21 June 2015 International Day of Yoga

Secretary General’s Message

yogo_layout1During a visit to India this year, I had the opportunity to practice yoga with one of my senior advisors. Although he happened to be a son of the country, I might equally have done the same with many other colleagues from different parts of the world. Yoga is an ancient discipline from a traditional setting that has grown in popularity to be enjoyed by practitioners in every region. By proclaiming 21 June as the International Day of Yoga, the General Assembly has recognized the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations.

Yoga offers a simple, accessible and inclusive means to promote physical and spiritual health and well-being. It promotes respect for one’s fellow human beings and for the planet we share. And yoga does not discriminate; to varying degrees, all people can practice, regardless of their relative strength, age or ability.

I discovered this for myself on trying to do my first asana, a tree pose suited to beginners. It took a moment for me to gain my balance but once I did, I appreciated the simple sense of satisfaction that yoga can bring.

Sec Gen gets yoga lesson from Senior advisor Nambiar se stephs tweet for caption

On this first-ever International Day of Yoga, let us see the benefits of this practice in terms of individual well-being as well as our collective efforts to improve public health, promote peaceful relations and usher in a life of dignity for all.

17 June World Day to combat Desertification

Secretary General’s Message 

“Invest in healthy soils”Ban-kimoon

Land degradation and desertification undercut human rights, starting with the right to food.  Nearly 1 billion people lack adequate nutrition, and those living off degraded areas are among the most affected.  Their situation could worsen if land degradation, as projected, reduces global food production by 12 per cent by 2035.

Food security is also impacted by the decline in water resources.  Due to land degradation there is less water and snow being stored in the ground.  In 10 years, two out of every three people in the world could be living under stressed water conditions.

We degrade 12 million hectares of productive land every year – an area the size of Benin or Honduras.  More than half our farmland is degraded, and only 10 per cent is improving.  About 500 million hectares could be restored cost-effectively, rather than being abandoned.  If we do not change how we use our land, we will have to convert an area the size of Norway into new farmland every year to meet future needs for food, freshwater, biofuels and urban growth.  This would cause deforestation and other negative environmental impact.

The threat does not stop there.  Through land degradation and other inappropriate land use, we release about a quarter of the greenhouse gases warming the planet.  Climate change and unsustainable land use, particularly by agriculture, are contributing to the decline of freshwater resources in all regions of the world.  As a consequence, global food production is projected to fall by 2 per cent every decade.

A world where all rights to food, water and human security are guaranteed is possible.  But we need to change course and start securing every hectare of land that can provide food or freshwater.  Land is a renewable resource, but only if we invest in land degradation neutrality, which has been proposed by United Nations Member States for the post-2015 development agenda.  We must avoid degrading more land and, at the same time, rehabilitate all the degraded land that we can.  Then, we will also be able to make rapid steps towards controlling climate change.

Our lives and civilizations depend on the land.  Let us invest in healthy soils to secure our rights to food and freshwater.

15 June World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

338432_UN-Ban%20Ki-moonSecretary-General’s Message for 2015

It is a disturbing and tragic fact in our world that members of the older generations are too often neglected and abused. This painful reality generally goes ignored by mainstream society. At the same time, the ageing of the world’s population has added urgency to promoting and defending the rights of older persons, who are expected to make up more than 20 per cent of the global population by 2050.

Resolved to shed light on this injustice, the United Nations General Assembly has designated 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The annual commemoration has helped to generate an emerging global discussion of a once-taboo issue as people come together to support the rights of older persons to a life free of violence and abuse.

For many, elder abuse conjures an image of a heartless caregiver who is not well-known to the victim. While this deplorable problem does persist, more often it is family members who perpetrate the violations, which include neglect as well as psychological, financial and physical abuse. Research shows that age, gender and dependency raise the risks of abuses, with women suffering the heaviest toll.

On this Day, the United Nations is joining with partners around the world to organize activities focused on finding solutions. I call on all people to support this effort.

The distressing crime of elder abuse often occurs in quiet, private settings, making a vocal, public response that much more important. Let us strengthen our resolve to end this problem as part of our broader efforts to create a life of dignity for all.

Youth

A UNIC Windhoek Intern’s social media appeal results in a warmer winter for 102 vulnerable children in Windhoek

A donation of warm winter clothes took place on 1 June 2015 at Hope Initiatives, a school in the disadvantaged part of Katutura, Kilimanjaro. UNIC Windhoek was proud to be part of the event, a showcase of what a big difference a single humanitarian act can accomplish to effect change in the lives of 102 vulnerable children.

With winter temperatures plummeting in Namibia, many children are left to fight the cold winter with no warm clothes. In an informal settlement in Windhoek’s disadvantaged area, a school exists for children who are left out of the formal school system. The school is dependent on volunteer teachers (one of whom has also been an intern at UNIC Windhoek) and donations to keep it afloat. The school is constructed very simply with classrooms under ribbed roofs, a kitchen and a garden where they grow their own vegetables to feed the kids.

A visit to the school was a heart-warming sight of highly motivated teachers singing and dancing with their students, painting and hosting interactive English lessons. A group of enthusiastic ladies who volunteer their personal time without pay to teach the children at this school. This was indeed moving to experience first-hand.waiting2

A UNIC intern Joellle Nowitzki from Germany was touched by the amazing work done and altruistic exertion of the teachers at the Hope Initiatives and was moved to do her part. She immediately took it upon herself to lobby on social media networks to friends and acquaintances to help her support the children from Hope Initiatives for the cold winter.

The school caters for illiterate children, orphans and street children and provides a haven of hope to children between the ages of two and nineteen years of age. Volunteer teachers at the school dedicate their time and make many personal contributions to help these children who live in dire poverty and great need. Kids

After a successful social media campaign, calling on one and all for a warmer winter for these desolate children, a total of six hundred euros was raised, which allowed the purchase of 102 fleece tracksuits in different sizes and colours as well as socks for the approximately 102 children who attend the school.

UNIC Windhoek was pleased to render technical support and assistance to the intern who spear headed this project, her act is a timely reminder that “We all can do our bit to make the world a better place. Every single one of us has the power to move something into the right direction” wise words by Joelle.


 

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Cosmos High School Observed the 21st Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide

The Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Rwanda Genocide is an annual initiative conducted by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek to reflect on the atrocities of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. The aim is to be responsive to the lessons learned of the Rwanda genocide in order to help prevent similar acts in the future, as well as raising awareness of the lasting impact of genocide on the survivors and the challenges that they still face today.

On the 2nd of June 2015 an educational outreach program was held at Cosmos High School to educate 200 grade 10 learners on the genocide that took place in Rwanda, it was also to pay tribute and remember the lives that were lost and to enable a discussion among the learners on measures and preventative steps that can be taken to ensure a catastrophe like that never happens again.

The UNIC Windhoek team kick started the lesson plan with a short historical presentation on the genocide and encouraged the learners to share their views on the topic of genocide and express how much they understand about the team. Some learners were quite keen and impatient to communicate the knowledge they had, which also enticed a genuine interest among others to hear more about the actual 1994 genocide. A short video clip depicted the April horror. When the learners saw the video clip they were shocked and filled with remorse for the people that went through the ordeal. Several learners expressed the sadness they felt after watching the clip.

A candle lighting ceremony was then carried out to pay tribute to the lives that were lost. An interactive discussion with learners allowed them to express their views and ideas on how they would ensure that genocide would never occur again. As one learner profoundly stated: “we should not segregate based on tribe, race, colour and gender.”IMG_0619                          Candle Lighting Ceremony with Learners of Cosmos High School

Overall the outreach seemed to build an attitude of unity amongst the learners as well as encourage them to never segregate one another for any reason. It also educated and enlightened them on the past and the history that had taken place.

 

 

 

 

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Rocky Crest High School Celebrated English Language Day with UNIC Windhoek

UN English Language Day is observed annually on April 23. During apartheid in Namibia, Afrikaans, German and English held the position of official languages; however, after independence from South Africa, the new government made English the sole official language in the constitution of Namibia. And for this reason UNIC Windhoek decided to take on the 2015 commemoration of the day, to inform learners of its rich history, cultural impact, language connectivity as well as the strange grammar patterns and vocabularies.

On 2nd of June 2015, UNIC paid a visit to the Rocky Crest High School. Approximately, 35 grade 8 learners attended the teaching, which included a short historical introduction on the origins of the English language as well as how the language had evolved as it began to spread across the globe. Accents and the use of Namlish in Namibia was then looked at and explored in detail. Throughout the entire presentation the learners were very attentive and eagerly expressed their opinions when invited and asked to do so.

Thereafter, two short video clips where shown to help the learners have a better understanding of how accents play a big role in the English language today. The learners were very keen to learn more about English and the various written forms and this was seen in their constant engagement and willingness to ask more questions on the subject matter.

A spelling bee contest was introduced to the learners whereby they had to provide the correct spelling of the word either in American English or British English. The learners excitedly took ownership and divided themselves into two teams and enthusiastically shared their answers. In closing learners were given a chance to view the Namlish vs. English exhibition on their way out.IMG_1150

Overall the learners enjoyed the English language day educational outreach and thanked the United Nations Information Centre for visiting their school. One learner even exclaimed: “So, English lessons can be fun too.”

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UNIC Windhoek Observed English Language Day!

NAMLISH vs. English

English Language Day is a global observance celebrated on April 23 each year. It coincides with William Shakespeare’s birthday as well as World Book and Copyright Day. This year, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek aimed to entertain and inform the Namibian child about the history, culture and achievements associated with the language.

On Monday the 1st of June 2015, the UNIC team visited Immanuel Shifidi Secondary school where 62 learners in grade 8 attended the talks on English Language day.  Upon arrival at the school we were met with a warm and friendly welcome from the Principal and then introduced to the head of the English language department.

After a short while the sound of cheerful learners filled the hall and they eagerly acquainted themselves with the Namlish vs English exhibition set up by the UNIC team. They seemed impressed by the images and laughed as they identified with the images and the colloquial slang that was used in the images.  This was then followed by the screening of a short video clip that portrayed the views of where local individuals interviewed at one of the Malls within the capital felt the English Language originated from.

A short history of the origins and development of English was then presented to the learners.  An interactive session was introduced, whereby the UNIC team displayed some images and probed the group to identify the correct English term for the shown image. The learner’s eyes literally lit up out of pure enjoyment as they enthusiastically submitted their contributions within their respective groups.

The practical or interactive part of the lecture depicted how much the English language had become diluted by other languages as it spread across the globe. It also emphasized how multiculturalism had affected the language and looking at Namibia and the use of Namlish at best seems to reflect this rule. Overall, the educational outreach seemed to bring a better understanding of the origins of the language to the learners as well as to highlight how some of the every day words they use are in fact not the correct term /word for certain items but rather a form of slang.

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UNIC Windhoek marks International Day of UN Peacekeepers: honouring the men and women serving under the flag of the United Nations.

“Highlighting the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) mission”

The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is an annual celebration and commemoration of United Nations Peacekeepers worldwide. This year’s event coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, drawing attention to the theme: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. In lieu hereof focusing on past peacekeeping missions, the importance of present ongoing missions and the deployment of future peacekeeping missions.

Bringing it home, Namibia, just celebrated its 25th year of independence and it only seemed fit to look at the past and pay tribute to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) mission, and how the transition took place ushering in the independence of Namibia as a nation.

On Friday the 29th of May 2015, the Centre visited Jan Möhr High school to educate as well as enlighten 250 grade 10, 11 and 12 learners on peacekeeping operations worldwide. Emphasis has been placed on the UNTAG mission which was established to assist the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Martti Ahtisaari to ensure the early independence of Namibia through free and fair elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations and bearing in mind that the majority of the learners present have been born after the transition and independence took place and it would benefit them immensely to comprehend this historical democratic process.

The outreach commenced with a short briefing on what peacekeeping day is all about as well as an interactive discussion on what the term “peacekeeping” meant to the learners. The teaching were complimented with the screening of a short video clip exclusively prepared for this year’s    celebration that helped the leaners visualize and enlarged their scope of what peacekeeping missions involve. They were very intrigued and attentive as the video played. Once the video was done they applauded the UNTAG soldiers and peacekeepers worldwide that sacrifice and lay down their lives to ensure that security, political support and peace building assistance is given to countries who wish to transition from conflict to peace.

The in-depth lesson plan on the UNTAG mission were conducted with ease, because the learners seemed to have a good background on the facts such as what the abbreviation UNTAG stands for, who the Resident Representative of the UNTAG mission to Namibia was during the transition period and as well as who the current Secretary-General of the United Nations is.

Two learners were appointed as the UN Secretary-General for the outreach proceedings and to deliver the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2015 message. They did this with enthusiasm and pride. This was then followed by a candle lighting ceremony which was done to pay tribute to all the lives lost during peacekeeping missions worldwide.

To conclude the exercises, the learners then wrote messages of gratitude and appreciation to recognize those who took part in the UNTAG mission as well as to the peacekeepers currently involved in ongoing mission around the globe.  Coincidently, among the group of learners we were pleasantly surprised to find a young boy that indicated and expressed his appreciation for all peacekeepers worldwide, as his own mother is currently involved in a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

It was impressive to see how willingly the learners participated in the gratitude messages, and how heartfelt their messages were. On a whole they seemed to understand the important role that peacekeepers play in securing peace and stability.

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1st Namibian to take part in UNAOC – EF Summer School

The UNAOC-EF Summer School is the result of a collaboration between two organizations committed to bridging cultural divides – the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and EF Education First.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is established in 2005 by the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN Alliance of Civilizations’ mission is to improve cross-cultural understanding and cooperation among countries, peoples and communities.

Hilda Nambili Liswani, aged 23 will be the first Namibian to take part in the programme since its inception. The Summer School aimed to be “a unique space for learning and collaborating that welcomes a diversity of participants, speakers and educators from a wide range of contexts. In this space, diverse perspectives, experiences and epistemologies contribute to greater understanding and respect among people, encourage new thinking, and inspire context-sensitive action and solutions.”

Hilda N. Liswani, Participant from Namibia

Hilda N. Liswani, Participant from Namibia

Every year 75 participants are chosen from around the world to address issues at the core of the United Nations’ mandate: peace and security, development, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and international law. More emphasis will be placed on the mandate of UNAOC to improve cross-cultural understanding and cooperation among countries, peoples and communities and EF’s mission of opening the world through education. Participants deliberations will be on global challenges linked to intercultural dialogue and understanding.

This interactive engagement open up a whole new world of knowledge, action around cultural and religious diversity: how to better understand it, manage it, promote it and leverage it to shape a world that is healthier, safer, more peaceful and inclusive. Different methods are applied, including advocacy, narratives, multimedia, negotiation, theater, and social entrepreneurship.

To read more about the programme, visit: http://www.unaocefsummerschool.org/summer-school

The List of participants for this year (Including, Hilda Nambili Liswani, from Namibia) at the following link: http://www.unaocefsummerschool.org/participants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Secretary-General’s message

2015 – Earth Day’s 45th anniversary – could be the most exciting year in environmental history.

The year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands. The year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty. The year in which citizens and organizations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions. These are tough issues but we know what’s at stake is the future of our planet and the survival of life on earth.

On Earth Day we need you to take a stand so that together, we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. So our world leaders can follow by example. For many, climate change seems like a remote problem, but the reality is that it’s already affecting people, animals and places around the world. A change needs to be made. On April 22 we are harnessing the power of Earth Day to show our communities and our leadership that we want action on climate. It’s our turn to lead.

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In 2015, let’s redefine what progress looks like. It’s Our Turn to Lead.

Sustainable Development

One billion people still live on less than $1.25 per day. One of the biggest controversies over a treaty has been the issue that developing countries don’t want to give up economic growth no matter the environmental cost, since the US and other developed countries got to pollute their way to the top.

Grassroots

Making a Difference
Over 400,000 people came together this past September in NYC for the biggest climate march of all time. Their call for action from the city streets reverberated around the world. They rallied for their leaders to recognize the catastrophic implications of climate change.

Time for a Treaty
Over the past 20 years, there have been a series of failed attempts to create an effective international treaty on climate change mitigation. In 1997, the first major international agreement was passed, The Kyoto Protocol. The US—one of the top polluters—didn’t ratify. Since then, many Summits and many efforts to come to agreement—Rio, Copenhagen—have ended in a flop.

http://www.earthday.org/2015