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17 Jul, 2011

Nelson Mandela Day July 18 – Honour Him By Devoting 67 Minutes To Public Service

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1. Nelson Mandela Day July 18 – Honour Him By Devoting 67 Minutes To Public Service

2. Sustainable Development Vital To Protect Economies And Environment

3. Over 2,000 Children Set Football World Record At UN-Backed Event In Gaza

4. On World Population Day, UN Calls For Greater Efforts To End Poverty And Inequality

5. Forum Urges Greater Efforts To Ensure Access To Decent Education For All


1. Honour Nelson Mandela — Devote 67 Minutes To Public Service

Jul 15 2011 — To mark the second annual Nelson Mandela International Day, the United Nations is encouraging people around the globe to perform 67 minutes of public service – one minute for every year of the South African leader’s own service to humanity.

The call is part of the “Take Action! Inspire Change” campaign by the Mandela Foundation in recognition of the contributions made by Mr. Mandela, as a human rights lawyer, freedom fighter, prisoner of conscience, international peacemaker, and the first democratically-elected president of a free South Africa.

“Together, the best way we can thank Nelson Mandela for his work is by taking action for others and inspiring change,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for the Day.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July – Mr. Mandela’s birthday – “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

In a separate video message, Mr. Ban calls on people everywhere to embrace Mr. Mandela’s message to change the world and make it a better place. “Tutor a child. Feed someone less fortunate. Care for your environment. Volunteer at a hospital or community centre. Be a part of a global movement to make the world a better place.

“Together, we can help people achieve the dignity and liberty that are their birthright. That is the best way we can honour Nelson Mandela,” he stated.

On Monday, which is Mr. Mandela’s 93rd birthday, senior officials, diplomats and staff from the UN will gather in New York’s Central Park to perform public service to mark the Day.

Also in an interactive exhibit called “Take Action! Inspire Change” will be displayed at UN Headquarters at which visitors can learn about Mr. Mandela through a range of video and audio materials, as well as make their pledge to “67 minutes of service” in a message that will be sent to Mr. Mandela himself.

Other UN offices around the world will also mark the Day by undertaking activities in their local communities.

2. Sustainable Development Vital To Protect Economies And Environment

Jul 15 2011 — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated that humanity must give sustainable development greater attention, saying that the current model of using resources was putting a strain on ecosystems and exacerbating global warming, even as climate change remained a growing threat to people and economies worldwide.

“Our old model of growth is not only obsolete, it is also dangerous,” Mr. Ban said, speaking at a forum on sustainable development in Finland, where he also held a meeting with President Tarja Halonen.

He called for a revolution in favour of sustainable development in which a green economy is driven by business, supported by governments, and embraced by the people.

“Sustainable development is the top priority of the United Nations and the international community. We have to work to address climate change, the food crisis, energy shortages, water scarcity, global health, gender empowerment – all are interconnected,” Mr. Ban told reporters after his meeting with the President.

3. Over 2,000 Children Set Football World Record At UN-Backed Event In Gaza

Jul 14 2011 — For the second time in as many weeks, the children of Gaza set a Guinness World Record today in an event organized by the United Nations as part of its 2011 Summer Games programme – this time for the largest number of footballs dribbled simultaneously.

The event, involving 2,011 children, took place in Kherbit El-Addas, Rafah, just a few miles from the Khan Younis stadium, where on 30 June 3,500 children broke the world record for the largest number of parachute games.

“I want to congratulate the children of Gaza once again for their second world record in two weeks,” said Christer Nordahl, acting director of operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“As we’ve seen yet again, when given the opportunity, the children of Gaza can be the best in the world.”

For five years the UNRWA has staged the Summer Games – which include sports, arts and other activities – to provide a recreational outlet for an estimated 250,000 children in the Gaza Strip. This year’s games coincide with the fifth year of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

“We need to lift the blockade and give the kids of Gaza a chance to fulfil their true potential,” said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness.

“These records breakers evoke other world records,” he stated. “The Israeli blockade of Gaza has lasted longer than some of the most notorious sieges in human history.”

The next world record attempt will take place on 21 July, when children with special needs aim to create the largest ever hand-print painting. Then before the Games wrap up at the end of July, up to 10,000 children will attempt to smash their own record set last year for kite flying.

4. On World Population Day, Ban Calls For Greater Efforts To End Poverty And Inequality

Jul 11 2011 — As the world population approaches seven billion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that ending global poverty and inequality is the key to unleashing the great human potential for prosperity and peaceful coexistence, while protecting the planet and safeguarding the natural resources that sustain humanity.

“Later this year, a seven-billionth baby will be born into our world of complexity and contradiction,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark World Population Day, observed annually on 11 July.

“We have enough food for everyone, yet nearly a billion go hungry. We have the means to eradicate many diseases, yet they continue to spread. We have the gift of a rich natural environment, yet it remains subject to daily assault and exploitation. All people of conscience dream of peace, yet too much of the world is in conflict and steeped in armaments,” said the Secretary-General.

Mr. Ban said the global focus should be on improving the welfare of the people by promoting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight poverty reduction targets that the international community has agreed to strive to attain by 2015.

“When we act on our shared values, we contribute to our common future. Ending poverty and inequality unleashes vast human potential,” he said.

To mark the Day, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the “7 Billion Actions” campaign to promote dialogue on the challenges, opportunities and actions that will be needed to ensure a better future for humanity.

“While poverty, inequality and increased stress on resources represent major challenges, the world is more interconnected than ever before, creating enormous possibilities,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin in his message to mark the Day.

“We now have unprecedented capacity to share information and ideas, and engage communities across the globe to solve common problems. Reducing inequities and improving living standards for people alive today – as well as for generations to follow – will require new ways of thinking and unparalleled global cooperation. The moment to act is now,” said Mr. Osotimehin.

He said that protecting reproductive health and rights is fundamental for sustainable development, and called for concerted efforts to meet the needs of some 215 million women in developing countries who have the desire to plan and space the birth of their children but lack access to modern contraception.

Mr. Osotimehin stressed that, acting together, the world has the capacity to prevent the deaths of 1,000 women who lose their lives every day to complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

“We have an opportunity and responsibility to invest in the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth aged 10 to 24. They constitute more than a quarter of the world’s population and almost 90 per cent live in developing countries.

“Every young person deserves education, including sexuality education, and access to comprehensive health services. With the right policies, investments and social support, young people can enjoy healthier lives free of poverty and enhance prospects for peace and stability,” said Mr. Osotimehin.

According to UNFPA, the global population has doubled since 1968 and grown by almost 40 per cent since reaching 5 billion in 1987, when the first World Population Day was observed. Population growth is projected to continue at least until the middle of this century despite dramatic declines in the average number of children per woman.

The vast majority of the population growth — 97 of every 100 people — is occurring in less developed countries, some of which already struggle to meet their citizens’ needs.

The gap between rich and poor is growing, as urbanization and migration continue, while climate change is an increasing concern with a rising number of people becoming vulnerable to food insecurity, water shortages and weather-related disasters, according to the UNFPA. On the other hand, many rich and middle-income countries are concerned about low fertility and ageing.

5. Forum Urges Greater Efforts To Ensure Access To Decent Education For All

Jul 8 2011 — Government officials at a United Nations meeting in Geneva today called for the boosting of efforts to ensure education for all, stressing the fundamental role it plays in creating an inclusive society, reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.

“We recognize that providing quality education for children, youth and adults helps to develop the knowledge and skills that people and countries need to flourish, and that additional measures are required to improve the quality of education,” they stated in a declaration adopted at the end of the high-level segment of the annual session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

“Education for all” was the focus of the high-level meeting, which brought together top UN officials, government ministers, experts and policy-makers to Geneva to discuss how to ensure that everyone has access to a decent education.

“Our focus this week on the importance of education outcomes has been timely,” Lazarous Kapambwe, the President of ECOSOC, said in his closing statement. “It is no longer merely about increasing enrolment numbers or inputs; ensuring quality, relevance and equity is equally critical.

Mr. Kapambwe and other senior UN officials hailed the declaration – adopted unanimously by the 54-member Council at the end of the week-long meeting – which outlines measures to accelerate progress towards achieving the goal of education for all.

The Education for All goals were agreed to by more than 160 countries at the World Education Forum in 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, with the aim of achieving 100 per cent child enrolment in primary schools by 2015. Improving access to education is also one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

“This declaration not only promotes consensus on issues ranging from the importance of education for health literacy and the need for gender-sensitive curricula, but also contains concrete measures to advance progress on the education goals,” said Mr. Kapambwe.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, called the declaration a “remarkable” document – one which addresses important areas such as educational access, quality, funding and partnerships.

“The declaration is a model document in other ways too,” he told the meeting. “It navigates the considerable educational challenges of the moment, while casting a thoughtful eye to emerging issues on the horizon – areas like secondary and tertiary education, information technology and lifelong learning.”

He stressed the power of education, saying it “empowers individuals, molds better citizens and creates more just, prosperous societies.

“But make no mistake: enrolment alone is not learning. What goes on in the classroom is ultimately what counts. In order to maximize the benefits of schooling, we must reflect long and hard on what we teach our children – and how,” he stated.

The declaration, said the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), notes the importance of moving beyond the MDG of universal primary education in favour of a more “holistic and inclusive vision” of education systems.

“This declaration represents a clear recognition by Member States of the central role that education plays in driving social and economic development,” Director-General Irina Bokova stated. “I am confident that the vision expressed in this document will be a powerful lever for mobilizing resources and accelerating progress towards Education for All.”