August Digital News Recap

Climate change was high on the agenda of UN staffers in August in light of widespread fires in the Amazon rainforest and elsewhere. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted his concern for the fires which was met with great support by twitter users liking and retweeting the Secretary-General’s concerns. Mr Guterres subsequently attended the G7 where among other issues such as inequality and Africa, he advocated for the need to take action on climate issues. His main message was that we have the tools to address the climate emergency, but we need more political will. Countries must commit to climate pledges.

Another of the most liked tweets of UN staffers this month was from the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J Mohammed. Mrs Mohammed welcomed Greta Thunberg to New York after weeks of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit. Greta Thunberg has been a key figure in the fight for Climate Action since her weekly protests outside Swedish parliament in her home city of Stockholm. Now a worldwide superstar, Thunberg has been an inspiration for many to take action and fight governments and organisations to do more to combat climate change. In her first protest, Thunberg sat alone in Stockholm. Today, she is joined by millions around the world in the fight against climate change.

Youth have been particularly vocal in the Climate Action movement. The Deputy Secretary-General was in Kenya for the Intergenerational Retreat on Leadership in Africa. As tweeted: ‘Young women are impatient for dialogue, mentorship, access & positive change. They are tired of being referred to as leaders of tomorrow when their leadership started already.’ Enabling girls in Africa to attend school, work, and act on their own ideas can give them meaning and financial security as well as helping to drive positive change for the rest of society on issues such as gender equality, climate change and sustainable development.

UN workers have been assisting efforts in Democratic Republic of Congo to fight the outbreak of ebola. More than 2000 are thought to have been killed by the disease. Treatment facilities and accommodation for those affected are among the efforts. Additionally, UN peacekeepers have been helping to promote peace and security in DRC. Over 100,000 ex-combatants have put down their weapons and are returning to their families and work. As one of the poorest and most conflicted countries in the world, the UN’s assistance in DRC is most welcome. The Secretary-General later flew to DRC to witness firsthand the efforts by all involved and talk to survivors.

On World Humanitarian Day, Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner of Refugees, lamented the politicisation of refugees, particularly those crossing at sea. More than 900 refugees have been killed while crossing the Mediterranean Sea alone in 2019. Rather than focussing on the movement of refugees, more consideration should be taken to improve the causes driving these people to leave their homes. War, political crises and famines for example. People are leaving desperate situations, risking – and sometimes losing – their livelihood in the process. This is a humanitarian issue.

Finally, Gisella Lomax of the UNHCR tweeted this video of a Syrian refugee Nawras who has found a job and hobby in dog training. Nawras left Syria and eventually settled in Malta. After a challenging arrival, he has now found his place in his new community with the help of his love of dogs.

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.