The United Nations Association - Greater Seattle ChapterThe United Nations Association - Greater Seattle Chapter is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports the work of the United Nations as one of a number of local chapters of the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA). UNA Seattle encourages active civic participation in the most important social and economic issues facing the world today, from global health and human rights to the spread of democracy to equitable and sustainable development.
Our Mission: UNA-GSC is dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing members of the Greater Seattle community to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations and to advocate for full engagement by the United States in the United Nations.
UNA-Seattle is a chapter of the UNA-USA. We are a 501(c)(3) organization according to US regulations and all contributions are tax deductible.
On January 26, 2016, the topic is Arab Spring - 5 Years On.
On February 23, we'll explore The Iranian Nuclear Deal.
On March 29, the group will get an update on the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict.
PeaceTrees VietNam: Real World Minecraft
At the annual commemoration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, held at Seattle’s Town Hall on December 10, 2015, the UNA Greater Seattle Chapter presented the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for the advancement of human rights to PeaceTrees Vietnam. The award was accepted by PeaceTrees Executive Director Claire Yunker.
PeaceTrees Vietnam is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that works in central Vietnam’s Quang Tri province to clear land areas of unexploded devices and restore the land to active use as farmland, for kindergartens, playgrounds and community centers. The organization also supports farmers in launching agricultural projects such as black pepper harvesting to provide income.
Since its founding in 1995, PeaceTrees Vietnam has focused primarily on assisting people who are endangered by “the explosive remnants of war” by conducting demining as well as public education projects on the risks of the remaining mines. This removal of unexploded devices provides a safer environment and the opportunity to restore the land to productive use. Demining in areas adjacent to schools and homes further advances the safety and security of persons who live, work, study and play nearby.
Now entering its twenty-first year, PeaceTrees Vietnam continues its programs which have removed and carefully disposed of more than 90,000 explosive devices. The organization has also built one hundred family homes, twelve libraries, ten kindergartens (including the Good Heart Kindergarten which was completed in 2015 in the village of Xi Nuc) and two community centers during its first two decades. “We’re replacing ordnance with hope in 2015” is PeaceTrees’ invitation for others to join in the organization’s life-saving and restorative work.
PeaceTrees Vietnam’s work fulfills many of the articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among them Article 3, which provides for the right of security for the individual. Article 23, providing for just and favorable work conditions, focuses on the right to be physically secure in one’s place of employment. The right to basic education, in Article 26, is a further human right which PeaceTrees Vietnam has assured through its opening of schools for young children on land that was once dangerous to walk upon.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Award is presented each year by UNA Greater Seattle Chapter to an individual or organization in the Puget Sound region that works toward the advancement and preservation of human rights. The annual ceremony commemorating international Human Rights Day is sponsored by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.
For more information on PeaceTrees Vietnam and the organization’s upcoming plans, go to www.peacetreesvietnam.org
We’ll Always Have Paris…
On November 30, the United Nations convened the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Twelve days later, the conference gave birth to an agreement approved by 196 parties. The original UNFCCC was universally accepted because it demanded almost nothing of the parties. So universal acceptance of the Paris accord is a real achievement – it does involve commitments. The trick was to accept whatever commitment each party felt capable of meeting. The result was a lot of glasses half empty and glasses half full, but no broken glass.
Let’s start with the good news. The Paris Agreement is by far the most ambitious climate agreement yet. The agreement expresses near universal concern about the problem. A specific point of success was the decision to review progress in five years, rather than ten years or never. The show of unity and determination may give some impetus to the disinvestment movement, if investors begin to believe that petroleum’s days are numbered. An optimist can imagine that attempts to meet the goals will result in miraculous technological breakthroughs.
Rather than going straight on to the bad news, let’s pause for no news. The last minute agreement to make the goal 1.5° C above pre-industrial temperatures instead of 2° C is strictly a feel good move, with no impact on anybody’s future behavior.
And now the bad news. No one was required at the conference to present a credible plan to meet their goals. Some have no plan. Many have based their goal on clean coal technology, a phantom unlikely ever to materialize. Nothing in the agreement addresses reducing resident atmospheric CO2. The sum of the contributions, if achieved, would still leave the world on a path to well above 2° C. 2° or even 1.5° hardly means problem solved. Look, we’re only at 1° C now, and the Arctic Ocean is melting, the Antarctic ice shelves are collapsing, coral reefs are dying, methane is being released from permafrost and subocean hydrates, glaciers and snow packs are disappearing, sea levels are rising and forests are burning.
Is the agreement binding? Sort of, but it has no teeth. And at the last minute, the US administration succeeded in getting “shall” changed to “should” so it wouldn’t have to get the impossible Senate approval. The change took the help of some French diplomatic slight of hand, declaring “shall” a typo. There followed considerable grumbling from the developing countries about what should happen should shall become should.
Bottom line? The Paris agreement is just one source of pressure on political leaders to do the right thing. It will only produce real results if every other form of pressure continues, as well. That means voter concern about climate change, activists in the streets, investor focus shifting from fossil fuels to renewables, better media coverage of the climate/weather connection, and blunt evaluations of the future from the scientific community.
UNA Seattle Annual Meeting Will Be Held On January 23, 2016
At this important meeting we will review 2015, look forward to 2016 and officially nominate and elect board members for the coming year. We still have board positions available, so if you or anyone you know is interested in contributing a little time and a lot of expertise please reach out to us at : firstname.lastname@example.org.
UN Day 2015 – October 23rd @ 7PM, UW HUB 332
Come celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, where we will be discussing the Sustainable Development Goals and how local organizations are supporting them. Featuring panelists from Landesa, VillageReach, Water1st, and UNICEF, as well as a speaker from our National Bureau. See below for speaker bios and organization information.
This is a free event. Donations gladly accepted at the door or by clicking here.
Diana Fletschner, Landesa
Landesa, a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Seattle, works to secure land rights for the world’s poorest people – those 2.47 billion chiefly rural people who live on less than two dollars a day. Landesa has historically partnered with developing country governments to design and implement land-related laws, policies, and programs that provide opportunity, further economic growth, and promote social justice.
Diana Fletschner is the Senior Gender Expert and Director of Research at Landesa in Seattle. She has over 15 years of experience researching how behavioral attributes, intra-household dynamics, and social conditions shape rural women’s access to productive assets and the economic choices they make. More specifically, Diana has examined factors that affect whether rural women demand entrepreneurial capital or engage in economic activities that, while expected to offer higher returns, can be riskier, take place in a competitive environment, conflict with their husbands’ preferences, or contravene well-established norms of behavior. She has also studied women’s access to information and the extent to which spouses share their financial knowledge. In parallel work, Diana has assessed the loss of economic efficiency associated with women’s constraints.
Emily Bancroft, VillageReach
VillageReach is a non-profit global health innovator that develops, tests, implements and scales new solutions to critical health system challenges in low-resource environments, with an emphasis on strengthening the “last mile” of healthcare delivery. VillageReach combines expertise across public systems, programs and technologies – to scale and sustainability in the world’s most underserved communities.
Emily Bancroft is Vice President of VillageReach, located in Seattle. She is responsible for the strategy, oversight, and management of all VillageReach programs across our three key areas of work : health systems, information systems, and social business. Emily is also responsible for building new relationships and opportunities to help bring VillageReach innovations to scale and sustainability through strategic partnerships and relationships with governments, donors and implementing partners. Emily joined VillageReach in 2010, leading the design and development of VillageReach innovations for the health systems team. Emily has fifteen years of experience in building successful health systems interventions both domestically and in sub-Saharan Africa, including specific expertise in program development, assessment and management, monitoring and evaluation, health informatics, advocacy, and human resources for health.
Prior to joining VillageReach, Emily worked with the International Training and Education Center on Health (I-TECH), Physicians for Human Rights, and NPower. In January of 2012, Emily was appointed as a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Health Services of the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. Emily holds an MPH from the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and a BA from Princeton University.
Zoe Barker-Aderem, Water1st
In 10 years, the Water1st community has given over $11 million to fund 1,426 water projects, transforming the lives of 134,632 people. Addressing the water and sanitation needs of the world’s poorest is the one activity that, when done properly, generates benefits that can lift a community out of extreme poverty. There is no exaggeration in the statement: supporting and implementing water and sanitation projects properly is the best investment and best hope for the world’s poorest.
Water1st was created to support water projects that would last. Our vision was to support local, on-the-ground organizations (our partners in this work) with a proven track record of implementing effective, long-lasting water and sanitation projects. Today, we are a grassroots organization of more than 4,000 supporters across the country, each doing what we can in our individual lives and communities to bring clean water and toilets to the world’s poorest people.
Zoe Barker-Aderem has a B.A. in International Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Zoe works with Water1st in development, outreach, and youth programs. She previously worked with a nonprofit providing workshops in the performing arts to youth in foster care and is happy to continue working with youth through the Water1st's various youth education programs. Zoe deeply believes in the Water1st mission and vision, and is thankful everyday to work at an organization that listens to the world’s poorest people with empathy and respect.
Sylvia Stellmacher, US Fund for UNICEF
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports United Nation’s Children’s Fund’s work, as well as other efforts in support of the world’s children, through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Through its work with governments, civic leaders, celebrities, corporations, campus groups, churches, teachers and global citizens, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF advocates for the survival and well-being of every child.
Sylvia Stellmacher is a second year Global Citizenship Fellow with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in Seattle. She acts as an educator and advocate to promote children’s rights globally.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Watch Seattle In Action At The World We Want
Now this is what we're talking about!
Today Was Seattle’s Turn!
When the video of the proceedings is ready, it will be posted here and on Facebook. Please check back here often. In the meantime, please consider joining us in this incredible journey. Become a member of the UNA Seattle. Be informed. Be inspired. Together, we can do a lot of good.