The Sustainable Development Goals in Belarus
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Belarus:
28 July 2021
UN Belarus Results Report 2020
Year 2020 has brought many challenges to Belarus, yet the UN in Belarus continued to deliver its programmes working on both emergency and long-term projects for the benefit of the people of Belarus. The “UN Belarus Results Report 2020” represents the multi-faceted work of eighteen UN agencies, funds and programmes that supported the development process in Belarus. The report is the first such publication presenting a consolidated picture of the work of all UN agencies, funds and programmes delivering assistance in Belarus, including FAO, IAEA, ILO, IOM, ITU, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDRR, UNDP, UNECE, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNODC, UN WOMEN and WHO. The report illustrates the COVID-19 response, the long-term programming towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), efforts for facilitation of the government and civil society cooperation, and the engagement with the whole spectrum of society of Belarus with the focus on the vulnerable groups. It demonstrates effective partnerships and financial support, as well as sets goals for the future. The 2020, the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary year, saw the COVID-19 pandemic shifting many UN development priorities in Belarus towards supporting the country in addressing its socio-economic impact. Since March 2020, the UN Country Team (UNCT) has been providing continued emergency support for COVID-19 relief. WHO worked with the Ministry of Health on a needs assessment for the prioritization of medical supplies. The UN agencies assisted in the procurement of medicines and protective equipment in the framework of a World Bank loan, which helped the country weather the first waves of the pandemic. In parallel, they mobilized new grant resources and have partially reprogrammed ongoing projects to finance the procurement of basic and urgently needed medical supplies for the providers of medical and social assistance services. UN Belarus’ procurement met the needs of the healthcare and educational establishments, border services, residential care institutions of many kinds including those for elderly people, people and children with disabilities and health issues, orphanages, and baby homes across Belarus. Following the request of the government, WHO organized the COVID-19 technical mission of experts to the Republic of Belarus in April 2020 and submitted a set of recommendations. The UN system entities in Belarus, working with national and international partners, provided some USD 7.5 million worth of emergency supplies and support to the national response to COVID-19. This includes 3 465 050 masks, 52 000 COVID-19 tests, 390 oxygen concentrators, and many more. Almost 2.3 million people were reached by messages on COVID-19 prevention within the national “Clean Trend” campaign. To seek to minimize the impact of the COVID-19, a Socio-economic Response Plan – “From Economic Shocks to Building Back Better” – was developed by the UNCT as a comprehensive offer for response and recovery measures from short, medium- and long-term perspectives. Despite the pandemic, Belarus’ long-term engagement in progressing towards the SDGs demonstrated fruitful results in some areas: adoption of the legislation reducing the use of single-use plastic and ensuring collection of waste; restoration of inefficiently drained peatlands and implementation of green economy pilot initiatives; development of the National Strategy on Active Longevity 2030; development of a network of early intervention centres of the Ministry of Health; and partial decriminalization of HIV transmission, to name just a few. The aftermath of the August 2020 presidential elections revealed the lack of progress towards achieving the SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions. The UN promoted universal values and dialogue and cross-sectoral partnerships for sustainable development. However, the weakening of the human rights and rule of law protection mechanisms, shrinking civic space, continues to impact the ability of Belarus to meet its international obligations and achieve its development goals. The UN in Belarus has also set a specific focus on women’s rights in 2020 and was engaged in drafting the sixth National Action Plan for gender equality (2021-2025) and advocating for new solutions to old problems – traditional gender roles and stereotypes, growing gender pay gap, need for gender-responsive healthcare, and gender gap in life expectancy. 2020 was the last year of the implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework 2016-2020 (UNDAF), a programme that, over the five years of implementation, attracted and delivered USD 85 million of international assistance to Belarus in the areas of governance, economic development, environmental sustainability, and human capital development. All the above would not have been possible without the longstanding and newly emerged partnerships with government, civil society organisations and private business that all contributed to the benefit of the Belarusian people. Main donors that provided funding to support the UNDAF in 2020 included the European Union, Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Russian Federation, USAID, Germany, Poland, UK, Norway, Sweden, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the World Bank, Estonia, OSCE. The UN agencies also managed to mobilize additional resources through partnership with the private sector. The report reflects also on the UN’s internal efforts and systematic work to ensure equal opportunities between men and women in the workplace. “Long-term development priorities should be at the center of everyone’s attention. The innovations, investments and competition of ideas driving the ‘green’ post-Covid-19 recovery agenda – all of these require close cooperation and partnerships between the government, private sector, academia, the non-governmental organisations, the media and donors. Belarus needs such partnerships more than ever and the UN is ready to facilitate such cooperation,” says Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki, the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus. The UN Belarus Results Report 2020 is also available in Belarusian.
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07 March 2021
A Crisis with a Woman's Face
The pandemic is worsening already deep inequalities facing women and girls, erasing years of progress towards gender equality. Women are more likely to work in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Most essential frontline workers are women — many from racially and ethnically marginalized groups and at the bottom of the economic ladder. Women are 24 per cent more vulnerable to losing their jobs and suffering steeper falls in income. The gender pay gap, already high, has widened, including in the health sector. Unpaid care has increased dramatically owing to stay-at-home orders and school and childcare closures. Millions of girls may never return to school. Mothers – especially single mothers – have faced acute adversity and anxiety. The pandemic has also sparked a parallel epidemic of violence against women worldwide, with skyrocketing domestic abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation and child marriage. Meanwhile, even though women represent the majority of health care workers, a recent study found that only 3.5 per cent of COVID-19 task forces had equal numbers of men and women. In global news coverage of the pandemic, just one of every five expert sources were women. All of this exclusion is itself an emergency. The world needs a new push to advance women’s leadership and equal participation. And it’s clear that such action will benefit for all. The COVID-19 response has highlighted the power and effectiveness of women’s leadership. Over the past year, countries with women leaders have had lower transmission rates and are often better positioned for recovery. Women’s organizations have filled crucial gaps in providing critical services and information, especially at the community level. Across the board, when women lead in government, we see bigger investments in social protection and greater inroads against poverty. When women are in parliament, countries adopt more stringent policies on climate change. When women are at the peace table, agreements are more enduring. Yet, women make up a mere quarter of national legislators worldwide, a third of local government members, and just one fifth of cabinet ministers. On the current trajectory, gender parity will not be reached in national legislatures before 2063. Parity among Heads of Government would take well over a century. A better future depends on addressing this power imbalance. Women have an equal right to speak with authority on the decisions that affect their lives. I am proud to have achieved gender parity among the leadership of the United Nations. Pandemic recovery is our chance to chart a new and equal path. Support and stimulus packages must target women and girls specifically, including through scaled up investment in care infrastructure. The formal economy only functions because it is subsidized by women’s unpaid care work. As we recover from this crisis, we must chart a path to an inclusive, green and resilient future. I call on all leaders to put in place six key building blocks: First, ensure equal representation– from company boards to parliaments, from higher education to public institutions -- through special measures and quotas. Second, invest significantly in the care economy and social protection, and redefine Gross Domestic Product to make work in the home visible and counted. Third, remove barriers to women’s full inclusion in the economy, including through access to the labour market, property rights and targeted credit and investments. Fourth, repeal all discriminatory laws in all spheres – from labor and land rights to personal status and protections against violence. Fifth, each country should enact an emergency response plan to address violence against women and girls, and follow through with funding, policies, and political will to end this scourge. Sixth, shift mindsets, raise public awareness and call out systemic bias. The world has an opportunity to leave behind generations of entrenched and systemic discrimination. It is time to build an equal future.
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15 November 2021
IOM and UNHCR visits migrants at the Belarus-Poland boarder
IOM Belarus and UNHCR Belarus were granted access to the temporary refugee camp on the Belarusian side of the borderline near Bruzgi border crossing, where nearly 2,000 asylum seekers, refugees and migrants have been staying since 8 November. There are many children and women, including pregnant ones, among them. As part of their visit, UNHCR and IOM delivered certain emergency aid: personal hygiene products for children and women as well as food products. In the nearest possible time, more vital assistance will be provided, namely, blankets, warm clothes, gloves, hats and shoes for children, which will be delivered by the Belarusian Red Cross, the organizations' partner. This is the emergency aid indeed, as the major priority now is to prevent deaths and to work with the authorities to convince them of the need to move people to safe places where they can get necessary help and consultation services and where solutions can be found for each specific situation and people's needs. The spontaneous camp at the border lacking appropriate housing, food, water and medical assistance as well as the temperatures below zero are rather dangerous for people and may lead to their subsequent deaths. When visiting the camp IOM and UNHCR representatives were able to talk to the migrants and provide the trustworthy information on possible options available to them. Subject to people's personal circumstances and needs, the option for those in need of international protection is to claim asylum in Belarus. Besides, some asylum seekers and refugees may have valid reasons for moving, including for the purposes of family reunification in the EU. Another option is provided by the IOM assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programme, which enables a dignified, safe and legal return and is based on a person's free choice. IOM and UNHCR stand ready to cooperate with the authorities of the countries to ensure the observance of human rights and safety of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.
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28 March 2021
07 September 2020
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