Category Archives: U.N

An overview on the UN Declaration of Peasants and Rural Workers Rights

The UN United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas was adopted by the United Nations (UN) at the end of 2018 by a large majority (121 votes in favour, 54 abstentions, 8 votes against). This Declaration marks the culmination of a historic process: it is the result of nearly 20 years of mobilization of La Via Campesina and its allies, and 6 years of negotiation at the UN Human Rights Council.

The Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger has shown that 80 % of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the one billion people living in extreme poverty in the world today live and work in rural areas. The global food crises of 2008 and 2009 and the corona virus that has been shaking the world since the end of 2019 have worsened the situation. Half of the people suffering from hunger are smallholders who depend mainly or partly on agriculture for their livelihood. Some 20 % are landless families who survive as sharecroppers or as low-paid farm labourers who often have to move from one precarious and informal job to another; 10 % live in rural communities with traditional fishing, hunting and herding practices. Women account for as much as 70 % of the world’s hungry people and the vast majority of them work in the agricultural sector.

Despite the existence of several international instruments for the protection of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of individuals, the above figures indicating the number of people affected by hunger in rural areas have been increasing steadily. Discrimination against this category of the population continues. Studies on human rights violations committed against rural populations show that existing human rights instruments are not sufficient to protect them and that certain specific aspects of the condition of peasants are not sufficiently taken into account. The UN Human Rights Council therefore considered the need for a specific legal instrument to explicitly strengthen the rights of people living and working in rural areas very important. The result of this consideration is the “Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other people working in rural areas”.

In 2010, the Human Rights Council mandated the Advisory Committee to undertake a preliminary study on ways and means to further promote the rights of people working in rural areas, including women, in particular smallholders engaged in the production of food and/or other agricultural products.  In 2011 and 2012, the Advisory Committee presented this study identifying five main causes of hunger that particularly affect peasants and other people working in rural areas: Expropriation of land, forced evictions and displacement; Gender discrimination; Absence of agrarian reform and rural development policies, including irrigation and seeds; Repression and criminalization of movements protecting the rights of people working in rural areas Lack of a minimum wage and social protection. The recent phenomenon of global “land-grab” has added another dimension to these concerns as Governments and companies seek to buy and lease large tracts of productive land in other countries, for food to be exported back to their countries, or to grow biofuels to fill the petrol tanks of those in the global north. Supermarkets buy their products primarily from large producers who are able to supply larger quantities. Because of their market power, supermarkets often dictate discount prices. These low prices in turn lead to poor wages and a lack of protection for farm workers.

An important outcome of this declaration is a major step forward in the protections of the rights of peasants and other rural workers. The rights stipulated therein are conditions for the realization of the right to food of the target groups, including: the right to land; the right to seeds; the right to means of production such as water, credit and tools; the right to food sovereignty. Most of these rights are new and do not appear in any other human rights instrument. This is the case, for example, of the right to land, seeds and means of production.

States have a great responsibility to ensure that peasants and others working in rural areas fully enjoy their rights. In the context of the declaration, States have, inter alia, the obligation to respect and protect: they must not interfere with the realization of the rights of peasants; they must refrain from expelling peasants by depriving them of the resources they need to lead a dignified life; they must refrain from adopting laws that allow private actors to abuse the rights of peasants; they must avoid issuing environmental permits knowing that the authorized activity will pollute the land and water and affect the right to water or to food and nutrition. The declaration obliges States to adopt all necessary measures to prevent private persons, such as landowners or transnational and national companies, from interfering with the realization of these rights.

An overview on the UN Declaration of Peasants and Rural Workers Rights

United Nations at 75: Sisters and their reps discuss its feats, failures

Flags of member states fly in front of the United Nations Secretariat building in New York in 2018 (United Nations photo)

New York — The United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary today at the U.N. General Assembly in New York during a crucial and perplexing moment.

As the world body acknowledges, “the UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts.”

Formed in the aftermath of World War II, the 193-member United Nations acts as an international forum where issues are debated and solutions to global challenges like poverty, gender inequality and climate change are weighed and developed. Its various humanitarian arms, such as the World Food Program, administer large-scale efforts to feed people in war- and drought-stricken countries.

Today’s ceremony — held to coincide with the annual meeting of the General Assembly rather than the actual anniversary date, which is Oct. 24 — cannot encompass all of the complexities and controversies surrounding the United Nations’ history.

In an assessment of the global body for the 70th anniversary in 2015, the U.K.-based newspaper The Guardian noted that Dag Hammarskjöld, the second U.N. secretary-general, said the United Nations “was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell.”

But even that aim has sometimes bumped up against harsh realities. As The Guardian noted, the U.N. has “been dismissed as a shameful den of dictatorships. It has infuriated with its numbing bureaucracy, its institutional cover-ups of corruption and the undemocratic politics of its security council. It goes to war in the name of peace but has been a bystander through genocide. It has spent more than half a trillion dollars in 70 years.”

Members of sister congregations or representatives of sister congregations who engage in advocacy work at the U.N. tend to take a nuanced view of the global body, finding in it both strengths and weaknesses.

“For all its accomplishments and failures, the U.N. is still the global arena that peoples of the world and their leaders can dialogue about world issues on an equal footing: one nation, one vote,” Maryknoll Sr. Marvie Misolas, representative of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns at the U.N., told GSR.

Misolas said the U.N.’s greatest accomplishments during the past 75 years include raising the visibility of human rights as a global concern and shepherding peace, nuclear disarmament and climate change agreements, as well as developing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

However, “the U.N. over the years has failed to sanction states that have continued to have repressive and corrupt regimes; failed to make the superpower nations “walk the talk” — in terms of environmental and economic equity in relations to human rights and respecting national boundaries,” she said.

Beth Blissman, the U.N. representative for the Loretto Community, takes an equally expansive view: “Much in our world has changed over the past 75 years. There are more people, more countries, more challenges but also, hopefully, more solutions,” she said.

Amid all of this rapid change, she asks: “Does the United Nations need to be a more responsive, nimble and accountable organization that can build trust and consensus? Yes. Does it need to deliver better in the field and adapt more quickly to global challenges? Yes, definitely. Is there any other global organization with the legitimacy, convening power and normative impact as the United Nations? No.”

To mark the 75th anniversary, Global Sisters Report asked Misolas, Blissman and others representing sister congregations about the milestone anniversary, to reflect on the U.N.’s accomplishments and failures and the difficulties and challenges it faces now and in the future.

https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/news/news/united-nations-75-sisters-and-their-reps-discuss-its-feats-failures

Refugees at risk of hunger and malnutrition, as relief hit in Eastern Africa

© UNICEF/Kate Holt: Women and children stand outside temporary tents at a refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border. (file photo)

According to WFP, over 2.7 million refugees in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Djibouti have been impacted, with food or cash transfers reduced between 10 to 30 per cent, as the socio-economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic reduces vital funding from donors.

“Refugees are especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 because they are crowded together in camps with weak or inadequate shelter, health services and access to clean water and sanitation,” said Michael Dunford, WFP Eastern Africa Regional Director. 

In addition to COVID, the refugees, especially women, children and elderly, are also at risk of becoming malnourished, which can in turn impact their immune systems and increase their risk of being infected by disease, a tragic vicious cycle in the midst of a global pandemic. 

“With COVID yet to peak in East Africa, we cannot turn our backs on people forced to flee and stuck in remote camps,” added Mr. Dunford.  

Hard-won development gains at risk 

COVID-19 restrictions closed schools in refugee camps, meaning children missed out on vital school meals in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda. In these countries except in Rwanda, funding shortages meant that WFP was unable to provide take home rations to refugee children to help them study at home and stay nourished. 

Extended school closures can also expose children to additional challenges, including, teenage pregnancies, sexual abuse, early marriage, violence at home, child labour and high school dropouts, eroding hard-won development gains made over several years. 

Women and girl refugees are also at heightened risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, in addition to resorting to having sex for payment in order to survive. People with disabilities and unaccompanied or separated children are the most vulnerable, said the UN food relief agency. 

World cannot let the most disadvantaged suffer 

“Sadly, it is the poorest and most disadvantaged who suffer the most,” said Mr. Dunford, adding, “We simply cannot let this happen. COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for the world to turn its back on refugees at this terrible time.” 

Given the pressing situation, WFP is appealing both to traditional donors and new would-be donors, such as international financial institutions, to step forward and assist refugees precisely because their vulnerability only increased with COVID-19. 

The UN agency needs some $323 million to assist refugees in the East Africa region over the next six months, about 22 percent greater than during the same period in 2019. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/08/1071062

‘Momentous milestone’ as Africa eradicates wild poliovirus

UNICEF Angola: Angola polio vaccination campaign.

The independent Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Polio Eradication officially declared that the 47 countries in the UN World Health Organization (WHO) African Region are free of the virus, with no cases reported for four years.

“This is a momentous milestone for Africa. Now future generations of African children can live free of wild polio,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. 

Polio is a viral disease that can cause paralysis, and mainly affects children under five.  

The virus is transmitted from person to person, mostly through contact with infected faeces, or less frequently through contaminated water or food. It enters the body through the mouth and multiplies inside the intestines. 

While there is no cure for polio, the disease can be prevented through a simple and effective oral vaccine, thus protecting a child for life.  

‘A historic day for Africa’ 

The ARCC certification entailed a decades-long process of documentation and analysis of polio surveillance, immunization and laboratory capacity, as well as field verification visits to each country in the region. 

The last case of wild poliovirus in the region was detected in Nigeria in 2016. 

“Today is a historic day for Africa,” said Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, ARCC Chairperson, announcing the certification. 

 A commitment by leaders 

The journey to eradication began with a promise made in 1996 by Heads of State during the 32nd session of the Organization of African Unity held in Yaoundé, Cameroon,  where they pledged to stamp out polio, which was paralyzing an estimated 75,000 children annually on the continent. 

That same year, the late Nelson Mandela jumpstarted Africa’s commitment to polio eradication by launching the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign, supported by Rotary International, which mobilized nations to step up efforts to ensure every child received the polio vaccine. 

Nearly two million spared  

Since then, polio eradication efforts have spared up to 1.8 million children from crippling life-long paralysis, and saved approximately 180,000 lives, WHO reported. 

“This historic achievement was only possible thanks to the leadership and commitment of governments, communities, global polio eradication partners and philanthropists,” said Dr. Moeti.  

“I pay special tribute to the frontline health workers and vaccinators, some of whom lost their lives, for this noble cause.” 

Always remain vigilant 

However, Dr. Moeti warned that Africa must remain vigilant against a resurgence of the wild poliovirus.  

Keeping vaccination rates up also wards against the continued threat of vaccine-derived polio, or cVDPV2. 

WHO explained that while rare, vaccine-derived polioviruses can occur when the weakened live virus in the oral polio vaccine passes among populations with low levels of immunization.  Over time, the virus mutates to a form that can cause paralysis.  

Adequate immunization thus protects against wild polio and circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses, the UN agency said. 

Learning from polio eradication 

WHO officials in Africa believe that the experience in eradicating wild poliovirus has other benefits for health on the continent. 

Despite weak health systems, and significant logistical and operational challenges, countries collaborated effectively to achieve the milestone, according to Dr. Pascal Mkanda, Coordinator of WHO Polio Eradication Programme in the region. 

“With the innovations and expertise that the polio programme has established, I am confident that we can sustain the gains, post-certification, and eliminate cVDPV2,” he said. 

The experience also will inform response to other challenges, both new and ongoing, Dr. Moeti added. 

“The expertise gained from polio eradication will continue to assist the African region in tackling COVID-19 and other health problems that have plagued the continent for so many years and ultimately move the continent toward universal health coverage,” she said. “This will be the true legacy of polio eradication in Africa.” 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/08/1071022

UN: Nearly 500 million children excluded from remote schooling

UNICEF report says even children with adequate access may face other obstacles to distance education [Ali Hashisho/Reuters]

An estimated 463 million children have been unable to access remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic and widespread school closures, according to the United Nations children’s fund.

A new report published on Thursday by UNICEF said at least one-third of the world’s schoolchildren lack the equipment or electronic access that would allow them to pursue distance education. 

“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, said in a statement.

“The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come,” she said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the largest disruption to education in history, with schools closed in some 160 countries in mid-July, affecting an estimated 1.5 billion students, according to the UN. 

A new report published in July by international charity Save the Children said nearly 10 million children may never go back to school because of deep budget cuts and rising poverty caused by the pandemic.

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, many countries switched to online learning, but aid groups say this has only widened the learning gap between children from rich and poor families.

The UNICEF report underlined gaping geographical differences in children’s access to distance education, with far fewer affected in Europe, for example, than in Africa or parts of Asia.

The report is based on data gathered from roughly 100 countries, measuring public access to the internet, television and radio.

Even children with adequate access may face other obstacles to distance education – whether the lack of a good workspace at home, pressure to do other work for the family, or a lack of technical support when computer problems arise, the UNICEF report said.

Of the students around the world unable to access virtual education, 67 million are in Eastern and Southern Africa, 54 million in western and central Africa, 80 million in the Pacific and East Asia, 37 million in the Middle East and North Africa, 147 million in South Asia, and 13 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

No figures were given for Canada or the United States – the worst-affected country by the virus – where the issue of reopening of schools has sparked fierce political debate and concern among educators.

With the new school year soon to begin in many countries – including in-person classes in many places – UNICEF urged governments to “prioritise the safe reopening of schools when they begin easing lockdown restrictions”.

Where reopening is impossible, governments should arrange for “compensatory learning for lost instructional time”, the report said.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/500-million-children-excluded-remote-schooling-200827053540044.html

Coronavirus seen threatening global goals to end poverty, inequality

People queue to receive food aid following a 14-day lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria April 3, 2020.REUTERS/Afollabi Sotunde

NEW YORK, – Ambitious global goals set out by the United Nations to end poverty and inequality are under threat from the coronavirus pandemic, even as they are most needed, experts have warned.

A 2030 deadline to meet the U.N.’s development goals is at risk as economies suffer in the fight against the virus, public financing dries up and international cooperation wanes, said experts interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

From ending hunger, gender inequality and violence against women to expanded access to education and health care, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved unanimously by U.N. member nations in 2015, with a 15-year deadline.

“They’re a really incredible symbol of international unity and agreement on what is important for underlying social and environmental and economic health,” said Sara Enright, director of collaborations at BSR, a global nonprofit that focuses on sustainable business strategies.

“Coming into a crisis … I think it’s more important now than ever to have a North Star,” she said.

Earlier critical assessments predicted that conflict or climate change would slow progress, but the pandemic marks the biggest obstacle yet, the experts said.

Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.3 million globally, according to a Reuters tally.

Businesses have closed, myriad jobs have been lost and global economies have taken an unprecedented blow.

The fallout could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the world population, according to research released last week by the United Nations University.

“This really could put us into a very negative spiral,” said Michael Green, chief executive of the Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

“If we then get a breakdown in international cooperation, that’s even worse.”

Experts said nations responding to the coronavirus by tightening borders, bickering over limited resources and blaming one another may not bode well for the international cooperation needed for implementing the global goals.

“My greatest fear is the breakdown in international relations,” said Enright.

“What I fear is as we become more insular, as we become more national in our approaches to the crisis, as we close our borders …. My concern is that that underlying partnership might be in danger.”

The pandemic has exposed failings that the goals were intended to address, said Natasha Mudhar, co-founder of The World We Want, an SDG advocacy organization.

“Countries globally have been exposed to the fragility of their health care systems, the economy and society,” she said.

“Had we worked towards strengthening these, precisely as called for by the SDGs, we would have potentially been better placed to handle the current pandemic crisis.”

Alexander Trepelkov, a top SDG official at the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the goals “will be more essential than ever during and after this crisis.”

“The SDGs are a commitment to leave no one behind, and this includes ensuring everyone is able to take measures to reduce their exposure to the disease and have the means to cope and recover,” he said in an email.

Countries that have incorporated the global goals’ inclusive and sustainable values will likely fare best in the pandemic, while those with poor public health systems, vast inequality and weak social nets will struggle, Green added.

“The optimistic scenario is perhaps this is going to be the kick in the pants we need to take some of this stuff seriously,” he said.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200420151405-u26ba

UN ‘horrified’ by killing of five aid workers in Nigeria

Aid groups provide a vital lifeline for some 7.9 million people who, the United Nations says, need urgent assistance in the region [File: AFP]

The United Nations has said it is “utterly shocked and horrified” by the killing of five aid workers by unknown armed groups in northeastern Nigeria.

The statement late on Wednesday by Edward Kallon, UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, followed the release of a video showing the murder of the humanitarian workers who were kidnapped last month in Borno state.

The Nigerian government identified the victims as employees of the country’s State Emergency Management Agency as well as international aid organisations Action Against Hunger (ACF), International Rescue Committee and Rich International. 

“They were committed humanitarians who devoted their lives to helping vulnerable people and communities in an area heavily affected by violence,” Kallon said.

The aid workers were abducted while travelling on a main route connecting the town of Monguno with Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

Kallon said he was troubled by the number of illegal checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along the region’s main supply routes.

“These checkpoints disrupt the delivery of life-saving assistance and heighten the risks for civilians of being abducted, killed or injured, with aid workers increasingly being singled out.” 

Northeast Nigeria has been ravaged by a decade-long armed campaign led by the armed group Boko Haram that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced about two million from their homes.

Last year, fighters from a Boko Haram splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province, abducted a group of six humanitarian workers – including a female ACF employee – in the region.

Five of the hostages were later executed and the ACF worker remains in captivity.

Aid groups provide a vital lifeline for some 7.9 million people in the region who the UN says are in need of urgent assistance.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/horrified-killing-aid-workers-nigeria-200723081635932.html

COVID-19 exposes ‘distorted picture’ of global poverty gains, U.N. envoy says

FILE PHOTO: Philip Alston, at the time the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, attends a news conference in Beijing, China, August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

NEW YORK, – The coronavirus pandemic has exposed complacency and “misplaced triumphalism” by international aid organizations that have taken credit for progress on eradicating extreme poverty, a top United Nations rights official said.

Global entities have failed to end severe hardship around the world, and COVID-19 will plunge even more people into dire economic straits, said Philip Alston, the outgoing U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“Even before COVID-19, we squandered a decade in the fight against poverty, with misplaced triumphalism blocking the very reforms that could have prevented the worst impacts of the pandemic,” he said in a statement accompanying his final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“The international community’s abysmal record on tackling poverty, inequality and disregard for human life far precede this pandemic,” he added.

COVID-19 has exposed how vulnerable poor people are, unable to practice safety measures like staying home and forced to risk getting sick because they need to keep working, said the report, which was to be presented to the Council on Tuesday.

“When you look at what COVID-19 has done, which has really been just to pull the Band-Aid off the poverty wounds, we see all too clearly that in fact it was very far from being eliminated,” Alston told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview ahead of the presentation.

He pointed to a 2018 World Bank document declaring “remarkable and unprecedented progress” in reducing extreme poverty.

It said 10% of the world’s population, some 736 million people, were living in extreme poverty in 2015, compared with nearly 2 billion people or 36% in 1990.

The report used the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty as living on $1.90 a day or less.

A similar assessment of a drop in extreme poverty to about 11% of the population from 35% was made in a 2017 report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

‘SLEEPWALKING TOWARDS FAILURE’

But Alston, a professor at New York University School of Law, said a poverty line of $1.90 a day “provides a distorted picture.”

“That in turn made people complacent,” he said. “$1.90 a day is really miserable subsistence and by no means amounts to eradicating poverty.”

More accurate measures show only a slight decline in extreme poverty over the last 30 years, he said.

A separate report published in June by UNU-WIDER, part of the United Nations University, said economic fallout from the pandemic could swell the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day to as many as 1.12 billion.

Alston, who was appointed U.N. special rapporteur six years ago, also criticized the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved in 2015 by U.N. member states to end poverty, inequality and other global woes by 2030.

The global goals rely on economic growth and shared prosperity to solve problems, rather than seeking structural solutions such as wealth redistribution or a taxation system that does not encourage tax avoidance, he said.

“The U.N. and its member states are sleepwalking towards failure,” he said in the statement.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200707170510-1izgn/

‘Care for nature’ to keep people safe and well, leaders urge

Workers clean up trash at a beach on World Environment Day in West Aceh, Aceh Province, Indonesia June 5, 2020. Antara Foto/Syifa Yulinnas/via Reuters

BARCELONA, – The COVID-19 crisis has exposed how the health of people and nature is intertwined, and protecting the planet, its climate and ecosystems will be crucial to preventing further pandemics, the U.N. chief and political leaders said on Friday.

In a video statement for World Environment Day, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humans had been harming the natural world “to our own detriment”.

“Habitat degradation and biodiversity loss are accelerating. Climate disruption is getting worse,” he said, noting more frequent and damaging fires, floods, droughts and super-storms.

Oceans are heating and acidifying, harming coral reefs, while the new coronavirus is “raging”, undermining health and livelihoods, he said.

“To care for humanity, we must care for nature,” he added, urging more sustainable consumer habits and decision-making centred around safeguarding the natural world.

The presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica and Switzerland, joined by ministers from a dozen other countries, on Friday launched a “High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People”, aimed at persuading governments to agree on a global goal to preserve at least 30% of the planet’s lands and oceans by 2030.

This, together with retaining wildernesses and conserving biodiversity, is “a crucial step to help prevent future pandemics and public health emergencies, and lay the foundations for a sustainable global economy”, they said in a statement.

The World Health Organization has said the novel coronavirus probably has its “ecological reservoir” in bats, while scientists say 60% of the infectious human diseases that emerged from 1990 to 2004 came from animals.

The new nature coalition noted that illegal and non-regulated wildlife trade, deforestation and ecosystem destruction can increase the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to people, and urged tighter control.

“This pandemic provides unprecedented and powerful proof that nature and people share the same fate and are far more closely linked than most of us realised,” they said in a statement.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told a coalition event that protecting nature was “about security and health”.

The COVID-19 crisis was a predictable manifestation of what scientists branded a “planetary emergency” several months before the pandemic began, he added.

World Environment Day should be renamed “human safety day”, he proposed, adding “it’s no longer about nature – it’s all about humans and our equitable, prosperous future on Earth”.

‘RACE TO ZERO’

The U.N. climate change secretariat (UNFCCC), alongside Britain and Chile, meanwhile, launched a “Race to Zero” campaign, committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest and “a healthy, resilient and zero-carbon recovery” from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“Net-zero” means producing no more climate-heating emissions than can be absorbed by planting carbon-sucking trees or using other methods to trap greenhouse gases.

A U.N. climate science panel has said global emissions need to be slashed by 45% by 2030 and to net-zero by mid-century to have a 50% chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

The new climate campaign unites 120 countries with net-zero emissions initiatives backed by 992 businesses, 449 cities, 21 regions, 505 universities and 38 big investors, the UNFCCC said.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said “Race to Zero” should also spur stronger national climate action plans due this year, including targets to cut emissions over the next decade.

The companies signed up to the net-zero goal have combined annual revenues of $4.72 trillion, the UNFCCC said, with new joiners including computer software giant Adobe, alcoholic drinks maker Diageo, fashion retailer Inditex and engineering firm Rolls-Royce.

According to analysis from the UK-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) think-tank, 53% of global GDP is now produced in countries, states, regions and cities that have either set a net-zero target or intend to do so.

Alison Doig, international lead at the ECIU, said participants in the “Race to Zero” campaign would have to present plans to reach net-zero, including interim emissions targets for the next decade, by the time of the delayed COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021.

“This is not… about pushing climate action to some date in the future. No entity can reach net-zero in 2050 without starting now,” she said.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200605130846-9n69a/

Women, migrants, minorities to suffer most in Latin America as coronavirus rages -UN agency

Screenshot_2020-05-13 Women, migrants, suffer most in Latin America as coronavirus rages
People line up outside of a pharmacy amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Guayaquil, Ecaudor April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

SANTIAGO, – The coronavirus pandemic will make a bad economic situation worse for women, indigenous people, migrants and people of African descent in Latin America, a region already plagued by deep-rooted inequality, a United Nations agency said in a report issued on Tuesday.

Unequal access to potable water, sanitation, healthcare and housing could also mean higher rates of infection and death among these higher-risk populations, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said in the report.

Women are in a “particularly vulnerable situation,” the report said, because their work is more often informal, with few guarantees, leaving them more exposed to the risk of unemployment.

Domestic workers in Latin America, who account for 11.4% of employed women in the region, will be especially hard hit by the virus and economic downturn, with limited access to an already tenuous social safety net in many countries.

Many domestic workers are migrants, or of indigenous or African descent, compounding the discrimination, the agency said.

Women are also most likely to be saddled with the responsibilities that come with quarantine and the closure of schools, increasing stress at home and the potential for domestic violence.

“The burden of unpaid domestic work assumed by women, adolescents and girls, as well as cases of violence against them, are significantly increased,” the agency warned.

Although the UN report focused partly on women, data from around the world has shown that men are dying at a higher rate than women from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Latin America has more than 369,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more than 20,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to a Reuters count based on official data.

The region’s economies are set to contract by a record 5.3% in 2020, unleashing the worst social and economic crisis in decades, the agency said in a prior report in April.

The crisis is expected to exacerbate festering social and labor discrimination suffered by the indigenous and African-American populations, who already face greater wage gaps compared to other groups, ECLAC said.

 

 

 

https://news.trust.org/item/20200512171007-8v6yv/