Media urged to drive the narratives on the New Urban Agenda

Following Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, which took place in Quito Ecuador 2016, and the emerging need to further build the capacity of the media in reporting Housing and sustainable urban development, the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and the UN-Habitat Nigeria have organised a Media Workshop on Post-Habitat III Conference/ New Urban Agenda. Speaking on the role of the media in the New Urban Agenda, the National Information Officer of UNIC, Oluseyi Soremekun, called on the media to drive the new narratives about urban development in Nigeria by getting acquainted with the New Urban Agenda (NUA) as well as relevant policies and plans of the government on housing and urban development. “If you are not conversant with the necessary NUA frameworks; the National Housing Policy as well as other National Plans, you cannot hold the government accountable to its commitment to a new urban agenda that will redress the way cities and human settlements are planned, financed, developed, governed and managed.” He noted. “Media should give prominence to the issues of sustainable housing, urban development and slum upgrading.” Soremekun said, “Media should rise above sensationalising and politicising issues of urban development. Rather, they should interrogate the existing housing and urban development policy and plan and juxtapose these with government actions.” The workshop held on Thursday 26 October 2017 in Abuja, and attended by twenty-five participants from the media, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPWH) and the UN system, was aimed at strengthening awareness among journalists and media professionals of the challenges of urbanisation and the global efforts to address them, notably the outcomes of the Habitat III conference in Quito; developing the capacity of journalists to engage constructively with policy makers, professionals and government functionaries to actively follow-up on implementation of the New Urban Agenda; and facilitating citizens’ participation in the New Urban Agenda.  In his presentation, the Program Manager of UN-Habitat Nigeria, Mr Kabir Yari explained that the New Urban Agenda is an action-oriented document which sets global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities through cooperation with all levels of government, relevant stakeholders, and other urban actors such as the private sector. He noted that the agenda also “provides the underpinning for actions to address climate change and reaffirms our global commitment to sustainable urban development as a critical step for realizing sustainable development in an integrated and coordinated manner.” Mr Yari added that the shared vision and commitments include: “Cities and human settlements must be for every one; referred as the “right to the city”. It entails equal rights including the right to adequate housing; gender equality, basic urban services etc.; Urban equity and inclusiveness leaving no one behind and addressing issues of poverty, deprivation in cities, socio-economic and cultural diversity.” Discussing the “Challenges and Response to Urbanisation in Nigeria”, the Director of Urban & Regional Development (URD) Department, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPWH), Mr L. C. Anikamadu, explained that “Nigeria boasts of more than ten regional centres which have established status of ‘millionaire cities’. In addition, she has several other fast growing population centres which have assumed very strong urban identity due to administrative, commercial, ethnic, transport connectivity and other intrinsic peculiarities.” Mr Anikamadu  who was represented by Mr Lana Olalekan, noted that as urbanization creates hordes of cities and townships, several intimidating challenges of different shades follow in its wake. “Perhaps most significantly, urbanization has created a huge class of ‘urban poor’ who live in unimaginable conditions, abject misery and lack of basic necessities of life.” He added.

UN Commends Nigeria on SDGs implementation, marks UN-Day with fanfare

The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the UN system in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, has commended the Government and people of Nigeria for the progress made in almost two years of the implementation of the SDGs.

He cited, “the establishment of a multi-layered and multi-cluster institutional frameworks for coordination of the SDG mainstreaming processes with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs); a Private Sector Advisory Group, Donor Forum on SDGs and Civil Society Organization Advisory Group and a Presidential Council on the SDGS  inaugurated by the President; development of a good policy and planning framework for the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and linked to the SDGs.”

Mr Kallon said this on Tuesday 24 October 2017, at the observance organised by the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Foreign Affairs Ministry and the UN at the Rotunda Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abuja. The event also featured SDGs exhibition featuring 17 stands representing the 17 Goals as well as children’s performance and unveiling of SDGs theme song and SDGs Ambassadors.

The Resident Coordinator however, urged Policy Makers and Partners in Nigeria to go beyond business as usual in implementing the SDGs with the required political will and integrated action for results. “One surest way of getting results is to incorporate the Agenda 2030 in national planning, policies, legislation and institutions at the Federal and State level.”

Delivering the message of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the 2017 UN Day, Mr kallon said, “The world’s problems transcend borders. We have to transcend our differences to transform our future. When we achieve human rights and human dignity for all people – they will build a peaceful, sustainable and just world. On United Nations Day, let us, ‘We the Peoples’, make this vision a reality.”

In her welcome address, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, H.E. Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, disclosed that Nigeria has laid down an evidence-informed implementation pathway for the SDGs and has addressed the prevalent data deficit by conducting a mapping of existing statistics followed by the determination of 126 baseline SDGs indicators to benchmark progress, with technical backstopping from the UN Country Team. “It is now urgent to scale up of implementation to accelerate the attainment of most of the SDGs before the deadline of 2030.” She added.

In his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, observed that this year’s UN observance came at a critical time of global and national discourse of what must constitute our shared commitment to global and national cooperation that is targeted by achieving inclusive socio-economic development, shared prosperity and sustainable peace and security, in our time.

Dignitaries at the event included Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, H.E. Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu; Minister of Youth and Sports, Comrade Solomon Dalong, among others.

UNIC targets Youth, organises SDGs Arts competition in schools

Since member states of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, has continued to highlight the role of youth in the implementation of the global goals. The Centre has remodelled its school outreach activities to be youth-focused and SDGs-centred. Of note was the just concluded Arts4SDGs competition in Lagos States and the roll out of the second phase by 1 November 2017 in Ogun State, South-West Nigeria. Arts4SDGs is a campaign that promotes the SDGs amongst Secondary School students using creative arts. It requires the students to express their understanding of SDGs in artistic forms or in poetry.

The competition which was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria in collaboration with Lagos State Ministry of Education and Tender Arts Nigeria, started earlier in the year among the over 600 public secondary schools in Lagos State and a few private ones. It reached the climax on Thursday 9 October 2017 with an Exhibition of outstanding works as well as award of certificates to all students who participated in the competition. The event also featured the unveiling of SDGs theme song titled, “One Planet” initiated by UNIC but composed and rendered by Nigeria’s multi-talented singer, Seyi Ajayi.

Speaking at the Arts4SDGs Exhibition and Certificates Award ceremony, the Director of UNIC Lagos Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, explained that Arts4SDGs aimed to create awareness of the SDGs among children and the youth; and raise young advocates to inspire positive actions for sustainable development.

“Arts4SDGs is about viewing the SDGs from the lenses of an artist. Students were asked to interpret any of the 17 SDGs in artistic forms. The works of arts the Students submitted were creative and instructive.” He said, “There is a particular one that depicts Goal 2, ‘Zero Hunger’ with a plastic plate containing real food stuffs while a fork and a knife are arranged on each side. The message is clear: No one should go hungry. Let everyone have food on the table.”

Mr Kayanja thanked the Lagos State Government for its support, “especially in sharing the Arts4SDGs communication materials to all schools in the State which was a critical success factor.”

In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of Tender Arts Nigeria, Mr Adekunle Adewale, explained that “We believe images are powerful to convey message beyond words. One image is more powerful than a thousand words. This is the main reason we are partnering UNIC to promote the use of arts to SDGs.

Dignitaries in attendance include Ambassador Ayo Olukanni Nigeria’s former diplomat to Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Island; the President of Society of Nigerian artists, Mr.Oliver Enwonwu; the Chairman, Lagos State Council For Arts and Culture, Mrs Polly Alakija; the Curator, Rele Art Gallery, Ms Adenrele Sonariwo, Representatives of Lagos State Ministry of Education.

The highpoint of the ceremony was the decoration of Seyi Ajayi as a Champion of SDGs by the Director of UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Mr Kayanja.

The second phase of the Arts4SDGs campaign which is in collaboration with the Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, kicks off on 1 November 2017. Over 380 secondary schools in the State would be reached.


Imbibe the Culture of Peace – UNIC enjoins Nigerians

The National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Oluseyi Soremekun, has enjoined Nigerians to imbibe the culture of peace and noted that “Peace is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. Everyone needs to imbibe the culture of peace by upholding mutual trust and respect for one another.”

He said this while speaking at a workout tagged, “Sweat4Peace” organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Galaxy4Peace, in collaboration with UNIC as part of the countdown activities to mark the International Day of Peace (21 September). The event held at the Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka Lagos was attended by over 150 people.

Explaining this year’s theme: ‘Together for Peace: Respect, safety and dignity for all’, Soremekun  explained that the theme honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. “It also encourages everyone to work together for peace and uphold mutual respect for one another. He explained.

Citing the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the National Information Officer said, “In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats. We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”

Soremekun further noted that peace was at the centre of development, from the family level to the global stage. According to him, without peace, none of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could be achieved.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulates new President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has congratulated the new President of the General Assembly, Mr Miroslav Lajčák. “He and I have had good discussions in recent months about our shared hopes for this session. I have no doubt the Assembly is in very capable hands.” Mr Guterres said in his remarks at opening of the 72nd session of the General Assembly in New York, on 12 September 2017.

His experience, his vision and his wisdom, are recognised by all of us that have the privilege to know him. I also welcome President Lajčák’s choice of theme for the year to come: “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”. The Secretary General’s statement reads further:

I look forward to working together for progress on all our areas of work.

Our world faces serious threats — from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to global terrorism, from climate change to inequality.  

We also face major challenges, from migration to the unintended consequences of technological advances, such as cyber attacks.

People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver.  

We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver.  That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider.  

I look forward to working with you, distinguished delegates, to strengthen our Organization to better support the Member States and to produce better results for the people we serve.

One key change, within and beyond the United Nations, must be to empower the world’s women and girls.

Yesterday, I launched a roadmap for achieving gender parity throughout the United Nations, at all levels.  I appeal to you to put forward women candidates for vacancies.  Parity at the UN will improve performance at the UN.

Despite today’s conflicts and the grinding daily impact of poverty, I remain convinced that this is far more an era of transformational potential.

May the 72nd session of the General Assembly take bold steps to seize those opportunities as we continue to serve “we the peoples”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Remarks at Closing of the 71st Session of the General Assembly

Mr. President,
Let me begin with a warm and heartfelt thank you to President of the 71st session of the General Assembly Peter Thompson.
Thank you for your vision.  Thank you for your energy.  Thank you for your unmistakable assertive voice that may have given some of us flashbacks to our grammar school principals!

But most of all thank you for helping to steer the Member States to a solid record of achievement over the past year.
Day in and day out, you brought us together.
That spirit of unity has particular meaning today, the 16th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and other targets.

This was an assault on the United States.  But so many of our Member States saw their citizens murdered that day.
I know you join me in expressing our sorrow and solidarity on this day.

In looking back over the work of the 71st session of the Assembly, I see many highlights.
Last September’s high level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants adopted the landmark New York Declaration, pointing the way towards compassionate and people-centred ways to address this challenge.

The resolution on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development set the stage for re-positioning the United Nations to better support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Assembly also took other important steps to advance the 2030 Agenda, including the establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and the adoption of the indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and targets.
President Thomson, I know you were especially pleased to convene the Ocean Conference in June.  This was a timely exercise that has helped to raise awareness about the need to sustainably use the world’s marine resources.

It also showed the big impact that small island developing states such as Fiji can have in shaping the international agenda and providing solutions for shared problems.
Over the past year the Assembly continued to serve as a forum for pressing global issues, from human trafficking to antimicrobial resistance.  I have been pleased to see the doors of the Assembly opening ever wider to vital partners such as civil society, the private sector and, above all, young people.

Of course, the past Assembly also took up the task of selecting a new Secretary-General.  With new features such as candidate dialogues and vision statements, that process has established new standards of transparency and interactivity.  It is an honour to have gained your trust and to be sitting here today.  I thank you as well for approving my proposal to establish the Office of Counter-Terrorism — a key element in the reforms that I have set in motion.

To all the Member States, congratulations on a productive 71st session.
To Ambassador Thomson, you once said that you wanted your tenure to be measured by how good a start we get in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  By that yardstick and many others, you can be very proud of your accomplishments.
Finally, to the incoming President Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, we look forward to working with you to build on the 71st session and make the 72nd session a great success in serving the world’s people.

Thank you.

UN Secretary General calls for surge in diplomacy for peace as UNILAG holds Model United Nations (MUN)

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has called for a surge in diplomacy for peace and for a new emphasis on preventing conflicts.  “We are also working to improve living conditions everywhere through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” he said in his message to the Lagos Model United Nations (LMUN) 2017 organised by University of Lagos (UNILAG) in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos Nigeria.

The LMUN held 13 – 15 July 2017, had the theme, “Innovation, Development, and Diversity for Global Sustainability” and was attended by 200 delegates from 14 Universities in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Mr Guterres noted that “All parents want a better life for their children.  All religions value peace.  All communities thrive when they value diversity”. “Today”, he continued, “people around the world are inter-connected.  Conflict, environmental destruction, poverty and injustice affect everyone.  We have to work in common cause for our common humanity.”

He urged the delegates to follow the UN social media accounts and stay fully engaged in their communities.  “Together, let us create a more compassionate, inclusive and peaceful world”. The Secretary General added in the message read by UNIC Lagos Knowledge Management Assistant, Ms Bolanle Olumekor.

Addressing the delegates, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, noted  that the Lagos Model United Nations is “essential in preparing our minds on the need to achieve global peace and prosperity through your simulation of global actions by modelling the UN through your Committees.”

Represented by the Acting Director, Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Abiodun Richards Adejola, the Minister explained that simulation in communication skills, diplomacy, public speaking, resolution writing, international law and politics as well as trade relations would assist in understanding the overall objectives of the United Nations, its rules of procedure and its modus operandi.

The Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Overseas Affairs and Investment, Professor Ademola Abass, in his speech urged the delegates to read more in order to learn more. “Among the benefits that learning offers is that you get to critically analyse your knowledge and take it even further,” he noted.

Mr Onyeama explained further that the future of this country and the world rests in the ability of the delegates to look inwards and outwards for ways they can reinvent the wheel positively, to actively challenge old traditions and models that do not necessarily translate into this era, to explore the ways they can marshal the amount of time spent with technology for good.”

The Dean Faculty of Law, UNILAG, Prof Ayodele Atsenuwa, thanked the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) and other partners for ensuring the success of the LMUN. She emphasised the commitment of the student-organisers for their drive.

The Secretary General of the LMUN, Mr Aliu Gabriel, in his message, urged delegates during committee sessions to foster innovative ideas towards addressing some of the prevailing issues around the world.

Add vocational skills to your education – UNIC urges youth

The National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Oluseyi Soremekun, has called on Nigerian youth to add vocational skills acquisition to their formal education in order to be marketable, employable and economically sustainable for a secured future.

He made this call while speaking at the 2017 World Youth Skills Day observance organised on Friday 14 July 2015 by Yes-I-Believe Academy (YIBA) in collaboration with UNIC. Expressing concern at the high number of unemployed youth, the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2014, designated 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. The theme for this year’s observance is “Skills for the Future of Work”.

World Youth Skills Day, Soremekun disclosed, is in recognition of the fact that fostering the acquisition of skills by youth would enhance their ability to make informed choices with regard to life and work and empower them to gain access to changing labour markets.

He explained that education and training are key determinants of success in the labour market. Skills and jobs for youth feature prominently in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 4.4 calls for a substantial increase in the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills.

The National Information Officer noted that “Everyone has inborn skills. No one is empty and useless. Identify your passion, your skill area and seek help to develop it and be a master of your future. Your future lies in your hands. Acquire a skill today.”

Explaining the reason for youth unemployment, the National Information Officer explained, “One reason for youth unemployment is structural unemployment, a mismatch between the skills that workers in the economy can offer and the skills demanded of workers by employers. Structural unemployment affects all regions around the world and it impacts not only economies but also hampers the transition to equitable and inclusive societies envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Speaking at the event, Mrs Nneoma Effanga, a Makeup expert, urged the youths to shun idleness and develop their talents which might not be related to their course of studies. Such a step, she said, might be that which would secure their future.

Stressing the importance of skills acquisition, the Executive Director of YIBA, Mr Niyi Adekunle, declared that no vocational skill is demeaning. He urged the participants who were mainly students of Yaba College of Technology, not to treat vocational skills training with contempt as it might be a saving grace for some even after their graduation from other fields.

The programme also featured exhibition of vocational skills products and some practical sessions featuring wire-works, shoes, make-up kits and application, art-works and soft-furniture among others.

Facilitators of the practical session included Mr Akinwande Ademosu (Motivational Speaker); Mrs Oreoluwa Solana (Crystal Design); Mr Gbenga Ogundimu (Shoe Maker); Mrs Oyebola Jennifer (Art work) Ms Opeyemi Olowoporoku (Beads Making) and Mrs Busola Oluwatimileyin (Interior Design).


UNIC, LCCI hold first MSMEs Day, calls for increased support to MSMEs

Following the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 6 April 2017 designating 27 June as Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Day in recognition of the need to improve small business access to microfinance and credit, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), on 28 June 2017 held the first ever observance of MSMEs Day at the Commerce House Lagos Nigeria. The event was attended by 110 stakeholders including media.

Addressing the participants, the Director of UNIC, Mr Ronald Kayanja, who was represented by the National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, advocated increased support to MSMEs in Nigeria. “The goal of MSME Day is to raise public awareness of the contribution of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to sustainable development and advocate for and provide increased support to MSMEs.” He noted. “Micro-, small and medium enterprises”, Mr Kayanja explained further, “are the first responders to societal needs. They are responsible for significant employment and income generation opportunities across the world and have been identified as a major driver of poverty alleviation and development.”

The Director emphasized that MSMEs tend to employ a larger share of the vulnerable sectors of the workforce, such as women, youth, and people from poorer households; and “Efforts to enhance access to finance for SMEs across key sectors of national economies are an important element of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

He added that SDG targets 8.3 and 9.3 called for enhancing the access of SMEs to financial services. In addition, SMEs are an important element in the implementation of SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure).

In her remarks on the occasion, the President of LCCI, Dr (Mrs) Nike Akande, observed that the major challenges facing MSMEs in Nigeria include poor access to credit; lack of bankable business plans, competitive marketing strategy, standard accounting systems as well as dearth of requisite vocational and technical skills, inadequate infrastructure, unstable policy and regulatory environment.

She called for a stable policy and regulatory environment that supports the reforms on the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Similarly, Dr Akande recommended that the issues of taxation, trade and foreign exchange policies should be managed in line with international best practices.

UNIC Trains Lagos Model United Nations (MUN) Organisers, Stresses Accuracy of Simulations

In promoting Model United Nations (MUN) simulations that accurately represent how the United Nations actually functions, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, has organised a training workshop for organisers of the University of Lagos Model United Nations.

Conducting the training held today at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, the UNIC National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained the structure of the UN and the procedures and processes used for reaching decisions, as well as guidance on how to prepare for MUN conferences.

He disclosed that it had become imperative for the United Nations to provide technical support to organisers of MUN as up to 99% of MUN simulations around the world are not reflective of how the United Nations works.

“If you are organising a MUN simulation, then it must mirror the UN processes and procedures of deliberation and decision making. If the simulation deviates from the reality, then it is not MUN and should not be regarded as such.” He declared.

Mr Soremekun enjoined the participants who included students and faculty advisors to take MUN quality control very seriously and added that the UN Information Centre would continue to support MUN organisers around the country.

The training workshop was preparatory to the Lagos Model United Nations organised in partnership with UNIC and scheduled to hold at the University of Lagos from 13-15 July 2017.