from Iulia Trombitcaia Iulia.Trombitcaia at unece.org via lists.iisd.ca
UNECE has just published the third Environmental Performance Reviews of two countries: Georgia and Belarus.
Both reviews cover air, water, waste, biodiversity and the integration of environmental considerations into a wide number of sectors (energy, forestry, transport, tourism, health, etc.).
Both reviews reflect the successes and challenges for these countries in the achievement of MDGs, and we very much hope that the recommendations of the reviews will assist these countries in developing their national agendas for the achievement of SDGs.
The publications can be found here:
3rd Environmental Performance Review of Georgia:
3rd Environmental Performance Review of Belarus:
Vienna crowned again by Mercer’s “Quality of Living City Rankings” and we think it is the natural hub for the post-Paris2015 mechanism that will look at the implemetation of the Single-Country Committments.
After having decided that global agreements chased by the UN Headquarters in New York are just pipe dreams. All we can hope for is this network of individual country promises that in their sum-total can answer needs like a decrease in CO2 presence in the atmosphere while not forgetting goals of poverty reduction, energy, climate, security, or equity. We were grateful to President Obama when we realized that this was his thinking as well, and the Paris2015 Outcome – that some insist on calling the Paris Agreement – does in effect constitute the answer to our needs – but only if a “verification of progress” system is put in place.
We looked around and realized that most energy related UN affiliates are headquartered, or at least have a foot, here in Vienna. So I started this series of articles. The more I looked at this – the harder it became writing it – this because of the richness of material – literally daily I am involved in activities, or at least get material that all relate to these topics.
In this last posting I take the advantage of an exceptional boon – the fact that again Vienna was declared the most livable city in the World. This can clearly help. Would you not rather want to live in the best city in the World?
Besides the city of Vienna, among the first 31 out of the 230 cities with ranking by Mercer, we find a total of 8 cities from German speaking Europe; further 8 assorted cities from other Western Europe (Copenhagen, Geneva, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Stockholm, Brussels, Helsinki, Oslo); New Zealand/Australia account for 9 cities, Canada for 4 cities, Singapore that this year dropped to only 26th place, and highest ranked US city – San Francisco – at 28th place.
Paris is at 37th place, London at 39, New York and Tokyo are at 44-45.
Dubai is at 75th place, Abu Dhabi at 81, Taipei at 84.
First Developing Country city is Durban, South Africa, 86th place.
Buenos Aires, first Spanish speaking South American city is at 93rd place.
Tel Aviv is at 104th place, Brasilia at 106, Muscat, at 107, Tunis at 113.
Beijing, first city in China, is at 118th place. Istanbul at 122.
Mexico City is at 127th place, Riyadh at 164, Moscow at 167, Tehran at 203, Damascus at 224, and at bottom 230 Baghdad.
What are your conclusions from looking at the above?
Is it not so that you would rather like to live in Western Europe – in Vienna and surrounding countries? In Australia, New Zealand and Canada? Would you contemplate on reasons why some of the richest countries’ capital-cities are low on the list?
I will proceed now to review some of the most resent activities that occurred in the city of Vienna that were rooted with the city itself and not with organizations from afar planted here or organizations formed here in response to needs afar.
In our series we posted so far about: The IAEA Headquarters, The SE4All Headquarters The Outer-Space UN affiliates, The Laxenburg Palace based IIASA, and the Kommunalkredit Public Consulting Group that works with the Austrian Foreign Aid office connected to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Let us look now first at cultural life – and I will go after two amazing shows that just opened:
DER KONGRESS TANZT – “The Congress Dances” – an amazing Operetta that opened at the VOLKSOPER on the Guertel.
The Historical facts are that the Congress of Vienna (German: Wiener Kongress) was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815.
The Congress was intended to organize the post-Napoleon Europe and through that – the World. In many ways this was an attempt to create an overarching EU. All came except Napoleon who was left behind on his exile-island.
It was said that instead of being in session this Congress danced. The Congress of Vienna was the first of a series of international meetings that came to be known as the Concert of Europe, which was an attempt to forge a peaceful balance of power in Europe. It served as a model for later organizations such as the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations in 1945.
Covering the lighter side of this Congress Erik Charell used some of the songs from a Con ference-time operetta and produced a film that was released in 1931. Recently, Richard Heymann extracted some of the music from the film, added some of his own, and with the help of conductor and arranger Christian Kolonowiits recreated the operetta that was released now in 2016. This because Vienna celebrated in 2015 the 200th anniversary of the Vienna Congress. This operetta, a parody of the Congress, approached gingerly by the Volksoper, is now the newest “must see” in Vienna.
The BURGTHEATER on the Ring, premiered this week Peter Handke’s – DIE UNSCHULDIGEN, ICH UND DIE UNBEKANTE AM RAND DER LANDSTRASSE (Those Without Guilt, I and the unknown on the edge of the country road) – a masterpiece of modern theater in the celebrated hall of classicism.
Handke (born in 1942 – the war years – his mother resettled in the village Griffin in 1948 after leaving the DDR) was a young Austrian writer (novelist, playwright and political activist) who believed that at the beginning there was the word. Handke’s first play was PUBLIKUMSBESCHIMPFUNG (Talking Rough to the Public) that automatically made him a sensation in Germany – Austria was too small for him those days. Back those years we saw his work and works by the German Hans Magnus Enzensberger at the Brooklyn Academy of Music – the old Brooklyn Opera House. Handke’s luck was that He was recognized by the German Director Claus Peyman who staged that first play and since then another 10 plays by Handke. Handke gained international attention after an appearance at a meeting of avant-garde artists belonging to the Gruppe 47 in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Landstrasse, stage work by Karl-Ernst Hermann, has a vague autobiographical content and ia all played out on the county road that connects his village Griffin with a neighboring village and in itself becomes a stage for the locals and the World at large. It reminds one of Martin Luther who already then saw the importance of taking reality to the streets – this for him a direct connection between humans and God. For Handke, this is not God but human truth. The simple staging – a broad white ellipse winding to a distant corner – is the path where the action walks by and we peep in on it. This is modern poetic theater at its best – a good place to relax when trying to deal with the World’s woes.
The action is not specific but rather full of hints and you get out really what you want to see. The hints include totaliarism – quite clearly a reminder of the villages Nazi past, butb then there are aspects of budding love and perhapse unanswered love and bitterness – but also hope for a better world.
I started with Vienna’s high locally centered life – but then there are musical events, not just Staatsoper and the Philharmonic, but locally produced musical events where Austrians play foreign folks to perfection. We just enjoyed evenings sponsored by the Austro-American Society with Irish and Mexican music. The Irish evening was held in a typical Austrian pub, and the Mexican and American event was at the organization’s Club rooms where the manager, an Austrian, is loved by all – an ideal American host.
But, the purpose of our Vienna series is not just to say that Vienna is the most livable city in the World – but that I contend that work with global scope can be performed right here – so let us look also at local organizations that can be enrolled in support of global activities – and the first to be mentioned is “the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA).” You will find there a department that deals with all global topics you may be interested to work on. Also, the city hosts many NGOs and great Think Tanks to work as local NGOs – sometimes connected to one of the many active Universities.
One such institution is “the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM).” I will mention the Presentation of last night by Professor Dr. Shalini Randeria, the IWM Rector, titled “Precarious livelihoods, disposable lives, and struggles for citizenship rights.” Dr. Randeria, from India, holds chairs at Budapest, Berlin, Zurich, and Vienna Universities. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalization, law, the state and social movements. Her presentation last night was the Keynote address at a IIASA and Forum Alpbach meeting at the Austrian Academy of Sciences on the occasion of the IIASA meeting called to formulate a “World in 2050″ Programme.
The Academy of Sciences public event – “Human Capital, Geopolitical Complexities, and Our Sustainable Future” had two panels (I) The release of a book by Professor Wolfgang Lutz – “Who Survives? Education Decides the Future of Humanity.
Panel II – Chaired by Professor Pavel Kabat, Director General of IIASA – had:
While the first panel dealt with education as an imperative if one wants to take advantage of the SDGs and in effect achieve the wished-for results, he second panel touched upon the topics that are the framework for the program-in-construction for the year 2050 and on tis we will deal separately.
IRENA’s two added workshops during World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that will be held January 16-21, 2016.
from: Virginia Yu <VYu@irena.org>
Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 2:22 PM
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announces two side events at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE – 1) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy, 18 January, and 2) Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, 19 January.
1) The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy will take place on 18th January, 2016 at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre) – future home of World Fair 2020), Abu Dhabi. The purpose of this workshop is to gather information and ideas from stakeholders that can feed into IRENA’s development of the medium-term strategy (1-2 years) for the Global Atlas. Workshop participants will engage in a practical discussion around how the Global Atlas can help overcome barriers to renewable energy development, generate ideas for more effective communication on the Global Atlas, and investigate the needs and ideas of data providers.
To register, please send an email to potentials at irena.org by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please read the final event concept note and announcement. Please connect to: www.irena.org
2) The Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, in collaboration with DLR will take place on 19th January, 2016 at IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.
With this training, IRENA gives an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy. To register, please send an email to carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de. We would be grateful to receive your confirmation by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please see the attached PDF.
IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City | P.O. Box 236 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Tel: +97124179988 | Mob: +971566161584 | www.irena.org
Solar-Med-Atlas Workshop for Policy Makers.pdf 164K
Training Schedule 10:00h – 10:45h
- Introduction and expectations of the participants
- Analysis of the data in Geographical information systems (demonstration) – Interpretation of results
- Conclusions and further questions. Short assessment of the Global Atlas
Please bring along your laptops, to be able to participate in the hands on exercises.
Transportation: Shuttle bus will be provided from ADNEC at 9:15am going to IRENA HQ, then leaving again at 4:00 pm from IRENA HQ going to ADNEC
We thank IRENA for hosting the workshop in their headquarters.
IThe twenty-fourth session of the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy, 18-20 November, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
from: Yana Daneva Yana.Daneva at unece.org
An international high-level panel on 19 November 2015 will provide an occasion to explore what sustainable energy means for the UNECE region, both from the perspective of reducing the environmental footprint of energy and from the perspective of assuring needed energy for sustainable development.
An overview of the week and the draft agenda are attached. Additional information and the link for registration can be found on the website at: www.unece.org/index.php?id=38539#….
For questions please contact Ms. Stefanie Held, secretary of the Committee on Sustainable Energy, (+41 22 917 24 62, e-mail: stefanie.held at unece.org) or Ms. Laurence Rotta (tel: +41 22 917 59 76; e-mail: laurence.rotta at unece.org).
writes Lisa Tinschert
Palais des Nations – Office S-382
T: +41 (0) 22 917 24 63
From: Wolfgang Obenland wolfgangobenland at globalpolicy.org
Will the UN follow willingly the leadership of Pope Francis and that of a joint Obama-Xi pact?
As you know, over one hundred Heads of State and Government will gather this week to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda is intended to make the United Nations (UN) ‘fit for purpose’, but it is important to ask, ‘whose purpose will it be fit for’?
We would like to share the latest Global Policy Forum report which warns that the changing funding patterns of the UN and its development system reveal alarming trends. These trends include a growing gap between the scale of global problems and the (financial) capacity of the UN to solve them; a growing share of non-core and earmarked contributions in UN finance; and the outsourcing of funding and decision-making to exclusive global partnerships.
Funding of all UN system-wide activities is around US$40 billion per year. While this may seem to be a substantial sum, it is smaller than the budget of New York City, less than a quarter of the European Union budget, and only 2.3 per cent of the world’s military expenditures. Many Member States, particularly the large donors, pursue a dual approach of calling for greater coherence in UN development activities while at the same time increasing their use of earmarked funding. This pick- and- choose dynamic has opened the space for corporate sector engagement. Increasingly the UN is promoting market-based approaches and multi-stakeholder partnerships as the business model for solving global problems. Driven by a belief that engaging the more economically powerful is essential to maintaining the relevance of the UN, this practice has harmful consequences for democratic governance and general public support, as it aligns more with power centers and away from the less powerful.
Fit for Whose Purpose? Private Funding and Corporate Influence in the United Nations, released today, gives a comprehensive overview of current UN funding trends and ends with a summary of findings and policy recommendations to counter the new ‘business model’ of global governance and to make the United Nations really ‘fit for purpose’, fit for the purpose of a democratic and inclusive global governance. Detailed and specific, the demands range from adopting measures to limit earmarked funding as a percentage of total funding, to strengthening the rules and tools governing engagement with the business sector, and to establishing an intergovernmental framework for partnership accountability.
You can Download full report here (PDF, 2,5 MB): www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs…
UPDATED – Dim views of what will happen at Paris2015 and a call to India’s participation in what was previously seen as the needed US-China leadership. Great changes, like the loss of Southern Europe, are predicted for the next 100 years. The Update is about the continuation of the UN to 2030.
On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.
The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”
The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”
Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.
The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.
UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs at mid-2015 looks at “THE UN AT 70″ – main successes and how it must be upgraded; others talk of the importance of the UN (Australian Minister Gareth Evans) and how to elect next Secretary-General.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/columni…
Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015
NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.
Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.
The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”
The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.
The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.
Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.
The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.
Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.
Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.
The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.
The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.
Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.
As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University
Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.
Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.
For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.
Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.
Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.
A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).
Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.
It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.
Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.
Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.
Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.
One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.
The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.
He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.
MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.
What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.
My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.
But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.
Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.
What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.
The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.
Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.
The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”
Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…
At UNGA 2015 – September 25-27 – at UN hqtrs. in New York – with very limited access those days – Vienna based “Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) will campaign to make sure that SDG 7 on Energy will be funded indeed.
The following is very important information that makes for interesting days in New York the end of this September.
But let us mention here also other events in New York those days – events that will turn New York City into the impossible city.
Pope Francis will be here the same days as SE4All – September 24-28 and let us say in common language – the Pope will steal the show.
Also, that Saturday there will be a “humongous” musical festival on the Great Lawn in Central Park, and starting Monday the 28th the UN General Assembly will be opened with President Obama and most major World Leaders present. They will arrive that Weekend – so traffic jams, closed roads, and closed doors – will be everywhere. Many NGOs and Press to the UN will just not be able to get in – passes will be revoked. So, please temper expectations with above in mind – and realize that many experienced people will skip town.
A series of high-level Sustainable Energy for All events around the United Nations Summit will discuss how to finance, implement and track progress on SDG7.
Leaders of governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations are invited to join the thousands of SE4All partners who are already geared up to make sure the Energy SDG succeeds in the crucial years to come.
1. Financing and Tracking Progress of Sustainable Energy for All
Date and Time, Venue (TBC)
2. Role of Partnerships in Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 08:00-09:30
Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
3. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy by 2030: Implementation of Sustainable Energy for All
Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11.00-13.00
Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
More information on these events – SEEMINGLY NIT AVAILABLE NOW – and any other engagements related to Sustainable Energy for All – will be available shortly on www.se4all.org.
From: UNITAR E-LEARNING TEAM
Environmental Governance Programme
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 917 8776
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) wishes to inform you of the launch of an e-learning training session on Green Economy (in French) which will begin next September.
For further information on the course methodology, structure, registration and fellowship opportunities, please consult the course announcement below.
The “Environmental Governance” team of UNITAR remains at your disposal should you need any additional information,
WITH THE NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND THE SUPPORTING ADDIS ABABA NEW FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT, THE UN IS READY FOR THE SEPTEMBER GENERAL ASSEMBLY HEADS OF STATE BLESSING THE ROAD TO PARIS 2015.
UN DESA WRITES AUGUST 3, 2015: The world marked a momentous event in international development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in the Ethiopian capital. It establishes a strong foundation to support the implementation of future development efforts.
The Addis Ababa Conference was the first in a series of landmark events leading up to the adoption of a new development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change by the end of this year.
“Financing needs for sustainable development are high, but the challenges are surmountable,” said UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Conference. “The Addis Ababa Action agenda will help to turn these needs into investment opportunities.”
Addis_FFD3closing2At FFD3, governments agreed on a package of over 100 concrete measures that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data and that will support the implementation of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a UN Summit in New York in September.
“This framework is a basis both for financing sustainable development and for developing sustainable finance,” said Mr Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General.
Through plenary meetings, round tables, bilateral meetings and almost 200 side events, the various stakeholders in international development – Governments, financial and trade institutions, civil society and business sector entities – got the opportunity to collaborate on the formation of breakthrough commitments and goals across the development spectrum.
As part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, countries committed to a new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all; a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap; an ‘LDC package’ to support the poorest countries; a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance to the SDGs; enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.
FFD3_outcomeThroughout the week, stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike weighed in on the measures that Member States could and should take to lift millions out of poverty, ensure a sustainable future for our planet and make sure that nobody is left behind.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn acknowledged the relative success that the Millennium Development Goals — that were adopted in 2000 and will expire this year — has had within the African region.
“We are in a very different world to the one by which the MDGs were drawn up,” Desalegn said. “Much has been achieved; now, we need to build on that success. And we will need to make radical breakthroughs, too – because a business as usual approach will not take us anywhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was one of those historical breakthroughs, an agreement by stakeholders across the board setting the world on a renewed pathway to sustainability and prosperity for all.
Making Addis a turning point for development
“The target date for the realization of the SDGs may seem far and yet close, depending the perspective,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in her address during the plenary meeting. ”What is certain is that the world has the resources and capacity to achieve every goal, We have an opportunity to make Addis Ababa a turning point in the scope and character of global framework for development cooperation. Indeed many of the measures incorporated […] are long sought after goals.”
Many heads of UN agencies and senior representatives of international organizations attended as well. In addition, more than 600 civil society organizations and networks and more than 400 business representatives took part in the Conference.
“This has been a historic Conference and a historic success – held on African soil, and delivering an outcome document that meets the high expectations of people around the world,” said Mr. Wu.
As the world sets sail onward to the two other events that will shape 2015 into a year of global change – the adoption of the Post 2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the United Nations Conference on climate change in Paris, in December – the international community can look back on the FFD3 Conference and the signing of the outcome document, as a first milestone to realize a sustainable future for all.
Storify on FFD3
The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision”, launched on 29 July. “Understanding the demographic changes […], as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General.
Most of the projected increase in the world’s population can be attributed to a short list of high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, or countries with already large populations.
During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.
Currently, among the largest countries in the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria), five are in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), two are in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), one is in Northern America (USA), and one is in Europe (Russian Federation).
Of these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States by about 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. By 2050, six countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA.
Growing population in Africa
With the highest rate of population growth, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050.
During this period, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, ten African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
We believe says UN DESA – While there is always some degree of uncertainty surrounding any projection, the large number of young people in Africa, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and start having children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.
“Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda”
Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in fertility behaviour, when projected over decades, can generate large differences in total population.
The slowdown in population growth, due to the overall reduction in fertility, causes the proportion of older persons to increase over time. Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.
Higher life expectancy and the contribution of the MDGs
While significant differences in life expectancy across major areas and income groups are projected to continue, they are expected to diminish significantly by 2045-2050.
Reducing under-five mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years.
Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30% in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50%. In the same time period, the rate decreased by more than 20% in 156 countries.
Young population creates opportunity to capture demographic dividend
Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, which have seen greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (26 and 24 %, respectively) and similar percentages of youth (17 and 16%, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.7 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2015.
These children and young people are future workers and parents, who can help to build a brighter future for their countries. Providing them with health care, education and employment opportunities, particularly in the poorest countries and groups, will be a critical focus of the new sustainable development agenda.
The 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 24th round of official UN population estimates and projections that have been prepared by UN DESA’s Population Division. For more information: World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision
Youth civic engagement, a main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive participation at all levels in society. There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on this issue by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. This is also why the International Youth Day (IYD) celebrations will put this theme center stage this year.
Youth participation critical for achieving new development agenda
By 2030, the target date for the new proposed sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by about 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.
“The world now has the largest generation of young people in history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event on the demographic dividend and youth employment earlier this summer.
“I place great hopes in their power to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” he said, also underscoring the necessity for the active involvement of youth in the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.
UN DESA, through the Focal Point on Youth, and the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges young people face to have a full and effective participation in their social life and in decision-making while promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.
useyourcameraThe Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs UN DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August. With the overarching aim of promoting youth participation at the political and public levels, leading to young people being able to fulfill their aspirations in life and contribute to society, the campaign provides a space for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities.
Throughout the campaign, young people have been asked to submit photos and/or messages illustrating how they can get involved in their societies. Selected entries will be participating in the #YouthDay competition on the UN4Youth Facebook account. The winning photo will be the entry with the most Facebook “likes” and it will be showcased at the International Youth Day event at UN headquarters. It may also be used for the World Youth Report 2015 on Youth Civic Engagement.
Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event is being organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic. It will bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement in particular looking at new and emerging issues and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world.
Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event will highlight both traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement in the form of panel discussions. The first panel will bring new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and in the second panel, panelists will discuss the power of youth as global citizens.
Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign is still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.
The IYD toolkit gives some ideas on what to do to commemorate the Day. Young people and UN entities are also encouraged to send their plans to youth at un.org, so they can be mapped on the IYD Map of Events. Efforts are needed to raise awareness about the benefits of youth civic engagement to the individual as well as to society.
For more information:
International Youth Day 2015 Send inquiries to youth at un.org
System-Wide Action Plan on Youth Engage in the #YouthDay campaign via social media:
Millenium Development Goals
LATEST DESA PUBLICATIONS
The World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision
GENEVA, May 18 – Climate experts will meet in Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria, on 18-20 May 2015 at an Expert Meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to discuss and further develop new socioeconomic scenarios as shared tools for climate research.
Experts from the climate change research community will meet with representatives of the IPCC at the meeting hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.
“We use scenarios much like testing probes to explore future societal developments and their consequences for climate and the environment,” said Keywan Riahi, who leads IIASA’s energy program and is convening the Expert Meeting. He is also a lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on the mitigation of climate change. “The scenarios that were assessed by the IPCC have proven vital for the AR5. This expert meeting will have a detailed look at a new generation of scenarios and framework that the climate change research community has adopted to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation,” said Riahi.
Scenarios, as used in research with integrated assessment models, are stories about potential ways that the future might develop. They feature specific quantitative elements and details about how sectors such as the economy, climate, and the energy sector interact. By looking at scenarios, researchers look for insights into the paths and circumstances that might lead to specific objectives.
“The scenarios from the research community form the backbone of our analysis of potential climate change impacts as well as mitigation and adaptation solutions,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which deals with the mitigation of climate change. The IPCC facilitated the development of the new scenarios in AR5 and assessed their results in the report, but the process is coordinated by the research community.
The Expert Meeting is being convened to continue the dialogue with the research community, to take stock of the achievements of the process during the AR5 cycle, to share available information across scientific disciplines, and to discuss the role of scenarios in future IPCC products.
With the meeting the IPCC intends to bring together scientific groups with diverse expertise and backgrounds to share experiences and expectations related to the scenario community’s activities and to facilitate further development of common scenarios in climate change research. This will allow a more integrated assessment of mitigation, adaptation, and climate change impacts across the entirety of IPCC work in the future.
The development of the new socioeconomic scenarios, called ‘Shared Socioeconomic Pathways’ (SSPs) complements the Representative Concentration Pathways already used in AR5; these are previously developed trajectories for future levels of greenhouse gases that are being explored in experiments by the climate modeling community.
The SSPs enable researchers to conduct related studies across a broad range of topics. Just before the IPCC meeting a new generation of SSP scenarios has been made publicly available for review by the community (see below). The research communities will continue to investigate the implications of various socioeconomic developments on the local, regional, or global scale for the impacts of climate change and the costs, risks, and benefits of a range of possible policies.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
It released the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in four stages over 2013 and 2014, finishing with the AR5 Synthesis Report in November 2014.
The IPCC organizes Expert Meetings and Workshops to facilitate discussions of topics relevant to the assessment process and to receive early input from the scientific community. In order to enhance coordination across the Working Groups in the preparation of the IPCC Assessment and Special Reports, topics of a cross-cutting nature are of particular interest. Proposals for Expert Meetings and Workshops are approved by the IPCC Plenary. The nomination process for the two kinds of events differs, as governments nominate experts for Workshops, while for Expert Meetings, attendees are nominated by the Working Group Co-Chairs.
Scenario database of the IPCC AR5:
About IIASA The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at
Ultra-Orthodox woman fights for representation in Knesset.
She has created a political party of ultra-Orthodox women — the first in the history of the State of Israel — that ran for a seat in the Knesset on March 17. For many years, she has exhausted the legal system and other institutions with petitions, demonstrations and locally organized rebellions: for instance, in the municipal elections in the town of Petah Tikva, in the elections for the student council of a college and in struggles against various religious institutions. She does it all virtually alone, with her own two hands, fighting tooth and nail. She encounters defeat after defeat, gets up, dusts herself off and moves on. She knows that her victory will be measured by the clock of history. At some point, maybe in a year, or 10 or 50, an ultra-kosher Orthodox woman will get her very own seat in Israel’s Knesset, the legislative body of the State of Israel. When that happens, that woman will know that her path to the Knesset was prepared by Colian.
Intensive coverage has been accorded by Western media to women living under radical Islamic rule: Saudi women not allowed to drive a car, women disenfranchised of the right to vote, to express and realize themselves and women devoid of personal freedoms. The media devotes very little space to the condition of Jewish women in the ultra-Orthodox world. There are several large ultra-Orthodox communities in the United States, and in Israel a huge ultra-Orthodox community flourishes, with about 1 million members, about half of them women.
Ultra-Orthodox women are generally forced to bear on their own the burden of providing for the family (the men often devote their lives to holy studies). They raise a large number of children (an estimated average of six to seven per family), slave away around the clock to maintain jobs and the home, bear and raise children, clean, cook and so on, while hidden by their community inside their homes. These women are virtually not seen in public. They vote in Knesset elections but as far as their community is concerned they are not allowed to run in them (none of Israel’s three ultra-Orthodox parties — Shas, Yahadut HaTorah and the new party of Eli Yishai, Beyachad — have female lawmakers). They are not involved in political activity and do not take part in festivals and joyous occasions, unless they are discreetly hidden. Even at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, they are discriminated against: Their access to the area is from a narrow side entrance. They are banned from mixing with men in public. They are forced to cover their hair, sometimes their face, and wear modest clothing; the more radical among them force the women to shave their heads and to wear a scarf or a wig instead.
Colian is one of the first to dare come out against these phenomena in public, trying to breach the walls of the women’s ghetto. She tried to run in the elections for the student council at the college where she studied law and in the municipal elections in the town where she lives, Petah Tikva. She conducts bitter struggles in all sorts of areas and each time finds herself facing the entire ultra-Orthodox rabbinical establishment. They try to kick her young children out of the ultra-Orthodox institutions where they go to school, curb her activities, designate her a rebel, a heathen, a traitor. She was supposed to have broken down and given up a long time ago, but she hasn’t.
When the Knesset elections moved up to March 17, she decided to turn the tables on the establishment and established a movement called “Bizchutan, ultra-Orthodox women foster change.” She somehow managed to raise the required funds and put together a list of Knesset candidates. Together with three other ultra-Orthodox women she worked on getting through to ultra-Orthodox women and convincing them to pick her party as their representative when they find themselves behind the curtain at their polling station. Elections in Israel are conducted by secret ballot, and in principle, this could have been possible. But Colian, without funding or rich backers, had been unable to even film campaign commercials for television and social media (which all other parties produced). When she tried to place advertisements in the ultra-Orthodox press, she was turned down on the spot.
Two weeks before the elections, Colian had been holding discreet negotiations with Yesh Atid, the centrist party of Yair Lapid, one of the strongest liberal voices in Israel. The idea had been to sign a surplus vote-sharing agreement between the two parties. Such a move would position Colian at the top of the media agenda and provide her with the needed publicity. Lapid, who had yet to sign a surplus vote-sharing agreement with any party, gave the idea serious consideration. There is no electoral value of such an agreement with a party that will not reach the electoral threshold, but signing it would generate great ethical and moral value for Lapid, one of whose flagship issues has been the fight against the ultra-Orthodox establishment and the effort to impose a military draft on ultra-Orthodox men and to encourage them to go out into the workplace, instead of studying all day.
In the end, Lapid opted for investing his energies in an attempt to reach a surplus vote-sharing agreement with Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp. Simple politics trumped morality. Colian, in despair, considered a street demonstration with her party’s other candidates in the town of Beit Shemesh, with its particularly radical ultra-Orthodox community. “We want to stand on the sidewalk on which women are not permitted to walk, across from the synagogue, and see what happens,” she told Al-Monitor the week before the elections. “I know this could result in a big melee, but someone has to do this at some point.”
Beit Shemesh has often made the headlines in recent years after ultra-Orthodox radicals attacked women — cursing them, spitting at them and insulting them after they walked on sidewalks that had been designated off-limits. These are exactly the kinds of phenomena that Colian is fighting.
Following the elections, she sounded defiant. “I’m not naive. I know that the minute the elections are over, Yair Lapid and all the other politicians won’t give us the time of day, us ultra-Orthodox women. They will need the ultra-Orthodox parties in the government coalition and will forget our existence. But we are here. We are hundreds of thousands of women fed up with being a disciplined pool of voters. Women who want to realize dreams, who are sick of looking on from the sidelines, discarded in corners and used for the sake of procreation, cooking and cleaning. Every such woman is a whole universe. Among us are very talented women, who could be effective in public office. It’s about time that someone represent this large group in the legislature. Someone closely familiar with our distress. One day it will happen,” she said.
In the run-up to the elections, Colian’s party scored its first isolated victory when the Lod District Court complied with the party’s demand to require the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Yated Ne’eman to print a fully paid election advertisement in its name. The newspaper quickly appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided to overturn the decision until more exhaustive deliberations on the issue could be held. The women did not give up. Meanwhile, they received the unexpected support of reserve Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council, who publicly declared his support for the party. Eiland even donated money toward their improvised election campaign.
But on the day of the election, they were less successful. The Bizchutan list (Hebrew for “in their merit”) garnered 1,977 votes. To meet the electoral threshold and earn four seats in the Knesset, more than 120,000 votes are required. But Colian and her friends are far from despair and will continue on the path they have set for themselves. The number of votes they received coincidentally represents an important historic year (1977) in the annals of Israel — it was the year of the first “great political turnabout” of the state. That was when the Likud Party rose to power and replaced the Labor Party, which had ruled Israel for the first 30 years of its existence. Someday, the turnabout of ultra-Orthodox women will also take place. The first baby step in that direction has already been taken. Now the journey begins.
Ben Caspit is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.
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