16 January 2012

50th Geneva Graduate Study Programme

Opportunities and challenges in a world of 7 billion” will be the theme of the 50th Geneva Graduate Study Programme, to be held at the Palais des Nations from 2 to 13 July 2012.

Each year, as part of the educational outreach programmes undertaken by the United Nations, the Information Service at Geneva organizes a Graduate Study Programme. This seminar provides an opportunity for outstanding young postgraduate students from all over the world to deepen their understanding of the principles, purposes and activities of the United Nations and its related agencies through first-hand observation and study at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The 50th Graduate Study Programme will comprise lectures given by senior members of the United Nations and the Geneva-based specialized agencies. Participants will also form working groups to study issues related to the work of international organizations on the subject of the year, under the guidance of United Nations experts. They will be provided with selected documents and publications on the theme under discussion. Please note that the Programme will be conducted in English and French without interpretation.

Postgraduate students interested in the 2012 Graduate Study Programme must submit their application by POST before the deadline date of 2 March 2012. No applications will be accepted after this date.

The postgraduate students invited to attend this Study Programme will be selected on the basis of their academic experience and motivation, with due regard to equitable geographical and gender distribution. Candidates must be between 23-35 years of age, and have a good knowledge of English and French.

For more information: http://bit.ly/cjR0Sq Declaration by United Nations 70th anniversary|declaration-by-united-nations-70th-anniversary|Thu, 19 Jan 2012 01:13:02 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|Today, 18 January 2012, the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies organized a seminar marking the 70th anniversary of the Declaration by United Nations.

Seventy years ago, President Roosevelt coined a term that found resonance with 26 states... What began as a necessity to defend liberty and human rights is today a vital instrument of common progress across a broad agenda of aspiration and need.  Let us learn what more there is to know as we commemorate the UN’s origins on the road to the 70th Anniversary of the Charter; and let us all work together today to realize the UN’s full potential in building the future we want, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message.

The message was delivered by Dame Margaret Anstee, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Angola

The full text of the message is below.


It is a pleasure to convey greetings to the distinguished scholars, policy-makers, former UN officials and others who have gathered at Lancaster House to mark the 70th anniversary of the “Declaration by United Nations”.  I commend this important meeting and welcome your efforts to delve more deeply into the wartime origins of the United Nations.  That pre-history was a period in which states and peoples responded to grave threats with remarkable vision and resolve.  The contemporary echoes are clear.

Today the world is living through another pivotal moment.  We have witnessed shifts in economic power as parts of Asia and Latin America have emerged as new engines of global growth.  We have seen revolution and the birth of grass-roots-led democratic movements in North Africa and across the Middle East, with far-reaching implications in and beyond the region.  Climate change and the loss of biodiversity have placed humankind on a collision course with the planet.  We are experiencing a rising incidence of mega-disasters, and the widening impact of global food, fuel and economic shocks.  And we have seen the increasing salience of a set of global phenomena -- the spread of disease, terrorism, organized crime -- that easily transcend borders.  There is growing inequality, widespread uncertainty, distrust in institutions, and a general sense that the playing field is tilted in favour of entrenched interests and elites.

Future generations may well describe this period as an inflection point, when the contours of a new world began to take shape.  Amid the unfolding trends and events, the United Nations has sought to uphold the values and ideals enshrined in its Charter.  We have strived to highlight the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, in particular by pressing for greater investment in the Millennium Development Goals.  We have strengthened peacekeeping, peacebuilding and mediation, and helped Member States with sensitive elections and difficult political transitions.  And we have fought impunity for genocide and other serious violations of human rights by supporting the International Criminal Court and taking practical steps to operationalize the responsibility to protect.

We have made important progress since the Second World War, but I am keenly aware of the distance still to travel and the catastrophes -- economic, environmental, human -- that lurk if we fall short.  This past September, I identified five imperatives for collective action: sustainable development, prevention, building a more secure world, supporting countries in transition and empowering the world’s women and young people.  Many of these issues will also be front-and-centre at the Rio + 20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June.  I am determined to bring all relevant partners together, and strengthen the UN itself, to advance this agenda.

Seventy years ago, President Roosevelt coined a term that found resonance with 26 states.  Today, 193 states are carrying forward the idea and the machinery.  In a world of 7 billion – and with global population expected to increase by another 500 million in just the next five years – we must all do more as a global society.  What began as a necessity to defend liberty and human rights is today a vital instrument of common progress across a broad agenda of aspiration and need.  Let us learn what more there is to know as we commemorate the UN’s origins on the road to the 70th Anniversary of the Charter; and let us all work together today to realize the UN’s full potential in building the future we want. Blurring Boundaries|blurring-boundaries|Tue, 24 Jan 2012 00:12:25 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|

Blurring Boundaries: An International Educational Development Conference, April 10-11, 2012. Atlanta, GA, U.S.A.


Many countries, provinces, municipalities and other governing bodies have requested, indeed mandated, that their universities serve as levers of change for educational improvement in their communities. Colleges and universities are being asked to use their formidable intellectual and human resources to expedite the development of education and educational capacity for children and adolescents. For many universities, however, active involvement in school improvement has proven challenging because a template for such work does not exist – at least not one that is readily applicable to a variety of cultures. 



Co-sponsored by the College of Education, Georgia State University,  UNAI and UNAI partner, the Committee for Teaching about the UN, the Blurring Boundaries conference will offer two days of panel sessions, symposia and keynote addresses, allowing scholars and leaders to gather and exchange international research on child development, health and mental health, schooling, indigenous education, neuroscience and other relevant topics, which will inform the partnership work of universities worldwide in their educational development efforts.


For more information and registration: http://education.gsu.edu/main/6791.html

Girls in ICT Portal|girls-in-ict-portal|Tue, 24 Jan 2012 23:41:42 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|The International Telecommunications Union launched today, 24 January 2012, the Girls in ICT web portal: http://girlsinict.org/.






Girls in ICT Portal

The portal is to be a One-stop shop for training, scholarship and job opportunities aimed at inspiring girls and young women to choose a career in technology. It is designed to help girls and young women aged 11-25 prepare for and pursue a technology career, providing links to scholarships, training and internships, ICT contests and awards, tech camps, online girls’ networks and other programmes that will give them a boost in entering what has become a largely male-dominated sector. ITU’s new Girls in ICT portal serves as storefront for tech jobs in markets across the globe. Worldwide, the demand for technology professionals is steadily increasing; in the US, for example, there are now more ICT jobs than there were at the height of the dot-com boom.

One exciting development is the emergence of ‘mashed up’ hybrid jobs that draw on multiple disciplines, such as bioengineering, power grid informatics, digital media, and social and mobile apps.

The Girls in ICT Portal houses  some 400 programmes, including over 100 scholarship programmes and an equal number of contests and awards, some 60 training and internship opportunities, over 100 online networks offering career support and mentoring, as well as tech camps and Girls in ICT Day activities.

For more information, see the press release. SG Ban's Action Agenda|sg-bans-action-agenda|Wed, 25 Jan 2012 20:33:07 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today shared his Action Agenda for the coming five years to the General Assembly: A plan to make the most of the opportunities before us. A plan to help create a safer, more secure, more sustainable, more equitable future. A plan to build the future we want...


The elements of my 5-year Action Agenda... are ambitious but achievable. Two forces will make all the difference. First, the power of partnership... We will harness the full power of transformative partnership across the range of UN activities by creating a New UN Partnerships Facility. It will work with the private sector, civil society, philanthropists and academia to advance common goals, catalyze commitments and promote accountability. Second, a stronger United Nations...




The Secretary-General outlined the importance of pulling the UN system together to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth, starting with young people. 

Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life. We will do all we can to meet their needs and create opportunities. We will deepen our youth focus and develop an action plan across the full range of UN programmes, including employment… entrepreneurship… political participation… human rights… education and reproductive health.

And I will appoint a new Special Representative for youth to develop and implement our agenda and spearhead a UN youth volunteers programme.

The Secretary-General concluded:

Waves of change are surging around us. If we navigate wisely, we can create a more secure and sustainable future for all. The United Nations is the ship to navigate these waters. We represent all peoples.  We engage on all issues. We facilitate dialogue and establish the universal norms that bind us. We are the venue for partnership and action.

Now is our moment.  Now is our time to create the future we want.

Read the full remarks.

Watch the webcast. Secretary-General discusses youth issues|secretary-general-discusses-youth-issues|Thu, 16 Feb 2012 22:57:47 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|I am determined to bring the United Nations closer to people and make it more relevant to young people said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his Remarks to the Vienna Community Empowering People in a Changing World.

The Secretary-General focused his remarks on women and young people. Below is an excerpt from the remarks.

Young people everywhere talk jobs. They want the dignity that comes from decent work. Economic hard times and austerity measures are making it more difficult. The global economic crisis is a global jobs crisis. And youth are hardest hit.

Unemployment rates for young people are at record levels – two, three, sometimes even six times the rate for adults.

But joblessness is only part of the story. Many who are working are stuck in low-wage, dead-end work.

Many others are finding that their degrees are not always a ticket to jobs.

After years of study, they learn a new lesson: their schooling has not equipped them with the tools for today’s job market.

This must change.

Young people also tell me that they not only want jobs – but the opportunity to create jobs. So we must do more on entrepreneurship.

Above all, young people have told me they want a seat at the table. They want a real voice in shaping the policies that shape their future.

The priorities of young people should be just as prominent in our halls as they are on the streets and squares. They should be just as present in our meeting space as they are in cyberspace.

I am determined to bring the United Nations closer to people and make it more relevant to young people. They are still marginalized and underprivileged.

That is one reason we will expand the UN Volunteer Programme. Today, the average age of UN Volunteers is 37 – we will open the doors for young people and are looking for support...

But that is just the beginning.

We must put a special focus where the challenges of empowering women and empowering youth come together – and that is in the lives of young women.

Young women are potential engines of economic advancement. They are drivers of democratic reform.

Yet far too often – a combination of obstacles including discrimination, social pressure, early marriage – hold them back.

These forces set in motion a chain of unequal opportunities that last a lifetime.

Young women must have the tools to participate fully in economic life and to have their voices heard in decision-making at all levels.

Full text of remarks On The Road To Rio - Making Development Sustainable|1399|Tue, 21 Feb 2012 23:25:49 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|The Secretary-General has defined the Rio+20 Conference as a generational opportunity to put sustainable development – and its three inter-connected pillars: social, economic, and environmental – at the centre of policymaking... As academics, your research and training can play a decisive role in helping decision makers take bold action. 

Read the full statement made by Kiyo Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information at the Academic Symposium On The Road To Rio - Making Development Sustainable, University Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy, 21 February 2012.

Buon giorno!

Sono molto felice di conoscervi e di essere qui con voi in Puglia!

Distinguished academics, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to address this important symposium.

I am delighted to be back in Italy – and here in Puglia – for the very first time. I have had a remarkable visit already and am deeply touched by the graciousness, warmth and generosity of all those whom I have met.

It is both an honour and a privilege for me to address such a distinguished audience at this historic site of learning, bearing the name of the great Italian educator and statesman Aldo Moro.  In many ways, Prime Minister Aldo Moro represented the qualities that we - through the United Nations Academic Impact - seek to nurture and cultivate: deep intellectual curiosity, courage and leadership, and a willingness to share one’s skills and knowledge with others to advance the overarching goals of peace, sustainable development and human rights. 

Although best known as one of the longest-serving post-War Prime Ministers of Italy, Mr. Aldo Moro spent many years teaching at this University and writing books on legal subjects that continue to benefit students today.  He also led the Federation of Catholic Universities.  Sadly, his life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet.  Had he been alive, I am sure he would have been among those making the UN Academic Impact a vibrant, universal platform for the world’s intellectual leaders.

I should also like to thank the Puglia Center of America for this wonderful initiative.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You have invited me to speak on an important and difficult issue – sustainable development. It is a subject at the very top of the United Nations’ agenda, and one that is close to my heart. I would like, in the next few minutes, to provide an overview of this subject, and suggest ways that you – as educators, academics, and scholars – can contribute further to charting a more prosperous and more equal future, with a better environment for all.

When the war-battered world 67 years ago witnessed the birth of the United Nations, the world’s economic output was about five trillion dollars. Today, it is 69 trillion dollars. In these six-and-a-half decades, the global economic commons have grown.

The search for a better life is one of the enduring tales of human civilization. A mix of commerce, conquest through guns and steel, religion, and exploration led to the opening of new lands - and new markets. This was accompanied by a wave of ideas, techniques and inventions from one end of the earth to the other.

Innumerable stories of heroism, barbarity, compassion and tragedy set the tone for much of our shared histories.

The building blocks of a better life were transformed significantly with the onset of the Industrial Revolution – a period of economic and social upheaval that began in the mid-1700s in the United Kingdom and spread to the rest of the world over the next one hundred years.

Rural societies took on urban features, populations grew, per capita incomes shot up, many migrated and, development, as a qualifier of what life can be, acquired a hopeful meaning.

This meant that innovation, technology and the fruits of applied research such as electricity, transport and communications were a means to a better life. Whether a breadwinner tilled a field or tinkered on an assembly line, mass production meant a promise of opportunities, profits, progress and gratification. People believed that tomorrow would be better than today.

Two world wars and the Great Depression briefly interrupted that progress. Looking back, in the two centuries following the Industrial Revolution, where do we stand today in terms of standards of living and people’s belief in “progressivism”?

Is there enough food, fresh water and energy to feed and sustain the earth’s seven billion? Do mothers, children and the aged have access to health and medical care? Do the youth graduating out of universities such as yours have jobs available to them? 

Are our lives better or are we facing a perilous future – a cocktail of climate change, depleting biodiversity, fractured economic and financial systems, rising income disparity and unemployment – a future we do not want? My wife is convinced that the world of 20 or 30 years ago – before the widespread use of the Internet – was much better, more civilized and friendlier. You may disagree with her.

In a sense, the answer whether we are better or worse off is not in dispute, but perceptions of who is to blame for today’s current ills certainly is.

On the one hand, broadly speaking, is the view of the developed world:  having produced more and consumed more, it is now rethinking whether its path towards progress was the most efficient and humane way to create a better life, as it involved relentless use of the earth’s finite resources. On the other hand is the view of much of the developing world, which believes it is time to rise out of poverty by producing more and consuming more.

This stalemate at the international level between rich and poor nations occurs not only in terms of income and other questions of fairness, but also about priorities, a fact that manifests itself in almost all multilateral discussions on development. The relationship between States is further complicated by the rise of emerging economies which, some say, hide behind smaller countries in the name of, or solidarity with, developing countries.

In 1987, well before this fault-line emerged, the World Commission on Environment and Development, popularly called the Brundtland Commission, asked a question that erected the guardrails for development thinking: how do we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs? This meant that the search for a better life had to take place within ecological boundaries.

As the Brundtland Commission put it, “Nature is bountiful but it is also fragile and finely balanced. There are thresholds that cannot be crossed without endangering the basic integrity of the system. Today we are close to many of those thresholds.” Experts say that human intervention has caused the extinction of plants and animals at some hundred to thousand times faster than what the natural rate would have been.

Five years later, in 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development, informally known as the Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, brought together leaders from 179 countries, the largest ever gathering.

The summit absorbed the new thinking on development, namely, sustainability, and it came up with Agenda 21 -- a wide-ranging blueprint for action to achieve sustainable development worldwide.

The Earth Summit also led governments and businesses to make economic decisions with an eye on environmental impact. Since then, patterns of production - particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline, or poisonous waste - were scrutinized. Alternative energy sources were explored to replace fossil fuels linked to global climate change. Governments began to rely on public transportation systems in order to reduce vehicle emissions, and there was a much greater awareness of, and concern over, the growing scarcity of water, congestion in cities and pollution related health problems.

The Earth Summit led to new multilateral environmental agreements and conventions such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and a range of agreements related to chemicals.

The summit was an all-out effort to transform attitudes and behaviour.

Since then, climate change has entered the policy arena. The epoch-making Kyoto Conference was held in 1997. Additionally, biodiversity offset programmes, markets for organic products and eco-labelling, such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council, exist for many agricultural and marine products and are becoming the mainstay, though the progress is incremental. 

However, twenty years after the Earth Summit, the road back to Rio and beyond is still fraught with risk. A key challenge is the fault-line between the developed and developing nations, which I have alluded to earlier. The new reality of many emerging economies is difficult to reflect in negotiations. Within nations themselves, policy consensus is not easy. The food crisis, energy crisis, financial crisis, and climate crisis are discussed separately in different departments and ministries. While the sustainable pattern of production has been addressed on many fronts, the sustainable pattern of consumption has not.

On this last point, on consumption, I have been deeply struck by the words of United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, the great and famous primatologist, who, before considering any purchase, asks herself, “Can I do without it?” It is a question worth asking ourselves.

The three pillars of sustainable development – namely, economic, social and environmental – continue to be looked at independently. This is so since economists, social activists, environmental scientists and decision makers have simply talked past each other - almost speaking different languages.

According to the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, the time has come to unify the disciplines, to develop a common language for sustainable development that transcends these warring camps.

Indeed, Professor Jeffrey Sachs states that sustainable development means achieving economic growth that is widely shared and that protects the earth’s vital resources. Powerful economic ministries - as well as environmental ministries - must join in this effort.  

The interface between science and policy must also be strengthened. We must define, through science, what scientists refer to as “planetary boundaries,” “environmental thresholds” and “tipping points.” The precautionary principle - to be cautious in the context of uncertainty - needs to be more widely applied with respect to climate change and biodiversity.

Any serious shift towards sustainable development moreover requires gender equality. The next increment of global growth could well come from the full economic and political empowerment of women. Italian women are renowned for their strength of character, but their share in the lower house of Parliament was 17% in 2006 - 67th in a ranking of nations.

To make a difference, the international community needs to measure development beyond gross domestic product and develop a new sustainable development index or set of indicators. One of the most vexing problems about sustainable development is the absence of consensus on a set of measurable indicators. As Galileo Galilei said, we need to “measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not.”

This brings us to the challenge of making sustainable development a broadly participatory approach. The 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation called for voluntary, multi-stakeholder partnerships aimed at implementing sustainable development as an important complement to governmental action. We must take this further.

The Secretary-General has defined the Rio+20 Conference in June as a generational opportunity to put sustainable development – and its three inter-connected pillars: social, economic, and environmental – at the centre of policymaking.

Negotiations are currently under way on the political outcome document for Rio+20. And many civil society groups have praised the overall process, which is a good sign of serious involvement. The private sector has picked up on green growth as a core economic strategy.

As academics, your research and training can play a decisive role in helping decision makers take bold action.

For example, on the issue of sustainability – the focus of our symposium today – the United Nations Academic Impact, or “UNAI,” has achieved very concrete and measurable successes.  The Black Sea University Network, led by the University of Costanta in Romania, which serves as the UNAI Hub on Sustainability, organized a conference in March 2011 to define priority directions in the field of sustainable development. It brought together the academic community, government representatives and the private sector of the region to form partnerships in the area of sustainable development, with the objective of developing and implementing meaningful projects to benefit all Black Sea states.  Participants agreed to use the experience and resources of the member universities to exchange ideas and best practices, as well as to start implementing projects with partners worldwide. 

As a follow-up, last November, representatives of 10 universities from the Black Sea University Network, attended a workshop at UN Headquarters in New York, organized by UNAI, to foster an exchange of ideas with UN officials working in the field of sustainable development.  This meeting helped members of the Network to clarify the directions of their projects and also provided UN officials with the opportunity to share experiences and make recommendations.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretariat responsible for organizing the Rio+20 Conference has extended an invitation to UNAI to join other UN specialized agencies and programmes in a higher education initiative. All UN entities that are managing university networks, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the United Nations Global Compact, are involved in the initiative.

One of the goals of the initiative will be the adoption of a joint declaration in which the leaders of the international academic community are called upon to support the development of sustainable practices.  With the Declaration, educational institutions worldwide are invited to sign on to the Declaration, which, among other things, commits themselves to support five basic actions: Teach sustainable development concepts; Encourage research on sustainable development issues; Green campuses; Support sustainability efforts in the communities in which they reside; and Engage with and share results through international frameworks.

Dear friends and partners,

Last year, we saw young people across the Middle East and North Africa revolt against their authoritarian leaders. Elsewhere in the world we saw occupying movements by more young men and women who voiced their frustration at being part of the 99% without economic power. The struggle is continuing.

In Europe, the unsettling economic and financial situation with massive unemployment is continuing. Academic institutions, educators and scholars cannot sit still with their arms folded in the face of mounting challenges. That is why we, the United Nations, call upon universities and academic institutions everywhere to exercise their intellectual social responsibility to solve today’s – and tomorrow’s - very real problems. The UN Academic Impact provides you with an excellent tool for this very purpose.

The United Nations will pursue sustainable development as a top priority for years beyond the Rio+20 meeting in June. Thousands of new initiatives, commitments and ideas are being sought. We count on you to inspire and enable younger generations that come to you for knowledge to participate in, and influence, decision-making at the local, national and international levels.  The future we want must be the future worth choosing.

Thank you very much.






Guarini Institute Global Leadership Award|guarini-institute-global-leadership-award|Wed, 29 Feb 2012 15:35:58 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|On March 1,  UNAI member Saint Peter’s College will be awarding the Hon. Gertrude Mongella the inaugural Guarini Institute Global Leadership Award.

Ambassador Mongella has dedicated her life to improving conditions and opportunities for women and children in the world. Her international advocacy for women has made her a true Global Leader.

The Award ceremony will include a Conversation with Ambassador Mongella.

More news from the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership ASPIRE student group discusses women’s status|aspire-student-group-discusses-women%e2%80%99s-status|Wed, 29 Feb 2012 17:11:03 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|On 28 February, as delegates to the fifty-sixth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSD) gathered at UN Headquarters, members of UNAI ASPIRE Group of East Stroudsburg South High School, Pennsylvania took up centre stage at the nearby Church Centre.  Their goal: to share their thoughts on women’s status and how things can change for half of the world population who continues to face discrimination and inequality on a daily basis.

The proposal for the event was inspired by the book “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn that follows the stories of several women in different parts of the world as they fight inequality and social and cultural taboos. The students will also be starring in a PBS documentary of the same name, to be released in the Fall of 2012.

Facing a room full of people, mostly women, but also some men, a panel of six girls and one boy, took turns to illustrate a number of stories taken from the book and to describe their personal reaction to them.  As each story ended, they posed a question: think of ways we can help disadvantaged women everywhere in the world. 




With the help of their teacher Michael Healey and Michele M. Vella, a doctoral student and a UNAI intern, the stories they chose were drawn from different parts of the world: a young girl in Cambodia who escaped from a brothel after spending months in forced prostitution; a Congolese girl gang raped and abandoned but who survived to return to normal life through family support; an Ethiopian woman who overcame rape and years of suffering to become a surgeon; and a Somali woman who saved every penny earned over many years to build a hospital for women victims of rape and bodily injuries.








Panelists were assisted by fellow students in the audience, and as girls and boys stood up one after another to describe the stories, they affirmed their commitment to making a difference.  A young man, his eyes welling up, said as he read the stories, he could visualize his own sister facing similar tragedies.  “We need to stand up, because they are all our sisters,” he said.

Another boy, a high schooler, said education was the key to women’s empowerment.  Quoting an Arabic proverb, he said, “When you teach a boy to read, you teach just a boy.  But when you teach a girl to read, you teach an entire family.”

A young woman from Colombia said, although her working class parents never finished high school, they always encouraged her to go to school, to ask questions and never to be afraid to speak her mind. 

Two sisters from Pakistan, sitting next to each other, recalled their conversation about doing something special for women in Africa many of whom are subjected to humiliating genital mutilation.  Their idea: to raise funds for Heal Africa, a non-profit group, by hosting a henna party (face and body painting with henna, a flowering plant).  They even proudly distributed their flyer inviting everyone in the room to the party (1 March, at East Stroudsburg South High School, Pennsylvania. Admission: $1.00).

When the meeting had formally ended, an elderly woman from Nigeria raised her hand to say a few words.  A delegate to CSW and a University teacher in her native country, the woman invited the ASPIRE members to find ways to engage their peers in Africa in similar activities.  “They are waiting for a spark like this.  You can help them come together,” she said.

The room exploded into assenting cheer.







  • Aalih Hussein

  • Atiba Khan

  • Aiza Khawaja

  • Shaiza Khawaja

  • Dylan Miller

  • Adela Torres

  • Adriana Torres


Break-out Session Group Leaders:



  • Ali Aziz

  • Alexandria Crawford

  • Darion David

  • Lindsay Ivory

  • Adil Khawaja

  • Sana Khawaja

  • Sean McFarlane

  • Nicole Singh

  • Edward Soto


UNAI members invited to sign sustainable practices declaration|unai-members-invited-to-sign-sustainable-practices-declaration|Sat, 17 Mar 2012 20:27:02 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|This year in June world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro at the 

Along with thousands of participants – from governments and private sector also in attendance will be representatives of academia.  Their goal: to take part in a side event where they will formally present a Declaration, in support of the development of sustainable practices for Higher Education Institutions.

Since Higher Education Institutions educate and train decision makers, they play a key role in building more sustainable societies and creating new paradigms. On the occasion of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and given their special responsibility, the leaders of the international academic community are called upon to commit to the development of sustainable practices for Higher Education Institutions.

UNAI members, as well as educational institutions worldwide, will be invited to sign on to a Declaration which, among other things, will commit them to support five basic actions:

▪ Teach sustainable development concepts;

▪ Encourage research on sustainable development issues;

▪ Green campuses;

▪ Support sustainability efforts in the communities in which they reside; and

▪ Engage with and share results through international frameworks.

In addition to the UN  Academic Impact, the Declaration is an initiative of UN entities engaged with the academic community, including UNEP, UNESCO, the UN Global Compact and PRIME, and UNU.

The Declaration opened for signature on 1 March 2012.

To find out more, please visit: http://www.uncsd2012.org/HEI The First United Nations Academic Impact Action at PPCU|the-first-united-nations-academic-impact-action-at-ppcu|Wed, 21 Mar 2012 14:59:17 +0000|News,What’s happening|en|On March 7, 2012, a group of young people, the members of AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe) Piliscsaba, following main organizer Dóra Kocsis, showed their enthusiasm and engagement towards the universal principles of the UN.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Pázmány Péter Catholic University (PPCU), a recently enrolled member of the UNAI programme, hosted their first international conference on the MDGs’, as well as an exhibition, in the framework of the UNAI initiative.

Serving as the basis of the images of the “Picturing the MDGs! - Visualisation of the Millennium Development Goals”, the international event took place on 24-28th  August, 2011 at PPCU in Piliscsaba, Hungary featuring participants from five different countries. The aim of the get-together was to visually introduce the MDGs, as pictures are arguably more expressive than words.

They are clearly capable of revealing the most salient problems of the affected countries.

The conference was a professional completion of a year-long cogitation about the MDGs. The opening address was conveyed by Eszter Lukács, member of Presidium at UNA-H and professor of UNAI-affiliate Széchenyi István University, Győr, Hungary. The speeches delivered by representatives of Amnesty International and numerous other NGOs of global coverage tackled the issues of poverty, hunger and maternal health were followed by an afternoon session dedicated entirely to the Rio+20 conference and sustainability concerns expanded with a presentation by PPCU lecturer Tamás Szigetvári.

While fifty percent of the Earth’s population is under 30, the main organizer, Ms. Dóra Kocsis believes that the voice of young people needs to be heard more than ever before. She deployed a 'good practice' for the implementation of global partnership by inviting young speakers from Ukraine, Germany and Albania to share they ideas about building transnational networks and sustainable ways of living.


This article was submitted by The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Pázmány Péter Catholic University (PPCU) Water: The Global Challenge of Our Future |water-the-global-challenge-of-our-future|Thu, 22 Mar 2012 01:27:40 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|Can a world with exponential population growth and an insatiable demand for water be sustainable? On Friday, March 23, the Center for Global Affairs at NYU-SCPS will devote a symposium to the issue.  

The water crisis consumes more lives yearly than all the wars and AIDS-related deaths combined, yet it isn't well-publicized. With water scarcity starting to affect the developed world as well as its continued disproportionate impact on developing countries, how do we, as a global community, address this challenge for our collective future?

The Melody for Dialogue Among Civilizations Association, in conjunction with the Center for Global Affairs, will spend a day examining the implications of this under-reported crisis as part of its global series of conferences. Join keynote speaker Alexandra Cousteau for a series of panels and debates featuring academics, members of the private sector, government, the UN system and civil society to not only discuss the crisis, but also explore what can be done about it.

The Center for Global Affairs at NYU-SCPS is proud to be a member of the UN Academic Impact, a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in actively supporting 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution.

Friday, March 23
RSVP here International Day of Human Space Flight|international-day-of-human-space-flight|Mon, 02 Apr 2012 18:59:35 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|Can you imagine orbiting the space four times or spending ten months aboard a space station?  The men who actually did that – in the first instance, Administrator of NASA Maj. Gen. (ret.) Charles Bolden, and Russian Cosmonaut, Sregey Volkov, Cosmonaut, Instructor - Test Cosmonaut of Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre, recently visited the UN.  

On 12 April, on the occasion of the second International Day of Human Space flight, the two space travellers, along with a host of international experts and creative writers, were part of two separate panel discussions at the ECOSOC Chamber, beginning at 10:00 a.m.  Watch the archived webcast of the event.

The International Day of Human Space Flight was declared by the General Assembly in 2011 “to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind” and to reaffirm “the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples.”

12 April 1961 was the date of the first human space flight, carried out by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen born in Russia.  This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity.

In his message for the day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated: With the involvement of a growing number of countries, the exploration of outer space is now a truly global undertaking. I am confident that the International Day of Human Space Flight will remind us of our common humanity and our need to work together to conquer shared challenges.  I hope it will also inspire young people in particular to pursue their dreams and move the world towards new frontiers of knowledge and understanding.

This year’s observance of the International Day of Human Space Flight at UN Headquarters, organized by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), provided an opportunity for the international community to highlight the role of outer space as the province of all humankind for peaceful purposes and common benefits. 

In addition to scientists and space travellers, the event was addressed by well known author Dava Sobel (Galileo’s daughter, The Planets) and Howard Scherry, author and scholar on the life and writings of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (“The Little Prince”).  The panel discussions was followed by an interactive dialogue. 

The event also included musical selections from a new album, The Mighty Sky, by Nashville-based singer and song writer Beth Nielsen Chapman.  A message from members of the International Space Station, recorded for this special event, was also screened.

Full list of speakers:

• Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the General Assembly
• Mr. Rocky Alvey, Superintendent, Dyer Observatory, Nashville
• Mr. Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA
• Dr. Young-Gil Kim, President, Handong Global University, Republic of Korea       
• Dr. Mario Livio, Astrophysicist, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore
• Mr. Dmitry B. Payson, Director, Skolkovo Innovation Center, Russian Federation
• Mr. Sergei Saveliev, Deputy Head of the Russian Space Agency                           
• Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator, NASA
• Mr. Howard Scherry, author and scholar on the life and writings of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)
• Ms. Dava Sobel, author of The Planets and Galileo’s Daughter   
• Mr. Sergey Volkov, Cosmonaut, Instructor – Test Cosmonaut of Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Russian Federation                  
• Dr. David Weintraub, Professor of Astronomy, Vanderbilt University

Radio Coverage:




Russian 1

Russian 2 




Building the Research Agenda for Impact Assessment|building-the-research-agenda-for-impact-assessment|Mon, 02 Apr 2012 23:08:40 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|In preparation for the International Workshop: “Building the Research Agenda for Impact Assessment” organized by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, 4-6 June 2012, a pre-workshop e-discussion was held from 7 to 11 May 2012. Read the



The South Africa Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) on Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment is a National Research Foundation funded initiative based at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal.  The initiative hopes to build research and capacity on innovative scholarship that analyses the current trends and methodologies utilised in impact assessment activities that specifically target poverty reduction.  The Chair is currently focusing on three interrelated areas of applied poverty reduction assessment:

1) On-going improvement of the indicators that are used to reflect change;
2) Analysis of the impact of poverty reducing interventions; and,
3) Factors that limit or contribute towards the transfer of research on poverty reduction into better policy and implementation.

To facilitate this, a series of workshops are planned that will engage with researchers, policy makers and development managers to help prepare a research agenda around the current impact assessments of applied poverty interventions, identify worthwhile issues for investigation, and find mechanisms to better influence policy on poverty reduction strategies.  The pre-workshop e-discussion and Cape Town workshop targets the research community and provides the space to share knowledge and informed opinion concerning current trends and experiences.

For more details, please see full Background Note

Preparing a Research Agenda on Impact Assessment

Although there exists a great deal of experience in the area of policy impact assessments on poverty reduction, a systematic meta-analysis of these projects have yet to be done, particularly in Africa.  As part of meeting the above objectives, the Chair hopes to build capacity and improve the knowledge concerning the strengths and shortcomings of impact assessment methodologies.  This should also attempt to confront the difficulties associated with establishing links between policy, the way in which policy is implemented, and the changes in the quality of life of beneficiaries that might result. The pre-workshop virtual e-discussion and Cape Town workshop provide an opportunity at which a broader research agenda concerning impact assessment can be discussed. This will assist in the development of subsequent research programmes to be implemented in the period remaining for the current SARChI award and beyond should the Chair be renewed.  The workshop will engage with the international and South African research community working on impact studies with the objective of debating:

a) the key policies and interventions in which assessments should be prioritised;
b) the appropriate mix of methodologies to be used for such assessments; and
c) the process of translating knowledge production from impact assessment into policy development.

These questions are informed from a previous research review and meetings with various key experts in poverty assessment.

The virtual e-discussion and selected workshop papers will focus on, but not be limited to, questions like:

Session 1:  What factors should be taken into consideration when determining which impact assessments are an appropriate investment of public funds, and how then, should enquiries that are competing for financial and human resources be prioritised?

Session 2:  What methods of enquiry are scientifically, economically, and ethically appropriate, and in what context? Who decides this, and what are the risks associated with alternative methods for the investigators, those that are the subject of investigation, and those that make use of the information provided by these methods?

Session 3:  How, when, and why are poverty reduction policy decisions influenced by the evidence generated by impact assessments, and the science that underpins such assessment? What are the benefits and risks associated with such influence and how can influence be improved, in terms of its content, reliability and accountability?

The pre-workshop e-discussion will be co-hosted by the United Nations Academic Impact and UKZN (Poverty Hub) from 7-11 May 2012.  The website for the e-discussion will be the UNAI website: http://outreach.un.org/unai/

During the pre-workshop e-discussion, contributions can be practical, theoretical, historical, and based on examples of completed impact assessments, or exploratory, proposing new areas for research.  Following the e-discussion, some selected authors and participants will be identified and invited to submit their chosen style of prose, including informal discussion pieces which can be unique to the contribution to this workshop.

The Cape Town event will bring together a maximum 30 participants across the world. It will be held at Spier Conference Centre, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa.  The proceedings of the e-discussion and Cape Town workshop will be compiled into a working paper for the School of Built Environment and Development Studies.

Important Dates

Call for Papers:        1 March 2012
Invitation of selected participants, papers, & discussant:  31 March 2012
Pre-workshop e-discussion:       7-11 May 2012
Deadline for Final Version of Papers:     10 May 2012
Cape Town Workshop:        4-6 June 2012

Organizing Committee:


  • Prof Julian May, former SARChI – Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment

  • Ms Kathleen Diga a research project manager

  • Ms Germaine Barnard, a project administrator

  • The UNAI Team


Inquiries and submissions can be forwarded to:

Ms Germaine Barnard:         barnardg@ukzn.ac.za  +27 31 260 2336

Ms Kathleen Diga:                 digak@ukzn.ac.za

School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College

Funding for this workshop is provided by the Department of Science & Technology (South Africa) / National Research Foundation South African Research Chair in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment located at the School of Built Environment & Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities|empowering-youth-with-better-job-opportunities|Mon, 16 Apr 2012 23:48:40 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will hold a youth forum, Creating a Sustainable Future: Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities” on 4 May 2012 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York City. This event is organized jointly by the

The programme will consist of an opening plenary, to be followed by two dialogue classroom sessions on “Training and education to facilitate access to job market” and “Promoting youth employment-Creating jobs for a more sustainable future”. Youth representatives around the world will participate in this event.

In preparation for the forum, a number of UNAI institutions and student groups around the world will be organizing discussions throughout the month of April and prepare reports.

Recommendations coming out from the ECOSOC youth forum will be shared with Member States at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development-Rio+20, to take place in Brazil, in June 2012, and also during the ECOSOC High-level session in July 2012. International Jazz Day|international-jazz-day|Fri, 20 Apr 2012 23:08:04 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The UN is celebrating the first International Jazz Day this year on 30 April. UNAI will host a special event that afternoon at UN Headquarters: Jazz as a Force for Education and Dialogue. The event is open to the public. To attend the event, RSVP is requested.

International Jazz Day, which was proclaimed by UNESCO General Conference, is intended to raise awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people.

The UNAI event, which is organized in association with the UN General Assembly Committee on Information and the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, is part of the Unlearning Intolerance Conversation series. Holocaust Studies Scholarship Programme 2012|holocaust-studies-scholarship-programme-2012|Mon, 23 Apr 2012 23:18:00 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) together with the State of Israel are calling for scholars from across the globe who will take part in a one-week seminar programme on Holocaust History, Education and Lessons, to be held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, Israel, from 2 to 9 December 2012.

Applicants must submit a project proposal - up to 600 words- on the subject of the Holocaust for use in their respective educational/academic institutions, and a committee of experts will select the best of these for award of scholarship. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2012. Applicants should apply directly online for the Holocaust Studies ScholarshipProgramme at Yad Vashem at

The week-long seminar at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem will consist of full days of intense study, including courses on:

• Holocaust History

• Holocaust Education

• The Eichmann Trial, and its relevance 50 years on

• Resources and tools for teaching about the Holocaust

• The implications of the Holocaust for the 21 century

It will also incorporate local tours of interest, as well as exploration of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Campus. Participants will be required to present their project abstract at Yad Vashem, where they will receive guidance for its development, and implement it the year following the programme.

The best of the completed projects will be featured on both the Yad Vashem and UN Holocaust Programme Websites and officially launched on 2 December 2013.

Scholarships to include: Round trip travel to Israel, accommodation, meals, transportation to and from the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem. There will be no financial award.

Participation in this programme does not imply future employment with any of the participating institutions.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 to encourage Holocaust remembrance and education in order to help prevent future acts of genocide. Since 2006, the Holocaust Programme has developed an international network of civil society partners and a multi-faceted programme that includes: innovative online and print educational products, a film series, exhibits, seminars and the annual worldwide observance of International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on 27 January. Please visit


Yad Vashem

State of Israel

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, research, documentation and education, and imparts the legacy of the Holocaust through its archives, library, school, museums and recognition of the Righteous Among the Nations. Drawing on the memories of the past, Yad Vashem aims to protect basic human values and strengthen commitment to Jewish continuity. Poverty: Building the research agenda for impact assessment|poverty-building-the-research-agenda-for-impact-assessment|Tue, 24 Apr 2012 22:30:37 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|The National Research Foundation’s South Africa Research Chair Initiative (Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment Chair) located at University of KwaZulu-Natal and the United Nations Academic Impact are co-hosting an e-discussion on “Poverty:  Building the research agenda for impact assessment” from 7 to 11 May 2012. To participate in the discussion, add your comment at the end of the main story, starting on 7 May.


What works to reduce poverty?  How do we know it works?

A plethora of policies for the reduction of poverty have been introduced by governments such as South Africa over the past 15 years.  These include policies that have expanded social grants available to assist vulnerable families; those that have improved physical and financial access to essential services such as water, sanitation and electricity; those that have improved both access to, and quality of facilities such as schools, clinics and hospitals; and those that directly provide employment through public works and large-scale capital projects.

In addition to direct forms of support, interventions in policy on labour markets, land and finance have sought to promote an environment conducive to economic growth that benefits those who are poor.  Civil society, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector also contribute towards social and economic change through assistance to disadvantaged groups, through employment opportunities or skills development.

The impact of these policies will be found in many dimensions.  Those that provide cash grants or that increase employment opportunities result is increased incomes, the impact of which can readily be observed using conventional measures of poverty such as the percentage of the population living below a poverty threshold.  Those that improve education or health have impacts that may be less readily measured, at least in the short term.

On top of government, civil society or private sector interventions, some of these impacts can be affected by negative external shocks such as financial or food crisis, natural disasters and illness in the family.  The ability to measure impact under such circumstances can be complex.

Invitation to an e-discussion

To understanding some of these complexities in measuring impact of poverty reducing interventions, this e-discussion intends to engage with post-graduate students, experts, researchers, policy makers, community members and development managers to identify worthwhile issues for investigation, improve the linkages and synergies of such work and to find mechanisms to better influence policy on poverty reduction strategies.  By reviewing a mix of assessment methodologies, by broadening the conceptualisation of poverty beyond a narrow income-based approach, and by assessing separately the outputs, outcomes and impacts of policy, the Chair initiative will contribute towards more insightful analysis of poverty reduction strategies.

The e-discussion will engage with the international community (researcher and practitioner) involved in impact and/or poverty work with the objective of assessing the current status of impact assessment research on poverty reduction interventions.  The sub-themes include reflecting on:

1)         the key policies and interventions in which assessments should be prioritised;

2)         the appropriate mix of methodologies to be used for such assessments; and

3)         the process of translating knowledge production from impact assessment into policy development.

The virtual e-discussion and selected workshop papers will focus on, but not be limited to, the following themes:

First Theme:  The priorities for poverty and assessment

International development agencies and governments have been paying close attention to the ability of their projects and interventions to deliver and measure the development outcomes and, in some cases impact, of their work.  Given that we operate in a world of ever depleting scarce human & financial resources, what are the important priority interventions, what has being tried and what do we see as future assessments in the area of poverty reduction interventions?

What factors should be taken into consideration when determining which impact assessments are an appropriate investment of public funds, and how then, should enquiries that are competing for financial and human resources be prioritised?

Second Theme:  The trends of impact assessment methods for poverty

Several assessment methods are being used in understanding the impact of poverty reduction interventions on various aspects of development whether it be on the beneficiary, the environment and economy, yet there is no single solution as to the most appropriate methodology for such investigations.  This theme wishes to ask researchers the trends of methodologies in assessing poverty reduction.

What methods of enquiry are scientifically, economically, and ethically appropriate, and in what context? Who decides this, and what are the risks associated with alternative methods for the investigators, those that are the subject of investigation, and those that make use of the information provided by these methods?

Third Theme:  Influence through communication, policy and poverty reduction

Researchers are being asked to help government and international agencies to provide rigourous work on assessing poverty reduction impact so that these institutions can use such information to make sound decisions on behalf of their stakeholders.  Nevertheless, research enters the world of politics and the extent of research’s influence on policy can vary greatly.

How, when, and why are poverty reduction policy decisions influenced by the evidence generated by impact assessments, and the science that underpins such assessment? What are the benefits and risks associated with such influence and how can influence be improved, in terms of its content, reliability and accountability? ECOSOC Youth Forum|ecosoc-youth-forum|Sun, 06 May 2012 12:52:26 +0000|Events,News,What’s happening|en|On 4 May 2012, UNAI and the Economic and Social Council Secretariat organized a Youth Forum “Creating a Sustainable Future: Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities”. Watch the archived webcast. Read

The Forum was opened by the ECOSOC Vice-President Luis Alfonso de Alba, who stated “Young people are the future of our societies. As such, they should also be part of solutions.

In her remarks, Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro noted: “Young people can drive the global push for green growth. As entrepreneurs, consumers and leaders, they can adopt new lifestyles that respect our planet. They can promote trends that encourage sustainable development.

Twenty-four year old Ronan Farrow, a Special Advisor on Global Youth Issues to the US Secretary of State delivered a keynote address.

Two sessions focused on “Training and education to facilitate access to job market” and “Promoting youth employment-Creating jobs for a more sustainable future”.

In preparation for the event, pre-discussions were organized throughout the month of April. Reports on these discussions were presented following the two dialogue classroom sessions. A group in Kenya also organized a discussion. Thanks to Reuben Malombe Wa Kiteme who found out about the event through the UNAI Facebook page!

Read the UN News Centre story, listen to UN Radio story