Highlights from the UN

FEB 05 – Youth Participation in the UN System

Please click the link below!

DEC 10 – Lea Khy’s Internship Reflection

Over the Fall 2019 semester, I collected many clips and pictures at my internship as a youth representative to the United Nations, on behalf of MMS. As an assignment and a creative outlet, I decided to put it all together into a reflection video with my voiceover, expressing what I’ve learned.

OCT 30 – Building Peace From the Ground Up

A key takeaway from this event was that “peace is more than an absence of war – it is access to resources, education and employment; presence of strong institutions; and a culture of peace, understood as mutual respect, harmony and inclusion,” as explained by Heela Yoon, a young Afghan girl who spoke of her inspiring activist work in Afghanistan. It is also important to understand that our gains are fragile, especially when they are tied to governments because they can easily be reversed after elections and a change in leadership. 

Link to GNWP Report: http://bit.ly/SustainPeace

OCT 30 – Reparations and Human Rights Obligations to Ensure Racial Justice

This side event opened up space for dialogue on the 2019 report by Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Panelists and attendees discussed an interdisciplinary and multi-frontal approach towards reparation, which would utilize international and national frameworks of legality, as well as the convergence of politics and psychology. A criticism of the report mentioned how the recommendations are lacking, especially when this issue can be appealed to multiple UN organs on the basis of peace and security and human rights violations. In order to move forward, national governments must also formally apologize and take responsibility for the past. 

Concept Note HERE


OCT 24, 2019 – MMS & the UN Sharing Mission for 25 Years

OCT 17 – Symposium on Women and Girls Experiencing Homelessness

The CSocD Priority Theme of 2020 will be “affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.” It is pertinent to understand the definition of homelessness and identify the most vulnerable groups, such as women and girls. Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, spoke about a framework that would highlight homelessness as a human rights violation and also stress accountability between governments and civil society. 

Read more HERE

OCT 11 – International Day of the Girl

“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”                                                                                      

– United Nations Resolution 66/170

In 2019, the International Day of the Girl Child fell on Friday, October 11. The theme this year was: “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable,” to emphasize the past work in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as future work in girls’ health, education and safety.

Highlights of the 74thGeneral Assembly



SDG Action Zone @ Rose Garden

September 21, 2019

On a Saturday morning, youths from different backgrounds gathered in the SDG Action Zone tent to engage in dialogue about climate change. One of the panels focused on the oceans, with emphasis on the large amount of plastic that ends up in various bodies of water and how maritime travel, in the form of vacation cruises and commodity transportation, greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. A theme that stood out from this panel is the idea to: “’Create More, Consume Less.” 

The speakers also discussed and agreed that social media is a crucial tool, which can be used to educate and mobilize people on a massive scale, especially since there are about three billion people who use social media. For some, climate change is an abstract concept and just presenting facts doesn’t appear to be galvanizing enough people. However, social media allows advocates to project a different type of appeal, which is more personal and makes it easy for the audience to understand how they will be affected. 

First Annual Climate Restoration Forum 2019

A diverse group of people gathered in the Trusteeship Council Chamber on September 17, 2019. There was diversity among ages, nationalities, professions, and industries. Yet, all came together to agree on one thing – the global climate is in jeopardy and more efforts must be extended in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action by 2030. This issue is not merely about reaching the goal, but about ensuring that the future generations have a suitable environment to live in. Many of the speakers at the forum expressed their concerns as those of a parent, who cares deeply for the welfare of their children, grandchildren, and so on.  

Emphasized by Greg Kats from Blue Planet, the issue of the global climate change is NOT about the environment versus the economy. In fact, green strategies like carbon sequestration, porous pavements, and solar panels end up paying for themselves because they mitigate the need for adaptions to the impact of climate change. To support this claim, Tom Baruch from Baruch Future Ventures suggests that involving everyone is crucial, even the oil companies and those whose interests are mainly economic. The problem is the inability to recognize the power of multidisciplinary technology and the intersectionality with biology. As Satya Tripathi from UNEP mentioned, the best solution is going back to work WITH nature.

Katie Adler, the founder of Future Coalition, encouraged everyone to participate in the Climate Strike happening on Friday, September 20, 2019. The rise of unprecedented youth awareness and involvement with climate change is a wake-up call for world leaders to develop concrete plans of actions, rather than just grand speeches of empty words. Not only are the youths rising up, but artists like filmmakers and content creators are also joining the discussion on global climate and development.

We don’t have to imagine the reality of a sustainable environment because it can be a reality and has already been a reality for the Santa Clara County in California. David Cortese, who is on the Board of Supervisors, was able to successfully implement numerous climate action goals. He reminded us that the key to evoke change is not a wealthy community, but rather some capital, organization, storytelling, political will, and spiritual connection with each other.

Intergenerational Approach to Climate Change

 When attempting to combat climate change it is now more than ever necessary to foster collaboration amongst all generations.  On Wednesday the 12thof June, Medical Mission Sisters took part in the “We, The Climate Generation: Generations Together for Climate Justice” meeting held at The Salvation Army.  

The keynote speaker of this event was author and climate activist, Dr. Lorna Gold.  Not only did she explain the tremendous weight of the crisis that is climate change, but also she addressed the rising concern of intergenerational perspectives and actions that are essential in order to decrease the use of fossil fuels and ultimately, preserve our natural world.  As Dr. Gold adequately discussed in her presentation, in recent times the younger generation has been especially active in drawing the much need attention to environmental protection and the physical impacts of global warming. 

This powerful panel of environmental advocates represented a large array of different generational perspectives, all with the combined effort to reach climate justice and benefit the natural world. From Nydia Leaf, member of the Granny Peace Brigade, to Alexandria Villasenor, fourteen-year-old climate protester, the panel incorporated the voices of all generations and highlighted the importance of intergenerational collaboration when working to reduce our collective carbon footprint.  

What is this conversation made very clear is that ultimately, generations feel differently about the growing concerns of climate change but together we can have the greatest impact in finding sustainable solutions.  As the global carbon budget is quickly approaching its end, everyone must support each other in working to build a healthier and greener planet.  To ensure that our children and grandchildren will have access to the beautiful resources our earth has to offer, the time is now for all generations to take action and fight for climate justice!

World Oceans Day

In recognition of World Oceans Day on the 8thof June 2019, MMS attended an inspirational conference focusing on this year’s World Oceans Day theme of Gender and the Oceans.  

Focus on Faith: Planting & Nurturing the Seed of Climate Responsibility


As a part of the UN’s celebration of World Environment Day, Medical Mission Sisters NGO participated in the “Focus on Faith: Planting & Nurturing the Seed of Climate Responsibility” conference on Thursday the 6thof June 2019. This powerful collection of panel speakers demonstrated the tremendous importance of broader connections within the religious and spiritual communities when combatting the global crisis of climate change. 

When taking a closer look at the intersection between religion and climate change it becomes especially critical that faith based organizations play an integral role in supporting both groups and individuals in their efforts to protect the environment.  Considering that 85% of the world identifies as religious, embracing the culturally significant traditions that the majority of populations incorporate into their lives is necessary and worthwhile in creating the collective force to protect our shared natural world.  The greater impacts of climate on life underscore the extreme importance of this challenge and its need for a response from the faith based community. 

The various influential speakers at this event provided numerous examples of the ways in which collaboration between faith and environmental protection can be beneficial to the most vulnerable populations around the world. Felipe Queipo spoke eloquently on the power of accomplishing our climate goals from the multilateral approach, by bringing into the conversation the millions of faith based individuals and organizations, and their capacity to help those in need.  

Karenna Gore highlighted the dynamic relationship between both religious and spiritual leaders, in addition to scientists and economist when working towards bettering our planet and ecosystems.  In grappling with the illusion of separation between humanity and nature, she urges everyone to consider the moral responsibilities we share in taking care of the earth and resisting climate change.  In dealing with the ecological grief in the present moment of the climate crisis, the religious and spiritual communities across the globe are making countless essential contributions in improving environmental situations and relieving the suffering that is caused by climate change.  

Converting Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform into Opportunities for Climate Action: Emissions Impact

         On Wednesday, the 10thof July the HLPF Side Event, “Converting Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform into Opportunities for Climate Action: Emissions Impact” educated listeners on the tremendous impact that funding specific sources of energy have on global warming.  What became clear through this distinguished panel of speakers is that it is necessary to curb the money being spent on fossil fuels in order to make progress with SDG 13 Climate Action.  Tackling the problems with greenhouse gas emissions is critical when considering the negative threats they pose to the environment.  When working towards a more sustainable future, scaling up reform of the policy that allows for these environmental injustices to be committed is pivotal.  Redistributing the money being spent in this sector provides a potential solution in working towards a healthier and greener world for everyone.  

Launch of the State of Food Security

         On Monday, the 15thof July the Launch of the State of Food Security took place at the UN.  In alignment with the SDGs under review at this year’s HLPF, food security and nutrition play a key role in advancing the entire 2030 agenda, as well as each of the specific goals.  Without access to ample healthy food, it is impossible to reach any of the goals or targets set in place.  What the Food and Agricultural Organization exemplified at this side event are the critical linkages that food provide to achieving not only zero hunger, but also no poverty, health and well-being for all, reducing inequality, and so much more. What is especially challenging is that the number of malnourished individuals globally is on the rise in specific regions far more than others.  In working towards finding food solutions for all, it is vitally important that we shift our reliance from animal products to more sustainably sourced nourishment and listening to our moral obligation to let no child go hungry. 

Lived Experiences of SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities

         On Tuesday, the 16thof July the HLPF Side Event, “Lived Experiences of SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities” provided listeners with the powerful telling of both the Grassroots Taskforce survey results of what inequalities are experienced by citizens around the globe and the meaningful and personal accounts of a variety of influential speakers.  The results of this survey spoke to the extreme importance of SDG 10 in relation to all the goals, including but not limited to the access to rights, education, peace, water, and a more sustainable future.  Although this was not a random sample, the respondents demonstrate the inequalities felt by a large array of nationalities and income levels. What became strikingly clear is that the impact of global inequality is most heavily distributed amongst women, children, and the elderly.  The speakers meaningfully shared their own traumatic stories of inequality on different levels, from lack of quality education and health care, to the harsh realities for migrants and refugees around the world.  What these collective voices exemplify is that it is critical we approach solving all problems and reaching each of the SDGs with an inclusive and open mind. 

Small Asks for Big Impact: Investing in the early years for sustainable development and peaceful societies

         On Wednesday, the 17thof July, UNICEF held a compelling side event explaining the extreme importance of investing in early childhood development and the lasting impact this has on the creation of peaceful societies for future generations.  What was especially interesting and relevant in this presentation was the information regarding the critical first two years of life, described by Harvard Professor and Director of Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Charles Nelson III. Not only do the first several years of a child’s life require constant love and support, but also it is necessary that perceived stress not be inflicted for optimal brain development in the early stages.  This scientific reasoning supports every claim to invest heavily in laying the foundation for safe, healthy, and stimulating environments for young children and in quality educational programs accessible to all.  When mental health is not a priority particularly for younger populations, the cycle of both violence and poverty is perpetuated within a society. As this event so adequately suggested, paying attention to human capital and achieving SDG 4 Quality Education is essential in working towards SDG 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. 

Leaving No One Behind in the Transition to More Sustainable Economies

         On Thursday, the 17thof July, Slovenia hosted a HLPF Side Event that highlighted the importance of leaving no populations behind when working towards a more sustainable future.  Speakers included representatives from a variety of countries, including Slovenia, Finland, and Bhutan, as well as representatives from the UN Global Compact and the NYC Department of Sanitation that each spoke to the importance of collaboration when approaching the 2030 agenda.  Not only did this event explain the connection between inclusive mindsets and more productive and sustainable economies, but also in healthier and happier societies overall.  When approaching the topic of inequality, it is necessary to consider the wholistic development paradigm of happiness in addition to a nation’s GDP.  Furthermore, listening to the voices of young people, particularly when it comes to climate action is essential in order to create a sustainable future for generations to come.  

Nature in all Goals

         This event demonstrated the monumental impact that nature plays in each of the SDGs and in accelerating progress towards the 2030 agenda as a whole.  What became blatantly clear is that the natural world is currently in a state of emergency, considering climate change and environmental degradation, yet there remains hope for future generations if collectively we work to reverse these injustices.  In addition to urgently safeguarding resources, as a society we must enforce policy that makes production sustainable and conserves the species and life in the natural world.  This requires a shift in mindset of decision makers and individuals alike; placing the world’s most vulnerable populations and the planet above profit, and going forward with confidence and creativity in our ability to restore our shared environment.  Not only is it essential to phase out the use of fossil fuels and shift towards renewable resources, but also to stop relying on animal products in the food system and feed people with healthier and more sustainable options.