UN Resident Coordinator / UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus, Sanaka Samarasinha, in the forefront to the left
The United Nations Development Programme took on the obligation to streamline SDGs agenda in Belarus and worldwide. One of the main objectives for UNDP today is bringing SDGs closer to people, explaining what every SDG stands for by linking them to the local context. SDGs deal with matters of critical importance for humanity and the planet, and it’s essential to raise people’s awareness and catalyse behavioural change to make our own lives better.
On September 21st, UNDP held an unprecedented campaign — Bike4SDGs — together with the European Union Delegation in Belarus, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Ministry of Sports and Tourism and the Forestry Ministry. It also coincided with the momentous action of passing the instrument of acceptance of the Paris Agreement to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei. Thus Belarus became one of the first European countries to express their consent to the execution of the Paris climate agreement.
The main part of the Bike4SDGs ride was dedicated to actions against climate change. Cycling is already delivering the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide, and there’s so much more that a bicycle can do not only for the environment, but for people’s health, for inclusion, economic growth and fighting inequalities.
Bike4SDGs gathered around 600 Belarusian government officials, diplomats from different countries, renowned sportsmen and ordinary people in the Nalibokskaya Pushcha. More than 300 people of various nationalities, religions, physical abilities and positions were at the start-line. The 22km route followed the SDG road and 12km SDG waterway on the River Isloch in the Nalibokskaya Reserve which reminds people of our responsibilities.
Moving forward — towards Sustainable Development Goals
Cycling is about active mobility that is a human right. Through mobility comes equal participation in society. The finish line was crossed by many, including people with disabilities.
After the ride, everyone was invited to a fair showing local initiatives, to see SDGs from multiple perspectives. It was essential to showcase how partnership influences efficiency and drives creativity. Various local initiatives exhibited their work and described their contribution to the goals they support. These were local businesses, ecological and social non-profit organisations who show innovation at grass-roots level. These bright entrepreneurs clearly comprehend that the quality of our lives depends on how well we all understand the goals and take adequate actions towards reaching them.
The inclusive concert that followed left no one behind, featuring singers, musicians, dancers and an eco-fashion show. Inclusion has been a common thread running through the whole show. Performers of different genres and different abilities proved that talent is independent of limitations. Prejudice is the only barrier to this.
“Despite the trauma or illness that made us use a wheel-chair, we still stay women concerned about our beauty and grace”, said Anna and Irina, international award winning wheel-chair dancers, who took part in a beautiful eco-fashion show. “Today we not only had perfect access to interesting spots thanks to totally barrier-free environment, but also enjoyed the attention of stylists and make-up artists, who made us look gorgeous.”
The programme in action
UNDP’s Bike4SDGs ride is to show that the strength of the human spirit, innovation and resilience build-up the SDG road meant for all. As for the areas for further development, the United Nations in Belarus is continuing working with disability, inclusion and inequality issues which are of the highest priority this year. On October 23rd, #INCLUSIVEBELARUS campaign is to be launched. It envisages travelling to each region of the country and visiting 12 cities, facilitating dialogue between ordinary Belarusians, representatives of vulnerable groups, policymakers and opinion shapers through workshops, conferences, debates, talk shows, movies, exhibitions, sports, theatre, art, dance and music. It will examine what barriers exist for disadvantaged populations and how we can eliminate them.
The journey to becoming an inclusive society may be long and challenging, but ultimately this journey can strengthen Belarusian society and benefit all.
By Vladimir Mikhailov
On the importance of collective responsibility
By Alexey Fedorov
President of UN General Assembly highly appreciates Belarus’ contribution to the organisation’s activity
The President of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly — Peter Thomson — expressed words of appreciation for Belarus’ contribution to the UN activities, at the meeting with the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs — Vladimir Makei — in New York. Mr. Thomson also underlined the noble principles which the country consistently promotes in the organisation. In turn, Mr. Makei expressed Belarus’ full support for the initiatives of the President of the General Assembly, first of all, in what concerns the development of global mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The two sides shared their opinions regarding the importance of reviving the sense of collective responsibility of the UN member states for the situation in the organisation and agreed on joint work to increase the authority of the General Assembly and revitalise its activity. Mr. Makei also invited Mr. Thomson to visit Belarus at any convenient time.
Deputies pass the baton
By Denis Krymov
On October 7th, a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the National Assembly of the Council of the Republic is planned — becoming the final event for Parliament’s present line-up
“We should reward and thank people. We must seriously think over the format of this event — for it to become traditional,” the President said, on meeting the Chairman of the House of Representatives, Vladimir Andreichenko. “It would be interesting for future deputies to hear what Parliament did yesterday and what it will do tomorrow. This is not an easy job — failing to attend, missing or simply sitting in a session. It’s hard work.”
The predecessors do not intend to leave any unresolved serious issues for the new deputies. At its final session, they will consider about 20 issues. The President drew attention to the fact that it’s also necessary to seriously think of how to employ ex-deputies.
Another topic touched upon during the recent working meeting was Belarus’ preparation for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session. It is scheduled for 2017, attracting representatives of 57 countries. Mr. Lukashenko instructed the deputies to undertake the preparatory work carefully to ensure the event would be held at the highest level.