December Digital News Recap

December was a month to celebrate some of the achievements of 2019 but also a stark reminder that there is much to do to reach the SDGs in the new decade.

The 25th UN Climate Change Conference (COP) was held in Madrid in December. Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, was not satisfied with the outcome.

The push for higher ambition (by the EU and many smaller nations) was opposed by a range of countries including major geopolitical players the US, Brazil, India and China. A compromise was agreed with the richer nations having to show that they have kept their promises on climate change in the years before 2020. Yet, as Mr Guterres alluded to, the lack of ambition by major players – home to around half of the world’s population – is extremely disappointing. The damage and distress of climate change is already apparent, with forest fires, droughts, and other natural disasters increasing in frequency and putting livelihood’s at risk. As we move into 2020, the next decade will be crucial. Action and commitment must start now.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change @UNFCCC, echoed the Secretary-General’s disappointment. Developing countries are the most at risk of climate change’s negative impacts due partly to geography as well as restricted resources to adapt and mitigate the effects. As Mrs Espinosa outlined, developing countries need support in finance, technology and capacity-building to respond to and overcome climate change.

Laura Padoan, Spokesperson for @refugees @UNHCRUK, tweeted this short video as part of a campaign to keep refugee families together. The new Brexit Withdrawal Agreement removes the UK government’s obligations to reunite refugee children in Europe with their families. Children should have the right to be reunited with family members.

Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J Mohamed shared a video from her trip to Kenya where she took an electric vehicle on safari. The use of electric vehicles here is beneficial by using renewable energy – helping to reduce impact on the climate and to air pollution – and preserving tourism, vital to Kenya’s economy.

Finally, a positive end to 2019 saw Phumzile Mlambo, Executive Director of @UN_Women, share 15 moments of female achievement. The gender gap is still pertinent but in the last twelve months women have achieved amazing things and taken new leadership roles to help to close the gap.

Amongst them, NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch took part in the first all-women spacewalk; Greta Thunberg established herself as the leading spokesperson on climate change; Esther Duflo became the second woman to win the Nobel prize for Economics; Ursula con der Leyen and Christine Lagarde were chosen by European Union leaders to head The European Commission and the European Central Bank; and Dr. Katie Bouman became the first scientist to create an image of a black hole possible. In addition, in Egypt, Tanzania and Indonesia bans on child marriage are now in effect, working to protect girls, their futures and education.

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.