For seven decades, the United Nations (UN) has been a place for people and countries to exchange words instead of weapons and strengthen cooperation to help solve our world’s most pressing challenges. In 2015, civil society’s ideas, talents and passion are needed more than ever.
The 2015 NGO Conference at the United Nations harnessed civil society’s energy while celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the UN. The three-day conference stayed true to its theme: Honoring the Past, Recognizing the Present and Imagining the Future. International civil society constituencies and NGO stakeholders gathered to celebrate their successes and leaders over the years and provide an opportunity to build civil society’s capacity to implement the UN’s post-2015 agenda of the new sustainable development goals (SDGs). I learned a great deal from each and every speaker and panel.
Honoring Amir Dossal at the United Nations 2015 NGO Conference. Photo Credit: John R. Seydel
It was truly a privilege to speak at this important convening of minds; about my father, Ted Turner’s, legacy and his continuing support of the United Nations through the years, as well as the ambitious and achievable 2030 SDGs.
On Aug. 2, after a negotiating process that spanned more than two years and featured unprecedented participation of civil society, governments united behind an agenda that features 17 SDGs that aim to end poverty, combat inequalities and promote prosperity while protecting the environment by 2030. I believe this plan for collective action will transform the fate of humanity by addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality, striving to stay in harmony with our planet and meeting the universal need for development that works for all people. It will foster peaceful and just societies, amplify voices around the world and require communication and participation of all governments, stakeholders and people.
My dad has long believed that communication is essential to bring people to higher levels of cooperation and understanding, to elevate people’s voices and to advance humanity. That’s why in 1997, he announced a one billion dollar gift to the UN and created the United Nations Foundation.
At the conference, I had the great honor of presenting a dear family friend and the Chairman of the Global Partnerships Forum, Amir Dossal, with an award for his many years of public service and partnership building. Amir has served as the UN’s chief liaison for my father’s donation, which involves 450 programs and projects in the areas of children’s health, women and population, climate change and biodiversity. Since joining the UN in 1985, Amir has led a number of global initiatives aiding the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which included eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates and fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS. Amir also served as the executive director for the UN Office for Partnerships from 2005-2010. My family is deeply grateful for his many years of service and we consider it a blessing to be in his circle of friends.
The conference also cast an eye to the future by recognizing the importance of the bright, innovative minds of younger generations and how we must pass on leadership to our youth. We heard from Girl Rising and Half the Sky ambassador Hadia Sheerazi, who discussed gender equality and the vital role the 1.8 billion youth around the world play and whose voices are not often heard in the General Assembly.
I also (proudly) shared the podium with my son, John R., who spoke to his experience working for the UN Foundation and his thoughts on how technology and youth will play critical roles in advancing the 2030 SDGs. John R. cited the innovative Charity Miles app which makes it easy for everyone to become an everyday philanthropist and give back.
Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Institute, moderated a panel titled: Showcasing Successes and Lessons Learned: Celebrating 70 Years of Civil Society at the UN. Jonathan argued that it’s existential that we protect the climate, our oceans’ acid and PH balance, our rainforests and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. These are not lifestyle options, but great threats to the survival of humanity which cannot be solved without global cooperation. His points were particularly poignant and capture the focus of the conference well.
“And those of you working in human rights and those of you working in gender equality and those of you working on poverty elimination and those of you working on the abolition of nuclear weapons and those of you working on balancing the climate,” said Granoff. “All of these issues come down to the application of the golden rule: states must treat other states as they want to be treated. The issues will not be led by states. There have to be global advocates. And who are the global advocates? They are civil society—they are us.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- 29 Wildfires Blaze Across the West, Fueled by Drought and Wind ... ›
- Large Wildfires Scorch Forests in Drought-Stricken Southwest ... ›
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. mixetto / E+ / Getty Images
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. New research has found that 5.4 million Americans were dropped from their insurance between February and May of this year. In that three-month stretch more Americans lost their coverage than have lost coverage in any entire year, according to The New York Times.
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- 'Unfathomable Cruelty': Trump Admin Asks Supreme Court to ... ›
On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.
- Extreme Heat-Stressed Locations Could Increase by 80% - EcoWatch ›
- African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed to Extreme Heat ... ›
- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Government Neglect ... ›
Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.
- Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom ... ›
- Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices - EcoWatch ›
- As Fracking Companies Face Bankruptcy, U.S. Regulators Enable ... ›
A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.
- Under Trump, EPA Workers Seek Bill of Rights to Allow Them to ... ›
- Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel ... ›
By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
- Trump Admin Rejects CDC Reopening Guidelines - EcoWatch ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Breaks U.S. Daily Record With Over 15,000 New ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
- DNC Ignores Progressive Climate Activists - EcoWatch ›
- Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster? - EcoWatch ›