SG at KPMG Summit; Sudan/South Sudan; Advancement of Women; Madagascar; and more

KPMG Summit: SG Ban Ki-moon today at the  KPMG Summit: Business Perspective for Sustainable Growth encouraged more businesses to embrace the principle of sustainability in their strategies, noting that with the most of the world’s ecosystems in decline, widening social inequality and climate change, global prosperity, productivity and stability was at stake. He urged business leaders gathered at the conference to five steps to advance sustainability:

– Join the Corporate Sustainability Forum to be held on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable development in Brazil in June

– Heed the call of a new generation of investors by publicly reporting on sustainability performance;

-Engage in responsible lobbying and advocacy to affirm their belief in free and fair trade

-Work with governments to adopt smart regulatory frameworks and incentives that reward environmental and social performance

-Work with the UN in its platforms and initiatives on sustainable business practices.

Syria flatly rejected UN allegations of crimes against humanity on Tuesday, even as monitors said troops killed at least six civilians in the heaviest shelling of the protest city of Homs for days.

Navi Pillay, the top human rights representative at the United Nations, said on Monday that the world body’s inaction had “emboldened” Syria’s government to unleash overwhelming force against its own civilians. “The nature and scale of abuses committed by Syrian forces indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed since March 2011,” she told the General Assembly.

But Syria’s government rejected her accusations. “The foreign ministry, in a message sent to the UN Human Rights Commission, categorically rejected the new allegations made by the commission,” state news agency SANA said. The ministry also accused the commission of being manipulated by “countries targeting Syria and of ignoring the terrorist crimes committed by armed groups,” SANA reported.

Sudan/S. Sudan:
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday called on Sudan and rebels in areas bordering South Sudan to grant immediate access for U.N. aid workers to the turbulent region, expressing “deep and growing alarm” at rising hunger levels.

In a statement, the 15-nation council expressed “deep and growing alarm with the rising levels of malnutrition and food insecurity” in parts of the two states, “which could reach emergency levels if not immediately addressed.” It called on Sudan’s government and the rebels to allow immediate access to U.N. personnel to allow them to carry out a needs assessment and deliver supplies and equipment to civilians affected by the conflict.

Advancement of Women:
United Nations Member States must boost economic empowerment for women to help them realize the global community’s common goals, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro urged today at the Non-Aligned Movement’s ministerial meeting on the advancement of women, warning that gender discrimination around the world was still too widespread. Spotlighting the struggles faced by women in rural communities around the world, Ms. Migiro also urged governments to economically empower women living in the countryside, noting that the issue was particularly “critical” in NAM states.

Ms. Migiro also pointed to the progress made by the UN’s youngest agency, UN Women, noting that as it entered its second year, it was determined to do even more to deliver on the Organization’s promises to advance women’s issues, including leadership and political participation, the expansion of economic opportunities, working for an end to gender-based violence, and increasing women’s contributions to peace.

UNICEF said today that it has pre-positioned enough emergency supplies to assist 100,000 people in Madagascar, where a tropical cyclone has made landfall, bringing torrential rains and intense winds. The emergency supplies include mosquito nets, water purification devices and school kits. A spokesperson for UNICEF noted that the country already faced high malnutrition rates, particularly children, and relatively low levels of access to fresh water and decent sanitation.

At least two people have been confirmed killed since Cyclone Giovanna struck Madagascar’s eastern coast, just south of the port of Toamasina, earlier today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.

The UN said today it is working with Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania to relocate refugees fleeing renewed fighting in Mali to safer locations away from the border areas, as thousands continue to arrive on a daily basis. The recent outbreak of conflict in northern Mali between Government forces and Tuareg rebels has sent thousands of civilians fleeing to neighboring countries, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) having received reports of “significant” new arrivals over the weekend in northern Niger. According to the authorities in Burkina Faso, 8,000 people have entered that country so far, many of them women and children.