by the Ministry of Environment and Water in 2011, which encourages strategies and action plans at the local level. Accelerating the pace With funding support from the Global Environment Facility, UNDP is working together with the Ministry of Environment and Water Malaysia, and the Sustainable Energy Development Authority to implement a low carbon cities project called the Green Technology Application for the Development of Low Carbon Cities (GTALCC). GTALCC is a 5-year project which facilitates the implementation of low carbon initiatives in five Malaysian cities (Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Petaling Jaya, Hang Tuah Jaya, Iskandar Malaysia), showcasing a clear and integrated approach to low carbon urban development. The goal of the project is to generate substantial GHG emissions reductions by removing barriers to low carbon planning and development in Malaysian cities through formulating policy, raising awareness and bolstering institutional capacity, and through demonstration projects showcasing low carbon technology investments in select cities. Low carbon leadership Malaysia’s first formally-designated economic region, Iskandar Malaysia, established in 2006, is being developed as a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing. To support holistic and comprehensive growth balancing economic prosperity with quality-of-life measures and a resilient environment, the GTALCC project has supported the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), a government body responsible for the direction, policies, and strategies in relation to the development within Iskandar Malaysia. Having recognized the importance of increasing public awareness and education of low carbon lifestyle towards achieving net-zero emissions, IRDA, together with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Johor’s State Education department launched the annual Iskandar Malaysia Eco-Life Challenge (IMELC). The challenge is designed to foster awareness of Low Carbon lifestyle among both students and teachers alike, instilling low carbon cities awareness starting from a young age. “Iskandar Malaysia Eco Life Challenge (IMELC) has been a successful high-impact program since 2013 in creating awareness on Low Carbon Society among students, teachers and their families to achieve the carbon reduction target for Iskandar Malaysia by the year 2025.” Kamisah Mohd Ghazali, Senior Vice President, Resilient Environment, Iskandar Regional Development Authority. After nine years and counting, this supplementary learning activity has engaged with an ever-growing audience, with over 906 schools and a total of 100,000 students participating in 2021. Over MYR100,000 (~USD$24,000) in electricity and water utility bills were saved by participating students and schools in 2020. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMELC2020 was carried out virtually, with Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Fauzi Ismail, Vice chancellor of UTM, remarking that this digital low carbon community education program is the first of its kind in Malaysia. IMELC’s digital platform was further augmented with the launch of its own website, courtesy of UNDP Malaysia’s Accelerator Labs. Leading by example Another city supported by the GTALCC project, Putrajaya, is leading the way in low carbon initiatives, such as a cycle lane network. In 2010, Putrajaya, the administrative and judicial centre of Malaysia, was announced as one of the pioneer townships in green technology as a showcase for the development of other townships. Since then, Putrajaya has embarked on various initiatives towards achieving that aim. The Putrajaya Green City 2025 document emphasises Putrajaya’s transportation and mobility-related efforts in transforming into a green city. The strategy hinges on integrated city planning and management as well as low carbon transportation. Non-motorised movement by walking and cycling are highly encouraged as a mode of travelling, through the provision of an integrated network of pedestrian and cycling paths implemented in Putrajaya. A design study under GTALCC was also carried out to enhance the existing Putrajaya Bike Lane by recommending improvement works required for safe cycling lanes from Putrajaya Sentral and the nearby townships to the Putrajaya office areas, linking up the Red Carpet and Blue Lane. Two bicycle access ramps were installed in Seri Wawasan and Seri Saujana Bridge by the project. Bike repair stands will also be installed in December 2021 at designated cyclist pit stops. Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience It is vital for both cities and national governments to each play their respective roles in the transition towards a low-carbon society. The GTALCC project is supporting sustainable city solutions at the local level through strong community associations and city councils, as well as leveraging national support through the development of the National Low Carbon Cities Masterplan, which helps guide the implementation of low carbon developments and initiatives for Malaysian cities. By building upon the foundations laid by UNDP Malaysia, the project is localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and making them visible at the city-, community-, and household levels. The suite of solutions implemented by the GTALCC project - together with its partners at the national government, its nine partners of local authorities with a combined population of 2,481,116, and private sector partners - have indirectly reduced carbon emissions by 909,180 tCO2eq, in addition to the direct emission reduction target of 346,442 tCO2eq by end of project period. Better city, better lives The goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is doable. But to reach that milestone requires the full engagement of city governments, augmented by national action and support. Creating more sustainable, climate-resilient societies involves addressing a range of issues including poverty reduction, ensuring basic services livelihoods, the provision of accessible, affordable and adequate housing, investing in infrastructure, upgrading informal settlements and managing ecosystems. Successful, well-governed cities greatly reduce climate-related risks for their populations. As we respond to the global climate crisis, transformative action from cities may just be the catalyst we need in order to restore our relationship with the natural world and ensure a sustainable future for our children. For more information on the GTALCC project, visit here or here. For more information on work in Malaysia to transition to carbon-free, visit Malaysia’s Ministry of Environment and Water and UNDP Malaysia. Footnotes Story by: Andrea Egan, Norizal Khushairi Mohamad Zamri, Nasha Lee, and Muhammad Afham Mohd Zaki. Header photo: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Nour Betar, Unsplash.com
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04 October 2021
7 climate action highlights to remember before COP26
A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum before the decisive UN Climate Conference COP26 in early November. 1. Billions planned for clean energy More than $400 billion in new finance and investment was committed by governments and the private sector during the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy, the first leader-level meeting on energy under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in 40 years. More than 35 countries, ranging from island states to major emerging and industrialized economies, made significant new energy commitments in the form of Energy Compacts. For example, the No New Coal Compact includes Sri Lanka, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, the UK, and Montenegro. The countries involved in the coalition have committed to immediately stop issuing new permits for coal-fired power generation projects and cease new construction of coal-fired power generation, as of the end of 2021. Several new partnership initiatives were announced during the event, aiming to provide and improve access to reliable electricity, to over a billion people. You can find more about the important commitments here 2. United States and China boosted climate action The world’s two largest economies committed to more ambitious climate action during the high-level week of the General Assembly. United States’ President Jose Biden announced that his country would significantly increase its international climate finance to approximately $11.4 billion a year. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping of China said that he would end all financing of coal-fired power plants abroad, and redirect support to green and low carbon energy generation. While the announcements were most welcome, The UN Secretary-General flagged that there is still “a long way to go” to make UN climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow a success that ensures “a turning point in our collective efforts to address the climate crisis”. 3. Africa Climate Week spurred regional action People across Africa met virtually for several days to spotlight climate action, explore possibilities, and showcase ambitious solutions. More than 1,600 participants actively joined in the virtual gathering, with the host Government of Uganda bringing together governments at all levels across the region, along with private sector leaders, academic experts, and other key stakeholders. Janet Rogan, COP26 Regional Ambassador for Africa and the Middle East, said that the meeting enabled many stakeholders to build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. “Only by working together can we truly help to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement while being conscious of the unique opportunities and challenges this presents in the region”, she said. UN agencies were involved: The World Bank examined economy-wide approaches for a sustainable, green recovery The UN Development Programme (UNDP) explored how both climate risk and climate solutions are reshaping different sectors The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reimagined the future and looked at behaviors, technologies, and financing The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published its first ever stock take of Africa’s forests and landscapes revealing that up to 65 per cent of productive land is degraded, while desertification affects 45 per cent of Africa’s land area. Africa has contributed little to climate change, generating only a small fraction of global emissions. However, it may be the most vulnerable region in the world already suffering of droughts, floods, and destructive locust invasions, among other impacts. 4. COP hosts, the United Kingdom, asked countries to ‘secure the money’ Right at the beginning of the General Assembly, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson convened an emergency meeting to press for more action on climate finance and other measures ahead of UN COP26. World leaders addressed the gaps that remain on the actions needed from national governments, especially the G20 industrialized powers, on mitigation, finance, and adaptation. The UK Prime Minister warned that “history will judge” the world’s richest nations if they fail to deliver on their pledge to commit $100 billion in annual climate aid ahead of COP26. He placed the chances of securing the money before November at “six out of 10”. Mr. Johnson also assured his country “will lead by example, keeping the environment on the global agenda and serving as a launchpad for a global green industrial revolution.” But warned: “No one country can turn the tide, it would be akin to bailing out a liner with a single bucket.” 5. World leaders committed to reform Global Food Systems Food systems cause as much as a third of greenhouse gas emissions, up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss and use up to 70 per cent of freshwater reserves. However, sustainable food production systems should be recognized as an essential solution to these existing challenges. On 23 Sept, the first ever UN Food Systems Summit convened world leaders to spur national and regional action to transform the way we produce, consume and dispose of our food. Following from the latest IPCC report, which raised a “code red” for human-driven global heating, the US administration, one of the world’s major agricultural producers, pledged $10 billion over five years to address climate change and help feed those most vulnerable without exhausting natural resources. The Summit, called by the UN Secretary-General in 2019 to accelerate global progress by leveraging the interconnected importance of food systems, featured other commitments from more than 85 Heads of State around the world. Many countries announced national initiatives to ensure their food systems met not only the nutritional needs of their populations but also goals around climate change, biodiversity, and decent livelihoods for all. Business and civil society organizations also made important promises. Check out the 231 commitments made. 6. No more ‘blah, blah, blah’ Almost 400 activists aged 15 to 29 from 186 countries met in Milan, Italy, a few days ago, to rev up the call for climate action. With weeks to go before COP26, they highlighted youth leadership and pushed for a far more climate conscious society. Greta Thunberg, along with Ugandan environmentalist Vanessa Nakate was among the speakers at the Youth4Climate event, run by Italy and the World Bank Group. “Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net-zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises”, Thunberg said. “No more empty conferences, it’s time to show us the money”, added Nakate, 24, referring to the $100 billion in annual climate aid promised by the richest economists to help developing countries vulnerable to the impact of climate change. "What do we want? We want climate justice now", highlighted Thunberg, known for inspiring a series of youth climate strikes around the world since 2018. The three-day meeting finalized with a joint document to be presented at negotiation meetings during the preparation COP26 event, the Pre-COP, and then during the pivotal conference. UN chief António Guterres thanked young people for contributing ideas and solutions in advance of the UN Climate Conference. “Young people have been in the forefront of putting forward positive solutions, advocating for climate justice and holding leaders to account. We need young people everywhere to keep raising your voices,” he said in a video message. 7. Next commitments to watch: the Pre-COP Each UN Climate Conference (COP) is preceded by a preparatory meeting held about a month before, called Pre-COP. The meeting is the final formal, multilateral opportunity for ministers to shape the negotiations in detail ahead of the meeting in Glasgow in November. The event, this year in Milan, brings together climate and energy ministers from a selected group of countries to discuss and exchange views on some key political aspects of the negotiations and delve into some of the key topics that will be addressed at COP26. The meeting is taking place just weeks after a report by UN Climate Change found that nations must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent global temperature increases beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2C – ideally 1.5C – by the end of the century. The issues under discussion in Milan include: Reducing emissions to ensure that the 1.5C goal remains within reach Provision of finance and support to developing countries to enable them to act on climate change Improving approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage from climate extremes Establishing a global goal on adaptation to decrease vulnerability Advancing the technicalities needed for countries to report on their climate actions and support needed or received Advancing the detailed rules for the market and non-market mechanisms, through which countries can cooperate to meet their emission reduction targets The Conference started on Sept 30th and closed on Oct 2nd. Story was originally posted on UN News.
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30 September 2021
Transform food systems to avert $400 billion annually in loss and waste
That half-eaten apple tossed in the trash bin after lunch is contributing to the staggering mountain of food wasted globally, at a time when more than 800 million people still go to bed hungry, UN agencies said on Wednesday, marking the International Day to increase awareness of this issue. Not only is preventing food loss and waste crucial for the world’s people, it is also essential for the future of the planet, they stressed in remarks to an online commemorative event. “We cannot continue to lose 14 per cent of food produced globally and to waste 17 per cent of total food in households, retailers, restaurants and other food services. This amounts to a loss of $400 billion a year in food value,” said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In his video message, Mr. Qu spoke of the need to step-up global cooperation to transform food systems, from farm to fork, in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 12, on ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns, includes a specific target to halve per capita global food waste by 2030. Triple crisis, multiple benefits Our food systems and consumption practices, which use up precious water and land resources, are major contributors to the triple crises afflicting the planet: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). She listed some of the multiple benefits of reducing the “heavy” burden of food waste and loss “Food security, obviously”, she began. “Cost savings at all levels. Climate mitigation. A reduced burden of pollution, and reduced use of water and land. Protection for biodiversity by using existing agricultural land more efficiently, and so, reducing the push for expansion is also critical.” Third biggest emitter In Africa the value of lost food exceeds the annual value of grain imports, according to Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director at the World Food Programme (WFP). These losses exacerbate food insecurity and affect the environment through the waste of precious land, water, farming inputs and energy to produce food that is not eventually eaten. “In fact, current levels of food loss caused more than three billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to be emitted, meaning that if food waste were to be a country it would be the third biggest emitter of carbon emission,” he said in a pre-recorded message. “This is really important for us all to remember as we head to the UN climate conference COP 26 in Glasgow.” Sustainable food systems The event marking the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, was held one week after the UN Food Systems Summit and shortly after countries took stock of progress towards meeting the SDG 12 target. Achieving it by the 2030 deadline will require collective action, and rapidly, said Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). He outlined priorities for Governments and the private sector, such as integrating food loss reduction into national agricultural policies and development plans, and improving access of smallholder farmers to rural financial services. “This International Day is one way for us all to come together to promote interventions that reduce food loss and contribute to achieving more sustainable food systems. Together, we can scale up solutions for reducing food loss,” said Mr. Houngbo. this story is originally published by UN News: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1101672
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03 July 2021
New MIT study says United Nations Pause Campaign slows spread of life-threatening misinformation
A major part of that work is the UN’s Pause campaign, which encourages people to pause to check the validity of any information they share. Now, a new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says the Pause campaign can bring about the behavioural change needed to stop the spread of misinformation. The MIT study, conducted in the UK and the US, found that the simple act of pausing to question the origin, credibility, relevance and accuracy of any information before sharing it on phones, computers and social media platforms, significantly reduced people’s propensity to share misinformation. In the study, participants who saw Pause campaign content were notably less likely to share fake headlines. “The monumental task of tackling misinformation belongs to all of us. It is about how we can come together to drive social change, shifting behavioural norms and tapping into people’s sense of solidarity to keep each other safe,” said Melissa Fleming, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. “The MIT study shows that pausing before sharing is not only possible but also the responsible thing to do, especially in an age where it has become hard to separate the truth from the lies.” The Pause campaign, created in collaboration with Purpose, a social impact agency, is part of the wider Verified initiative launched by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in May 2020 to deliver trusted COVID-19-related medical and science information and advice, and stop the spread of misinformation. According to the World Health Organization, in the first three months of 2020 alone, nearly 6,000 people were hospitalized because of COVID-19 misinformation. The Pause campaign, which reached nearly 1 billion people in 2020, is redoubling its efforts to empower more people to share information responsibly. The new phase of the campaign asks the world to take the #PledgetoPause and flood the Internet with the pause symbol. Guided by research, the campaign is built on the premise that by interrupting, even for a few seconds, the impulse to share something we see -- an urge often fuelled by emotions such as excitement, anger, sadness, elation, and even altruism -- we allow ourselves time to think more critically. Better judgement prevails and fewer bogus claims are circulated. In the words of the UN Secretary-General: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the wrong information can be deadly. Take the pledge to pause and help stop the spread of misinformation.” ABOUT VERIFIED Verified is a United Nations initiative, in collaboration with Purpose, that aims to empower people around the world with science-based information during the Covid-19 response. Working with UN agencies, influencers, civil society, businesses, and social media platforms, Verified creates and distributes trusted, accurate information and encourages consumers to change their media consumption practices to reduce and stop the spread of misinformation online. Website: https://shareverified.com/en/ ABOUT PAUSE CAMPAIGN Launched as a part of the UN Verified initiative, the Pause Campaign draws on research from psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioural scientists whose studies indicate that pausing to reflect before sharing can significantly help to reduce the spread of unverified and misleading information. The overall campaign, which was launched a year ago, challenges people to break the habit of sharing shocking or emotive content impulsively and without questioning its accuracy. Website: https://pledgetopause.org CONTACTS UN Department of Global Communications Devi Palanivelu | email@example.com | +1 917 495 5424 Purpose Jennifer Minard | firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 787 242 7706
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15 June 2021
Strengthening Resilience and Ending Vulnerability in Small Island Developing States
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face a shared set of geographical, environmental, economic, and social challenges, and suffer from unique development needs and extreme vulnerability. Frequent exposures to natural hazards and disasters intensified by climate change and external economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are detrimental to these island nations. The Joint SDG Fund announces a call for proposals focusing on strengthening resilience and ending the vulnerabilities of SIDS to accelerate the SDGs. The overall funding envelope for this Call is US$30 million. All SIDS countries are eligible to receive funding, including countries previously funded in the Joint SDG Fund’s existing portfolios. Intended to be catalytic, funding will support targeting programmatic solutions of 2 years or less, with a budget of US$1 million per country. Multi-Country Offices will be eligible for funding envelopes corresponding to the countries and populations they serve and be reviewed on case by case basis. This Call for Proposals will support a new generation of transformative, Government-led, integrated initiatives that leverage the best expertise and resources possible to address complex problems and accelerate progress towards the SDGs. “We must work together to ensure that the [Decade of Action] delivers for Small Island Developing States. In addressing climate change, enhanced ambition and action are both a priority and a driver of the Decade . . . we need small island developing States leadership more than ever.” - United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed Governments face challenges in accessing financing for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation and funding modern and resilient social protection systems. Vulnerable groups have been proportionally hit harder by the recent economic crisis. Furthermore, the skills-gap and the impacts of COVID-19 has resulted in higher levels of youth unemployment. Sustainable growth will require economic diversification and higher participation from a skillful workforce. To prevent disasters, advance the economy and enable the public sector to deliver services to people and enterprises, access to modern innovative technologies, led by digitalization are critical. In line with the implementation of UN reform agenda, UN Joint Programmes supported by the Fund will demonstrate a new generation of collaboration for results, embedded in the UN Cooperation Frameworks and committed to enhanced national ownership, leadership, and capacities. The strength in partnerships builds resilience and reduces vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States to leave no one behind.
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07 June 2021
Media Statement by UN in Malaysia
Throughout the pandemic, the UN in Malaysia has been strongly advocating for the inclusion of migrants, refugees and undocumented persons in the COVID-19 response and the National COVID-19 Immunization Programme. These vulnerable groups should also have meaningful access to information so that they are aware of the vaccination plans and where to access the services. The public health logic in a pandemic is that nobody is safe unless everybody is safe. Furthermore, in press conferences in February and April 2021, the Government has repeated that those without documents will not be detained during vaccination. The UN commends this inclusive approach to keep the entire population safe. The UN in Malaysia has also discussed with the Government that in order to encourage undocumented people to come forward for vaccination, guarantees from repercussions such as temporary exemption or moratorium from detention and deportation are important. A crackdown on migrants during this critical public health crisis could seriously undermine the public health objective and lead to adverse results. The UN continues to offer to collaborate with the Government and other stakeholders to help ensure all individuals, regardless of legal status, are included in vaccination plans without repercussions.
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04 May 2021
Statement by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet
A free, uncensored and independent press is a cornerstone of democratic societies. It can bring life-saving information in moments of crises; provide a basis for public participation; and help ensure accountability and respect for human rights. World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to celebrate this fundamental work. Especially today, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, in which a group of African journalists set out key principles for press freedom. The COVID-19 crisis has made it clearer that critical reporting on government policies or public figures is all too often met with prosecution. Laws adopted or applied to restrict and criminalise disinformation during the pandemic have also been used by States to target journalists. Around the world, people have increasingly taken to the streets to demand their economic and social rights, as well as an end to discrimination and systemic racism, impunity, and corruption. Journalists fulfilling their fundamental role of reporting on these social protests have intolerably become targets. Many have been victims of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement, arbitrary arrests, and criminal prosecution. Attacks, arrests and the criminal prosecution of a journalist has an additional chilling effect of dissuading other journalists from critically reporting on relevant issues. In this way, they impoverish public debate and hamper our ability to respond effectively to societal challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The work of journalists and media workers will be crucial for the world to recover better from the devastation of this crisis. Objective, trusted, fact-checked news will counter disinformation; help ensure resilient and sustainable solutions to current challenges; demand transparency and accountability; foster trust in institutions. Contributing to humanity’s well-being, accurate information is a public good. The silencing of a journalist is a loss to society as a whole. In order to fully celebrate the bravery of journalists in their determination to keep the public informed, we must demand that their rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.
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14 April 2021
World leaders to meet on strengthening financial measures to boost efforts to cope with COVID-19 fallout
New York, 29 March 2021—With many countries continuing to struggle to overcome the human and economic devastation from COVID-19, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is convening a meeting of world leaders on Monday, 29 March from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EDT to urge the international community to take additional and urgent action to ensure a robust recovery. The high-level virtual meeting organized by the Secretary-General together with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and the Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness aims to underscore the urgency of the need for bolder and concrete action to provide liquidity and address debt vulnerability in developing countries. The meeting will follow-up on a series of meetings and roundtables held last year to mobilize action to assist the economic recovery from the pandemic that resulted in a series of measures by the international community, but still not sufficient to meet the continuing and deepening crisis that many countries face. “We are on the verge of a debt crisis. Six countries have already defaulted. One-third of emerging market economies are at high risk of fiscal crisis. And the situation is even worse for least-developed and low-income countries,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We need now, to allocate new special drawing rights and encourage countries with strong reserve positions to reallocate unused SDRs to countries that need it; extend the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative into 2022; and expand it to include all highly indebted, vulnerable middle-income countries affected by the crisis. We also need to expand the Common Framework for Debt Treatment to other vulnerable countries and provide additional, targeted debt relief and to tackle long-standing weaknesses in the international debt architecture. Otherwise, we risk spiralling deeper into the worst recession since the Great Depression.” Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, said, “It has now been over a year since the COVID-19 global health crisis began and it has wreaked tremendous havoc on lives, livelihoods, and the global economy.” “The COVID-19-induced contraction in economic activity,” he said, “is severely impacting debt sustainability, particularly in low and middle-income countries. In addition to providing critical debt relief and liquidity support, we must create a new international debt architecture that ensures sustainability and encourages the private sector to integrate sustainability into its investment decisions to ensure a faster, stronger and more resilient recovery.” Prime Minister Holness added, “With the availability of vaccines, we are now able to see a path towards global recovery even as we note that all countries must have sufficient amounts and capacity to vaccinate their populations if we are to achieve inclusive recovery. Let us continue through robust cooperation and coordination to take deliberate actions to reverse the devastating economic effects of the pandemic as we prepare for a future of sustainable growth and development.” “The world must come together to protect people, save lives, and defeat COVID-19,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Our progress has been remarkable, but we know we can’t defeat this virus and build back better at home unless all countries have the resources to respond to and recover from this global challenge. Only through a coordinated global response, can we address the impacts of the pandemic and create jobs, economic growth, and new opportunity for our people and businesses. New United Nations policy brief on debt crisis In a new policy brief issued today, “Preventing Debt Crises in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond: The Time to Act is Now,” the Secretary-General says that while many steps taken to date have been significant, they have not been sufficient to help restore economic health. Risks remain high for more countries to tip into a debt crisis, especially if the COVID-19 shock is more protracted and deeper than forecast. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more than 2.7 million deaths and more than 125 million confirmed cases worldwide, has gone beyond a health and humanitarian crisis to also become an unprecedented global development emergency. More than a year into the pandemic, the Secretary-General says the fiscal impacts of the crisis are triggering debt distress in a growing number of countries and is severely limiting the ability of many countries to invest in recovery and the Sustainable Development Goals, including urgently needed climate action. He said, “Unless we take decisive action on debt and liquidity, we risk another ‘lost decade’ for many developing countries, putting the SDGs definitively out of reach.” COVID-19 highlights increasingly unequal world The current economic situation has highlighted growing inequalities between and within countries that pose significant threats to global efforts to build back better. COVID-19-related economic shocks have already led credit rating agencies to downgrade the credit worthiness of 42 countries since the start of the pandemic, including six developed countries, 27 emerging market economies, and nine least developed and low-income countries. Unprecedented health, social and economic measures over the last year have helped control the spread of the deadly virus, save lives and mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. These emergency policies succeeded in flattening the curve of contagion and saved lives, but they also resulted the first increase in extreme poverty since 1998, a 4.3% drop in global GDP and the loss of an equivalent of 144 million jobs in 2020 alone. Many countries responded with extraordinary fiscal support measures, taking advantage of low borrowing costs, with developed countries accounting for the overwhelming share, around US$18 trillion. The international community has mobilized a strong response including emergency financing from international financial institutions, support for humanitarian partners, and access to medical countermeasures such as vaccines. Many developing countries, and least developed countries, in particular, which suffered from high debt levels before the pandemic, seeing their fiscal and external financing position further deteriorate in the course of 2020, have not been able to provide much needed stimulus support in adequate measure. While some middle-income countries have returned to international bond markets since April 2020, only two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been able to access markets; and some countries, including least developed countries with very high refinancing needs in 2021, will not have access to financial markets at affordable rates. In addition, many of these countries have already seen access to foreign currency curtailed through non-resident capital flight, and contractions in trade, tourism, remittances and foreign direct investment. The rapid growth of financing needs and the collapse in revenues and GDP growth associated with the pandemic have exacerbated debt burden risks across the globe. More than half of the least developed and low-income countries that use the IMF World Bank Debt Sustainability Framework are now assessed at a high risk of debt distress or in debt distress and, according to some estimates, more than a third of emerging market economies are at high risk of fiscal crises. Need for debt relief Debt relief will be needed to create space for investments in recovery and for achieving the SDGs, including climate action. Even in cases of elevated debt, new borrowing can lead to improved creditworthiness if it finances productive investments. Debt relief can also free up resources, create conditions under which countries can return to voluntary market access, and may lower a country’s overall borrowing costs, with positive impacts across the whole economy. Call for action on liquidity, fresh financing and ODA The Secretary-General, in the new UN policy brief, calls on governments to provide fresh concessional financing for developing countries, especially LDCs and SIDS, recapitalize multilateral development banks and accelerate the timetable for replenishing the funds, meet ODA commitments and provide long-term financing to developing countries for investment in long-term growth and development. In support of recent endorsements from the G7, the brief also calls for a new general allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs) reiterating the need to combine a voluntary reallocation of SDRs from developed to developing countries. And the brief calls on G20 to extend the World Bank’s Debt Suspension Initiative (DSSI) until the end of June 2022 and include middle-income countries, notably small island developing states that have been gravely affected by the crisis. The policy brief also calls on the G20 to extend the eligibility to debt relief under the Common Framework for Debt Treatment Beyond the DSSI to other vulnerable countries on a case-by-case basis; and consider other mechanisms that would allow countries to access the Common Framework without creating a stigma or compromising the credit rating of the beneficiaries, including funds and other instruments within existing institutions. Finally, the brief calls on countries and the international financial institutions to seize the moment to address long-standing weaknesses in the international debt architecture. Participants at the High-level meeting Moderated by BBC news anchor Laura Trevelyan, the meeting of Heads of State and Government will feature opening remarks by the UN Secretary-General and Prime Ministers Trudeau and Holness. It will also feature Heads of State and Government and include participation by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Group President David Malpass, OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría and WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. [END] About the High-level meeting The high-level meeting will be webcast at: http://webtv.un.org/ The full list of speakers will be posted on the High-Level Event website, which can be found at: https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/financing-development. An embargoed copy of the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief can be found here. Media contacts United Nations: Dan Shepard, UN Department of Global Communications, email: email@example.com, tel: +1 646 675 3286 Canada: Office of the Prime Minister, PMO Media Relations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Jamaica: Kimberley McLeod and Naomi Francis, Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, email: Kimberley.email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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