UNRIC Info Point & Library Newsletter – June 2021


New UN websites & publications

UN in General

United Nations Podcasts
As podcasts continue to grow in popularity, you can tune in to United Nations developed podcasts to get the latest UN news, stories and interviews from around the world. In our UN Engagement Hub you can find an overview of these podcasts produced by UN entities and offices.

Dag Hammarskjöld Library – new platform
English: https://www.un.org/en/library and https://www.un.org/library
Arabic: https://www.un.org/ar/library
Chinese: https://www.un.org/zh/library
French: https://www.un.org/fr/library
Russian: https://www.un.org/ru/library
Spanish: https://www.un.org/es/library
The United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library has migrated their website to a new platform in line with the most up to date UN standards. Some of the benefits include achieving technical efficiencies and better content integration with the main UN website.
You will notice that the look and feel of the website is different – it has been aligned with the current UN guidelines for web publishing and branding. The content and information provided on our website remain the same and is continuously updated.  As before, you can find the following information and features on our website, which is available in the 6 official languages of the UN:

  • Library services (reference and research assistance, training courses and resources)
  • Library resources (information about various databases and journals we subscribe to)
  • Links to useful research tools for UN documentation
  • Single search box to discover and access UN materials in the UN Digital Library, as well as books in the library collections, e-books, e-journals, journal articles, and open access papers
  • Access to our popular Ask DAG knowledge base and our research guides
  • UN Member States on the Record
  • UN Depository Library Programme
  • Library News blog

ECLAC Digital Repository – new version
The ECLAC Digital Repository (DSpace 6.3) provides access to over 42,000 digital objects, from the first ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) publications made in 1948 to the most recent ones – including a growing audiovisual collection. All documents are available in full text and are free to download. The new version offers a new interface as well further improvements. More features will be added in the coming weeks and months.

Starship UNLV: Boolean Basics
The United Nations Library Vienna is pleased to announce the launch of their latest YouTube video, the first in a new series entitled “Starship UNLV”.




This high-level thematic debate, hosted by the President of the General Assembly on 1 June 2021, served as a drumbeat ahead of the second UN Ocean Conference, serving to demonstrate and call for clear progress, with more ambitious and innovative commitments to restoring and conserving our marine environments. There will be a special focus on the need for recovery from COVID-19 to protect oceans and support coastal communities. With trillions of dollars pouring into socio-economic relief and recovery, it is important that economic initiatives support and not exacerbate the existing challenges—both socioeconomic and environmental—facing the ocean and coastal communities.

The High-Level Meeting on AIDS took place between 8 and 10 June 2021. The high-level meeting will review the progress made in reducing the impact of HIV since the last United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on HIV and AIDS in 2016 and the General Assembly expects to adopt a new political declaration to guide the future direction of the response.
see also: New global pledge to end all inequalities faced by communities and people affected by HIV towards ending AIDS (8 June 2021), https://bit.ly/3crbOHA

Special Session of the General Assembly Against Corruption
The special session of the General Assembly on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation was held from 2 to 4 June 2021 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 73/191 and 74/276, as well as decisions 74/568 and 75/562 entitled “Special session of the General Assembly against corruption”.
see also: UNGASS 2021 closes highlighting urgent need to fight corruption to save the environment; spotlights whistleblower protection and role of civil society, https://bit.ly/3ciRxnF


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

COVID-19-Response-Logo (English)

COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic
English: https://theindependentpanel.org/mainreport/
Press Release in French: https://bit.ly/3w5Y901
Press Release in Spanish: https://bit.ly/3ony5uQ
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (The Independent Panel) was appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General in response to a World Health Assembly resolution calling for an independent, impartial, and comprehensive review of experiences gained and lessons to be learned from the current pandemic. The review was also asked to provide recommendations to improve capacity for global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. The Panel released its findings and recommendations in its main report on 12 May 2021: COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic.
The Panel, co-chaired by the Rt Hon. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, has spent the past eight months rigorously reviewing the evidence on how a disease outbreak became a pandemic, and on global and national responses. The report demonstrates that the current system—at both national and international levels— was not adequate to protect people from COVID-19. The time it took from the reporting of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in mid-late December 2019 to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern being declared was too long. February 2020 was also a lost month when many more countries could have taken steps to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and forestall the global health, social, and economic catastrophe that continues its grip. The Panel finds that the system as it stands now is clearly unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, from developing into a pandemic.

COVID-19 and the Need for Dynamic State Capabilities: An International Comparison
Early lessons from countries’ responses to COVID-19 show the importance of investing in a combination of both long-term capacities and dynamic capabilities in the public sector, including the ability to meaningfully interact with other value creators in society such as the private sector and citizen innovators. Drawing on examples from across emerging markets, this paper identifies a number of such capabilities, and argues that they will be critical for governments in the aftermath of the crisis and in rebuilding economies and societies.

Independent Review and Investigation Mechanisms to Prevent Future Pandemics (UNU-IIGH)
The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for national economies, livelihoods, and public services, including health systems. In January 2021, the World Health Organization proposed an international treaty on pandemics to strengthen the political commitment towards global pandemic preparedness, control, and response. The plan is to present a draft treaty to the World Health Assembly in May 2021. To inform the design of a support system for this treaty, we explored existing mechanisms for periodic reviews conducted either by peers or an external group as well as mechanisms for in-country investigations, conducted with or without country consent. Based on our review, we summarized key design principles requisite for review and investigation mechanisms and explain how these could be applied to pandemics preparedness, control, and response in global health. While there is no single global mechanism that could serve as a model in its own right, there is potential to combine aspects of existing mechanisms. A Universal Periodic Review design based on the model of human rights treaties with independent experts as the authorized monitoring body, if made obligatory, could support compliance with a new pandemic treaty. In terms of on-site investigations, the model by the Committee on Prevention of Torture could lend itself to treaty monitoring and outbreak investigations on short notice or unannounced. These mechanisms need to be put in place in accordance with several core interlinked design principles: compliance; accountability; independence; transparency and data sharing; speed; emphasis on capabilities; and incentives. The World Health Organization can incentivize and complement these efforts. It has an essential role in providing countries with technical support and tools to strengthen emergency preparedness and response capacities, including technical support for creating surveillance structures, integrating non-traditional data sources, creating data governance and data sharing standards, and conducting regular monitoring and assessment of preparedness and response capacities.

UN/DESA Policy Brief Series
UN DESA experts are working to help decision makers around the world navigate tough choices and to find ways to recover better from the COVID-19 crisis. Watch this space for the latest research, analysis and policy advice from UN DESA, an effort to support and complement the United Nations Secretary-General’s initiatives in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

Newly published:


Economic Growth &  Sustainable Development

Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate
Report in English, Key messages in English, French, Spanish & Portuguese: https://www.unep.org/resources/ecosystem-restoration-people-nature-climate
An area of land roughly the size of China needs restoring if the planet’s biodiversity and the communities who rely on it are to be protected, UN agencies said on 3 June 2021. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) call to reinstate at least one billion degraded hectares of land by 2030 must also be matched by a similar commitment to the oceans, or else risk a growing threat to global food security, they added. In a new report marking the start of a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the agencies warned that humans are already using 1.6 times the resources that nature can provide sustainably.

Cities, Culture, Creativity: Leveraging Culture & Creativity for Sustainable Urban Development & Inclusive Growth (UNESCO / World Bank)
What would Mumbai be without Bollywood? Bangkok without its temples? How would we know Beirut without its za’atar, hummus and kibbe? Or Kingston without reggae? Cities, where nearly 7 out of 10 people will live by 2050, have the power to stimulate creativity, create wealth, enhance social development and harness human and technological resources to bring people from varied backgrounds together and pave the way for economic and social gains—although COVID-19 has, for now, weakened these impacts. As countries contend with the climate crisis, COVID-19 and a sustainable and resilient recovery from it, understanding the power of culture and creative industries to address the social needs of city dwellers—and empowering them to unlock opportunities for local economic development—is key. A new World Bank–UNESCO report explores how cities across Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere have benefited from and enabled culture and creativity. According to the report, the revenues of cultural and creative industries were estimated at $2.25 trillion in 2013 – or 3 percent of global GDP. The ways urban centers prepare to become cultural and creative ecosystems and destinations are fundamental to their success. This report suggests a framework for embracing cities’ possibilities as cultural and creative hubs and includes six considerations that can help cities tackle the challenges in becoming creative centers.

Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development
On May 13, 2021, the UNDP Accelerator Labs and Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design launched two reports of a new publication series Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development, 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.
The first report Getting Smarter Together analyses 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 Labs offers 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.

Gender & Creativity: Progress on the Precipice (UNESCO)
English, French & Spanish: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000375706
This report launched by UNESCO on 4 July 2021, highlights the need for policy measures to reach gender parity in the cultural and creative industries, despite recent progress in promoting gender equality. The report explores existing, and at times widening, gender gaps in the field, notably in the context of COVID-19, and calls for a new commitment and transformative actions to promote gender equality. It also highlights innovative gender policies, measures and programmes from around the world that can serve as a model for policymakers. The digital divide remains a pressing concern, with women disproportionately facing obstacles to access digital tools for artistic creation and distribution including digital music platforms, online tutorials, and sound-mixing software. For example, it is estimated that worldwide, 250 million fewer women than men use the Internet, and women still represent only 21% of performers in electronic music festivals in Europe and North America.

Global assessment of soil pollution: Report (FAO / UNEP)
Worsening soil pollution and waste proliferation threaten the future of global food production, human health and the environment, and require an urgent global response, according to a joint report released on 4 June 2021 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme. The Global Assessment of Soil Pollution  was launched by FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, and the Executive-Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, at a virtual event which was part of the celebrations for World Environment Day (5 June) and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). Soil pollution crosses all borders and compromises the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. The joint assessment found that widespread environmental degradation caused by soil pollution, due to the growing demands of agri-food and industrial systems and an increasing global population, is getting worse and is one of the world’s major challenges for ecosystem restoration. Industrial and mining activities, poorly managed urban and industrial waste, fossil fuel extraction and processing, as well as unsustainable agricultural practices and transport, were identified as the main sources of soil pollution.


Global commitments, local action (UNAIDS)
Four decades after the first cases of AIDS were reported, new data from UNAIDS show that dozens of countries achieved or exceed the 2020 targets set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2016—evidence that the targets were not just aspirational but achievable. The report shows that countries with progressive laws and policies and strong and inclusive health systems have had the best outcomes against HIV. In those countries, people living with and affected by HIV are more likely to have access to effective HIV services, including HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (medicine to prevent HIV), harm reduction, multimonth supplies of HIV treatment and consistent, quality follow-up and care.

The Helping Adolescents Thrive Toolkit (WHO / UNICEF)
Toolkit in English, Executive Summary in English, French & Spanish: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240025554
The Helping Adolescents Thrive Toolkit, launched on 18 May 2021, provides programmatic guidance for people working in the health, social services, education and justice sectors on how to implement strategies for adolescent mental health promotion and protection. The Toolkit covers the legal foundations required for such programmes to succeed, the features of environments that are conducive to the well-being of adolescents, what support should be provided to parents and other caregivers, and psychosocial interventions that work. Tools to guide  implementation and examples of programmes already introduced in countries to benefit adolescents, or specific groups of vulnerable adolescents, are described.
As part of the Helping Adolescents Thrive initiative, WHO and UNICEF are also releasing on 18 May 2021 a Comic Book and accompanying Teacher’s Guide for use by school-based professionals who work with adolescents aged 10-14 years, including teachers, school counsellors, and mental health professionals. These tools can be used for planning and facilitation of classroom activities focused on socio-emotional learning. The Comic Book is the first in a series and refers specifically to adolescents’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Learn for our planet: a global review of how environmental issues are integrated in education (UNESCO)
“Introduction: 2020 was the equal hottest year on record. One million species are at risk of extinction. We use more resources than the planet can generate each year – if we continue to live the way we do today, we will need three earths by 2050. The way we currently live is not sustainable. Urgent change is needed, but lasting change is impossible without education. This publication presents the extent to which environmental issues are integrated in primary and secondary education policies and curricula across 46 UNESCO Member States. Over half of education policies and curricula studied made no mention of climate change. Only 19 per cent made reference to biodiversity. Countries have made progress: 83 per cent of education policies and curricula studied addressed the environment at least once, and 69 per cent mentioned sustainability – but it is clear that more needs to be done to prepare learners with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to act for our planet. Governments, education policy-makers, academics, and education and environmental stakeholders need to further commit to Education for Sustainable Development. Let’s ensure learners everywhere are change-makers who learn and act for our planet!”
see also: UNESCO declares environmental education must be a core curriculum component by 2025, https://bit.ly/3v7ofzz

Measuring Progress: Environment and the SDGs (UNEP)
Despite progress in key environmental areas such as clean water, sanitation, clean energy, forest management and waste, countries are still living unsustainably and are on course to miss the environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to the Measuring Progress: Environment and the SDGs report issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to coincide with the International Day for Biological Diversity. The report found that some environmental areas – such as biodiversity loss and climate change – have continued to deteriorate.

Nature, Biodiversity and Health: an overview of interconnections
Urbanization, land use, global trade and industrialization have led to profound and negative impacts on nature, biodiversity and ecosystems across the world. The ongoing depletion of natural resources not only affects environmental conditions but also has an enormous impact on the health, well-being and security of societies. Exploring this complex relationship and the vital role that nature plays for promoting and protecting human health, and in recognition of the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May, WHO/Europe has published its first report on nature, biodiversity and health together with the WHO Collaborating Centre on Natural Environments and Health at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution (UNEP)
Vulnerable communities disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental degradation caused by plastics pollution, and action is urgently needed to address the issue and restore access to human rights, health and well-being, according to a new UN report published on 30 March 2021. The report was produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) together with the grassroots environmental group, Azul. The findings aim to empower communities affected by plastic waste and advocate for their inclusion in local decision making.

Out of the Blue: The Value of Seagrasses to the Environment and to People (UNEP)
Seagrass meadows can be a powerful nature-based climate solution and help sustain communities hard-hit by stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but these important ecosystems continue to decline. The importance of seagrasses is highlighted in this new report, released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) together with GRID-Arendal  and the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). Seagrass meadows are among the most common coastal habitats on Earth, covering more than 300,000 km2 in at least 159 countries.They nurture fish populations, weaken storm surges, and provide numerous other services to coastal communities. Seagrass ecosystems are biologically rich and highly productive, providing valuable nursery habitats to more than 20 per cent of the world’s largest  25  fisheries. They can filter pathogens, bacteria, and pollution out of seawater, and are home to endangered and charismatic species such as dugongs, seahorses, and sea turtles. But an estimated 7 per cent of seagrass habitat is being lost worldwide each year, and at least 22 of the world’s 72 seagrass species are in decline. Since the late 19th century, almost 30 per cent of known seagrass area across the globe has been lost. The main threats to seagrass meadows include urban, industrial, and agricultural run-off, coastal development, dredging, unregulated fishing and boating activities, and climate change. The report, launched on World Oceans Day, finds that seagrass ecosystems play an outsized role in combatting the climate crisis. Though they cover only 0.1 per cent of the ocean floor, these meadows are highly efficient carbon sinks, storing up to 18 per cent of the world’s oceanic carbon. Countries aiming to do their part under the Paris Agreement can include seagrass protection and restoration in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to help reduce the amount of heat-trapping carbon in our atmosphere.

Pancakes to Pyramids : City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth
A first-of-its-kind World Bank analysis, of the shape and growth of nearly 10,000 cities between 1990 and 2015, finds that the most successful urban areas are those that connect their growth to economic demand and then support this with comprehensive plans, policies and investments that help avoid uncontrolled sprawl. The new report analyzes the dynamic, two-way relationship between a city’s economic growth and the floor space available to residents and businesses. It finds that a city is most likely to be its best version when its shape is driven by economic fundamentals and a conducive policy environment – namely, a robust job market, flexible building regulations, dependable public transit and access to essential services, public spaces, and cultural amenities. Ultimately, getting livable space right, hinges on how a city manages its growth as populations and incomes increase, factoring in three dimensions of expansion – horizontal, vertical or within existing spaces (known as infill), the report finds. This will be key as cities, on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, begin planning for a long-term, resilient, and inclusive recovery.

Protected Planet Report 2020
The international community has made major progress towards the global target on protected and conserved area coverage, but has fallen far short on its commitments on the quality of these areas, according to a new report from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), produced with support from the National Geographic Society. The latest edition of the Protected Planet Report is the final report card on Aichi Target 11 – the global 10-year target on protected and conserved areas which aimed to bring important benefits to both biodiversity and people by 2020. Aichi Target 11 included the aim of protecting at least 17% of land and inland waters and 10% of the marine environment. Today, 22.5 million km2 (16.64%) of land and inland water ecosystems and 28.1 million km2 (7.74%) of coastal waters and the ocean are within documented protected and conserved areas, an increase of over 21 million km2 (42% of the current coverage) since 2010, the new report reveals. It is clear that coverage on land will considerably exceed the 17% target when data for all areas are made available, as many protected and conserved areas remain unreported.

Rangelands Atlas (UNEP)
A new atlas published on 26 May 2021 shows that 54 per cent of the world’s land surface consists of vast tracts of land covered by grass, shrubs or sparse, hardy vegetation that support millions of pastoralists, hunter-gatherers, ranchers and large populations of wildlife–and store large amounts of carbon. Yet while most climate plans focus on forests, much less importance is given to rangelands, leaving  these  massive  planetary   ecosystems   supporting people and nature exposed to a wide variety of threats. This is among the key conclusions of the new Rangelands Atlas — a first of its kind inventory compiled by a coalition of international environmental, conservation and agricultural organisations cataloguing the contemporary character of the world’s rangelands, which include the Mongolian steppe, the savannas of Africa, the pampas of South America and the Great Plains of North America. Their goal is to make rangelands part of policy discussions around everything from confronting climate change to reducing poverty, managing threats to biodiversity and freshwater, and developing sustainable food systems.

State of Finance for Nature
Report in English, Executive Summary in English, French & Spanish: https://www.unep.org/resources/state-finance-nature
The ongoing loss of natural spaces, including forests, has become a systemic risk for the global economy, warns a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and several partners. Over the past decade, 26 per cent of global tree cover loss was caused by the production of just seven agricultural commodities – cattle, oil palm, soy, cocoa, rubber, coffee and wood fibre – said the State of Financing for Nature report. Barring major changes, the toll on forests and other wild spaces will continue to mount, ultimately imperiling industries that rely on natural resources. The authors of the report urged governments, financial institutions and businesses to place nature at the heart of future economic growth by tripling the financing available for environmentally friendly projects by 2030. The report’s launch comes on the eve of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global effort to revive natural spaces lost to development. Forests have been hit especially hard by human activity. Every year, the world loses 10 million hectares of tree cover, an area the size of the Republic of Korea. Forests provide drinking water to one-third of the world’s largest cities and support more than 65 per cent of amphibian, bird, and mammal species. The State of Finance for Nature report was produced by UNEP, the World Economic Forum and the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative in collaboration with Vivid Economics. It showcases the investment opportunities that nature can offer and emphasizes its importance to the global economy. By demonstrating the value of nature, the report authors say they hope to show countries it is possible to safeguard the planet while spurring economic growth and sustainable development. The report said that reviewing public subsidies, factoring the costs of ecosystem degradation into products or services and integrating the value of nature into credit risk analysis could lead to greener economies.

Stronger collaboration for an equitable and resilient recovery towards the health-related sustainable development goals: 2021 progress report on the global action plan for healthy lives and well-being for all
The World Health Organization (WHO) and 12 other signatory agencies to the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All (SDG3 GAP) have released their second progress report, Stronger collaboration for an equitable and resilient recovery towards the health-related SDGs, on 20 May 2021. This report presents progress achieved, especially at country level, where SDG3 GAP is being implemented in 37 countries, with its long-term, forward-looking  SDG focus  and as a  platform to support countries’ equitable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also identifies challenges encountered over the last year, acknowledging the important roles that countries, agencies’ boards and donors play in setting the right incentives for effective collaboration among SDG3 GAP agencies.

Tackling Climate Action at the Local Level: Education for Sustainable Development Projects from the Global RCE Network (UNU-IAS)
A new publication from the Education for Sustainable Development Project at UNU-IAS has been launched on 27 April 2021, featuring a number of outstanding climate education projects from Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs). It highlights the contributions that RCEs have made – with a focus on climate action – to implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through education at local and regional levels, during the period of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) from 2015-2019.

Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report
During the last decade, a greater share of the global population gained access to electricity than ever before, but the number of people without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa actually increased. Unless efforts are scaled up significantly in countries with the largest deficits the world will still fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030, according to Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report released on 7 June 2021 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the report, significant progress has been made since 2010 on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, but progress has been unequal across regions. While more than one billion people gained access to electricity globally over the last decade, COVID’s financial impact has made basic electricity services unaffordable for 30 million more people, the majority located in Africa. Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia had the biggest electricity access deficits, with Ethiopia replacing India in the Top 3.

Water Under Fire Volume 3: Attacks on water and sanitation services in armed conflict and the impacts on children (UNICEF)
Attacks on water and sanitation facilities in conflict zones around the world are putting the lives of millions of children around the world in danger, and are a much greater threat than violence itself, warns the UN Children’s agency, UNICEF, in a report released on 24 May 2021. Water Under Fire Volume 3, highlights that children’s access to water has been threatened in nearly every conflict-related emergency where UNICEF is responding. The report focuses on nine countries where violence and conflict are prevalent, and the impact the attacks have on children. Some 48 million people are estimated to need safe water and sanitation services in the following countries: Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.

World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2021 (UN/DESA)
English & French: http://bit.ly/wespmidyear
While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world economy, says the latest United Nations forecast released on 11 May 2021. According to the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) mid-2021 report, following a sharp contraction of 3.6 per cent in 2020, the global economy is now projected to expand by 5.4 per cent in 2021, reflecting an upward revision from the UN forecasts released in January. Amid rapid vaccinations and continued fiscal and monetary support measures, China and the United States – the two largest economies – are on the path to recovery. In contrast, the growth outlook in several countries in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, remains fragile and uncertain. For many countries, economic output is only projected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 or 2023.
see also: 5 things you should know about the state of the global economy (11 May 2021), https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/05/1091672

World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (ILO)
Report in English, Summary in English, French & Spanish: https://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/weso/2021/WCMS_795453/lang–en/index.htm
The labour market crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and employment growth will be insufficient to make up for the losses suffered until at least 2023, according to a new assessment by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends) projects the global crisis-induced ‘jobs gap’ will reach 75 million in 2021, before falling to 23 million in 2022. The related gap in working-hours, which includes the jobs gap and those on reduced hours, amounts to the equivalent of 100 million full-time jobs in 2021 and 26 million full-time jobs in 2022. This shortfall in employment and working hours comes on top of persistently high pre-crisis levels of unemployment, labour underutilization and poor working conditions. In consequence, global unemployment is expected to stand at 205 million people in 2022, greatly surpassing the level of 187 million in 2019. This corresponds to an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent. Excluding the COVID-19 crisis period, such a rate was last seen in 2013.

World Social Report 2021: Reconsidering Rural Development (UN/DESA)
An urgent reconsideration of rural development is needed for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The current strategies and patterns of rural development are failing to meet either the socioeconomic or the environmental Goals of this Agenda. Four out of every five people who face extreme poverty around the world live in rural areas. Many rural areas are witnessing severe depletion and degradation of natural resources, contributing to climate change and the recurrence of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19. The World Social Report 2021 points to the ways in which rural development can be reset to achieve sustainable development. It calls for moving rural development to the centre of attention, instead of relegating it as an appendage of urban development; for ending the rural-urban divide through the adoption of the in situ urbanization model; for ending within-rural inequality; and for achieving rural development while preserving the environment. World Social Report 2021 shows that new digital and frontier technologies are creating opportunities for achieving these goals. What is needed is to seize these opportunities and to convert into reality the long-standing goal of eradicating the rural-urban disparity.

WTO’s General Council ePortal (GCeP)
The General Council ePortal (GCeP) contains all matters that have been taken up in General Council meetings since its inception in 1995, by calendar year. In particular, the portal gives access to a database of issues raised and discussed in the General Council and, where applicable, associated documents and decisions, either issued as separate documents or recorded in the minutes of the General Council. An additional search tool and filters have also been created to facilitate the retrieval of relevant matters and documents. For example, this tool will allow users to filter only for matters where a relevant General Council decision was taken.
The General Council is entrusted with carrying out the functions of the WTO, and taking action necessary to this effect, in the intervals between meetings of the Ministerial Conference, in addition to carrying out the specific tasks assigned to it by the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.

YouthForesight: Collective Knowledge that works for Youth
YouthForesight is jointly hosted by the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth (DJY) and Generation Unlimited (GenU).
It is a one-stop shop providing curated tools, publications, databases and resources to support evidence-based action for supporting young people’s education and skilling, employment, entrepreneurship, and engagement. GenU and DJY will continually expand the platform with high-quality content. The platform is divided into three parts: Learn, Engage, and Contribute.


International Peace and Security

Concept note for the Security Council open debate on the theme “United Nations peacekeeping operations: improving safety and security of peacekeepers”
English, French & Spanish: http://undocs.org/S/2021/432
The Security Council will organize an open debate on the theme “Protection of civilians in armed conflict” on 25 May 2021. In order to guide the discussions on this topic, the Security Council President for May 2021, China, has prepared this concept note.

Concept note for the Security Council open debate on the theme “Protection of civilians in armed conflict”
English, French & Spanish: http://undocs.org/S/2021/468
The Security Council will organize an open debate on the theme “United Nations peacekeeping operations: improving safety and security of peacekeepers” on 24 May 2021. In order to guide the discussions on this topic, the Security Council President for May 2021, China, has prepared this concept note.

Explainer: Investigative mechanisms, fact-finding missions, and boards of inquiry (In: DPPA Politically Speaking, May 2021)

Governing Uncertainty (UNU-CPR)
This report, commissioned by the UK Ministry of Defence’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, surveys major trends that will shape the future of global governance over the next 30 years. It maps trends in society, politics, technology, security and the environment, and considers how the interplay across these sectors impact traditional and new development actors in their efforts to deliver a transformative development agenda centered on social inclusion, shared prosperity, safety and environmental sustainability. The trends and changes outlined in this report are tied to a specific set of political and economic decisions and influences that marked the decades since the end of the Cold War. The globalization of economies and the impact of liberal trade and regulation policy on economic development and the distribution of wealth – within and across States – over three decades enabled rapid technological innovation, specialization through global value chains, poverty reduction and wealth generation in many parts of the world. However, this prosperity has not been equally distributed, leading to unequal development outcomes felt most acutely in the developing world and by global youth who will be forced to grapple with the intergenerational consequences of a worsening development emergency. The report finds that many core societal risks – inequality, debt, mistrust, environmental and technological change, and the important role of non-State actors – persist today and have grown in importance following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Social media in peace mediation: a practical framework (June 2021)
A new paper by UN DPPA Mediation Support Unit and Swiss Peace explores the role of social media in armed conflict. It includes practical examples and suggestions on how to prevent, manage and resolve conflict in an environment transformed by technology.


Human Rights


The UN Human Rights Office now has a Tiktok account

Don’t Look Away: No place for exclusion of LGBTI students (UNESCO)
On 17 May 2021, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia, the International LGBTQI Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) and UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report released findings from research and surveys on the situation of LGBTQI students. According to the study, over eight in ten people surveyed reported having heard negative remarks addressed to someone else because of being perceived as LGBTQI. Fifty-four percent of LGBTQI people have experienced bullying in school at least once based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or variations of sex characteristics, according to a survey of more than 17,000 children and young people aged 13 to 24. The survey also showed that 83% of students had at least sometimes heard negative comments towards LGBTQI students, and 67% had been the target of negative comments at least once. Interventions by teachers and other school staff upon hearing negative remarks and bullying are vital to an inclusive education system. But many teachers lack the confidence and knowledge to support LGBTQI learners. The majority of students (58%) never reported bullying incidents to any school staff and fewer than 15% of respondents systematically reported their experiences of bullying to any school staff.

Freedom of Expression in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (UNAMI / OHCHR)
Freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been increasingly curtailed over the past year, according to a UN report issued on 12 May 2021.  Critics of public authorities have risked not only intimidation, restrictions on their movements and arbitrary arrests, but some were also charged with defamation, while others, more recently, were prosecuted under national security laws.  The report, by the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), documents a concerning pattern, observed from March 2020 to April 2021, of people being targeted for exercising their legitimate right to report on or criticize the actions of the public authorities.

“Lethal Disregard”: Search and rescue and the protection of migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea (OHCHR)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on the Libyan Government of National Unity and the European Union and its Member States to urgently reform their current search and rescue policies and practices in the central Mediterranean Sea that too often rob migrants of their lives, dignity and fundamental human rights. According to the report, evidence suggests that the lack of human rights protection for migrants at sea “is not a tragic anomaly, but rather a consequence of concrete policy decisions and practices by the Libyan authorities, the European Union (EU) Member States and institutions, and other actors that have combined to create an environment where the dignity and human rights of migrants are at risk.” The report, which covers the period from January 2019 to December 2020, notes with concern that the EU and its Member States have cut back significantly on their maritime search and rescue operations, while humanitarian NGOs have been obstructed from carrying out their life-saving rescue operations. In addition, private commercial vessels increasingly avoid going to the aid of migrants in distress because of delays and stand-offs over their eventual disembarkation in a port of safety.

UNITAD launches multimedia video demonstrating evidence of crimes against Yazidi community
The Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) launched on 13 May 2021 the full-length video outlining the range of evidence collected in its investigations into crimes committed against the Yazidi community in Sinjar.  This follows the briefing by Special Adviser Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, Head of UNITAD to the Security Council on Monday in which he confirmed the Team had clear and convincing evidence that crimes committed against the Yazidi community constituted genocide. Developed in collaboration with SITU Research, a visual investigations practice, the video synthesizes the testimonial, documentary, digital and forensic evidence collected by the Team in this investigation.


Humanitarian Affairs

Progress on Early Warning in a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated impacts of extreme weather and climate change in vulnerable countries but also highlighted the need to build resilience against a multitude of hazards through better early warnings and risk information. This is one of the key messages of the 2020 Annual Report of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS), a unique climate action programme that helps saves lives, livelihoods and assets in the world’s most vulnerable countries. The report showcased achievements in improved early warnings for flash floods, tropical cyclones, sand and dust storms and drought, as well as better weather forecasts for farmers in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

A Region on the Move: 2020 Mobility Overview in the East and Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (IOM)
At least 300,000 migrants across the East and Horn of Africa have been affected by COVID-19 in 2020, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s annual flagship report on migration trends and population movements in the region, released on 25 May 2021. The report highlights the dire consequences of the pandemic for vulnerable migrants, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, asylum-seekers, unaccompanied minors, and returning and stranded migrants. The widespread air, land, and sea border closures, and other movement restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, have severely impacted more than 300,000 people who largely depend on informal employment and the ability to move across  borders  for work and their survival.  Thousands of migrants, mostly Ethiopian, are stranded in Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen, unable to continue their journey to reach Saudi Arabia via Yemen. According to the report, the number of crossings to Yemen from the Horn of Africa has dropped by an unprecedented 73 per cent compared to 2019, approximately 37,000 from 138,000.

Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Rohingya community have jointly launched the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre (RCMC), a multidisciplinary initiative which provides an online community space, interactive gallery, digital archive, and web-based exhibition, and one of the first significant attempts to comprehensively document and preserve the heritage of the Rohingya people.
There are currently nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar camps, inhabiting challenging settlements with limited avenues for expression. The RCMC offers psychosocial support through art therapy, protection and skills development activities led by IOM practitioners and mental health officers.

WFP in Cox’s Bazar | Information Booklet:  Overview of Programmes, Innovations, Partnerships, Sectors, Cross-Cutting Themes (April 2021)
By end-March 2021, there were over 878,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. This includes almost 600,000 in the Kutupalong megacamp, the largest refugee camp in the world, and over 18,000 on Bhasan Char island. The COVID-19 pandemic created a double-layered crisis and heightened vulnerabilities among refugees with 96 percent being reported as moderately and highly vulnerable by end- 2020. As evidenced by the major January and March fires in Teknaf and Ukhiya megacamps respectively, ensuring refugees’ safety and wellbeing remains a serious challenge with population density reaching 60,000 persons per km2 (REVA IV, 2021). Since the start of the crisis in August 2017, WFP has provided food assistance to the camp population, and nutrition services to women and children. This is complemented with life-skills training, disaster risk reduction activities  and  common  engineering  services.  WFP also facilitates essential shared logistics and emergency telecommunication services and co-leads the Food Security Sector. WFP adapted its programmes to adhere to evolving COVID-19 restrictions, while ensuring lifesaving interventions continue, such as the immediate response to the massive March fire in the Kutupalong megacamp.

Non-UN Sources

Humanitarian Encyclopedia (Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies)
The online Humanitarian Encyclopedia platform aims to bring greater clarity and understanding across 129 commonly used humanitarian concepts such as accountability, capacity building, community engagement and localisation. Today, more than ever, collaboration between first responders – often local actors or public services – and international humanitarian organisations, directly affects the outcome of humanitarian response. It is crucial to have a common understanding of the key humanitarian concepts and dialogue surrounding them, to improve collective humanitarian action. The Humanitarian Encyclopedia is a space where humanitarian practitioners, researchers, local actors and international organisations can share evidence, knowledge and information to make informed decisions and take part in constructive dialogue. The platform offers tools for producing, accessing, and interacting with humanitarian concepts, knowledge and data. It offers new modes of study and learning that involves collaborative and transdisciplinary research and publishing.


Justice and International Law

Global Insolvency Law Database (World Bank)
The Global Insolvency Legislation Resource provides links to many of the world’s insolvency and related legislation.


Drug Control, Crime Prevention and Counter-terrorism

Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities
The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE Network) – launched on 3 June 2021 – offers a platform for information exchange between frontline anti-corruption law enforcement practitioners in all countries across the globe. This one-stop virtual hub provides the knowledge, resources and tools needed to track, investigate and prosecute cases of cross-border corruption, including a decision tree and secure communications channels.

Illicit Financial Flows and Asset Recovery in the State of Libya (UNICRI)
The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) presents an EU-funded study on the impact of illicit financial flows on Libya’s economic and social development. Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) impact a country’s economic and social development in a myriad of ways. Undocumented flights of wealth to and from – as well as within – a country have severe repercussions on government revenues, wealth that could otherwise be invested in public spending and other forms of economic and social reforms. Illicit financial flows, particularly those related to corruption and organized crime, also withdraw funds from the legitimate economy and can limit the state’s ability to invest in healthcare and education, among other public sectors. IFFs in Libya can mean fewer hospitals, schools, police, roads and job opportunities, and less investment in urgently needed infrastructure  rehabilitation.  IFFs may also undermine economic and political stability in Libya. It is for these reasons that Libya must place significantly higher priority on seizing and confiscating illicitly-obtained assets and channel such recovered assets to high-priority development needs that benefit the Libyan people. In light of the above, the European Union and the UNICRI present a new study on Illicit Financial Flows and Asset Recovery in Libya. This study sheds light on the significant damage being caused to Libya as a result of unchecked IFFs, and on the importance of prioritizing the capture of illicitly-obtained assets linked to such IFFs.

Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants
Where borders are difficult or impossible to cross regularly, migrant smugglers facilitate movements of people along land, sea, and air routes. We need to learn more about this crime to be able to prevent and address it. UNODC launched on 20 May 2021 the Observatory on Smuggling of Migrants, which provides up-to-date information and analysis by the UNODC Research team.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not halted smuggling operations; for example, two and a half times as many people arrived irregularly by sea to Europe in 2020 as in 2019. By its very nature, migrant smuggling is a cross-border crime. It demands the attention of the international community, as it all too often has negative implications for the human rights of the people who are smuggled.


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