Sunday, 18 March 2018

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(Obselete) News

UN official lauds role of sport in European Union development programmes

Wilfried Lemke10 November 2009 – A senior United Nations official today praised the European Commission for its use of sport in bringing together diverse communities within the continent’s geo-political bloc, as well as helping people in poor countries.

“Mainstreaming sport in all the areas where the European Commission is working, particularly the use of sport for social change and integration within the European Union member States, but also in the assistance towards developing countries, is a very crucial step,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke.

Mr. Lemke, who is on a visit to Brussels, is slated to restart an EU-UN partnership in the arena of sport for development and peace, and to discuss potential collaboration with heads of UN agencies.

“The EU will definitely be an important partner in the reactivation of the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group,” he said.

Following his visit to Brussels, the Special Adviser will head to Dubai, where he will be chairing the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Sports in Society set up by the World Economic Forum last year.

After that he travels to South Africa to attend the inauguration of the first Football for Hope Center in Cape Town, as well as the inauguration of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence for Sport Science and Development of the University of Western Cape.

UN officials remember fall of Berlin Wall, 20 years on

Berlin Wall9 November 2009 – The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago today is a reminder of the difference that ordinary people can make for the greater good, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging the world to salute those fighting to enhance human rights and freedoms.

Mr. Ban issued a statement through his spokesperson in which he said the Wall’s tearing down “changed the course of history and came to symbolize the triumph of ordinary people in their quest for freedom. We owe it to all of those who fought for their fundamental rights and freedoms to never forget their struggle. Their story still inspires today.”

The Secretary-General said the anniversary offers “a reminder of the difference people can make for the greater good, whether it is fighting for human rights in 1989 or working in the 21st century to end poverty, feed the hungry and combat climate change.”

The incoming head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a separate statement, said world leaders cannot afford to be complacent in the quest for freedom, human rights and diversity.

Irina Bokova, Director-General-elect of UNESCO, used the anniversary to stress that the battle for universal values has not yet been won.

“Today we live in a globalized world, but too many walls remain,” said Ms. Bokova. “UNESCO’s task is to break through these walls, wherever they may be and whatever form they take.”

Ms. Bokova, who succeeds Koïchiro Matsuura as UNESCO chief on 15 November, served as foreign minister of Bulgaria during the 1990s.

She described the fall of the Berlin Wall as “an event of immense historical importance for world peace and the advance of democracy. It was the start of a new era, giving rise to hopes, not just in Eastern Europe but around the world, for a better life. A page has been turned.”

But she also noted that while globalization could be “a liberating force, it also carries the risk of creating a more uniform world, eroding the incredible diversity that is the real source of human creativity, economic and social development, and opening the way for new forms of repression, exclusion and poverty.”

Pakistani farmers get help to boost production from UN, European Union

Distribution of seed and fertilizer to farmers hit hard by last year’s food price hikes.The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Union (EU) have partnered to provide seed and fertilizer to almost 100,000 farmers in rural Pakistan who were hit by the surge in food prices last year.

According to FAO, an additional 10 million Pakistanis were pushed into hunger as a result of the rise in food prices, bringing the total number in the South Asian nation to an estimated 46 million, or 28 per cent of the population.

While Pakistan has just produced a bumper crop of 24 million tonnes of wheat – 2 million above its nationwide requirement in food, prices remain high, especially in rural areas, where most food insecure people live.

“The food may be there, but for many, it is too expensive to buy,” FAO noted in a news release.

The EU works with both FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) to alleviate hunger in Pakistan, funding a €40 million operation through to June 2011.

As part of that programme, WFP is providing food assistance to nearly 600,000 farmers and labourers, while FAO helps small-scale farmers – who make up much of the country’s rural population – increase their production.

“They can’t grow enough for themselves, because the prices of inputs have gone up,” said Gamal Ahmed, FAO’s Representative in Pakistan. “That’s why we focus on providing them with seeds and fertilizer.”

Ahead of the planting season which begins this month, 97,500 farmers received agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer from FAO.

The agency also works to ensure that productivity gains are sustainable beyond the current season, by improving irrigation and water harvesting systems, by reducing post-harvest losses, and by offering training to farmers.

(UN News Centre)

UN official still hopeful for strong climate deal in Copenhagen as latest talks end

Yvo de Boer6 November 2009 – As the last negotiating session before next month’s United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen concluded today, a senior official with the world body called on countries to push ahead to deliver on a strong international agreement to tackle global warming.

“Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the international fight against climate change – nothing has changed my confidence in that,” said Yvo de Boer (see photo), Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“A powerful combination of commitment and compromise can and must make this happen,” he told a news conference in Barcelona, the site of the final round of talks ahead of the 7 to 18 December meeting in the Danish capital.

In Copenhagen, governments are expected to agree to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty – part of the overall UNFCCC – which has strong, legally binding measures committing 37 industrialized States to cutting emissions by an average of 5 per cent against 1990 levels over the period from 2008 to 2012.

Over 4,500 participants from 181 countries participated in the five-day gathering, during which progress was made on the issues of adaptation, technology cooperation, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and mechanisms to disburse funds for developing countries.

Little progress was made, however, on mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and finance, according to a news release issued by the UNFCCC. These are two key issues that would allow developing countries to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change.

“Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we will not have a deal in Copenhagen,” said Mr. de Boer, adding that “leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces.”

At the high-level climate change summit held in New York in September, heads of State and government pledged to achieve a deal in Copenhagen that spells out ambitious emission reduction targets of industrialized countries, as well as nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support, and significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources.

“I look to industrialised countries to raise their ambitions to meet the scale of the challenge we face,” said Mr. de Boer. “And I look to industrialized nations for clarity on the amount of short- and long-term finance they will commit.”

Mr. de Boer said developed countries would need to provide at least $10 billion to enable developing countries to immediately develop low-emission growth and adaptation strategies and to build internal capacity.

At the same time, developed countries will need to indicate how they intend to raise predictable and sustainable long-term financing and what there longer-term commitments will be.

“Negotiators must deliver a final text at Copenhagen which presents a strong, functioning architecture to kick start rapid action in the developing world,” said the Executive Secretary.


UN News Centre

“And between now and Copenhagen, governments must deliver the clarity required to help the negotiators complete their work,” he added.

Era of increased mobility requires better protection of migrants’ rights, says Ban in Athens

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Special Adviser on migration Peter Sutherland at news conference in Athens4 November 2009 – In an era where people are crossing borders in greater numbers seeking better opportunities, it is more vital than ever that States safeguard the rights of migrants, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level gathering in Athens today.

“Let us never forget than in the end, policies and laws are really about people and values,” he said in his remarks to the opening of the third Global Forum on Migration and Development.

The Secretary-General noted that the number of international migrants today is greater than at anytime in history, with 214 million people living outside their country of birth.

Highlighting the good that such mobility can generate, he said that, when managed well, global migration greatly improves human welfare and development. Also, migrants contribute to development in their homelands by transferring remittances and transmitting new ideas and technologies.

Meanwhile, in countries of destination, migrants fill gaps in labour demand and skills to make the economy more productive.

“But we have work ahead of us,” he told the gathering. “Around the world, migration is often the subject of shrill debate – a wedge to provoke social tensions, drive political extremes, fan the flames of discrimination and hatred.

“We cannot yet say that the development potential of international migration is being fully realized. We cannot yet declare that the rights of migrants are being fully respected.”

He noted that the conditions in which many migrants move and live continue to be “treacherous,” that human trafficking and sexual exploitation are disturbing realities and, in many parts of the world, migrant workers still face appalling working conditions.

Mr. Ban called on all countries to work together to tackle migration, highlighting three challenges that add to the urgency for action – the economic crisis, climate change, and the scourge of human trafficking, particularly of women and girls.

“As we look to these challenges, we recognize that in many ways, migration is not just a journey of people – it is a journey of policy,” he said.

“Our destination is a global system of mobility that allows people to move in legal, safe and orderly ways – with full respect for their dignity.”

The Secretary-General reiterated the importance of promoting and protecting the basic human rights of all migrants, regardless of their legal status, during a press conference with Teodora Tzakri, the Deputy Minister of Interior, Decentralization and E-Governance of Greece.

“Providing basic rights, access to education, social safety networks, sanitation and health – these are basic, which each and every country should provide,” he stated.

Mr. Ban also met with Prime Minister George Papandreou, with whom he discussed a number of regional and global issues, including climate change, migration and development, Cyprus, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, UN peacekeeping operations and reform, and also piracy and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the global anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Secretary-General said he will spare no effort to facilitate progress on the UN-backed talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders aimed at unifying the Mediterranean island.

“The international community has invested a great deal in this Cypriot-driven process, and has high expectations. I believe the talks are making reasonably good progress, and this momentum must be kept up.”

While in the Greek capital, Mr. Ban is also scheduled to address a special session of Parliament and meet with President Karolos Papoulias.

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