Daily Archives: June 4, 2012

Celebrating World Environment Day with a Boston Corporate LEEDer

Tomorrow, June 5, UNA-GB is teaming up with John Hancock Financial to celebrate the 40th anniversary of United Nations World Environment Day and its theme, “Green Economy: Does it include you?”

The annual World Environment Day was created by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972 as a way to raise awareness about environmental issues. UNEP focuses on several areas ranging from environmental governance to disasters, conflicts, and climate change, and encourages global citizens to care for our environment in order to improve our quality of life. World Environment Day serves to personalize environmental issues and urge civil society to realize that it is our responsibility to take action. Not only is WED a celebration but it is also an opportunity to come together and initiate change in support of sustainable lifestyles and development.

More specifically, this year WED will hone in on issues of green economies– economies that are low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive. UNEP suggests that because  a green economy is socially inclusive that means that we as global citizens are integral in making a change, that it is not only up to businesses and policy-makers; this is where the bulk of this year’s theme comes into play.

These questions arise just as the UN is gearing up for the Rio+20 conference, taking place June 20-22. The conference marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon acknowledges World Environment Day as the perfect opportunity to prepare for Rio+20 and to reflect on how we fit into green economies (read his official statement here).  World leaders and thousands of participants from governments, NGOs, and the private sector will convene  to discuss “priority areas” including green economy and its role in poverty eradication. For more information on this topic, check out Rio+20’s green economy resource and this Guardian article on green jobs and how they can help lift workers out of poverty. And to get involved take a look at Rio’s page on engagement.

UNA-USA has sprung into action by responding to efforts to ban UN’s Agenda 21 and encouraging members to let their voices be heard and write letters to editors. Additionally, the UN Foundation has established Rio+Social and the 6 Minute Speech project as a way to connect to the event through social media- an easy way to get involved! Both organizations are hosting a live web conference on June 22 @ 1 PM EST to get an insider’s look at Rio+20’s sessions (RSVP here).

With all of those options there are still more opportunities to help! UNEP challenges us all to join in the WED  and Rio+20 action by not only asking ourselves how we can be included in promoting sustainable development but also by simply organizing a neighborhood clean-up, planting a tree, or even walking to work.  More than 8,400 WED activities, including Tuesday’s program at John Hancock, have been registered at UNEP’s global 2012 WED website.

This year John Hancock Financial’s headquarter offices at 601 Congress Street in downtown Boston became the first existing building in New England to become LEED certified at the platinum level by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) At UNA-GB’s event, John Hancock Financial will be recognized for its environmental commitment and leadership. Our hope is to encourage other corporations in the Boston area and beyond to take similar steps such as striving for the greener rankings as John Hancock did or by supporting environmental efforts elsewhere in their company or surrounding communities.

Although the event focuses on corporate action, we must not forget this year’s WED theme; does the green economy include you? We should ask ourselves what we can do to be more involved in environmental issues. UNA-GB will be volunteering with the Boston Harbor Association on Tuesday by cleaning a park near John Hancock at 12:30pm.

UNA-GB is also deeply committed to educating the next generation of global citizens about environmental sustainability beyond just World Environment Day – through our Model UN program this past year, more than 600 students have debated environmental topics, including clean water, green building and sustainable development.

What will you do to celebrate World Environment Day? What actions will you take to support the environment on June 5? And on June 6th and beyond? A great first step is to join us for World Environment Day on Tuesday. Hope to see you there! You can also check out how else you can support the planet with 50 Ways to Help.

Boston Event details recap:
Tuesday, June 5
Event at John Hancock Financial, 601 Congress Street
10:15-10:45 AM- Tour of John Hancock’s new LEED certified building
11:00-11:30 AM- Brief speaking engagement with UNA-GB Board President Richard Golob and State/city environmental officials.
12:00 pm- John Hancock vendor fair
12:30-1:30 PM- Park clean-up with Boston Harbor Association (To participate in the clean-up, email info@unagb.org your name!).

-Jessica P

From Belgium to UK: A Recap of the 2012 Consuls Ball, Boston’s Global Gala

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The United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB) hosted our annual Consuls Ball – an elegant, high-spirited international event that gives tribute to the city’s global leaders of today while benefiting the global leaders of tomorrow – at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston on this past Friday evening, April 27. Nearly 400 guests and 34 consuls who facilitate business, trade, education, and other linkages in the state came out to celebrate the international community in Boston. The day was also a celebration of Governor Deval Patrick’s proclamation of April 27 as the official Consuls Day in Massachusetts.

The Consuls Ball commenced as the 34 members of the Consular Corps of Boston in attendance, from Belgium to the UK, processed into the packed Ballroom for acknowledgment. A toast was given by Dr. Arese Carrington, UNA-GB Board Vice President, recognizing the lasting economic and cultural impact of the Corps, which now numbers almost 60 Consulates in Boston, or nearly one third of UN Member States.

“Today, so-called ‘democratic space’ has expanded to all corners of the world; a development never witnessed before in the history of mankind,”shared Ambassador Kazuo Kodama, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, who gave keynote remarks at the Ball.  “Yet, one of the most difficult challenges confronting the UN at this juncture is how to assist countries in transition in rooting democracy and the rule of law in their home soil… I can provide full assurances that Japan is committed to extending our continued support in cooperation with the efforts of the international community at large.”  See Ambassador Kodama’s full remarks here.

The night had a special focus on Japan, with the Ball falling at the end of the first week of the new nonstop flight linking Boston to Tokyo and the rest of Asia, an event certain to extend Boston’s global footprint and strengthen economic and cultural ties not only between Boston and Japan, but between all of New England and Asia.  The Ball also coincided with the Cherry Blossom Centennial, as well as the one year marker of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan.  Along with Ambassador Kodama’s remarks, the night showcased the best of Japanese culture, from Taiko drumming to stunning Ikebana centerpieces to sushi and a special Cherry Blossom Cosmo.  The night was capped by a raffle drawing of a dream trip on the new JAL Dreamliner direct flight to Tokyo (retail value $5,000), which was won by Calvin Williams, resident of Arlington.   Roy Chase,  of Hyannisport, was the other lucky winner of our second raffle drawing – a gorgeous 18 Karat White Gold Pearl and Diamond bracelet (retail value $2,500) donated by Shreve, Crump and Low and designed by Mastoloni Pearls.

Not only did the Consuls Ball recognize current global leadership, but it also raised money for the future global leaders in Boston area schools, who are preparing to live and work in an ever more globalized world.  The Consuls Ball supports UNA-GB’s Model UN programs, which teach 6th-12th grade students in local public schools to think critically about complex global issues, increase their understanding of diversity and the world beyond our borders, and provide them with conflict resolution and public speaking skills.

“[Model UN] is an opportunity to have a voice, to jump out of your comfort zone, and most importantly take that experience into the future such as in college, the working place, and society in general”,shared Stephanie Thermora, a senior at Boston Latin Academy and active Model UN participant.  “Every student should have an opportunity to participate in a Model UN program because every student has in something they can share with the world and the capability to change the world.”

In the 2011-2012 school year, close to 3,000 students — more than half from urban schools — participated in nearly 100 schools throughout the Greater Boston area.

The evening’s events were closed with a final toast by our fearless Board President, Richard Golob, in recognition of the next generation of global leaders, our youth participants in Model UN.  It was a beautiful night of international celebration and support, and we are deeply grateful for all the support and energy provided by our sponsors, table hosts, guests and volunteers!

See photos from the Reception and Dinner Program.  You can also see our coverage in the Boston Globe’s PartyLines section.  And check back soon for a video recap!

We hope you can join us in April 2013 for the next Consuls Ball!

-UNA-GB staff

2011 Annual Member Meeting: The Success of the Past Meets the Potential of the Future!

Fall has officially kicked off here at UNA-GB. Over the past few weeks, UNA-GB was hard at work planning our Annual Member Meeting and Kimball Lecture, held Wednesday, September 28, and boy, was it a success!

Every year, we hold an Annual Meeting to communicate all that we’re doing with our members and friends. In addition this year, UNA-GB’s annual Kimball Lecture was held after the meeting. This year, not only did we showcase all that we have accomplished so far, but we presented our exciting plans for the rest of the year!

Newly elected Board Member Hakan Satiroglu (second from left) with UNA-GB Board and Advisory Council members.

The evening started off with our Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors, which was open to the public, during which Officers, Board Members, and Advisory Council Members were elected. Among the newly elected were Nate Tassinari, Hakan Satiroglu and Roger Berry. We look forward to seeing what these new faces can bring to our already fantastic Board of Directors!

With an ambitious agenda, the Annual Meeting of Members began almost immediately following the Board of Directors Meeting. The program began with opening remarks from UNA-GB’s Executive Director, Lena Granberg, who played the role of Sec-Gen throughout the night, complete with a gavel and all.  President Richard Golob gave a very inspiring speech laying out the success of UNA-GB during 2010 and the first half of 2011. From the Women’s Forum, to the Young Professionals Network, to our Signature Events including the annual Consuls Ball, Richard presented our enormous impact on the greater Boston community – in the past year alone, more than 5,000 people have been served with UNA-GB’s classroom and community based programming!

The expectations for the upcoming months were only raised higher after the next part of the evening.

Nate Tassinari sharing our Young Professionals upcoming events!

A panel of our staff and volunteers took the stage to detail our various groups, our upcoming events, and easy ways for UNA-GB members to get involved. Among speakers were Rebecca Corcoran for our Model UN Program, Natalie Prolman for our Campus Ambassadors, Nate Tassinari for our Young Professionals Group, Elizabeth Grealy for our Women’s Forum, and Kaitlin Hasseler for our Signature Events and Advocacy/Communications.  It wasn’t just pure presentation though – audience members had a chance to win big by answering trivia questions like “the world’s population will hit _____ billion in October 2011” and “what do ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Seacrest and Supreme Court Justice Breyer have in common?”  (Answers??  Seven and Model UN, respectively!)

For those who weren’t at the Meeting, click here to learn more about our upcoming events, and also find out how YOU can get involved with our programs and events here!  2 easy ways to get involved right now? Become a member today! Also, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep updated with our latest news and upcoming events!

Ambassador Walter Carrington

Following our panel of speakers, attendees had the chance to hear Ambassador Walter Carrington give the Kimball Lecture keynote address, focused on Africa and the War on Terrorism. Carrington served as US Ambassador to Nigeria and Senegal, and is currently an Associate of Harvard’s DuBois Institute while working on a book on Nigeria and another on Islam in Africa. And during his introduction given by Richard Golob, UNA-GB President, we even learned that Carrington was Martin Luther King Jr.’s big brother in their Fraternity at Harvard University!

The Kimball Lecture is given annually in memory of Professors Chase and Mary Lee Evans Kimball. Chase and Mary Lee were lifelong supporters and promoters of United States participation and responsible leadership in international organizations, starting with fervent advocacy of the United States entry in the League of Nations. Chase, a lawyer and professor of international relations, and Mary Lee, a professor of French, were enthusiastic and loyal supporters and generous donors to UNA-GB and the UN Council of the South Shore.

The evening ended with a Wine and Cheese Around the World ReceptionThe Robert F. Meagher Wine & Cheese Around the World Reception was started this year as an annual event to recognize the contributions and legacy of long-time UNA-GB Board Member Bob Meagher who passed away in 2007 at the age of 80. Our reception included cheese from all over the world including Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, and France, and our wine selection spanned from Chile, to New Zealand, and California to Hungary!

We even had a few famous faces join us at the Meeting this year, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Goodwill Ambassador (and Boston darling) Giselle Bündchen.  New to this year’s Annual Member Meeting was a photo-booth with key United Nations individuals, which provided a great form of entertainment during registration.

Overall, 2011 Annual Member Meeting was a HUGE success! From the interactive photo-booth, to our panel of speakers, and our Kimball Lecture to the Wine and Cheese Around the World Reception, our guests felt engaged, informed, and excited about the upcoming months!

Weren’t able to attend this event? Click here to check out photos from the evening!  And join us at our upcoming events!

-Jennifer J.

Creating A Road To Democracy

Happy 4th  of July to all! As we celebrate the independence of our country on this day and the freedoms we are thankful for, we would like to take a closer look at the road towards independence for other countries around the world.  News headlines the past few months have been dominated by the strive for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.  Here’s our second blog post from our newest blog seriesGet Educated, One Topic At A Time featured every Monday, whose focus today is on this year’s “Arab Spring” from start to present!  And speaking of emerging democracies, stay tuned for a blog post later on this week in honor of Southern Sudan’s official independence on July 9th!

While the term, “Arab Spring” is one of some contention, there can be no denying that there is a major change happening in the Middle East and North Africa.  Said by some to be as important, if not moreso to world history than the fall of the Berlin Wall, the “Arab Spring” has significantly changed the political atmosphere both within the region and around the world.  Beginning when Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian college graduate who was selling vegetables from a cart because of the high rates of unemployment there, set himself on fire on the steps of parliament after corrupt police confiscated his wares, the resulting protests soon spread from Morocco to Iran.  On January 14, 2011, President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali fled Tunisia, becoming the first dictator to be ousted as a result of the “Arab Spring.”

Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square

Protests soon spread to Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was the next to step down after three decades in power.  The demonstrations were centered in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo, Egypt’s capital city.  Thousands of people stayed in the square for eighteen days amid attempts by the government to placate the crowd with small concessions and violent attacks by forces loyal to Mubarak.  The Egyptian people persevered, however, and are now, hopefully, on their way to free and fair democracy.

Today, movements have sprung up in almost every country in the Middle East and North Africa, from small scale peaceful demonstrations for social and political reforms like in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to outright bloody conflict and civil war like in Syria and Libya.

Protesters in Sana'a, Yemen

The United Nations has not become directly involved in any country yet, though it has issued several statements expressing deep concern over the human rights abuses that are taking place.  The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that “resort[ing] to lethal or excessive force against peaceful demonstrators not only violates fundamental rights, including the right to life, but serves to exacerbate tensions and tends to breed a culture of violence.”  The UN Security Council has also given its support to the NATO mission in Libya, and we will likely see further discussion in other UN bodies as the “Arab Spring” continues.

As the rest of the world scrambles to adjust to the rapidly changing political climate, the people of the Middle East and North Africa continue to stand up for their rights in a region that previously represented the only part of the world virtually devoid of democratic governments.  There is still a lot of hard work ahead for the reformers and nation builders of the “Arab Spring,” but they have taken a revolutionary first step on the road to democracy and freedom.

To keep up with the journey as it continues, follow the Guardian’s “Path of Protest”.

-Chris

A Day to be Mindful of Land Mines

Today is an opportunity to revitalize international support for mine action, as we celebrate International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The day emphasizes that clearing land of explosive remnants of war saves lives and protects livelihoods, and that landmines and other unexploded devices – known as unexploded ordnance, or UXO – are unique because their destructiveness is indiscriminate and long outlasts the conflicts in which they are used. They are particularly dangerous for children. Furthermore, landmines violate nearly all the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They severely disrupt economic activity, halt rebuilding after conflict and lead to increased food security because farming and irrigation are prevented.

Landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to kill or injure thousands of people a year. With high level interest in the Convention on Cluster Munitions (54 member states have already ratified it) and the innovative Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (98 member states have already ratified it) worldwide efforts to remove landmines and explosive remnants of war are at the top of the United Nations agenda.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for “universal adherence to these important treaties, increased support for mine awareness and mine action, and greater global solidarity in support of this crucial element in our drive to build a safer and more prosperous world for all.”

UNICEF, for example, is planning to mark the day through a number of activities in Lao PDR – the most bombed country per capita in history. UXO survivors are attending workshops on advocacy in Vientiane Capital and will be given the opportunity to speak at a special event today, to be held at the National University of Laos stadium.

In the past, close to twenty-one countries have hosted special events to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on or around April 4th. This day has drawn attention to the plight of survivors and the gradual reduction in new casualties since the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty entered into force in 1999.

Action on land mines was a big focus of UNA-USA up through 2 years ago, when they successfully concluded their Adopt-a-Minefield campaign. UNA-USA raised over $25 million for mine action, cleared over 1,000 minefields, and assisted thousands of survivors. Globally, now there are only 6,000 new casualties each year—as opposed to the 25,000 annual rate recorded in the late 1990’s. There are 156 signatories to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT)—that’s 80% of the world’s nations! Only two countries used landmines last in 2008—rather than the previously widespread use in over 80 countries.  This shows progress can be made.

But more progress is still needed.

Most of the current events around the world are hosted jointly by governments of mine-affected countries and the United Nations agencies that support their mine action efforts and ranged from official events with statements by top governmental and United Nations officials, to mine risk education theater performances, concerts, fund-raisers and photographic exhibitions.

Despite its many well-documented successes, however, mine action remains underfunded. The 2011 portfolio of projects has secured only about a quarter of the needed resources, leaving a funding gap of $367 million.

So there are ways in which YOU can help. The easiest way to get involved is to join the movement to raise awareness about the continued danger of landmines among your family and friends and around the world.  Stay connected to what UNICEF is doing, and help work towards a more peaceful and just future for all.

-Hanna

New UN Job Training Program for Ivorians

Followed by the May 2010 decision to extend the duration of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has recently announced a two-year, $3.5 million project which will allow for young people in Côte d’Ivoire to receive training in manufacturing, construction and service jobs. The project agreement was signed on August 2, 2010 by the  Deputy to the Director-General of UNIDO, Yoshiteru Uramoto, and the Ambassador of Japan to Côte d’Ivoire, Yoshifumi Okamura, and will be funded by the Japanese Government and implemented in the Bouaké region of Côte d’Ivoire.

The project’s aim is to “to assist the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in its efforts towards a lasting peace, poverty eradication and sustainable social and economic development,” said Mr. Uramoto. Through the project “young people, including demobilized combatants, will benefit from a series of training courses. They will get new skills in the productive sectors, and develop entrepreneurial abilities to set up their own micro-enterprises and income-generating activities.”

Following a 2002 civil war that split Côte d’Ivoire into a rebel-held north and a Government-controlled south, the United Nations has focused on securing peace and reunifying the country. The job-training project is essential in assuring that young people will become productive citizens and will obtain the skills needed to restore the economy in Côte d’Ivoire.

Read More on the New Project

-Christina