Be the change you want to see in the world!

Blessed Easter Season to each of you!

It is certainly a busy time around the UN, as more and more work is moving back to in-person format, and we are all learning how to do hybrid meetings. 

In Februarythe Commission on Social Development, at their annual meeting, addressed the theme of “full and productive employment and decent work” to overcome inequality. Although these areas are key to accelerating recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, they are also central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An important dimension of the deliberations was how unemployment impacts youth. Young people, who are tomorrow’s future are the ones who will bear the consequences of the current crisis in the world today.

For the UN, “decent work” is one that assures the dignity of the worker; gives the worker a living wage so the person can contribute to society; and provide the employed with necessary social protections (e.g., access to health care, support in times of sickness and disability, pension, etc.). These are very consistent with long-standing Catholic Social Teachings. All of these would contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

Then, in March took place the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women with a successfully negotiated CSW67 Agreed Conclusion, a significant document with regard to the theme of the session: This year’s meeting had as its principal theme the critical role of technology and innovation in achieving gender equality, and the importance of education for women and girls in a digital age. Access to this knowledge and digital skills are important today for the empowerment of women in the world. This is already evident in the improved economic opportunities available to them in the job market and in the business world. 

This CSW 67 was characterized by over two hundred side events and seven hundred parallel events. We as Daughters of Charity led a parallel event entitled “Education in the digital age: We Love Reading” Intergenerational Dialogue.  How do we celebrate the best of education in the digital age? What might happen when we bring together a brilliant scientist from Jordan and entrepreneur, who founded the global non-profit “We Love Reading,” with a group of high-school students from different faith traditions halfway around the world. We heard of diverse experiences in accessing digital platforms both for educational and social use. We also heard about experiences of online abuse and the efforts to become empowered and create safe spaces for all girls users. Girls were strong in advocating for access, saying it is a human rights issue. 

The above Commissions – Social Development and the Status of Women – serve as standing committees of the UN. They bring together Member States, Civil Society, and experts to assist governments with guidelines to help them address pressing issues. Each Member State is expected then to write action-oriented policies for the good of its people and the advancement of its country. UN bodies can only make recommendations; but it is the governments who are the ones to enact them in their own countries.

The UN 2023 Water Conference concluded on 24 March. It confirmed that water truly unites the world as a determined global community and come together to make a difference not only for the future of water but for the future of the world.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed his closing remarks to a packed room, thanking everyone for their commitment to #WaterAction. He noted: “The commitments at this Conference will propel humanity towards the water-secure future every person on the planet need.” He emphasized that water is for health, for peace, for sustainable development, and that’s why water needs to be at the center of the global political agenda. The right to water entitles everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water.

The primary goal of the Conference was to raise awareness of the global water crisis and commit to joint action(s) to achieve the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, such as Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The conference was a call to action for every single person on the planet to accelerate change to solve the water and sanitation crisis around the world.

Coming soon is the twenty-second session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 17-28 April 2023. The priority theme of the session is: “Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change: a rights-based approach”.

As our Pope Francis reminds us at the conclusion of Laudato Si’: May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.

Sister Michelle Loisel, DC

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