A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Al Gore, Bundchen and Yumkella on Sustainable Energy for All

UNIDO - 26 February 2013 - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, fashion icon Gisele Bundchen, and Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), voice their support for the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message being aired on CNN from 25 February to 24 March 2013.

Gisele Bundchen is also the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative aims to achieve by 2030 three inter-linked global targets: universal access to modern energy services; the doubling of energy efficiency; and the doubling of the share of renewable energy in the world's energy mix.

In September 2012, Yumkella was appointed Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and chief executive of the initiative, responsible for planning and implementation of the initiative. World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, and Secretary-General Ban co-chair the initiative's newly formed Advisory Board.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Time for Plan B : Cutting Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2020

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When political leaders look at the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions to curb global warming, they ask the question: How much of a cut is politically feasible? At the Earth Policy Institute we ask a different question: How much of a cut is necessary to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change?

By burning fossil fuels and destroying forests, we are releasing greenhouse gases, importantly carbon dioxide (CO2), into the atmosphere. These heat-trapping gases are warming the planet, setting in motion changes that are taking us outside the climate bounds within which civilization developed.

We cannot afford to let the planet get much hotter. At today’s already elevated temperatures, the massive Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets—which together contain enough water to raise sea level by 12 meters (39 feet)—are melting at accelerating rates. Glaciers around the world are shrinking and at risk of disappearing, including those in the mountains of Asia whose ice melt feeds the continent’s major rivers during the dry season.

Delaying action will only lead to greater damage. It’s time for Plan B.

The alternative to business as usual, Plan B calls for cutting net carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020. This will allow us to prevent the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, already at 384 parts per million (ppm), from exceeding 400 ppm, thus keeping future global temperature rise to a minimum.

Cutting CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2020 will take a worldwide mobilization at wartime speed. First, investing in energy efficiency will allow us to keep global energy demand from increasing.Then we can cut carbon emissions by one third by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources for electricity and heat production. A further 14 percent drop comes from restructuring our transportation systems and reducing coal and oil use in industry. Ending net deforestation worldwide can cut CO2 emissions another 16 percent. Last, planting trees and managing soils to sequester carbon can absorb 17 percent of our current emissions.

None of these initiatives depends on new technologies. We know what needs to be done to reduce CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2020. All that is needed now is leadership.

The full report is available in pdf without endnotes or with endnotes.

*Adapted from Lester R. Brown, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

Print copies of Time for Plan B: Cutting Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2020 can be purchased.
1-4 copies = $2 each
5 or more copies = $1 each

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Irina Bokova Message for the International Women's Day 2013, March 8

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Women’s Day,8 March 2013

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the strides that have been made to advance women’s rights and the individual heroes, girls and women, who are making history in societies across the world.
This is also a day to cast an objective eye on where we stand and reflect on the obstacles that remain. Violence against women is one of the most deadly and widespread violations of women’s rights across the world. Violence takes many shapes -- physical, sexual, psychological and economic -- but the result remains the same devastating violation of fundamental rights and human dignity. There are concerted efforts at all levels to stop this violence, but progress is haltingly slow.
The brutal attack on 9 October 2012 against Malala Yousafzai, a fourteen year old girl, shot for claiming the right of girls to an education, reminds us of the challenges we must overcome. This is why UNESCO is working with Governments across the world to support the right of girls and women to quality education under conditions of safety. This is essential not only for social justice but also for sustainable development.
On 20 December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a landmark resolution to intensify global efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting. An estimated 100-140 million girls and women across the world have suffered from this practice, with three million girls at risk each year in Africa alone. These practices affect girls and women for life, holding back their development, undermining their confidence, with wide repercussions across societies. The UN resolution is a historic step, which we must all help to move forward.
UNESCO is working across the board to end violence against women. Laws alone are not enough. We must educate to shape new norms and behaviors. We must support women in becoming leaders in all fields of human endeavor, starting from UNESCO’s priorities of education, the sciences, culture, communication and information, including the media. To empower women and ensure equality, we must challenge every form of violence every time it occurs. This is UNESCO’s promise on International Women’s Day.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Message by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General on World Day of Social Justice

Global economic recovery hangs in the balance. Tipping that balance towards sustainable growth and development means tackling social injustice.

My message cannot be better expressed than in the words of the ILO’s 1919 Constitution: “Lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.”

Today, there is a pervasive sense of deep injustice that the weakest are being asked to sacrifice the most. Social justice is multidimensional but, as in the late 19th century, the world of work is now at the centre of discontent and must be an integral part of the solution in shaping a different, more just global order for the future.

The finance-driven globalization model that led to the 2008 crash has left in its wake mass unemployment, underemployment and cuts in wage earnings and social benefits in many countries. It makes for a dismal global picture:

Social and economic inequalities in their multiple forms are rising.
Some 200 million women and men are unemployed.
A further 870 million women and men – a quarter of the world’s working people - are working but unable to lift themselves and their families above the $2 a day per person poverty line.
Some 74 million young women and men have no jobs. Youth unemployment is at dramatic levels in a number of countries in Europe and North Africa. The length of time young people are remaining idle is increasing and the scars of youth unemployment can last a lifetime.
Alongside jobless young women and men, child labour persists.
So too does forced labour – in seeking to escape the traps of joblessness and poverty at home, many women and men are falling into the traps of human traffickers in modern forms of slavery.
80 per cent of the world’s population lacks adequate social security coverage and more than half have no coverage at all.
Discrimination in its many manifestations is holding back hundreds of millions, especially women, from realizing their potential and contributing on an equal footing to the development of our societies and economies.
And in many countries working women and men seeking to exercise their right to organize freely to uphold justice and dignity at work are prevented from forming and joining trade unions.

With full employment, the interdependent world economy would perform much better. Yet, as things stand, there is a serious danger of resort to “beggar-thy-neighbour” policies such as trade protection and competitive currency devaluation as well as wage cuts and fiscal retrenchment. This could leave everybody worse off with economies weakening, deficits widening and social inequalities deepening.

Despite this depressing context, there are encouraging signs of a desire to turn the tide. Some of the world’s most unequal societies are stepping up to the challenge of implementing smart social policies that are also an investment in a people-centred recovery.

Certain countries of developing Asia and Latin America, for example, are investing in stronger social protection floors and minimum wage setting systems. Already such policies are helping to narrow social gaps and helping to stop the world economy from slipping into a double-dip recession. A major and concerted effort, especially by the biggest and strongest, to put purchasing power into the pockets of those who need it most can fire up the engines of investment and recovery.

International cooperation and policy coordination for recovery must also transition into inclusive, equitable, sustainable global development. It is a dynamic, transformational process. It must be a productive response with a focus on generating full and productive employment and decent work for all including through support for small and medium-sized enterprises. There must be the recognition that respect for fundamental rights at work unleashes human potential and supports economic development as do social protection floors. A commitment to building a culture of social dialogue also helps to generate just, balanced and inclusive policies.

This is the underpinning of the legitimacy and sustainability of open societies and of the global economy.

Stepping up the global struggle for social justice is the right thing to do. It is also in our common interest.

We bring our commitment to decent work for all to the global challenge of realizing social justice and a fair globalization.

Unit responsible: Director-General's Office

Monday, 18 February 2013

International Mother Language Day 2013 (IMLD), February 21th

Books for mother tongue education

In 1999, UNESCO decided to launch an International Mother Language Day (IMLD) to be observed throughout the world each year on 21 February. 
This celebration is designed to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education, to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education. 

Multilingualism is a source of strength and opportunity for humanity. It embodies our cultural diversity and encourages the exchange of views, the renewal of ideas and the broadening of our capacity to imagine.   Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General 

Linguistic and cultural diversity represent universal values that strengthen the unity and cohesion of societies. That is why UNESCO’s Director-General, in launching IMLD 2013, will reinforce the importance of this core message and specifically highlight this year’s theme of access to books and digital media in local languages.
UNESCO’s Member States worldwide are key actors in the promotion of mother tongues through their national institutions and associations. The media, schools, universities and cultural associations play an active part in promoting the IMLD goals.
Using the slogan “Books for Mother tongue education”, IMLD 2013 aims to remind key stakeholders in education that in order to to support mother tongue education, it is essential to support the production of books in local languages.

The importance of written materials in mother tongues

Mother tongue education in its broader sense refers to the use of mother tongues in the home environment and in schools. Language acquisition and mother tongue literacy should ideally be supported by written resources such as - but not limited to - books, primers and textbooks, to support oral activities. Written materials in mother tongues reinforce learners’ literacy acquisition and build strong foundations for learning.
Today, a great number of languages lack a written form, yet progress has been made in developing orthography. Local and international linguists, educationalists, teachers work together with for example Indigenous peoples in Latin America, or tribes in Asia to develop orthography. The use of computers to produce books and the relatively low cost of digital printing are promising ways to produce cheaper written materials to enable wider access

Mother tongue education

UNESCO advocates for mother tongue instruction in a bilingual or multilingual education approach in the early years because of its importance in creating a strong foundation for learning: the use mother tongue with young children at home or in pre-school prepares them for the smooth acquisition of literacy in their mother tongue and eventually, the acquisition of the second (perhaps national) language at a later stage in their schooling.
The importance of mother tongue instruction in the early years of schooling is emphasized in the findings of studies, research and reports such as the annual UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report.


UNESCO is launching the IMLD celebration 2013 with an event at its Paris Headquarters on the theme of the Day: “Mother tongues and books - including digital books and textbooks”. Experts in languages will highlight the contribution of mother tongues to the promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity, and the development of intercultural education through , for example, digital archives of the world languages.  
UNESCO will participate in a round table at the University of Evry (France), where the findings of a study, “What languages do students from the University of Evry speak?”, will be presented. University professors, students and linguists will address issues concerning languages and education. UNESCO will present its position on mother tongue instruction in a bilingual or multilingual education approach.
IMLD 2013 is linked to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). UNESCO is organizing a session on cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content at WSIS on 26 February. The objective is to increase access to local educational content and related knowledge and information through the use of local languages in digital textbooks.

Moderator: Ms N. Andriamiseza, ED/PSD/PHR
  • ’Vernaculars in the Age of International English’: Mr Tibor Frank, Professor and Director, School of English and American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
  • Past, Present and Future of the Bangla Language’ : Mr Philippe Benoit, Professor of Bangla,  Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO), Paris, France;
  • ’Spirit of 21st February in Today’s Global Context’: Mr Tozammel Huq, former Special Adviser to the Director-General of UNESCO from 1993 to 1999
  •  ‘7000 languages: Promoting Linguistic Diversity and Education through Mother Tongues’ :  Mr Eric Cattelain, Expert in Intercultural Communication, Université de Bordeaux 3, France
  •  ‘Digital archive of the Languages of the World’: Mr Freddy Boswell, Executive Director, Summer Institute of Linguistics International

Secretary-General's Message for World Day of Social Justice 2013, February 20

The Journal of Social Justice,

As we mark World Day of Social Justice, we see far too many places where there are increasing opportunities for a few and only rising inequality for the many.
Growing inequality undermines the international community’s progress in lifting millions out of poverty and building a more just world.
The fault lines are visible in falling wages for women and young people and limited access to education, health services and decent jobs.
We must strengthen and build institutions and develop policies that promote inclusive development.
In adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), world leaders committed to create a more equal and just world.  Much progress has been made in enhancing decent work opportunities, strengthening social protection and improving public services.
Despite these advances, billions of people desperately depend on our focused and tireless efforts.  We must accelerate our work to meet the MDGs by the 2015 deadline and also look beyond by beginning to define new goals for sustainable development. 
As we seek to build the world we want, let us intensify our efforts to achieve a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development path built on dialogue, transparency and social justice.

Ban Ki-moon

Friday, 15 February 2013

Встреча с министрами финансов стран G20

Vladimir Putin met at the Kremlin with the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. Russia is currently chairing the G20.

Владимир Путин принял в Кремле министров финансов и управляющих центральными банками стран «Группы двадцати». Встреча состоялась в рамках российского председательства в «двадцатке».

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

International Year for Water Cooperation

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2013 International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010, following a proposal from Tajikistan. At the request of UN Water, UNESCO was given responsibility of leading the Year's events, in cooperation with United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Report: Global Hydrological Monitoring Industry Trends

You are invited to read the new report: Global Hydrological Monitoring Industry Trends. Over 700 water professionals participated in the study. Get your complimentary copy today for an inside look at the current industry challenges, standards, strategies, and best practices.

Report: Global Hydrological Monitoring Industry Trends

Highlights - Networks are expected to grow by 53% more stations by 2022 - 40% of stations will have web enabled sensors, satellite, & telephone - 66% are implementing USGS standard operating procedures - 49% reported an increase in hydrologist salaries since 2002 - 83% reported an increase in the importance of data modeling - 46% expect to report daily means & unit values dynamically by 2022 - 28% use a commercial hydrological data management system

The UN Observance for February 2013

Monday, 11 February 2013

Launch of the International Year of Water Cooperation (WMO and UNESCO)

Press Conference on Launch of International Year of Water Cooperation

The global community should recognize the vital importance of water cooperation to peace, security and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, experts said today at a Headquarters press conference upon the United Nations launch of the International Year of Water Cooperation.

The General Assembly, in 2010, had proclaimed 2013 to be the Year — one that would serve to raise awareness and prompt action on the multiple dimensions of water cooperation, such as sustainable and economic development, climate change and food security.  World Water Day, on 22 March, would also be dedicated to water cooperation.

“We are inching towards a water crisis,” warned Csaba Körösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations, noting that water resources had remained unchanged for 1,000 years, but that the number of users had since increased 8,000 times.  With global food production projected to increase by 50 per cent by 2030 and with 70 per cent of water consumption going to agriculture today, “2.5 billion people will very soon live in areas of water scarcity”.

The Ambassador, whose country would host a World Water Summit in early October in Budapest, went on to state that more people died from water-related problems than from metro disasters combined and that by 2020, more than 60 per cent of the world’s population would live in urban centres where access to safe drinking water, sanitation and wastewater management would pose a heavy challenge.

While stressing the importance of more equitable access to water, better wastewater treatment, improved technology and governance, rapid capacity-building and cooperation, he also emphasized the need for better data collection, monitoring and assessment.  “Water used to be more of an area of cooperation than the source of conflict,” he said, adding:  “It should be so in the future”.  Sustainable development goals for water should be designed to avoid a looming crisis.

Mr. Körösi noted that when Hungary had the European Union’s rotating presidency two years ago, a strategy had been adopted, establishing a framework of cooperation among 19 countries that went well beyond hydrological issues and encompassed transport, agriculture, food production, water quality, culture, infrastructure, disaster preparedness and cooperation all over those sectors.

Ana Persic, Science Specialist at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office in New York said her agency had been chosen to lead the International Year of Water Cooperation, not only because of its  involvement in many water-related projects, but also because of its multidisciplinary mandate covering education, culture and communication.  “It is important to see water, not only as a technical issue or an issue of access, quantity or quality, but also as a social and cultural issue,” she said.

Noting that water cooperation was vital because 40 per cent of the world’s population lived in river and lake basins comprising two or more countries and 90 per cent lived in countries that shared basins, she said:  “wherever you build something in one country upstream, you will absolutely have an impact on the countries downstream”.

Ms. Persic agreed with the Ambassador that water had been a source of cooperation, noting that since 1948, there had been only 37 incidents of acute conflict, while 295 international water agreements had been signed over the same period.  Enhanced water cooperation would contribute to poverty reduction, sustainability and peace, among other benefits.  Stressing the need to share best practices, she said many events were being planned worldwide to mark the International Year, providing opportunities to “unpackage” relevant issues and repackage them.

Paul Egerton, Representative of the World Meteorological Organization to the United Nations, said there were high levels of water stress in many countries and rapid climate change would further increase water variability, further enhancing vulnerability.  There was a need for supply- and demand-side measures to address water challenges to climate change.  Desertification, drought, or flooding could significantly impede development.  He encouraged Member States to coalesce around a sustainable development goal on climate-adaptive water strategies.

This year, the issue of water security would become increasingly relevant, because “water scarcity triggers migration, refugees, situations where basic human rights are weakened or threatened”, he said, adding that those issues had great relevance for maintaining the peace and security of regions under environmental and political stress.

Last September, at the start of the sixty-seventh General Assembly session, a side event had highlighted the increasing danger of conflict related to future water resource issues in climate-vulnerable and politically sensitive regions, he said.  It was encouraging that later this week the Security Council would hold an informal discussion on “climate security”, he added.  The recent events of Hurricane Sandy in a highly populated and developed region had been “a wake-up call” that most of the world’s biggest cities were in proximity to coastlines that could be subjected to severe flooding.

The World Meterological Organization would co-host a high-level conference in Geneva from 11 to 15 March, with a focus on national drought policies.  In addition, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud would chair a conference on Water and Disasters on 5 and 6 March, hosted by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board of Water and Sanitation and the Japanese Mission.

In order to transform knowledge into action, he continued, WMO had launched a global framework for climate services, to bring the providers of climate information and observations closer to the users of that data and to enhance forecasting, risk assessment and management.

Responding to a question about regional water disputes, such as one involving countries along the Nile and a dam dispute between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Mr. Egerton said WMO and UNESCO were aiming to bring scientific and environmental aspects to the fore, instead of focusing on political elements.

Mr. Körösi described this year’s water cooperation efforts as particularly important because they would help formulate sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda.

When asked about the role of UNESCO in water-related efforts, Ms. Persic said her agency would not tell Member States what to do, but rather facilitate processes.

Responding to a query about China’s “hegemony” over water resources in Asia, Mr. Egerton said he would not discuss an issue involving a particular country but pointed out glaciers in the Himalayas were melting due to climate change, resulting in downstream consequences.

* *** *

11 Feb 2013 - Participants: Paul Egerton, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Representative to the United Nations and Ana Persic, Science Specialist, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office in New York.

International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 - Secretary-General's Video Message

Water is central to the well-being of people and the planet.

We need it for health, food security and economic progress.

Water holds the key to sustainable development.

We must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource.

Each year brings new pressures on water.

Growing populations. Climate change.

One-third of the world’s people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress.

Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country.

Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all – now and in the future.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation.

Let us harness the best technologies and share the best practices to get more crop per drop.

Let us promote water rights, waste less and design intelligent policies so all users get a fair share.

Let us invest in water.

Water is Life

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ban Ki-moon, World Radio Day, 13 February 2013

Today, UN Radio continues to shed light on all the major issues on the United Nations agenda – from sustainable development to peacekeeping and conflict prevention. On the occasion of World Radio Day, the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) has issued six commemorative stamps designed to raise awareness of the critical role that radio continues to play across the globe. These stamps tell the story of UN Radio, and how far it has come, from the 1946 makeshift studios and offices at Lake Success, in New York State, to its present broadcasts through partner stations, via the Internet and new media and through mobile devices.


Since its invention more than 100 years ago, radio has sparked the imagination, opened doors for change, and served as a channel for life-saving information. Radio entertains, educates, and informs. It promotes democratic expression and influences ideas.
From short-wave to FM to satellite transmission – radio connects people wherever they are. In conflict situations and times of crisis, radio is a lifeline for vulnerable communities.
Radio is both valuable and cost-effective. From day one, the United Nations has been using radio to reach the peoples of the world.
UN Radio sheds light on all issues on the United Nations agenda – from sustainable development … to the protection of children … to peacekeeping and conflict prevention.
We are proud of our rich history of radio production in many languages, and the innovative ways we use radio to inform and serve the world.
On this World Radio Day, let us celebrate the power of radio and let us work together to tune the world to the frequency of peace, development and human rights for all.

UN Radio historical feature for World Radio Day

UN Radio microphone with radio scripts around it.
On Wednesday, the 13th of February this year, millions of people around the world will be celebrating World Radio Day. This annual event aims to highlight the power and relevance of radio broadcasting…
6 Feb 2013 / Listen / Download

UN Radio stamps go on sale on 13 February (UN Radio Day)

World Radio Day stamps
Six UN Radio stamps will go on sale at the UN Postal Administration's offices in New York, Geneva and…
5 Feb 2013 / Listen / Download

Youth have their say in radio

Youth reporter Yolanda from Cape Town, South Africa.  Petit-Perrott/Children's Youth Foundation
Young people have a lot to say, but in many communities they do not have a forum to talk…
4 Feb 2013 / Listen / Download

Radio in the line of fire

Jaco Du Toit
  Wednesday 13 February is World Radio Day. And according to UNESCO – it's a day to celebrate radio…
4 Feb 2013 / Listen / Download

Is governance good for development?

A discussion forum on today’s hot issues and global responses
- 4 Feb 2013 - Panelists: Daniel Kaufmann (Revenue Watch Institute); Jomo Sundaram (FAO); Susan Woodward (the Graduate Center of the City University of New York).

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

We need to rethink the way we are using Water. Every drop counts.

2013 as International Year of Water Cooperation

Here is Water. You have met before. In fact, you come across Water in everything you do. Your life would not exist without Water. But Water is not infinite and we are draining our supplies. EEA

Monday, 4 February 2013

Water Cooperation for a Water Secure World

Water Cooperation is at the heart of the Global Water Partnership's mission to support the sustainable development and management of water resources at all levels. That mission can only be achieved if a partnership of government, civil society, and the private sector work together to solve water challenges.

This video, released to coincide with the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013, outlines those challenges and GWP's approach in addressing them. An integrated approach to managing the world's water resources -- for economic growth, social equity, and ecosystem sustainability -- is key to achieving a water secure world. More information:,

World Wetlands Day 2013 - Wetlands take care of water

  For WWD2013 we have joined hands with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme who have a lead role for the International Year and they have partnered with us in the production of our poster and leaflet. Our theme is Wetlands and water management, an area of work that has been given considerable attention by our Scientific and Technical Review Panel over many years and resulted in much helpful guidance for our member countries.

Our slogan? Wetlands take care of water, reflecting the interdependence between water and wetlands and the key role that wetlands play. Wisely using our wetlands is an essential component of the delivery of sustainable water management. In our leaflet we will be painting the big picture, looking at who manages water and the many challenges from governance to transboundary, agricultural and urban water management issues, to water storage issues and water diversion schemes. Finally we take a look at what we can all do at the global, regional and local levels in ensuring that wetland ecosystems and their water are well managed for the benefit of people and wildlife.

What have we produced for WWD 2013? As usual we have a poster, sticker and leaflet on the theme, as well as something for children and a wetland cartoon for you to share and customise.
  2013 is the UN International Year for Water Cooperation and an ideal opportunity for Ramsar to look at the connection between water and wetlands. The Secretary General's message for WWD 2013.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Ban Ki-moon message for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013

World Interfaith Harmony Week - 1 to 7 February

For billions of people around the world, faith is an essential foundation of life. 

It provides strength in times of difficulty and an important sense of community.  The vast majority of people of faith live in harmony with their neighbours, whatever their creed, but each religion also harbours a strident minority prepared to assert fundamentalist doctrines through bigotry and extreme violence.
These acts are an affront to the heritage and teachings of all major religions.  They also contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the right of all to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  It is imperative that the moderate majority is empowered to stand firm against the forces of extremism.  But, this can only be achieved through strong leadership.
Next month at its forum in Vienna, the Alliance of Civilizations will continue its efforts to unite faiths and cultures.  Whether on the world stage or in their communities, religious and cultural leaders have a responsibility to speak the language of tolerance and respect.  This is a central message of World Interfaith Harmony Week. We must also reach out to young people with a message of hope.  Too often marginalized, jobless and facing a future of uncertainty, youth can be easy prey for fanatics offering a sense of cause and community.  We need to expose the invalidity of this lure and offer a compelling alternative. This cannot be achieved by words alone.  Young people need jobs and a meaningful stake in a future that they can believe in.  The United Nations is currently engaged in defining a post-2015 sustainable development agenda.  Our goal is to eradicate extreme poverty in our lifetime and promote equitable economic opportunity for all while protecting the environment.  To do that, we need the engagement of all actors – including young people and communities of faith. 

We live in times of turmoil and transformation – economic, environmental, demographic and political.  These transitions bring both hope and uncertainty.  Our job is to ensure that hope wins, and our task will be made easier if the followers of all faiths collaborate in common cause.  Let us never forget that what divides us is minuscule compared with what unites us.  Working together, we can achieve all our goals for peace, prosperity and physical and spiritual well-being.

Ban Ki-moon

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust - 27 Janvier

Secretary-General's video message on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

It is a great pleasure to greet all the good friends of the United Nations who have gathered for this observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. I welcome in particular the Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans who have joined this solemn ceremony. Ladies and Gentlemen, Courage is a rare and precious commodity. Today, we celebrate those who had the courage to care. Throughout the Second World War, Jews, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and others who failed to conform to Hitler’s perverted ideology of Aryan perfection were systematically murdered in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau. But some were able to avoid the slaughter. They escaped because a few brave souls risked their lives and their families to rescue Jews and other victims of persecution from almost certain death. Some sheltered the intended victims in their homes; others helped families to obtain safe passage. Some of the accounts of the rescuers have achieved iconic prominence. But many are known only to those whose lives were saved. This year’s observance is meant to give those unsung heroes the regard they deserve. I thank the Righteous Among the Nations Programme at Yad Vashem, which is celebrating its 50th year, for identifying and rewarding them. The Holocaust and the United Nations programme has produced an education package on the rescuers that will be used in classrooms around the world. I also congratulate another crucial partner, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, on its 20th anniversary. Its theme of “Never Again: What You Do Matters” resonates deeply. Acts of genocide illustrate the depths of evil to which individuals and whole societies can descend. But the examples of the brave men and women we celebrate today also demonstrate the capacity of humankind for remarkable good, even during the darkest of days. On this International Day, let us remember all the innocent people who lost their lives during the Holocaust. And let us be inspired by those who had the courage to care – the ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity. Their example is as relevant today as ever. In a world where extremist acts of violence and hatred capture the headlines on an almost daily basis, we must remain ever vigilant. Let us all have the courage to care, so we can build a safer, better world today.