They are as different as East and West or as right and left. They cover as diverse subjects as agriculture, regional challenges, science and a people. But they all hold in them the potential of creating development for the world– one way or another.
The United Nation’s General Assembly has appointed 2014 as the year of Family Farming, Crystallography, Small Island Developing States and Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
There are over 500 million family farms in the world. In many regions, they are the main producers of the foodstuff consumed every day in our meals. Over 70 percent of the food insecure population lives in rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East. Many of them are family farmers, especially smallholders, with poor access to natural resources, policies and technologies. Therefore family farming and smallholder farming play a significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.
Read more about the potential for family farming.
Crystals can be found everywhere in nature. They are particularly abundant in rock formations as minerals (gemstones, graphite, etc.) but can also be found elsewhere, examples being snowflakes, ice and grains of salt. Crystallography is a highly "nerdy" science, where X-rays are used to ‘see’ the structure of matter in a non-intrusive manner (no shame if you did not quite understand that either). The easy explanation is that crystallographers can produce three-dimensional pictures of a crystal by using the lights from the X-ray. Crystallography underpins the development of practically all new materials, from everyday products like computer memory cards to flat television screens, cars and airplane components.
Learn more about the science of Crystallography
Small Island Developing States
Small Island Developing States are a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities. They are the true canary of the coal mine that is the world - meaning that in the old times, coal miners would send a canary down into the mine to see if it was safe to enter. If the canary came back, it was safe. If not, they knew something was wrong.
Unfortunately the Small Island Developing States are not doing very well, which shows how affected by climate change the world actually is. Many of the states are constantly threatened by floods, and a large part of their population have become climate refugees. The third UN conference on Small Island Developing States will be held in Samoa.
Read more about the UN conference
Solidarity with the Palestinian people
Sending a strong message of support for the Middle East peace process, albeit with the traditionally divergent views on how to achieve its aims, the General Assembly has adopted six draft resolutions on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East overall. In occasion of the General Assembly voting 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was asked to continue organizing relevant activities in cooperation with governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations , and significantly, civil society. One sentiment, echoed from several UN memberstates, is that the two-State solution is currently the “best chance for a peace agreement between Palestine and Israel”. With ongoing peace talks, led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, many are hoping 2014 to be the year we finally see a light at the end of the tunnel for this long and ongoing conflict.
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