Global Sustainability Report; AU Summit; Sudan; Syria; and more

GSP report: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for action on a new blueprint for creating a sustainable planet, a just society and a growing economy, stressing that the current path will not lead to a fair and resilient future for the world’s people. Speaking at the launch in Addis Ababa of the report prepared by his High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, Mr. Ban stressed that sustainable development is a top priority for his second term of office.

The group’s final report, Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing, contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to make it a part of mainstream economic policy as quickly as possible. The report calls for integrating social and environmental costs in how the world prices and measures economic activities. It also calls for a set of sustainable development indicators that go beyond the traditional approach of gross domestic product (GDP) and recommends that governments develop and apply a set of “Sustainable Development Goals” that can mobilize global action and help monitor progress. It also underscores the importance of science as an essential guide for decision-making on sustainability issues.

AU Summit:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed African leaders at the AU summit in Addis Ababa yesterday. He urged African countries to entrench civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to boost stability and development in the continent. He cited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as one of the injustices that has been ignored or even sanctioned by many States for too long.

The Secretary-General also noted that 25 African countries will hold elections at either the presidential, legislative or local levels this year and urged them to ensure that the polls are well-managed, transparent and inclusive. He also called for greater representation of women in parliaments across Africa, which he said currently stands 20 per cent on average.

The United Nations Monday called for Sudan and South Sudan to withdraw their security forces and police from the border region of Abyei because they interfered with the return of war-displaced people and nomadic migration. A report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which was being discussed by the Security Council, said armed troops from Khartoum and police from South Sudan continued to remain in Abyei contrary to a June agreement between the two sides to defuse tensions in the border region.

The United States and other Western countries called on the U.N. Security Council today to end its “neglect” of the violence raging in Syria and rapidly endorse an Arab League plan for a political transition there. The Council will meet tomorrow to discuss the Arab League plan, but a vote is not expected until later in the week.

According to Reuters, the Arab League’s Secretary-General and Qatar’s prime minister are due to plead with the council to back the plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to transfer powers to his deputy to prepare for free elections. Western countries are deploying their “big guns” to try to overcome Russian objections, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe due to attend the session.

UNFPA-Intel initiative:
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the computing company Intel today unveiled a joint effort to strengthen the skills of midwives and community health workers through technology, in a bid to reduce the number of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths across the world. Intel will build on its commitment to the UN Every Woman, Every Child initiative to help train one million frontline health workers by 2015 under the Intel 1Mx15 Health project.

Intel will also work with various governments to help increase the availability, affordability and usage of technology. UNFPA, for its part, will develop the training content with relevant partners and professional organizations.