Migration, sustaining peace and development are among the priorities of the United Nations General Assembly for the remainder of the current session through September 2018, the President of the main UN deliberative and policymaking body said Friday.
“We are nearly four months into the 72nd Session of the General Assembly. And I believe we can say we have achieved a lot in this time,” said Miroslav Lajčák in his briefing to UN Member States, noting that the body has already adopted more than 250 resolutions and a new regular budget for 2018-2019 period, among other accomplishments.
“We need to see these eight months as an opportunity; as a chance to ensure that, when we get to September 2018, we will have even more achievements to point to,” he added.
Such achievements would include, he said, agreement on the world’s first-ever Global Compact on Migration.
When negotiations on the Compact begin on 20 February, Member States will all have to compromise and mobilize support at home, he said, adding that an agreement must be in place in July so that the compact will be adopted in December.
A second achievement relates to sustaining peace, and he will convene a high-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace on 24 and 25 April, he said.
On this subject, he stressed the need for a stronger focus on conflict prevention. “We should be acting faster, and sooner, when there is a peace to keep – rather than scrambling for solutions once it has been lost,” he said.
Underscoring the importance of partnerships and the participation of women and youth, he also highlighted the need for better financing for the chronically underfunded UN peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities, and the need to integrate UN efforts in this regard.
“Sustaining peace is not a task for one office, or one team at the United Nations. Instead, it must be mainstreamed […] Everything the United Nations does must be seen through a lens of peace,” he said.
As for development, he plans to convene three major events in the resumed part of the session. The first will focus on water. On 22 March, he will convene a high-level launch of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development.’
The second event will be a youth dialogue on 30 May. A wide range of topics will be covered – from education, employment and opportunities, to prevention of violent extremism and radicalization.
The third contribution from his Office to the ongoing implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an event on financing on 11 June. It should act as a platform for stronger public-private partnerships.
The discussions and outcomes of these events will feed into the High-Level Political Forum in July.
Mr. Lajčák said he also intends to focus on human rights “because there can be neither peace nor development without respect for dignity and fundamental rights.”
That is why human rights must be mainstreamed throughout all of our activities – from peacebuilding and sustaining peace, to SDGs implementation and migration, he said.
Important tasks remain to be done for UN reform. The first round of intergovernmental negotiations for Security Council reform will take place at the end of January.
After the Secretary-General’s concrete proposals to reposition the UN development system are considered by the Economic and Social Council in February and March, the General Assembly will have an important role to play.
As for management reform, further discussions will be needed once the Secretary-General submits his comprehensive report. And work must continue on the reform of the UN’s peace and security pillar once the Secretary-General submits his second report.
Mr. Lajčák stressed the need to revitalize the work of the General Assembly, as it is the most representative body in the world.
The Assembly’s agenda also includes many mandated processes, such as planning for the diplomatic conference on a legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.
Preparations for the first-ever high-level meeting on ending tuberculosis will also begin. And the Assembly will also convene the first comprehensive review of the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, and organize the first informal interactive hearings with indigenous people, on the margins of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in April.
In June, the biennial review of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy will take place.
For the first time, the Assembly will be conducting dialogues with the candidates for the position of President of the General Assembly for the 73rd session.
Wrapping up his remarks, Mr. Lajčák warned that “multilateralism is under threat” because the very purpose of the United Nations is being questioned not by one actor but by many.
Up for debate now are truths, accepted for decades, such as that we are stronger together, than apart; that all voices should be heard – not just those belonging to the most powerful; and that a compromise or agreement for all is better than a win for one, or a few, he said.
“We all have a responsibility to push back, against this trend,” he urged.
IEA launches World Energy Outlook in China
IEA Chief Modeller Laura Cozzi launched the latest World Energy Outlook in Beijing on 23 January. The China launch brought together over 120 officials and experts drawn from government, academia and the power industry to discuss the latest global energy trends, and the outlook for the electricity.
During his opening remarks, Li Ye, Executive Director General of China’s National Energy Agency noted the strong IEA-China relationship that has delivered key results across a range of important areas of reform for China including: power market reform, distributed energy, renewables and gas market design.
At the IEA Ministerial meeting in 2015, China became one of the first countries to activate Association status with the Agency. Since then the IEA and China have been working closely together to achieve energy reform in China. In 2017, the IEA and China agreed a Three Year Work programme to boost energy policy analysis, promote clean energy systems, build capacity on energy regulation, and improve exchange of data on renewable energy and other resources. The launch in Beijing was organised by the China Electricity Power Planning and Engineering Institute, which hosts IEA’s China Liaison Office.
The IEA’s work with China includes collaboration to draw upon best international practice in carbon emissions trading, and power market reforms that enables renewable energy to make a greater contribution to electricity supply. Work is ongoing with Chinese counterparts as the new Five Year Plan, and longer-term plans, are put in place to accelerate China’s clean energy transition. The IEA will launch its latest work on China’s Power System Reform in Beijing on 25 February.
UNIDO to pilot Better Cotton Initiative in Egypt towards sustainable cotton production
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), under the framework of The Egyptian Cotton Project, launched the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) pilot in the country to support the Egyptian Cotton branding as part of a renewed drive to increase product sustainability, improve working conditions along the supply chain, and support cotton growers and relevant institutions in paving the way towards the pilot’s national upscaling.
“The project’s vision is to pilot the BCI standard system in Egypt to advance the cotton industry in a way that cares for the environment and the farmers growing it, through a multi-stakeholder programme jointly coordinated by UNIDO, relevant governmental entities, farmers’ cooperatives, cotton and textile associations, and local and international private sector stakeholders,” said The Egyptian Cotton Project’s spokesperson.
The BCI will strengthen the competitiveness of the Egyptian textile industry in the global market through an holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. Farmers will receive trainings and those who meet rigorous levels of sustainable production and employee welfare will be granted the BCI standard.
Funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Egyptian Cotton project is implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation as well as with local and international textile private sector stakeholders. It also leverages the “Cottonforlife” CSR initiative by Filmar Group.
Cohesion Policy after 2020: Preparing the future of EU investments in health
Today, Commissioners Crețu and Andriukaitis have brought together health professionals to kick-start the reflection on future EU investments in health under the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy programmes.
In the context of the roundtable held today at the Commission with health associations such as European Health Management Association and EuroHealthNet, the Commissioners launched a pilot project to improve cross-border emergency services in the Pyrenees between the border regions of France, Spain and the Principality of Andorra. They also announced that health will be this year’s new category for the RegioStars Awards.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said: “According to the most recent Eurobarometer survey, almost 70% of Europeans want the EU to do more in the area of health. Acting via Cohesion Policy funds offers us the possibility to make a difference on the ground where it is needed and show that the demands expressed by fellow Europeans are not left unheard. I am also delighted that health becomes a new category for the RegioStars. This is yet another demonstration that we must and can implement the principle Health in All Policies as set out in the Treaty.”
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “Cohesion Policy investments in health, worth over €4 billion of EU funds in the current budget, are true expressions of a Europe that protects. Healthcare is evolving and EU investments have to evolve with it. This is why we organised this discussion with health professionals, so their recommendations can serve as compass in planning EU investments in health over the next decade.”
Future EU investments in health
The discussion concluded that health systems are evolving towards more education, health promotion and disease prevention. They are also shifting away from hospital and institution-centred care to community-based care and towards integration of health and social care. With new policy objectives that allow for integrated investments in health, social inclusion and education, the Commission’s proposal for the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy provides the conditions to support these changes.
Evolutions in healthcare require different infrastructure investments, be that in primary and community care facilities or in prevention programmes, integrated care and workforce training. Cohesion Policy can be instrumental in supporting these investments.
Member States and regions need to design long-term investment strategies, encompassing infrastructure, human capital, innovative technologies and new care delivery models. To support these strategies, Cohesion Policy funds can be combined with other EU instruments, such as InvestEU, or with national programmes. The Commission is ready to support Member States and regions to plan these strategies.
Better cross-border emergency services in the Pyrenees
Doctors in border regions cannot attend patients in need of urgent medical attention from across the border. To overcome this situation, the project “When medical emergency systems erase borders” aims to ensure mutual prior recognition of doctors on both sides of the border.
The second phase of the pilot project is now launched and is set to ensure bilateral agreements between the Orders of Doctors of the Spanish and French border regions. As a result, 15 million inhabitants of the Pyrenees will benefit from better emergency services as a result. The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and will be completed mid-2019.
The results of this project will serve as an example to possibly replicate in other cross-border regions in the future. The Commission supports tackling obstacles linked to the governance of cross-border issues and, in its legislative proposal for Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, suggests setting aside 15% of any Interreg cross-border cooperation programme to this purpose.
Health: this year’s new category for the RegioStars Awards
Every year the RegioStars reward the best and most innovative Cohesion Policy projects in Europe in five thematic categories, including a topic of the year. This year’s edition will seek to reward quality health projects, to inspire Member States and regions.
The online application platform is open from today until 9 May 2019. An independent jury will assess the applications and crown the winners during the RegioStars awards ceremony, to take place in Brussels in October 2019.
Healthcare is a major preoccupation for EU citizens. A recent Eurobarometer survey revealed that healthcare was identified as the main issue facing the regions in the future, with a third of the people polled (34%) considering it the top issue.
Cohesion Policy funds support projects improving access to healthcare and addressing health inequalities, reforming of healthcare systems, developing e-health and digital solutions, as well as research and innovation, health education, healthy ageing, workplace health and safety.
In the 2014-2020 programming period, €8 billion of Cohesion Policy funds, including a €4 billion EU co-financing, has been invested in health. 44.5 million people in the EU should benefit from improved health services over the 2014-2020 period.
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