The United Nations Water Conference has not been held since the 1970s. It ended this Friday in New York with commitments from the 149 participants
The Secretary-General of the United Nations listed a number of challenges that put the sustainability of various parts of the globe and future generations at risk.
António Guterres, addressing the General Assembly in New York in February, called for urgent action to address such scourges as wars, climate emergency, and extreme poverty. Here are expressed the UN Secretary-General’s priorities, fears, and struggles for 2023:
1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a central tool for achieving the goal of universal peace, security and sustainability.
2. According to the ‘Doomsday Clock’, humanity is 90 seconds away from self-destruction. Guterres stressed that the nuclear threat generated by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has challenged the major global institutions and put the climate crisis on the back burner. This context puts all of humanity at greater risk of
annihilation than the one seen at the end of the last century with the Cold War.
3. It is necessary to exercise the strategic capacity to think about tomorrow. It is necessary to create societies that do not focus only on the present and that have the moral responsibility to think about future generations.
4. Humanity is called to act and transform the world around them through their actions.
5. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the conflict between Palestine and Israel, and the situation in Afghanistan are all examples that heighten the need to work hard to achieve world peace.
6. A greater respect for the United Nations Charter is needed, and if all nations followed this document Human Rights and Human Dignity would be a priority. A greater sense of commitment to this founding document would ensure a more holistic view of peacebuilding with a greater focus on prevention, mediation, and the participation of groups in society such as women and youth in peacebuilding.
7. The nuclear risk is high, so disarmament and arms control are key issues for the sustainable development of our society.
8. A “radical transformation” of the global financial architecture is urgently needed. The worsening inequalities between certain regions of the globe force a restructuring of the current economic system. Large financial institutions should seek to follow the goals set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guterres also warns that the system whereby the countries of the global north accumulate wealth disproportionately leaving the countries of the global south in serious situations of vulnerability must be the target of structural reforms.
9. The sustainable development of many nations is in jeopardy and global inequalities need to be addressed so that the most vulnerable countries are able to invest in combating factors that catapult unsustainable
development such as lack of access to education, poverty, and gender inequality.
10. Decreasing carbon emissions and fighting for climate justice are priorities. The
war against nature must end and disruptive climate action can prevent the destruction of a habitable planet that is safe for the human species.
11. The transition to green energy has to be one of the items on the agenda of the industrialized
countries. Guterres stated that companies, societies, cities must be
prepared to put their transition plans into practice and that the
Oil companies that are unable to present plausible transition plans should prepare for the end of their business.
12. Fulfill the climate promises made at the COP27 held in Egypt in 2022.
13. Diversity is under attack and people in positions of power who benefit from spreading hate speech and extremist ideals must be stopped. Religious and ethnic minorities, refugees, migrants and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are
some of the most common targets of hatred and exclusion.
14. Combating online hate is pointed out as a way to protect cultural diversity and respect the victims of major events in history such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group. Society is called upon not to use language that magnifies hatred toward the other.
15. At a time when Afghan women are subject to deeply emasculating laws and gender inequality remains a global pattern it is necessary to fight for women’s rights on a universal level and against patriarchy in its various forms.
16. Democracies are under threat and the answer lies in investing in policies that favor civic participation and freedom of expression.
Above all, the goal of this sort of debriefing is to get everyone to reflect on the role they can take on to be civic agents with a positive impact in the face of all these challenges. Do you already know how you can contribute?
Leonor (better known as Nônô) inherited the taste for nature from her paternal grandfather, who used to carry seeds in his pockets to plant them when the time was right. She founded the Environmentalist Nucleus at the University where she graduated, was involved in civil disobedience movements for climate justice, and studied in London where she tasted the best veggie burger she knows to date. She pursued a master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations because it is an area she considers key to create a paradigm for climate justice. She went to Paris to deepen her knowledge in sustainability and later to write a thesis in the same area. Proud of her pots of mint and basil, an avid reader, a fan of afternoons spent around the table, an apologist for simplicity. She suspects she would be happy with a vegetable garden and a profession associated with sustainability and human rights.
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