Monday, 20 February 2012

UN agencies recently started designing mobile applications for smartphones and tablets

UN agencies, as well as other international organizations like the European Union and the OECD, recently started developing free apps for mobile devices. The growing market of tablets and smart phones is attracting the interest of  these institutions not only to launch informative services but also to establish alternative selling markets for their publications. Obviously, the AppStore on I-Tunes was the first target platform used by the FAO, the World Bank the Office of the High Commissioner  for Human Rights and other bodies to launch these apps, but in the last months have been released apps versions for the Android Market and the Windows and BlackBerry platforms.  Below you can find a short review for some of these applications:

Screenshot of the main menu
The ‘FAO Forestry’ App provides users with news, videos, select publications, interactive maps showing world forest statistics, and a quiz, all navigable with a touch-screen wheel. It also includes a ‘donate’ button that takes users to the website of FAO’s TeleFood fundraising programme – which uses public contributions to finance small-scale agriculture, livestock and fisheries projects that help poor families achieve food security.

UN Procurement Mobile App.
The United Nations Procurement Division has launched the new version of its UN Procurement Mobile App for the iOS platform.
The "UN Procurement" App offers real-time access to information related to business opportunities, business seminars schedule and contract awards. The App will allow vendors convenient sharing and transfer of information within their organization on-the-go directly from their smart phones. This first release of the Mobile Application also includes contact functions as well as direct access to resources such as the Procurement Manual. The "UN Procurement" App can be downloaded from the iTunes Store, Android Market and BlackBerry App World free of charge.

UN Foundation App Screenshot
The UN Foundation app, available on the Apple store, Android and Windows platforms, gives to the users  instant access to information on UN Foundation initiatives that are improving children’s health, empowering women and girls, combating climate change, and using innovation and technology to improve the lives of impoverished people around the world. The app is updated daily with new content, photos, videos and push notifications for breaking news. The photo-scramble game, “Pieces of Peace,” is a fun way to get up to speed on UN projects on the ground.

Icon App for the UNFCCC
conferences news
The UN climate change secretariat (UNFCCC) has developed an application software to provide quick and easy access to essential information about the UN Climate Change Conferences taking place in 2011and to allow virtual participation in the events. With this app,users had the opportunity to track news update of the negotiations in the COP17/CMP7 conference held in Durban , alerts of side events, schedule, documents and a few other features.

The UN News Reader is a free mobile news application for quick and easy access to all stories from the UN News Centre. With a simple, user-friendly interface, readers can read up-to-the-minute latest stories or browse by subject and geographic region. The News Reader downloads the latest feed to your device so you can read stories offline later, plus you can save them as favourites for quick reference. found at oecd factbook. A dedicated page on the UN publications section provides the details on various apps available on the market together with the links of publications made accessible on mobile phones and tablets like Kindle or Nook.

In the UN system, the World Bank has been one of the forerunner in embracing the new technologies. In 2010, it launched the "Apps for Development" competition awarding those software developers from across the globe that were capable to create the most original and innovative digital apps using the World Bank’s freely available data. The participation has been massive with more than 107 entries from 36 countries across six continents, and nearly a third from Africa. On the left, you can find a list of World Bank applications expressly designed for Apple devices all downloadable for free on the App Store.

Other UN agencies have also started developing apps for the I-Tunes Store and soon there will be new services available on the AppStore together with versions for other platforms:

Saturday, 18 February 2012

20 February 2012 - World Day of Social Justice

Social justice is a strategic objective for the United Nations global mission to promote development and human dignity.
The General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice adopting the Resolution 62/10 in 18 December 2007. The Assembly then invited Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly.

Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice:

The International Labour Organization unanimously adopted the Declaration on Social Justice on 10 June 2008. This is  the third major statement of principles and policies adopted by the International Labour Conference since the ILO’s Constitution of 1919, namely:
  • The Philadelphia Declaration of 1944 
  • The Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998. 
  • The ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization
The 2008 Declaration expresses the contemporary vision of the ILO’s mandate in the era of globalization. and focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work. The Declaration institutionalizes the Decent Work concept developed by the ILO since 1999, placing it at the core of the Organization’s policies to reach its constitutional objectives.

The Decent Work concept promotes the creation of work opportunities that are productive and ensure fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men. Summarizing the Decent Work concept focuses on four main pillars:

  •  standards and rights at work, 
  • employment creation and enterprise development, 
  • social protection,
  • social dialogue.

The World Day of Social Justice represents an important event to discuss and reflect about new development strategies and business practices that will be deepen in occasion of the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development,

Friday, 17 February 2012

1-2 March 2012 - 17th International Humanitarian Conference

The International Relations Department at Webster University campus in Geneva’s will hold the17th annual International Humanitarian Conference on March 1 and 2 at Geneva’s International Conference Centre.
This year’s theme, “Refugees and Armed Conflicts,” addresses one of the most challenging issues faced in humanitarian work. 
Since 1995, the conference has taken place in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and under the auspices of the Canton of Geneva. The annual conference is organized by a committee of international relations students.

Official Poster of the Conference 
The 2012 conference is being organized around five themes 
  •   Legal instruments and the protection of victims of war;
  •   Displaced persons, and refugees;
  •   The evolution of armed conflicts and the challenge of protection; 
  •   The responsibility to protect — theory and practice; 
  •   The practice of the protection of refugees and victims of war; 
   The debate will be also coping with displacement and forced migration on the international and national levels.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

2012, International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

United Nations General Assembly has declared with Resolution 151 adopted by the 69th plenary meeting of 20 December 2010 the year 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Actually, the current year will also celebrate another theme the one of cooperatives.

A special International Energy Agency (IEA) report, released in October 2011,indicates the scale of the challenge. IEA estimates that:

 • More than 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, and at least 2.7 billion people are without clean cooking facilities. More than 95 per cent of these people are either in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia.
 • Investment of $48 billion per year will be needed to provide universal energy access by 2030. This is more than five times the amount invested in 2009 to expand energy access ($9.1 billion) but  represents only 3 per cent of total
global energy investment. Only $4 to $5 billion per year of that total is needed for clean cooking facilities.
 Scientists warn that if the world continues on the current path, global temperatures could rise by more than four degrees Celsius by the end of this century. That will affect everything from  the world economy to the health of our citizens and the health of the ecosystems  that sustain life on Earth, from energy, food and water security to international security. We know now that we cannot continue to burn our way to prosperity.

 To defeat poverty and save the planet, we can, and must, achieve sustainable energy for all by the year 2030.
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative seeks to identify and mobilize action  by all stakeholders in support of energy access, energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy. To organize these efforts, I have formed a new High level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, led by Kandeh Yumkella, Chair of UN-Energy and Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development
Organization, and by Charles Holliday, Chair of Bank of America and former chief executive officer of DuPont.

 Relevant websites

  •  International Renewable Energy Agency
  • UN-Energy
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • United Nations Global Compact
  • United Nations Foundation