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World Cities Day – 31 October 2023


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.


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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:


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.


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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:


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.

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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:



World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June

The United Nations (UN) has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). World Elder Abuse Awareness Day brings together senior citizens, their caregivers, and governments to combat the problem of elder abuse.

The day aims to focus global attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders. It also seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing population, and brings together senior citizens, and their caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how best to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and to develop elder friendly policies.

Currently, the world is undergoing significant demographic changes. Estimates indicate that by 2050, the global population of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of younger people. These changes have led to a worldwide recognition of the problems and challenges that face the elderly. Research has shown that elderly abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens around the world. World Health Organization data suggests that 4 to 6 per cent of elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported.

The purpose of the WEAAD is to encourage communities to recognize the problem of elderly abuse, and for countries to create policies that foster respect for elders and provide them the tools to continue to be productive citizens.

Source: Text: Images: Global Ageing Network  A Celebration of Women


World Environment Day – 5 June

« On World Environment Day, the message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world. »Secretary-General, António Guterres

Humans are both creatures and moulders of their environment, which gives them physical sustenance and affords them the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet a stage has been reached when, through the rapid acceleration of science and technology, humans have acquired the power to transform their environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale.

The United Nations, aware that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue, which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world, designated 5 June as World Environment Day. The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries.

“Beat Plastic Pollution”
Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2018, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over-reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences.

India, the host country
Every World Environment Day has a different global host country, where the official celebrations take place. This year it is India.

Source: Text & Image:   1st

World Day for Safety and Health at Work – 28 April

This year, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work (SafeDay) and the World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) are coming together in a joint campaign to improve the safety and health of young workers and end child labour.

The campaign aims to accelerate action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.8 of safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030 and SDG target 8.7 of ending all forms of child labour by 2025. Achieving these goals for the benefit of the next generation of the global workforce requires a concerted and integrated approach to eliminating child labour and promoting a culture of prevention on occupational safety health (OSH).

The 541 million young workers (15-24 years old) – which includes 37 million children in hazardous child labour – account for more than 15 per cent of the world’s labour force and suffer up to a 40 per cent higher rate of non-fatal occupational injuries than adult workers older than 25.

Many factors can increase youth vulnerability to OSH risks, such as their physical and psychological stage of development, lack of work experience and lack of training, limited awareness of work-related hazards and a lack of bargaining power that can lead young workers to accept dangerous tasks or jobs with poor working conditions.

The 2018 SafeDay campaign highlights the critical importance of addressing these challenges and improving safety and health for young workers, not only to promote decent youth employment, but also to link these efforts to combat hazardous – and all other forms of – child labour.

 SafeDay History
Since 2003, the ILO observes the World Day on Safety and Health at Work on April 28 capitalizing on its traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue.

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