Global launch of the UN sanitation campaign to end open defecation

The UN Deputy Secretary-General launches the UN sanitation campaign to end open defecation
Wednesday May 28, 2014 10:00-11:00am EDT
Watch the event webcast on UN Web TV

The United Nations and its partners are holding a press briefing and campaign launch at UN Headquarters on 28 May 2014 to help end the practice of open defecation and improve access to toilets and latrines for the 2.5 billion people without basic level sanitation.

“It is time to talk about open defecation,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. “To discuss the facts, the consequences and the solutions. And it is time to talk about the many countries around the world where community members, local leaders and politicians are taking positive action to end this practice.”

The campaign aims to break the silence—the silence on talking about open defecation and the silence on the deaths and diseases, particularly among children, that have occurred a result of open defecation practices and lack of decent toilets or latrines.

The campaign will run to the end of 2015. The creative agency Mother, the largest independent advertising agency in the United Kingdom, has generously given time and expertise on a pro bono basis to develop the campaign ideas and materials. It is being launched in response to the UN’s Call to Action on Sanitation, and is focusing particularly on the issue of open defecation, which is seen as “the sharp end of the problem.”

Press Conference
Speakers: Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will officially launch the campaign. He will then take part in a discussion moderated by Andrea Koppel, former correspondent for CNN and current Mercy Corps Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy, H.E. Mark Neo, the UN Deputy Permanent Representative of Singapore and Nicholas Alipui, Director of UNICEF Programmes. A surprise celebrity appearance will be made at the end of the programme.

Time and Place: The campaign launch will take place on 28 May at 10 a.m. (EDT time) at Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at UN Headquarters.

The event will be webcast live at:

Follow the Meeting on Twitter: @opendefecation, hashtag #opendefecation #sanitation

United Nations Announces the First Global Vote Day

The United Nations will dedicate the first week of May to getting out the vote for its MY World opinion poll, organizing a multitude of activities in more than 50 countries to raise awareness of and boost global participation. The goal is to foster a two-way conversation with the world’s citizens that will better inform the current debate about what should be included in to the next global development agenda being announced in September 2015.

The United Nations Millennium Campaign, the force behind MY World, will bring together over 700 international partners during the MY World Week of Action with one goal in mind- to get as many people as possible to raise their voices and express their views on what matters most directly to the UN.

This week the needle crossed 2 million voters from 194 nations who have participated in the MY World poll through paper ballots, via mobile phones and online. The survey asks participants to rank their top 6 issues of 16 provided. The information, to be collected until 2015, will then be used to guide the UN policymakers and country governments in the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda.

“The MY World Week of Action along with other consultative efforts of the UN System continues to ensure that the process of shaping the Post-2015 transformative people-centred and planet-sensitive sustainable development agenda, remains inclusive,” said Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning.

“I expect that the votes and aspirations of stakeholders the world over will enrich the deliberations of member states as they work towards an ambitious agenda aiming to achieve lasting results for people’s well-being while protecting the planet.”

The MY World Week of Action is slated to run from May 5 through May 11, with Global Vote Day on May 8, during which organizers will use crowdsourcing in hopes of drumming up an additional 500,000 votes to bring the total to 2.5 million. In support of the Week of Action, the UN’s People’s Podium will be in Trafalgar Square, London to provide a platform to youth groups and ordinary citizens to vote and have their say in creating the world they want. The podium has been touring the world encouraging citizens to vote, and serves as a reminder of the UN’s intention to have an open and inclusive conversation with people everywhere. The week will also coincide with the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka, where a MY World voting booth will be available to attendees, and the World Economic Forum in Nigeria, where results will be shared. Final results of the week will be announced at a +Social Good event hosted by the Kofi Annan Foundation, with 700 students and the United Nations Foundation Board of Directors on May 13 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Over the past year, thousands of volunteers have gone out all across the globe and used MY World to offer ordinary people the opportunity to have their say on what they think matters most,” said Corinne Woods, director of the UN Millennium Campaign. “For the new development goals to be truly sustainable, we must all know them and believe in them. This is why we are urging everyone to cast their vote. We, in turn, commit to ensuring these votes are placed before politicians and leaders everywhere. People should be in no doubt that these votes really do count.

With nearly 2 million respondents surveyed, preliminary MY World results suggest the following trends:

1.    Good education followed by better healthcare and ’an honest and responsive government’ rank as the top-3 most important issues, with job opportunities coming fourth among voters overall. That trend essentially bears out among those from low-and medium-income developing countries and for respondents with less than a secondary education.

In fact, among those from very high-income developed countries, better education was the only issue in common with low- and medium-income developing countries. Healthcare and job opportunities fell to 6th and 11th, with access to clean water and sanitation ranking 3rd.

2.    A generation gap of sorts appears to be forming among overall respondents with those under 30 years old worried more about job opportunities than their over-30 counterparts, who seemed more concerned about living under honest and responsive governments.

3.    As for a gender gap, men and women tended to share the same top-7 concerns.

4.    People in poorer countries were much more likely than those in richer countries to choose better communications infrastructure as one of their six. One in three voters in low-income countries chose better transport and roads and better phone and internet access as one of their six options, while only one in ten respondents in high-income countries chose these options.

5.    Of the 2 million surveyed so far, just over one million responded through paper ballot, nearly 380,000 through mobile/SMS and almost 456,000 online.

MY World is the result of a collective effort made possible through the collaboration of its founding members UNMC, UNDP, ODI, core partners like UN Foundation, UNICEF, UNV and IPSOS Mori and more than 700 partners around the world, including NGOs, faith groups, youth movements, academia and private sector.

For more information about MY World and to view more results, please visit

MY World Global Week of Action 5-11 May

Did you know that more than 2 million people have already voted at the UN for the things that would make the most difference to their lives. But there’s more you can do!

Can you get 5 friends to vote this week?

Donate your social media profile before May 8th and be part of the global rally online

Share the MY World Week of Action Campaign- videos, messages & images here:
English: ToolkitThunderclap; TweetsCampaign ImagesIssue-based images
Español: ToolkitThunderclap; TweetsImágenes
Français: ThunderclapTweets
Português: ThunderclapTweets
Other languages 

We need you! Thanks for all your support :)

Best regards,
The MY World Team

For more information contact:
Anand Kantaria at 
Frances Simpson-Allen at

Conference on Inequalities in Africa: Accra, 28-30 April, 2014

The Pan-African Conference on Inequalities in the Context of Structural Transformation will take place in Accra, Ghana on April 28-30, 2014.

Inequalities are a recurrent theme in the debate on development. The Millennium Declaration recognized the concern over inequalities- although within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets and MDGs implementation, the issue only received scant attention. The discourse around a post-2015 development framework is cognizant of the need to sufficiently address social and economic inequalities, given the evidence that inter and intra-country inequalities have largely worsened over the 15-year MDGs implementation period.

For Africa, the question of inequalities is critical, especially in light of the conversations about structural economic transformation and the optimistic outlook about the continent’s prospects.

Against this background and in the context of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 visioning and the United Nations-led post-2015 development agenda process, there is need to create a constructive space where key African constituencies which are concerned with different domains of the inequality question and/or are engaged in conceptualizing and shaping possible trajectories for African transformation can coalesce to share their visions and aspirations and explore possible common paths to social change. This Inequalities Conference is a first step in this regard.

The Conference responds to the call by the African Union (AU) Chairperson for everyone from every sector of society to have a say in defining “the African agenda for 2063. It aims at forging linkages between the ongoing African developmental debates and the discussions on a post-MDGs development framework. The Conference will lead to a statement on The Africa We Want as an input to the global deliberations on the World We Want. Its primary intention is to craft an African agenda on inequalities, especially in the context of the pan-African process aimed at shaping an African vision for the next 50 years. It also draws from and feeds into the post-2015 development agenda discourses.

The Conference and broader movement that may be generated through its preparatory and follow-up processes should catalyse a new coalition of African individuals and institutions that can foster a vibrant agenda for equitable African transformation.

The conference is organized by the Government of Ghana in partnership with the United Nations Millennium Campaign, CODESRIA, DANIDA, ISSER, the Government of Sweden, SID, TWN Africa, UNDP, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and UNICEF.

For more information follow @AInequalities and visit the conference website.

Over 1.5 million voices heard!

Over 1.58 million people have had their say at the UN!

Up to now, the survey results reveal that the top priorities for voters to improve their lives are a good education, better healthcare, better job opportunities and an honest and responsive government. This strengthens the validity of the current Millennium Development Goals and places new issues on the global agenda.

MY World has massive support among the youth. About 70% of all voters are younger than 30 years old.

Corinne Woods, Global Director of the Millennium Campaign highlights that

The people, wherever they live in the world, want the same basic human rights ie health, education and work, and an honest and responsive government.


The United Nations invites everybody to Have THEIR say at the United Nations

The United Nations has launched in Madrid, with the support of Telefonica, the “HAVE YOUR SAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS” campaign, inviting everybody to participate in MY World, the UN global survey for a better world  (

 This innovative initiative invites all people to choose six areas of activity, from a total of 16, which, in their opinion, would represent a major improvement in their lives.  More than 1.5 million people in 194 countries have already voted - through the web, street surveys or on mobile devices – providing, for the first time, real-time information on people’s priorities for the future global development agenda, which is currently being discussed at the United Nations.


Up to now, the survey results reveal that the top priorities for voters to improve their lives are a good education, better healthcare, and better job opportunities. This strengthens the validity of the current Millennium Development Goals and places new issues on the global agenda.

Corinne Woods, Global Director of the Millennium Campaign stressed that “The especially striking message that emerges when we analyzed the data of MY World is that people, wherever they live in the world, want the same basic human rights ie health, education and work , and an honest and responsive government.”

“The MY World Survey aims to meet the real needs of citizens in all parts of the world and educate leaders about the leading priorities for developing programs and initiatives,” stated Alberto Andreu, Head of CSR & Reputation at Telefonica.

Globally, the “HAVE YOUR SAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS” campaign kicks off in Spain, in Madrid and Barcelona at the Telefonica Flagship stores, and at the Chamartin and Atocha train stations in Madrid, with the support of ADIF. The MY World podium is also installed in public spaces – to bring the initiative to the people.

After Spain, it will be implemented in the rest of the world with the support of United Nations and its partners.

The campaign has been developed by the UN Millennium Campaign in Spain with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

To vote:

For up-to-date results:

The African Narrative

The UN Millennium Campaign and the UNDP Regional Service Centre in Africa have published Structural Transformation and the Challenge of Financing Africa’s post-2015 Development Agenda. The paper is a powerful synthesis of a 2-day forum of leading African thinkers, parliamentarians, civil society organizations hosted by the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa in order to develop a shared narrative of what the pos-2015 agenda should be about and how such an agenda should be financed, from an African perspective. For the post-2015 agenda to be relevant to Africa, it should  form an integral part of the African structural transformation vision, and Africans must drive such an agenda for Africans. Similar, Africa must plan from the outset how to finance such an agenda, relying substantially on mobilizing and using own domestic resources properly and managing external resources sensibly.

A new form of  global partnerships is necessary, one that is rooted in fairness and justice and basic respect and trust in Africa’s ability to put its own house in order.

Download full report

“Global Financial Crisis Forgotten Too Soon”

Read UN Millennium Campaign African Director, Charles Abugre, weekly column on international economic and development matters at Business Daily Africa.


THE ARRIVAL of 2014 marks the sixth year since Lehman Brothers Investment Bank of the United States was declared bankrupt – marking the beginning of what became the global financial meltdown.

Lehman brothers was the first high profile victim of the burst in the housing bubble – the packaging of housing loans (many of dubious quality – sub-prime) into securities that were traded and kept outside the balance sheets of banks in order for bankers to earn their bonuses.

This party of housing bubble allowed the likes of Barclays Bank’s Investment arm, Morgan Stanley and the Bank of America to thrive making their gamblers wealthier.

More than 1000 millionaires were created in the City of London alone – the one square smile financial centre of gleaming skyscrapers in the metropolis – and luxury yachts were going like toys.

But when the bubble burst, poor tax payers were called upon to the rescue the sinking ships, literally at the cost of many lives.

If you are dealing in high-end real estate in the wealthy areas of Nairobi, or Luanda, Accra or Lagos today, 2008 might seem like a distant dream or in some ways, even a blessing.

The opposite is true for the working or lower middle class person living in Spain, Cyprus, Greece or Italy for who the nightmare cannot end soon enough.

Millions remain unemployed, homes have been repossessed and streets are regularly occupied by angry and hungry protesters left to pay for debts owed to mainly German and British banks and Russian Oligarchs.

When the financial crisis hit – and it did so following hikes in energy and food prices – the predictions about the cost to the global economy were dire – and a lot came true.

As banks began to crumble, scores of homes repossessed, unemployment exploded and panic set in, partly because of fear that the banking system was concealing more debt and junk bonds than they were willing to reveal, governments stepped in, and put in place the most unprecedented policies since the re-emergence of neoliberalism.

Banks and their liabilities were nationalised, the banking system around the world was flooded with paper money printed by Central banks of the United States, the United Kingdom, the EU and Japan (the Advanced Economies -AEs) in particular.

The UK pumped into their banking sector the equivalent of 90 per cent of their GDP, the US, 35 per cent of GDP and Germany, 25 per cent of GDP – all amounting to trillions of US dollars equivalent.

These were accompanied by drastic reduction of interest rates, a measure that both sought to stimulate new borrowing as well as gain export competitiveness.

The impact of the crisis and the measures put in place by the AEs to combat it had both immediate and enduring impacts on developing countries in general and Africa in particular.

One such impact was a sharp decline in economic growth in 2008/9 – largely due to a fall in primary commodity prices and capital outflows from countries with significant exposure to international banks.

The ILO estimated that the crisis put an additional three million people out of work and 28 million people into insecure work.

African Finance ministers claimed that the “crisis was sweeping away firms, mines, jobs, revenues and livelihoods” and threatening efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) went one step further, forecasting civil chaos, and state fracture.

State fracture, of the type forecast by the EIU did indeed occur as regimes collapsed one after the other in North Africa from 2010 but for reasons that can at best be attributable to what Robert Wade of the United States calls “deep causes” – the structural character of the global economy shaped by neoliberalism and extreme greed that gave birth to financialisation, growing inequalities and political discontent.

Many of the impacts endure to date. Although economic growth rebounded quicker than the IMF projected, risks and fragilities associated with the crisis may have deepened in some respects.

Commodity prices flattened in 2013 and may remain so in 2014 due to the slowdown in economic growth in China and other emerging economies and continued crisis in the Eurozone.

Africa’s growth in 2014 is projected to be robust but below the pre-crisis peak. Although capital inflows rebounded in 2010 and increased significantly in 2012 due in particular to the easy money policies of the AEs, these are slowing down as less money is pumped in by central banks.

Moreover, capital inflows to Africa have been largely speculative and short-term looking for quick profits in the emerging equity markets, luxury real estate, mega city projects and natural resources extraction – all of which do little to create sustainable employment or narrow the current account deficits plaguing countries like Kenya, whilst contributing to building financial bubbles and widening inequalities.

Whereas larger developing countries are taking steps to manage these inflows by imposing market-based capital controls, countries like Kenya are dismantling any form of controls and threatening to liberalise capital movements even further.

As 2014 opens, the signs are that capital flows will become more volatile and more costly as the US roles back the pumping of money into the banking sector and money becomes less cheap.

With the global economy projected to grow only modestly, the Eurozone even more so and G20 countries slowing down, commodity prices will come under pressure.

Indebtedness will worsen in many African countries putting pressure on exchange rates. This picture contrasts with the euphoric expectation of our political leaders that foreign capital will flow in droves to “transform Africa’s economy” into an upper middle income one.

Editor’s note: Charles Abugre is Director for Africa of the United Nations Millennium Campaign. This text belongs to a series of weekly columns on international economic and development matters author created to be published at Business Daily Africa. . The views expressed are the writer’s own.

UN Millennium Campaign tasks African Film Practitioners on human development

Lagos, Nigeria.-The United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) has called on African film practitioners to use their medium to promote good governance and human development on the continent.

In a goodwill message delivered at the annual Nigerian Integrity Film Awards (HOMEVIDA) in Lagos, Nigeria, the Regional Director (Africa) of the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), Mr Charles Abugre Akelyira, stated that the growth of the film industry in Nigeria and across Africa has been phenomenal and ought to become a veritable tool for the promotion of Pan-African values, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and socio-economic development of Africa.

Mr. Akelyira who was represented at the occasion by UNMC National Coordinator, Mr Hilary Ogbonna, emphasised that Africa is at a critical stage in achieving the MDGs with some of the goals still lagging behind, underscoring the need for strategic partnerships, communications and advocacy using multiple platforms including films. Mr Akelyira charged African film makers in the development of contents and values in films which will serve as advocacy tools to policy makers and other stakeholders to take actions necessary for the attainment of human development on the continent. In his words: “As we countdown to the deadline for achieving the MDGs and with the work on a post 2015 agenda in an advanced stage, Africa needs more initiatives like HOMEVIDA which will project African aspirations, messages and expectations from this once in a long time development process.”

He commended HOMEVIDA as an “excellent initiative which if supported can serve as a veritable tool to mobilise Africans and their leaders to pay attention to current and emerging development challenges on the continent.” He further stated that Africa “needs greater commitments such as the ones shown by PPDC from both State and non-state actors on the continent and in the diaspora.”

The UNMC Regional Director promised that the organisation and its partners in Africa and beyond are committed to supporting the use of “the medium of films to project best development practices and values of good governance, peace, human security and other enablers of development.” He stressed that “films, more than any other art have the capacity to promote values and mobilise people of different faiths, tribes and tongues for common goals and objectives.”

Also speaking at the occasion, the founder of HOMEVIDA Awards, Mr Chibuzo Ekwekwuo commended the United Nations Millennium Campaign for supporting the awards and making available the goodwill of the UN across Africa to support film makers in producing movies that will enhance human development and contribute to the acceleration of the MDGs. HOMEVIDA, an initiative of the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) is in its fourth year. Since inception, it has become a rallying point for film practitioners and the entertainment industry in Nigeria interested in promoting good and accountable governance through their works.

It will be recalled that in April this year, UNMC signed a cooperative agreement with PPDC and endowed prizes for the best script and feature films that projects the themes of human development and the MDGs. For the 2013 maiden awards in the human development and MDGs category, Mr. Ebuka Njoku won the prize for the best script with ‘Bola’s Dirge’, while the best feature film in the same category was clinched by ‘Victims of the Society’ produced by Elvis Chuks.

The success of this initiative has spurred UNMC, PPDC and other partners to initiate a Pan-African Film project which will be bringing film makers, government institutions, private sector, civil society and development partners together to promote African values, project African voices and messages to the rest of the world to advance human development on the continent.

IDEP 2013: UN Secretary-General urges for greater support for people struggling to escape poverty and build better lives

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. UN Secretary-General’s Message for 2013.

This year’s observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty comes as the international community is pursuing twin objectives:  intensifying efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and formulating the next set of goals to guide our efforts after we reach the MDG target date of 2015.  This post-2015 agenda must have poverty eradication as its highest priority and sustainable development at its core.  After all, the only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path.

We have much work ahead.  While poverty levels have declined significantly, progress has been uneven.  Our impressive achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide. Too many, especially women and girls, continue to be denied access to adequate health care and sanitation, quality education and decent housing.  Too many young people lack jobs and the skills that respond to market demands.  Rising inequality in many countries — both rich and poor — is fueling exclusion from economic, social and political spheres, and we know that the impacts of climate change and loss of biodiversity hit the poorest the hardest.  All of this underpins the need for strong and responsive institutions.

We need to do more to listen and act for those whose voices often go unheard – people living in poverty, and in particular among them indigenous people, the older persons and those living with disabilities, the unemployed, migrants and minorities.  We need to support them in their struggle to escape poverty and build better lives for themselves and their families.

If we are to realize the future we want for all, we must hear and heed the calls of the marginalized.  For the last year, the UN has been doing just that by spearheading an unprecedented global conversation on the world people want.  That dialogue must continue – and lead to the active and meaningful inclusion of people living in poverty — as we chart a course to ending poverty everywhere.

Together, we can build a sustainable world of prosperity and peace, justice and equity – a life of dignity for all.