Investors Summit on Sustainable Development; Secretary-General in Lebanon; India; Haiti; FAO

Sustainable Development Investors Summit: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged investors today to lend their support to sustainable development initiatives to deal with climate change and provide efficient energy solutions around the world. “In these times of austerity and economic uncertainty, public sector efforts alone will not be sufficient,” Mr. Ban said in his message to participants at the Investor Summit in New York. “Limited public sector resources will need to leverage much larger pools of private sector financing and know-how.”

In his remarks, delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning Robert Orr, Mr. Ban stressed that partnerships with the private sector can make a “crucial difference” in development projects, and encouraged investors to take part in the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20), which will be held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in June.

Mr. Ban also invited investors to take part in the high-level group he set up in November for his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

SG visit to Lebanon:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will depart New York today for an official visit to Lebanon, where he will meet with the country’s leaders and with United Nations peacekeepers serving in the country, according to his spokesperson.

Mr. Ban is scheduled to confer with both leaders, as well as the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament and the acting head of the opposition. He will also open a high-level meeting on Arab reforms and democracy, organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which is based in Beirut.

With no registered polio cases over the past year, India is on course to becoming free of the disease, the WHO reported today. If all pending samples for the virus test negative, India – once regarded as the world’s epicenter for polio – will become free of the disease for the first time in its history, reducing the number of polio-endemic countries to three: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake attributed India’s remarkable progress to strong leadership at a national and state level, which pushed for the launch of a comprehensive polio eradication program that enabled very poor and populous states to have high immunization coverage. The scale of the eradication effort has been described by WHO as “mind-boggling,” with 170 million children under the age of five being vaccinated each year in two national immunization campaigns, and up to 70 million children in the highest-risk areas being vaccinated multiple times in additional special campaigns.

Haiti: As Haiti marks the second anniversary of the massive earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people and devastated an already poverty-stricken country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged continued international support for recovery and rebuilding.

He pointed out that despite considerable achievements, including in rubble removal and the resettlement of displaced persons, many Haitians remain in need of international assistance following the 7.0-strength quake that struck on 12 January 2010.

WFP said today it has, working with the Government and partners, made significant progress in improving food security, although much more remains to be done. The agency continues to provide food assistance to 1.5 million people every month, according to a pres release.

Global food prices declined in December, but the overall annual average was the highest ever on record, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

Last month, FAO’s Food Price Index level was 211 points – 27 points below its peak in February. The decline was driven by sharp falls in the international prices of cereals, sugar and oils due to a productive harvest coupled with a slowing demand and a stronger United States dollar. However, despite the steady decline in prices during the second half of the year, the Index overall averaged 228 points in 2011 – the highest average since FAO started measuring international food prices in 1990. The second highest average occurred in 2008 at 200 points.