UNGA CONFERENCE 2021: TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD

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UNGA CONFERENCE 2021: TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD

On the occasion of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly
22 September 2021, Wednesday | 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (EST)
www.unga-conference.org

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On the occasion of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) is organizing the virtual UNGA Conference 2021: Transforming Our World on 22 September 2021, Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (EST).

The UNGA Conference is the flagship event of the JWF, creating a platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss the Global Agenda 2030, offer innovative solutions, strategies, and policy recommendations to advance further the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development. Every year, this global event gathers an interdisciplinary group of distinguished panelists and high-level speakers to discuss a particular agenda around the three subsequent panel sessions and propose a framework for action.

The successful implementation of SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals remains at the center of the UNGA Conference 2021 as the SDGs can only be implemented with strong global partnerships and cooperation. The SDG 17 is focused on the UN rallying together strong partnerships in achieving all the Global Goals. The JWF has contributed to this goal by mobilizing its Global Partners in sharing best practices and initiating people-centered policy suggestions on the achievement of the UN Development Agenda 2030.

The action-oriented 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has encouraged all stakeholders, including UN Agencies, Member States, the private sector, civil society actors, and experts to bridge the gap between policy and knowledge while creating interlinkages between them the goals and accelerate the implementation progress of the SDGs. This year, 2021, still represents the critical turning point for our global community which has been combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic. The challenges posed by his global health crisis enabled our international community to redefine economic and social development while following new trends of methodologies and policy implementations. 

Following a diligent consideration of policy outcomes from relevant sessions of UN Women, ECOSOC, UN DESA, and the Commission for Social Development, the UNGA Conference 2021 will address (1) Progress of SDG 17: Partnerships for the SDGs (2) Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability (3) Quality Education in the Post-Covid Era and Digital Technologies.

The 3 Panel Sessions of the UNGA Conference 2021 will contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

Target (4.7) Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development;

Target (13.1) Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries;

Target (13.b) Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities;

Target (17.16) Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries;

Target (17.17) Encourage and promote effective public, public-private, and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships. 

UNGA Conference 2021 aims to contribute to the IEP`s Positive Peace Pillars through

1 – Creating a civil society platform to debate on the UN Global Agenda 2030 and facilitating a free flow of information with the Conference Proceedings; 

2 – Contributing to the well-functioning of the UN Member States for the political stability and the rule of law;

3 – Sharing inclusive policies to create diverse societies by promoting formal laws and informal social and cultural norms to protect the human rights of all;

4 – Promoting the right to access inclusive and equitable quality education for all in the Post-COVID19 Era to resolve the substantial setbacks of the pandemic and increase high levels of human capital through digital technologies; 

5 – Developing local, national, global strategies, and gender-sensitive policy recommendations to combat the crisis posed by climate change and ecological threats.

UNGA Conference 2021 Expected Outcomes

1 – Adoption of the Declaration and Proceedings of the UNGA Conference 2021;

2 – Development of an action plan framework to be implemented by the Conference stakeholders;

3 – Follow-up action items on quality education, climate change, global partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals;

4 – Recognition of outstanding civil society leaders and organizations contributing to sustainable peace and development while promoting the culture of peace, diversity, human rights, women, and youth empowerment at the local, national, and global levels.

PANEL 1 – PROGRESS of SDG 17: PARTNERSHIPS for the SDGs

With less than a decade left to achieve the SDGs, partnerships at all levels are essential for implementing the Global Goals and mobilizing national commitments, efforts, resources, and technology.

The 2021 ECOSOC Forum “Partnerships as Game Changer for a Sustainable Recovery from COVID-19” underlined UN Secretary-General`s urgent call for the following efforts to accelerate the recovery processes by (i) taking coordinated actions at the global level to suppress the pandemic, including by supporting the health systems in countries that are most at risk; (ii) promoting comprehensive responses to tackle the devastating socio-economic consequences, focused on the most vulnerable countries and peoples; and (iii) building back better with a view to ensuring sustainability and resilience.[1] Multi-stakeholder partnerships require different sectors working in collaboration by mobilizing their financial resources, assets, knowledge and expertise. Besides the inter-governmental agencies` development policies, socially responsible corporates` and civil society`s best-practices are essential in accelerating national, regional, and sub-national partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs.

Despite the urgent need, the recent UN DESA Report on “The Impacts of COVID-19 on Stakeholder Engagement for the SDGs” indicates that “stakeholder engagement is at risk of falling away in the face of key challenges”.[2] One of the most prominent challenges highlighted in the report is that there is a missing framework of an accurate alignment between the local, national and recovery plans. The UN DESA`s studies underline that “a recovery plan that is

actively aligned to a holistic, comprehensive account of the 2030 Agenda” is essential to build back better.

Within this context, the Panel Session 1 of the UNGA Conference will address:

  • Overview of SDG17: Importance and Current Challenges of Multi-stakeholder Partnership for the Goals
  • Corporate Social Responsibility for Implementing the Global Agenda 2030
  • Capacity Building for the Socio-Economic Development
  • Best Practices: Contributions of the CSOs Initiatives in Achieving the SDGs

PANEL 2 – CLIMATE CHANGE and ECOLOGICAL THREATS

The setbacks during the COVID-19 caused a reduction in the ongoing environmental damage, only in the short run. Climate change and ecological threats are still posing a great risk to the timely achievement of the SDGs. The targets of the Paris Agreement are still off track. According to the progress report of the SDG 13: taking urgent action to combat climate change, “in order to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels as called for in the Paris Agreement, global efforts would need to reach net zero CO2 emissions globally around 2050”.

On the other hand, the Institute for Economics and Peace`s Ecological Threat Register (ETR) underlines that ecological threats should be addressed separately. Even though it is a related area of concern with climate change, the ETR 2020 Policy Seminar Document highlights that ecological threats such as water scarcity, food security, and many types of natural disasters exist regardless of the climate change crisis. Experts indicate that “the number of ecological threats resulting in geopolitical issues will increase over the next 30 years, causing the nature of conflict to become more connected with ecological insecurity”. Ecological threats inevitably impact the peacefulness of the states as mass displacement, enforced migration wave and extreme poverty causes regional conflicts.

Institute for Economics and Peace, Ecological Threat Register 2020, Policy Seminar Document

The climate change crisis and ecological threats unequally impact women and children especially in situations of poverty and limited access to scarce resources. Women and girls are still included in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable groups and they continue to face the environmental, economic, and social costs of climate change. As in all areas of socio-economic development, women`s meaningful participation in climate-related response mechanisms creates a long-lasting positive impact. Their local knowledge, sustainable resource management, community and national leadership make women great decision-makers to resolve conflicts posed by climate change and ecological threats.

In the light of above concerns, Panel Session 2 will include the above themes:

  • Climate Change and Gender Equality
  • United States` Re-Commitment to Paris Climate Agreement
  • Climate Crisis Calling for a Global Response
  • Enforced Migration as a Consequence of Ecological Threats

PANEL 3 – QUALITY EDUCATION IN THE POST-COVID ERA AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES

All the Global Goals are interrelated and dependent on each other. SDG4 “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” has a remarkable contribution to the implementation of the Global Agenda 2030. One of the critical areas that the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused a substantial setback is access to education.

The progress report of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs on sustainable development identifies the long-term implications of unequal access to education during the pandemic as a “generational catastrophe”. Being a crowded public place, schools were among the institutions that are closed for in-person access all around the world. However, this health precaution created unprecedented consequences for the social wellbeing of children and impacted their learning trends. An increased number of children may never have a chance of returning to school as they are forced into child labor or child marriage. The progress report also indicates that “an additional 101 million children and youth (from grades 1 to 9) fell below the minimum reading proficiency level due to COVID-19 in 2020, which wiped out the education gains achieved over the last 20 years”.

The 59th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) highlighted “The Role of Digital Technologies on Social Development and Well-being of All”. Stakeholders indicated that a global unity and collaboration facilitated using digital technologies is required as COVID-19 reversed a decade of action. To lower the disparities among the most vulnerable, the CSocD Chair Ambassador Ms. María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina underlined that there is an increased “urgency of closing the digital gender divide to ensure that women and girls benefit equally from the opportunities available online”.

Within this framework, the Panel Session 3 of the UNGA Conference will address:

  • Long Term Implications of an Unequal Access to Education During COVID-19
  • Remote Learning: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Overview of Global Access to the Digital Technologies, Resources, and Disparities
  • Girls` Education and Women’s Empowerment in the Era of Digital Technologies