Global

Reflecting Back and Imagining Forward

What a challenging year 2020 has been! A year of living dangerously – “Tahun vivere pericoloso”- perhaps these words of late President Soekarno of Indonesia are the best description. Fortunately, I managed to remain sane, reading and writing op-eds (mostly about the pandemic, here, here).

Ten Defining Moments for Women in 2020

While 2020 will be remembered most for the way COVID-19 changed our lives in nearly every way and in every part of the world, we made some strides for women’s rights and gender equality.

Food Culture in Spotlight on UNESCO Heritage List

Cuisine formed a notable portion of the latest inscriptions on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with hawker food in Singapore and couscous traditions in North Africa being celebrated.

2020: A Yet More Devastating Year Closes With At Least Some Signs Of Hope

Despite its grim record of multiple natural disasters and a deepening climate crisis, one could be forgiven for looking back on 2019 with a degree of nostalgia. There is no disguising the extent of the calamity wrought this year by COVID-19, yet as we approach the end of 2020 we may also draw strength from positive developments emerging.

‘We Might Have a Covid-21 or Covid-22 Coming Our Way’

Cristián Samper is working for the Wildlife Conservation Society, an organization that concerns itself with the health of wildlife all over the globe. And he warned --even before the Covid-19 pandemic – about the dangers of a viral pandemic.

Indigenous Leaders want Traditional Knowledge to be Centrepiece of New Global Biodiversity Framework

The picturesque Mahuat River in Dominica is one of 8 communities that make up the Kalinago Territory – a 3,700-acre area on the Caribbean island’s east coast that is home to the Kalinago people, the largest indigenous group in the Eastern Caribbean. It is where 19-year-old Whitney Melinard calls home. Melinard is among a rising group of Dominica’s Kalinago youth, using their voices and platforms to speak out on issues affecting their people.

The World in 2021

The year 2020 is ending with the world caught up in an unprecedented human and economic crisis. The pandemic has contaminated 75 million people and killed 1.7 million. With the lockdowns, the global economy has suffered the worst recession in 75 years, causing the loss of income for millions of people. In such a bleak environment, what will the new year bring? Whilst uncertainty is the only certainty, eight points are likely to be key in the year ahead:

Empowering Women through Wisdom

During the COVID 19 lockdown in Sri Lanka, seven women from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds came together to deliver Wisdom and their message that women must be empowered and their voices for national unity must be heard through this movement.

The Night Arafat, Facing Death Threats, Slept in the UN Chief’s Office

The United Nations, which is commemorating its 75th anniversary, continues to remain bogged down in one of the world’s most politically and militarily volatile regions: the Middle East.

Online Violence, Fueled by Disinformation and Political Attacks, Deeply Harms Women Journalists

An alarmingly high number of women journalists are now targets of online attacks associated with orchestrated digital disinformation campaigns. The impacts include self-censorship, retreat from visibility, an increased risk of physical injury, and a serious mental health toll. The main perpetrators? Anonymous trolls and political actors.

Afghanistan’s Historic Year: Peace Talks, Security Transition but Higher Levels of Violence

While Afghanistan ends a historic year, filled with the hope for peace as the government and Taliban sat down for almost three months of consecutive peace talks for the first time in 19 years, it was also a year filled with violence with provisional statistics by the United Nations showing casualties for this year being higher than 2019.

How Africa can Lead the World in the COVID-19 Recovery

Africa, compared to Asia, Europe and the US, has largely escaped the devastating death toll of COVID-19, accounting for a fraction of the world’s 63 million cases.

America has a Chequered Past in International Environmental Diplomacy

When it comes to international environmental diplomacy, America has a chequered past. It stood at the forefront of the international battle to fix the ozone hole and has shaped many key international agreements. Sadly, US positions are not always built on solid political ground at home. Twice, in the climate change process, this has led to the United States forging an agreement, only to then walk away. This happened with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which then Vice-President Gore flew to Japan to sign in the full knowledge that a Republican dominated Senate would never ratify the deal. It happened again five years ago, with former President Obama closing that landmark deal (and John Kerry signing at the UN), only for President Trump to tear it up a few weeks later.

Reclaim Your Rights: Defend Indigenous People’s Lands

Rights are earned through hard-fought struggles. And for Indigenous Peoples (IP), its fulfillment comes from the collective and continuous defense of ancestral land and territory, and assertion of their ways of life and the right to self-determination.

Energy Efficiency for Developing Countries: Pivoting from Fewer Inputs to More Outputs

Energy efficiency (EE) is often marketed as a tool to save energy and money. The oft-repeated mantra is doing “more with less”, namely producing more goods with less energy. But, as set out in a recent World Bank report (which I co-authored), EE can do something that is often much more important for developing countries: it can produce the additional goods and services needed to raise standards of living. 

Lockdown in Chains

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic grounded much of the world, lockdown, confinement, violence, and isolation was the daily reality for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities around the world. Many are locked in sheds, cages, or tethered to trees and are forced to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in the same tiny area, sometimes for years. Why? Simply because they have a mental health condition—a psychosocial disability.

Sid Chatterjee Epitomizes the New Leadership Model of UN Resident Coordinators Worldwide

Siddharth Chatterjee, who has served with the United Nations for over 20 years, has been appointed as the new Resident Coordinator in China, the world’s second largest economy after the United States.

Getting Children in Lebanon Back to School Amongst Multiple Crises

Education and health care were high on the agenda when the United Nations vowed to work toward a better future by setting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be met by 2030.

USA Downgraded as Civil Liberties Deteriorate Across the Americas

Few images better illustrate the recent decline in civil liberties in the United States than that of peaceful protesters near the White House being violently dispersed so Donald Trump could stage a photo-op.

Intellectual Property Monopolies Block Vaccine Access

Just before the World Health Assembly (WHA), an 18 May open letter by world leaders and experts urged governments to ensure that all COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are patent-free, fairly distributed and available to all, free of charge.

Helping Women to Step out of the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ of Women Abuse

The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign marked the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020) at a time when COVID-19 exacerbated the conditions women operate under.

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