The WFWPI Fourth Forum on the Eradication of Poverty supported the 2009 ECOSOC AMR Theme: Implementing the Internationally agreed Goals and Commitments in regard to Global Public Health. It was sponsored by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) NGO Section and co-sponsored and organized by WFWPI. The Forum title was Global Public Health and the Eradication of Poverty.
Permanent Missions to the UN of the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan were supporting Missions to this event. "Living as a Global Family" video presentation began the forum.
Panel moderator, Ms. Motoko Sugiyama, VP and Director of WFWPI UN Office introduced the opening session.
Prof. Lan Young Moon Park, President of WFWP International's worldwide organization delivered warm and heartfelt welcoming remarks. She emphasized that expanding participation of women in decision making positions will accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The different regional problems such as starvation and disease in Africa, conflicts in the Middle East and nuclear warhead issues of North Korea are interconnected within the entire global village. Therefore the UN's role and responsibility as the conscience and peacekeeper of the world is more crucial than ever.
Dr. Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of UN DESA NGO Section expressed her gratitude for the decade long partnership between NGO Section and WFWPI in her opening remarks. She clearly stated how much she has enjoyed working together with WFWPI on many important occasions at the UN, including this forum. She also presented an overview of gender issues that the UN is working to address. Her message served to remind us that November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Forum topics included:
- Perspectives of Government,
- Contributions from Civil Society and NGOs,
- Perspectives of UN Organizations and
- Comprehensive Family Health and Security.
H.E. Madam Purificacion Angue Ondo, Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to the US spoke on the first topic. She explained the general health issues in Africa. For instance, 90% of malaria cases occur in Africa. More than a million people die of the disease every year. Malaria is the main cause of mortality in children under the age of five years. Madam Ondo explained the successful strategy that reduced malaria in Equatorial Guinea, which was made possible through a partnership between government and the private sector. She added that WFWPI has contributed to poverty eradication in EG by building and managing schools beginning in 1999. As President of WFWP EG, prior to coming to the U.S. as an Ambassador, Madame Ondo was proud to collaborate on WFWP schools development and management efforts in Equatorial Guinea.
Dr. Christine Durbak, Chair and CEO of World Information Transfer (WIT) and Mr. Michihito Sano, Vice President of Foundation for Sustainable Development in North and South America (FSD-NSA) in Paraguay were the panelists on the second topic. Dr. Durbak stated that the MDGs will never be accomplished by governments without the support of thousands of focused NGOs. Neither will they be accomplished without adequate financial mechanisms because without funding, agreements have no strength.
Mr. Sano gave a Power-Point presentation on the Leda Project of Paraguay for the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland. The Leda project is dedicated to preserving this wetland and introducing it to the world. In addition, the Leda project helps indigenous people and creates community economic development by providing jobs, job training and building of primary schools for the children of the villages. Mr. Sano explained the tree planting project that identified several possible natural oil producing trees which will have great positive impact on human health and the environment.
Ms. Deborah Saidy, Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP) in NY and Mr. Bertil Lindblad, Director of UNAIDS in NY were panelists for topic three. Ms Saidy stressed that even though progress has been made toward solving world hunger, there is no room for complacency. Nearly 36 % of the world population in 1960s withstood hunger. Today, 15 % of the world's people are still undernourished. Because of continuing poverty exacerbated by high food and fuel prices and effects of climate change, people's vulnerability and hunger have deepened in many countries. One of the WFP's effective programs to solve hunger- linked problems is the school food program. This program feeds 20 million children while at school. Still, sixty million children go to school hungry. Poor health and hunger are strongly linked. We must work together to end hunger and improve health.
Mr. Lindblad presented an overview of UN efforts to address HIV/AIDS. He explained that UNAIDS is a family of several UN Organizations. He emphasized that the issue is no longer an African issue because current reports show that a developed country had the most new AIDS infections in a certain time period. Though treatment is crucial, the most important matter with AIDS is prevention. The good news is that there is now a Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, which involves partners including governments, UN organizations, civil society, and NGOs.
Ms. Karen Smith, UN Representative of WFWPI was the final panelist and addressed the fourth topic. She recommended how we as human beings, as members of our own families and how national/international institutions can be more effective in implementing change. She reintroduced the UN charter as our guiding light and reminded us that every effort begins from our love and compassion.
There were 200 forum participants from the UN system, UN NGOs, UN Missions, WFWP members and guests including fifteen students and their professor from a NY college. This grand finale event of 2008 for WFWPI was well organized and very informative. It was a significant pre- event in support of the ECOSOC 2009 theme.