UN SG calls for an inclusive world embracing all humanity’s diversity - December 6, 2016

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Following is UN Secretary-General’s Ban Ki-moon’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on 3 December:

Ten years ago this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. One of the most widely ratified international human rights instruments, with 169 Parties, the Convention has spurred significant progress in commitment and action for equality, inclusion and empowerment around the world, with disability being increasingly incorporated into the global human rights and development agendas.

This year, United Nations Member States have embarked on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet. With its 17 interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is based on a pledge to leave no one behind. Achieving this requires the full inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development.

Much remains to be accomplished before persons with disabilities can realize their full potential as equal and valued members of society. We must eliminate the stereotypes and discrimination that perpetuate their exclusion and build an accessible, enabling and inclusive environment for all. For the 2030 Agenda to succeed, we must include persons with disabilities in implementation and monitoring and use the Convention as a guide.

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I urge national and local Governments, businesses and all actors in society to intensify efforts to end discrimination and remove the environmental and attitudinal obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from enjoying their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity.


Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations - December 1, 2016

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Today, we commemorate World AIDS Day—we stand in solidarity with the 78 million people who have become infected with HIV and remember the 35 million who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported.
The world has committed to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. We are seeing that countries are getting on the Fast-Track—more than 18 million people are on life-saving HIV treatment and country after country is on track to virtually eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child.
We are winning against the AIDS epidemic, but we are not seeing progress everywhere. The number of new HIV infections is not declining among adults, with young women particularly at risk of becoming infected with HIV.
We know that for girls in sub-Saharan Africa, the transition to adulthood is a particularly dangerous time. Young women are facing a triple threat: a high risk of HIV infection, low rates of HIV testing and poor adherence to HIV treatment.
Co-infections of people living with HIV, such as tuberculosis (TB), cervical cancer and hepatitis C, are at risk of putting the 2020 target of fewer than 500 000 AIDS-related deaths out of reach. TB caused about a third of AIDS-related deaths in 2015, while women living with HIV are at four to five times greater risk of developing cervical cancer. Taking AIDS out of isolation remains an imperative if the world is to reach the 2020 target.
With access to treatment, people living with HIV are living longer. Investing in treatment is paying off, but people older than 50 who are living with HIV, including people who are on treatment, are at increased risk of developing age-associated non-communicable diseases, affecting HIV disease progression.
AIDS is not over, but it can be if we tailor the response to individual needs at particular times in life. Whatever our individual situation may be, we all need access to the tools to protect us from HIV and to access anti-retroviral medicines should we need them. A life-cycle approach to HIV that finds solutions for everyone at every stage of life can address the complexities of HIV. Risks and challenges change as people go through life, highlighting the need to adapt HIV prevention and treatment strategies from birth to old age.
The success we have achieved so far gives us hope for the future, but as we look ahead we must remember not to be complacent. We cannot stop now. This is the time to move forward together to ensure that all children start their lives free from HIV, that young people and adults grow up and stay free from HIV and that treatment becomes more accessible so that everyone stays AIDS-free.

UNAIDS
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at www.unaids.org.


Secretary General’s Message: 2016 International Day of Tolerance - November 16, 2016

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The values of tolerance and mutual understanding – so firmly embedded in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – are facing profound tests around the world.

Refugees and migrants continue to face closed doors and clenched fists. Violent extremists continue to target people solely because of their faiths and traditions. Day by day, bigotry shows its face through racism, anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.

Too many armed conflicts have sectarian dimensions; too many societal disputes break down along communal lines. And too many politicians use the cynical math that says you add votes by dividing people.

The United Nations promotes tolerance as a matter of its fundamental identity. When tolerance is upheld, we encourage the world to emulate those fine examples. When tolerance is threatened, we must speak out.

The United Nations has launched a new campaign to promote tolerance, respect and dignity across the world. We call it, simply, “Together”. It is meant as a specific response to the xenophobia faced by so many refugees and migrants, and aims to highlight the benefits of diversity and migration. But it is also part of our general efforts to promote mutual understanding and global harmony.

Let us not be provoked or play into the hands of those who thrive on hatred and instil fear in our societies. Today’s global challenges should compel us to reject the failed mindset of “us” versus “them”. Let us see the world and all its possibilities through the prism of “we the peoples”.

Find out more and support the campaign here: www.unesco.org


UN Secretary General’s opening remarks to the press at CoP 22 - November 15, 2016

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to begin my day with a meeting with the distinguished members of the media. Thank you for covering this very important meeting on climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No country, however resourceful or powerful, is immune from the impacts of climate change.

That is why we have seen overwhelming support for the Paris Agreement. It entered into force with breath-taking speed,

Countries realize it is in their own national interest to take action now.

Now 109 countries have joined, as of today. It is increasing day by day. Maybe hour by hour. I urge all the rest to ratify as soon as possible.

We have much to gain by acting now.

I strongly urge all countries to increase the level of ambition in their national climate plans over the next two years.

I also call on other sectors of society to accelerate their climate efforts.

Cities, citizens and CEOs were crucial to mobilizing political support for the Paris Agreement. They are also among the most visionary and ambitious actors building low-carbon, resilient economies that will prosper in a climate-changed world

Businesses can do more to seize the many potential opportunities.

There has been tremendous progress. In the growth of renewables. In green innovations.

In thriving public-private partnerships working to transform key sectors of our economy from land use and agriculture to sustainable transport.

And in mobilizing voices of every age, from every nation, in support of a safer, clean energy future.

I call on civil society organizations to continue to keep governments accountable to their promises.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have made climate action a priority since my first day in office.

Addressing climate change is critical to protecting our planet, safeguarding the most vulnerable and advancing shared prosperity.

It was truly a privilege to make this journey with so many partners from around the world who are committed to leaving a healthier planet to future generations.

I am confident that my successor, Secretary-General Designate Antonio Guterres, and the United Nations will continue to advance this cause with energy and resolve for the sake of our planet and all people.

I am also very glad to be here with Executive Secretary of UNFCCC [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change], Ms. Patricia Espinosa who has just taken up her new job of this very important organization. Former Foreign Minister of Mexico, I count on your leadership. And I hope you will give her good support.

We also have a new Executive Director of UNEP. He is also very experienced person. So we have a very good team.

As you may know, this is my last COP. I have one and half months to go as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I will never cease, even after my retirement, to work with the United Nations and my colleagues, and world leaders to make sure that this climate change agreement is in full implementation and to make this world and people safer and healthier and more prosperous.

Thank you.


2016 UN Day statement by the UN Bhutan Resident Coordinator, a.i. - October 24, 2016

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On this occasion, let me take the opportunity, on behalf of the United Nations family in Bhutan, to extend our sincere appreciation to the Royal Government of Bhutan for hosting the auspicious lighting of a thousand butter lamps and prayers for world peace and prosperity.
A year ago, on 25 September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the universal, integrated and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and a series of associated targets. Therefore, this year—2016—marks the first year of the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable development to address urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. We all live in an era of unprecedented opportunities, but we cannot ignore that we also live in a time of unprecedented global challenges.

The impact of climate change is increasing daily. The number of major violent conflicts has tripled since 2008. More people have been forced from their homes than at any time since the end of the Second World War when the United Nations was founded. These challenges threaten to reverse development gains and impede future progress. Therefore, we must live up to the pledge that we made a year ago. This also means focusing our efforts on helping the poorest, the most vulnerable, the marginalized and the hardest to reach. This is further asserted by the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon in his message for today and I quote, “Humanity has entered the era of sustainability, with a global commitment to fulfill the great promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this, the Organization’s seventy-first year, we have 17 goals to propel us towards a better future for all on a healthy planet”.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the United Nations Country Team in Bhutan, I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge Bhutan’s active participation in the inter-governmental processes, leading up to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. We also acknowledge and take pride in Bhutan’s unique philosophy of Gross National Happiness that has charted the country’s developmental path successfully so far, and continues to serve as the cornerstone of future development plans.

Bhutan has seen unprecedented growth in the past few decades, both economic and social. Bhutan is ranked the third fastest-growing economy out of 196 countries in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook of April 2016, with a projected Gross Domestic Product growth at 8.4 per cent in 2016. In addition, Bhutan is the 27th least corrupt country out of 168 countries, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 of Transparency International. What is more? While the world became less peaceful in 2015, Bhutan was ranked the 13th most peaceful country in the world out of 163, as declared in the 10th, 2016 edition of the Global Peace Index.

Furthermore, the Royal Government of Bhutan’s mid-term review of the on-going 11th Five-year Plan has reported achievement of some of the National Key Result Areas and Key Performance Indicators, while most of them are on track. Out of the 6,154 Key Performance Indicators, the mid-term review showed that 3,002 indicators were achieved; 2,962 indicators were on track and 190 indicators were at risk.

In his State of the Nation Report dated 7 July 2016, the Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan has specifically reported that the government will give special attention to employment and poverty reduction, which were amongst the 190 “at risk” key performance indicators. This shows that Bhutan is committed to address youth employment and to end poverty in all its forms in the country. On behalf of the United Nations system in Bhutan, I commend the Royal Government of Bhutan for already embarking on this this road to fulfilling its pledge, as a responsible and committed member state, to “leave no one behind”.

This said, I would like to draw your attention to some of the other important issues that cannot be ignored and that deserve continued attention such as: food security and nutrition; prevention of violence against women and children; participation of women in public-decision making; the maternal mortality rate and the spread of HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections. In addition to these, are a number of emerging challenges, brought on in part by changing lifestyles and migration from rural to urban areas, like the growing burden of non-communicable diseases or teenage delinquency. The United Nations system in Bhutan is already responding to these challenges in close collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan and with other national and international partners.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Going forward, I am happy to share that the United Nations system in Bhutan is already working very closely with the Gross National Happiness Commission Secretariat in its 12th Five-Year Plan preparatory work. We look forward to our active engagement and partnership in the formulation of the 12th Five-Year Plan and on this day, we reaffirm our commitment for continued support to the Royal Government and the people of Bhutan.
In concluding, on behalf of the United Nations system, I would like to once again thank the Royal Government of Bhutan. As the United Nations transitions from its eighth Secretary-General to the ninth at the end of this year, I would like to leave you with a message from the United Nations Secretary-General and I quote, “I thank people across the world for their support and urge all to give their full backing to Secretary-General-designate António Guterres in continuing our global mission of peace, sustainable development and human rights”.
Thank you and Tashi Delek.


Secretary General’s message on the 2016 International Ozone Day - September 16, 2016

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The world has changed since we last marked International Ozone Day. We now have our 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which will foster equitable inclusive growth and further the well-being of people and our planet. On climate change, the Paris Agreement marks a historic turning point in our common journey towards a secure and sustainable world.

Now, we must turn ambition into action, and strengthen climate protection by harnessing the power of the Montreal Protocol to make progress in slowing the near-term warming caused by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the fastest growing of the greenhouse gases.

Next month, in Rwanda, we have an opportunity to do exactly that, when national delegations gather to reach a global consensus on phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Years ago, HFCs were widely adopted as an effective alternative to products that were damaging the ozone layer, particularly those used in refrigeration and air conditioning. However, science has revealed that, while HFCs have greatly reduced the threat to the ozone layer, they are an extremely potent greenhouse gas. With their use increasing rapidly, we must take decisive action – just as we previously did to put the ozone layer on the path to recovery.

Phasing down HFCs would provide considerable benefits. It would avoid up to half a degree of global warming by the end of this century, providing a major boost for the Paris Agreement, and it could also significantly improve the energy efficiency of some alternative refrigerants and technologies.

A global problem requires a global solution. I am confident that any obstacles can be overcome, having already seen nations use the Montreal Protocol to avert up to two million cases of skin cancer a year and save many more people from the suffering caused by cataracts.

By using the Montreal Protocol regime to phase down HFCs, we can complement other efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions under the UNFCCC process. On this International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, let us remember how much has already been accomplished, and commit to do more to protect our atmosphere. By working together, we can build a safer, healthier, more prosperous and resilient world for all people while protecting our planet, our only home.


2016 International Literacy Day: Education for 21st Century - September 8, 2016

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Secretary General’s message

This year, the world the world has embarked on implementing the ambitious and transformational 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With its 17 universal, integrated and interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is an action plan for people, planet, partnership and peace.

Literacy stands at heart of the 2030 Agenda. It is a foundation for human rights, gender equality, and sustainable societies. It essential to all our efforts to end extreme poverty and promote well-being for all people. That is why the Sustainable Development Goals aim for universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives.

One of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to ensure that all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that a substantial proportion of adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.

Fifty years ago, International Literacy Day was proclaimed to promote literacy as a tool to empower individuals, communities and societies. We have made significant progress over the past five decades, but the world is still very far from universal literacy. And today, with the world becoming increasingly digitized and information rich, new opportunities and challenges are emerging.

More than 750 million adults are illiterate, including 115 million young people. Two thirds are female. Some 250 million children of primary school age lack basic literacy skills and 124 million children and adolescents receive no schooling at all.

These obstacles to sustainable development can and must be overcome by developing and implementing the right policies, backed up by commitment and resources. We need to ensure that those out of school get access to quality learning opportunities, we need to improve the quality of schooling, and we need to promote adult education and learning.

On this International Literacy Day, I call on governments and their partners, including in the private sector, to join forces for universal literacy so we can translate the vision of the 2030 Agenda into reality and build peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable societies.


UN Secretary General’s message for the 2016 World Humanitarian Day - August 19, 2016

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A record 130 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive. Grouped together, these people in need would comprise the tenth most populous nation on Earth.

These figures are truly staggering, yet they tell only a fraction of the story. Hidden behind the statistics are individuals, families and communities whose lives have been devastated. People no different to you and me: children, women and men who face impossible choices every day. They are parents who must choose between buying food or medicine for their children; children who must choose between school or working to support their families; families who must risk bombing at home or a perilous escape by sea.

The solutions to the crises that have plunged these people into such desperate hardship are neither simple nor quick. But there are things we can all do – today, and every day. We can show compassion, we can raise our voices against injustice, and we can work for change.

World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.

Today, I urge everyone to sign on to the United Nations “World You’d Rather” campaign. As well as raising awareness and building empathy, the campaign has a concrete goal: to raise money for the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and to enrol the support of individuals everywhere as Messengers of Humanity. We need everybody to demand that their societies and governments put humanity first.

Earlier this year, 9,000 participants gathered in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. World leaders committed to transform the lives of people living in conflict, disaster and acute vulnerability. They rallied behind the Agenda for Humanity and its pledge to leave no one behind.

This promise is also at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. With their focus on human rights, resilience and poverty eradication, these 17 global goals offer a 15-year plan to reduce needs and vulnerability and promote a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all. To succeed on this collective journey, we need everyone to play their part. Each one of us can make a difference. On this World Humanitarian Day, let us unite in the name of humanity and show that we cannot and will not leave any one behind.

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UN SG’s message on the 2016 International Youth Day - August 12, 2016

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The world’s young people – who make up the largest generation of youth in history – can lead a global drive to break the patterns of the past and set the world on course to a more sustainable future. Young people are directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail today: between abject poverty and ostentatious wealth, gnawing hunger and shameful food waste, rich natural resources and polluting industries. Youth can deliver solutions on these issues, which lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In this first year of that15-year plan for a healthier, safer and more just future, we count on the active engagement of the world’s young people to transform the production and consumption of goods and services so they meet the basic needs and aspirations of the world’s poorest people without overburdening already strained ecosystems.

Young people are traditionally at the cutting edge, and today’s youth have more information than any previous generation. Their dynamism, creativity and idealism can combine to shape attitudes toward demand and help create more sustainable industries.

Youth are already influencing how the world produces, distributes and consumes while driving green entrepreneurship by designing sustainable products and services. As conscious consumers, young people are at the forefront of a shift toward more fair, equitable and sustainable buying patterns. Youth are strong and effective advocates of recycling, reusing and limiting waste, and they are leading technological innovations to foster a resource-efficient economy.

When we invest in youth, they can contribute to new markets, decent jobs, fair trade, sustainable housing, sustainable transport and tourism, and more opportunities that benefit the planet and people.

I am proud that the United Nations is actively engaged in supporting young leaders who can carry out the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns. I encourage all young people to become involved in advancing the SDGs and demanding action by their Governments. My Youth Envoy is eager to connect you to our campaigns, which are being carried out across the entire United Nations system.

On International Youth Day, I urge others to join this global push for progress. Let us empower young people with the resources, backing and space they need to create lasting change in our world.


2016 SDG report launched - July 20, 2016

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UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon launched the 2016 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) report. The Six months into the official implementation of the SDGs, the report provides an overview of where the world stands at the start of their implementation, highlighting the most significant gaps and challenges.

Bhutan became one of the earliest countries to start the SDG implementation process being one of the SDG-priority countries. Since then, the Royal Government of Bhutan has prioritized SDGs 1 on Poverty, 13 on Climate Action and 15 on Life on land.
The 2016 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) report reveals that one in eight people still live in extreme poverty and nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger.

The report also takes stock of the carbon emissions that have been steadily rising over the past decades, leading to increase in global temperature. Based on the data in the report, from 2011 to 2015, the world recorded the hottest temperatures with sea ice reaching its lowest level in history.
Although a small country, Bhutan set out an ambitious goal during the Paris Climate Summit to remain carbon neutral for all times to come. The country is now an unparalleled carbon sink, absorbing three times more CO2 emissions than its 700,000 population produces.
Since the 1990s, the net global forest area loss has decreased by more than half which still continues. Between 2010 to 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares per year.

Amidst such trends of decreasing forest cover, Bhutan has been able to maintain a 70 percent forest cover in the country through its constitutional mandate of 60 per cent forest cover for all times to come. Moreover, Bhutan has further boosted its environmental conservation muscles through new initiatives that will not only help conserve what is there but also help it grow further.
One such government intervention has been in terms of linking the protected area system in the country, which covers 50 per cent of the country’s total area, to one another through biological corridors through initiatives geared towards generating sustainable finance for conservation in the country in the years to come.

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