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‘Digital rights’ key to inclusive post-pandemic recovery

21. Juli 2021 - 22:03

Upholding human rights online must be part of global efforts to recover better following the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of UN independent experts said. 

They stressed that “digital rights” must be a top priority as countries rebuild civic space both during and after the crisis. “Despite the instrumental role of the internet and digital technologies, which have provided new avenues for the exercise of public freedoms and access to health and related information and care in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic, States continue to leverage these technologies to muzzle dissent, surveil, and quash online and offline collective action and the tech companies have done too little to avert such abuse of human rights,” they said

Address serious threats 

The human rights experts were concerned that these patterns of abuse will continue after the pandemic, further worsening inequalities worldwide. 

Their statement, issued ahead of next week’s RightsCon summit on human rights in the digital age, calls for collective action “to embrace the fast-pace expansion of digital space and technological solutions that are safe, inclusive and rights-based.” 

Post-pandemic recovery efforts must address serious threats contributing to the closing of civic space and suppression of free speech and media freedom, they said, such as internet shutdowns during peaceful protests. 

Other threats include digital divides and barriers to accessing basic human rights and services, as well as attacks on independent and diverse media, “algorithmic discrimination”, targeted surveillance, and online threats against human rights defenders. 

‘Digital inequalities’ deepen 

They pointed out that the pandemic has especially heightened “digital inequalities and discrimination” against people of African descent, minority groups, communities facing religious and ethnic discrimination, and women and girls. 

The UN experts said governments, as well as the tech sector, must take additional action so that their efforts reach people who are at greatest risk of being disproportionately affected.  

Underscoring that “we must leave no one behind – online or offline”, they recommended that platforms must be inclusive through engaging people on the ground and stepping up investment in the world’s least developed countries. 

At the same time, States must also maintain their obligation to promote and protect human rights. For example, initiatives to regulate online spaces should be “grounded in human rights standards”. 

Activists at risk 

The experts also called on companies to stop supplying governments with spyware tools, facial recognition applications, and other technologies that reinforce risks for activists and civil society representatives exercising their legitimate right to voice concerns and defend human rights. 

When States of Emergency Collide: COVID-19, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Data Flows will be among the topics they will be discussing at RightsCon, which runs from 7-11 June. 

The nine experts who issued the statement monitor issues such as human rights while countering terrorism, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. 

They were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and are not UN staff members, nor do they receive a salary from the Organization.

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

New WHO guidance aims to stamp out rights violations in mental health services

21. Juli 2021 - 22:01

New guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), published on Thursday, calls for providing mental health care that respects human rights and focuses on recovery. 

Globally, mental health care mainly continues to be provided in psychiatric hospitals, and rights abuses and coercive practices remain all too common, according to the UN agency. 

‘A more holistic approach’ 

The guidance recommends that mental health provision should be located in the community and include support for daily living, such as facilitating access to accommodation, as well as education and employment services. 

“This comprehensive new guidance provides a strong argument for a much faster transition from mental health services that use coercion and focus almost exclusively on the use of medication to manage symptoms of mental health conditions, to a more holistic approach that takes into account the specific circumstances and wishes of the individual and offers a variety of approaches for treatment and support,” said Dr. Michelle Funk of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, who led the development of the guidance. 

Severe abuses continue 

WHO estimated that governments currently spend less than two per cent of their overall health budgets on mental health.  This expenditure is mainly allocated to psychiatric hospitals, except in high-income countries where the figure is around 43 per cent. 

The guidance promotes services that are person-centred and grounded in a human rights-based approach, as recommended under WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2020-2030, endorsed last month. 

WHO pointed out that although countries have increasingly sought to reform their laws, policies and services regarding mental health care, following adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, few have made progress in meeting the changes required by international human rights standards. 

Severe human rights abuses and coercive practices are still far too common across countries, the agency said. Examples include forced admission and forced treatment, as well as manual, physical and chemical restraint, unsanitary living conditions, and physical and verbal abuse. 

Good practices showcased 

The new guidance outlines what is required in areas such as mental health law, service delivery, financing and workforce development so that mental health services comply with the disability rights treaty. 

It contains examples of community-based mental health services from countries such as Brazil, India, Kenya, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom which have demonstrated good practices, for example in non-coercion, community inclusion and respecting people’s right to make decisions about their treatment and life. 

The services highlighted include crisis support, mental health services provided within general hospitals, outreach services, supported living approaches and support provided by peer groups.  Cost comparisons indicate that they provide good outcomes and are preferred by users.  They also can be provided at comparable cost to mainstream health services. 

“Transformation of mental health service provision must, however, be accompanied by significant changes in the social sector”, said Gerard Quinn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

“Until that happens, the discrimination that prevents people with mental health conditions from leading full and productive lives will continue.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

Turning to sustainable global business: 5 things to know about the circular economy

21. Juli 2021 - 21:47

Due to the ever-increasing demands of the global economy, the resources of the planet are being used up at an alarming rate and waste and pollution are growing fast. The idea of a more sustainable “circular economy” is gaining traction, but what does this concept mean, and can it help save the planet?

1) Business as usual, the path to catastrophe

Unless we make some major adjustments to the way the planet is run, many observers believe that business as usual puts us on a path to catastrophe.

Around 90 per cent of global biodiversity loss and water stress (when the demand for water is greater than the available amount), and a significant proportion of the harmful emissions that are driving climate change, is caused by the way we use and process natural resources.

Over the past three decades, the amount of raw materials extracted from the earth, worldwide, has more than doubled. At the current rate of extraction, we’re on course to double the amount again, by 2060.

According to the International Resource Panel, a group of independent expert scientists brought together by the UN to examine the issue, this puts us in line for a three to six degree temperature increase, which would be deadly for much life on Earth. UNDP MongoliaFemale entrepreneurs in Mongolia are creating household goods from discarded plastic.

2) A circular economy means a fundamental change of direction

Whilst there is no universally agreed definition of a circular economy, the 2019 United Nations Environment Assembly, the UN’s flagship environment conference, described it as a model in which products and materials are “designed in such a way that they can be reused, remanufactured, recycled or recovered and thus maintained in the economy for as long as possible”.

In this scenario, fewer resources would be needed, less waste would be produced and, perhaps most importantly, the greenhouse gas emissions which are driving the climate crisis, would be prevented or reduced.

This goes much further than simply recycling: for the circular economy to happen,  the dominant economic model of “planned obsolescence” (buying, discarding and replacing products on a frequent basis) would have to be upended, businesses and consumers would need to value raw materials, from glass to metal to plastics and fibres, as resources to be valued, and products as things to be maintained and repaired, before they are replaced.UNDP/Sumaya AghaA landfill in Jordan where plastics are sorted and recycled into new products.

3) Turn trash into cash

Increasingly, in both the developed and the developing world, consumers are embracing the ideas behind the circular economy, and companies are realising that they can make money from it. “Making our economies circular offers a lifeline to decarbonise our economies”, says Olga Algayerova, the head of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, (UNECE), “and could lead to the creation of 1.8 million net jobs by 2040”.

In the US, for example, a demand for affordable, high-quality furniture, in a country where some 15 million tonnes of discarded furniture ends up in landfill every year, was the spur for the creation of Kaiyo, an online marketplace that makes it easier for furniture to be repaired and reused. The company is growing fast, and is part of a trend in the country towards a more effective use of resources, such as the car-sharing app Zipcar, and Rent the Runway, a rental service for designer clothing.

In Africa, there are many projects, large and small, which incorporate the principles of the circular economy by using existing resources in the most efficient way possible. One standout initiative is Gjenge Makers in Kenya. The company sells bricks for the construction industry, made entirely from waste. The young founder, Nzambi Matee, who has been awarded a UN Champion of the Earth award, says that she is literally turning trash into cash. The biggest problem she faces is how to keep up with demand: every day Gjenge Makers recycles some 500 kilos of waste, and can produces up to 1,500 plastic bricks every day.Unsplash/Becca McHaffieBuying second-hand clothes helps reduce waste and keeps clothing out of landfills.

4) Governments are beginning to step up

But, for the transition to take hold, governments need to be involved. Recently, major commitments have been made in some of the countries and regions responsible for significant resources use and waste. 
The US Government’s American Jobs Plan, for example, includes measures to retrofit energy-efficient homes, electrify the federal fleet of vehicles, including postal vans, and ending carbon pollution from power generation by 2035.

In the European Union, the EU’s new circular economy action plan, adopted in 2020, is one of the building blocks of the ambitious European Green Deal, which aims at making Europe the first climate-neutral continent.

And, in Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa founded the African Circular Economy Alliance, which calls for the widespread adoption of the circular economy on the continent. The Alliance supports African leaders who champion the idea, and creates coalitions to implement pilot projects.Ford/Sam VarnHagenThe US motor company Ford says it will release its first fully electric pick-up truck in 2022.

5) Squaring the circle?

However, there is still a long way to and there is even evidence that the world is going backwards: the 2021 Circularity Gap Report, produced annually by the Circle Economy thinktank, estimates that the global circularity rate (the proportion of recovered materials, as a percentage of overall materials used) stands at only 8.6 per cent, down from 9.1 per cent in 2018

So how can the world be made “rounder”? There are no easy answers, and no silver bullet, but Ms. Algayerova points to strong regulation as a big piece of the puzzle.

“I am proud that for the automotive sector, a UN regulation adopted at UNECE in 2013 requires 85 per cent of new vehicles’ mass to be reusable or recyclable. This binding regulation influences the design of around one quarter of all vehicles sold globally, some 23 million in 2019.”

“It’s a step in the right direction, but these kind of approaches need to be massively scaled up across all sectors”, she adds. “Shifting to the circular economy is good for business, citizens and nature, and must be at the heart of a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

UNESCO report highlights need for greater investment, diversity in science

21. Juli 2021 - 21:46

Although spending on science has risen worldwide, greater investment is needed in the face of growing crises, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recommended in a new report published on Friday. 

The latest edition of its Science Report, which is published every five years, further reveals that there is still a long way to go before science fully contributes to the goal of achieving a more sustainable future for all people and the planet.  

“Better-endowed science is indispensable. Science must become less unequal, more cooperative and more open. Today’s challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, decline of ocean health and pandemics are all global. This is why we must mobilize scientists and researchers from all over the world,” said Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General. 

More scientists, significant disparities 

During the period from 2014 to 2018, spending on science worldwide increased by nearly 20 per cent, and the number of scientists rose some 13.7 per cent: a trend that was further boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. 

But a deeper dive into the data shows significant disparities, as just two countries – the United States and China – accounted for nearly two-thirds of this increase, or roughly 63 per cent. Additionally, four out of five countries fall far behind, investing less than one per cent of their GDP in scientific research. 

The fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have been particularly dynamic, the authors said.  More than 150,000 articles on these topics were published in 2019 alone.   

Research also has surged in lower middle-income countries, rising from just under 13 per cent in 2015, to more than 25 per cent four years later. 

Open access challenge 

However, research in other areas critical to our common global future, such as carbon capture and storage, have received less investment, indicating a long path still lies ahead before science fully contributes to sustainable development.   

Furthermore, although international scientific cooperation has increased over the past five years, open access to research remains a challenge in much of the world, as more than 70 per cent of publications remain largely inaccessible to the majority of researchers. 

The report calls for new models for the circulation and dissemination of scientific knowledge, an issue UNESCO has been working on since 2019. The agency has been preparing a framework for open science ahead of its next General Conference in November, which it hopes will be adopted. 

Shaping tomorrow’s world 

Meanwhile, science needs to become more diverse, according to the report, as just a third of researchers are women. Although parity has been achieved in the life sciences, women account for only 22 per cent of the workforce in AI.  

“We cannot allow the inequalities of society be reproduced, or amplified, by the science of the future”, UNESCO said. 

The report further urges restoration of public confidence in science, reminding that “today’s science contributes to shaping the world of tomorrow, which is why it is essential to prioritize humanity’s common goal of sustainability through ambitious science policy.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

New publication on collective intelligence for sustainable development

1. Juli 2021 - 1:34

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Nesta’s Center for Collective Intelligence Design launched the first two reports of its new publication series Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development: Getting Smarter Together, a comprehensive research over 277 case studies that presents how diverse collective intelligence approaches are being used to speed-up progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a world shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, a whole-of-society approach is fundamental to getting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development back on track. From citizens’ insights to grassroots solutions, data from mobile phone companies to satellite imagery and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the series shows how new resources of intelligence are being harnessed by organizations around the world to understand complex problems, make better decisions and find new solutions.

The first report Getting Smarter Togetheranalyses and compares the methods and tools used by over 200 global organizations from both the private and public sector sharing examples cutting across all aspects of Agenda 2030. The study discovered 15 methods that are being used most frequently, and often in combination, from crowdsourcing to web scraping and remote sensing. The study also found that Artificial Intelligence is also increasingly being used in parallel, mainly to increase the speed and efficiency of data processing at scale.

The second report 13 Stories from the UNDP Accelerator Labsoffers a deeper dive on the details of some of those groundbreaking approaches deployed by the UNDP Accelerator Labs – from using participatory sensing to understand the informal economy around waste in Viet Nam, to combining multiple datasets to tackle gender-based violence in Mexico and understand the impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chains in Zimbabwe.

“This publication series is more than a mere signpost on our path to building the future of development,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “It serves as an invitation and a practical guide for local, national, and international development practitioners to make better use of real-time knowledge creation, collective action and evidence-driven decision making. And ultimately, collective intelligence will serve as a vital tool to help shape a greener, more inclusive, and more sustainable planet”

“These new reports provide global lessons from the front line about the power of collective intelligence methods to help us fast track breakthroughs on the path to 2030,” said Kathy Peach, Director of Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, Nesta.

The Sustainable Development Goals demand financial resources, and they equally require the mobilization of intelligence. This publication series is a call to make it standard practice to channel the innovations, knowledge and contributions of people across the globe, to get serious about the move toward real time data, and to find responsible ways of using artificial intelligence to elevate human intelligence.  If we want to put this planet on a more sustainable & equitable path, we need to get smarter together.

Source: UNDP

Kategorien: english

Link between education and well-being is clear

1. Juli 2021 - 1:33

With school closures triggered by COVID-19 disrupting both education and access to nutritious meals, two UN agencies on Tuesday launched new measures to help improve the well-being of 1.9 billion school-aged children and adolescents around the world. 

There has been increased stress, anxiety and other mental health issues, while an estimated 365 million primary school students have gone without school meals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN specialized agency handling education issues, UNESCO.  

Based on a set of eight global benchmarks, Global Standards for Health-promoting Schools, calls for all classrooms to promote life skills, cognitive and socioemotional skills and healthy lifestyles for learners.   

“These newly launched global standards are designed to create schools that nurture education and health, and that equip students with the knowledge and skills for their future health and well-being, employability and life prospects”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.  

Linking schools and health 

Clear evidence shows that comprehensive health and nutrition programmes in schools, have significant impacts among students.  

“Schools play a vital role in the well-being of students, families and their communities, and the link between education and health has never been more evident”, Tedros added. 

The new standards, which will be piloted in Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Paraguay, contribute to WHO’s target of making one billion people healthier by 2023 and the global Education 2030 Agenda coordinated by UNESCO.  

“Education and health are interdependent basic human rights for all, at the core of any human right, and essential to social and economic development”, said UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azouley.   

Making the case 

School health and nutrition interventions in low-income areas where impediments such as parasitic worms or anemia are prevalent, can lead to 2.5 years of additional schooling, according to the UN agencies. 

Moreover, malaria prevention interventions can result in a 62 per cent reduction in absenteeism; nutritious school meals upped enrolment rates by nine per cent, and attendance by eight per cent on average; and free screening and eyeglasses have raised the probability of students passing standardized reading and math tests by five per cent.  

And promoting handwashing has cut gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses between 21 and 61 per cent in low income countries, resulting in fewer absentees.  

“A school that is not health-promoting is no longer justifiable and acceptable”, said Ms. Azouley.   

Promote health in schools 

Comprehensive sex education encourages healthier behaviour, promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights, and improves outcomes such as a reduction in HIV infection and adolescent pregnancies, WHO and UNESCO said. 

A school that is not health-promoting is no longer justifiable and acceptable — UNESCO chief

By enhancing water and sanitation (WASH) services and supplies in school, as well as educating on menstrual hygiene, girls can maintain themselves with dignity and may even miss less school while menstruating. 

“I call for all of us to affirm our commitment and role, to make every school a health-promoting school”, underscored the UNESCO chief. 

Upping the standards 

The Health Promoting Schools approach was introduced by WHO, UNESCO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1995 and adopted in over 90 countries and territories.   

However, only a small number of countries have implemented it at scale, and even fewer have effectively adapted their education systems to include health promotion. 

Source: UN News

Kategorien: english

COVID-19: First mRNA vaccine tech transfer hub

1. Juli 2021 - 1:30

The World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting a South African consortium in establishing the first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, the UN agency announced on Monday. 

The facility will allow manufacturers from developing countries to receive training in how to produce vaccines, and the relevant licenses to do so, as part of global efforts to scale-up access to lifesaving treatments. 

The development follows WHO’s call in April for public and private companies to express their interest in creating technology transfer hubs so that low and middle-income countries could meet their urgent need for vaccines, amid critical shortages. 

‘A key moment’ 

“Today’s announcement is a great step forward for South Africa, and for the world. I hope this will be a key moment for increasing production capacity in Africa for COVID-19 vaccines, but also for future vaccines”, said WHO chief Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus, speaking during his bi-weekly media briefing from Geneva. 

Messenger RNA, or mRNA technology, instructs cells to make a protein that generates an immune response in the body, thus producing the antibodies that provide protection against a disease. 

It is the basis for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines being used by governments worldwide, and in the UN-supported COVAX global vaccine solidarity initiative. 

“It’s potentially easier to scale than other vaccine technologies and could be faster and easier to adapt to variants of concern”, Tedros said.

The South African consortium involves a biotech company called Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, which will act as the hub by manufacturing mRNA vaccines and providing training to another manufacturer called Biovac.   

WHO’s role includes establishing the criteria for the technology transfer, assessing applications and developing standards, while the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, will provide guidance through the Partnership for African Vaccines Manufacturing. 

Changing the narrative  

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa underlined the importance of the hub for the continent. 

“The ability to manufacture vaccines, medicines and other health-related commodities will help put Africa on a path to self-determination”, he said, speaking via video link.  

“Through this initiative and others, we will change the narrative of an Africa that is a centre of disease and poor development. We will create a narrative that celebrates our successes in reducing the burden of disease, in advancing self-reliance, and also advancing sustainable development.” 

Highs and lows 

The announcement of the hub, with others in the pipeline, comes as COVID-19 cases worldwide decline for an eighth week in a row, and as deaths have dropped over the past seven weeks, consecutively. 

While welcoming the good news, Tedros said new infections and deaths remain high globally, with more than 2.5 million cases and 64,000 deaths reported last week. 

The rate of decline has slowed in most regions, and every region has countries that are witnessing a rapid increase in caseloads and deaths.  In Africa, cases and deaths increased by almost 40 per cent in the past week, while some countries have seen their numbers tripled or quadrupled. 

“While a handful of countries have high vaccination rates and are now seeing lower numbers of hospitalisations and deaths, other countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia are now facing steep epidemics”, Tedros said, adding that these cases and deaths are largely avoidable. 

Several factors are driving increases, including increased spread of virus variants of concern, more socializing, ineffective use of public health and social measures, and vaccine inequity. 

“The inequitable access to vaccines has demonstrated that in a crisis, low-income countries cannot rely on vaccine-producing countries to supply their needs”, he said. 

WHO continues to push for greater sharing of knowledge, technology and licenses to boost vaccine manufacturing, and for the waiver of related intellectual property rights.

Source: UN News

Kategorien: english

First “Neighborhood Hero Basketball Tournament” event

24. Juni 2021 - 20:43

HOOD Organization, a group of young students from New York City (USA) months ago contacted the Division for Inclusive Social Development of the United Nations Department of  Economic and Social Affairs( DISD/UNDESA)  sharing a dream and seeking for advise to be able to help youth through sport.

We are glad to learn that these youth are making their dream come true by hosting the first  “Neighborhood Hero Basketball Tournament” event  (NHBT) with the intent to engage also the community they live in. Not only does the NHBT allow individuals within marginalized communities to build bonds with Neighborhood Heroes, it also gives these heroes the recognition that they deserve for what they do on a daily basis. They will also show the youth, particularly those living in disadvantaged neighborhoods,  that they can become just like these Neighborhood heroes when they grow up. 

This event will take place on Saturday, June 26th in Nelson Park (166th St, Bronx, NY). If you’re interested in participating, more info is available by visiting or follow them on Instagram @hoodorganization. 

Kategorien: english

On Digital Opportunities

1. Juni 2021 - 19:16

The Internet and the World Wide Web application have transformed daily life and work for more than half of the world’s population. And the actions of those who are online increasingly affect everyone, including the 3.7 billion who are not yet connected.

In the past two decades, we have seen enormous, positive consequences of global digital uptake: unprecedented information production, access and sharing; global e-commerce growth; digital social interaction at dramatic scale; and myriad applications and conveniences enabled by smartphones.

At the same time, harmful effects cannot be ignored: misinformation, disinformation, bullying, malware attacks, fraud, and a long list of other social, legal and technical problems, made all the more complex by their abstract, borderless character.

Our instinctive first reaction might be to defend against such abuses head-on by restricting digital development. We can achieve more, however, with constructive, collaborative steps to improve the safety, security, privacy, resilience and accessibility of our shared digital ecosystem.

Enhancing accessibility

Accessibility is a big technical challenge. How do we make digital tools useful for everyone, especially those who need accommodating mechanisms such as screen readers, audio description, automatic captions, machine translations, or alternatives to keyboards?

Global standards could harmonize the software tools needed for universal inclusion and accommodation.

Online transactions of all kinds, meanwhile, need security. Increasingly sophisticated public key cryptography can protect and validate transacting parties.

Yet mechanisms like digital certificates are still, to some degree, porous – penetrable by clever enough hackers. Digital certification authorities are not universally trusted. Nor should they be.

Standards for trust that can be validated and enforced would go a long way towards increasing the safety of online transactions.

Moreover, robust international agreements codifying the strength and validity of such certificates would help to deal with disputes over digitally signed contracts.

Strengthening trust

Authentication in online transactions – for purposes of identifying transacting parties – must be secure, practical, convenient and trustworthy. Two-factor authentication and cryptographic tokens and specialized hardware could significantly increase trust between online buyers and sellers.

For everyday users, of course, such requirements could seem like one more reason to avoid transacting online. New users, too, could be deterred by added complexity and costs.

As things stand now, I carry around multiple physical tokens for different services. This is simply not scalable.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Standards for authentication tokens would significantly improve uptake of advanced authentication, first and foremost by reducing the level of inconvenience it imposes.

For example, a standardized hardware token could contain hundreds, if not thousands, of cryptographic keys, along with appropriate software to select the right keys for authentication at various websites.

The decade ahead

These are but a few examples of how standardization could improve the world’s online space. The challenge before us now is to identify and act on as many of these opportunities as we can.

Constructive objectives should keep the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other organizations, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and national and private sector standards groups, busy over the decade ahead.

Together, we can strengthen online safety, security, privacy and reliability, while simultaneously improving accessibility.

As the digital revolution continues, we must strive to maximize everyone’s benefits.

Making it safe, secure and inclusive will improve the online world in which we all increasingly dwell.

Source: ITU

Kategorien: english

Young people key to transforming world’s food systems

1. Juni 2021 - 19:16

Young people are taking a leading role in shaping fair and equitable food systems around the world, senior UN officials affirmed on Tuesday during a global youth dialogue on the theme of “Good Food for All”.

The online discussions, which centred around topics such as agriculture, education and climate change, will serve as direct input to a landmark UN Food Systems Summit, due to be held in September. 

More than a plateful 

Transforming food systems is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in a video message for the event. 

She highlighted how “food is much bigger than what is on your plate”, noting key connections with health, environment and culture.   

“This is a complex challenge, but only together will we transform our food systems to be more equitable, inclusive and sustainable and deliver the SDGs by 2030”, she said.  

Profit over purpose 

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, explained why food systems much change on a planet where half of all children do not have access to healthy diets, amid a “worrying increase” in overweight and obesity. 

“Too often, food systems put profit over purpose. This places the most nutritious foods often out of reach for many households”, she said. 

“Families are forced to turn to heavily marketed and unhealthy alternatives. These may be cheaper and more available. But they also lead to poor nutritional outcomes, threatening children’s development and growth and — in the worst cases — survival itself.” 

COVID-19 and rising hunger 

The UN Food Systems Summit is organized around five “Action Tracks” to foster initiatives on issues such as boosting “nature-positive” food production and shifting to sustainable consumption patterns. 

Janya Green from the United States is a youth co-chair on Action Track 1, which covers ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all.  She has been working on community food gardens since she was 12. 

“As you all know, hunger worldwide is a huge problem. The number of undernourished people continued to increase in 2019.  Even before taking COVID-19 into account, hunger was predicted to rise.  If we do not reverse these current trends, the SDG zero-hunger target will not be met,” she warned. Unsplash/Zoe SchaefferA woman tends to plants on a small-scale, sustainable farm in Pennsylvania, USA.

‘The future is youth’ 

The pandemic has exposed deep-rooted inequities, including in food systems, the UN Deputy Secretary-General observed. While young people are among those hit hard by the aftershocks, Ms. Mohammed said they have also been resilient, converting challenges into opportunities. 

Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit, stressed that it would be impossible to hold the event without engaging with youth. 

Ms. Kalibata, who is from Rwanda, recalled that young people make up 77 per cent of the total population in Africa, and around 50 per cent of the global population. 

 “This is about the future”, she said.  “The future is youth. The future of our world is our youth.”

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

How to make science and technology work better for all

1. Juni 2021 - 19:14

Harnessing the full potential of science and technology for the benefit of all people, everywhere, is the focus of a two-day virtual meeting convened by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which opened on Tuesday. 

The Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum) aims to identify gaps and promote partnerships in efforts to achieve a greener world by 2030. 

In remarks to the forum, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized how the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of science, technology and innovation for human well-being and survival, as well as the need for greater global cooperation. 

His statement was delivered by Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 

Pandemic sparks innovations 

Addressing the pandemic, the UN chief said not only was a vaccine developed in record time, but the crisis has also increased innovation in medicines and digital communications technologies.   

At the same time, scientific discovery and collaborations have accelerated and new ways of delivering services have proliferated.   

The Secretary-General said these advances hold promise for collective challenges beyond the pandemic, including in limiting climate disruption, reducing inequalities and “ending our war on nature”.  © UNICEF/Chansereypich SengIn March, representatives from UNICEF and WHO visited hospitals in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia to monitor the progress of COVID-19 vaccination through COVAX.

Billions still excluded 

However, he noted that billions of people worldwide still remain largely excluded from the benefits of the information and technology revolution, and the pandemic has only exacerbated existing technology divides. 

“It is essential that we work together — across borders, sectors and disciplines — to make science and technology work for everyone”, his statement said. 

“Multi-stakeholder cooperation will continue to be the key, helping us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, address climate change, end the biodiversity and pollution crises and rise to our other common challenges.” 

Technology for development 

The STI Forum, now in its sixth year, is part of the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism, an online platform which supports countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by their 2030 deadline.   

Through the platform, UN entities, Member States, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community and other stakeholders share information, experiences, best practices and policy advice. 

Last June, the Secretary-General also launched a Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.  Its eight objectives include achieving universal connectivity by 2030 as roughly half the world’s population, or three billion people, most of them women, do not have access to the Internet. 

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

Africa essential for sustainable development, poverty reduction and peace

1. Juni 2021 - 19:13

Africa’s rich, diverse cultural and natural heritage, is important for sustainable development, poverty reduction, and “building and maintaining peace”, the UN chief said on Tuesday, marking the international day celebrating the continent. 
“This year’s Africa Day highlights arts, culture and heritage as levers for building the Africa we want”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his commemorative message.  

“This year’s Africa Day highlights arts, culture and heritage as levers for building the Africa we want”, Secretary-General António Guterres  said in his commemorative message.   

Africa Day marks the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU), and provides an annual opportunity to reflect on the challenges and achievements of the Governments and peoples of the continent. 

Countering COVID 

COVID-19 has triggered a global recession that has “exposed deep-seated inequalities and vulnerabilities”, according to the UN chief – endangering hard-won development gains throughout Africa and beyond.   

The pandemic has also heightened the drivers of conflict by increasing inequalities and revealing the fragility of governance in many nations – particularly in delivering basic services, such as healthcare, education, electricity, water and sanitation.   

The impact of the pandemic has also been exacerbated by the climate crisis, which disproportionately affects developing nations.  

Currently, there is a “profound imbalance” in vaccine distribution among countries, with the latest figures revealing that African countries have received just two per cent of vaccines, said the top UN official.  

To end the pandemic, support economic recovery and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he stressed the need for “equitable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines”.   

The UN chief upheld that Africa Day can “can provide a strong foundation for inclusive economic progress as the continent strives to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic”. 

“On this Africa Day, I renew my call to developed nations to stand in solidarity with Africa”, concluded the Secretary-General. 

Support the continent 

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, a former senior government minister in Nigeria, observed that Africa Day “comes at a difficult time as we are countering the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences with its acute impacts on Africa”. 

She also noted that Africa has experienced a slow-down in economic growth, which is expected to increase only three per cent this year, “about half the world’s average”. 

“While world leaders must continue to support our AU partners, we also call upon African leaders to further their efforts in establishing good governance, fighting corruption and supporting Africa’s youth”, she said. 

Social media tributes 

Other senior UN voices marked the day on Twitter. 

“We celebrate the generous hospitality given in many African communities to refugees and displaced people, and we pledge to support them as they share limited shelter, food, services and resources with those fleeing war and violence” tweeted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. 

The UN health agency chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus wished a happy Africa Day to his “brothers and sisters across the continent”, with the hope of working “even harder together to make Africa a more prosperous, peaceful, healthier, safer and fairer place for our children!”. 

And the UN refugee agency in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region offered “a huge thank you” to citizens there for generously opening their doors to refugees. 

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

Ageing in a digital world – from vulnerable to valuable

19. Mai 2021 - 18:42

By 2050, the number of people aged 65 years or older is projected to reach 1.5 billion. “Ageing in a digital world – from vulnerable to valuable” is the first- ever report to be produced by ITU to raise awareness in the ICT sector on the importance of being prepared to respond to the needs and requirements of aging populations.

The report addresses the two global megatrends that reinforce each other: the emergence of digital technologies and aging populations, both of which are predicted to bring about important socio-economic changes worldwide. The report aims to help ITU members and other stakeholders to understand digital opportunities and take advantage of new possibilities for economic, social and political growth from increased digital inclusion and age-friendly digital environments.

The report highlights trends, identifies good practices and possible solutions, and presents guidelines that can leverage the contributions of older generations, reduce their age-related vulnerability and foster their socio-economic development to achieve healthier and wealthier inclusive societies. It focuses on the role that ICTs can play in ensuring digitally inclusive communities in which older persons are active participants and valuable contributors.

Download the Report.

Source: ITU

Kategorien: english

Our Rights Under Threat As We Grow Old

14. Mai 2021 - 19:43

“Our Rights Under Threat As We Grow Old: A Timely Expert Debate on the Intersection of Disability and Age” is a Side Event of the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD organized by International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), Human Rights Watch, in partnership with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Special Procedures, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Programme on Ageing.

Issues discussed in the session:

  • Key gaps and challenges in the protection of the rights of older persons with disabilities as exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Overlaps and distinctions in the protection of the rights of older persons and the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Can the CRPD respond to the needs and rights of all older persons?
  • Main lessons from the CRPD process for the UN Open-ended Group on Ageing on the protection of the human rights of older persons


  • Mr. Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Ms. Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons
  • Ms. Kate Swaffer, Chair, CEO & Co-founder, Dementia Alliance International (DAI)

Moderator: Bethany Brown, Human Rights Advisor, International Disability Alliance (IDA)


  • “Please think about the mobilization of older persons’ movement because these are the human rights for all of us. We are investing in our future, we are all getting older. Please also argue both strengthening human rights of older persons and getting linked to the persons with disabilities movements on the national level.” (Claudia Mahler)
  • “The time is right – for seriously paying attention to the rights of older people. Through deep reading the UN SDGs, you will see a very different philosophy of economy and society emerging. I argue that residential options were historical accidents due to a particular model of economy and society that were passed and we are not going to rebuild that into the future. The hidden elements in the equation are the notions of the family, family supports, the future of caring, and the feminization of poverty, particularly for carers. How we are going to treat that and how family support is considered part of the ecosystems underpin the rights not just of older persons but also of persons with disabilities.” (Gerard Guinn)
  • “Let us make today the beginning fo a change and for rights for all, including older persons around the world.” (Kate Swaffer)


The UN Independent Expert (IE) on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons, Ms. Claudia Mahler, dedicated her first thematic report to the impact of COVID-19 on older persons. Her findings and recommendations to States are particularly relevant to older persons with disabilities, including those living in residential care settings.

The newly appointed Special Rapporteur (SR) on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Gerard Quinn has published recently on the lessons to be learned from the drafting of the UN disability treaty for a possible UN treaty on the rights of older persons as well as on autonomy and legal capacity for older persons. His current research interests include theories of personhood and new technology intersectionality between age and disability and extreme poverty and disability.

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Technology and Equal Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities

14. Mai 2021 - 19:35

The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) – is an advocacy initiative launched in December 2006 by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA. Its mission is to facilitate and support the implementation of the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) promoting digital accessibility and Assistive Technologies.

About this session:

How can technology improve outcomes in courts and justice systems worldwide for Persons with Disabilities?

Co-hosted by G3ict and IDA, this session focused on Art. 13 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that requires that States Parties ensure effective access to justice for Persons with Disabilities on an equal basis with others. 

Today, courts and justice systems worldwide are undergoing a massive digital transformation adopting new digital systems and processes. That transformation has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Too often, the deployment of technology does not give consideration to accessibility and the digital inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. The role of technology in courts and justice systems becomes even more critical given the global pattern of Persons with Disabilities being incarcerated at much higher rates than the population as a whole.

This session examined the digital transformation of courts and justice systems today and what steps are required to ensure their accessibility for Persons with Disabilities. The discussion also explored how technologies can be leveraged in innovative ways to address long-standing barriers to justice for Persons with Disabilities, including accessing critical information, participating in judicial proceedings, tracking the progress of a case, and receiving needed accommodations.

This session benefited from the perspectives and expertise of:

  • Gerard Quinn, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), professor emeritus in law at the National University of Ireland (Galway)
  • Frederic Schroeder, President, World Blind Union, Board member, IDA
  • Laura Ruby, Director, Worldwide Accessibility Policy and Standards Regulatory Affairs, Microsoft Corporation
  • Michael Stein, co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School
  • James Thurston, Vice President, Global Strategy and Development, G3ict

In Article 13, the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) requires that States Parties ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. Meanwhile, courts and justice systems worldwide are undergoing digital transformation. While these technology investments can help courts and justice systems cut costs and increase efficiencies, it is not clear that their technology roadmaps include a commitment to ensuring access to justice by people with disabilities. Without this commitment, justice systems currently risk leaving people with disabilities behind and creating new obstacles to participation. When justice systems invest in digital technologies that are accessible, and leverage new and emerging technology in innovative ways, they can both meet their transformation goals and increase access to justice for all people.

The Legal Imperative
The recently published advanced edited version of the UN Office of the Hig
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Report (A/HRC/37/25) on the Right to Access to Justice under Article 13 of the CRPD clearly lays out the legal basis for access to justice. The report details how persons with disabilities today continue to face significant obstacles to accessing justice and underlines the CRPD principle that “equal and effective participation at all stages of and within every role within the justice system” is core to access to justice.

The CRPD, ratified by over 170 countries, is the first international human rights treaty to make explicit the right to access to justice. It defines what access means for persons with disabilities, including by specifying tools to overcome barriers. It makes clear that the administration of justice is fundamental both to governance and citizenship. Under the CRPD, persons with disabilities must be able to effectively participate, directly or indirectly, in all legal proceedings, including at the investigative and other preliminary stages, and in all possible roles, for example as a claimant, defendant, witness, qualified expert, juror, judge or lawyer. Article 9 (2)
(h) of the CRPD calls on States Parties to promote accessible legal information to persons with disabilities and to society at large by using a full and varied range of formats and modes of communication. It also notes that new technologies can help to achieve that objective.

Persons with disabilities continue to face restrictions to their participation in various capacities in legal proceedings, for example as judges, prosecutors, witnesses or jurors. The OHCHR report states that access to justice is often denied to persons with disabilities due to a lack of accessibility and access to information. This applies to both criminal proceedings and civil matters. These obstacles result in persons with disabilities being denied of their legal standing and due process guarantees. The OHCHR confirms that effective access to information and communication could enable persons with disabilities to both know and defend their rights and, importantly, that accessible Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can contribute to improving access to justice.

G3ict emphatically agrees with the OHCHR report’s assertion that the use of
existing accessible ICTs can contribute to improving access to justice worldwide and there is a significant role for new and emerging technologies to act as tools for promoting access to justice for people with disabilities.

A Global Digital Transformation
The majority of court systems worldwide are still paper-based, but that is changing. According to a study by the American Bar Association (ABA), 55% of trial lawyers in the United States use technology in the courtroom, including 33% to access evidence and key documents. That is up from 28% in 2014. The same ABA study shows that in the United States in 2017, 22% of courtrooms provided touch screens, compared to 16% just the previous year. Audio hardware provided or supported in courtrooms also showed an increase.

In Brazil, the State Court of Justice of Sao Paulo, implemented a comprehensive technology plan to modernize the court to make it more efficient, including by requiring all justice processes be conducted and stored digitally. Attorneys can conduct simple court services from their own technology devices (for example, smartphones, tablets, and laptops) and judges, attorneys, and citizens can access case information remotely. Moreover, the entire population can track their cases via their own smartphones. Before moving to a digital platform in 2017, justice systems
in the United Kingdom generated a million pages of documents a day or 365 million pages a year. Digitizing its processes by using technology and the cloud enabled justices to work remotely and staff to manage growing caseloads more efficiently. Mainstream digital transformations of courts and justice systems like this are taking place in many geographies around the world.

These digital transformations can also promote greater inclusion and access to justice for persons with disabilities if investments are made in technologies that are accessible and when technology is used in innovative and inclusive ways. But it is critical that technology investments in justice systems include an explicit focus on accessibility. As early as 2004, Peter Blanck points out in his groundbreaking article, Disability Civil Rights Law and Policy: Accessible Courtroom Technology, that while technology can certainly enhance courtroom proceedings, without careful consideration it also can further isolate persons with disabilities from meaningful participation in the justice system. Blanck also makes the important point that investments in accessible and assistive technologies for persons with disabilities, for example real-time captioning for deaf and hard of hearing persons, can also benefit in courtroom proceedings many others who do not have disabilities.

Technology and Access to Justice
Nicole Bradick, CEO of the legal technology development firm Theory and Principle asserts in an interview with Legal Tech News (February 5, 2018) that technology needs to play a more prominent role in promoting greater access to justice. She states, “The legal community has been at this mission for a while now, and the latest numbers indicate that 86 percent of civil legal issues facing low-income Americans receive no meaningful legal help. And that’s just civil issues. Technology has the obvious advantage of scaling knowledge and information to people who need it.” G3ict believes persons with disabilities can be among the greatest beneficiaries of the effective and inclusive use of technology in justice systems.

Leaders in the tech industry also see the potential for technology to be leveraged to enable greater access to justice. In 2016 testimony before the New York State Access to Justice Commission, Dave Heiner (a senior executive at Microsoft and the board chair of Pro Bono Net) explained that “useful technologies that could help to reduce the justice gap are available today and ready to be deployed. The challenge is primarily one of funding, and perhaps training. Additional beneficial technologies are still in early stages of development, but it is not too soon for the access to justice community to begin to plan for their deployment.”

Some justice systems are making progress in closing access gaps by employing technology. The state of Alaska in the United States is a leader in using technology to enable remote court appearances via video or telephone between parties, lawyers, and sometimes the judge. People who are not able to travel to a courthouse due to distance or disability benefit from these low-tech options. These same video remote technologies support sign language interpreting services for people who are deaf when a local interpreter is not available.

The UN CRPD Committee, the body of independent experts that monitor implementation of the CRPD, raised concerns about the lack of free legal aid available to persons with disabilities. Here, technology can be employed to increase access to information and legal services. For example, in the United States, the Legal Services Corporation, Pro Bono Net, and Microsoft are developing a prototype access to justice portal that will draw on state-of-the-art cloud and Internet technologies. Once fully developed, the portal will enable people to navigate the court system and legal aid resources, learn about their legal rights, and prepare and file critical court documents in a way that is comprehensive, inclusive, and easy to navigate. With advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is possible to imagine systems that allow people to communicate naturally and receive help in a comfortable “chat” format tailored to their specific needs and abilities, including for example, people with visual, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

Looking forward, it is possible to envision benefits for persons with disabilities using technologies that are just now emerging, like virtual reality (VR). A lawyer might use VR to help a person with autism or anxiety disorders prepare ahead of time to experience a busy courtroom environment or perhaps even provide testimony remotely through an avatar. Mitch Jackson, a senior partner at Jackson & Wilson in California asserts in an article by Bloomberg Law (November 18, 2017), “it’s not a matter of if VR will be used in our lives and in the courtrooms, it’s a matter of when”.

Addressing the Digital Divide
As courts and justice systems move forward with investments in technology they must recognize there is already a significant and persistent digital divide for many persons with disabilities. In the United States, 23% of persons with disabilities never get online. That is nearly three times the rate for the population as a whole, which is just 8%. In their 2006 article, The Washington State Access to Justice Technology Principles: A Perspective for Justice System Professionals, Richard Zorza and Donald J Horowitz make the important point that the delivery of legal information through technology requires a capacity to access the system that some do not have, and when these access limitations, like the current digital divide, outweigh the benefits of technology, it defeats the goal of creating greater access to courts through the use of technology. We know that innovative technology solutions for increasing access to justice for persons with disabilities must be implemented together with public policies and programs (for example digital skills training, broadband deployment, etc.) to close the existing digital divide.

Moving Forward
Courts and justice systems can and should take advantage of new technologies and plan for, and deploy, accessible and innovative technologies as part of their digital transformations. G3ict believes eight interrelated strategies can help courts and justice systems leverage technology to support greater access to justice for persons with disabilities.

  1. Recognition and Awareness: Governments should explicitly recognize that implementing technology solutions in courts and justice systems can do more than simply increase efficiencies and reduce costs. When digital
    transformations are executed with a specific focus on accessibility, they can also facilitate an increased, direct, and more independent participation of persons with disabilities in courtroom proceedings in all roles (for example parties to a case, lawyers, judges, jurors, etc.). Standards and guidelines for judicial processes and procedures should be expanded and revised to include explicit accessibility requirements.
  2. Procurement of Accessible Technology: Accessible technologies can be
    used broadly to advance non-discrimination for persons with disabilities and support their access to justice. Governments can use their “power of the purse” to advance equality through accessible courtroom technology.
    Requiring accessibility in all calls for tenders for technology products and services can help ensure that the digital transformation of courts and justice systems will narrow the digital divide for persons with disabilities and increase their access to justice.
  3. Mainstream inclusion into legal frameworks: The CRPD states in its
    preamble that mainstreaming disability into laws, policies, and regulations is an integral to strategies for sustainable development. As part of their CRPD commitments, governments can identify amendments to existing legal frameworks and opportunities for new legislation and regulation that promote the adoption of accessible technology in courts and justice systems and support broader and deeper access to justice for persons with disabilities.
  4. Identify and Define Good Practices: We are still in the early stages of a
    global trend toward the digital transformation of courts and justice systems. This gives governments and the global community, including civil society, international organizations, and industry, an opportunity to better understand how best to leverage technology investments to promote greater digital inclusion for persons with disabilities. Identifying both good practices and challenges can support building roadmaps to increased ICT accessibility and broader access to justice.
  5. Training and Guidance: Courts and justice systems worldwide need
    guidance in identifying ICT accessibility gaps and clearly articulating
    accessibility priorities. Leaders and staff in courts and justice systems would benefit from technical assistance to better design and implement ICT accessibility strategies that support digital inclusion. Key IT personnel should be certified or have demonstrated expertise in accessibility core competencies. Training should promote an understanding of how both existing and emerging technologies can be leveraged to promote greater access and involve a broad range of citizens and organizations, including from the disability community.
  6. Support Inclusive Innovation: Leveraging technology to increase access
    will require infusing accessibility and inclusive design into the innovation and incubation of new courtroom and legal technology solutions. Governments should commit to supporting the development and deployment of new and emerging technology solutions that both benefit courts and justice systems and that also are inclusive of all persons. This will require government leaders, civil society and technology experts joining together to create conditions for a more citizen-driven and inclusive innovation process.
  7. Commitment to Inclusive Investments: Multilateral organizations (for
    example United Nations, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc.) along with national development agencies and leading foundations play a significant role in defining and promoting access to justice programs worldwide. Their lending and giving activities support the creation of access to justice policies, programs, standards, and performance metrics. Their investments influence critical technology decisions and investments for courts and justice systems in many countries. To achieve global scale in increasing access to justice, these influential global organizations must ensure that ICT accessibility and digital inclusion are a central part of their agendas.
  8. Involve Persons with Disabilities: A core principle of the UN CRPD is the active engagement of persons with disabilities in all aspects of developing and implementing public policies and programs related to them. As court and justice systems move forward with digital transformations and consider strategies to improve access to justice, they should proactively involve persons with disabilities at each step in the process.

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Digital Technologies to Empower Youth Living in Extreme Poverty

14. Mai 2021 - 19:00

For the past 12 years, Life Project 4 Youth has been preparing young adults for their professional life by integrating digital technology into its training programs. Several projects target the specific needs of the Youth and take into account the use of technologies in their lives.

Following the theme of this year’s Commission, LP4Y organized a side event to share: Concrete solutions that use digital technologies as an inclusive tool to empower Youth living in extreme poverty.

This webinar highlighted some of our latest practices and explained the various methods used to foster Youth inclusion. It included 2 Youth testimonies, and a presentation by 360 Learning, General Electric, Techno India, and the permanent missions of India and Portugal to the United Nations on the topic.

LP4Y integrates digital technologies into its educational programs in three ways :

  • Access to quality hardware with the setup of an equipped communication room in every center
  • Creation of a digital identity for all youths
  • Launch of an interactive and collaborative E-learning and networking platform. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the implementation of this platform called Digital Inc – Inc for Inclusion.

Digital Inc. – was created thanks to our partner 360 Learning. They provide a customizable digital platform. 100 courses have already been created for the youths, and stakeholders are contributing every day to build knowledge and expertise for the platform.

We also mentioned another LP4Y initiative: Connect 4 Change. The objective behind this program is to train young women on basic digital technologies and then they give back by training women from their local community.

The corporate world is also involved: Vivian Hong, technical project manager at GE Healthcare, explained: on Digital Inc, the role of GE is to recruit GE volunteers who select relevant training to create content.

One LP4Y’s local partner in India, Meghdut Roy Chowdury, director of Techno India, said “It’s been a fantastic time of innovation and disruption because Covid-19 turned out to be the Chief Technical Officer we never knew we needed”. His team created a platform called Off-beat education: a Learning Relationship Management System (LRMS) designed to simplify the online transition and long-term digital journey for school teachers and their students.

Finally, we were honored to hear from national representatives. Ashish Sharma – First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN – observed that India’s digital transformation is only just starting. It will galvanize several economic sectors and increase the well-being of indian citizens, especially the Youth which consists of the larger part of the Indian population. For Nuno Mathias – Deputy Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN, the pandemic has reinforced a sense of urgency. So, no surprise here, that their post-covid-19 recovery plan includes digital schools in the roadmap. That is a necessity and a priority.

Social inclusion is a common and global matter: more than ever the public sector, policy-makers, corporations and social organisations all have to work together to bridge the challenge that is the digital divide.

Please see video on LP4Y Connect 4 Change project in India.

Kategorien: english

COVID19 and CRPD 19-Acceleration of CRPD through Disability inclusive SDGs

14. Mai 2021 - 17:52

The outbreak of the pandemic signified mainstreaming disability perspectives in general policies and guidance to ensure leaving no one behind. Persons with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups to Covid-19. Especially, numerous human rights violation, high infection and mortality rates were observed in the institutions from all around the world during the Pandemic.

The side event was organized during the 13th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP13) to look into the worldwide experiences of the persons living in the institutions (group homes, nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, etc.), to learn the assessment of the findings from international survey ‘COVID-19 and Disability Rights Monitoring’, and to seek the ways to fulfill the rights of persons with disabilities especially related to CRPD 10, 11, and 19. The program also illustrated the way to the society where ‘leaving no one behind’, an international promise which cannot be postponed under no circumstances.

Main takeaways from the event:

1. All countries and DPOs must establish an emergency deinstitutionalisation policy and guarantee financial and human resources for a comprehensive system promoting shift from institutions to community integration. The policy must make it possible to realise the universal right to independent living.

2. In order to transform the culture of discrimination and hatred reinforced by segregated institutions on the basis of disability, age, gender, etc., all countries should immediately ban new admissions and cease the development of new or expansion of existing institutions and policies.

3. The governments should immediately develop and implement a “Bottom-up” emergency deinstitutionalisation strategy and preliminary disaster response plan with meaningful advice and participation from people living in institutions and advocacy organisations representing them. In addition, consideration of human rights should be given to monitoring and data collection on the subsequent COVID-19 infections in institutions.

4. Education of public officials, members of the National Assembly, the media, and the general public must be expanded to increase awareness and understanding of the deinstitutionalisation, and to decrease social discrimination against the persons with disabilities and their support providers.


Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United States, Ministry of Health and Welfare of the South Korea, Korean Disability Forum, European Network on Independent Living

Event FlyerDownload Concept NoteDownload

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Kategorien: english

It’s Time to Take Action Now – Global Youth Summit 2021

13. Mai 2021 - 18:11

Following the success of the Global Youth Summit, now is the time to act. Here is how young people can build on their attendance at the Summit and support the COVID-19 recovery efforts in their own local communities.

Three steps – a challenge to all young people to get involved

Recognizing that all solutions start with a single step, the Global Youth Summit concluded with a challenge to all young people to take three steps to tackle the impact of COVID-19 and build back better from the pandemic:

  1. Apply for funding for a local solution

Do you have an idea for a solution to overcome a challenge created by the COVID-19 pandemic? Want to support your local community? Campaign for change in your local area? You can apply for funding from $500 –$5,000 today.

No matter how big or small, we encourage you to have the confidence to apply for funding. All you need to do is complete a short application form setting out your idea, what you want to achieve with the funding and upload a short video explaining why you should be awarded the funding. All funding will be agreed and awarded by panels of young people.

This if funding for young people, by young people. See here for more details.

  • Advocate for change and support your local community

Help support communities with accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic, join our advocacy efforts and call for change!

The Global Youth Mobilization will be sharing ideas and toolkits after the Summit and young people will be able to identify the issues that are most important to your community and join in the efforts.

We want to mobilize young people to call for change in their local communities. Now is the time for action. Let’s mobilize for change for a better world.

  • Make the most of the Summit content, share with friends and host something locally.

Make the most of all the amazing content from the Summit, share with your networks, friends and consider hosting a local or national Youth Summit with a partner of the Big 6!

More than 70 hours of content from the Summit, including the key plenary sessions and breakout sessions will be available here, including supporting resources and guidance from the nearly 50 partners who delivered amazing content at the Summit.

We will also be announcing how young people and youth-led, grassroots community organizations can run local and national Youth Summits to support the Global Youth Mobilization. Watch this space!

Please do share your reflections and thoughts on the Summit on social using #youthmobilize and @gymobilization

Source: Global Youth Mobilization

Kategorien: english

UN report sounds alarm on acute global shortage of midwives

13. Mai 2021 - 18:04

The world is currently facing a shortage of around 900,000 midwives, with COVID-19 further exacerbating the situation as many have been redeployed to help plug vital gaps in other health services, according to a new United Nations report.

“A capable, well-trained midwife can have an enormous impact on childbearing women and their families – an impact often passed on from one generation to the next.”

“At UNFPA, we have spent more than a decade strengthening education, enhancing working conditions and supporting leadership roles for the midwifery profession. We have seen that these efforts work”, she added.

The report called on governments to provide an enabling work environment for midwives, free from gender-related stigma, violence and discrimination. It also urged greater investment in the education and training of midwives and midwife-led service delivery, and midwifery leadership and governance.

Appointing senior midwives as leaders at country level would provide a significant lever for building capacity, it noted.

Providing health services, protecting women’s rights

Midwives do not just attend births, they also provide antenatal and postnatal care and a range of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, detecting and treating sexually transmitted infections, and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents, all while ensuring respectful care and upholding women’s rights.

As numbers of midwives increase and they are able to provide care in an enabling environment, women’s and newborns’ health improves as a whole, benefitting all of society.

The report’s 2021 edition – the third in the series – noted, however, that despite previous warnings and presenting a roadmap to remedy the deficit, progress has been very slow. According to latest analysis, at the current rate, the situation would improve “only slightly” by 2030.

UNFPA Sudan/Soufian Abdul-MoutyMidwives in Sudan continue to work to ensure that every childbirth is safe during COVID-19.

Learn lessons from the pandemic

Against this background, the report called on Governments and stakeholders to “build back better and fairer” from the pandemic, forging stronger primary health-care systems as a pathway to universal health coverage and fostering a more equitable world for all.

“We must learn the lessons the pandemic is teaching us, by implementing policies and making investments that deliver better support and protection for midwives and other health workers”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said.

“This report provides the data and evidence to support WHO’s longstanding call to strengthen the midwifery workforce, which will deliver a triple dividend in contributing to better health, gender equality and inclusive economic growth”, he added.

Follow the data, invest in midwives

The launch of the report coincided with the International Day of the Midwife, observed annually on 5 May. The Day recognizes the crucial role these essential healthcare professionals have in preventing maternal and newborn deaths and empowering women to make the best choices for themselves and their babies.

This year’s theme is Follow the Data, Invest in Midwives.

Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives, appealed to governments and policy makers to act on the report’s recommendations.

“As autonomous, primary care providers, midwives are continually overlooked and ignored. It’s time for governments to acknowledge the evidence surrounding the life-promoting, life-saving impact of midwife-led care, and take action on the State of the World’s Midwifery report’s recommendations.” 

Source: UN news

Kategorien: english

Serbian women with disabilities transform health services amid pandemic

13. Mai 2021 - 18:01

BELGRADE, Serbia – Mónika Zsúnyi, 26, can do many extraordinary things. Living in Temerin, Serbia, she has an advanced degree in applied mathematics and spends her time doing 3D modelling. She is an avid reader and community organizer. She is also – like more than a billion people around the world – living with a disability.

“I am a woman with a disability,” Ms. Zsúnyi told UNFPA. “I live with cerebral palsy. I have difficulty speaking and moving.”

This fact does nothing to diminish the richness of her life and relationships; it is time for health services to reflect this reality, she asserts.

“I try to be as independent as possible and live a full life. Sexual life is part of that,” she said. 

Today Ms. Zsúnyi and other women with disabilities in Serbia are leading efforts to make sexual and reproductive health services more accessible and equitable. 

Ms. Zsúnyi’s film was screened locally, inspiring dialogue among decision-makers. Image courtesy of Mónika Zsúnyi Refusing to be left behind

In Serbia, an estimated 8 per cent of the total population — nearly 600,000 people, the majority of them women and girls — lives with some kind of disability. Yet one in five women and adolescent girls with a disability says she has difficulty accessing needed health services, according to a study carried out by UNFPA and local partner Iz Kruga Vojvodina.

One in four is unsatisfied with the sexual and reproductive health services she receives, the study found, and one in seven has never had a gynaecological examination. Only one in four says she can freely and independently decide if she wants children, or have her family’s support with this decision.

These challenges arise from the persistently negative stereotypes faced by persons with disabilities, found even among health professionals. As a result, persons with disabilities are extremely vulnerable, both to neglect and to exploitation: Globally, even before the pandemic, they were three times more likely than their non-disabled peers to experience physical, sexual or emotional violence. And with the COVID-19 pandemic raising health service and social support barriers for everyone, persons with disabilities are at risk of falling even further behind.

But women like Ms. Zsúnyi are determined to turn the tide. She joined a project launched last year by UNFPA and Iz Kruga Vojvodina to empower persons with disabilities to demand their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Active across five municipalities — Raska, Temerin, Uzice, Valjevo and Vranje — the project provided trainings about sexual and reproductive health and rights, accessibility of health services, including gynaecological care, and skills in documenting and mapping barriers, public advocacy and creating an advocacy action plan.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we implemented almost the whole project online,” Ms. Zsúnyi said. She ended up making a short film on the issues uncovered in the mapping exercise, which was screened at the local Youth Club and inspired dialogue with local government and civil society organizations.

Just getting started

Other advocates, like Ana Djokic from Uzice and Marija Sofranac from Valjevo, became vocal advocates for destigmatizing the sexual and reproductive health needs of women with disabilities — a topic long considered taboo. 

“Many people think that women like us, women in wheelchairs, cannot become wives or mothers,” Ms. Sofranac said. “We hardly ever get that chance.” 

Advocates are also working with local health officials to make doctors’ offices more physically accessible. In Raska, Dusica Stretenovic convinced local authorities to support the acquisition of a hydraulic examination table. “I have the right to ask for equal treatment regarding sexual and reproductive health, and the state is obliged to support me in this,” she said firmly.

In Vranje, Gordana Stojanovic persuaded officials to put a disused hydraulic table back in service for gynaecological check-ups. She also made a film about the challenges facing women with disabilities in the municipality, and helped pass a local memorandum to prioritize the needs of her community.

“Women with disabilities often feel like second-class citizens, of no use to the community,” Ms. Stojanovic. She and her fellow advocates are done with those tired stereotypes. Today, they have the skills, experience and confidence to continue fighting for a more inclusive world.

“These activities pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit, and broke down the prejudices I had about myself – that I am not capable of being a leader due to my difficulty in speaking,” said Ms. Zsúnyi. “Our life is not always easy, but it is always worth fighting for our rights.”

Source: UNFPA

Kategorien: english