UNRIC Info Point & Library Newsletter – December 2020


New UN websites & publications

UN in General


Speech text

UN News Centre

Climate Ambition Summit 2020 Climate Ambition Summit 2020
The Climate Ambition Summit will bring together the world’s most ambitious climate leaders – across governments, business and civil society – to ramp up climate action and help deliver on the Paris Agreement. On December 12, the United Nations, United Kingdom and France co-hosted the Climate Ambition Summit alongside partners Italy and Chile, on the fifth anniversary of the UN’s landmark Paris Agreement.
see also:
English – https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1079862
French – https://news.un.org/fr/story/2020/12/1084422
Spanish – https://news.un.org/es/story/2020/12/1485502

From Promise to Action: Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; Report of the Secretary-General (A/75/542, 26 October 2020)
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/A/75/542
“The Compact reflects a growing global understanding of the great benefits of human mobility. But it also recognizes that, if poorly managed, migration can generate huge challenges, from a tragic loss of life to rights abuses and social tensions”, said Secretary-General António Guterres, launching his biennial report on the Compact’s implementation on 1 December 2020. While the coronavirus pandemic heightened challenges and negatively affected more than 2.7 million migrants, particularly women and girls, new practices have emerged to protect those on the move, added Mr. Guterres, in a video message to accompany the launch. The Secretary-General outlined initiatives by countries such as extending residence and work permits, regularizing the status of undocumented migrants, and pursuing alternatives to detention.

Into the Vault: 75 Years of UN Audiovisual Heritage
As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, a team of archivists in the Department of Global Communications races to preserve its audiovisual heritage. For years, the UN’s historic film, video and audio recordings have been at risk due to natural decay, technological obsolescence and challenging environmental storage conditions. In 2016, seeing the importance of preserving this rich collection, the Government of the Sultanate of Oman stepped in with a generous contribution which enabled a 5-year effort to digitize approximately 70 per cent of the archives and make them available through the AV Library website. To maximize discovery and publicize these treasures, the AV Library, with the support of the Video Section and Social Media team, is launching a quarterly video series called “Into the Vault: 75 Years of UN Audiovisual Heritage”. The series explores important aspects of the Organization’s history through its use of selected footage, audio and photographs from the audiovisual archive. Episode One will showcase the General Assembly’s picturesque moments, questioning myths and highlighting important resolutions of the Organization’s most representative body.



International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, 2021 (A/RES/73/327)
English: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/child-labour/int-year/lang–en/index.htm
French: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/child-labour/int-year/lang–fr/index.htm
Spanish: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/child-labour/int-year/lang–es/index.htm
The International Year will provide an opportunity to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to accelerate progress towards the goal set by SDG Target 8.7 to end child labour in all its forms by 2025. It will also propel momentum towards the V Global Conference on Child Labour (VGC) that will take place in South Africa in 2022.

International Year of Peace and Trust, 2021 (A/RES/73/338)
“Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, other international and regional organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, individuals and other relevant stakeholders, to observe the International Year, as appropriate, through activities aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the eradication of child labour, and to share best practices in this regard;
Invites the International Labour Organization, mindful of the provisions contained in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67, to facilitate the implementation of the International Year”

International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, 2021
“Encourages all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academics and individuals, to observe the International Year in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national priorities, in order to raise awareness, promote cooperation and networking encourage the sharing of best practices and experiences, enhance human resource capacity and promote an enabling environment at all levels as well as tackle the challenges of creative economy”

International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, 2021 (A/RES/74/244)
English: http://www.fao.org/fruits-vegetables-2021
French: http://www.fao.org/fruits-vegetables-2021/fr/
Spanish: http://www.fao.org/fruits-vegetables-2021/es/
The UN General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). FAO is the lead agency for celebrating the year in collaboration with other relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system. The IYFV 2021 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and as well in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.

International Year of Health and Care Workers, 2021 (WHO)
Member States at the resumed virtual, 73rd World Health Assembly, recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of the millions of health and care workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic, unanimously designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers (YHCW). Member States and Non-State Actors in unison, spoke to the critical role of health and care workers in ensuring our health and prosperity. They emphasized the urgency and imperative to address persistent health worker challenges.

United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021–2030 (A/RES/72/73)
The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean. As mandated by the UN General Assembly, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO will coordinate the Decade’s preparatory process, inviting the global ocean community to plan for the next ten years in ocean science and technology to deliver, together, the ocean we need for the future we want!

United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, 2021–2030 (A/RES/73/284)
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems, and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity. The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the UN Decade following a proposal for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The UN Decade is building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future. That will include building political momentum for restoration as well as thousands of initiatives on the ground.


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

COVID-19-Response-Logo (English)

Special Session of the General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic – new web page

Special Session will resume on 14 December 2020: https://www.un.org/pga/75/2020/12/07/special-session-of-the-general-assembly-in-response-to-the-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-pandemic-3/

UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery
This UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery provides a framework for leveraging the power of science in support of a better socio-economic recovery and a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future. Designed to complement the UN’s Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19 (April 2020), this Roadmap was rapidly developed in ten weeks through a global participatory process that drew upon insights from researchers, research funders, government policymakers, civil society leaders and UN officials from around the world.

#COVID-19 Human Rights Guidance Note: COVID-19 pandemic – humanitarian concerns and negative impact of unilateral sanctions and their exemptions
The Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights released on 10 December 2020 a series of guidelines to ensure that humanitarian assistance – including medicine, medical equipment, food and other essential goods – reaches countries affected by unilateral sanctions during COVID-19. Unilateral sanctions are currently imposed against about 20 percent of UN Member States, whose populations are generally more vulnerable to the disease than in other countries.

Averting a lost COVID generation: A six-point plan to respond, recover and reimagine a post-pandemic world for every child (UNICEF)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.unicef.org/reports/averting-lost-generation-covid19-world-childrens-day-2020-brief
UNICEF warned in a new report released on 19 November 2020 of significant and growing consequences for children as the COVID-19 pandemic lurches toward a second year. Released on 19 November 2020, ahead of World Children’s Day, it is the first UNICEF report to comprehensively outline the dire and growing consequences for children as the pandemic drags on. It shows that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections are rising and the longer-term impact on the education, nutrition and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people can be life-altering.

Beyond Masks: Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents (UNICEF Innocenti)
All children are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, often in multiple ways. The COVID-19 pandemic is a universal crisis that has been devastating for children, families and communities, and shows no signs of abating as 2021 approaches. Examining the available evidence to understand the potential and actual societal effects on children and identifying viable evidence-based solutions are critical pathways to inform timely policy and programmatic responses. This Executive Summary of the UNICEF Innocenti report provides a review of literature on the societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as past health and economic shocks, and possible solutions for mitigating impact at individual, household and societal levels.

COVID-19 situation in the WHO European Region – WHO/Europe Dashboard
Please note: The PSHM Severity Index can be accessed via the PHSM tab below the map
WHO/Europe launched its Public Health and Social Measures (PHSM) Severity Index on 10 November 2020 to provide standardized data on the ways in which countries in the WHO European Region have sought to slow or stop community spread of COVID-19. This latest tool systematically captures and analyses individual governmental PHSM responses to COVID-19 in the 53 countries of the Region. The PHSM Severity Index is integrated into WHO/Europe’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which allows quick visualization of the most up-to-date COVID-19 statistics and information pertinent to each country in the Region. It captures 6 types of public health measures: the wearing of masks; closure of schools; closure of offices, businesses, institutions and operations; restrictions on gatherings; restrictions on domestic movement; and limitations to international travel.

Global Wages Report 2020-2021: Wages and minimum wages in the time of COVID-19 (ILO)
Report & Executive Summary in English: https://bit.ly/3qnBzxZ
Executive Summary in French: https://bit.ly/33FaNHM
Executive Summary in Spanish: https://bit.ly/3lCDrzl
A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that monthly wages fell or grew more slowly in the first six months of 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in two-thirds of countries for which official data was available, and that the crisis is likely to inflict massive downward pressure on wages in the near future. The wages of women and low-paid workers have been disproportionately affected by the crisis. Furthermore, while average wages in one-third of the countries that provided data appeared to increase, this was largely as a result of substantial numbers of lower-paid workers losing their jobs and therefore skewing the average, since they were no longer included in the data for wage-earners. In countries where strong measures were taken to preserve employment, the effects of the crisis were felt primarily as falls in wages rather than massive job losses.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Trade and Development: Transitioning to a New Normal (UNCTAD)
Global markets and spirits are up with the news that two COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be more than 90% effective in late-stage clinical trials. But while there is growing confidence that an end to the health pandemic is in sight, an UNCTAD report published on 19 November warns that a viable vaccine will not halt the spread of economic damage, which will be felt long into the future, especially by the poorest and most vulnerable. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the economic knock-ons, projecting that the global economy will contract by a staggering 4.3% in 2020 and warning that the crisis could send an additional 130 million people into extreme poverty. The way the world economy is set up is partly to blame for the disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest, who lack the resources necessary to respond to shocks such as COVID-19, the report says. The report finds the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 will be derailed unless immediate policy actions are taken, especially in favour of the poorest. A better recovery must centre on renewed trade policy that tackles the twin challenges of market concentration and environmental impact, the report says. It also notes there is a pressing need to reshape global production networks to be more green, inclusive, and sustainable while simultaneously resetting the multilateral system to support the most vulnerable and deliver on climate action.

Older Persons in Emergency Situations (UNECE Policy Brief on Ageing No. 25, November 2020)
Between 2001 and 2019, emergency crises in the UNECE region affected an estimated 130 million people, injuring over 90 million, and making nearly 674,000 people homeless. Though generally disproportionately impacted by emergency crises, older men and women are often neglected in disaster risk reduction strategies and emergency responses. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of older persons carrying the burden of severe illness and mortality as well as of acute loneliness and isolation. As of September 2020, nearly 9 out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths reported in the UNECE region have been among adults aged 65 years and older. Disaster risk reduction and preparedness plans need to be “older persons friendly and inclusive” to prevent and mitigate the potentially devastating implications of emergency crises among them. The challenge is not only to protect older persons and ensure essential services provide for their needs, as part of the emergency response and recovery after crises, it is also to account for the diversity of this population group, recognize their capacities and harness their experiences to maximize the preparedness for and minimize the impact of emergencies.

Populations at Risk: Implications of COVID-19 for Hunger, Migration and Displacement (IOM / WFP)
A new report has found global hunger and population displacement – both already at record levels when COVID-19 struck – could surge as people on the move and those reliant on a dwindling flow of remittances desperately seek work to support their families. The report – the first of its kind – was released on 10 November 2020 by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and shows how the pandemic has driven up food insecurity and increased vulnerability among migrants, families reliant on remittances and communities forced from their homes by conflict, violence and disasters. The two UN agencies warn the social and economic toll of the pandemic could be devastating and call on the world to prevent it by stepping up support in response to immediate and rising humanitarian needs, addressing the socioeconomic impacts of the crisis and ensuring that the most vulnerable are not forgotten.

Prevailing against pandemics by putting people at the centre – World Aids Day Report 2020 (UNAIDS)
In a new report, released on 26 November 2020, UNAIDS is calling on countries to make far greater investments in global pandemic responses and adopt a new set of bold, ambitious but achievable HIV targets. If those targets are met, the world will be back on track to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The global AIDS response was off track before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but the rapid spread of the coronavirus has created additional setbacks. Modelling of the pandemic’s long-term impact on the HIV response shows that there could be an estimated 123 000 to 293 000 additional new HIV infections and 69 000 to 148 000 additional AIDS-related deaths between 2020 and 2022.

Stop the Virus of Disinformation: The risk of malicious use of social media during COVID-19 and the technology options to fight it (UNICRI)
Criminals and violent extremists are exploiting the pandemic to build their support networks, undermine trust in government and even weaponize the virus, according to a research report published on 18 November 2020 by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

UN/DESA Policy Brief #88: Financing sustainable forest management: a key component of sustainable COVID-19 recovery
This policy brief aims to provide an analysis of the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the income generation function of forests, and the current and future funding trends for forests.

UN/DESA Policy Brief #87: Integrated national financing frameworks — a framework to build back better
Financing has emerged as a key challenge in SDG implementation. Yet, a recent study found that 79 out of 107 national sustainable development plans are not costed. Integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs) can help countries to close this gap.

Women, Peace and Human Security: A Guidance Note on Parliamentary Engagement During and Post-Covid-19 (UNDP)
National parliaments have a critical responsibility for overseeing and providing accountability for their countries’ action on COVID-19. All the while, they remain a locus of accountability for their countries’ commitments on women, peace and security (WPS). The guidance note looks at how parliaments can promote WPS-aligned pandemic response and recovery and, in the long term, exercise stewardship over a collective vision for inclusive human security. It identifies ways in which development partners can support parliaments in promoting women’s participation and leadership both during the crisis and beyond, on the path towards 2030.


Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

2020 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals (World Bank)
On 16 November 2020, the World Bank published the 2020 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s Atlas is a web publication that guides readers through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using interactive storytelling and innovative data visualizations. The SDGs seek to guide global action to address many of the world’s greatest challenges such as eradicating poverty, eliminating hunger, expanding access to education, achieving gender equality, and addressing the climate crisis. The Atlas aims to expand understanding of key of key SDG indicators and trends, which is important for measuring progress and directing action. The 2020 edition seeks new and creative ways to expand understanding of each of the 17 goals. The Atlas relies on insights and expertise from subject specialists, data scientists, and statisticians at the World Bank, as well as a talented team of data visualization designers. This Atlas would not be possible without the Bank’s ongoing work with partner countries and UN agencies in monitoring the SDGs and improving measurement. Taking a storytelling approach, this year’s Atlas explores selected targets for each goal, and highlights trends towards achieving the SDGs. It also introduces concepts that inform readers about how some of the SDGs are measured. Where data is available, the chapters highlight some of the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the indicators and trends presented.

2020 World AIDS Day Report: Reimagining a resilient HIV response for children, adolescents and pregnant women living with HIV (UNICEF)
Approximately every minute and 40 seconds, a child or young person under the age of 20 was newly infected with HIV last year, bringing the total number of children living with HIV to 2.8 million, UNICEF said in a report released on 25 November 2020.The report warns that children are being left behind in the fight against HIV. Prevention efforts and treatment for children remain some of the lowest amongst key affected populations. In 2019, a little more than half of children worldwide had access to life-saving treatment, significantly lagging behind coverage for both mothers (85 per cent) and all adults living with HIV (62 per cent). Nearly 110,000 children died of AIDS that year. Despite some progress in the decades-long fight against HIV and AIDS, deep regional disparities persist among all populations, especially for children, the report says. Paediatric coverage of antiretroviral treatment is highest in the Middle East and North Africa, at 81 per cent, followed by South Asia (76 per cent), Eastern and Southern Africa (58 per cent), East Asia and the Pacific (50 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (46 per cent) and West and Central Africa (32 per cent).

Accessible Digital Documentary Heritage (UNESCO)
Marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2020, UNESCO has released a new publication aiming at assisting stakeholders in the preparation of documentary heritage in accessible formats for persons with disabilities. The publication offers a set of guidelines for parties involved in the digitization of heritage documents, including librarians, archivists, museums workers, curators, and other stakeholders in carefully planning digital platforms and contents with a view to incorporating disability and accessibility aspects.

COP Online safety activity book – Teacher’s guide (ITU)

English, French & Spanish: https://www.itu.int/en/myitu/Publications/2020/10/16/07/49/COP-Online-safety-activities-book—Teacher-guide
Instructions and resources for completing online safety exercises in a classroom setting with 9-12 year olds. The aim of the activities is to inspire students and teachers to have conversations about online safety issues and how to handle them.


COP Online safety activity book – Work with Sango (ITU)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.itu.int/en/myitu/Publications/2020/10/16/07/30/COP-Online-safety-activity-book—Work-with-Sango
Educational activities developed by a collective of experts to teach children aged 9-12 years old, in a fun way, about their rights and safety online.


Education for sustainable development: a roadmap (UNESCO)
Executive Summary: UNESCO has been the lead United Nations agency on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) since the United Nations Decade of Education (2005-2014). ESD is widely recognized as an integral element of Agenda 2030, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), and a key enabler of all the other SDGs. This roadmap sets out the urgent challenges facing the planet and explores the next step UNESCO is taking in responding to them through education with detail on new emphases and actions. In order to build a follow-up to the Global Action Programme (GAP) (2015-2019) that contributes to Agenda 2030 and its 17 goals, the Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030) framework was adopted with the aim of increasing the contribution of education to building a more just and sustainable world. ESD for 2030 will step up actions on five priority action areas, stressing further ESD’s key role for the successful achievement of the 17 SDGs and the great individual and societal transformation required to address the urgent sustainability challenges.

Emissions Gap Report 2020 (UNEP)
Report: https://www.unep.org/emissions-gap-report-2020
Interactive: https://www.unep.org/interactive/emissions-gap-report/2020/
A green pandemic recovery could cut up to 25 per cent off predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions and bring the world closer to meeting the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report finds. UNEP’s annual Emissions Gap Report 2020 – released on 9 December 2020 – finds that, despite a dip in 2020 carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century. However, if governments invest in climate action as part of pandemic recovery and solidify emerging net-zero commitments with strengthened pledges at the next climate meeting – taking place in Glasgow in November 2021 – they can bring emissions to levels broadly consistent with the 2°C goal. By combining a green pandemic recovery with swift moves to include new net-zero commitments in updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and following up with rapid, stronger action, governments could still attain the more-ambitious 1.5°C goal.

Examining the Climate Finance Gap for Small-Scale Agriculture (IFAD / CPI)
Only 1.7 per cent of climate finance – a fraction of what is needed – goes to small-scale farmers in developing countries despite their disproportionate vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, according to a report released by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) on 12 November 2020. The report is the first detailed analysis of climate finance flows to small-scale farmers. It is released during the Finance in Common Summit where representatives of the world’s 450 Public Development Banks are meeting for the first time to discuss how to reorient financial flows to support global climate and development targets. The report shows that while financing that supports actions to address climate change surpassed half a trillion US dollars for the first time in 2017 and 2018, only $10 billion of this reached smallholder farmers annually.

Global Pollution Trends: Coastal Ecosystem Assessment for the Past Century (IAEA)
The latest report of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), published in coordination with the IAEA, draws on nearly a century’s-worth of data to demonstrate the need for regulating pollution in coastal environments to help reverse the destruction of ecosystems. Coastal ecosystems play a critical role in the global climate and the carbon cycle, serving as one of nature’s carbon storage reservoirs. As a natural interface between land and sea, they preserve fisheries, facilitate natural processes of nutrient cycling, protect the coasts and even provide recreational spaces for humans. However, urbanization, agriculture and industrialization have released a myriad of harmful contaminants into the coastal environments over many years disrupting the natural balance as well as threatening entire ecosystems, seafood safety and human health. According to the report, the number and concentration of many contaminants such as heavy metals, industrial by-products and chemical discharges, hydrocarbons, pesticides and micro-plastics are increasing at an alarming rate. However, the report notes, where restrictions have been introduced, certain strictly regulated contaminants have been decreasing over the last 50 years, illustrating the success of national policies, international agreements and social environmental awareness.

How many children and young people have internet access at home? Estimating digital connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic (UNICEF/ITU)
Two thirds of the world’s school-age children – or 1.3 billion children aged 3 to 17 years old – do not have internet connection in their homes, according to a new joint report from UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), released on 1 December 2020. The report notes a similar lack of access among young people aged 15-24 years old, with 759 million or 63 per cent unconnected at home. Nearly a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19 school closures, forcing hundreds of millions of students to rely on virtual learning. For those with no internet access, education can be out of reach. Even before the pandemic, a growing cohort of young people needed to learn foundational, transferable, digital, job-specific and entrepreneurial skills to compete in the 21st century economy.
The digital divide is perpetuating inequalities that already divide countries and communities, the report notes. Children and young people from the poorest households, rural and lower income states are falling even further behind their peers and are left with very little opportunity to ever catch up. Globally, among school-age children from richest households, 58 per cent have internet connection at home, compared with only 16 per cent from the poorest households. The same disparity exists across country income level as well. Less than 1 in 20 school-age children from low-income countries have internet connection at home, compared with nearly 9 in 10 from high-income countries.

Impacts of Sand and Dust Storms on Oceans: A Scientific Environmental Assessment for Policy Makers
Report in English, Executive Summary in English, French & Spanish:
Each year, an estimated two billion tonnes of dust is raised into the atmosphere. According to this new report, even the smallest elements can have substantive effects on ecosystem functioning – and on the Earth system, at large.

The Least Developed Countries Report 2020 (UNCTAD)
Report in English, Overview in English, French & Spanish:
Efforts to rebuild the economies of the world’s poorest nations post-pandemic will fall significantly short unless their productive capacities are drastically improved, according to UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2020. Least developed countries (LDCs) with the most developed productive capacities have best been able to combat the fallout from the pandemic, according to the report. Productive capacities are the productive resources, entrepreneurial capabilities and production linkages that together determine the capacity of a country to produce goods and services and 3 enable it to grow and develop. UNCTAD’s Productive Capacities Index (PCI) shows that the majority of LDCs have low productive capacities: their average PCI level was 40% below that of other (non-LDC) developing countries between 2011 and 2018. The report says the COVID-19 pandemic has hit LDCs very hard because collectively they are the world’s most vulnerable economies. This is aggravated by their very weak levels of resilience. They have the least financial and institutional means to react to external shocks such as the ongoing pandemic.

The Production Gap – Special Report 2020 (UNEP)
Report & Executive Summary: http://productiongap.org/
To limit warming to 1.5°C or well below 2°C, as required by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world needs to wind down fossil fuel production. Instead, governments continue to plan to produce coal, oil, and gas far in excess of the levels consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature limits. This report highlights the discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production levels and the global levels necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C or 2°C. This gap is large, with countries aiming to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures have introduced new uncertainties to the production gap. While global fossil fuel production will decline sharply this year, government stimulus and recovery measures will shape our climate future: they could prompt a return to pre-COVID production trajectories that lock in severe climate disruption, or they could set the stage for a managed wind-down of fossil fuels as part of a “build back better” effort. This special issue of the Production Gap Report looks at how conditions have changed since last year, what this means for the production gap, and how governments can set the stage for a long-term, just, and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.

Realizing the Future of Learning: From Learning Poverty to Learning for Everyone, Everywhere (World Bank)
COVID-related school closures risk pushing an additional 72 million primary school aged children into learning poverty—meaning that they are unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10—according to two new World Bank reports released on 2 December 2020. The reports outline a new vision for learning and the investments and policies, including on education technology, that countries can implement today to realize this vision. The pandemic is amplifying the global learning crisis that already existed: it could increase the percentage of primary school-age children in low- and middle-income countries living in learning poverty to 63 percent from 53 percent, and it puts this generation of students at risk of losing about $10 trillion in future life-time earnings, an amount equivalent to almost 10 percent of global GDP. The new report lays out a vision for the future of learning that can guide countries today in their investments and policy reforms, so that they can build more equitable, effective, and resilient education systems and ensure that all children learn with joy, rigor, and purpose in school and beyond the school walls. The accompanying report, Reimagining Human Connections: Technology & Innovation at the World Bank, presents the World Bank’s new approach to guide investments in education technology, so that technology can truly serve as a tool to make education systems more resilient to catastrophic shocks like COVID-19 and help in reimagining the way education is delivered.

The State of Food and Agriculture 2020: Overcoming water challenges in agriculture (FAO)
Interactive story: http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-agriculture/en/
Report: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb1447en
Intensifying water constraints threaten food security and nutrition. Thus, urgent action is needed to make water use in agriculture more sustainable and equitable. Irrigated agriculture remains by far the largest user of freshwater, but scarcity of freshwater is a growing problem owing to increasing demand and competition for freshwater resources. At the same time, rainfed agriculture is facing increasing precipitation variability driven by climate change. These trends will exacerbate disputes among water users and inequality in access to water, especially for small-scale farmers, the rural poor and other vulnerable populations. The State of Food and Agriculture 2020 presents new estimates on the pervasiveness of water scarcity in irrigated agriculture and of water shortages in rainfed agriculture, as well as on the number of people affected. It finds major differences across countries, and also substantial spatial variation within countries. This evidence informs a discussion of how countries may determine appropriate policies and interventions, depending on the nature and magnitude of the problem, but also on other factors such as the type of agricultural production system and countries’ level of development and their political structures. Based on this, the publication provides guidance on how countries can prioritize policies and interventions to overcome water constraints in agriculture, while ensuring efficient, sustainable and equitable access to water.

The State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity (FAO)
Soil organisms play a crucial role in boosting food production, enhancing nutritious diets, preserving human health, remediating pollution and combating climate change, but their contribution remains largely underestimated, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said on 4 December 2020 in its report on “The State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity”. The report was launched on the occasion of World Soil Day, marked on 5 December. Despite the fact that biodiversity loss is at the forefront of global concerns, the biodiversity that is below ground is not being given the importance it deserves and needs to be fully taken into account when planning interventions for sustainable development, the report says.

State of the Global Climate 2020: Provisional Report (WMO)
Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80% of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, with widespread repercussions for marine ecosystems already suffering from more acidic waters due to carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020, released on 2 December 2020. The report, which is based on contributions of dozens of international organizations and experts, shows how high-impact events including extreme heat, wild-fires and floods, as well as the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, affected millions of people, compounding threats to human health and security and economic stability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

State of the World’s Sanitation: An urgent call to transform sanitation for better health, environments, economies and societies (UNICEF / WHO)
The world is alarmingly off-track to deliver sanitation for all by 2030. Despite progress in global sanitation coverage in recent years, over half the world’s population, 4.2 billion people, use sanitation services that leave human waste untreated, threatening human and environmental health. This report presents the state of sanitation in the world today and is intended to increase awareness of progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets for sanitation, and to identify opportunities to meet the challenges that remain. It calls on the Member States of the United Nations system and partners to urgently meet these challenges as part of the Global Acceleration Framework (SDG 6).

Strengthening synergies: How action to achieve post-2020 global biodiversity conservation targets can contribute to mitigating climate change (UNEP-WCMC)
Using new data and novel analytical approaches, research released on 13 November 2020 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners underscores the size of the prize on offer from integrating action to save nature and combat climate change. he report finds that conserving 30 per cent of land in strategic locations could safeguard 500 gigatonnes of carbon stored in vegetation and soils – around half the world’s vulnerable terrestrial carbon stocks – and reduce the extinction risk of nearly 9 out of 10 threatened terrestrial species. Launched on 13 November 2020 at an event convened by the UN-REDD Programme as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Race to Zero Dialogues – specifically on nature’s pivotal role in the fight against the climate crisis – the report shows that coordinating priority areas to conserve both biodiversity and carbon stocks is key to meeting ambitious goals for both nature and climate. It highlights areas where global global conservation action can deliver the most to achieve biodiversity goals and mitigate climate change. Co-authored by the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and a number of supporting partners, the research shows that when prioritising areas for conservation, accounting for biodiversity and carbon together can secure 95 per cent of the biodiversity benefits and nearly 80 per cent of the carbon stocks that could be obtained by prioritising either value alone.

Sustainable Trade in Resources: Global Material Flows, Circularity and Trade (UNEP)
As satellites from NASA zipped over the planet earth yesterday, they saw what they have seen every day for months: fires, hundreds of them, tearing through virgin rainforest and other vital ecosystems. Many of the blazes, which come at the tail end of a devastating fire season, are believed to have been set by farmers eager to clear land and sate the booming global demand for beef and soybeans. A new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report says that type of unbridled international trade is having a damaging effect not only on rainforests but the entire planet. The report, which called for a raft of new Earth-friendly trade rules, found that the extraction of natural resources could spark water shortages, drive animals to extinction and accelerate climate change – all of which would be ruinous to the global economy.


International Peace and Security

Concept note for the Security Council high-level debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, with a focus on security sector governance and reform
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2020/1145
The Security Council held a high-level debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, with a focus on security sector governance and reform on 3 December 2020. In order to guide the discussion on the subject, South Africa, the Security Council President for December, has prepared this concept note.

Concept note for the Security Council high-level debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, with a specific focus on the African Union
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2020/1146
The Security Council held a high-level debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, with a specific focus on the African Union on 4 December 2020. In order to guide the discussion on the subject, South Africa, the Security Council President for December, has prepared this concept note.

Economic Cost of the Libyan Conflict: Executive Summary (ESCWA)
The cost of the conflict in Libya since its outbreak in 2011 exceeds 783 billion Libyan dinars (LYD), i.e. $576 billion according to the official exchange rate (bearing in mind that different rates coexist in the Libyan market). This is one of the key findings of a new report issued on 2 December 2020 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). According to the report, the conflict in Libya has drastically shrunk the economy as reflected in the large decline in gross domestic product (GDP) and in investment rates. Consumption has also decreased owing to the massive return of foreign workers to their home countries and reduced incomes of Libyan citizens. Foreign trade has been disrupted by a significant reduction of exports in some key products such as oil. However, the impact has been much higher on imports, mainly due to a contraction in the construction and building sectors.

Many hands on an elephant: What Enhances Community Resilience to Violent Extremism? (UNICRI)
How do you make communities more resilient to radicalisation into violent extremism? Are community-level actions sufficient to counter violent extremism and its effects? What approach should be taken to designing effective assistance? Over the past five years, UNICRI has overseen projects building community-resilience across nine countries of the Sahel-Maghreb regions. From street theatre to workshops on democracy, religious issues and civic engagement to carpentry classes to charters on equitable natural resource sharing, grass-root partners from Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Niger, and Burkina Faso worked with local communities, mapped their grievances, and implemented measures making them more inclusive, socially cohesive, and resilient. In parallel, UNICRI collected data, canvassed patterns, and formulated insights. The findings are now available in the report “Many hands on an elephant”. The report argues that there is not one answer to any of the above questions. While underlying grievances, in general terms, are of the same type for all observed countries, the approaches to addressing them need to be highly contextualised, informed by local (power) dynamics, histories, cultures and traditions.

Modelling the relationship between demography, peace and security (UNFPA)
“Abstract: In this work, we present a multidimensional analysis of peace and security and its determinants (military expenditure, schooling for young people, demographic dependency, etc.). We then analyse the sociodemographic factors that foster insecurity in the Sahel. Lastly, we determine the explanatory factors behind the level of peace and security in Africa, taking spatial correlation into account. The results show that the level of peace and security is positively correlated with the secondary school enrolment rate, the urbanization rate and the agricultural performance of a country. Furthermore, the level of peace and security is negatively correlated with the demographic dependency ratio, the level of economic inequality and the unemployment rate among young people.”

Policy Brief: Women Transforming Peace in Peacekeeping Contexts (October 2020)
The Department of Peace Operations has launched this policy brief to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). This policy brief takes stock of the achievements by the department in implementing tasks mandated by Women, Peace and Security (WPS) over the last five years, in relations to women’s meaningful participation in peace and political processes and discusses the challenges with forward-looking recommendations for accelerating the implementation. The policy brief is informed by a high-level virtual roundtable discussion on Women, Peace and Security in peacekeeping contexts on 8 October, and the rallying call by Secretary-General António Guterres to peacekeeping partners to summon the political will and recommit to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Understanding the Sahel through its history, geography and socio-demographic and security challenges: White paper (UNFPA)
“Introduction: There is growing interest in population issues in the Sahel because of the relationship between population growth, the environment and its various components, political governance and economic and social development. Setting aside the chatter generated by current events and agreed institutional stances, beyond popular opinion and theoretical or even ideological positions, what exactly is the situation in the Sahel? It is this, among other questions, that this documents attempts to answer.”

UN Support to Local Mediation: Challenges and Opportunities (DPPA)
The Mediation Support Unit of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) launched on 17 November 2020 a new report on UN support to local mediation and approaches. The report summarizes early insights emerging from this line of work and discusses opportunities and challenges presented by the UN’s engagement at the local level, as well as its strategic relevance to the Organization’s peacemaking efforts

New Information Material available on Decolonization

  • Leaflet: “Ten Frequently Asked Questions on the United Nations and Decolonization.”
    English: https://bit.ly/3lBeFjD
    French: https://bit.ly/2H6bqSp
    Spanish: https://bit.ly/2IHiDJe
    The leaflet is published by the United Nations Department of Global Communications in consultation with the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
  • Animation video “United Nations and Decolonization: Past to Present”
    The video is available in English, with other translations will follow in due course; it was produced by the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
  • A one-minute video “60 Years of Independence – a Wave of Independence Spread Across Africa:” http://bit.ly/60yearsofindependence
    The video is available in English, French, and Kiswahili it was produced by the UN Department of Global Communications.


Human Rights

Addressing Anti-Semitism in Schools: Training Curricula (UNESCO / OSCE)
UNESCO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) are publishing new resources for teacher trainers, titled Addressing Anti-Semitism in Schools: Training Curricula. Launched online on 24 November 2020, the publication responds to an alarming rise in anti-Semitism, which is threatening the security of Jewish communities and individuals around the world. It reflects the view that education plays a crucial role in raising young people’s awareness of anti-Semitism and helps them resist the harmful messages of hate speech. In 2019 alone, anti-Semitic hate crimes increased by 13% in Germany and 14% in the United States, for example. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a new wave of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, while studies in the United States and Europe show a marked increase in Holocaust denial and distortion, both on- and off-line.
The full curricula can be accessed via the following links:

Combating racist hate speech – Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, General recommendation No. 35
English, French & Spanish: CERD/C/GC/35 – https://bit.ly/3laaomc,
CERD/C/GC/35/Corr.1 – https://bit.ly/365i4lE
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published on 26 November 2020 its guidance to combat racial profiling, emphasizing, among other issues, the serious risk of algorithmic bias when artificial intelligence (AI) is used in law enforcement. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), made up of 18 individual experts, has issued its general recommendation on preventing and combating racial profiling by law enforcement officials. General recommendations are legal guidance to assist the 182 State members to fulfil their obligations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. CERD notes that the increased use by law enforcement of big data, AI, facial recognition, and other new technology risks deepening racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and consequently the violation of many human rights.

Reporting Facts: Free from Fear or Favour (UNESCO)
In the runup to the World Press Freedom Conference 2020, UNESCO has just released a new study in the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development series. The report discusses the most urgent threats to editorial independence and journalistic integrity around the world. “Reporting Facts: Free from Fear or Favour” provides a comprehensive overview of the ways in which independent media are being undermined by both powerful external actors and decision-making structures or individuals within media organizations. Among the developments tracked is media capture, a form of media control achieved through a series of premeditated steps taken by governments and powerful interest groups, which undermines the ability of journalism to serve as a public good. These include taking over regulatory control, state-owned media operations, public advertising, and politically linked ownership of private media.


Humanitarian Affairs

Counter-trafficking in Emergencies: Information Management Guide (IOM)
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched the “Counter-Trafficking in Emergencies: Information Management Guide” to provide guidance on how to reinforce counter-trafficking-specific data collection and its analysis in humanitarian responses. Collecting data on the extent to which humanitarian crisis settings exacerbate trafficking in persons (TiP) faces the dual challenge of managing information in complicated operating environments and quantifying a hidden crime that is often under-reported and blurred with other human rights violations. The publication promotes an evidence-based decision-making approach that will support the development of new interventions where needed, or the adaption of existing measures to more systematically integrate counter-trafficking prevention and response in humanitarian settings. This guide is the product of extensive engagement with external partners and stakeholders, particularly with members of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) and of the Global Protection Cluster Anti-Trafficking Task Team (GPC ATTT). The publication is currently available in English, while the French and Spanish versions will be available in early 2021.

What works to protect children on the move: Rapid Evidence Assessment (July 2020)
The Rapid Evidence Assessment prepared by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides insights on positive practices to protect children on the move as well as evidence gaps and recommendations for addressing them.


Justice and International Law

Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations
The Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations is the first global guidelines for using public digital information – including photos, videos and other information posted to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – as evidence in international criminal and human rights investigations. The protocol was developed by the UC Berkeley Human Rights Centre with the UN Human Rights Office and shaped with input from more than 150 experts from across the globe over a three-year period.

Khmer Rouge History app
In Cambodia, an interactive smartphone app is helping educate students about the country’s devastating history under the Khmer Rouge. The application, called ‘Khmer Rouge History’, was developed under the programme ‘Awareness and education on Khmer Rouge history programme – supportive educational resource development’, funded by the European Union and the New Zealand-based Rei Foundation, and implemented by UNOPS. It is available in both the Khmer-language and in English.


Drug Control, Crime Prevention and Counter-terrorism

Malicious Uses and Abuses of Artificial Intelligence
A jointly developed new report by Europol, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and Trend Micro – released on 19 November 2020 – looking into current and predicted criminal uses of artificial intelligence (AI) was released on 19 November 2020. The report provides law enforcers, policy makers and other organizations with information on existing and potential attacks leveraging AI and recommendations on how to mitigate these risks. The report concludes that cybercriminals will leverage AI both as an attack vector and an attack surface. Deepfakes are currently the best-known use of AI as an attack vector. However, the report warns that new screening technology will be needed in the future to mitigate the risk of disinformation campaigns and extortion, as well as threats that target AI data sets.


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