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ENVOY NEWS
December 2015

Dear ,


Happy New Year! It's been an exciting 2015 that went by very quickly! As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, this has been a "year of breakthrough and horror," but a lot of hope also, especially in the last couple of months. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in September, and just a couple of weeks ago at the COP21 climate change conference 195 countries adopted the ambitions Paris Agreement to mitigate and combat the effects of climate change. You may be wondering what those 195 countries are, if there are only 193 UN Member States. The extra two countries are Palestine and the Holy See (Vatican City), which are Non-Member Observer States in the UN General Assembly.


While the Paris Agreement is by no means perfect, it is a very important first step for our world, as heads of state, business leaders, activists, and politicians recognized the urgency and committed to making serious changes in the years ahead to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Moving forward, it's important for each of us to look at the INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) for our countries (here's Canada's INDC and the USA's INDC). We have to look at these closely and do our best make sure that our governments stick to these commitments. You can read more about COP21 below.


As we all try to work more in global and local partnership, I encourage everyone to use the UU-UNO Envoys Facebook group to communicate with other Envoys and share what you've been working on. (Click here for help accessing or using the Facebook group.) Catch up on other topics discussed during the December Envoy conference call - here are the minutes.


I hope that you are having a peaceful and joyful holiday season! May the coming year bring understanding, tolerance, and peace to our beautiful world.


In faith, love, hope, and justice,


Allison Hess

Envoy Coordinator

TIME TO ACT

Sharing information and news is important, but you want to make change in your local and global community. Here's how.


Sustainable Development Goals

In light of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the following "Time to Act" suggestions for December 2015 will be related to the Fourth SDG: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. 

Support your schools: One target of the 4th Sustainable Development goals is: "Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all." These non-profits work to help local teachers and schools:

  • Canada: The Canadian Safe School Network reduces violence in Canadian schools and surrounding communities. My Class Needs is a Canadian crowdfunding site for teachers to raise funds for classroom projects to improve the quality of education for their students

  • United States: Project Tomorrow provides online resources for students and teachers to spur change in education. New Teacher Center helps new teachers grow with mentoring and professional training.

  • Learn about the issue: Read and share the UNESCO report on how inequality undermines education opportunities worldwide.
ENVOY TASKS

Please complete the following tasks by the end of January.

  1. Have your congregation take the Paris Pledge for Action. By signing, you commit to ensuring that the steps set out by the Paris Agreement to combat climate change are met.

  2. Talk to people in your congregation about the Spring Seminar and see if you can start raising interest and funds to send a group to NYC.
November Review: (1) Submit your UN Sunday report (2) Encourage applicants for Seminar Chaplains.  
Events
A look behind, a look ahead


December 2: UU-UNO participates in an event on combating racism online, hosted by the Polish Mission to the UN.

December 10-11: UU-UNO Staff in Boston for UUA holiday party and International Office staff retreat.

December 25-January 3: UN Office closed for winter holidays.

January 10: Bruce leads workshop and UN Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church in Wilmington, DE.

January 10: Every Child is Our Child program intern Anisha's birthday!

January 18: UN Office closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

January 20-24: LGBT Task Force's annual Creating Change conference in Chicago; UU-UNO will host a workshop on "Faith and Justice: LGBTQ Asylum Seekers and How Your Place of Worship Can Help."

Intergenerational Spring Seminar

Keep an eye on your inbox this January! Registration will open soon to attend the UU-UNO's 2016 Intergenerational Spring Seminar. The seminar, "The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences," will be in New York City from April 7-9, 2016. (Youth arrive April 6.) We will address the connection between economic inequality and racial discrimination worldwide. Please visit uua.org/unspringseminar to learn more.
COP21 International Climate Change Conference
Paris, France 2015

The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) took place in Paris from November 30th to December 12th. The Unitarian Universalist Association had six credentialed observers in attendance: Rev. Peggy Clarke, Jan Dash, Lynn Dash, Doris Marlin, Bill McPherson, and David Tucker. 

COP21 is being praised at the United Nations as a "monumental achievement" - bringing together serious commitments from 195 countries willing to make big changes in the way they operate over the next few years to move our planet toward 100% clean energy. While the Paris Agreement represents a monumental achievement, it also poses a monumental challenge. The INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) from each country lay out a map for how they will reach this ambition, but currently the INDCs only exist on paper. Now we need to turn this into action. As I mentioned earlier, the INDCs are available online (some have yet to be submitted) - it is the duty of all of us to read them over and do what we can to help our countries meet or exceed their goals in the projected timeline. 

Start by taking the Paris Pledge (either as a congregation or group of climate activists) and pledge to take concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect populations (of all living things) that are threatened by the effects of climate change.

For more information about the conference, take a look at Jan Dash's blog, the Commit2Resond blog, and the "UUs in Paris" Facebook group!
Odumase-Krobo, Where every child is our child
By Tatiana Reis and Daniel Snyder, UU-UNO Program Interns

"I want to be a nurse," says Grace, the first in her family to reach high school, explaining the importance of education and the opportunities ahead. Due to high fees and lack of government subsidies, low-income children in Ghana have limited access to education and rely on private assistance.

The Every Child is Our Child (ECOC) program of the UU-UNO helps children like Grace pursue their aspirations to become nurses, pilots, engineers, doctors, soldiers, bank managers. 

On November 6, a delegation from the UU-UNO visited Ghana to assess the needs of the schools sponsored by ECOC. The week we spent taught us much about human creativity and finding happiness in harsh circumstances...

News: United Nations
Include the following in your congregation's newsletter, website, and/or bulletin!   
Working for peace in Syria - In its first political resolution on war-torn Syria, the United Nations Security Council has voted to involve United Nations member states in the Syrian negotiations. Member states have been asked to suppress ISIS and other terrorist group attacks, to support humanitarian relief, and stop targeting civilians in war zones. A peace process for the situation in Syria is set to begin in January.

Progress in Sudan - The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are partnering with the Sudanese government to mitigate climate change and achieve Zero Hunger. Collaborations like this will bring the world closer to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Burundi - Violence is escalating in Burundi as the African Union peacekeepers are being rejected by the Burundian government. There are peace talks scheduled in Uganda, but the government may or may not actually participate. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that Burundi is "on the very cusp of a civil war" and that the security council and other groups must consider all options to end the violence.

Cooperation - The year 2015 has been filled with division and conflict, but the Paris Agreement that concluded the COP21 climate change conference is "a sign of hope in troubled times... a triumph for multilateralism." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that this and other international achievements in 2015 like the adoption of the Sustainable Development agenda are strong reasons for optimism.

Program Updates
For more information on any of the program areas, email unintern@uua.org with "Attn: [program]" in the subject line.
LGBTQ Human Rights

Our new NGO committee on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (SOGI) Human Rights will focus on supporting SOGI organizations in South Korea gain UN status in advance of the NGO/DPI Conference on education in Seoul next summer.
LGBTQ Asylum/
Refugees


The UU-UNO is working on preparing for our workshop at the LGBTQ Task Force's Creating Change conference in January, while also building alliances with organizations in the US that offer services to asylum seekers.
Every Child is Our Child

While continuing to apply for funding for ECOC via grants, we also want to increase visibility of this program within UU congregations. Keep an eye out for materials and resources for teaching others about ECOC in your congregation/community.
Women's Rights

The UU-UNO submitted two panels for the Commission on the Status of Women forum in March: One on the rights of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, and the other on challenges faced by girls in contexts of poverty and conflict.
Climate Justice

We are preparing some exciting resources to help young UUs learn more about climate change and climate justice, while also ramping up climate action in the UU and UN communities in accordance with the Paris Agreement established at COP21.
Racial Justice

We are working diligently on the issue of discrimination against people of African descent, particularly in relation to drug policy and incarceration. Over the next few months, we will increase dialogue about this at the UN and in the NGO community.
 
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Central East Region of the UUA
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Central East Region of the UUA
100 W 10th Street Suite 1008
Wilmington, DE 19801
United States