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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought – 17 June 2024

The theme of the 2024 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, 17 June, is “United for Land. Our Legacy. Our Future”, highlighting the future role of land stewardship in ensuring the stability and prosperity of billions of people around the world.

Desertification, land degradation, and drought are among the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, with up to 40 per cent of all land area worldwide already considered degraded.

Desertification and drought are being made worse by increasingly erratic and extreme weather patterns due to climate change, which puts tens of millions of people each year at risk of displacement.

To cope with an uncertain future, decision makers will need to adopt resilient water management techniques and technologies as part of a more sustainable approach to land stewardship.

  • 72% of all freshwater withdrawals are used by agriculture, 16% by industries, and 12% by municipalities. (UN-Water, 2023
  • Rising water stress is affecting food security and biodiversity. There are rapid changes in surface water in one fifth of river basins. (UN-Water, 2021
  • Water-harvesting and water conservation techniques could boost rainfed kilocalorie production by up to 24% and, if combined with irrigation expansion, by more than 40%. (FAO, 2020)

 

Source: Text & Image: https://www.unwater.org/news/world-day-combat-desertification-and-drought-17-june

World Telecommunications Day – 17 May 2024

Digital innovation can help tackle the world’s most pressing challenges

From fighting climate change to eliminating hunger and poverty, digital technologies can help achieve 70% of targets under the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Now more than ever, building a sustainable future demands innovative thinking and action in the digital world.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2024 offers the chance to explore how digital innovation can help connect everyone and unlock sustainable prosperity for all.

With 2.6 billion people still unconnected, glaring digital gaps hinder innovation across much of the world. Many countries – lacking key policies, investments, and digital skills – are struggling to keep up in today’s fast-changing digital landscape.

WTISD 2024 reminds the world of the progress yet to be made to ensure that everyone can benefit from digital technologies.

 

Source: Text & Image: https://www.un.org/en/observances/telecommunication-day

International Volunteer Day – 5 December 2023

More than one billion people volunteer globally for solidarity and humanity, for people and the planet. International Volunteer Day (IVD), 5 December, is an occasion to pay tribute to volunteers worldwide and to recognize the value of volunteerism in advancing peace and development.

This year, we mark IVD by recognizing the power of collective action: if everyone did.

If everyone volunteered, the world would be a better place.  Imagine more than eight billion of us volunteering. Limitless possibilities for sustainable development – food and education for everyone, clean environment and good health, inclusive and peaceful societies, and more.

Volunteerism is an enormous renewable resource for social, economic and environmental problem-solving throughout the world. As the world faces mounting challenges, volunteers are often the first to helpVolunteers are at the fore in crises and emergencies, often in very testing and dire situations.

Source:https://www.unv.org/

 

 

World Cities Day – 31 October 2023

Background

The United Nations General Assembly designated 31 October as World Cities Day, by its resolution 68/239. The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities addressing challenges of urbanization and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.

Urbanization provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, including greater equality, access to services and new opportunities, and engagement and mobilization that reflects the diversity of cities, countries and the globe. Yet too often this is not the shape of urban development. Inequality and exclusion abound, often at rates greater than the national average, at the expense of sustainable development that delivers for all.

Urban October was launched by UN-Habitat in 2014 to emphasize the world’s urban challenges and engage the international community towards the New Urban Agenda.

Sustainable Development Goal 11, which formulates the ambition to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – underlying the relevance of UN-Habitat’s mission. Inequalities in cities have grown since 1980. The world largest cities are also often the most unequal, and this year’s theme is embraced by the action and implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which is putting the topic of inclusive cities as one of the main pillars for the urban shift.

In October 2016, the HABITAT III Conference, held in Quito, adopted a new framework, which will set the world on a course towards sustainable urban development by rethinking how cities are planned, managed and inhabited. The New Urban Agenda will set the pace on how to deal with the challenges of urbanization in the next two decades, and is seen as an extension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed on by the 193 Member States of the UN in September 2015.

 

Source: Text & IMage: https://www.un.org/en/observances/cities-day

 

1st Sunday of Lent, Year A – 2023

A very small word (in the English language), it can determine much of life… IF…

 IF… suggests some conditions,
          opens up possibilities,
          outlines options,
          implies choices,
          calls on a person’s freedom…

It is the very word that we find repeated three times in today’s gospel text (Matthew 4:1-11).
Satan, sometimes referred to as ‘the Devil’, uses this expression in addressing Jesus.
He frames in this way the temptations with which he challenges Jesus.

Twice, Satan says:
       “If you are the Son of God…”

Having failed to obtain what he wants, Satan changes the format of his attack and says:
      “If you will bow down and worship me.”

The strategy of the Devil is threefold, it is all at once:

  • a challenge to Jesus very identity,
  • a test of his total commitment to the only God,
  • a promise of reward for giving in to the temptation.

Our daily life presents us with many ‘IF situations’…
They have the same purpose:
challenging our identity and testing our commitment to God,
with a promise, of course, to satisfy our longing, and our craving, for some desired ‘good’.

Often times, we are faced with these words or similar ones:
         ‘If you think about it, you will agree that…
         ‘If you see what others do, you will accept also…
         ‘If you remember what happened, you cannot refuse…
         ‘If you love me, you will do this…

Each one of us can make his/her own list of IF statements of confrontation, or provocation.
Every one entails a decision that will make clear who we are, and to whom we have committed ourselves.

This period of Lent is precisely a moment of becoming aware of
who we are,
and who God is for us.

The very challenge that Jesus faced.
He cannot fail to help us respond to it as he did.

      

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-du-careme-annee-a-2023/

 

Source: Image: Aleteia

World Braille Day – 4 January

Every year on January 4th, World Braille Day reminds us of the importance of accessibility and independence for those who are blind or visually impaired.

About 36 million people around the world are blind. By 2050, the number of people diagnosed with blindness is predicted to rise to 115 million. Those who are blind or who have severe vision impairments face many challenges in life. Some of these challenges include navigating new environments, using a computer, handling cash, and arranging clothes.

Blind people have ways to successfully deal with many of these situations. In today’s world, advanced technology and voice activation make a blind person’s life much more manageable. But one invention, in particular, has helped countless numbers of blind people. This invention is called braille and it was developed nearly 200 years ago. Braille gives blind people the ability to read and even write letters. The system consists of raised dots that form letters and words which are read by touch.

Louis Braille

Louis Braille invented the reading system of raised dots in 1824. Born on January 4, 1809, in France, Louis would lose his sight after an accident in his father’s harness shop at the age of three. He would later attend the National Institute for Blind Children in Paris. There, his interest in music would benefit him when at the age of 10 he would meet Charles Barbier, a captain in Napolean’s army. The captain taught the students about a communication code using dots called Night Writing. Combining his knowledge of music and the inspiration of code communication, Louis Braille invented a 6 dot fingertip reading system when he was only 15 years old.

Louis died in 1852, two years before France’s Royal Institute for the Blind Youth adopted a braille curriculum. By 1916, schools in the United States were teaching braille to their blind students.

 

Source: Text & Image: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/world-braille-day-january-4/

International Women’s Day – 8 March 2022

Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow

Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.

Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most.

At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. They are involved in sustainability initiatives around the world, and their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action.

Continuing to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower women and girls to have a voice and be equal players in decision-making related to climate change and sustainability is essential for sustainable development and greater gender equality. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach.

This International Women’s Day, let’s claim “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.

 

Source: Text: United Nations  Image: Vector Stock

 

4th Sunday of Easter, Year C – 2019

Many people are familiar with this English expression: “To hold on for dear life.”
Its meaning is obvious: it involves holding on tightly to someone, or something, not to fall.

Hearing this expression recently, I went on thinking that, in life, there are quite a few occasions when we must do this.
Not always in a practical manner, but metaphorically, quite often! 
There are situations when we struggle not to give up, or give in…
We have to call on all our resources to face what life presents us with – problems, difficulties, or challenges.
We may feel we do not have what is required to overcome whatever obstacle is on our way.

We do hold on… for dear life!
But to what, or to whom?…

The 2nd reading of this Sunday (Ap.7:9,14-17) speaks of:
“the people who have been through the great persecution.”
 
The book of Apocalypse (or Revelation), has been written to encourage those in that situation.
Its author, John the apostle, wanted his words to bring comfort to those facing persecution because of their being followers of Christ.
In the first centuries after the death and Resurrection of Jesus, many believers had to suffer cruelly and even die for his sake.

What was enabling them, precisely, to hold on for dear life?
Surely, Christ himself, and most probably the conviction expressed in the last verse of the reading:
“God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
 
A conviction that could help many of us to follow the same path… holding on for dear life…
with the same faith and with no less courage.

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-de-paques-annee-c-2019/

 

Source: Image: iStock

 

 

International Day of Older Persons – 1st October

ECOSOC Chamber Special event on the theme “Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment” (on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons) (co-organized by Permanent Mission of Argentina, the Focal Point on Ageing, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the NGO Committee on Ageing in New York)

On December 14, 1990, the UN General Assembly made October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons, following up on initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later that year by the assembly. The International Day of Older Persons was observed for the first time throughout the world on October 1, 1991.

In 1991 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons. In 2002 the second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

Source: Text: TimeandDate.com Image: www.un.org

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – 1st September

Pope Francis has asked Catholics and others throughout the world to pray this day and until the Feast of St Francis on 4th October for the care of creation, in line with his recent encyclical Laudato Si.

According to a letter from the Pope announcing the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, this time “offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvellous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” (Letter from the Vatican, 6th August 2015)

The Orthodox Church also honours 1st September as a Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and Pope Francis notes his hope that this should become an annual occurrence so that it “will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our orthodox brothers. We live in a time where all Christians are faced with identical and important challenges and we must give common replies to these in order to appear more credible and effective.  Therefore it is my hope that this Day can involve, in some way, other Churches and ecclesial Communities and be celebrated in union with the initiatives that the World Council of Churches is promoting on this issue.” (ibid)

Source : Text : World Methodist Council  Image: nyfaithformation.org