UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced a new class of SDG Advocates this month. The 17 advocates are public figures committed to using their global platforms to raise awareness, inspire greater ambition, and push for faster action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The advocates are also partners in the Deputy Secretary-General’s SDG Strategy Hub—amplifying its messages and initiatives and participating in related events.
May 29, 2019 — The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA), the World Health Organization’s main governing body, concluded yesterday in Geneva. The annual assembly is attended by more than 4,000 delegates from more than 190 member states and many partner organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Earlier this month, the World Bank and UNICEF announced a new partnership to promote education, skills and training for young people in developing countries with the goal of boosting employment prospects. As part of the partnership, the World Bank will align $1 billion of its investments with UNICEF’s recently launched Generation Unlimited initiative, which aims to help prepare the world’s 1.8 billion young people for the transition to work and engaged citizenship by connecting secondary-age education and training to employment and entrepreneurship.
NBC News reported a pattern of widespread corruption at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN’s primary refugee agency. The report alleges that some aid workers demanded bribes of up to $5,000 per family in order to provide services. During a seven-month investigation, NBC interviewed over 50 refugees registered with UNHCR around the world, as well as current and former UNHCR staff and UN investigators.
WHO released its annual World Health Statistics report earlier this month, providing for the first time data disaggregated by sex. The report found that average life expectancy globally increased from 66.5 to 72 years, with women outliving men everywhere. Mortality rates from suicide, road injury and homicide were significantly higher in men, who often seek health care less than women.
The U.S. nonprofit Fund for Peace released its 2019 Fragile States Index this month. The index scores risk and vulnerability in 178 countries using composite political, social and economic indicators.
WHO’s second Fair Pricing Forum, co-hosted with the government of South Africa, brought more than 30 countries and 40 industry and nonprofit groups together in Johannesburg April 11–13 to discuss drug access and affordability.
David Malpass took office as newly elected president of the World Bank this month, beginning his tenure by looking to win over critics and the organization’s staff. Facing some skepticism about his position on multilateralism during his previous service in the U.S. government, Devex reported that Malpass issued a statement to the World Bank’s staff, promising a focus on “measurable successes” in his tenure, including “raising median incomes, creating job opportunities for women and girls, and sustainable debt management and transparency.”
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released its annual State of World Population report April 10. The report, titled Unfinished Business, highlights achievements and challenges in sexual and reproductive health since the agency’s founding 50 years ago. Despite progress, the report emphasized continued inequities for minority and marginalized groups in exercising reproductive rights and choices, according to Devex.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) released this month an updated endgame roadmap document outlining its approach to polio eradication, integration, containment and certification. The GPEI Polio Endgame Strategy 2019–2023, developed in broad consultation with GPEI partners and stakeholders around the world, highlights issues including gender, research and development, and Post-Certification Strategy (PCS) implementation.
The first WHO Partners Forum took place in Stockholm April 9–10, bringing together global health and development leaders from governments, health partnerships and civil society. WHO and its partners discussed how they can better support WHO’s mission to deliver care, services and protection for billions of people by 2023. Under WHO’s Thirteenth General Program of Work (GPW13), WHO needs $14.1 billion by 2023.
WHO and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene launched the first comprehensive global assessment of WASH in health care facilities earlier this month. The report found that one in four health care facilities lacks basic water service, and one in five offers no sanitation service. Many health centers also do not have basic facilities for hand hygiene and safe disposal of health care waste.
The World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and European Union (EU) jointly released the Global Report on Food Crises 2019 this month, describing how 113 million people in 53 countries worldwide “experienced high levels of food insecurity” in 2018. This number has declined by 11 million since 2017, though the authors note that data gaps (e.g., no data from North Korea or Venezuela) remain.
According to a UN report released earlier this month, over 320 people reported sexual violence and exploitation by UN staff or affiliates in 2018, a significant increase from 2017. The UN attributed the increase to “special measures,” first implemented in 2017, that aim to improve reporting processes and allow for victims to file reports without fear of retribution or reprisal.
The second High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation met March 20-22 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first conference, held in 1978, adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) focused on improving technical cooperation among developing countries. This year’s conference added the concept of triangular cooperation, where developed states and multilateral organizations facilitate South-South initiatives.