The World Humanitarian Summit ended yesterday evening — and though it may come as a surprise to many, much of the discussion in Istanbul focused squarely on the Sustainable Development Goals – the set of 17 anti-poverty goals established at the United Nations Summit last September.
One of the exciting things about the opening of the UN General Assembly in the wide variety of politicians, activists and civil society organizations it brings to New York every year. This year, one of those activists was Graça Machel, an international activist for women and children rights as well as the former first lady of Mozambique and South Africa. In a briefing following her appearance at the Social Good Summit, she talked about the launch of the SDGs and the challenges that lay ahead.
As the UN celebrates the official launch of the post-2015 agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals and world leaders start laying out their views in the UN General Debate, much of this week in New York is about looking forward. But on the sidelines of the main events focused on the SDGs, peacekeeping, violent extremism and the Syrian crisis, many are using this week as an opportunity to look back at the past year. Namely, a year after the West African Ebola outbreak reached its peak, many are discussing what went wrong and how to better prepare for the next epidemic.
Now that the UN and global community officially adopted the Sustainable Development Goals last week, the real work begins. One of the key holdovers from the Millennium Development Goals is the issue of maternal and childhood health. After making incredible strides since 2010, the Every Woman Every Child initiative (EWEC) is now gearing up to for the post-2015 agenda to end all preventable maternal deaths and the deaths of children and adolescents around the world.
As the post-2015 agenda ramps up and the international community prepares for the official launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, the focus is turning to what tools can make the SDGs achievable. One major change that has occurred since the release of the MDGs is the data revolution, where big data can now be used to gauge the progress of goals and identify program gaps. At a meeting this week in Washington, DC, key development stakeholders are tackling the questions of how the data revolution can help achieve health-related SDGs and move closer to universal health coverage across the world.
A year after Ebola devastated swaths of Sierra Leone, killing more than 10,000 people in the region, life in the West African nation is slowly returning to normal. While the deadly pathogen has not been completely eradicated, the number of new cases has slowed to a trickle, and when the country's president, Ernest Bai Koroma, visited Washington this week, he said it was time to turn the focus beyond Ebola. That means rebuilding the economy of what was already one of the poorest nations in the world, and encouraging farmers afraid to get out because of Ebola to return to their fields.
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Yesterday three physicists won the Nobel Prize in Physics for creating blue-light LEDs, which makes the LED white lights we find everywhere possible. We experience the LED revolution through computer and smartphone screens, household lighting and greenhouse grow bulbs. But for over a billion people in the world, access to light is something that they cannot rely on. One company, WakaWaka, is working to bring the LED revolution to people who live off grid and on less than $2 a day.
While the UN General Assembly gets underway with a renewed focus on the fight against terrorism, yesterday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon convened a high-level meeting regarding the ongoing fight against Ebola. The actions of governments, UN agencies and aid organizations are generally gaining the most attention as the international community struggles to bring the epidemic under control but the private sector is also stepping up to assist efforts in the region.
With the passing of another year comes the need to look ahead at the issues that will increasingly define the world we live in. Every year since 1945 the international community marks World Food Day, serving as a reminder of the importance of food security in a world where 1 in 8 go hungry. With an expected global population of more than 8 billion by 2025 and growing pressures on agriculture due to climate change, food security is quickly becoming a top interest for governments and policymakers around the world.
It started with a simple drink, or more accurately, the inability of Senegalese-born Magatte Wade to find it when she returned to Senegal. In searching for a hibiscus drink she remembered fondly from her childhood, it was nowhere to be seen in Dakar. The reason, she discovered, was that as Senegal’s wealth increased so did their attitudes towards the traditional things that once marked their daily lives. Feeling that they should be more Western to match their growing status, simple things like her beloved hibiscus juice were disappearing. Fearing her culture would disappear too under the forces of globalization, she co-founded Adina World Beat Beverages, not only preserve, but spread traditional recipes from around the world. Rather than wait for the West to come to Africa, she decided to bring Africa to the West.