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UNICEF: 1 in 5 children in world’s richest countries living in poverty

The new findings focus on Member States of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) 

Analysing child support policies among the group of developed economies, the report finds that despite an overall decrease in poverty of nearly eight per cent over the seven year period, there were still more than 69 million children living in households earning less than 60 per cent of the average national income.

Among those faring best in tackling child poverty are Poland and Slovenia, followed by Latvia and the Republic of Korea. In contrast, some of the richest countries in the report are lagging behind. 

“The impacts of poverty on children are both persistent and damaging,” said Innocenti’s Director, Bo Viktor Nylund. 

As he explained, for most children this means that they may grow up without enough nutritious food, clothes, school supplies, or a warm place to call home. It prevents the fulfilment of rights and can lead to poor physical and mental health.”

Lifetime of consequences

The consequences of poverty can last a lifetime, the report’s authors warn. 

Children who experience poverty have less chance of completing school and hence earn lower wages as adults. In some countries, a person born in a deprived area is likely to live eight to nine years less than a person born in a wealthy area, the report reveals. 

It also highlights huge inequalities. Across 38 countries with available data, children living in a single parent family are over three times as likely to be living in poverty as other children. Children with disabilities or from minority ethnic/racial backgrounds are also at higher-than-average risk.

According to the findings, 2012 to 2019 saw largely stable economic growth among the countries surveyed, presenting an opportunity to recover from the impacts of the 2008-10 recession. 

Surprising differences

However, while several countries reduced child poverty, some of the wealthiest saw the biggest reversals. 

The report also shows that countries with similar levels of national income, such as Slovenia and Spain, experienced stark differences in child poverty rates – 10 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.

Children’s living conditions can be improved regardless of a country’s wealth, the report notes. For example, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia, and Lithuania – not among the richest OECD and EU countries – have achieved important reductions in child poverty: minus 38 per cent in Poland and minus 31 per cent in the other countries. 

Meanwhile, five higher income countries – the United Kingdom (+20 per cent) and France, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland (all around +10 per cent) – saw the greatest increases in the number of children living in households experiencing financial hardship since 2014.

Cash benefits go a long way

To eradicate child poverty, the study authors explain, governments and stakeholders should urgently expand social protection for children, including child and family benefits to supplement families’ household income.

The also need to ensure all children have access to quality basic services, like childcare and free education; create employment opportunities with adequate pay and family-friendly policies and adapt measures to the specific needs of minority groups and single-headed households.

“Cash benefits have an immediate effect in alleviating poverty. Decisionmakers can support households by prioritizing and increasing expenditure on child and family benefits,” added Mr. Nylund, inviting governments to examine the policies that have proved successful over time.

Hitching a ride to a better future: Sustainable Transport Day

“This first World Sustainable Transport Day reminds us that the road to a better future depends on cleaner and greener transportation systems,” Antonio Guterres explained, spotlighting the relationship between transportation and global sustainability.

Fuelling climate chaos

“Transportation represents the world’s circulatory system, delivering people and goods across countries and around the world, creating jobs, and supporting prosperity,” Mr. Guterres said, underscoring the important feature of transportation as essential facilitator of human development.

“But it is also fuelling climate chaos,” added the Secretary-General, acknowledging the sector’s role in exacerbating the global climate crisis. 

The statistics are alarming: the transport sector is responsible for approximately a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, while 91 percent of the energy used in motorized transport by land, sea, and air is still derived from fossil fuels.

‘Up to the challenge’

Although the sector is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, the Secretary-General expressed optimism about humanity’s ability to address the issue head-on.

“I am convinced humanity is up to the challenge of breaking our addiction to climate-killing fossil fuels,” he proclaimed, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to transition to sustainable alternatives. 

Mr. Guterres outlined a vision for a resilient, efficient, and low-carbon transportation future. 

“From electric and solar-powered vehicles to renewable aviation fuel sources, to massive investments in green public transportation systems, to measures like carbon pricing and subsidies for low-carbon fuels,” he outlined a strategy towards greater sustainability.

“There is no time to waste. Let’s get moving,” urged the Secretary-General.

Sustainable transportation, policies and innovative technologies will be front and centre at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, that begins in Dubai on November 30. 

$20 million appeal to support Palestine labour market

The funding appeal – launched on Thursday in Geneva – will be used to implement a three-phase programme to provide immediate relief and support longer-term job and business recovery, as well as social protection.

“The hostilities have resulted in – and continue to cause – both a tragic loss of human life, and an unprecedented loss of livelihoods, jobs, income, businesses, and civilian infrastructure,” said ILO Director-General Gilbert Houngbo, speaking at the launch, which was held on the sidelines of the latest session of the agency’s governing body.

Economic activity crippled

The ILO has published a bulletin that examines how the conflict – which erupted on 7 October – has so far impacted the labour market and livelihoods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), home to more than 3.4 million people, with a labour force of over 1.5 million.

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The UN agency estimates at least 61 per cent of the labour market in Gaza has been wiped out; equivalent to 182,000 jobs. The conflict is also having spillover effects in the West Bank, where nearly 24 per cent of employment has also been lost, equivalent to 208,000 jobs. Put together, this translates to $16 million in daily labour income that has been lost.

Mr. Houngbo outlined the destruction in Gaza. He said entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed, infrastructure has been severely damaged, businesses have closed, large-scale internal displacement has occurred, and the lack of water, food and fuel are crippling economic activity.

Workers stranded, trade restricted  

Additionally, almost 6,000 residents who were working in Israel prior to the conflict are presently stranded in the West Bank amidst dire conditions. UN health and aid workers on the ground are also in extreme danger. 

Furthermore, access measures enforced by Israel across the OPT have effectively revoked access rights, as workers and traders with valid permits are prevented from entering Israel and East Jerusalem through any checkpoints.

Trade restrictions have also been applied for vital goods transiting from Israeli ports to the OPT, further jeopardizing the basic needs of families and the overall economy.

Situation set to worsen 

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since 2006, so conditions were already particularly dire even before the conflict.  The enclave has had persistently high rates of poverty and vulnerability and its unemployment rate – 46.4 per cent as of the second quarter of this year – is among the highest in the world.

“The already huge losses our research has identified are only projected to increase if the conflict and tragic humanitarian crisis continue, with repercussions that will be felt for many years to come,” warned ILO Regional Director for Arab States, Ruba Jaradat.

Assistance, analysis and recovery 

The ILO response programme aims to address the impact of the crisis in three phases. 

The first focuses on immediate relief and is already underway. It entails providing immediate assistance such as emergency livelihood support schemes to Palestinian workers, including the Gazans who are now stranded in the West Bank after losing their jobs inside Israel. 

The ILO has already channelled around $2 million of its internal resources towards emergency relief interventions and preliminary data collection. It is also working on allocating further resources to implement the response plan. 

The second stage covers data collection and impact analysis to help plan, prioritize and fine-tune interventions.

The final phase addresses recovery. The focus will be on job creation through “employment intensive infrastructure recovery” and other means, in addition to social protection measures and recovery of jobs and businesses. 

Fossil fuel producers ‘literally doubling down’, new UNEP report warns

“The 2023 Production Gap report is a startling indictment of runaway climate carelessness,” the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message accompanying the landmark report.

This hike in fuel extraction comes despite 151 national governments having pledged to achieve net-zero emissions.

The latest forecasts suggest that global coal, oil, and gas demand will peak this decade, even without new policies.

When combined, government plans would lead to an increase in global coal production until 2030, while global oil and gas production will continue growing until at least 2050. 

“In other words, governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production; that spells double trouble for people and planet,” the UN chief commented.   

Alarming data

The research conducted by Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Climate Analytics, E3G, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) urges countries to aim for a near total phase-out of coal production and use by 2040.

The report also calls for at least a 75 per cent reduction in oil and gas production by 2050, compared with 2020 levels. All this is of paramount importance since risks and uncertainties of carbon capture and storage, as well as carbon dioxide removal, are significant. 

While 17 of the 20 countries featured in the report have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions – and many have launched initiatives to cut emissions from fossil fuel production activities – none have committed to reduce coal, oil, and gas production in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Although at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow two years ago governments agreed to accelerate efforts towards “the phasedown of unabated coal power”, the production and use of fossil fuels has still reached record high levels. 

Solar power is helping farmers in Ethiopia to irrigate their crops more efficiently.
© IWMI/Petra Schmitter

Solar power is helping farmers in Ethiopia to irrigate their crops more efficiently.

“Countries must phase out coal – by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 elsewhere. And the G20 must take the lead in ending licensing and funding for new oil and gas,” said Mr. Guterres, calling on world leaders to “save humanity from the worst impacts of climate chaos, and profit from the extraordinary benefits of renewable energy.”

Clear signal

The report co-authors believe that governments with greater capacity to transition away from fossil fuels should aim for more ambitious reductions and help support the transition processes in countries with limited resources.

The UN chief thinks that at COP28 – the UN climate summit in Dubai at the end of this month – world leaders must send a clear signal that “the fossil fuel age is out of gas – that its end is inevitable.”

For that to happen, credible commitments to ramp up renewables, phase out fossil fuels and boost energy efficiency are needed to safeguard a just and equitable transition.   

“Fossil fuels are sending essential climate goals up in smoke. It’s time for change,” asserted Mr. Guterres.

World News in Brief: UNCTAD development finance call, Nepal quake update, religious freedom in Nicaragua

That’s the message from the UN’s trade and development body UNCTAD, which called on Tuesday for urgent reform of the international financial system to support the world’s 46 Least Developed Countries.

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In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, these most vulnerable economies urgently require foreign investment to add value to their economic output, avoid debt distress and finance a low-carbon transition.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan stressed that the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is “inextricably linked to the progress of these nations”. 

The UN agency says that achieving better social protection and decent jobs will require a cash injection equivalent to 45 per cent of each Least Developed Country’s total economic output. 

But multiple global crises have hampered growth and left the world’s most vulnerable countries with a debt burden which soared to $27 billion in 2021.

To help, UNCTAD economists called for urgent debt relief and a “substantial” increase in accessible development and climate finance for LDCs, including grants and low-cost loans.

Children account for half the dead and injured in Nepal quake

Almost half of those reported killed and injured in the deadly earthquake that struck western Nepal at the weekend are children, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

According to latest Government figures, the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck shortly before midnight on 3 November claimed 153 lives and injured more than 338 people. In addition, a 5.8 magnitude aftershock hit the affected areas, exacerbating fear among the survivors, in particular children.

 “Tragically, and yet again, so many lives have been lost in this devastating earthquake. Children are disproportionately affected and are forced to spend the nights out in the cold,” said Alice Akunga, UNICEF Representative to Nepal.

“These children and their families are in desperate need of medical support, shelter, safe drinking water, food, blankets, and warm clothes as the winter sets in,” she added.

UN teams are on the ground supporting relief efforts, in coordination with Government agencies. However, with winter setting in across the Himalayas, scaled assistance is urgently needed.

“UNICEF is doing everything possible, but we urgently need more help to respond to the needs of children and women in health, nutrition, education, protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene,” Ms. Akunga said.

Humanitarians supporting those affected also have to contend with remote locations, difficult terrain and high-altitudes.

UN agencies and aid partners must rely on helicopters to ferry personnel and relief supplies as there are no roads, Rafeeque Ahmad Siddiqui, Head of Karnali Field Office at UNDP-Nepal, told UN News in an interview.

Listen to the interview here:


Nicaragua: UN rights experts call for release of Catholic bishop

UN-appointed independent human rights experts on Tuesday demanded an end to the arbitrary detention by Nicaraguan authorities of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez, following the release of 12 Catholic priests last month.

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“We are deeply concerned about the systematic patterns of harassment against members of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations by Nicaraguan authorities,” the two Special Rapporteurs said.

“The Government must immediately and unconditionally release Monsignor Álvarez and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief in the country,” added Nazila Ghanea, and Irene Khan.

The experts expressed their grave concern in an official communication sent to the Government of Nicaragua on 2 August.

It is estimated that since 2022, Nicaraguan authorities have cancelled the legal status of at least 1,000 non-profit organisations, of which more than 320 are said to be of a religious character.

Earlier this year, the Government cancelled the legal status of the historic Central American University (UCA) run by the Catholic order of the Society of Jesus and confiscated its facilities, together with two evangelical Christian universities and another associated with the Catholic Church.

The experts stressed these acts are contrary to international law and appear to be part of a broader pattern of repression against different elements of Nicaraguan civil society, especially those who voice criticism of the Government.

Special Rapporteurs and other Human Rights Council-appointed independent experts are not UN staff, nor do they receive payment for their work. 

General Assembly votes overwhelmingly against US Cuba embargo

Resolution details

The resolution’s full title is the “necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.

The Assembly voiced concern that despite its resolutions dating back to 1992 (Resolution 47/19), “the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba is still in place”, and that “the adverse effects of such measures on the Cuban people and on Cuban nationals living in other countries”.

It recalled measures adopted by then US President Barack Obama in 2015 and 2016 “to modify several aspects of the application of the embargo, which contrast with the measures applied since 2017 to reinforce its implementation”.

The General Assembly reiterated its call for all States to refrain from promulgating and applying such restrictive laws and measures, in line with their obligations under the UN Charter and international law.

Click here for the full text of the resolution.

12:29 PM

That’s it for our live coverage of this annual meeting that once again, left just the US and Israel backing the more than 60 year old Washington policy to maintain economic and trade restrictions on Cuba, born out of the land and property seizures in the wake of the Castro-led Cuban revolution of 1959. 

The General Assembly has adjourned.

12:21 PM

United States

In explaining its vote, the Representative of the United States, Paul Folmsbee, said that his country “stands resolutely” with the Cuban people.

In explanation of vote, representative Paul Folmsbee of the US, addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by US against Cuba.
United Nations

In explanation of vote, representative Paul Folmsbee of the US, addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by US against Cuba.

“We strongly support their pursuit of a future with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said, noting that sanctions are “one set of tools” in the US’ broader effort towards encouraging Cuba to advance democracy and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

He said the US recognizes the challenges the Cuban people face, explaining that sanctions include exemptions and authorizations relating to exports of food, medicines, and other humanitarian goods to Cuba.

“The US opposes this resolution,” he said, encouraging the General Assembly to urge the Cuban Government to adhere to its human rights obligations “and listen to the Cuban people and their aspirations to determine their own future.”

12:04 PM

Several countries are taking the opportunity to explain why they voted, including Timor Leste and Sri Lanka, speaking now. 

12:01 PM


Cuba’s finished speaking. And now for the vote…

Those in favour: 187 

Those against: 2 (the US and Israel)

Abstentions: 1 (Ukraine)

The UN General Assembly votes on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.
United Nations

The UN General Assembly votes on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.

11:16 AM


The Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, is introducing the draft resolution now… He says the more than 60-year blockade violates the rights of all Cuban men and women.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by US against Cuba.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by US against Cuba.

Families lack goods, there are long queues, excessively high prices, and the Government makes great efforts to feed its people. He said the blockade deprives the agricultural industry of funds to buy animal fodder, industrial equipment and other necessities for food production.

Despite wavers on food products, the US is violating rules of international trade, he said.

“Cuba is prevented from buying from US companies and its subsidiaries in third countries, equipment, technologies, medical devices and end use pharmaceuticals, and is therefore forced to acquire them at exorbitant prices by way of intermediaries or to replace them with less-effective generic drugs,” he said, citing testimony from Cuban families wrestling with serious illnesses.

“How different could [their] lives have been, if Cuba was not prevented from acquiring directly from the US market the [medications] to prevent the spasms,” he wondered.

The Minister recalled the situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the challenges to acquire medical oxygen and the need for the US Government to grant a special licence for that transaction, “even during the pandemic”, which reflected the inhumane nature of the policy.

‘Economic warfare’

He said 80 per cent of the population has never known life without the crippling US blockade. It is “an act of economic warfare, in times of peace”, creating a situation of ungovernability and an attempt to destroy the constitutional order, he added. 

He said Cuba was not threat at all to the US and that to subject a small nation for decades to economic warfare, was unacceptable. The whole country was being deprived of the right to progress, through an “illegal, cruel and inhumane policy”, he said.

He reiterated Cuba’s support to and solidarity with Palestinian people, who were currently being massacred on their own illegally occupied land. “These barbaric acts must stop”, he added, referring to the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The Cuban foreign minister said the US had been pressuring banks worldwide not to deal with his nation, becoming victims of US hostility and it’s harmful impact on the global financial system, he added.

He pointed out that the blockade separated Cuban families and deprives US citizens of their right to visit Cuba.

The “tightening economic siege” has been accompanied by a disinformation campaign against Cuba, he said, seeking to destabilize and discredit the country. He said there was a “media crusade” in the US aimed at encouraging discontent and a false impression of domestic political crisis. 

He said he appreciated the support of more than 40 countries during the course of the two day debate.

Cuba would “continue to build bridges with the people of the US” and all emigres living abroad, he said, and never cease to defend their “free and sovereign homeland”, supporting its continuing transformation.

10:58 AM


The Representative of Gabon, Ambassador Aurélie Flore Koumba Pambo, voiced her country’s concern over the continuing embargo.

Ambassador Aurélie Flore Koumba Pambo of Gabon addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by US against Cuba.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Ambassador Aurélie Flore Koumba Pambo of Gabon addresses the UN General Assembly meeting on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by US against Cuba.

“The scale of its impact is more and more harmful to the Cuban people,” she said, noting that the “economic blockade is a “clearly a hostile act to region and continental cohesion”.

Speaking on behalf of her country – currently serving on the Security Council – she said the embargo stood against international law, the UN Charter and normal measures that “govern peaceful relations between States.” She said had a negative impact on culture, public health and the wellbeing of Cuba’s people.

“It is the main obstacle to the social and economic development of Cuba”, she added.

10:14 AM


Paula Narváez Ojeda, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile, reaffirmed her country’s conviction that the implementation of unilateral coercive measures runs counter to international law

“Chile does not agree with the imposition of unilateral sanctions of any kind, the only legitimate sanctions are those adopted by the Security Council in the exercise of its authority for the maintenance of international peace and security,” she said, referring to the responsibilities of the Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

She noted that the economic embargo is an anachronism from a bygone age and must be ended once and for all.

10:07 AM

The President, or PGA as the UN acronym goes, has just formally begun proceedings. This is the 26th plenary meeting of the world body since the 78th session began in September.

The first to speak will be Peru, with 16 countries due to speak before the vote is due to take place. 


Ambassador Luis Ugarelli said his country “shares the view of practically the entire international community” that the embargo is against the principles of the UN Charter and international human rights law, saying his country would support the resolution, as it has done for more than 30 years.

10:05 AM

The session is just about to get underway under the gavel of the President of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis. Delegates are still filing in to the gilded Hall at UN Headquarters.

The US imposed the embargo in response to the revolution led by Fidel Castro and subsequent nationalization of property belonging to US citizens under the new Government.

A thaw in diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Obama administration in 2016 led the US to abstain on the resolution for the first time, but the US reverted to opposing the measure in 2017.

For a look back at the state of relations in the General Assembly when the US embargo was first imposed, here’s a video from our Stories From the UN Archive series featuring the longest address in history by the youthful Cuban leader:

The resolution has been overwhelmingly passed each time, but the pattern of voting has been carefully analyzed as a snapshot of current geopolitical alliances and tensions. 

09:40 AM

Debate on the resolution began yesterday and continues today at 10 AM New York time, with Cuba and US among the key countries expected to take the floor today.  

Yesterday saw an overwhelming number of Member States underscore the many harmful and long-lasting consequences the decades-long embargo has had on the Caribbean island nation.

Many cited the Secretary-General’s report on the impact on Cuba’s overall human development, with the Assembly calling for the embargo to be lifted every year the resolution has been debated.

Click here to catch up on the discussions from Wednesday, from the UN Meetings Coverage Section

Para seguir la cobertura en español pulse en este enlace

Action on the draft

At the end of the debate, action is expected on the draft resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

This item has been a regular fixture on the Assembly’s agenda, and the body has, in previous years, voted overwhelmingly in favour of an end to the measures.

Last year for instance, 185 Member States voted in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Brazil, Ukraine), expressing concern about the adverse effects of such measures on the Cuban people and on Cuban nationals living in other countries.

Climate action: ‘Take steps to close the adaptation gap, now’

The Adaptation Gap Report 2023 issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), says the world is underprepared, under invested and lacking the necessary planning, leaving us all exposed. It warns that instead of speeding up, progress on adapting to climate change is stalling.

The slowdown extends to finance, planning and implementation, says UNEP, with massive implications for loss and damage, particularly for the most vulnerable. 

Financial lag

“Today’s report shows the gap in adaptation funding is the highest ever. The world must take action to close the adaptation gap and deliver climate justice,” said the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, commenting on the report’s findings.

The updated adaptation costs for developing countries are estimated at $215 billion to $387 billion annually this decade, reflecting higher estimates than previous studies which are bound to increase significantly by 2050. 

And the needs of developing countries are 10-18 times higher than the flow of public financing – over 50 per cent higher than the previous estimated range. 

Pledges peter out

Despite pledges made at COP26 in Glasgow to double adaptation finance support to around $40 billion per year by 2025, public multilateral and bilateral adaptation finance flows to developing countries declined by 15 per cent to around $21 billion in 2021.

Concurrently, the adaptation finance gap is now estimated to be $194-366 billion per year. 

In Glasgow, Scotland, people take part in a demonstration for climate action, led by youth climate activists and organized on the sidelines of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
© UNICEF/Howard Elwyn-Jones

In Glasgow, Scotland, people take part in a demonstration for climate action, led by youth climate activists and organized on the sidelines of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Costs will only rise

The report cites a recent study that indicates the 55 most climate-vulnerable economies alone have already experienced loss and damage valued at more than $500 billion in the last two decades.

Costs are likely to rise steeply in the coming decades, particularly in the absence of forceful mitigation and adaptation.

The new loss and damage fund will be an important instrument to mobilize resources, but issues remain, as the fund will need to move towards more innovative financing mechanisms to reach the necessary scale of investment. 

The UN chief thinks one source could come in tax revenue from the big emitters and polluters.

“Fossil fuel barons and their enablers have helped create this mess; they must support those suffering as a result,” he said in his message, calling on governments to tax the “windfall profits of the fossil fuel industry”, and to devote some of those funds to countries suffering loss and damage. 

Youth activists protest at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh demanding leaders to address ending the use of fossil fuels.
UNFCCC/Kiara Worth

Youth activists protest at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh demanding leaders to address ending the use of fossil fuels.

Mitigate now to minimize future costs 

Authors of the report advocate for an ambitious adaptation: it can enhance resilience, which is particularly important for low-income countries and disadvantaged groups, including women.

For example, every $1 billion invested in adaptation against coastal flooding leads to a US $14 billion reduction in economic damages, while $16 billion per year invested in agriculture could help an astonishing 78 million people avoid starvation or chronic hunger due to climate impacts. 

Finding innovative ways 

The UNEP report identifies ways to increase financing, including through domestic expenditure and international and private sector finance.

Additional avenues include remittances, increasing and tailoring finance to Small and Medium Enterprises, shifting finance flows towards low-carbon and climate resilient development pathways, and a reform of the global financial architecture.

“Multilateral Development Banks should also allocate at least fifty percent of climate finance to adaptation and change their business models to mobilize far more private finance to protect communities from climate extremes,” expanded this point the UN chief.

COP28 must address ‘adaptation emergency’ 

“We need bold action to respond to escalating loss and damage that results from climate extremes”, said the UN chief.

“All parties must operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28 this year. And we need new and early pledges to get the fund started on a strong footing”.

We are in an adaptation emergency. We must act like it. And take steps to close the adaptation gap, now,” the UN Secretary-General said.

Amazon, DoorDash, Walmart, trapping workers in poverty: UN rights expert

In separate letters to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, the UN-appointed independent expert on extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier De Schutter, requested a response to reports of inadequate pay, aggressive union-busting tactics, and the misclassification of workers as “independent contractors”, intentionally depriving them of traditional employment benefits such as minimum wage guarantees.

Struggling to afford basics

“I am extremely disturbed that workers in some of the world’s most profitable companies – in one of the richest countries on earth – are struggling to afford to eat or pay their rent,” said Mr. De Schutter

“Multi-billion-dollar companies should be setting the standard for working conditions and wages, not violating the human rights of their workers by failing to pay them a decent wage,” he added.

‘Pathway out of poverty’

As outlined in a recent report to the UN on the rise of the “working poor”, being in a non-standard employment contract is a major cause of in-work poverty.

The Special Rapporteur also pointed to a United States Government report naming all three as among the top employers of Government medical and food assistance recipients.

“Jobs are supposed to provide a pathway out of poverty, yet in all three companies the business model seems to be to shift operating costs onto the public by relying on government benefits to supplement miserably low wages,” he said.

Aggressive union-busting

The ability of workers at Amazon and Walmart to negotiate higher wages is severely hampered by their employers’ aggressive union-busting activities, according to information received by Mr. De Schutter, with the companies spending millions of dollars to counter workers’ efforts to unionise.

“It appears that the US is turning a blind eye to the union-busting activities of its most powerful corporations, allowing them to steamroll workers into accepting poverty wages while corporate revenues soar,” lamented the expert.

The Special Rapporteur wrote to the US Government detailing the allegations and requesting information on its plans to address widespread in-work poverty in the country. 

 US lagging behind

“Around 6.3 million people are classified as working poor in the US, and the country falls drastically behind other high-income nations in terms of wage policies, worker protection and the right to organise,” he said.

“Businesses have a responsibility to respect internationally recognised human rights, including the right to a living wage and to join a union without fear of reprisal,” Mr. De Schutter said.

The expert asked for replies to his letters of 31 August within 60 days. To date, only Amazon has provided a response, although it does not fully address all the concerns expressed. There has been no response from the US Government, DoorDash or Walmart.

“The allegations against Amazon, DoorDash and Walmart would constitute flagrant violations of these rights and it is time for these corporations, and the US Government, to be held accountable,” he said.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work. 

Situation in Gaza ‘growing more desperate by the hour’, says UN chief Guterres

The UN chief’s visit comes as the crisis in the Gaza Strip enters its third week following the 7 October incursion by Hamas militants into Israel and Israel’s subsequent declaration of war.

Late last week the UN adopted a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce, but the past few days have seen heavy bombardment and reports of ground operations inside Gaza by Israel.

“I know that even though the conflict in the Middle East is thousands of miles away, it has hit very close to home for the people of Nepal,” said the UN chief at a press conference on Sunday alongside Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Also expressing best wishes for the safe return of Bipin Joshi, a Nepalese citizen who is missing, the Secretary-General vowed that he would continue to insist on the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages in Gaza.

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“And I repeat my utter condemnation of the appalling attacks perpetrated by Hamas. There is no justification, ever, for the killing, injuring and abduction of civilians,” he stated.

At the same time, Mr. Guterres noted the extremely dire situation in Gaza and expressed regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations.

“The number of civilians who have been killed and injured is totally unacceptable. All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law … which emerged from the tragedy and awful experiences of war,” he continued.  

Emphasizing his consistent calls for strict compliance with international humanitarian law, the Secretary-General stated: “The Laws of War establish clear rules to protect human life and respect humanitarian concerns. Those laws cannot be contorted for the sake of expedience.”

Mr. Guterres said that in Gaza more than two million people with nowhere safe to go, are being denied the essentials for life – food, water, shelter and medical care – while being subjected to relentless bombardment.

“I urge all those with responsibility to step back from the brink,” he said calling the situation a “humanitarian catastrophe.”  

The Secretary- General reiterated his appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of a sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza.

“We must join forces to end this nightmare for the people of Gaza, Israel and all those affected around the world, including here in Nepal,” he said. 

Nepal’s commitment to multilateralism, SDGs

The Secretary- General praised the Himalayan country’s long tradition of championing peace and multilateralism and called on the world to “be a better friend to Nepal”, which is caught in raft of crises not of its own making, including the threat posed by climate chaos.

Mr. Guterres thanked Prime Minister Dahal and said that the UN was hugely grateful to Nepal for its support for multilateral solutions – backed up its enormous contribution to peacekeeping missions worldwide.    

At the start of his four-day visit to the country, the UN chief also praised Nepal’s “astonishing progress” over the past two decades, as it had become a republic, established peace, and thrown itself behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate action. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres  (right) addresses the media in Kathmandu, flanked by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
UN Nepal

‘Graduation’ on the horizon

“And there’s more to come,” Mr. Guterres continued, explaining that “the next few years will be decisive, as Nepal prepares to graduate from Least Developed Country status.”

The Secretary-General was referring to the UN-facilitated process by which the world’s most vulnerable nations, once they meet a set of criteria (on income, human assets and economic and environmental vulnerability), may take phased steps towards ‘graduation’, which represents an important milestone in the development path of LDCs.

The UN chief went on to note that over the Next few years, Nepal would also embark on the final stages of the peace process: transitional justice. 

“Transitional justice must help to bring peace to victims, families and communities,” he said, emphasizing that “the United Nations stands ready to support Nepal to develop a process that meets international standards, the Supreme Court’s rulings, and the needs of victims – and to put it into practice.”

‘Blizzard of global crises’

“Nepal is also caught in a blizzard of global crises not of its making: the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and the enormous threat posed by climate chaos,” said the Secretary-General.

As such, he said, much more international action is needed. Developed countries must step up to support sustainable development, and help developing economies including Nepal to tackle the climate crisis.  

The UN chief noted that on this trip, he planned to visit the Himalayas to see first-hand the terrible impact of the climate crisis on the glaciers.  

“The situation is dire, and it is accelerating. Nepal has lost close to a third of its ice in just over thirty years. And glaciers are melting at record rates,” he said, adding: “The impact on communities is devastating.”

With this in mind, Mr. Guterres said that he also planned to meet with local people in the Himalayas to hear directly from them about how they are affected.  

He is also expected to travel to Pokhara and to Lumbini, to reflect on the Lord Buddha’s teachings of peace and non-violence.  

“And I want to explore how the United Nations and Nepal can work together to solve problems, boost prospects, and improve international support. Because though Nepal is a friend to the world, the world must be a better friend to Nepal,” he concluded.

‘Tipping points’ of risk pose new threats, UN report warns

Tipping points are reached when the systems we rely on stop functioning as designed, amplifying the risk of catastrophic impacts, according to new research published by the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

The Interconnected Disaster Risks report 2023 finds that the world is fast approaching risk tipping points on multiple fronts.

Cliff fast approaching

By indiscriminately extracting water resources, damaging nature and biodiversity, polluting both Earth and space while cutting down options to deal with disasters, human actions introduces new risks and amplifying existing ones.

“With these risk tipping points, it is as though we are approaching a cliff that we cannot see clearly ahead of us, and once we fall off the cliff, we can’t easily go back,” said Dr. Zita Sebesvari, one of the report’s lead authors and UNU-EHS Deputy Director.

Interconnected Disaster Risks 2023: Risk Tipping Points

The report analyses six interconnected risk tipping points. Selected for their representation of large global issues that impact lives across the world they are: 

  • Accelerating extinctions that trigger chain reaction to ecosystem collapse
  • Groundwater depletion that drains water risking food supply
  • Mountain glaciers melting
  • Space debris causing loss of multiple satellites, “our eyes in the sky”
  • Unbearable heat making it hard to live in some areas
  • Uninsurable future when rising risks make homes unaffordable

The impacts can also cascade through to other systems and places around the world, authors of the report warn. 

Understanding and acting 

If risk tipping points are understood, informed decisions and decisive actions to avert the worst are possible. 

“Because of the interconnected nature of these risk tipping points, their drivers, root causes and influences, avoiding them will require more than a single solution”, explained Dr. Sebesvari.

“We will need to develop solutions that bring together different sectors and address the drivers and root causes in a systemic way.”

The report offers a new framework that categorizes risk mitigation solutions into four types based on their approach: Avoid (preventing risk), Adapt (dealing with risk), Delay (slowing risk progression), and Transform (system overhaul). This framework aids in evaluating a solution’s potential outcomes and trade-offs.

Identifying a solution’s category helps evaluate potential outcomes and trade-offs. 

For instance, addressing the “Unbearable heat” tipping point due to climate change may involve an Avoid-Transform approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while an Adapt-Delay approach could be installing air conditioners in hot climates, although this may contribute to global warming if powered by fossil fuels.

“In our interconnected world, we can all make changes and inspire others towards transforming the way we use our systems to reduce risk,” said Caitlyn Eberle, another lead author of the report and senior researcher for the UNU study.

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