Category Archives: Other Events

Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth, and Families Conference

WHEELO~1Education, health, and human rights are three prevalent international issues on their own, but they are also tightly interwoven into each other. How often do we get to see them as such? “We go to a conference on education; And we go to a conference on health care; And we may even go to a conference that focuses only on human rights, but not often do we have the chance to bring them together,” says Jackie Jenkins-Scott the President of Wheelock College. And she is right! Alone, these causes are expansive, so focusing too much on one may warrant the neglect of another, but the overlap should not be forgotten. Wheelock College is not only remembering this, they are celebrating it. Next week, the institution is holding a four day conference that will delve into global issues in education, health, and human rights. It is called Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth and Families.

From Wednesday, June 19th until Saturday, June 22nd, international activists can come dissect, discuss, and collaborate on the issues of social justice, power, protection, prevention, aid, and programs available for children and families around the world. Keynotes will be speaking throughout the conference, and they are an impressive set of minds. The event will kick off with Cherie Blair, Founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and will continue with other notables such as Kevin Carroll – Author, Speaker, Agent for Social Change, Founder Katalyst LLC, Ögmundur Jónasson – Minister of the Interior of Iceland, Kerry Kennedy – President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Simona-Mirela Miculescu – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

The six keynotes are not the only reasons to join the conference. In addition to the stimulating conversations and inspiring words of amazing individuals, there will be a Cultural Festival with international music, food, and dance, screenings of international films exploring critical global issues, concurrent sessions on education, health, and human rights, expert panelists, spotlight sessions highlighting exemplary programs in education, health, and human rights, and an Awards Celebration evening at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

The conference is a chance for 42 countries to come together so voices can be heard, and a cross-cultural think tank can be explored. Definitely something all activists will want to check out!

33239bcd05224cd99298ecb2bf6bcfd8

For more information and registration, click here! #GlobalCauses

Also, email allison.smith@unagb.org to get a great discount code!

Advertisements

Networking night with UNA-GB members and Professor Ian Johnstone

Image
 

On March 20th, UNA-GB hosted a members (and friends) event at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale in downtown Boston. This event aimed to welcome new members to the organization through networking and foster a discussion about “The Responsibility to Protect after Libya and Syria”, led by Professor Ian Johnstone, a UNA-GB Advisory Council Member.

Ian Johnstone is a Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has just been appointed Academic Dean of the Fletcher School, a position he will assume in July 2013. Prior to joining Fletcher in the year 2000, he worked for the United Nations, including five years in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He continues to serve as a regular consultant to the United Nations, including to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs.

The discussion attempted to encapsulate the standing of coercive intervention within the framework of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) following the application of this philosophy in Libya and the opposite in respect to it in Syria from the United Nations. Professor Johnstone noted that in 2011, the UN Security Council was confronted with the dilemma of whether to authorize an intervention in Libya to prevent a possible humanitarian catastrophe. At that time Libya was confronting civilian casualties as a consequence of fights between the government and rebel forces and the international community was concerned that this problem would only escalate to a large scale of victims. 

The discussion question that Professor Johnstone proposed after his introduction on the background about the Libya and Syria cases within the R2P context was: why has the UN and international community’s response to the conflict been so different and what does this tell us about the practice of the R2P doctrine within the UN? Should the UN reassess the R2P philosophy for future cases? How does the Security Council play a role within the R2P decisions?

If you are interested in networking and discussing this and other international issues, make sure to come to our future members events! 

 

 

An Afternoon with Dr. Brimmer

photoYesterday, UNA-GB held a teatime discussion with Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. In her role as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Brimmer leads the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which strives to advance U.S. interests through international organizations in areas including human rights, peacekeeping, food security, humanitarian relief, and climate change.

photo copy 6During the discussion, Dr. Brimmer spoke about the role of the U.S. in conflicts such as Libya, Mali, and Syria, to name a few. She also spoke about the changing nature of women and conflict. For example, there has been an increase in the number of women involved in peacekeeping operations. She also spoke about the creation of UN Women, which strives for gender equality. UN Women also deals with issues of human trafficking, human rights, humanitarian action, and peace and security.

photo copy 4Dr. Brimmer also offered insight on her personal experience working in her current position. She said that her most rewarding experience was in September 2009 when she spoke at the Human Rights Council on behalf of the U.S.  It was at this session that the U.S. pledged to advance human rights and strengthen the Human Rights Council.

We would like to thank Dr. Brimmer for giving her time to talk to UNA-GB members. We are very lucky to have had her give her insight on her current role. Thank you, Dr. Brimmer!

Our next event is in a few days! Join Women’s Forum @ UNA-GB on Monday, March 4 for International Women’s Day. For more details, check out this link: http://wfiwd2013.eventbrite.com

“Not My Life” Film Screening

Last night I attended a UNICEF screening of “Not My Life;” a documentary sharing the stories of boys and girls around the world who are victims of the 2nd most profitable criminal industry in the world – human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, subjecting and coercing men, women and children into commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Click here for the trailer of “Not My Life.”

Image

It is estimated that 27 million people are enslaved today, half of which are children. Victims are often forced into prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, forced marriage, sweatshop work, begging, armed service and migrant farming. Traffickers, who can literally be anyone, can prey on a wide-range of victims; no gender, age, race or economic class is safe. Modern-day slavery it is occurring all over the globe, even in the US and yes, even under our noses in Boston.

“Not My Life” showed boys forced to fish all day in dirty African waters, child soldiers in Sudan, child prostitutes in Cambodia and abusive pimps in India. It would be remiss to assume that this behavior only occurs in faraway countries. For example, the film showed a bright, young American girl forced into prostitution and a young African girl forced into slave labor in Washington D.C. UNICEF says that “human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states in the US,” and anyone of any race, education or socioeconomic standing is at risk.

Image

The women of the panel, Susan Bissell of UNICEF and Lina Nealon of Demand Abolition, stressed that the most important way to end human trafficking in our lifetime is through prevention (as opposed to rehabilitation). We need to have better laws/policies, promote anti-slavery societal norms, fight debt-poverty and violence within the family. Ms. Bissel and Ms. Nealon stated Massachusetts has the most comprehensive anti-trafficking laws; however, these laws are clearly not enough.

Image

So, you may be asking, what can one do to help stop human trafficking? Here are some ideas. First, put the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in your phone and use it if you see something suspicious! The number is 1-888-373-7888. 

In addition, think about supporting a group (such as the ones below) who fight human trafficking or find some other that speaks to you! Tweet us @UNAGB for any suggestions you may have about how you can help prevent and stop human trafficking!

An evening with Michael Dukakis!

Now that summer is gone and fall is in the air, UNA-GB kick-started another great year with its Annual Meeting held on the evening of September 13th.

Former Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis

The Annual Meeting was a great opportunity to meet with the Boston community and share with them what we’ve been doing throughout the past year and our plans for the next 12 months. This year’s meeting started off with a Board meeting, which was open to the public. Following that, the Annual Meeting began with the opening remarks from UNA-GB’s Executive Director, Lena Granberg, who briefly spoke about the highlights of the year and introduced our new staff members, Allison Smith, Programs and Administrative Assistant, and Nuray Zerbe, Development and Partnerships Associate. UNA-GB’s President Richard Golob presented the successful works that UNA-GB has made throughout the year, addressed its remarkable growth in the Boston community, and shared our agenda for the upcoming year. In addition, he spotlighted a number of local UN Day events to engage the public in recognizing the anniversary of the United Nations, such as the annual UN Day Luncheon, this year with special keynote speaker Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil’s permanent representative to the UN.

From left to right: Nate Tassinari, Young Professionals Network; Lena Granberg, Signature Programs; Patricia Chilangwa, Women’s Forum; and Rebecca Corcoran, Model UN Programs.

The panel discussion gave insights of our programs and priorities in 2012. Among speakers were Rebecca Corcoran, Model UN Programs; Nate Tassinari, Young Professionals Network; Patricia Chilangwa, Women’s Forum; and Lena Granberg, Signature Programs. Each panel of speakers began with trivia questions and discussed how each program has served the community. If you missed the meeting and want to catch up on recent UNA-GB events or upcoming programs, click here to learn more.

For this year’s Kimball Lecture, Michael Dukakis, Former Massachusetts Governor and Former US Presidential Candidate, gave the keynote address, “Strengthening International Institutions – Now.” Dukakis served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts and is known as the longest serving governor in Massachusetts history. He gave an inspiring speech on international peace and security.

Kimball Lecture and Q&A: “Strengthening International Institutions- Now” presented by Former Governor Michael Dukakis

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 participation and responsible leadership of the US 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 of the United Nations Association of Greater Boston and the UN Council of the South Shore.

Annual Robert F. Meagher Wine & Cheese Around the World Reception

The evening wrapped up with the “Robert F. Meagher Wine & Cheese Around the World” reception, to recognize the contributions and legacy of long-time UNA-GB Board Member Bob Meagher.  Everyone who attended the meeting enjoyed wines and cheeses from all over the world including Chile, France, Spain, Ireland, Australia, Portugal, and South Africa.

From the open Board meeting to the Wine & Cheese Reception, UNA-GB’s 2012 Annual Meeting was a huge success in bringing community members together and showing our support for the ideals and mission of the UN.

Check out more pictures from our Annual Meeting on our Facebook page!

We always welcome you to be with us. Become a member today and join us in our upcoming events. For more information on how to get involved with UNA-GB, check out the Get Involved tab on our website.

Collaboration, Education, Innovation: Northeastern University’s Emerging Markets Symposium

Last Thursday’s Fourth Annual Emerging Markets Symposium was a morning of critical discussion and inspiration as business leaders and academics tackled the topic of  “Winning in Emerging Markets”. The symposium, held by Northeastern University’s Center for Emerging Markets and led by director and professor Ravi Ramamurthi, focused on sharing lessons from experience in order to look to a future of economic collaboration in rapidly growing economies around the world. The speakers came from various sectors and experience levels, from seasoned CEOs to students currently building start-ups abroad; this made for a dynamic and interesting morning.

The symposium began with an inauguration by Governor Deval Patrick. In his remarks he focused on education, innovation, and infrastructure as the drivers of a developing economy, adding that Massachusetts has been and is developing in all of these key areas. He stated that eastern Massachusetts has the highest concentration of colleges and universities worldwide, that the Commonwealth is a center for innovation, and touched on infrastructure projects that are ongoing in the western part of the state. He urged that now is the time for Massachusetts to become even more involved in the global economy, beginning with our universities, saying “This globalized economy is all about an explosion of knowledge, and we have that in spades.” According to the Governor, committing to investment in education and innovation in the Commonwealth creates a “platform for future growth” and makes Massachusetts an enticing business partner for cities and countries with emerging markets.

After Governor Patrick gave his remarks, the symposium opened up for a question and answer period during which he answered frankly to questions about future trade missions, specifically on the African continent,  and job creation. The rest of the morning was filled with engaging presentations from a diverse group of speakers, all building on Patrick’s key points of education, innovation, and collaboration.

Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO and COO for EMC Corp. Centers of Excellence spoke to the strength of collaboration throughout global offices and stressed the importance of working with and hiring local staff to tailor one’s business to emerging markets’ standards. Working in emerging markets means being willing to liaise between local and global, Sao Paulo and Boston. In a CEO panel, Luis Bonell of Liberty International and Giri Chakravarthi of Emhart-AsiaStanley Black & Decker presented on “Capturing Business in Emerging Markets”.

A map of global emerging markets

Despite the differences in their sectors, insurance and household tools/ fasteners respectively, both underscored the importance of having a deep understanding of market dynamics and local cultures as a key to success. Ventia Kontogouris, of Venkon Group, LLC., talked about creating businesses from scratch in emerging markets, speaking from her 20+ years of experience in venture capital investments in India. Again, she highlighted local to local collaboration as paramount in doing good business across the globe. Nigel Burton, Chief Marketing Officer at Colgate-Palmolive, was the luncheon keynote, focusing his remarks on marketing challenges in various local contexts and giving voice to the perspective of a large multinational corporation with a larger presence in emerging markets than in traditional, western markets.

Jola Venture’s SolPod for crop dehydration

A definite highlight of the morning for many were two wonderful presentations from Northeastern students on their personal experiences in Cameroon and Uganda, and the work they’ve undertaken in these regions. Michael Cantalino presented the business model for his start-up, Jola Venture, a company that provides solar powered food dehydrators for farmers. Elizabeth Cherchia shared her experience with Northeastern’s Engineers Without Borders and her water security projects in a Ugandan village. Their dedication was inspiring and garnered praise from the distinguished speakers for ensuring us that our future in emerging markets will be a bright one.

The key words of the day were education, innovation, collaboration and cultural competency- words we live by here at UNA-GB. Our Model UN and classroom programming serve nearly 3,000 students in the greater Boston area, teaching them valuable skills in problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking through various cultural lenses. While corporations are making their mark on emerging markets, we’re doing work right here in Boston to prepare young leaders for a promising future in a globalized world.

And stay tuned… exciting news to come about one emerging market in particular and our 2012 UN Day Luncheon!!

-Jessica Pires

Inspiration, Perspiration, and Celebration: 2012 UNA-USA Annual Meeting Recap

This year’s UNA-USA Annual Meeting just wrapped up last week, and was a great success with more than 150 UNA-USA members from 63 Chapters and 31 states coming together in Washington DC from June 10-12 for Chapter development sessions, briefings at the U.S. Department of State, and Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.  We had an impressive showing by Boston members this year; along with staff member Kaitlin Hasseler and Board Member Alma Morrison, we had 5 members actively participate in the conference.  Read their recaps of the activities below.

UN Foundation President Tim Wirth and Dan Sullivan at the UNA-USA ’12 Meeting

Dan Sullivan, former Young Professionals chair and current UNA New England Region Steering Committee Member:
The state of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is strong and vibrant. UNA members met for the annual meeting in our nationʼs capital June 9-12th as a unified cadre of committed citizen ambassadors representing the principles embodied in the United Nationsʼ mission. Newly elected CCR-Steering Committee representatives assembled Saturday for dinner and their first official meeting.

Alma Morrison, UNA-GB Board Member and outgoing CCR Chair (far left), with Patrick Madden, UNA-USA Executive Director, and additional chapter members.

A palpable energy was evident in the Westin DC City Center Hotel on Sunday as members convened for the first time since the UNA-USA-UNF merger was finalized last year.  The meeting opened with Executive Director Patrick Madden and our very own Alma Morrison, outgoing Chair, Council of Chapters and Regions presiding over the annual business meeting and awards ceremony. Alma was recognized for her extraordinary, selfless allegiance to UNA-USA throughout a challenging time. She is a legend and a hero to all UNA-USA members and we are immensely proud of her at UNA-GB.

The morning continued with a regional breakout session and working lunch. UNA-GB members, along with Alma and UNA-GB staff member Kaitlin Hasseler met with leaders from the two Connecticut chapters to share programming successes, ideas on membership and retention, and the possibility of hosting a joint event in the coming year. The great Gillian Sorensen (who we were thrilled to have as a keynote speaker at our UN Day Luncheon last Fall) discussed with us some of the myths and misperceptions of the UN and why she commits her life to serving as an “advocate, debater, and defender” of the United Nations. Aaron Sherinian, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at the UN Foundation presented on utilizing online media strategies for chapters while Laura Giroux, Membership Director at UNA-USA and Andrew Cornelius of the UNA-USA Denver chapter gave a presentation on how to retain members and attract young professionals.

The UN Foundationʼs newest campaign, Shot@Life, champions the cause of vaccines
in the fight to save childrenʼs lives in the developing world.  Director Devi Thomas spoke of how to effectively advocate for global vaccines. Chapters seeking advice on how to integrate Model UN programs were able to meet with Global Classrooms staff and chapter leaders in the afternoon.

Young Professionals Happy Hour at the UNA USA 2012 Meeting

On Sunday evening, the UNA-National Capital Area Young Professionals hosted a happy hour attended by over 40 UNA-USA members of all ages to share appetizers, cocktails, and conversation on UN news and chapter activities.  Following the happy hour, a film screening of Iron Ladies of Liberia was showcased at the hotel.

On Monday, members were treated to a spectacular, unique opportunity to enter the State Department for a day of high-level meetings and a memorable luncheon in a hallowed, historic venue, the Benjamin Franklin Dining Room. The morning began with a panel discussing Agenda 21 and how to battle the misperceptions rampant now. We were then regaled by one of Americaʼs legendary diplomats, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, on peace and security and the state of the UN Security Council. Concurrent sessions followed on human rights and reproductive health. The elevators filled as we rode to the luncheon in the famed Benjamin Franklin Dining Room, taking time to savor the many paintings and artifacts displayed there and to walk out on the veranda overlooking Washington with the enormous Stars and Stripes and State Department flags waving proudly in the June air. United Nations Foundation President and former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth and Reid Detchon, Vice President, Energy and Climate, UN Foundation spent the luncheon informing us of the key energy and climate issues surrounding the Rio+20 Conference and the historical progress made since 1992. The day at State concluded with a terrific overview of U.S.-UN relations by Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, U.S. Department of State. Dr. Brimmer need be thanked for so kindly setting up our luncheon.

The meeting culminated Tuesday with an early breakfast at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation before our march on the Capitol to wear out our soles promoting legislation to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, compel Congress to ensure the U.S.
seeks a second term on the UN Human Rights Council, and that congressmen support the Senate Appropriations bill which includes full funding of the U.S. monetary obligation to the UN. Meetings with house and senate staff took place throughout the day with a lunchtime break in the Kennedy Caucus room to hear from John Danvers, Foreign Relations Committee Staff Director to Chairman John Kerry, U.S. Senator (D-MA). UNA-GB representatives articulated the agenda with poise and precision, meeting with the offices of Congressmen Tierney, Lynch, Capuano, Markey, and Keating as well as the offices of Senators Brown and Kerry. Staff welcomed us with open arms, open ears, and open support for our advocacy acumen. The day was a great success for UNA-USA as members passionately sought support from their congressional delegations to maintain a robust U.S.-UN partnership keeping with the recent data from two prominent, national nonpartisan polling companies showing that 86% of Americans support a strong U.S.- UN relationship.

The 2012 UNA-USA Annual Meeting concluded Tuesday afternoon as members made
their way to trains, planes, buses, and automobiles for their journey back home. After
four days of inspiration, perspiration, and cerebration the state of the UNA-USA is the
most vibrant it has ever been. Bringing UNA-USA and the United Nations Foundation together has fostered a new, vigorous pursuit to advocate for and defend the work of the UN and its role in the international arena. On behalf of myself and UNA-GB, thank you to all who made this meeting a tremendous success. Let us continue the vital work of informing citizens, educating students, and serving as dedicated citizen ambassadors of
the United Nations. The work goes on.

Below is additional feedback and the opinions of our other volunteers that attended the conference!

UNA-GB members Immaculate, Ritah and Virginia (L-R) outside the State Department’s renowned Benjamin Franklin Room.

Immaculate Nansubuga:
“I joined the UNA-USA early this year and I am greatly honored to be a part of the largest network of UN supporters in US history.  I was so fortunate to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, where I enjoyed not only the talks and discussions on some of the recent world’s most pressing challenges, but also I was greatly inspired by the various speakers, staff and chapter members of the UNA-USA whose impeccable dedication, passion and support for UN was explicit in numerous ways.  Our meetings with Members of Congress were smooth, thanks to Kaitlin, Alma and Daniel who delivered the keynotes and asks with just the right mix of hard data, examples and opinions.

I learned a lot about how the UNA-USA connects people, ideas and resources to help the UN solve some of the major global problems.

I also learned the reasons why it is more important than ever for the US as a nation as well as each individual who wants to see a better world, to show our continued support for the UN, goals and objectives.”

Ritah Nakandi:
“My objective of attending the conference was to broaden my knowledge of UN’s activities and familiarize myself with its progress in the global affairs. From the speeches and discussions, I was able to identify UN’s input especially with the MDG’s and its advocacy for Congress’s continued support of UN’s activities in the future. It was such a great experience for me to enlighten UN’s contribution in the world especially by demonstrating it’s progress in the Millennium Development Goals. I was mesmerized by UN member’s enthusiasm in implementing UN’s goals like the SHOT@life which captivated me.  Most importantly, the people have high energy and their loyalty to the UN mission is an everlasting selfless act that is a worthy call that I will always be drawn to.  I learned the significance of member engagement and how it consolidates one to have successful outcomes. This empowerment makes us, the UN members feel as one and as a family striving for a common goal and always be hopeful. It was such an informative and fruitful experience for me and I was really blown by the ambiance of the places that I never thought I would even get a chance to visit.”

Virginia Kinene:
“It was a great pleasure meeting you at the conference. As a new member of the UNA-GB, i found the conference very informative. I gained first hand information about the organization’s mission, objectives and how the organization is of great value to society through it’s development  goals such as, ensuring child education is promoted and its significant achievement so far, as reflected in the statistics.

I too enjoyed the great presentations and discussions conveyed by the the various UNA and State representatives on interesting topics such as awareness on human rights and the mechanisms for establishing standards in human rights, communication mechanisms, and the various advocacy methods, among other topics.

It was also an amazing experience meeting great personalities of both the U.N and the State and to also have made professional relationships with people from diverse regions and culture.”

Martin Ssekyewa:
“It was an honor to have such a great opportunity to meet with UNA-USA members from almost all states, people who have devoted their time, experience, and money to sacrifice for the good of humanity. I believe that this meeting was about the common good for all humanity. I had a chance of exploring the millennium goals which do not only favor Boston, but the whole planet and even back to the community where I came from in Uganda.

I have learned to work together with others in order to address the global issues and to find ways how to help my community here in Boston and back home in Africa. From the conference I learned new skills of being a model citizen; I am now well aware of the means I can use to bring back harmonious co-existence and harmony between the environment and man, because without the existence of one, the other is affected. I was so excited to learn how UNA has incorporated the millennium goals for all groups of people despite of their origin, race, gender and color, to work together as a one family.

According to my knowledge, the UNA programs have contributed a lot toward the National Development Plan, with a focus on equity and inclusion, peace, recovery, population and sustainable growth, to mention but a few. I encourage all people to join and support the UN Missions.”

Thank you to Dan, Immaculate, Ritah, Virginia, and Martin, who attended the event on behalf of the UNA-GB! We greatly appreciated your comments, feedback and participation in the event! And we hope we can see exponential growth at next year’s UNA-USA meeting as well!

Learn more about this year’s Meeting, see photos and video, and access post-conference materials (powerpoints, handouts and more!) here.

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

Africa Day Luncheon: Celebrate Africa & Combat Child Marriage!

Africa Day is observed throughout the world on May 25th. The aim of this day is to celebrate the diversity and successes of Africa, and to highlight the cultural and economic potential of the continent. Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. On July 9, 2002, the OAU was succeeded by the African Union (AU), whose aim is to promote economic, social, and political integration, and democracy on the continent. This year will mark the 49th anniversary of the founding of the OAU.

This year, United Nations Association of Greater Boston will honor Africa Day by spreading awareness about the prevalence of early child marriage in sub-Saharan Africa. Child marriage has been a common practice in many parts of the world since very early times. Even though child marriage affects both young boys and girls, girls under the age of eighteen constitute the population that is most adversely affected by it. According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), girls who get married as children are frequently prone to diseases such as HIV and obstetric fistula. Once married, the girls’ lives become limited to performing childcare and other household chores. Due to their relative lack of social power, girls often are subjected to domestic violence. Furthermore, once child brides get pregnant, their dreams of going to school and having bright futures frequently end.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest rate of early and forced marriage in the world. According to Plan UK, approximately 14.3 million girls in this region are married before they reach the age of 18. Child marriage is associated with significant health risks and consequences. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in sub-Saharan Africa, girls ages 15-19 years old are 2-8 times more likely than boys of the same age to become infected with HIV. Similarly, child marriage has played a critical role in the spread of cervical cancer among sub-Saharan Africans as HPV infection has become endemic in this region. Pregnancy suppresses the immune system, thus contributing to many girls in this part of the world becoming infected by diseases such as malaria. Malaria kills close to 1 million people each year around the world—90% of that in Africa alone.

It is crucial for all of us to educate ourselves about the issues surrounding early child marriage, its consequences and ways to combat it. As global citizens, it is our responsibility to oppose harmful practices, and to help our fellow human beings realize their human rights and live fuller lives. To broaden our knowledge of the issues and to discuss ways of combating this harmful practice, the Women’s Forum is bringing together some remarkable women leaders to share with us their insights about successful programs and projects. We will have:

Josephine Kulea, an acclaimed Kenyan children’s rights activist. Ms. Kulea has rescued many girls from early child marriage and female genital cutting, and has placed them in schools instead. She recently started the Samburu Girls Foundation, a project supporting women’s right to education, and fighting female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Amanda Grant-Rose, a representative from Lift Up Africa, will share with us the organization’s extraordinary HELGA Project, and the Bride Rescue Project, which grew out of HELGA. These projects provide girls rescued from early childhood marriage with education as well as room and board. They work to help young women develop self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy.

Blessing Rogers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hope for Children International, Inc. Ms. Rogers both works directly with children through her organization Hope for Children International, Inc., and she addresses legal issues concerning child marriage. She is a human rights activist concentrating on the rights of children and women, and she is the host and executive producer of Afrik Express, a talk show focusing on Africans in the diaspora.

In addition to these brilliant women leaders, Wambura Mitaru, a Kenyan singer and Berklee College of Music scholarship award recipient, will join us as part of our celebration! Ms. Mitaru will share with us her musical heritage and artistry.

Our catering partners will be Taste of Kilimanjaro & Teranga Restaurant!

We invite you all to join us on Monday, May 21st! Celebrate Africa and support us in fighting child marriage!

You can RSVP here: http://africadayboston2012.eventbrite.com/

To learn more about child marriage, and the remarkable work other organizations are doing to fight child marriage, please visit:

-Smriti Kattel

Today’s Defense with Congressman Barney Frank

On Thursday the 15th of March, I had the pleasure of going to see Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank at the Harvard Club on Commonwealth Ave. He was delivering a speech titled “The Deficit and Defense” and it was to an audience of around 100 individuals representing both the private and public sector.

Mr. Frank’s speech was geared towards explaining how our inflated military budget, which is currently around $700 billion including the war in Afghanistan, contributes to the national deficit, which is near $1 trillion, and the long term costs of servicing this debt. Our military spending is greater than the next 14 highest spending countries in the world and accounts for over 45% of all the worlds military expenditures. While Mr. Frank is a great supporter of our troops and wants them to have the absolute best equipment and weaponry available, it was clear in his talk that he firmly believes that today’s military strategy and structure is from an era that no longer exists.

The United States built up vast arrays of conventional weaponry (tanks, bombers, artillery, etc) during the cold war that was available in case the unthinkable happened. Today, our enemies have changed in a dramatic way. They are no longer confined by borders, international law, or concern themselves with the worries or desires of the international community.
Mr. Frank made it clear in his remarks that not only is there plenty of potential for savings and gained efficiencies at the Pentagon but that it will be of necessity as the United States is forced to make budget cuts in order to pay for the tremendous debt that has been accumulated over the years. Mr. Frank highlighted the recent effectiveness of international operations in Libya, Kosovo, and other involvements in several other conflict zones as proof that multi-nation coordinated action is the most cost effective and equitable solutions to most of the threats that we should expect in the decades to come.
The United Nations was put on center stage during the revolution in Libya and Mr. Frank could not stress enough how important it is that future engagements are handled in a similar manner. The United States did not enter by themselves, they did not commit to a never ending battle, and they did not enter without consulting the international community, creating clear objectives, and defining an exit strategy. This serves as a template for future administrations and is an extremely effective option for the United States and others as we embark on an more connected, boundless, and inter-dependent world.
At the end of Mr. Frank’s rousing speech I was fortunate enough to be able to ask whether he supported the United States funding UNESCO once again, regardless of their stance on Palestine, and he stated that he did and that he was hopeful funding for the UN would become a greater importance to the Congress over the coming years. While Mr. Frank is not expected to run for re-election and is hoping to have a quieter life with his husband in their home in Maine, I think it is clear that Mr. Frank believes in the importance of the UN now and it’s even greater importance in the future.
Here at UNA-GB, the advocacy committee will continue to engage our members and elected officials alike on supporting the UN and its mission.  We hope you join us!
– Nat Watson, UNA-GB Advocacy Co-Chair