New UN websites & publications
UN in General
Our Common Agenda: Policy Brief 11: UN 2.0 Forward-thinking culture and cutting-edge skills for better United Nations system impact
A/77/CRP.1/ADD.10 in English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/A/77/CRP.1/ADD.10
see also: https://un-two-zero.network/
see also: UN 2.0: Reimagining our global organization for a world in flux (UN News, 7 September 2023): https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/09/1140492
The challenges that we are facing can be addressed only through stronger international cooperation. The Summit of the Future in 2024 is an opportunity to agree on multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow, strengthening global governance for both present and future generations (General Assembly resolution 76/307). In my capacity as Secretary-General, I have been invited to provide inputs to the preparations for the Summit in the form of action-oriented recommendations, building on the proposals contained in my report entitled “Our Common Agenda” (A/75/982), which was itself a response to the declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations (General Assembly resolution 75/1). To this end, I have released 10 policy briefs to date. The workstream for UN 2.0 falls within my authority, and implementation in the wider United Nations system is under way within existing regulatory frameworks and in support of existing mandates. The purpose of the present policy brief is to keep Member States informed of our United Nations system-wide efforts.
Previously issued policy briefs are available here:
English – https://www.un.org/en/common-agenda/policy-briefs
French – https://www.un.org/fr/common-agenda/policy-briefs
Spanish – https://www.un.org/es/common-agenda/policy-briefs
German – https://www.un.org/Depts/german/de/oca.html
Summary of policy briefs:
English – https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/our-common-agenda-policy-briefs-a-quick-summary.pdf
Determined: Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization 2023
The past year was marked by increasingly complex world crises – poverty, inequality, hunger and rising unemployment; an uncertain global economic outlook; the escalating climate emergency; and conflicts. In each case, the poorest and most vulnerable people are hit hardest. In his Annual Report for 2023, titled “Determined”, the Secretary-General highlights inspiring examples of the impact of the United Nations work across the globe, based on the belief that a better world is not only necessary, but within our grasp. The report focuses on eight key priorities established by the General Assembly.
United Nations Handbook 2023-24
The UN Handbook is a valuable reference guide that helps everyone working with or within the United Nations navigate the UN system effectively. New Zealand has demonstrated its long-standing commitment and practical support for the United Nations by producing the UN Handbook since 1961.
Economic Growth and Sustainable Development
Breathless beginnings: the alarming impact of air pollution on children in Europe and Central Asia (UNICEF)
Air pollution is a major environmental health risk for children. In 2019, 5,801 children and teenagers in in 52 countries in Europe and Central Asia died from causes linked to air pollution. Many more suffered the health and development effects of breathing polluted air, including non-fatal diseases, hospitalizations and disabilities. Around 85 per cent of under-20s who died from causes related to air pollution in Europe and Central Asia in 2019 did so before their first birthday – accounting for the deaths of 4,917 infants. These deaths were preventable. Children are uniquely vulnerable to air pollution, with devastating effects on their health and development. Scientific evidence shows air pollution contributes to adverse birth outcomes including preterm births and low birth weights, infant mortality, damaged lung function, illness and diseases including asthma, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and an increased risk of neurological disorders. Other respiratory illnesses associated with air pollution include common childhood conditions such as upper respiratory tract infections, otitis media and allergic diseases.
Building Materials and the Climate: Constructing a new Future
Rapid urbanisation worldwide means every five days, the world adds buildings equivalent to the size of Paris, with the built environment sector already responsible for 37 per cent of global emissions. A report published on 12 September 2023 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Yale Center for Ecosystems + Architecture (Yale CEA), under the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), offers solutions to decarbonize the buildings and construction sector and reduce the waste it generates. The report offers policy makers, manufacturers, architects, developers, engineers, builders and recyclers a three-pronged solution to reduce “embodied carbon” emissions and the negative impacts on natural ecosystems from the production and deployment of building materials (e.g., cement, steel, aluminium, timber, biomass)
The costs of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (UNCTAD)
With the world off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), decision makers urgently need detailed cost estimates to guide their investment and spending choices. Over the last six months, UNCTAD has crunched the numbers on nearly 50 SDG indicators across 90 countries, including 48 developing economies, covering three quarters of the global population. Published on 18 September as global leaders meet in New York for the UN’s SDG Summit, the timely data underscores the pressing need for swift and targeted action.
Digital Health in the WHO European Region: the ongoing journey to commitment and transformation
The adoption of digital solutions in health care has increased across the WHO European Region in recent years, changing the way patients receive care at primary care facilities, hospitals and their homes. Digital solutions are transforming the way health-care professionals diagnose and treat conditions ranging from cancer to diabetes and mental health. Now, countries need to step up investments in digital health technologies and platforms to expand access to digital health for all. This new report, being launched on 5 September 2023 in Porto, Portugal, at the Second WHO Symposium on the Future of Health Systems in a Digital Era in the European Region, covers all 53 Member States of the Region. While in many countries the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the creation and use of digital health tools and policies in response to lockdowns and social distancing, including telemedicine and user-friendly health apps, the report underscores that there is still much work to be done.
Energy Compact: Annual Progress Report 2023
New multi-billion-dollar commitments to boost renewables and access to electricity and clean cooking technologies by 2030 have brought the finance and investment pledged through the UN for the energy transition over the trillion-dollar mark, according to a report released on 15 September 2023 ahead of a UN Summit. The second annual Energy Compact progress report shows an uptick in “Energy Compact” voluntary commitments, to be deployed by 2030, aimed at reducing the ranks of 675 million people living without electricity and over 2 billion still cooking with polluting fuels, while setting the world on a climate action trajectory towards net-zero emissions by 2050. The new report comes ahead of the UN SDG Summit on 18-19 September, aiming to drive action on the Sustainable Development Goals, for which only 15 percent of the measurable targets are on track. The goal of clean, affordable energy for all — SDG 7 — has shown progress but not at the pace and scale needed to meet the 2030 deadline. Meeting this goal is also essential for getting to net-zero emissions by 2050 and limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C above average pre-industrial emperatures, a target considered critical for averting ever-worsening climate disasters. Achieving SDG 7 and its related climate ambitions would require sharply scaling up ambition towards a clean energy transition, including additional investments of USD 22-48 trillion in the years to 2030.
Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 – Times of Crisis, Times of Change: Science for Accelerating Transformations to Sustainable Development
Ahead of the SDG Summit, this new UN report by an independent group of scientists launched on 12 September 2023 calls for transformational shifts rooted in science that would urgently reverse course and turbocharge the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report finds that at this critical juncture, midway to 2030, incremental and fragmented change is insufficient to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the remaining seven years. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires the active mobilization of political leadership and ambition for science-based transformations. This must be achieved globally – leaving no country, society or person behind. The report is an invitation to embrace transformations with the urgency needed to accelerate progress towards the SDGs.
The GSDR 2023 highlights key transformations needed in different sectors and provides key findings from the literature, practical examples and tools for progress towards the SDGs. It provides a stylized model to help unpack and understand the transformation process over time and outline the roles of different levers in facilitating various stages of transformation through a systematic and structured approach. As history has shown, transformations are inevitable, and this report emphasizes that deliberate and desirable transformations are possible – and, indeed, necessary.
Global report on children with developmental disabilities: From the margins to the mainstream (WHO)
A new report published on 15 September 2023 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF highlights the global prevalence of developmental disabilities among children and young people, shedding light on the urgent action needed to address disparities in their access to healthcare, health outcomes, and exposure to social determinants such as poverty. The report estimates that – in 2019 – 317 million children and young people were affected by health conditions contributing to a developmental disability. Many of them experience stigmatization, prejudice, and social exclusion. They also encounter barriers in accessing health care and experience poorer quality of care when compared with their peers.
Global Trends in Child Monetary Poverty According to International Poverty Lines (UNICEF / World Bank)
An estimated 333 million children globally – or 1 in 6 – live in extreme poverty, according to new UNICEF-World Bank analysis released on 12 September 2023. The analysis – which for the first time looks at trends in extreme child poverty – finds that, while the number of children living on less than US$2.15 a day decreased from 383 million to 333 million (or 13%) between 2013 and 2022, the economic impact of COVID-19 led to three lost years of progress, or 30 million fewer children than projected in the absence of COVID-19-related disruptions. The analysis – released ahead of High-level Week of the United Nations General Assembly (18 – 22 September), when global leaders will, among other things, meet to discuss the mid-point of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – warns that, at current rates of reduction, the SDG goal of ending extreme child poverty by 2030 will not be met.
Guidance for generative AI in education and research (UNESCO)
As pupils in part of the world return to school after the summer break, UNESCO is calling on governments to implement appropriate regulations and teacher training, to ensure a human-centred approach to using Generative AI in education. To this end, UNESCO publishes the first-ever global Guidance on Generative AI in Education and Research, designed to address the disruptions caused by Generative AI technologies. The first sections of the UNESCO Guidance explain what Generative AI is and how it works. The following sections elaborate on the controversies around Generative AI and their implications for education, in particular how it is worsening digital data divides. Indeed, current ChatGPT models are trained on data from online users which reflect the values and dominant social norms of the Global North. The UNESCO Guidance then sets out seven key steps for governments should take to regulate Generative AI and establish policy frameworks for its ethical use in education and research, including through the adoption of global, regional or national data protection and privacy standards. It also sets an age limit of 13 for the use of AI tools in the classroom and calls for teacher training on this subject.
Handbook on Small Satellites (ITU)
Small satellite technology has become an increasingly powerful tool, supporting multiple missions, functions, and capabilities. The versatility of small satellites – generally those weighing under 500 kilogrammes – has made them essential to provide seamless and reliable communication services worldwide. The new handbook from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) offers insights and guidance on design, launch and operation in this rapidly advancing segment of the space industry.
Making Trade Work for Women: Key findings from the 2022 World Trade Congress on Gender (WTO)
A new book on trade and gender, published by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 14 September, looks at ways of bolstering women’s participation in international trade and highlights how women’s economic empowerment can support trade growth and economic development. Launched at the WTO’s Public Forum, the book brings together the latest research on the role of trade policy in improving gender equality. The book builds on the research presented at the first World Trade Congress on Gender held at the WTO in December 2022, which brought together researchers and policy makers from across the globe. The book stresses the need to help women overcome obstacles to participating in trade and reaffirms that making trade policy more responsive to gender issues improves inclusiveness and supports sustainable growth. It highlights gender-relevant measures incorporated in governments’ trade policies and covers topics such as the experiences of women entrepreneurs, gender provisions in trade agreements, the gender wage gap, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women’s trade capacities, and the opportunities of digitalization.
Marine Sand Watch (Data Platform)
The first-ever global data platform on sand and other sediment extraction in the marine environment finds that the marine dredging industry is digging up 6 billion tons per year, the equivalent of more than 1 million dump trucks per day. This is significantly impacting biodiversity and coastal communities. The new data platform tracks and monitors dredging activities of sand, clay, silt, gravel, and rock in the world’s marine environment, including hotspots like the North Sea, South East Asia, and the East Coast of the United States. Developed by GRID-Geneva, a Centre for Analytics within the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the platform uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from vessels and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify the operations of dredging vessels. The new platform provides information on areas used for sand extraction (sand concessions), areas of capital and maintenance dredging, sand trading ports/hubs, number of vessels and operators, and extraction of sediment and other types of activities by countries with Exclusive Economic Zones. The Marine Sand Watch cannot yet detect artisanal and very small-scale mining along very shallow coastlines, despite its intensity in some regions.
Methane emissions in livestock and rice systems: Sources, quantification, mitigation and metrics (FAO)
Methane emissions are increasingly identified as a turbocharged driver of the climate crisis, catalyzing interest in how they can be mitigated in key agricultural sectors. To bolster awareness of possible actions that can be taken, and support Members with a menu of solutions, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published this new report on 25 September 2023. The report was put together by a multidisciplinary team composed of 54 international scientists and experts of the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership hosted at FAO since 2012. It offers a comprehensive overview and robust analysis of methane emissions in livestock and rice systems. It focuses on both the sources and sinks of methane gas, outlines how emissions can be measured, describes a broad sampling of mitigation strategies, and evaluates the kind of metrics that can be used to measure both emissions and their mitigation on the climate system.
Preventing suicide: a resource for media professionals (WHO)
WHO Policy Brief on the health aspects of decriminalization of suicide and suicide attempts
On 12 September 2023 the World Health Organization (WHO) launched these two resources designed to strengthen suicide prevention efforts. Suicide is a major public health problem. Each year more than 700 000 people take their own life. It is the fourth leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds. Not only is each loss of life tragic in itself, but it also has profound and devastating effects on families and entire communities. Suicide can be linked to multiple, complex, and intersecting social, economic, cultural, and psychological factors and challenges, including the denial of basic human rights and access to resources as well as stressful life events such as loss of livelihood, work or academic pressures, relationship breakdowns and discrimination, among others. Reducing the global suicide rate by one third by 2030 is a target of both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the WHO Global Mental Health Action Plan. Urgent action is needed to meet the 2030 goal, and countries have committed to taking concrete measures in this direction.
Progress on Children’s Well-Being: Centring child rights in the 2030 Agenda (UNICEF)
At the halfway mark towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), two-thirds of child-related indicators are off-pace to meet their targets, according to a new UNICEF report released on 17 September 2023. The report warns that as of today, only 6 per cent of the child population – or 150 million children – living in just 11 countries have reached 50 per cent of child-related targets met – the highest level of achievement globally. If expected progress continues, only a total of 60 countries – home to just 25 per cent of the child population – will have met their targets by 2030, leaving around 1.9 billion children in 140 countries behind. The report – issued ahead of High-level Week of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the SDG Summit in New York – provides a snapshot of progress to date on child-specific indicators in the SDGs. which were adopted by UN Member States in 2015 with the aim of ending poverty, reducing inequality, and building more peaceful, prosperous societies by 2030.
The Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot 2023
Despite global efforts, the world is falling short of achieving gender equality. This year’s edition of the UN Women and UN DESA “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot 2023” launched on 7 September 2023, paints a worrisome picture halfway through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Gender Snapshot 2023 warns that, if current trends continue, over 340 million women and girls – an estimated 8 per cent of the world’s female population – will live in extreme poverty by 2030, and close to one in four will experience moderate or severe food insecurity. The gender gap in power and leadership positions remains entrenched, and, at the current rate of progress, the next generation of women will still spend on average 2.3 more hours per day on unpaid care and domestic work than men. The annual publication provides a comprehensive analysis of the current state of gender equality across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and highlights prevailing trends, gaps, and recent setbacks on the journey towards achieving gender equality by 2030. This year’s report includes sex-disaggregated data on the intersections of gender and climate change for the first time, and projects that by mid-century, under a worst-case climate scenario, climate change may push up to 158.3 million more women and girls into poverty (16 million more than the total number of men and boys).
Promising Practices for Gender Equality (UNDP)
This catalogue provides a directory of 37 promising policy measures that can support countries to better respond to future crises, and to build more gender-equitable societies and economies. These measures are the most promising practices distilled among the 5,000 policy measures adopted by governments in response to the pandemic and monitored by the UNDP-UN Women COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker.
Reaching (Beyond) the Frontier: Energy Efficiency in Europe (IMF Working Paper No. 2023/198)
The world is not decarbonizing fast enough, with global warming on track to reach as much as 4°C over the next century absent a global green transition. Policymakers in Europe—and beyond—still have an opportunity both to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to strengthen economic prospects by increasing energy efficiency, along with changing the energy mix from fossil fuels to renewables. In this paper, we assess energy efficiency (or intensity) in a panel of 38 European countries over the period 1980–2021 by using the stochastic frontier analysis and obtain statistically significant and intuitive results. We have two key findings. First, price signals, including through the introduction of a carbon tax and the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, are critical for energy efficiency, as consumers respond to changes in energy prices. Second, stronger environmental policies and institutions generate unambiguous improvements in energy efficiency by inducing investment in energy efficient equipment and buildings and nudging consumers for energy conservation. These results—robust to alternative specifications and methods—have important policy implications for green growth with higher energy efficiency.
A Shared Vision for Technology and Governance (UNDP)
Digitalisation is changing the practice and context of governance. This report aims to provide an overview of the key learnings from UNDP’s work at the intersection of governance and digital technology, draw some conclusions about the implications of emerging technologies for the future of governance, and point in the direction of future work in this area. It draws on the insights and lessons learnt from the implementation of the Technology for Democracy project funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and on consultations with development practitioners from across the globe. The report explores the implications of emerging technologies first for the ‘governance of digitalisation’ – that is, the governance arrangements required to ensure that digital transformation is rights-based, inclusive, and supports the achievement of the SDGs – and secondly for the ‘digitalisation for governance’ – the implications of digital technologies for accountable, inclusive, and effective governance. The ‘Programming Pointers for Practitioners’ Guidance Note that accompanies this report summarises key issues around the relationship between digital technology and governance and aims to distil the complexities of this intersection into concise, accessible, and impactful insights. It is intended as a resource to support practitioners in their programming efforts. The recommendations contained in this report should be considered as suggested starting points, with more detailed assessment of context and intervention before initiating programming.
Synergy Solutions for a World in Crisis: Tackling Climate and SDG Action Together (UN DESA / UNFCCC)
A groundbreaking report by a group of independent experts released on 13 September 2023 by the United Nations outlines steps governments should take to maximize the impact of policies and actions by tackling the climate and sustainable development crises at the same time, creating synergies. The expert group, with fourteen diverse members co-led by Luis Gomez-Echeverri, Emeritus Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and Heide Hackmann, Director of Futfure Africa, University of Pretoria, was co-convened earlier this year by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the UN Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) to produce this report, the first of its kind.
Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2023 (FAO)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cc7088en
Halfway into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a lot of the progress made towards its food and agriculture-related targets has stagnated or reversed, compounding the challenges in eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and nutrition, and combating climate change, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The report was published on 15 September 2023, just days before world leaders gather in New York to attend the UN’s SDG Summit to review the state of the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The main conclusions of the report are that while the world was already off track from meeting the SDGs even prior to 2020, the past few years have seen multiple shocks that have further stalled or even reversed progress across several targets. These include the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of armed conflicts around the world, high inflation, along with the escalating effects of the climate crisis.
Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2023 Global monitoring report (WHO / World Bank)
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank have jointly published the 2023 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Global Monitoring Report, revealing an alarming stagnation in the progress towards providing people everywhere with quality, affordable, and accessible health care. Released ahead of the High-Level Meeting on UHC at the 78th United Nations General Assembly, this report exposes a stark reality based on the latest available evidence — more than half of the world’s population is still not covered by essential health services. Furthermore, 2 billion people face severe financial hardship when paying out-of-pocket for the services and products they needed. The 2023 report found that, over the past two decades, less than a third of countries have improved health service coverage and reduced catastrophic out-of-pocket health spending. Moreover, most countries for which data are available on both UHC dimensions (96 out of 138) are off-track in either service coverage, financial protection, or both.
Trade and Development Report 2023 (UNCTAD): Growth, Debt, and Climate; Realigning the Global Financial Architecture
The report warns that the global economy is stalling, with growth slowing in most regions compared with last year and only a few countries bucking the trend. It says the global economy is at a crossroads, where divergent growth paths, widening inequalities, growing market concentration and mounting debt burdens cast shadows on the future. The prospect of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 is fading as a combination of rising interest rates, weakening currencies and slowing export growth squeezes the fiscal space needed for governments to fight climate change and provide for their people. The report calls for a change in policy direction – including by leading central banks – and accompanying institutional reforms promised during the COVID-19 crisis to avert a lost decade. It urges global financial reforms, more pragmatic policies to tackle inflation, inequality and sovereign debt distress, and stronger oversight of key markets. The report proposes actions to get the global economy moving in the right direction by using a balanced policy mix of fiscal, monetary and supply-side measures to achieve financial stability, boost productive investment and create better jobs.
Transformative change and SDG 8: The critical role of collective capabilities and societal learning (ILO)
The report analyses the prospects for countries to achieve the economic, social and environmental aspects of SDG 8, based on their performance between 2010 and 2022. It cautions that action is “not yet advancing at the speed or scale required”, calls for a “circular cumulative process to drive balanced progress”, and identifies patterns and imbalances. It also looks at the existing policy framework and distils several principles and policy recommendations, including promoting collective capabilities and international cooperation, mobilizing investment, technological change and innovation, and economic structural transformation.
Launched on 18 September by DESA/STAT in partnership with Google, this new platform integrates authoritative SDG data and information resources from across the UN System into a public repository with AI-powered search functionality and a modern, user-friendly interface, helping users to delve into SDG data and insights.
Understanding Climate-Related Mobility in Contexts of Urbanization: A synthesis of ideas and solutions presented at a UNU-CPR migration policy roundtable (UNU-CPR Policy Brief, September 2023)
A new UNU-CPR policy brief explores the relationships between climate-related mobility and urbanization processes in the Global South – and outlines several policy recommendations to address the challenges this form of mobility poses and the vulnerabilities that climate migrants are forced to endure in urban areas. The recommendations put forward in the brief are a synthesis of ideas and solutions presented at a UNU-CPR migration policy roundtable, which brought together UN agencies, Member States, NGOs, civil society organizations, academia, and others with an interest in better understanding the policy implications of climate-related mobility. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a staggering 113 million people are projected to internally migrate by 2050 in response to slow-onset climate change impacts, such as water stress, crop failure, and sea level rise. Under a pessimistic scenario, that number almost doubles. The brief examines the problems associated with these projected migration patterns and explains how focusing the discussion of climate-related mobility on urban contexts encourages a more comprehensive understanding of the many developmental and structural conditions affecting climate-related migrants.
United in Science 2023
At the half-time point of the 2030 Agenda, the science is clear – the planet is far off track from meeting its climate goals. This undermines global efforts to tackle hunger, poverty and ill-health, improve access to clean water and energy and many other aspects of sustainable development, according to a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and released on 14 September 2023. Only 15% of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on track, says the “United in Science” report, which makes a systematic examination of the impact of climate change and extreme weather on the goals. It illustrates how weather, climate and water-related sciences can advance aims such as food and water security, clean energy, better health, sustainable oceans and resilient cities. The annual report combines input and expertise from 18 organizations. It is issued ahead of the SDG Summit and Climate Ambition Summit at the United Nations General Assembly.
The Use of Synthetic Data to Train AI Models: Opportunities and Risks for Sustainable Development (UNU Policy Brief)
Using synthetic or artificially generated data in training AI algorithms is a burgeoning practice with significant potential. It can address data scarcity, privacy, and bias issues and raise concerns about data quality, security, and ethical implications. This issue is heightened in the global South, where data scarcity is much more severe than in the global North. Synthetic data, therefore, addresses the problem of missing data, leading, in the best case, to better representation of populations in datasets and more equitable outcomes. However, we cannot consider synthetic data to be better or even equivalent to actual data from the physical world. In fact, there are many risks to using synthetic data, including cybersecurity risks, bias propagation, and simply an increase in model error. This policy brief proposes recommendations for the responsible use of synthetic data in AI training and the associated guidelines to regulate the use of synthetic data.
WTO’s contribution to attaining UN Sustainable Development Goals: 2023 update to the High-Level Political Forum
The role of trade in helping countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is highlighted in a new WTO report submitted to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The report also underlines the WTO’s contribution to improving livelihoods and making trade work for people. To increase awareness about the SDGs, the WTO is also showcasing the role of trade in attaining these goals in an exhibition taking place in Geneva from 7 September.
Previous WTO reports to the HLPF: https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news23_e/sdgs_06sep23_e.htm
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Ending the COVID-19 emergency and transitioning from emergency phase to longer-term disease management: guidance on calibrating the response, 4 September 2023 (WHO)
This document complements the newly released Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP). It outlines the essential actions, activities, and approaches of the different pillars of the COVID-19 SPRP operational planning guidelines, which are structured according to the 5C’s framework, which represents the Core components of WHO’s efforts in enhancing the global architecture for health emergency preparedness, response, and resilience.
International Peace and Security
Concept note for the Security Council open debate on “Working methods of the Security Council”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2023/630
Albania, in its capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of September 2023, held an open debate on “Working methods of the Security Council”, in connection with the item entitled “Implementation of the note by the President of the Security Council (S/2017/507) on 5 September 2023. In order to guide the discussions on this topic, Albania has prepared this concept note.
Concept note for the Security Council open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: advancing public-private humanitarian partnership”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2023/631/Rev.1
Albania, in its capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of September 2023, held an open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: advancing public -private humanitarian partnership”, in connection with the item entitled “Maintenance of international peace and security” on 14 September 2023. In order to guide the discussions on this topic, Albania has prepared a concept note.
Concept note for the Security Council high-level open debate on the theme “Upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations through effective multilateralism: maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2023/653
The Security Council held an open debate, in connection with the item entitled “Maintenance of international peace and security”, on the theme “Upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations through effective multilateralism: maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine”, to be held on the morning of 20 September 2023. This concept paper was circulated ahead of the debate.
Diplomatic Pulse 2.0 – The Search Engine for Diplomats
English, French & Spanish: https://diplomaticpulse.org/
The UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) have launched “Diplomatic Pulse 2.0” – The Search Engine for Diplomats, on 12 September 2023. This digital tool allows users to rapidly retrieve official press releases with the ability to filter by Member State, theme or date of issuance. Easy to access and use, Diplomatic Pulse can provide a sense of trending themes in a matter of minutes. This updated version is equipped with new analytical and visualization features, among other innovations.
Global Progress Report on Sustainable Development Goal 16 Indicators: A Wake-Up Call for Action on Peace, Justice and Inclusion
This report presents the latest analysis of data available on SDG 16 indicators. The data reflects that human rights commitments are not being met, violence is increasing, inequality continues to hinder inclusive decision making and corruption erodes the social contract. The report is the first of its kind jointly produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) using data from several UN agencies responsible for the indicators and the SDG Global Database. The findings on the report urges for action to reverse the current trend and accelerate the implementation of inclusive strategies and actions towards achieving peaceful, just and inclusive institutions.
A Lexicon for Outer Space Security (UNIDIR / SWF)
One challenge to advancing space security is the absence of common understandings around frequently used terminology. To facilitate a shared understanding of key topics and terms, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Secure World Foundation (SWF) have developed a Lexicon for Outer Space Security. This document aims to serve as a global reference point for terminological issues related to space security. It should be noted that the Lexicon does not intend to establish uniform definitions for all, but rather highlight, when necessary, that different stakeholders may interpret key concepts in differing ways, thus providing clarity and aiding in achieving common understanding on space security.
“Peace is never a political treaty that is signed between a couple of men”: Women, Peace and Security Highlights of UN Peacekeeping in 2022
The Department of Peace Operations has launched its fourth Annual Report on Women, Peace and Security that showcases progress made on the women, peace and security agenda in 2022. Advancing women’s participation and integrating gender in peacekeeping is a priority for UN peacekeeping. Some highlights include: – In Kosovo, the Global Open Day was celebrated with high-level participants, including Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu and Caroline Ziadeh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK); – In Mali and South Sudan, quarterly meetings were held between the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and civil society, including women’s organizations.
Use of ICTs by States: Rights and Responsibilities under the UN Charter (UNIDIR)
The Cyber Stability Conference 2023 provided a platform for a substantive discussion on the application of the law of the Charter of the United Nations in the context of State conduct using information and communications technologies (ICTs). Specifically, the Conference deliberated on four areas of the law—use of force, armed attack and self-defence, role and powers of the Security Council, and peaceful settlement of disputes—with panellists, State representatives, focusing in their interventions on national interpretations of the law and State practice. The purpose of the Conference was twofold: first, to advance the international discussions on how international law applies to cyberspace and to contribute to confidence-building by promoting transparency in order to reduce misperception and misunderstanding among the Member States and, second, to contribute to capacity-building by providing a platform for expert briefings and exchange of good practices. This report provides a summary of the Conference briefings and discussions, an outline of the emerging convergent and divergent positions, as well as several suggestions for how to advance multilateral discussions on the application of international law to State conduct using ICTs and to ensure rule of international law in the twenty-first century. As such, the report charts the potential focus areas for future multilateral deliberations on the Charter and the use of ICTs in the context of international peace and security.
The Youth, Peace and Security Primer (UNSSC)
English, French, Spanish & Portuguese: https://www.unssc.org/courses/youth-peace-and-security-primer
Through the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security and its subsequent resolutions, Member States and UN organs and entities have been called upon to increase meaningful and inclusive participation of youth in peacebuilding efforts at all levels. The Youth, Peace and Security Primer, also known as the YPS Primer, is an open online resource available to all practitioners, including UN, government, civil society and academia. The Primer has been developed by UNSSC in partnership with the Folke Bernadotte Academy and builds on the “Youth, Peace and Security: A Programming Handbook” developed by the UN with support from the Folke Bernadotte Academy. The YPS Primer aims to establish a common base of understanding and approach for the UN system and partners in implementing the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. It is primarily meant to inform, in broad terms, the programmes and actions of all UN entities working with and for youth in peace and security.
Development of Africa
Africa UN Knowledge Management Hub
Launched in September 2023, the Africa Knowledge Management Hub is developed by the United Nations Development System in Africa and acting as a one-stop-shop for data, information, actions, and knowledge resources relevant to 2030 global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other continental development agendas. The Hub harnesses information and resources from credible sources and brings together researchers and policy expertise across sectors, to easily identify and facilitate a response to emerging national needs to ultimately accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. By ensuring that no one is left behind, the objective is to build together the Africa we want.
State of the Climate in Africa 2022 (WMO)
Africa is responsible for only a fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions but is suffering disproportionately from climate change. This is harming food security, ecosystems and economies, fueling displacement and migration and worsening the threat of conflict over dwindling resources, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This report shows that the rate of temperature increase in Africa has accelerated in recent decades, with weather- and climate-related hazards becoming more severe. And yet financing for climate adaptation is only a drop in the ocean of what is needed. More than 110 million people on the continent were directly affected by weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2022, causing more than US$ 8.5 billion in economic damages. There were a reported 5 000 fatalities, of which 48% were associated with drought and 43% were associated with flooding, according to the Emergency Event Database. But the true toll is likely to be much higher because of under-reporting.
Becoming a Party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance: Practical Guide (OHCHR)
This practical guide aims to assist States as they move towards becoming parties to the Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance, and to promote the universal ratification of this key Convention. It provides answers to questions commonly raised by States when considering this commitment, and a toolkit to encourage and support States in joining the community of parties committed to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances and fight against the impunity of this heinous crime. The publication complements OHCHR’s Manual on Reporting Under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (which includes a Training Guide and accompanying training modules).
Committee on the Rights of the Child: General comment No. 26 (2023) on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change (CRC/C/GC/26, 22 August 2023)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/general-comments-and-recommendations/general-comment-no-26-2023-childrens-rights-and
An animation of the child-friendly version is also available: https://youtu.be/88ytWDLmyC8
Background: The extent and magnitude of the triple planetary crisis, comprising the climate emergency, the collapse of biodiversity and pervasive pollution, is an urgent and systemic threat to children’s rights globally. The efforts of children to draw attention to environmental crises created the motivation and were the momentum behind this general comment. The Committee benefited from the contributions of children at its 2016 day of general discussion on children’s rights and the environment. A diverse and dedicated children’s advisory team supported the consultation process undertaken for the general comment, with 16,331 contributions from children, from 121 countries, through online surveys, focus groups and in-person national and regional consultations. The Committee also received inputs from States, experts and other stakeholders through two rounds of consultations on the concept note and first draft of the general comment.
Summary: In this general comment, the Committee emphasizes the urgent need to address the adverse effects of environmental degradation, with a special focus on climate change, on the enjoyment of children’s rights, and clarifies the obligations of States to address environmental harm and climate change. The Committee also explains how children’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child apply to environmental protection, and confirms that children have a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Digital Border Governance: A Human Rights Based Approach (OHCHR)
In an era where digital technologies are increasingly integrated into migration processes, these technologies are reshaping border governance in a manner that impacts the human rights of people on the move and communities worldwide. As we navigate these evolving dynamics, it becomes paramount to address the potential harms the use of digital technologies poses to human rights, while also harnessing the opportunities they offer to facilitate safe and dignified migration. This collaborative study, conducted by the UN Human Rights Office and the University of Essex, analyses the human rights implications of specific border technologies. It provides recommendations for States and stakeholders on how to take a human rights-based approach in ensuring the use of digital technologies at borders aligns with international human rights law and standards. The study draws from a collective body of expertise, research, and evidence, as well as extensive interviews and collaborative meetings with experts.
Facilitating the journey from rhetoric to reality: Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (A/HRC/54/71, 17 August 2023)
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/A/HRC/54/71
“Summary: The present document contains the report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent prepared pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 51/32. In the report, the Working Group takes stock of its 20 years of work since its establishment in 2002, presents a review of that work and includes conclusions and recommendations on how to address more efficiently the human rights concerns of people of African descent. The Working Group highlights the initiatives it has taken under its mandate, in particular the thematic analyses and dedicated country visits, and emphasizes the need for commitments and resources from Member States to enable the Working Group to continue its critical work.”
How to effectively implement the right to participate in public affairs: A spotlight on people of African descent (OHCHR)
English, French, Spanish & Portuguese: https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/tools-and-resources/how-effectively-implement-right-participate-public-affairs-spotlight
This guidance note brings visibility to the specific challenges faced by people of African descent in exercising their right to participate in the conduct of public affairs. The note further outlines recommendations to States to fulfil their obligation to facilitate meaningful, inclusive and safe participation of people of African descent.
Implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent: Report of the Secretary-General (A/78/317, 18 August 2023)
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/A/78/317
“Summary: The present report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 69/16, focuses on reparatory justice for people of African descent. It acknowledges increased acceptance of the need to address the continuing impacts of enslavement and colonialism, including through reparatory justice. It takes stock of existing frameworks and initiatives and identifies areas for further consideration. Drawing on the observations and recommendations of United Nations bodies and experts and contributions from stakeholders, the Secretary -General recommends that States take a comprehensive approach, grounded in international human rights law, that seeks to address legacies of the past in order to build societies that are free from systemic racism and racial discrimination. To achieve these objectives effectively, the approach should be participatory, gender-sensitive and inclusive, and should combine a plurality of measures, including, where appropriate, restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.”
Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/54/66, 7 August 2023)
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/A/HRC/54/66
People of African descent continue to face immense challenges to meaningful participation in public affairs in many countries due to systemic racism, marginalization and exclusion often rooted in the legacies of enslavement and colonialism, according to a UN Human Rights Office report issued on 5 September 2023. The report finds that systemic racism continues to affect negatively people of African descent in all aspects of life. Deaths of people of African descent during or after interactions with law enforcement continue, and the report finds that little progress has been made to address impunity – despite protracted struggles by families seeking accountability and effective redress.
Toolkit: Ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/tools-and-resources/toolkit-ratifying-international-convention-elimination-all-forms
This toolkit presents the benefits of ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), answers questions about its content and application, and provides a simplified version of the Convention’s provisions.
Children displaced in a changing climate: Preparing for a future that’s already underway (UNICEF)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.unicef.org/reports/children-displaced-changing-climate
Weather-related disasters caused 43.1 million internal displacements of children in 44 countries over a six-year period – or approximately 20,000 child displacements a day – according to a new UNICEF analysis released on 6 October 2023. It is the first global analysis of the number of children driven from their homes between 2016 and 2021 due to floods, storms, droughts and wildfires, and looks at projections for the next 30 years. According to the analysis, China and the Philippines are among the countries that recorded the highest absolute numbers of child displacements, due to their exposure to extreme weather, large child populations and progress made on early warning and evacuation capacities. However, relative to the size of the child population, children living in small island states, such as Dominica and Vanuatu, were most affected by storms, while children in Somalia and South Sudan were most affected by floods.
‘Hope Away from Home’ – new UNHCR campaign
English, French & Spanish: https://www.unhcr.org/hope/
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched on 6 September 2023 a new global campaign entitled ‘Hope Away from Home’ calling for renewed solidarity and firm commitments from States to uphold the rights of people seeking safety from war, violence and persecution.
The campaign comes amid record global levels of forced displacement (110 million people), with access to asylum under threat in many parts of the world from increasingly restrictive policies and shrinking options for long-term solutions and resettlement.
UNHCR Education Report 2023 – Unlocking Potential: The Right to Education and Opportunity
More than half of the world’s 14.8 million school-aged refugee children are currently missing out on formal education, risking their future prosperity and the attainment of global development goals, according to a new report published by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The 2023 UNHCR Refugee Education Report draws on data from over 70 refugee-hosting countries to provide the clearest picture yet of the state of education among refugees globally. It reveals that by the end of 2022, the number of school-aged refugees jumped nearly 50 per cent from 10 million a year earlier, driven mostly by the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. An estimated 51 per cent – more than 7 million children – are not enrolled in school. Refugee enrolment in education varies dramatically by education level in reporting countries, with 38 per cent enrolled in pre-primary level, 65 per cent in primary, 41 per cent in secondary, and just 6 per cent in tertiary. In all but the lowest-income states, the difference between enrolment rates among refugees and non-refugees is stark, with far fewer refugees attending school, showing how lack of access stimies opportunity.
Understanding and characterizing complex risks with Impact Webs: A guidance document (UNU)
Impacts and risks from climate change, natural hazards and other shocks do not occur in isolation. As economic sectors and systems become increasingly interconnected, the space in which impacts and risks cascade is expanding. As a result of interdependencies, impacts from hazards, threats or shocks, as well as responses to them, can create cascading impacts throughout systems, leading to consequences that extend far beyond the original threat and sometimes even beyond the region that was originally affected. Understanding the complexity of risks, including possible compounding, cascading and systemic effects, is a key step in reducing and managing disaster risks. This is recognized also in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. To do this effectively, there is a need to develop tools and methodological approaches that can account for this complexity. This guidance document provides “how to” instructions for the development of Impact Webs, a novel methodological tool which are designed to better understand and characterize complex risks, such as compounding, cascading and systemic risks. In helping to better understand the complex nature of risks, Impact Webs can also provide important entry points for comprehensive risk management.
Voices from Yemen (World Bank)
Since the outbreak of the civil war in Yemen eight years ago, the lives of its people have been marked by hardship, uncertainty, and a bitter struggle for survival. This report aims to shed light on their experiences, providing a human context for the quantitative data presented in ‘Surviving in the Times of War’. Over the course of four years (2019-2022), we conducted in-depth interviews with 156 individuals from different Governorates across Yemen. The goal of these interviews was not to generate statistically representative findings, but to document a range of experiences illustrating the hardships endured by the Yemeni population.
Working with Migrant Children at the Borders of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom: A Toolkit for Front-line Workers (IOM)
This Toolkit builds on the outcomes of an international thematic workshop on addressing the needs of migrant children at borders, consolidated with IOM best practices and additional research inputs. Various relevant stakeholders from selected countries participated in the workshop and included law enforcement authorities, border management officials, front-line workers, migrant reception operators, social workers, legal guardians, human rights agencies, international organizations and civil society organizations, among others. Produced under the framework of the MiRAC-funded project, “Contributing to address the needs of migrant children at borders in Europe”, this document serves as a practical guidance tool for addressing the needs of migrant children at the borders of the European Union, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It was specifically developed to support national authorities and practitioners working in the field of reception at borders, by equipping them with the relevant knowledge, skills and informational resources that would enable them to provide appropriate services.
Justice and International Law
Legislating and enforcing the minimum age of marriage: A comparative study of experiences and lessons learned in ending the legalization of child marriage (UN Women)
This publication provides learnings and insights from 43 countries, including a deep dive of nine countries, on different approaches for undertaking child marriage reforms across different legal systems and global contexts. Early or child marriage is a human rights violation that denies girls the opportunity to develop to their full potential and has far-reaching consequences on their health and well-being. It is linked to: intimate partner violence, reduced educational attainment, increased prevalence of early pregnancy and its associated sexual and reproductive health complications, restricted decision-making capacities and physical mobility, increased prevalence of depression, and poor economic opportunities. Research has found that girls who are married before 18 years of age are more likely to earn less over their lifetime and live in poverty with their children. Given the urgent need for reform, this publication is intended to galvanize efforts by governments, civil society, donors, and the UN system to end the legalization of child marriage worldwide and achieve the empowerment of all women and girls.
Toward victim-centered change: Integrating transitional justice into sustainable peace and development (ICTJ / UN Women)
This report seeks to contribute to a more strategic approach to integrating transitional justice and sustainable development. It aims to inform policy discussions at the 2023 SDG Summit and beyond, drawing on the work and experience of members of the Working Group on Transitional Justice and SDG16+ and building on ongoing discussions. It draws attention to three general strategies that can improve transitional justice processes by making them more victim centred and participatory and, at the same time, enhance their potential contribution to development goals.
Drug Control, Crime Prevention and Counter-terrorism
Understanding Illegal Methamphetamine Manufacture in Afghanistan (UNODC)
Methamphetamine trafficking in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries is surging, with a drastic, nearly twelvefold increase in seizures of the drug in five years from 2.5 tons in 2017 to 29.7 tons in 2021, according to a report published on 10 September 2023 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). UNODC findings further suggest that heroin trafficking has continued, although at a lower rate, after the Taliban returned to power in August 2021 and introduced a drug ban in April 2022. Methamphetamine trafficking, however, has intensified since the ban, indicating a rapid expansion of the drug’s manufacture and a possible reshaping of illicit drug markets long dominated by Afghan opiates.
Newsletter Archive: https://unric.org/en/unric-info-point-library-newsletter-archive