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:
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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09 February 2022
The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World
Change starts with you. Seriously. Every human on earth—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution. Fortunately, there are some super easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do it, will make a big difference.
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09 February 2022
Towards a net-zero future: The UN Campaign for Individual Action ActNow is the United Nations campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability.
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20 June 2022
UNDP: Working Local, Thinking Global Seminar: Engaging Evidence in Policy Making towards the SDGs
The United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), in partnership with the UN agencies in Malaysia, is proud to launch this year’s seminar series “Working Local, Thinking Global: Engaging Evidence in Policy Making towards the SDGs.” Now on its third year, the series provides a forum for intellectual discussion about the work of the UN towards the achievement of the SDGs and brings together various voices from academics, researchers, and civil societies across Malaysia to meet and engage with their relevant counterparts in the UN system. In this episode, UNDP Representative joins UNU-IIGH to talk about UNDP’s work in Malaysia towards advancing the SDGs. Catch the session live on July 21 (Thursday), 2 PM Malaysia Time via Zoom and UNU-IIGH social media. Register here: https://go.unu.edu/tWbSi Catch the livestream: YouTube | Twitter | LinkedIn
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20 June 2022
Secretary General's Message: World Refugee Day
On World Refugee Day, we reflect on the courage and resilience of those fleeing war, violence, and persecution – and we recognize the compassion of those who welcome them. Today, the global refugee population is at a record high. The war in Ukraine has triggered the largest and fastest displacement in Europe since World War II. Together with the women, children, and men fleeing conflict elsewhere in the world, the total number of forcibly displaced people has reached 100 million – a grim indictment of our times. This year’s World Refugee Day affirms a fundamental tenet of our common humanity: everyone has the right to seek safety – whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee. International law is clear: The right to seek asylum is a fundamental human right. People escaping violence or persecution must be able to cross borders safely. They must not face discrimination at borders or be unfairly denied refugee status or asylum due to their race, religion, gender, or country of origin. They cannot be forced to return if their lives or freedom would be at risk. And like every human being, they should be treated with respect. But safety is just the first step. Once out of harm’s way, refugees need opportunities. Opportunities to heal, to learn, to work, and to thrive. Opportunities to return home if they so choose, or to rebuild their lives elsewhere, in safety and dignity. Across the world, refugees have brought new life, prosperity, and rich cultural diversity to their host communities. Protecting refugees is a responsibility we all share. Today, let us pledge to do more for refugees everywhere – and for the countries that host them while themselves facing a cascade of challenges. Let us stand together in solidarity. Let us defend the integrity of the international protection regime. And let us never lose sight of our common humanity.
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05 June 2022
World Environment Day: The arteries of our planet
Read the original article here Wetland paradise The Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands are the largest Ramsar Wetland in Malaysia, and the first Ramsar site in Sabah state, which lies at the north-eastern tip of Borneo island. Totalling 78,803 ha, the Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands are fed by two large rivers - the Kinabatangan and Segama - as well as numerous smaller rivers and tributaries. The wide mangrove belts are the largest contiguous mangrove area in the Southern Sulu Sea. “Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense.” Mark Angelo, founder of World Rivers Day True Lifelines Preserving the integrity of aquatic ecosystems is of critical importance. This year’s World Environment Day campaign #OnlyOneEarth calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet. The campaign calls on all of us to “revive what we destroyed and reconnect with what sustains us”. Rivers are our planetary arterial lifelines – they both literally connect and sustain us. A country blessed For Malaysia, a country blessed with 157 river systems, as well as a variety of tropical wetlands, forests, and marine ecosystems, the preservation of these riverine lifelines has a special significance. The country is recognized as one of 17 mega-diverse countries in the world. Its river systems - as well as riparian and catchment forests - support an immense diversity of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, including more than 600 freshwater fish species, all stitched together into a protective web of ecosystem services, from clean water and food production to erosion control and flood prevention. Aquatic ecosystems protected A resource as central to human existence as rivers is deserving of projects that place conservation as a key consideration in policy and planning processes. The Mainstreaming of Biodiversity Conservation into River Management project works to maintain the integrity of aquatic ecosystems through – appropriately - mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into river basin management. By embedding riparian biodiversity conservation into river management, the project is protecting three riverine habitats: a forested water supply reservoir catchment area, an urban river, and a rural river impacted by plantation development and smallholders. Rivers transect and unite The project is a collaborative effort between the Government of Malaysia and international bodies to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. With funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project is working with the Ministry of Environment and Water, and the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia, along with two NGO partners (Global Environment Centre and Forever Sabah), to protect the river system and to conserve the rich flora and fauna that benefit the communities. The project’s significance is attested to by its support from the Selangor State Government, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Perak State Government, and the Sabah State Government. Forever Sabah In Sabah, the project is focussed on riparian conservation and livelihoods on the Segama River. Working in partnership with the NGO Forever Sabah, project activities are helping to ensure that the region transitions to a diversified, equitable, circular economy. Forever Sabah's engagement in the Segama river delta can be traced back to 2006 with KOPEL, a pioneering village based cooperative running community-based nature tourism and conservation initiative. This mutually empowering partnership evolved and was replicated in the Village of Abai in 2010. The Lower Kinabatangan & Segama Wetlands Programme was formally launched in 2015 as a GEF SGP and IUCN-funded effort to explore shared governance of the Ramsar site. Since then Forever Sabah has partnered with the indigenous peoples and local communities, the Sabah Forestry Department, and a wide variety of local and international organizations across these mangroves and swamp forests to facilitate mutual empowerment. This collaborative management over the years has enabled the rise of local champions, recognized and valued traditional ecological knowledge, and promoted highly participatory and multidisciplinary approaches, including advancing citizen science. Forever Segama The Segama river drains a vast territory of what was Sabah’s most biodiverse rich lowland rainforest, before flowing into the Coral Triangle in one of the region’s largest mangrove swamps. Its outlet lies within the Ramsar Site it shares with the Kinabatangan. Where engagement in the Lower Kinabatangan & Segama Wetlands over the last 5 years has expanded into reaching out to indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders into the Segama river. The Segama’s alluvial flood plains now support some of the largest, most lucrative oil palm on the planet, along with remnant populations of Sabah’s iconic animals for whom connectivity between forest patches is now a major issue. The differences between the two rivers are illuminating: unlike the Segama, two thirds of the Kinabatangan catchment is under total protection. In contrast, in the Segama catchment, two thirds of the actual riparian zone - so crucial for life and connectivity - is under oil palm, more than half of which is illegally planted all the way down to the river’s edge. But the Segama is worthy of protection too. The Danum and Ulu Segama are the headwaters of the Segama, and include sites such as the world-renowned Danum Valley, Tabin, Imbak Canyon, and the Ulu Segama (with the highest orangutan populations in Sabah). Only a few companies with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification have established (or are now establishing), forest riparian protections, and formal conservation efforts have been slow to start in the region. As a result, there is a clear absence of protection for the kinds of riparian forest patches that have been core to interventions on the Kinabatangan. But this project, and these partnerships, are working to change that. The Segama river itself is now silted, heavily polluted by oil palm, damaged by sand, gold and other mining, over-fished (and subject to fish and prawn poisoning by impoverished estate workers with pilfered agricultural chemicals), and remains the source of domestic water (treated and untreated), for tens of thousands of people. The project team is facilitating engagements between marginalized communities, private companies and government agencies, in an effort to reframe landscape conservation questions in meaningful local terms, and build capacity in oil palm, citizen science, remote sensing, water quality, fisheries, conservation-based livelihoods and others. This is complemented by community-based participatory work with nine indigenous communities living along the Mid-Segama River. This support is ensuring free, prior and informed consent while leveraging the communities’ extraordinarily diverse knowledge bank across six major categories of work. Finally, the initiative is providing citizen science training in water quality assessment and riparian biodiversity through the use of remote sensing to identify ‘hot spots’ for connection and conservation of existing protected areas, remnant forest patches and current or restorable riparian zone forests. Only one earth Recognising rivers as vital lifelines for people and planet, our shared aquatic ecosystems that transcend borders and imposed boundaries, this project understands intimately that there is only one Earth. For more information on the Riverine project, visit the project website here. For more information on UNDP Malaysia, visit here.
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01 June 2022
Join us! : World Press Freedom Day Virtual Forum
Join us via Zoom or YouTube live: Visit our events page here for the participation links and to download the programme Background May 3 is celebrated worldwide as the World Press Freedom Day. The commemoration serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. This is also a day for reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right of everyone "to freedom of opinion and expression” and clarifies that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through media and regardless of frontiers. The Federal Constitution of Malaysia guarantees every citizen's right to freedom of speech and expression. The right to information is not explicitly mentioned, but this can be considered an integral part of freedom of speech. Without access to information, citizens would not be able to exercise their right to free speech and expression effectively. UNESCO has proposed “Journalism under Digital Siege” as the theme for 2022. The focus will be on the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists and access to information. The digital transformation has had multifaceted impact on journalism, from facilitating mass and targeted surveillance of journalists to jeopardizing the economic viability of news media to reshaping the relationship with audience. It has challenged the media to reinvent its operations and to contend with the decrease in public trust. The World Press Freedom Day 2022 Forum in Malaysia will provide an opportunity to discuss these complex challenges and to also highlight the ways in which the media have adapted to the new reality. The Forum will also enable to put into action the commitments made by all 193 UNESCO Member States through the Windhoek +30 Declaration, which recognizes free, independent, professional and pluralistic media as the prerequisite to guaranteeing information as a public good for the whole of humanity. The Declaration also addresses the pressing issues regarding media viability, transparency of digital platforms, and media and information literacy. Forum The Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, the United Nations in Malaysia (through the Peace Results Group) and the Centre for Independent Journalism will co-organize a forum to commemorate World Press Freedom Day 2022 to discuss “journalism under digital siege”, bringing together civil society, media sector and international partners. Objectives of Forum Encourage the government to guarantee freedom of expression and access to information as mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Covenant on Civil Liberties. Work towards achieving SDG16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions specifically on goal 16.10 which is to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms. Raise awareness regarding the importance of freedom of the media and the right to information especially in digital media as well as combating fake news.
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23 May 2022
Only One Earth
Visit the World Environment Day website here The biggest day for the environment World Environment Day on 5 June is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually since 1974, the event has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet. This year, World Environment Day 2022 is hosted by Sweden. “Only One Earth” is the campaign slogan, with the focus on “Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”. With over 150 countries participating, this UN international day engages governments, businesses, civil society, schools, celebrities, cities and communities, raising awareness and celebrating environmental action. 2022 A historic milestone 2022 is a historic milestone for the global environmental community. It marks 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, widely seen as the first international meeting on the environment. The 1972 Stockholm Conference spurred the formation of environment ministries and agencies around the world and kickstarted a host of new global agreements to collectively protect the environment. It was also where the goals of poverty alleviation and environmental protection became linked, paving the way for the Sustainable Development Goals. At the Stockholm Conference the idea of World Environment Day was formalized, with the first one being celebrated in 1974. In early June 2022 the high-level Stockholm+50 international meeting will be held in Sweden, a few days before World Environment Day. The communications around these events are connected and will be mutually reinforcing. There is a circularity in this year’s World Environment Day; 50 years ago the theme of the Stockholm Conference was also “Only One Earth”. The message is as important today as it was then. 2022: Emergency mode The world is facing three major environmental crises: climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, and pollution and waste, driven by human activity and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. The world’s most vulnerable communities are often the most impacted by the environmental crisis. Of the 7 million people who die annually as a result of air pollution, a disproportionate number are children and the elderly, and most are in the developing world. In 2020, climate shocks forced 30 million people to flee their homes – around three times more than those displaced by war and violence. By 2050 the number of people displaced by the environmental crisis could be as high as 200 million. Tackling these crises is critical to saving lives and improving the future of billions of people. Addressing the UN General Assembly in January 2022, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said: “We must go into emergency mode against the climate crisis. The battle to keep the 1.5-degree goal alive will be won or lost in this decade. And we are far off-track.” He added, “We need an avalanche of action.” This is a messaged backed up by Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. She said: “2022 is all about shifting into emergency gear for people and planet.” She underscores that we need to recognize “both our impact and dependency on nature gives us the best chance of not just surviving but thriving on this delicate and beautiful planet.” Act for our common home! There is #OnlyOneEarth and protecting it is a global challenge and responsibility. We have the solutions, knowledge and technology to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse but we need to act collectively. We need to rethink the way we live and the way we consume. Climate change does not respect borders and pollution is a global challenge that requires a global response. Ecosystem restoration, a key part of the climate solution, is critical to addressing poverty and enhancing human and ecological resilience. While our individual consumption choices do make a difference, it is collective action that will disrupt the status quo. We need to collectively make immediate and transformative change and advance to a more sustainable and just Earth, where everyone can flourish. #OnlyOneEarth Campaign “Only One Earth” was the slogan for the 1972 Stockholm Conference; 50 years on, this truth still holds – this planet is our only home. With nature in emergency mode, the #OnlyOneEarth campaign, which is part of World Environment Day 2022, wants you to celebrate the planet through collective environmental action. #OnlyOneEarth advocates for transformative environmental change on a global scale. The campaign shines a spotlight on climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution while encouraging everyone, everywhere to live in harmony with nature. The campaign will provide case studies and promote best practices, helping governments, businesses, institutions and individuals to scale up environmental action, supporting the significant, urgent change we need. Along with individual lifestyle actions, the campaign will focus on pushing the levers of power and finance to support real solutions for people and our planet. Humanity must urgently work together to share equitably Earth’s resources and protect and restore the natural world on which our societies and economies depend. Earth Action Numbers Tactic From April to June, individuals, businesses and community groups will be encouraged to share on social media and our website how they’re helping to safeguard the planet. Using the hashtag #OnlyOneEarth, they’ll be encouraged quantify exactly what they’ve done, helping to set a tangible example for others. Earth Action Number examples: • 60 bags of collected trash, 3 primary school classes, #OnlyOneEarth • 10,000 commuters moved through the city, 5 electric buses, #OnlyOneEarth • US $3 million worth of pension funds divested from fossil fuels #OnlyOneEarth • 2 electric firefighting trucks #OnlyOneEarth To align with the Stockholm+50 (S+50) communication plan, World Environment Day 2022 will follow a thematic rollout of communications: - APRIL 2022: FINANCE, TECHNOLOGY and BUSINESS ACTION - MAY 2022: CITIES, COMMUNITIES and YOUTH ACTION - JUNE 2022: MULTILATERAL ACTION Sweden as host World Environment Day 2022 will be an opportunity to showcase some of Sweden’s pioneering work on the environment over the past 50 years. UNEP will work with Sweden to showcase these innovations through a series of written stories and short videos that will be shared online. Key Audiences World Environment Day is for everyone. However, 2022 will emphasise youth and civil society as drivers of environmental action, with governments, cities, financial institutions and industries as the duty bearers who can advance and implement progress and sustainability at scale. Individuals can be drivers of change through their support for businesses and governments. The actions of these larger entities can have a transformational impact, potentially locking in sustainable consumption and production behaviours for the decades to come. Partnerships, collaborators, and coalitions Collaboration will scale action for World Environment Day 2022. By reaching out to strategic organizations around the world, maximizing collaboration and creating mutual value, World Environment Day 2022 can create powerful and diverse coalitions that cut through regional, demographic and generational barriers. This can help galvanize the push for transformative action by businesses and governments.
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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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | +1 917 495 5424 Purpose Jennifer Minard | email@example.com | +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: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +1 646 675 3286 Canada: Office of the Prime Minister, PMO Media Relations, email: email@example.com Jamaica: Kimberley McLeod and Naomi Francis, Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, email: Kimberley.firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
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