Photo: Commemorative stamp for the International Day of Non-Violence featuring Mahatma Gandhi by artist Ferdie Pacheco. UN Photo/Ryan Brown. - Photo: 2018

India Hosts UN Chief on International Day of Non-Violence

By Santo D. Banerjee

NEW YORK (IDN) – In the run-up to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ four-day visit to India beginning October 1, a senior official of the world body has expressed “a special thank you” to the Government of India, which is contributing US$1 million to install solar panels and a green roof on the Conference Building of the United Nations Secretariat.

The contribution, according to Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, was received by Under-Secretary-General for Management, Jan Beagle, who said that “India’s generous contribution sends a strong message promoting innovation for action on climate change, and to enable greater efficiencies”.

The initiative will help the UN Secretariat reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy, Haq added.

On the second day of his visit, October 2, Guterres will take part in the General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

Guterres had visited India in July 2016, just months ahead of the election for Secretary-General. This is his first visit to India since his appointment as UN Chief on January 1, 2017. It coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, 2019.

In 2007, the UN General Assembly designated October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence. In the evening of October 1, Guterres will formally open the new UN House in New Delhi. The following morning, October 2, he will participate in the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention.

He will also meet with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan, before giving an address at the India Habitat Centre on Global Affairs on the theme “Global challenges, global solutions”.

The following day, October 3, the Secretary-General will meet with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.  In the afternoon, he will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar. He returns to New York on  October 4.

The UN Chief’s Deputy Spokesman Haq was asked at the official UN briefing on September 21: “Is it a personal visit or an official visit?  And if it is an official visit, would he be… I mean, he will definitely be asked questions on the frustrations of the Sikhs, particularly in and around the Golden Temple and Punjab in general, about 1984. Will he be addressing that issue?  Can we expect that?”

The Deputy Spokesman said it was “a bit premature” to mention the topics he will bring up. But the visit to Amritsar is “essentially a personal visit, but it’s something that he had wanted to see for some time”.

Guterres’ attendance at the ISA General Assembly on October 2 is considered important. The ISA is a major initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in contributing to the implementation of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement through rapid and massive deployment of solar energy.

The Founding Conference of the ISA jointly hosted by Prime Minister Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron in New Delhi on March 11, 2018 represents a high water mark in the journey that aims to bring all countries together for cooperation on solar energy.

During this Founding Conference, Prime Minister Modi had announced India’s commitment to extend nearly US$ 1.4 billion worth of lines of credit (LOCs) which will cover 27 projects in 15 countries especially in Africa.

A futuristic outcome document – the Delhi Solar Agenda – was also adopted. New training slots under the ITEC programme have also been started that are specifically geared towards capacity building in solar energy.

According to the Framework Agreement, opened for signature during the UN Climate Change Conference COP 22 at Marrakesh on November 15, 2016, ISA “will not duplicate or replicate the efforts” that others like International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership(REEEP), International Energy Agency (IEA), Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), United Nations bodies, and bilateral organizations are currently engaged in, “but will establish networks and develop synergies with them and supplement their efforts in a sustainable and focused manner.”

Forty-four countries have signed and ratified the ISA Framework Agreement. [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 September 2018]

Photo: Commemorative stamp for the International Day of Non-Violence featuring Mahatma Gandhi by artist Ferdie Pacheco. UN Photo/Ryan Brown.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

Tags: Asia-Pacific, United Nations, UN Insider

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