Author Archives: teresadebuque

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 2019

Ending extreme poverty is at the heart of the world’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a sustainable future for all.  But success in leaving no one behind will remain elusive if we do not target the people who are farthest behind first.

This year’s observance focuses on “acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children are more than twice as likely to live in extreme poverty than adults.  Poverty condemns many children to lifelong disadvantage and perpetuates an intergenerational transfer of deprivation.  Today’s children will also live with the devastating consequences of climate change if we fail to raise ambition now.

From conflict zones to cyberspace, from forced labour to sexual exploitation, girls are at particular risk, but they are also a force for change. For every additional year a girl remains in school, her average income over a lifetime increases, her chances of being married early decrease, and there are clear health and education benefits for her children, making it a key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty.

One of the keys to ending child poverty is addressing poverty in the household, from which it often stems. Access to quality social services must be a priority, yet today, almost two-thirds of children lack social protection coverage.  Family-oriented policies are also indispensable, including flexible working arrangements, parental leave and childcare support.

On this International Day, let us recommit to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 and a fair globalization that works for all children, their families and communities. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Rural Women, 15 October 2019

Rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship.

Almost a third of women’s employment worldwide is in agriculture. Women cultivate land, collect food, water and essential fuels, and sustain entire households, but lack equal access to land, finances, equipment, markets and decision-making power.

Climate change exacerbates these inequalities, leaving rural women and girls further behind. A quarter of the total damage and loss resulting from climate-related disasters between 2006 and 2016 was suffered by the agricultural sector in developing countries, and women suffer disproportionately in such disasters.

At the same time, rural women are a repository of knowledge and skills that can help communities and societies adapt to the consequences of climate change through nature-based, low-carbon solutions. As farmers and producers, they play a central role in embracing both traditional and modern practices to respond to climate variability and shocks like droughts, heat waves, and extreme rainfall.

Listening to rural women and amplifying their voices is central to spreading knowledge about climate change and urging governments, businesses and community leaders to act. As early adopters of new agricultural techniques, first responders in crises and entrepreneurs of green energy, rural women are a powerful force that can drive global progress.

On this International Day of Rural Women, let us take a concrete step towards such a future by supporting rural women and girls around the world. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Food Day, 16 October 2019

World Food Day is a global call for Zero Hunger — for a world where nutritious food is available and affordable for everyone, everywhere.

But today, more than 820 million people do not have enough to eat.

And the climate emergency is an increasing threat to food security.

Meanwhile, two billion men, women and children are overweight or obese.

Unhealthy diets present an enormous risk of disease and death.

It is unacceptable that hunger is on the rise at a time when the world wastes more than 1 billion tonnes of food every year.

It is time to change how we produce and consume, including to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is why I hope to convene a Food Systems Summit in 2021 as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

As a human family, a world free of hunger is our imperative. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2019

Every 40 seconds, someone makes the tragic decision that life is no longer worth living.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.

Mental health has been neglected for too long.

It concerns us all and greater action is urgent

We need stronger investments in services.

And we must not allow stigma to push people away from the assistance they need.

I am speaking my mind because I care deeply.

There is no health without mental health.

[Ends]

Press Release: Stateless people in Zamboanga to get citizen benefits — UN Refugee Agency

As a young girl, Wanita Arajani lived the traditional life of her nomadic people, who roamed from the Philippines to Malaysia and Indonesia by boat, living from the sea. Few went to school, learned to read or write, or had citizenship.


“Before, having a birth certificate was not relevant or a priority,” explains Wanita, now a grandmother in her 70s, as she sits outside the wooden house on stilts, east of Zamboanga city in the Philippines where her family now lives.

That life changed abruptly in 2013 when the Zamboanga conflict erupted after armed militants attempted to assert autonomy. Ensuing clashes drove her family and thousands of others to seek shelter in government-run evacuation centres.

Teachers at the evacuation centres encouraged families to send their children to nearby schools. It was then that Wanita learned that her granddaughter would need a birth certificate to be able to progress through the education system.

She also discovered that documentation would be vital for family members to avoid arrest during security sweeps, and to allow the long-marginalized community access to health care and housing in the Philippines.

“It has been difficult for us to access services and we always feared discrimination.”

“It has been difficult for us to access services and we always feared discrimination, because we were Sama Bajau,” says Wanita. “But when we get a birth certificate, we will feel more respected and be able to live life with dignity. I will feel valued as a citizen.”

The Philippines is the only country in South-East Asia to have adopted a national action plan to end statelessness. It has identified the Sama Bajau as one of five population groups at risk. It is thought there are 10,000 -15,000 Sama Bajau living in Zamboanga alone, around 85 per cent of whom have no birth certificates.

  • Residents go about their lives in the Valle Vista resettlement community near Zamboanga city, Philippines. The community comprises Sama Bajau and ethnic Tausug people.
    Residents go about their lives in the Valle Vista resettlement community near Zamboanga city, Philippines. The community comprises Sama Bajau and ethnic Tausug people. © UNHCR/Roger Arnold

As part of a concerted push to resolve their situation, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has worked closely with the community, the local government authorities and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples since 2016.

A pilot project supported by UNHCR and UNICEF, which begins in October, seeks to register 1,500 people in the community. Working closely with the government authorities, including a mobile unit of the Civil Registrar’s Office, the aim is to issue families with documentation by mid-December.

“When they get their identification documents, it gives them better opportunities, particularly when it comes to getting an education and learning to read and write,” says Meriam Palma, UNHCR field associate for protection, who works on statelessness issues.

“It’s an important tool for them to be able to assert their rights as a tribe and as a people,” she adds.

Before the drive got underway, Wanita had already succeeded in obtaining a birth certificate for her 15-year-old granddaughter Pirina, which she needed to be allowed to graduate from elementary school and attend junior high.

Philippines. UNHCR helps marginalised indigenous group avoid statelessness

Pirina, 15, the granddaughter of Wanita Arajani, poses for a portrait at her family’s home near Zamboanga city, Philippines.  © UNHCR/Roger Arnold

“I’m the only one in the family to have completed my elementary schooling,” says Pirina, whose graduation photo hangs in pride of place on the wall of the family home.

She says that she loves school because she likes learning, and the teachers are kind and good to her. She is also clear about how having a birth certificate will help her in the future. “It will make it easier to have the chance to apply for jobs and find work.”

“You are our family’s hope,” interjects her grandmother. “Because I’m illiterate, we are clinging on to you to help us.”

Wanita is also excited that the rest of her family will soon benefit from the pilot project.

“The future is clearer and brighter. It’s like you are giving us a kerosene light to brighten our path.”

“I’m so happy.I will have peace of mind,” she says. “Although it’s too late for my sons and daughters, I’ll focus on trying to make sure all my grandsons and granddaughters can go to school. I feel it’s their new hope to have a better life. I’ll do my best to send them to school as long as I’m alive.”

The Sama Bajau regard the sea as their home and living far from it was not their choice. They were compelled to move under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, which declared protected areas, including the coast where they live as no build zones. But having rights on dry land is also vital to them.

“The future is clearer and brighter. It’s like you are giving us a kerosene light to brighten our path and give us hope,” she says with a big smile.

Worldwide millions of people like Wanita are at risk of statelessness and millions more are not recognized by any country as citizens and are stateless. This can mean that basic things that most people take for granted, such as free movement, access to medical treatment, education, seeking a job or even buying a SIM card for a mobile phone, can be a daily battle. [Ends]

Welcome Address of the United Nations Resident Coordinator at the 2019 Social Good Summit

21 September 2019

Ten years ago, Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Department Programme teamed up to launch the Social Good Summit.

The Social Good Summit is a collective effort to tackle the most important issues of our time. It brings together global leaders and activists for a day of constructive dialogue and onstage activations.

Every Summit has always had a powerful lasting impact. Activism is celebrated and attendees are galvanized into action. In the Philippines, Rappler has been leading the Summit, with equally impactful results, and I would like to thank Maria Ressa and acknowledge our friends at Rappler for convening the Summit in the Philippines with a view to sparking action in our digital age.

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Four years after the adoption of the SDGs, the picture is not so rosy. No country is on track to meeting all the goals. In particular, half of the world’s nations are likely to miss the targets for SDG 1 (No Poverty).

We are losing ground in other areas. One million species are threatened with extinction, We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. While high-income countries, particularly the Nordic countries, topped the global ranking for SDG achievement, they obtained their worst ratings on SDG 14 (Life Below water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Young people around the world are taking to the street to protest the lack of environmental action by governments and businesses.

We are confronted by threats arising from climate crisis, poverty and inequality, protracted conflict, migration and displacement, and the rapid changes in demography and technology. These will require effective cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences for the welfare of our children and grandchildren —and our planet itself.

But just when we need bold collective action more than ever, multilateralism is being called into question. Unilateralism is on the rise, as the world becomes more multipolar but also more polarized. In many parts of the world, there is a growing disconnect between people and institutions. Renewed support for global cooperation could not be more urgent.

That urgency is the driving factor for the UN as it turns 75 next year.

The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Our 75th year will be less of a celebration, but rather a pretext to seek means to rejuvenate global cooperation through dialogues across the world around the future people aspire to, the threats to that future, and the tools needed for global cooperation to overcome these threats and support the road to the future they seek.

The “UN@75 and Beyond” campaign will launch “the biggest global conversation on how we will navigate this turbulent period for the world.”

Dialogues will be held at the global, regional, national and local levels and will be convened by member States, civil society, academia, labor and business groups, the youth, and by the UN itself, under the direct leadership of the Secretary-General. These dialogues will be framed by three questions:

The first is, “What kind of a world do we want to create?” Let’s pause briefly to imagine the world in 2045—when the UN turns 100. What kind of future would we have then bequeathed to our grandchildren?

The second question is, “Where is the world heading?” What would 2045 look like if current trends continue? Will we have achieved the Sustainable Development Goals and addressed the threats we face at present? Or could we expect a different set of challenges to have emerged?

Finally, we will ask ourselves, “What action is needed to close the gap—the difference between the future we want and the future that our children will probably inherit?”

These dialogues, which will be conducted throughout 2020, will produce the first-ever repository of crowd-sourced global solutions. The United Nations will set up both digital and analog feedback loops to gather views and recommendations and solutions emerging from the dialogues.

In the same way that the My World Survey, which was conducted from 2008 to 2012, and in which people were asked to name their most urgent needs, helped to shape the SDGs, UN@75 hopes to inspire us to further reimagine the future, and to restore or reinforce our confidence in an inclusive multilateralism as the most effective way to overcome the challenges of our current era.

The United Nations is continuously working to earn your confidence. As we enter a decade of action on the SDGs, and as we ask for more urgency and ambition on climate change, with 2020 being a crucial year, the United Nations will continue to evolve in step with current and emerging needs in order to remain relevant to all. The United Nations refuses to get stuck in old ways of doing things, running faster and faster only to stay in the same place. Rather, we are taking a giant leap of faith, with you, to get ahead of the problems that stand in the way of the future we want. We will work tirelessly to be the UN you deserve.

On the other hand, we enjoin you, especially the youth, to help support the building of a networked and inclusive multilateralism through the power of social media.

We are all aware of the potentials as well as the pitfalls of using social media. On the one hand, it is unbeatable as a networking tool. At the same time, this same power could be used to further divide our world, to promote falsehood, and to sow hate. In other words, to further polarize our world.

Social media is a double-edged sword, but one that you, especially, could most effectively harness for good.

I invite you to continue to discover the social good, to push the boundaries of your online lives in order to engage just as enthusiastically in efforts to build our common future. We are excited to see how your online engagement ripens into offline action that will have a transformative impact on your personal lives, your families, and your communities.

The SDGs are a roadmap to our collective future, but you and your children have a greater stake in their achievement. The world in 2030 and beyond is the future that you will inhabit. Make it a future that far exceeds the one that we have bequeathed to you. Create the future you need: it is within your reach.

I wish you all a very exciting Summit and look forward to hearing the voices and views of the impressive speakers here with us this afternoon.

Thank you. [Ends]

You may watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/unphilippines/videos/448244245786552/

UN Secretary-General’s Message for the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2019

Peace is at the heart of all our work at the United Nations.

And we know peace is much more than a world free of war.

It means resilient, stable societies where everyone can enjoy fundamental freedoms and thrive rather than struggle to meet basic needs.

Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives.

That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace.

And it’s why I am convening a Climate Action Summit.

This is a global crisis.

Only by working together can we make our only home peaceful, prosperous and safe for us and future generations.

On this International Day of Peace, I urge all of you: take concrete climate action and demand it of your leaders.

This is a race we can and must win.

Watch Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s video message:

 

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Remarks at UN Staff Day, 6 September 2019, in New York

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to be with you once again to celebrate Staff Day and the dedicated women and men who make up our United Nations family.

Let me also commend the President of the Staff Union, Patricia Nemeth, and her staff for the effort put into organizing this day and representing the interests of the staff year-round.

As I said, we are a family, bound by the common desire to do good and breathe life into the values and principles of the United Nations as set out in our founding Charter.

We do this all around the world, often in some of the most challenging and dangerous environments.

And so, it is our duty today – and every day – to remember and commemorate our fallen colleagues.

So far this year, we have lost 25 civilian staff, 43 peacekeepers and 4 police.

Our sympathy goes to their families and friends who feel their loss so keenly.

Let us remember the sacrifice our fallen colleagues made in working to make the world safer and more dignified for those less fortunate than themselves.

And let us honour their memory by rededicating ourselves to their mission.

All around the world, United Nations staff are working to fulfil the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to leave no one behind.

From addressing acute humanitarian needs to working on long-term development, from keeping the peace to defending human rights, from feeding the hungry to helping build resilience to climate change, United Nations staff are working on the front lines of today’s most pressing challenges.

You are my colleagues, and I am constantly made proud of the work you do, in the field and at our headquarter duty stations, saving lives and building hope.

For many of us, we are now entering a particularly busy period as the new General Assembly looms.

This year we have five important high-level meetings focused on adding impetus to our global goals: the Climate Action Summit; the High-Level Meeting on Universal health coverage; the SDG Summit; a high-level dialogue on financing for development; and a high-level meeting on Small Island Developing States.

We also have the usual broad schedule of high-level meetings and side events that will keep us all busy.

So, before we work, let us enjoy ourselves.

Each of you is a talented staff member.  But I know many of you have other talents that will be on display here today.

So, let me wish you and your families a happy Staff Day.

Thank you.

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Democracy, 15 September

At heart, democracy is about people.  It is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation — and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights.

These values and aspirations cannot be seen as tokens or lip service.  They must be real in people’s lives.

Yet the International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high.

People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalization and technology.

They see conflicts going unresolved, a climate emergency going unanswered, injustice going unaddressed, and civic space shrinking.

As we mark Democracy Day, I urge all governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation; and I salute all of you who strive tirelessly to make this happen.

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Humanitarian Day, 19 August 2019

World Humanitarian Day honours aid workers around the world who risk their own lives to help save and improve the lives of others. This year, we pay special tribute to women humanitarians and the huge difference they make for millions of women, men and children in urgent need.

From supporting civilians caught up in crisis to addressing disease outbreaks, women humanitarians are on the front lines. Their presence makes aid operations more effective by increasing their reach. It also improves the humanitarian response to gender-based violence, which increases during emergencies. Today, and for the rest of this month, we invite you to share their powerful stories through your online and social media platforms. In doing so, we reaffirm our common commitment to strengthening the role of women in humanitarian operations.

World leaders, and all parties to conflict, must ensure that humanitarians are protected from harm, as required under international law. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue around the world. They must be investigated and prosecuted.

On World Humanitarian Day and every day, we stand up for humanitarian workers around the world.

Watch the Secretary-General’s video message here: https://bit.ly/2KZtTiQ