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The Secretary-General’s message on world cities day

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31 October 2014 - With the decision by the United Nations General Assembly to establish World Cities Day, we now have an annual date on which to celebrate one of humankind's greatest and most complex creations.

This new day is one of the legacies of Expo 2010 Shanghai, at which the international community explored urban best practices and concepts from all over the world. So it is fitting that Shanghai is hosting the main inaugural event of this new UN observance.

The theme of this first World Cities Day -- "Leading Urban Transformations" -- highlights the pioneering power of cities. In a world where already over half the population lives in urban areas, the human future is largely an urban future. We must get urbanization right, which means reducing greenhouse emissions, strengthening resilience, ensuring basic services such as water and sanitation and designing safe public streets and spaces for all to share. Liveable cities are crucial not only for city-dwellers but also for providing solutions to some of the key aspects of sustainable development.

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The Secretary-General's message on United Nations Day

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24 October 2014 - The United Nations is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises.  Poverty, disease, terrorism, discrimination and climate change are exacting a heavy toll.  Millions of people continue to suffer deplorable exploitation through bonded labour, human trafficking, sexual slavery or unsafe conditions in factories, fields and mines. The global economy remains an uneven playing field.

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The Secretary-General's message on the International Day for Eradication of Poverty

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17 October 2014 - On this day we recommit to think, decide and act together against extreme poverty -- and plan for a world where no-one is left behind.

We have reached the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people living in poverty ahead of time. At least 700 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010.

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The Secretary-General's message on the World Food Day

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16 October 2014 - Today, and every day, we eat thanks to the labours of family farmers. They run the vast majority of farms in the world. They preserve natural resources and agro-biodiversity. They are the cornerstone of inclusive and sustainable agriculture and food systems.

It is fitting that in this International Year of Family Farming, there are 100 million fewer hungry people than just 10 years ago. Sixty-three countries have halved the portion of their population which is undernourished. Our vision of zero hunger is within reach.

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The Secretary-General's message on the International Day for Rural Women

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15 October 2014 - My mother has lived her whole life in the countryside.  Although she did not receive much of a formal education, I grew up appreciating her wisdom, resilience and intelligence.  In the course of my subsequent public service, I came to see that these qualities are shared by millions of rural women around the world.

Collectively, rural women are a force that can drive global progress.  We must harness that power to achieve our three interlinked objectives for next year:  accelerating our work towards the Millennium Development Goals, adopting a new vision for sustainable development, and concluding a meaningful universal climate agreement.

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The Secretary-General's message on the International Day for Disaster Reduction

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13 October 2014 - As a human family, we are growing older. Globally, approximately 700 million people – 10 per cent of the world’s population – are over the age of 60, and by 2030, there will be more elderly persons than children for the first time in history.

This year’s commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction is an opportunity to recognize the role of older men and women in fostering resilience.

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The Secretary-General's message on the International Day of the Girl Child

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11 October 2014 - All over the world, an alarming number of adolescent girls are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated and even murdered.  The threat of violence at the hands of family members, partners, teachers and peers grossly violates their rights, diminishes their power and suppresses their potential.  

This violence is exacerbated and reinforced by the multiple deprivations adolescent girls face, including unequal access to education, skills, information, sexual and reproductive health services, and social and economic resources.  Girls are subjected to discriminatory social norms and harmful practices – such as female genital mutilation -- that perpetuate a cycle of violence.  A culture of impunity allows violence against adolescent girls to continue unabated.  Conflict and humanitarian crises dramatically increase the risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.

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The Secretary-General's message on World Mental Health day 2014

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10 October 2014 - World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the challenges faced by people with severe mental health problems, and what can be done to make their lives better. This year, we focus particularly on those living with schizophrenia, and the families and friends who help them cope.

Around the world, some 21 million people suffer from schizophrenia, a disorder that affects perception, cognition, behaviour and emotions. In places where health and social services are unable to provide support, schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders can banish people to the borders of society, leaving them unemployed and homeless.

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The Secretary-General's message on World Habitat Day

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6 October 2014 - Over the past decade, efforts under the Millennium Development Goals have cut the proportion of people living in slums by more than half.  Yet, over the same period, rapid urbanization, especially in the developing world, has seen overall slum populations rise.  In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 70 per cent of urban dwellers live in slums and informal settlements.

Slums are often located on the least desirable and appropriate land, such as flood plains and steep hillsides, and are inherently vulnerable to the increasingly severe weather events that climate change is causing.  Many of the people who inhabit slums were pushed to migrate by the lack of opportunities in rural areas or their countries of origin.  They regularly lack basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and street lighting.  Crime is often endemic, with women and girls particularly at risk.  Unemployment, under-employment and the cost of transport to distant places of work add further hardship.

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