Congratulations to the UN for its 75th anniversary!

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2020-10-23 Rauli Virtanen

The 75th anniversary week of the United Nations takes place in extraordinary conditions as the coronavirus pandemic has shifted the focus away from the headquarters in New York. Instead, the organisation’s efforts are being celebrated largely remotely through various events, webinars and exhibitions held around the world. 

Despite the circumstances, there is of course cause for celebration since the World Food Programme (WFP) was just recently granted the Nobel Peace Prize. Even after 75 years, the UN is far from obsolete, unless someone comes up with a better option for 193 sovereign nations.

What the UN needs now is the support of all citizens of the world from Encarnacion to Espoo – that is how concerning the situation is as conflicts between global powers mount, rich countries turn to close-minded nationalism and authoritarian leaders challenge the multilateralism and rule-based world order championed by the UN.  

The negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic are already evident in many areas, such as the increase in extreme poverty as well as matters of equality and education, not to mention the human cost. In fact, the pandemic demonstrates that a multilateral approach is the most efficient way to address communicable diseases, climate change, biodiversity and the root causes of large-scale chains of events. For this, the UN offers the best forum.

During the anniversary week, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which have suffered greatly due to the coronavirus, will be prominently highlighted across the world. In this context, Espoo has the distinct honour of being presented as one of the leading cities in sustainable development, even though nations bear the principal responsibility for the implementation of Agenda 2030. In Finland, Espoo and Turku have prepared reports on ways in which the City can best promote the sustainable development of the residents’ living environment and livelihoods through regionally applied climate goals, for example.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030 will require wide-ranging engagement from local administrations, the private sector, civil society and the general public. In this regard, the contribution of young people is also very important.

It is heartening to see that Finland’s development cooperation is in line with the UN commitment, and the appropriations will hopefully remain untouched. There are a total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and the UN Member States have committed to furthering the agenda in its entirety. The purpose of the goals is to address the most significant problems regarding human well-being and the preservation of biodiversity.

The key issues include peace and security, environmental health and the equitable distribution of economic growth.

Even after the peak of the pandemic, globalisation and migration will remain part of the natural continuum all over the world – even in Espoo, which is now more multicultural than ever and offers services to its residents in multiple languages, including English.

Fortunately, small, less wealthy nations can make their voices heard in the UN. Espoo is contributing by looking to the future and listening to the immigrants who help enrich our culture, and making efforts to leverage their expertise and resources in collaborative endeavours.

Rauli Virtanen