Author Archives: Julia Dean

Pegasus: Human rights-compliant laws needed to regulate spyware

The UN human rights chief on Monday said the apparent widespread use of Pegasus spy software to illegally undermine the rights of those under surveillance, including journalists and politicians, was “extremely alarming” and confirmed “some of the worst fears” surrounding the potential misuse of such technology. 

“Various parts of the UN Human Rights system, including my own Office, have repeatedly raised serious concerns about the dangers of authorities using surveillance tools from a variety of sources supposed to promote public safety in order to hack the phones and computers of people conducting legitimate journalistic activities, monitoring human rights or expressing dissent or political opposition”, said High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in a statement. More

‘Tremendously off track’ to meet 2030 SDGs: UN Chief

Between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – some 161 million more than for 2019 – the UN Secretary-General said on Monday; “new, tragic data”, which indicates the world is “tremendously off track” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“High costs, coupled with persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality, continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people, in every region of the world”, added António Guterres, in a statement highlighting the importance of the global Food Systems Summit, due to take place in September. More

UN Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal

The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia were Malawi, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, China, Syria, and Tunisia.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia: Save the Children International, World Jewish Congress, World Evangelical Alliance, Edmund Rice International, Earthjustice, Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale ONLUS, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, and International Lesbian and Gay Association. More

Time running out for countries on climate crisis front line

The world’s running out of time to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, a matter of life or death for climate vulnerable countries on the front line of the crisis, the UN Secretary General reiterated on Thursday.

Speaking to the first Climate Vulnerable Finance Summit of 48 nations systemically exposed to climate related disasters, António Guterres said they needed reassurance that financial and technical support will be forthcoming.

“To rebuild trust, developed countries must clarify now, how they will effectively deliver $100 billion dollars in climate finance annually to the developing world, as was promised over a decade ago”, he said.

The UN chief said that to get the “world back on its feet”, restore cooperation between governments and recover from the pandemic in a climate resilient way, the most vulnerable countries had to be properly supported. More

COVID death toll passes 4 million: Global Vaccine Plan Essential

The global death toll due to COVID-19 officially passed four million late on Wednesday, marking yet another “grim milestone” and underlining the urgent need for the world to put a Global Vaccine Plan in place to get the pandemic under control, said the UN chief in a statement.

“Many of us know this loss directly and feel its pain”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. “We mourn mothers and fathers who gave guidance, sons and daughters who inspired us, grandmothers and grandfathers who shared wisdom, colleagues and friends who lifted our lives.” More

Sustainable development report shows devastating impact of COVID, ahead of ‘critical’ new phase

The world was not on track to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before COVID-19 struck, and now the challenge has been magnified many times over, according to a new flagship UN report that indicates countries must take ‘critical’ steps on the road out of the pandemic, during the next 18 months.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, launched on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York, shows the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the 2030 Agenda, as the landmark annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) officially got underway. Read our curtain-raiser story here.

Gains rolled back
In addition to the almost four million deaths due to the coronavirus, between 119-124 million people were pushed back into poverty and chronic hunger, and the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs were lost, the report indicates. More

CMS Ambassador and Australian Human swan’ to make 3,000-mile UK flight to raise climate awareness

Australian adventurer and UN CMS Ambassador, Sacha Dench, will this week start her 3,000-mile journey in an effort to demonstrate what effect climate change has on biodiversity and in particular, migratory birds. This record-breaking attempt is planned to coincide with the lead up to the COP 26 UN climate change conference taking place in Glasgow later this year.

Sacha will take off near Glasgow today in a electric paramotor, flying anti-clockwise around the coast and returning six weeks later. She will stop along the way to speak with school students and locals about climate challenges and their thoughts on solutions. By documenting her journey through compelling images and story telling, Sacha hopes to reach millions more.

Julia Dean from UNIC Canberra spoke to Sacha about why care about climate, more on what she is doing to promote the issues and her call out to world leaders leading up to COP26.

But she first asked Sacha what was the formative experience that sparked her passion as an environmentalist.

 

Sustainability solution or climate calamity? The dangers and promise of cryptocurrency technology

The negative environmental impact of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has been widely covered in the press in recent weeks and months, and their volatility has also been flagged as a cause for concern. Nevertheless, the UN believes that blockchain, the technology lying behind these online currencies, could be of great benefit to those fighting the climate crisis, and help bring about a more sustainable global economy.

A ‘pointless way of using energy’?
The amount of energy needed to power the Bitcoin network is staggering: Tim Berners-Lee, credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web, has gone so far as to describe “Bitcoin mining” as “one of the most fundamentally pointless ways of using energy.”

Bitcoins don’t exist as physical objects, but new coins are “mined”, or brought into circulation, through a process that involves using powerful computers to solve complex mathematical problems. This process requires so much energy, that the Bitcoin network is estimated to consume more energy than several countries, including Kazakhstan and the Netherlands. And, as fossil-fuelled power plants still make up a major portion of the global energy mix, Bitcoin mining can be said to be partly responsible for the production of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change (although, so far, the impact on the climate is far less than that of heavy hitters such as the agriculture, construction, energy, and transport sectors).

Another problem is the amount of energy needed for each transaction, which is enormous in comparison to traditional credit cards: for example, each Mastercard transaction is estimated to use just 0.0006 kWh (kilowatt hours), whilst every Bitcoin transaction consumes 980 kWh, enough to power an average Canadian home for more than three weeks, according to some commentators. More

Myanmar: Timely support and action by Security Council ‘paramount’.

The UN Special Envoy for Myanmar said on Friday she has called for timely action from the Security Council in response to the ongoing crisis in the Southeast Asian country stemming from the military coup in February.

Speaking to journalists following her closed-door briefing to the Council,
Christine Schraner Burgener described the situation in Myanmar as “very worrisome” and “very bad”.

Alarming, on the ground
Some 600 people have been killed in the nearly five months since the coup, she said, and 6,000 arrested, with 5,000 still in detention.  Around 100 people have “disappeared” without trace.

The crisis has uprooted some 175,000 people, which has added to internal displacement that existed before the military seized power and detained political leaders, including President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Roughly 10,000 refugees have fled to India and Thailand.
More

Food Aplenty, But Poor Nutrition Undermines Good Health for Samoans.

On a beautiful and peaceful tropical island like Samoa, food plants and crops thrive naturally. With close to 200,000 people, every family has access to land and about 97% of these families grow a variety of vegetables and crops and raise livestock, mainly cattle, pigs, and chickens, on a subsistence or commercial basis.

In Samoa, food is culture, food is family, food is, land and the ocean, it is everything. The Samoans strongly believe that food is abundant and there is no extreme starvation. While there is plenty to eat, there are serious health issues due to poor nutrition and poor dietary choices. The 2018 Samoa Household Income and Expenditure Survey (2018 HIES) findings show less than 1 person out of 20 is undernourished. It goes on to show that about 1 person in 4 does not have access to safe and nutritious food. More