Blog Archives

Focus On Our Future: Week of 6/27 News Roundup

A lot of focus was put on the future of the world and a push for youth empowerment this week, as events and concerns of the UN meshed in sculpting hope. The week started with the official announcement of the eradication of rinderpest, marking the end of a disease that has been around for centuries. With this huge leap over an obstacle of the past, UNDP  looks towards the success of the Millennium Development Goals for the future. MDG #6 gives hope for the eradication of other diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria. This week unfortunately brought about a new challenge, as the HIV/AIDS funding in Massachusetts has been cut by $1.5 million dollars for the 2012 year by the state legislature. However, there is still a lot of hope for MDG #6, as organizations like AIDS  Action Committee are working hard on local advocacy efforts and students just this week introduced a new app that can determine whether a person has malaria from a smartphone. This app is said to have the potential to be used as an incredible tool in saving lives.  Campaigns like the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets also have very tangible impacts on ending malaria.

Going along with the incredible advances that can be made with technology, this week on June 30th the world celebrated Social Media Day 2011The impact that social media has these days on international issues has been undeniable, especially in relation to coordinating massive riots and exposing human rights abuses from Egypt to Libya to Iran.

As we look towards a future sure to be filled with further developments in social media, the world and the UN this week recognized the development of children (and future Facebookers and Tweeters). The UNRWA supported children in the Summer Games in Gaza this week to give these children the opportunity to impact change of Palestine’s relationship with Israel as they flew kites to make a stand and also break the world record for kite flying, giving them the inspiration to always strive. In Africa, the UN encouraged the involvement of children in society through education and the work force at the annual State of the African Union (AU) summit, which is being held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, and whose theme is youth empowerment for sustainable development.  With a focus on young women, the UN supported the start of the Women’s World Cup 2011 this week in Germany with a push for women to have more roles in our global society.  Education is the key to a stronger future for our youth, and this is projected to be a top priority at the UN Economic and Social Council‘s meeting next week, as Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon discussed his concern of children in dangerous environments in the world this week.  It’s no doubt that a focus on youth is important, as youth today will be the leaders, researchers, educators and world citizens of our future.  We look forward to the world of changes that is to come, and hope to see continued developments in the coming days, weeks and months.

Stay tuned next Friday for the next weekly roundup!

-Cara

From Main Street to Capitol Hill: 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting Recap

Last week I joined UNA-USA members and staff from more than 60 chapters across the country to raise awareness about the United Nations and the critical role it plays in advancing American national security and foreign policy goals during UNA-USA’s Annual Meeting in Washington DC.  The Annual Meeting agenda focused on how we can continue to strengthen support for the work of the UN at the grassroots level.

UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and UNA-USA Executive Director Patrick Madden at the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting.

The week’s meetings were particularly exciting, because it was the first Annual Meeting since UNA-USA officially joined the United Nations Foundation family.  A number of new faces were on hand, including former Senator Timothy Wirth, President of UN Foundation, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundation.

Conversations emphasizing “focus” and “change” dominated the Annual Meeting.  Many of the speakers drove home the need to focus on the work of the UN and how we can better advocate for a strong US role in promoting global cooperation.  Our support for the UN is imperative to peace.  As Ambassador Rice so eloquently put it, “Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off—so much stronger, so much safer and more secure—in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it.”  In her keynote address at the conference, Ambassador Rice also highlighted the immense change going on in the world, seen most clearly in the Middle East.  She encouraged everyone to “break out of old habits and find new answers to 21st-century challenges.”

The partnership between UNA-USA and UN Foundation seems well-positioned to find new ways to leverage the strengths of each organization, creating a powerful synergy and focus of missions.  UNA’s grassroots outreach, combined with UNF’s grasstops mobilizing and campaigning, creates a real opportunity for progress. While it’s true that change never comes without growing pains, UNA members and leaders expressed excitement about gaining access to strong UNF campaigns like GirlUp and Nothing But Nets, and the elevated co-branding opportunities that exist between the two organizations.

In addition to meeting the UNF key players, those in attendance heard from UNA-USA’s new Executive Director, Patrick Madden.  Madden set forth a strong vision for the future of UNA’s work and partnerships.  He also challenged us to grow our local membership, engage young professionals in our programming, and expand our advocacy efforts.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the chance to take up Madden’s call to action to advocate for the UN, and foreign affairs as a whole.  On Tuesday, all of us UNA members went to the Hill to meet with our respective congressional members My Massachusetts counterpart, Alma Morrison, and I deftly navigated all 3 House buildings and 2 of the 3 Senate buildings to meet with staffers from the offices of Reps. McGovern, Capuano, and Lynch, and Sens. Brown and Kerry.  We shared our concerns and wishes regarding US engagement on global issues and made sure our elected officials knew these issues are important to us and our fellow UNA-GB members, their constituents.  It was clear that with drastic budget cuts looming, now more than ever our elected officials needed to hear about our values and priorities directly from us.

I came away from the 2011 UNA-USA Annual Meeting inspired to take action more concretely and to continue to mobilize the greater Boston community on the issues that matter to the UN.  As the oft-repeated mantra goes, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”   It is imperative for us to act now.  I look forward to more fully engaging with UNA-USA, UNF, and the UN, as we work together towards stronger and more successful action and messaging!  I sincerely hope you join us!

-Kaitlin Hasseler, UNA-GB Program Manager

Malaria No More Today (and every day after)!

If you have not been aware, now you know that April 25th is World Malaria Day! It is a day to commemorate global efforts to control malaria, examining the progress that has been made toward malaria elimination and to renew efforts toward achieving the target of zero malaria deaths by 2015.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease widespread in tropical and subtropical regions including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Americas. The disease causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases progressing to coma, and even death.

Malaria transmission can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites by distribution of inexpensive mosquito nets and insect repellents, or by mosquito-control measures such as spraying insecticides inside houses and draining standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.

However, hundreds of thousands of people are still contracting malaria and many of these people are unable to access appropriate and timely, treatment.

All over sub-Saharan Africa, already struggling economies are being battered by the economic burden of the disease, which is estimated to cost Africa $12 billion a year. Malaria remains a leading cause of preventing children to attend schools and work absence putting tremendous pressure on household incomes. In addition, weak health systems are over-burdened by the relentless demand for care and medication.

Reducing the impact of malaria is key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which are geared towards not only combating the disease itself, but the improvement of women’s and children’s rights to health, access to education and the reduction of extreme poverty.


Photo by Maggie Hallahan/Sumitomo Chemical

World Malaria Day gives us a chance to make a difference.

Help end malaria by 2015! There are many ways you can help to reduce deaths caused by malaria. Donate mosquito nets by visiting NothingButNets.net or find out other ways to get involved at worldmalariaday.org.

Also, check out couple of events hosted by Harvard about Malaria:

Rethinking Malaria: From the Gene to the Globe

A Seminar in Recognition of World Malaria Day 2011

  • When: Tuesday, April 26, 12:00 – 2:00pm
  • Where: Harvard School of Public Health, Francois Xavier Bagnoud Building, Room 301
  • Talks by
    • Sangeeta Bhatia, PhD,Professor of Health Sciences & Technology and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
    • Caroline Buckee, PhD,Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
    • Günther Fink, PhD, Assistant Professor of International Health Economics, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Sponsored by the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health
  • Lunch will be served – Space is limited – Open to the Harvard community

Malaria Bytes

A Harvard Student Benefit Concert in Commemoration of World Malaria Day

  • When: Wednesday, May 4, 8:00 – 10:30pm
  • Where: Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge
  • Sponsored by the Harvard Malaria Initiative
  • For tickets visit www.cluboberon.com

Help us work today to achieve a malaria-free world tomorrow!

-NaEun