February Digital News Recap

As efforts to improve gender relations and gender parity ensue, a great milestone was reached in February as for the first time ever all the heads of UN Regional Commissions are women. The Regional Commissions are the regional outposts of the United Nations in their respective regions: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC)United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) share key objectives aiming to foster economic integration at the subregional and regional levels, to promote the regional implementation of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to support regional sustainable development by contributing to bridging economic, social and environmental gaps among their member countries and subregions.

Assigning women to lead in these roles thus facilitates gender equality in addition to progressing the UN’s development goals by championing gender equality directly and enabling female perspectives to be heard. Amina J Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General, was in high praise for the historic move.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change , was pleased to present an overview of the Katowice Climate Package. The Package sets out the essential procedures and mechanisms that will make the Paris Agreement operational. The successful adoption of well-crafted implementation guidelines aims to ensure greater trust and to strengthen international cooperation on transitioning to a low-emissions, climate-resilient world.

“The Katowice Climate Package agreed at COP24 provides the details that are needed to make the Paris Agreement operational. Preparing for its full implementation at the national level now needs to be a priority,” said Ms. Espinosa. Read more on the package, including its pledges and objectives at https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/katowice-climate-package

Patricia also sent her congratulations and thanks to Costa Rica for enacting its Decarbonisation plan to promote clean development. The plan aims to decarbonise the economy by 2050, including electrifying all transport, expanding forests, and phasing out fossil fuels. The plan is among the most ambitious in the world.

After completing a historic 500km journey from the Kenyan island of Lamu to the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, the world’s first ever traditional “dhow” sailing boat made entirely from recycled plastic, known as the Flipflopi, has successfully raised awareness of the need to overcome one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges: plastic pollution. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, tweeted his excitement for the innovative design.

It is not the first time Kenya has been at the forefront of challenging plastic pollution. In August 2017, the country introduced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags with anyone producing, selling or using a plastic bag, risking imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000.

The African Union is making efforts to help refugees in need. Solidarity between Africans has enabled some of the displaced to access basic resources they so desperately need.

Melissa Fleming, Chief Communications for the UN Refugee Agency, appealed for peace, aid and support for the desperate masses in Yemen who have been devastated by war for several years. Violence and fighting have forced many into displacement alongside starvation and disease. Over 3 million have been displaced and many more in great need. The war has blighted the economy. While, delivery of aid is complicated by opposition groups.

The war is rooted in the political contestation that rose throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. The Yemen government was challenged by the Houthi rebel group, an Islamic religious-political-armed movement that emerged in northern Yemen in the 1990s, who claimed control of the country. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia backed the struggling government with military intervention, including air strikes. Years later, thousands have been killed and many more remain vulnerable to famine as the war continues. Additionally, the government nor the Houthi have not been able to provide basic services to the desperate population. The UN Refugee Agency provides life-saving aid and protection to refugees.

The work of the United Nations is more easily achieved with widespread support and action. The use of social platforms, such as Twitter, by UN staffers to share their experiences, work and promote awareness is thus valuable to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately greater prosperity for all.