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1 Million Workers Targeted in Tech-Reskilling Drive

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The World Economic Forum launched the IT Industry Skills Initiative to meet the global skills gap challenge and address job displacement arising from automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The initiative is committed to reaching 1 million people with resources and training opportunities on the SkillSET portal by January 2021.

The initiative was conceived by the Forum’s IT Governors community under the chairmanship of Chuck Robbins, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco. The founding partners are Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Infosys, Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services.

“We need responsive solutions and coordination from all parts of society – governments, citizens and private industry alike – to re-envision an educational system based on lifelong learning that can fully prepare workers for the jobs of the future,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum. “This initiative is a clear example of industry leaders taking concerted, collective action to address a major social challenge at scale.”

According to a World Economic Forum report on workforce reskilling, one in four adults reported a mismatch between the skills they have and the skills they need for their current job. Therefore, enabling and empowering workers to transform and update their skills is a key concern for businesses and societies across the globe.

“In our dynamic world, technology has opened up many avenues for growth. However, we are also seeing how innovations such as artificial intelligence and automation can impact the workforce. It is important for all of us to recognize that without the talent we need, none of us would be successful,” said Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco. “This initiative brings together the capabilities and strengths of all of our companies to help educate the high-skilled workers needed for jobs now and into the future. It is our obligation to make sure that people with jobs across every industry are given the means to learn new skills and remain competitive.”

The coalition has created a free platform of online tools to streamline the process of reskilling adults. The initial iteration of the portal will be available in April 2018.

To empower people to address fast-changing skill requirements, initiative partner companies are opening up key elements of their individual training libraries into one centralized portal. Users will have access, free of charge, to the most up-to-date, self-paced training materials from leading global IT companies, ranging from general business skills to introductory digital literacy to more advanced topics such as cybersecurity, big data or internet of things. The portal will offer a tailored Skills Assessment, developed by PwC, and based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution skills research, to help users determine which coursework and/or learning pathways best fit their current skillset and learning goals.

In creating this platform, the coalition hopes to recast continued education to a more engaging, ongoing and educationally reaffirming experience. They also hope to motivate adults of all backgrounds to use the platform, especially those from low-resource communities or under-represented groups who have historically had less access to the IT industry. SkillSET is hosted on the award-winning EdCast AI-powered Knowledge Cloud platform, accessible to anyone using desktop or mobile versions.

The coalition, which continues to add members, will be working over the next few months to develop tools and processes intended to address many of the barriers that prevent adults from reskilling or successfully completing trainings. The initiative will initially target the US market, with plans to scale to other geographies and build industry and public-sector partnerships in 2018 and beyond. Under the chairmanship of Mike Gregoire, Chief Executive Officer, CA Technologies, the coalition will report on progress at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019.

Founding Partners Speak Out:

Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accenture: “People need innovative ways to learn new skills in order to remain relevant and adaptive as the pace of technology change accelerates. For example, AI offers enormous opportunities for growth, but success will increasingly depend on humans collaborating with intelligent technologies. By accessing a broad range of ‘new skilling’ techniques, people will be better placed to work with machines and help businesses pivot to new growth models.”

Michael Gregoire, Chief Executive Officer, CA Technologies: “Technology is both the tool and the canvas and carries the huge promise of improving how we live and work. The counter side, however, is some degree of wariness by those who fear it disrupting their livelihoods, which is both understandable and expected. We are focused on a large-scale, proactive solution that encourages continuing education to empower and inspire today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. We must engage with technology in a way that creates new opportunities, both at an individual level and in the aggregate.”

Francisco D’Souza, Chief Executive Officer, Cognizant Technology Solutions: “The workplace issue of the 21st century is a worldwide shortage of qualified technology talent driven by a massive skills gap, which we must address together on a global scale. The pace of technological change has education systems struggling to keep up in delivering learning experiences that are relevant, immersive and readily available as workers seek to expand their skills. The future of talent development depends on new models, ways of thinking and initiatives like this one that engage individuals as lifelong learners and provide them with opportunities for continuous reinvention.”

Salil Parekh, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Infosys Ltd: “Our relevance, in an increasingly digital future, will depend on our ability to learn and evolve lifelong at the pace of technology. Democratizing digital literacy is an essential first step to make technology a force for good that moves us all forward.”

Alan Trefler, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pegasystems Inc.: “Throughout history, we’ve seen technological advancement bring both opportunities and challenges as society adapts. With technology so central to how we live and work today, it’s critical that we enable people to acquire the skills required to be successful and to help society move forward in a positive direction.

Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC International, PwC: “All over the world, people are asking themselves how they are going to prepare for their future, whether it’s a new job, new responsibilities, or needed new skills. By working together across the public and private sectors, our hope is to enable new opportunities for people to carve their own paths, develop new skills, and future-proof themselves. By sharing our Skills Assessment, we believe more people around the world will be empowered to learn and grow professionally throughout their lives.”

Keith Block, Vice Chairman, President and COO, Salesforce: “As the Fourth Industrial Revolution spurs incredible innovation, it is our responsibility as business leaders to ensure that the benefits created by this opportunity – now and in the future – are accessible to all.”

Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, SAP: “Our focus on building digital skills will unleash amazing potential in dreamers from all backgrounds. Instead of fearing automation, we should be optimistic about the exciting possibilities when people and machines work together. Bigger than artificial intelligence, we are entering a new frontier of ‘augmented humanity’.”

Rajesh Gopinathan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd: With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, enterprises are leveraging the combined effect of emerging technologies to transform their businesses. Employees will also have to transform their skills and adopt newer ways of working to participate in today’s opportunities that are as enormous as in any of the previous generations. It is important for enterprises to make investments in reskilling and upskilling employees and prepare them for digital-age careers.”

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UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘a guiding force for good’

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Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this photo from 2003, he is addressing reporters at Headquarters. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The United Nations is mourning the death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who passed away peacefully after a short illness, according to a statement published on his official Twitter account on Saturday. The renowned Ghanain diplomat was 80 years old.

The current UN chief, Antonio Guterres hailed him as “a guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.”

“Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom — and I know I was not alone,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.

“He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world.  In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all us.”

Kofi Annan was born in Kamasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938.

He joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva, rising through the ranks to hold senior-level posts in areas such as budget and finance, and peacekeeping.

He served as UN Secretary-General for two consecutive five-year terms, beginning in January 1997.

Mr. Annan joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, rising to hold senior-level posts in areas such as budget and finance, and peacekeeping.

As Mr. Guterres noted: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

From his beginnings in Geneva, Mr. Annan held UN posts in places such as Ethiopia, Egypt, the former Yugoslavia and at Headquarters in New York.

Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he was tasked with facilitating the repatriation of more than 900 international staff as well as the release of Western hostages.

He later led the first UN team negotiating with Iraq on the sale of oil to fund purchases of humanitarian aid.

Immediately prior to his appointment as Secretary-General in January 1997, Mr. Annan headed the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations during a period which saw an unprecedented growth in the Organization’s field presence.

His first major initiative as UN chief was a plan for UN reform, presented to Member States in July 1997.

Mr. Annan used his office to advocate for human rights, the rule of law, development and Africa, and he worked to bring the UN closer to people worldwide by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.

As Secretary-General, he also galvanized global action to fight HIV/AIDS and combat terrorism.

Mr. Annan and the United Nations jointly were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

In his farewell statement to the UN General Assembly in December 2006, Kofi Annan expressed emotion over leaving what he called “this mountain with its bracing winds and global views.”

Although the job had been difficult and challenging, he admitted that it was also “thrillingly rewarding” at times.

“And while I look forward to resting my shoulder from those stubborn rocks in the next phase of my life, I know I shall miss the mountain,” he said.

However, Mr. Annan did not rest, taking on the role of UN Special Envoy for Syria in the wake of the conflict which began in March 2011.

He also chaired an Advisory Commission established by Myanmar in 2016 to improve the welfare of all people in Rakhine state, home to the minority Rohingya community.

His homeland, Ghana, established an international peacekeeping training centre that bears his name, which was commissioned in 2004.

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Waste-to-energy and circular economy workshops to be held in Uruguay

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photo: UNIDO

The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) are organizing two workshops during the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW), which will take place between 20 and 23 August in Montevideo. The sessions, titled: “Enabling circular economy solutions to boost climate action” and “Enabling waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions to achieve circular economy and boost climate action”, will be held as part of the Regional Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEMs-M) and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

The first workshop will present the concept of “circular economy”, an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use and dispose), which is restorative and regenerative by design and redefines products and services to design waste out, being ultimately powered by renewables. The second workshop will then discuss how waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions are integral parts to achieving a circular economy and its associated economic and environmental benefits.

The events will bring together members from the civil society, UN agencies and financial institutions. The high-impact case studies presented will serve as a basis for discussion on the vision/goal in terms of harnessing mitigation potential and co-benefits of circular economy related policies, practices and actions as well as on innovative approaches to waste-to-energy and waste reuse/prevention that are actionable in the short term for the region. Participants will learn the necessary elements for replication and upscaling of circular economy and specifically waste-to-energy solutions, such as policy, partnerships and the need of financial, technical and capacity building resources.

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative in Uruguay, said, “It is important to understand that the circular economy starts at the design stage and that profitability rarely comes by bending a linear model into a circular one.”

With the Latin America Carbon Forum as a cornerstone event, the focus of Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) will be placed on market-based approaches, economic instruments and climate-aligned finance to drive investment in climate action.

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Multilateralism: The only path to address the world’s troubles

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Secretary-General António Guterres (center) meets with Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Photo: UNFPA Bangladesh/Allison Joyce

As the world’s problems grow, multilateralism represents to best path to meet the challenges that lie ahead, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday, launching his annual report.

The Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization  for 2018, also tracks the progress made over the last year in maintaining peace and security, protecting human rights, and promoting sustainable development.

“I started my tenure calling for 2017 to be a year of peace, yet peace remains elusive,” said the UN chief in the report’s introduction, noting that since January last year “conflicts have deepened, with grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law; inequality has risen, intolerance has spread, discrimination against women remains entrenched and the impacts of climate change continue to accelerate.”

“We need unity and courage in setting the world on track towards a better future,” stressed Mr. Guterres, crediting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for generating coordinated efforts by Member States and civil society to “alleviate poverty and build peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies.”

Wide-ranging reform

The most comprehensive reform of the UN development system in decades already underway, led by Mr. Guterres and his deputy, Amina Mohammed, aims to strengthen the Organization’s capacity to support Member States in achieving the 17 SDGs.

While the report points to gains, such as increased labour productivity, access to electricity and strengthened internet governance, it also illustrates that progress has been uneven and too slow to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals within the given time frame.

For example, in 2015, three out of 10 people did not have access to safe drinking water, and  60 per cent lacked safe sanitation. Moreover conflicts, disasters and climate change are also adversely affecting populations.

The report underlines the importance of building stronger multilateral partnerships with Member States; regional and international organizations; and civil society; to “find solutions to global problems that no nation alone can resolve.”

Although the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development of 2018 reflected some positive initiatives, it also showed the urgent need to step up efforts in areas such as energy cooperation, water and terrestrial ecosystems.

According to the report, “partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs” – and as of June, 3,834 partnerships had been registered with the Partnerships for the SDGs online platform from different sectors across all the 17 goals.

With regard to technology, last October a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Second Committee welcomed Sophia, the first robot to sit on a UN panel. This gave a glimpse into the advances being made in the realm of Artificial Intelligence.

Turning to young people, UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, of Sri Lanka, is continuously advocating for their needs and rights, including in decision-making processes at all levels, and in strengthening the UN system’s coordination on delivering for youth, and with their increased participation.

The UN report also spoke to the growing scale, complexity and impact of global migration. In July, the General Assembly agreed a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which will be presented for adoption in December at an Intergovernmental Conference in Morocco.

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