By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – In the midst of multiple crises compounded by paucity of funds threatening the very functioning of the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres has announced plans emphasizing the vital significance of the world body. Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020, he said, will feature a large and inclusive global conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want. (P17) CHINESE | HINDI | JAPANESE TEXT VERSION PDF | SPANISH
“United Nations Day highlights the enduring ideals of the Charter, which entered into force … 74 years ago. Amid stormy global seas, the Charter remains our shared moral anchor,” he stressed.
With the ratification of the UN Charter – the founding document – by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being. October 24 has been celebrated as UN Day since 1948. In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by Member States as a public holiday.
The launch of the “biggest-ever global conversation” about the future of the planet, as part of the events marking next year’s 75-year anniversary of the Organization, as the Secretary-General declared, aims to reach the global public, via dialogues which will be held around the world, from January 2020. The objective of the dialogues is to listen to the hopes and fears of a wide range of people, to learn from their experiences, and spark discussion on ways to build a better world for all.
Feedback will be sought from all segments and generations of society, in settings as varied as classrooms, boardrooms, parliaments and village halls, but there will be a particular focus on youth, and marginalized groups. The views and ideas generated, will be presented to world leaders, and senior UN officials, at a high-profile event in September 2020.
The information gathered – alongside the results of global opinion polling and media analysis – will feed into a global vision for 2045, the year the UN turns 100. “It is expected to increase understanding of threats to a sustainable, inclusive future for all, and drive collective action to achieve that vision,” UN News said.
Speaking at a press conference on October 24, Fabrizio Hochschild, the senior UN official overseeing the 75-year anniversary events, said that they come at a time when the world is more inter-connected than ever before, and facing a host of problems that need to be faced through global cooperation; but also a time when nations are retreating from the institutions set up to address such challenges.
Mr. Hochschild said that the Secretary-General hopes to inspire a process of reflection on the state of the world, and the extent to which it is drifting away from the UN’s aspirations for a better future, as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UN-inspired conversations will, said Mr. Hochschild, be focused around three main areas. Firstly, defining the future we want, as we look towards 2045; identifying the global megatrends, and where they are taking the world away from that vision; and a critical discussion that generates ideas for improving global cooperation.
While UN75 seeks to drive conversation in all segments of society – from classrooms to boardrooms, parliaments to village halls – it will place special emphasis on youth and those whose voices are too often marginalized or not heard in global affairs.
In a film released on October 24, the Secretary-General appealed to people everywhere to add their voices to this campaign: “We need your opinions, your strategies, your ideas for us to be able to deliver better for the people of the world that we must serve.”
To help frame and inspire dialogues UN has highlighted some of the Issue Briefs which outline issues such as the climate crisis, inequality, new forms of conflict and violence, and the rapid changes in demography and digital technologies. These issues will all require effective cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations.
The United Nations wants to gather diverse perspectives and creative ideas on what is needed to address these emerging risks and opportunities. How can we collectively navigate the gap between the future we need and where we are headed, if these mega-trends continue?
The Impact of Digital Technologies
Technologies can help make our world fairer, more peaceful, and more just. Digital advances can support and accelerate achievement of each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – from ending extreme poverty to reducing maternal and infant mortality, promoting sustainable farming and decent work, and achieving universal literacy. But technologies can also threaten privacy, erode security and fuel inequality. They have implications for human rights and human agency. Like generations before, we – governments, businesses and individuals – have a choice to make in how we harness and manage new technologies.
A New Era of Conflict and Violence
The nature of conflict and violence has transformed substantially since the UN was founded 75 years ago. Conflicts are less deadly but longer, and more often waged between domestic groups rather than states. Homicides are becoming more frequent in some parts of the world, while gender-based attacks are increasing.
Separately, technological advances have seen the weaponization of bots, drones, and livestreaming, cyberattacks, ransomware, and data hacks. Meanwhile, international cooperation is under strain, diminishing global potential for the prevention and resolution of conflict and violence in all forms.
Inequality – Bridging the Divide
The world has made significant strides in reducing poverty: over the last three decades, more than one billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty. Yet the income share of the poorer half of humanity has barely shifted over this period, despite global economic output more than tripling since 1990. Inequalities undermine economic progress, which in turn exacerbates the social divides that inequalities create.
Inequalities driven by income, geography, gender, age, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, class and religion – determining access, opportunities and outcomes – continue to persist, within and among countries. In some parts of the world, these divides are becoming more pronounced. Meanwhile, gaps in newer areas, such as access to online and mobile technologies, are emerging.
The Climate Crisis – A Race We Can Win
“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it is happening even more quickly than we feared. But we are far from powerless in the face of this global threat, as Secretary-General Guterres pointed out in September, adding that “the climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win”.
No corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change. Rising temperatures are fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, weather extremes, food and water insecurity, economic disruption, conflict and terrorism. Sea levels are rising, the Arctic is melting, coral reefs are dying, oceans are acidifying, and forests are burning. It is clear that business as usual is not good enough. As the infinite cost of climate change reaches irreversible highs, now is the time for bold collective action.
The world’s population is expected to increase by two billion people, from 7.7 billion at present to 9.7 billion in 2050, before reaching a peak of nearly 11 billion by the end of the century as fertility rates continue to decline. During this period, the global population is projected to become more and more urban, while children below age 5 will be outnumbered by persons aged 65 or above.
Half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to come from just nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States of America (in descending order of increase). The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to double, while the population of Europe is likely to shrink.
Meanwhile, people are on the move. While the percentage of international migrants has remained around 3 per cent of the global population over the past two decades, their number has increased by more than half since 2000. At the same time, the number of people forced to flee their homes has risen sharply due to protracted conflicts and could increase further due to climate change and environmental degradation. The vast majority of refugee and migrant flow are to countries in the global South. [IDN-InDepthNews, 24 October 2019]
Top Photo credit: UN.
Photo in Text: Screenshot of Press Conference by Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations. Credit: UN Web TV
Photo (in text) Credit: UN
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