Monday’s Daily Brief: biodiversity and forests, labour and road safety, women’s rights, and fallen UN staff remembered

© FAO/Zinyange Auntony A bee collecting pollen and nectar sit on a Eucalyptus flower at Chesa Forest Research Station in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Bees foraging on Eucalyptus plants produce light colored and scented honey.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


This Monday, we cover: how one million species face extinction; the importance of safeguarding forests; a look at labour inequalities worldwide; efforts to tackle road safety; a new intergenerational campaign for the realization of women’s rights; and a memorial service honouring fallen UN staff.

World is ‘on notice’ as major UN report shows one million species face extinction

A hard-hitting report into the impact of humans on nature shows that nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action, UN biodiversity experts said on Monday.

Speaking in Paris at the launch of the Global Assessment study – the first such report since 2005 – UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world “on notice”.

Find our full story here.

UN Forum works to safeguard world’s forests

The global community gathered at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, to take action on behalf of the world’s forests.

With an estimated 1.6 billion people – or one quarter of the overall population – dependent on forests for subsistence, livelihood, jobs and income, they are essential for human well-being, and play a vital role in promoting economic growth. They are also increasingly important to combat climate change.

The 14th session of UN Forum on Forests runs until Friday and will take stock of progress in implementing the UN Strategic Plan for Forests, which provides a blueprint for including them in the 2030 Agenda and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Strategic plan and its associated targets provide a global framework for sustainably managing all types of forests and trees, halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation, and increasing forest area by 2030.

Labour report shows half of workers frequently exposed to physical risks

A UN study based on 1.2 billion people has found stark differences in the number of hours that many of us spend earning a living.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), one-sixth of workers in the European Union (EU) toil away for more than 48 hours per week, but more than half of all employees in Chile, the Republic of Korea and Turkey, put in the same long hours.

Jobs involving tight deadlines and stress, apply to one in three people in the EU, rising to one in two in the United States, Turkey, El Salvador and Uruguay.

Physical risks are also “frequent”, the report finds, with more than half of workers exposed to repetitive hand and arm movements, and about one-in-four, to high temperatures.

Among the study’s other findings are that while 70 per cent of workers were positive about their managers, up to 12 per cent said they faced abuse, including bullying, unwanted sexual attention and harassment. And while up to 84 per cent of staff in the EU, Uruguay and the US said they learn new things while they’re working, only 30 per cent of workers agreed with this in the Republic of Korea, and just 55 per cent in China.

Regardless of the country, least-educated workers are less likely to develop their skills, the report says, highlighting also that good working conditions “contribute to the well-being of workers and the success of enterprises”.

Finally, across all 41 countries covered in the joint ILO-Eurofound report, women were found to earn significantly less than men – and they are also “over-represented” at the lowest end of the salary scale.

Advocates, UN, speak up for road safety

Despite progress, road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years. The warning comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), in the context of the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week which started on Monday.

During the week, thousands of safety advocates from around the world are expected to highlight the need for more effective leadership for road safety, through the #SpeakUp campaign.

Calling for a “world free from road traffic deaths and injuries”, WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, described a world in which all people benefit from universal health coverage, rehabilitation and psychological support.

Pedestrians and cyclists account for 26 per cent of all road deaths, while motorcycle riders and passengers account for 28 per cent.

WHO’s Director, Dr. Etienne Krug, called on governments and their partners to “accelerate action to save lives by implementing solutions that work”.

General Equality: a new campaign for the realization of women’s rights

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, considered the blueprint on women’s rights and empowerment, gender agency UN Women announced on Monday a new multigenerational campaign, titled “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future”.

In 2020, it will be 25 years since 189 Governments committed to taking bold actions in 12 critical areas of concern regarding gender equality: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the girl child.

“Today, the reality is that not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Despite some progress, real change has been too slow for most women and girls in the world, and we see significant pushback in many places against their leadership and agency,” said UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The Generation Equality campaign will bring together several generations of women’s rights activists to galvanize attention and action on key issues including equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and all forms of violence against women and girls, health-care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in economic and political life and decision-making in all areas of life.

UN honours fallen colleagues and friends who ‘risk all to promote peace’

The lives of 115 colleagues who lost their lives between the beginning of last year and the end of March, serving the United Nations, were honoured on Monday at the annual Memorial Service for Fallen Staff, in New York.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that it was a “sad reminder of the often-perilous nature of our work” but also “testament to the commitment of the thousands of women and men from around the globe who are prepared to risk all to promote peace and provide assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable and needy people.”

Read our full coverage of the ceremony here.

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