The week-long UN75 Campaign concluded on 24th October, 2020 with a session on the topic ‘Recalibrating Education, Inclusion and Climate Change Post Covid-19’. The concluding webinar was graced by eminent speakers like Mr. Alan Gemmell, HM’s Trade Commissioner for South Asia & British Deputy High Commissioner for Western India; Mr. Bishow Parajuli, Representative and Country Director, World Food Programme; Mr. Arun Sahdeo, Programme Officer, UN Volunteers, New Delhi; Ms. Abha Mishra, Head Office-Odisha, United Nations Development Programme, Bhubaneshwar; and Ms. Shobhna Boyle, Gender Specialist, United Nations Population Fund, Delhi.
Acknowledging the fact the society has been sailing in troubled waters due to the outbreak of the current pandemic, the learned speakers discussed the future course of action in key areas of education, inclusion and climate change with reference to developing mechanisms to address unequal access to education, re-skilling and up-skilling of workforce to suit the new requirements, ensuring food security, creation of gender equal society, focusing on action to combat climate change, adoption of renewable energy, role of UN and UN volunteers in easing the transition and maintaining international peace and security through forging global partnership.
Speaking at the webinar, Mr. Alan Gemmell said, “UK as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is committed to maintenance of international peace and security. The UK has always been prompt and will continue to be so in providing financial, political and peace keeping support to the international community. Over the past 75 years, UN achievements have been significant, particularly in strengthening democracy, extending support to the marginalized, the vulnerable and the underserved. The UN’s tireless efforts to feed the world through the World Food Program have been recognized through Nobel Peace Prize 2020. The UK will continue to work hand in hand with the UN in the years to come.”
In her address, Ms. Abha Mishra stated, “This pandemic has brought manifold inequalities to the forefront. In order to address economic inequalities, livelihood and skilling will have to become the core areas where we work, especially vocational training. The situation has also forced us to be more innovative as we have to depend on the local, and reduce our dependence on the global. A lot of things will have to be done for local strengthening in the fields of skills, resources and infrastructure. Change is inevitable and the planet will not wait for our measures, but this pandemic has shown that we can become more resilient when all the stakeholders work together.”
Ms. Shobhna Boyle remarked, “The world is facing one of its most challenging crises. Never before has it been more critical for agencies, for individuals, for practitioners, to rally forces and meet the challenges of any emergent situation. Particularly the young people today can make a significant difference. We need to remove the obstacles that the youth today are facing and need to invest in their education, well-being and livelihood opportunities. We need to create an environment where the young people, particularly young women can make informed decisions”.
Mr. Bishow Parajuli opined, “SDG 2, i.e. zero hunger, is of particular importance today. Globally there has been advancement in science and technology which has increased food production. Now there is enough food to feed the world population. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an acute setback to food security globally. There are a huge number of hungry people and their number is growing. A large number of people are deprived of their daily requirements of essential nutrients. Mere availability of food is not food security. There is a high level of malnutrition. Though India and Odisha have taken commendable measures to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition, in the pandemic situation acute hunger has doubled, which has necessitated the need of proactive action. One of the major challenges in post Covid-19 society would be to achieve a zero-hunger world in the true sense of the term”.
Mr. Arun Sahdeo said, “Volunteers are the most renewable resources available across the globe. They play an instrumental role in changing the mindsets and behavior of people. Be it in relation to inclusion or changing behaviour of people to move towards responsible consumption and reduction of carbon emission, the role of volunteers cannot be diminished. In the education sector involvement of volunteers has made a huge impact. So, young people have to lead from the front in future to make the world more inclusive and responsible”.
The session was moderated by Dr. Suraj Kumar, Senior Advisor, SDG Centre, KISS. A short inspirational video made by Discovery, NITI Aayog and UN India on the occasion of 75 years of the United Nations regarding encouraging people to empower themselves apart from dealing with the pandemic collectively was played.