67th Session of UN General Assembly, New York Week of 19 September 2022 …

Listen to Amanda Gorman reading her poem, “An Ode We Owe,” read at the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, September 19th. Her poem addresses climate and equality.

The seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly opened on 13 September under the theme, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.” The debate session started on September 20th. A flavour of what world leaders have been saying over the past few days at the UNGA 77th Session can be read from PassBlue September 20, Day 1; September 21, Day 2; September 22, Day 3; September 23, Day 4. Access to the statement of each country have been uploaded HERE on the UN Website. You have a choice to read a summary, listen to the video and in some cases read the full text. This is helpful if you wish to see what your country, President, Prime Minister, or Foreign Minister has said. The statement of the UN Secretary General provides a good overview of the multiply and intersecting global issues impinging on people and planet. Yet the dominance of war, and conflict dominate the conversation with calls for full commitment to the Climate Change Conference at COP 27 (Conference of Parties 27)in Egypt, 6 – 18 November 2022. It is difficult to find any evidence of transformative solutions – yes there are many aspirations that seem evaporate in the face of the issues.

One event (virtual) on the side lines of the UN GA that I attended was ‘Faith in the Future’ How faith-based organization are tackling the hunger crisis. For 9 years hunger declined but today the emergence of acute hunger around the world is alarming. 828 million people go to bed hungry every night, 349 million are experiencing acute hunger with 50 million facing starvation! Why you may ask? The world has changed says Barron Segar, President and CEO, World Food Program USA listing 4 C – Costs are rising, Climate Change, COVID-19 and Conflict. Because Government funding is flat partnerships becomes important. Partnership with the private sector fill the funding gap and provide innovative technical assistance. Faith-based organizations and philanthropy are well position also because they inspire giving, are trusted on the ground, have the ability to mobilize and hold values that are critical to problem solving – world is one, inclusion etc. The organizations represented on the panel were the The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, Islamic Relief USA, Food for the Hungry, (Africa) and Catholic Relief Services (Latin America). There is one lovely story of real interfaith collaboration between Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services in Africa.

This event showcases what is happening on the ground to alleviate hunger on a daily basis while encountering the multiple challenges posed by the 4 Cs.

Concurrently while the UN GA is debating through each state making it’s own statement, CSOs are engaging in the ‘Global People’s Assembly’ September 20 – 22 with over 1000 civil society groups proposing bold steps to transform our world.

This is where the hope for change resides. A Declaration developed with inputs from over 30 national and regional people’s assemblies, was adopted at the three-day Global People’s Assembly on Tuesday 22 of September. “The time to act is now,” the group calls for a shared political and economic power equally between the global north and global south, for global democracy and a robust civic space. The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd are included in this through our membership in the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. Implementation of Universal Social Protection is a part of the change we wish to see.

Another part of Good Shepherd advocacy toward structural and systemic change is through the Feminist Action Nexus for Economic and Climate Justice. The hashtag #FeministsWantSystemsChange, sums up the advocacy well but you may well ask how? In this session, Women’s Major Group (WMG) and Feminist Action Nexus members and allies will offer testimony of struggles against corporate capture and inspiration for a collective transformation towards a gender equal world. I attended this event: Corporate Capture vs. Systems Change: Identifying a Feminist Way Forward on Wednesday 21 September. The current advocacy issues – asking UN Women to withdraw their memorandum with Blackrock. Inc based on the letter that was signed by over 700 organizations and individuals. In their operations many human rights violations have been identified and documented. Read more in an article in the Guardian.

Updating on the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) starting Tuesday July 5 – Thursday July 15

Following the July 4th Independence Day celebrations in America the United Nations is poised to commence the High Level Political Forum which reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. For background see my blog of June 14. Registration for JCoR SDG Lab where Congregations are sharing ministries and reporting on their implementation of SDG’s is now open here:  https://bit.ly/3OfUqWN

As you will see on that registration page, the schedule of Lab sessions will be as follows:

5 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 4-Quality Education (part 1 of 2)

6 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 5-Gender Equality

7 July @ 16:00:17:45 Universal Coordinated Time:  Lab Session on SDG 4-Quality Education (part 2 of 2)

11 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 14-Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems

12 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG `15-Healthy Terrestrial Ecosystems

13 July @ 12:00-13:45 Universal Coordinated Time: Lab Session on SDG 17-Partnerships for the Goals

Good Shepherd are participating on July 5, SDG 4 with a global girls’ panel (India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Ecuador and Madagascar) speaking to their experiences of education, and reviewing the Voluntary National Reviews (VNT’s) of Sri Lanka and the Philippines. On July 6 Patricia Mosquera (Ecuador) is presenting on SDG 5. On July 7th Genny Dumay from the Philippines is presenting on SDG 4. On July 12th Catharina Indirastuti from Indonesia is presenting on SDG 15 and lastly on July 13th Mary Virgo Espineda from the Philippines is presenting on SDG 17. It is exciting to see such interest and engagement by the Philippines and Sri Lanka in the VNR reports from their countries.

The official website of the HLPF and official program can be easily accessed from the links provided or HERE. All the official programs are live on UN WEB TV and recording will be archived if you wish to review later. A fourth revision of the Ministerial Declaration (the outcome document of the session) has been posed – further consultations took place on June 30. You can check HERE to see the 4th revision and also you will have access to the next version of the document.

The UN Oceans Conference – Monday June 27 to Friday July 1

Our 31st Congregational Chapter 2021 Direction Statement calls us to “Make a firm Congregational Commitment in alignment with the Laudato Si Action Platform” and the Congregational Position Papers to address the catastrophic consequences of the destruction of our planet caused not only by greed but also by apathy.” The UN Oceans Conference provides one such opportunity to learn more and engage. Laudato Si has some specific references to oceans in Paragraphs 24, 29, 37,40, 41, 48 and 174. The Conference will be held in Portugal with a theme of “Save the Ocean” and hopes to scale up ocean action based on science and innovation for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

The opening paragraph of the position paper on Integral Ecology reads “we live in a time when science and theology offer reliable global insights about the interconnectedness of life and matter in all forms throughout the universe. This enriches our understanding of the world as a source of deep contemplation and sacred activity, calling us to the heart of what it means to be inclusive and reconciled in all ways with the Whole. It challenges us to re-evaluate prior perceptions, previous understanding, and unquestioned practices”. Paragraph 5 continues “we admit our complicity in perpetuating dualistic and domineering attitudes about the earth. We understand that reconciliation with our earth calls for a new consciousness, a new identity, and new behaviors centered on the kinship of all creation and the implementation of human rights for all. Interdependence demands inclusion of all – non-living and living, non-human and human – without discrimination.” This positioning provides the backdrop for interest in the UN Ocean’s Conference.

About The Conference

Mercy International Association is sharing resources – Mercy Oceans Campaign – which will run in tandem with the UN Ocean Conference next week. The TOOLKIT for this initiative contains videos produced by Mercy Sisters and partners from around the world, as well as thematic reflection papers and resources on many of the themes that will be discussed in Lisbon.

Full Mercy Oceans Campaign Resource List

The materials below were compiled by the Mercy Global Action Oceans Taskforce and are available for download and use. It is an incredibly rich and holistic resource beautifully laid out and easy to follow.

Full Mercy Oceans Campaign Resource List

The six theme are listed in the graphic above and below is a quick glance at the issues addressed and materials provided. By clicking on Download the TOOLKIT you have access to the link for the six themes followed by a thematic reflection. Don’t forget to share the “Prayer for our Oceans” and use it for personal prayer or in community over the coming week. SDG 14 is one of the goals under review during the High Level Political Forum from July 5 – 15, 2022

 

Monday June 20 is World Refugee Day. The critical nature today of people journeying from their country of birth to life in another nation has prompted a global effort, led by the UN, to develop comprehensive, people-centered agreements: including a Global Compact on Refugees

June 20 celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. This year, the focus will be on the right to seek safety. “Every person on this planet has a right to seek safety – whoever they are, wherever they come from and whenever they are forced to flee.” Read more on the UNHCR Website. You have the opportunity from the Website to post your photograph I stand #withrefuges

The Good Shepherd Position Paper on Migration includes references to refugees. Paragraph 3 states “The movement of peoples today includes migrants, temporary workers, refugees, asylum seekers, internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and stateless persons, each defined under separate legal frameworks in national and international law; all are entitled to move in safety and dignity.” This links directly with this years’ theme. Paragraph 5 outlines our response “We embrace our Judeo-Christian spiritual foundation that rests on a commitment to “welcome the stranger.” Our first response to migrants and refugees is to welcome them as one would welcome the Divine among us. We honor the culture and heritage each brings and we celebrate the positive contributions newcomers make to the lives and development of host communities. The service needs of persons in resettlement or status regularization are extensive, including language skills, health care, social integration, trauma healing, employment skills, legal help, etc. We listen to their experiences, accompany them, develop programs and work in partnerships to serve complex needs and to facilitate self-empowered social participation.” Paragraph 6 (d) urges us to ensure gender analysis in service planning give attention to women and children, sustaining family relationships, including communication with family in country of origin and 6 (h) to know the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to Status of Refugees and its protocols including the Global Compact on Refugees.

The NGO Committee on Migration has issued the following Statement in honor of World Refugee Day: The Right to Seek Safety. It was presented by Eva Sandis.

The recently concluded International Migration Review Forum summary report identified ‘the need to coordinate between the Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees was stressed, as was the need to bring together the work under the Global Compact for Migration, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.’ You can access the NGO Committee on Migration weekly updates on their website.

Read more on Ukrainian Refugees and use some the prepared core messages on your social media.

Review of the Sustainable Development Goals 2022

The process reviewing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) each year is called the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This year the HLPF starts on July 5th and ends on July 15th. Four days are given to thematic review of specific SDGs and three days to country reports – Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). A new website has been launched and it is user friendly. Unfortunately it is only in English. Website it is easy to navigate. These are the pages for the HLPF 2022; The Program; and Details of each day. Five SDGs are being reviewed this year

o Partnerships (SDG 17SDG 4, 5, 12, 14 and 15.) 5 July 3.00 PM – 6.00 PM, EDT
o Quality education (SDG 4) 6 July 9.00 AM – 12.00 PM, EDT
o Gender equality (SDG 5) 7 July 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM,EDT
o Life below water (SDG 14) 7 July 3.00 PM – 6.00 PM, EDT
o Life on land (SDG 15) 11, July 9.00 AM – 12.00 PM, EDT

For questions that will provide a panel focus on each SDG See. All sessions will be webcast live on UN Web TV.

The VNRs commence on Monday July 13th. 45 Countries will provide country reports. The list of countries as in the letter of the President of ECOSOC in October 2021 is as follows:
Andorra*, Argentina**, Belarus*, Botswana*, Cameroon*, Comoros*, Côte d’Ivoire*, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador*, Eritrea, Eswatini*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Ghana*, Greece*, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Italy*, Jamaica*, Jordan*, Kazakhstan*, Latvia*, Lesotho*, Liberia*, Luxembourg*, Malawi*, Mali*, Montenegro*, the Netherlands*, Pakistan*, the Philippines**, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal*, Somalia, Sri Lanka*, Sudan*, Suriname, Switzerland**, Togo***, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates*, Uruguay*** (Note: Countries with one asterisk * are second timers, those with two asterisks ** are third timers, those with three asterisks *** are presenting for the fourth time, while those without asterisks are presenting for the first time).

Countries were Good Shepherd are present are Argentina, El Salvador, and Uruguay in ECLAC; Italy, and The Netherlands in ECE; Pakistan, The Philippines, and Sri Lanka, in ESCAP and Senegal and Sudan in ECA. By clicking on the link below your country flag you can see the messages and reports that have been prepared and uploaded

The Report of the Secretary General on the Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has been prepared and posted. This reports contains an analysis of each of the 17 SDGs. Another report was launched on 2 June entitled Sustainable Development Report 2022: A Global Plan to Finance the Sustainable Development Goals. A dashboard with country ranking has been prepared. Find your country ranking and an interactive map The key findings presented at the launch of the report were
1. Peace, diplomacy, and international cooperation are fundamental conditions for the world to progress on the SDGs towards 2030 and beyond.
2. For the second year in a row, the world is no longer making progress on the SDGs. A global plan to finance the SDGs is urgently needed.
3. At mid-point on the way to 2030, policy efforts and commitments supporting the SDGs vary significantly across countries, including among G20 countries.
• 2023 Heads of States SDG Summit should be an opportunity to re-commit to this Agenda.
4. Rich countries generate negative international spillovers notably through unsustainable consumption; Europe is taking actions.
5. The COVID-19 pandemic forced data providers to innovate and build new forms of partnerships; these should be leveraged and scaled up to promote SDG impacts by 2030 and beyond.
• Science, technological innovations, and data systems can help identify solutions in times of crises and can provide decisive contributions to address the major challenges of our times. These require increased and prolonged investments in statistical capacities, R&D, and education and skills.

The recording of the launch is available on the UNSDSN YouTube channel. There were two international panelists in conversation with the moderator – Ms. Susanna Moorehead, DAC Chair of the OECD and Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs, President of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). This was followed by the launch of the report with a PowerPoint presentation. In the last segment Arsène Dansou, Director General of the Debt Management Office, Ministry of Economy and Finance of Bénin and Dr. Simona Marinescu, UN Resident Coordinator Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau  shared on promising national experiences.

During the HLPF there will be a number of VNR Labs and Side Event -to date a scheduling of these events has not been posted. You can watch for postings at https://hlpf.un.org/2022

The HLPF will end with a ministerial declaration. This declaration is currently being negotiated. Draft two is available HERE Paragraph 13 reads “We take note with appreciation of the Secretary-General’s report on Progress towards the SDGs. In particular, we note with alarm that years, or even decades, of development progress have been haltered or reversed, due to multiple and widespread impacts of COVID- 19, conflicts and climate change. We are particularly concerned by the rise in extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity, inequalities, education disruptions, violence against women, unemployment, additional social and economic vulnerabilities affecting in particular those already in the most vulnerable situations, in addition to the increased challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution . We recognize that the multiple and interlinked global crises we are facing are putting the SDGs at great risk and jeopardize the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. We commit to mobilize and accelerate actions for rescuing the SDGs and leave no one behind by to adopting resilient, sustainable, inclusive and low-carbon development pathways for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.” The bold print is mine.

UN Women has published “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot 2021” This 30 page book provides a good snapshot of the current situation of Gender Equality in relation to each of the SDGs. If you like visuals then you will appreciate the charts and graphs. One interesting one comparing the target with the reality is below. One of our strong advocacy points over the years has been for implementation of Social Protection Floors in line with ILO Recommendation 202. See Article 5 for a definition of Social Protection Floors.

Laudato Si’ Week 2022 May 22 – 29

Laudato Si’ Week 2022 will be celebrated May 22 – 29 this year. This is the 7th anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si on care of creation. The theme for the week is “Listening and Journeying Together.” The eight-day global event will be guided by the following quote from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: “Bringing the human family together to protect our common home” (LS 13).

A website with resources has been prepared and is in 5 languages English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

Français

Español
Italiano

Português

The website has many resources that you may wish to use. There is an events pages where you can register your event. This too is in all the languages French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

Check the Celebration Guide, available in French (not yet posted), Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

CSW continues into the Second Week March 21 – 25

CSW 66 is continuing in this second week beginning on Monday March 21 – with the formal program within the United Nations and Parallel Events as hosted on the NGOCSW Website. It is still not too late to register and gain access to all that is happening at the NGOCSW Forum including our Virtual Booth displaying the event that are happening this week in Asia Pacific and Latin America. The Congregational Event took place on March 16th with an attendance just short of 300 participants sponsored by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Republic of Korea. We pay tribute to the panelists who shared from the wealth of their experience at the grassroots and the moderator Cristina Duranti, CEO from the Good Shepherd International Foundation.

Another event that Good Shepherd Co-sponsored was “My Voice our Equal Future” a girls hosted events. We are very proud of all the girls presenting and marvel at their knowledge, creativity, ingenuity and engagement within the CSW 66 processes. This programme includes a Good Shepherd girl student from India of whom we are all very proud. This was her second panel presentation – a much more comprehensive sharing than the first day. How exciting to see Good Shepherd girl advocates from around the world joining with other girl advocates for gender equality, sustainability and the future of our planet. Jasmine presented on Climate Change and Technology and the concrete steps she is taking at local level. Congratulations Jasmine!

Winifred was a panelist at the Religions for Peace Parallel CSW 66 Parallel Event entitled ‘Multi-religious Collaboration: The Tipping Point for Engendered Climate Change Policies ‘ where she addressed the issues of the issue of Human Trafficking.

“The root causes of human trafficking can be attributed to the inequalities caused by economics systems particularly the neo-liberal capitalist systems that exploit people and planet. … quoting Pope Francis “the Amazon today is a wounded and deformed beauty, a place of suffering and violence. Attacks on nature have consequences for people’s lives. ” Read the full text French Spanish

Girl events from Asia Pacific and Madagascar Africa were held on Saturday March 18th The event from Asia Pacific was a collaborative event across countries. This year the GSIJP Office worked to ensure that girls are present in events and present within the CSW 66 process.  We have had girls from India,  Philippines, Sri Lanka and Latin America take part in Girls’ Statement Writing, moderating and facilitating process and meetings with UN Member States and being part of the delivery of the Girl’s Statement to the CSW 66. This is scheduled for Tuesday 22nd.   All this was made possible because of the zoom platform, internet connectivity and the facilitation of Mission Partners in all regions of the world together with the dedicated follow through and skilled approach of my colleague Alexis Schutz. It is impressive to hear girls from Asia Pacific witness to their engagement on the global stage.  Indeed they are the policy makers and political leaders of tomorrow ensuring gender equality and sustainability.  It is indeed a source of HOPE for the congregations to have the privilege of engaging with Girl ‘Mission Partners’ in addressing the structural and systemic issues facing our world. They do so with ease while addressing various topics displaying both breath, and depth of knowledge – social protection, gender equity, social inequality, economic justice, climate crisis and the digital divide – all intersecting and interconnecting issues that require a new paradigm to address.   The global community needs to move from a mindset of  scarcity to abundance, from profit making to equitable sharing.   We must seek to change the current data indicating that the top 10% of adults hold 85% of the world’s total wealth, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth. and in relation to gender equality ‘the ten richest people in the world are men’  this too must change!   The crises facing humanity today are facilitated by the systems and structures of patriarchy seeking to control, usurp, own, and exploit both people and the planet.   This system has to give way to one of equity, human rights, gender equality, sustainability and sharing – with the implementation of universal social  protection for all; – access to medical care for all, universal child benefits for every child; a sustainable income for every person unable to work, and pensions for all older people.  The power struggle is equally at work in the dominance of the global north and its institutions over the global south – this too has to change! Enjoy the progamme entitled ‘Sirius Talk’. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. These girls are the brightest stars in our future!

This event was followed by a program from Madagascar, equally impressive and inspiring with new a learning for me on ‘Aquaponic Agriculture’. Aquaponics is a food production system that couples aquaculture (raising fish, with the hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) whereby the nutrient-rich aquaculture water is fed to the growing plants. Olivia presented aquaphonic agriculture which she had learned from an expert Mr Anton Lavale who works on this in Madagascar. Sambata and Hasina both sophomore students presented on social inequality and the threats and devastation caused by weather related events in Madagascar, so relevant to the CSW 66 theme ‘achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster reduction policies and programmes.’

Some events are continuing for the rest of the week – do join in if you have the opportunity. A girls event will take place from Latin America tomorrow.

Commission on the Status of Women – 66th Session March 14th – 25th. 2022

Justice Coalition of Religious (JCor) have published the following Bulletin It contains some interesting information – for the United Nations, Global and Regional updates in relevant languages according to region. Some of you already join the JCoR Global Community Hour – It is on 11 March 2022, 8:00am (EST). English-Spanish interpretation is provided – Register Here

There is some very useful information on the Commission on the Status of Women in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. This is followed by a sections on Latin America and the Caribbean; East and Southern Africa and India.

JCoR have prepared a very comprehensive overview of The Commission on the Status of Women which I encourage you to review. It is currently in English and will appear in Spanish soon.

Open the Guide

Good Shepherd have various activities happening in the Virtual Booth hosted on the NGOCSW Forum Platform. Register for the Forum and see all that is happening. There are over 700 events hosted on the Forum. JCoR and UNANIMA have virtual booths as does Coalition Against Prostitution (CAP)

The Calendar for Good Shepherd Events is posted in the Booth but can can access it HERE to join in regional activities directly

Good Shepherd CSW 66 Parallel Event will take place on Wednesday March 16 at 8.00 am EST. Registration for the event is a must if you wish to attend. You can register directly from HERE The event will be on a zoom platform and English, French Spanish and Portuguese interpretation will be provided. We will have an engaging discussion on ‘Empowering Women at the Grassroots through Sustainable Agriculture‘ with panelist from the Good Shepherd International Foundation, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines and Brazil. REGISTER HERE. We are honoured to have the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Republic of Korea co-sponsoring this event with us. We are thrilled to have a girl climate activist from India. Well done Jasmine!

Jasmine, the girl activist from India will also feature on another panel on March 17 at 4.00 p.m. EST. The panel is an all girls’ panel – not to be missed – and the title is “My Voice Our Equal Future” Girls speak to Climate Change. Interpretation will be provided in French and Spanish and registration is essential – REGISTER HERE

Register
S’inscrire
Registrarse

All the usual processes for CSW 66 are taking place as the horrors of the war in Ukraine are unfolding before our eyes – the invasion of a country, the total disregard for life – for any life and every life accompanied with the destruction and devastation of Ukraine’s infrastructure generating millions of refugees. The response to this humanitarian crisis with its emotional, traumatic, economic and devastating toll on the peoples of Ukraine witnesses to the power of sharing, concern and humanity. It was indeed inspiring to hear the Ambassador of Poland speak of themselves as a ‘superpower of solidarity.’ In the face of such catastrophe the United Nations is held captive and the spirit that created the United Nations is being challenged by the same power that has invaded Ukraine. Quoting the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations

“WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

AND FOR THESE ENDS

to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS.”

Over the last few years I have witnessed the demise of a spirit of multilateralism at the United Nations and the stubborn persistence of patriarchal structures and systems that reinforce power and privilege over peoples, nations, women and the exigences of climate change. The Secretary General of the United Nations has referred to a recent report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” showing nearly half of humanity “living in the danger zone” and many ecosystems at the point of no return—right now. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.” Read More. The world community continues to struggle to access vaccines to counter COVID 19. There are multiple other conflicts throughout the world oppressing people’s voices and freedom condemning people to poverty, creating an never ending line of refugees. Girls and women are often targeted in conflict situations – sexual assault, rape and vulnerability to human traffickers offering opportunities for better life and a job snaring these same girls and women into a system and structure of gender based violence within prostitution.

Today, International’s Women’s Day with the theme of ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorow‘ is at the heart of CSW 66 ‘Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.’ We have our Position Paper on Ecological Justice. On page 14, Paragraph 5 “We admit our complicity in perpetuating dualistic and domineering attitudes about the earth. We understand that reconciliation with our earth calls for a new consciousness, a new identity, and new behaviors centered on the kinship of all creation and the implementation of human rights for all. Interdependence demands inclusion of all – non-living and living, non-human and human – without discrimination.” Our Congregational Chapter 2021 Direction Statement references our commitment to the ‘Laudato Si Goals’ Response to the Cry of the Earth, Response to the Cry of the Poor, Ecological Economics, Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles, Ecological Education, Ecological Spirituality, Community Resilience and Empowerment. Read more and in multiple languages The Laudato Si Goals parallel very closely the United Nations Framework for Sustainable Development – the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with SDG 5 one Gender Equality at the heart of transformation and sustainability.

Happy International Women’s Day and Welcome to CSW 66.

Continuing to reflect on the Commission for Social Development

Reading from Mark Gospel 8:1-8 on Saturday February 10, I was struck by the feeding of the people and was reminded of words quoted by the Chair of the Commission María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina ‘we need to be kind when thinking of each others’ suffering’. Response to suffering is not a platform but an action. These phrases echo Jesus’ words ‘I feel sorry for all these people, they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get these people enough bread to eat in a deserted place.’ Ched Myres (“Binding the Strong Man: a Political reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus”) notes that the response of the disciples was one of despair in the wilderness. There were outside of the dominant social order and it’s markets. How can one find resources to feed the hungry? I felt myself pulled into the suffering of people experiencing increased hunger and malnutrition throughout the world because of ‘desert like conditions’ due to COVID pandemic, climate change, displacement, ongoing conflict, mining, deforestation, some traveling distances to leave behind oppression and extreme poverty as migrants and refugees vulnerable to being trafficked.

Often we (you and I) feel desperation in attempting to make a response in the midst of these situations. People are being exploited by today’s markets, with patents, profits and monopolies ruling to the exclusion of people and care of the planet. In the midst of the situation Jesus asks ‘How many loaves have you?’ Immediately my mind jumped back to our Chapter and a morning prayer reflection which challenged us ‘FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ inviting us to a mindset of abundance which can be contrasted with a mindset of scarcity. Resources are within and among us. We have the 7 loaves. These loaves symbolize resources, good stewardship, co-responsibility, capacities and a culture of justice. As I continue to reflect I realize more and more that the policy issues pursued by the GSIJP Office are from a mindset of abundance – national floors of social protection, inclusion of all, gender justice, ending all forms of exploitation, climate justice, sustainable livelihoods, food and decent work – in collaboration with like-minded NGO’s and the ‘Gospel Space’ within the United Nations, the Commission for Social Development in this case.

Ched Myres comments that in the organizing of the people there is a superabundant result. “FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ is possible through the organization of the people. Everyone shares their resources, all the people are listened to and empowered to act for change. There is an upholding of human dignity, recognizing each person’s inalienable human rights, encouraging participation, voice and action. There is one paragraph in the Resolution from the Commission on the priority theme Paragraph 25 Encourages Member States to facilitate the meaningful participation and empowerment of those in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty, in the design, implementation and monitoring of COVID -19 recovery plans.” The feeding of the people includes building peoples’ self-esteem, unleashing the capacity of the people themselves to bring about the change that is required. We declare that our programmes have moved from a ‘charity model’ to a ‘right-based’ approach. How open are we to engaging the participants themselves in the design, implementation and monitoring of our multiple projects and programmes? We have good practice from our experiences with girls for the Day of the Girl activities.

February 20 was Social Justice Day – “Change means more than charity and occasional service. Two
strands of practice must intersect in us to establish justice for permanent change. First and obviously, we have to create relationships, institutions and communities ruled by just practices. Second, and perhaps equally obvious, we need to change ourselves” from Just Prayer: A Book of Hours for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers.

The resulting resolution recommended that the Economic and Social Council urge Member States to address multiple causes of poverty, hunger and inequality by creating decent work, improving coherence between social protection, food security and nutrition policies, and prioritizing investment in early childhood education, nutrition and care to break intergenerational poverty. “Sustainable agricultural production, food security, food safety and nutrition are key elements for the eradication of poverty in all its forms,” the Commission emphasized through the text.

The priority theme of the sixty-first session is “Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In the tradition of the Commissions at the UN one closes and the following one is immediately opened.