INTERVIEW We have to make decisions together and we have to make

It’s about involving the business community worldwide and understanding that maybe, in a little longer perspective, the green investment, the sustainable investment, is also the profitable investment you have to join in.  And it’s about leading nations to understand that they will have, that governments will have, to create the necessary framework, the basic conditions for private investors, for pension funds, for regional investment banks, whatever, to invest in this green development, and make it secure and profitable for them to do just that and not continue on the old path of unsustainable development.UN News Centre: You have served your country for 30 years in various capacities. What do you feel in all your experience will enable you to take on the job of President of the General Assembly and make a difference?Mogens Lykketoft: Well I have a very humble position in that I don’t know if I can do it the right way. I will do the best I can to be well prepared, to be inclusive with Member States. That’s what I have promised when I was elected in June, that’s the promise I will keep and that’s the promise I have to keep in order to be able to do this right in this very short window of one year. I think that the argument that brought me in this position was my background as a very long-serving parliamentarian, a long-serving minister both in finance and foreign policy, and as a Speaker of the Danish Parliament. If you can compare the United Nations to a country, I think the position of President of the General Assembly is most like the speaker of a national parliament. In a recent interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. Lykketoft discusses the need for Member States to overcome differences and unite in an urgent push to curb extreme poverty and reverse climate change, as they launch the new Sustainable Development Agenda in New York this month and seek to adopt a new universal climate change agreement in Paris in December. The interview has been edited for content and clarity.We have very different backgrounds but we hopefully have one thing in common, namely, the understanding that we only have this one planet and it’s in danger.UN News Centre: This is the first time that Denmark has presided over the General Assembly, and it’s such a significant session – the 70th session.  Could you tell us what it means for the country and what it means for you personally?Mogens Lykketoft:  I think that it’s a great honour for Denmark, and for myself, that we have this opportunity to make a difference – not of course by changing the whole world, we don’t expect that – but I think we can bring in some of the pragmatism necessary also in Danish politics, during this presidency.  And of course we think it’s a very great honour, especially in this year when so many huge decisions have to be made in the United Nations. It may be the most transformative year, of many, in the history of the United Nations.UN News Centre: When you say you might be able to utilise some of the pragmatism from the Danish Government, would you care to elaborate?Mogens Lykketoft:  Well, I don’t think very many people know about Danish politics but we have a multi-party system of minority governments and we have to cooperate in order to reach decisions – not only between one or two parties, but many parties, and different coalitions have to work together in order to get things done. So, we know the necessity of reaching out to each other, and making compromises as a necessary way forward. And I think that’s very much also what is needed in the United Nations. On 10 September, children, women and men who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis walk through the town of Gevgelija, in the former Yugslav Republic of Macedonia on the border with Greece. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2168/Georgiev But anyway, for me, it’s a very steep learning curve in order to do things right in this short window of opportunity – to get implemented the decisions so bravely formulated and decided upon by Heads of State and Government. UN News Centre: You’re an economist by training and when you were Finance Minister, from 1993 to 2000, you spearheaded economic reforms that led to a rise in employment rates and a strengthened Danish economy. Is there anything you feel you can take away from that experience that could be applied globally to the international community?Mogens Lykketoft: That’s hard to say. I think we have to be aware, of course, that economic development is not a thing that can be reached successfully by one single nation. We are intertwined – we are interdependent to a degree never seen before. And that it’s not only about traditional handling of economic balances, budgets and employment in the individual country – it’s also about the more basic conditions for human life. And that’s why this new understanding of the necessity of sustainable development is so transformative, even compared with the job some of us did in the ‘90s in order to bring order in the national economies. But I think in Europe, we have had, over the decades, in building the European Union, the understanding that economic development is only possible to a successful degree if you work together. And that’s of course also something that I think we have to realise in the United Nations. And it has to do also with the international trade agreements, with the revitalization of the WTO [World Trade Organization], so it’s not only the rich countries making free trade agreements together but it’s including the less developed countries in a favourable way for them in any kind of international trade system.UN News Centre: Getting back to climate change, in December, countries will meet in Paris to adopt a new universal climate change agreement. Do you have any thoughts on how the General Assembly can advance that agenda?Mogens Lykketoft: Well we have said from the outset in this presidency that if it’s considered helpful in any way, we can also bring together here in the United Nations during the Fall some of the key players ahead of the Paris meeting.  But we will see what is convenient, what’s necessary. There is a very good process headed by Peru and France. The President of the 70th UN General Assembly discusses the need for countries to act together, and act now, for people and the planet. Credit: United NationsWe have very different backgrounds but we hopefully have one thing in common, namely, the understanding that we only have this one planet and it’s in danger – because of conflict, because of the deterioration of the environment and climate. We have to make decisions together, and we have to make them now. It could very well be that if we don’t act now, as we are defining it in the Sustainable Development Goals, then we will not be at all able to change the course of climate change and degradation of the environment. It’s the whole living condition of the human race that’s endangered, and it takes the whole world in cooperation to do something about it.UN News Centre: You mentioned the Sustainable Development Agenda which is expected to be adopted in September. It will guide the international community for the next 15 years. What do you see as your role at the helm of the General Assembly to take this forward?Mogens Lykketoft: Well, first of all, I think it’s a really historic and revolutionary achievement that 193 nations can agree on the analysis and the goals to solve global problems. And this analysis that we are now taking from the UN, it’s not a new one, but it’s the first time that we realise that the fight, the continued fight against extreme poverty in this world, and the fight against environmental degradation and climate change, are two sides of the same coin. You can’t do one thing without taking into account the necessity of acting, and acting now, also on the other.  And that’s a new statement – a new definition of goals. We are intertwined – we are interdependent to a degree never seen before.This means that we cannot continue to work on the same path as we have successfully worked on in fighting against extreme poverty in the last 15 years. We have to do it different. We have to make major changes in production methods, energy technologies, consumption patterns, both in rich and poor countries, in order to solve the immense global challenges. That’s a new common understanding of what’s upon us. And what we can do in the Danish presidency is to work as hard as we can to make governments implement the tools necessary for fulfilling those goals in the coming 15 years. And I think it’s also about – here in the United Nations at the high-level events we are planning in the Spring in this presidency – including civil society, the millions of active people who have contributed to the definition of the Goals, also in the fight for pushing governments to do the necessary things to fulfil those fine Goals. Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark was elected President of the General Assembly’s seventieth session on 15 June 2015. At the time of his election, he was the Speaker of the Danish Parliament. A veteran parliamentarian and government minister, and an economist by training, he was his country’s Foreign Minister from 2000 to 2001. As Finance Minister, from 1993 to 2000, he directed economic reforms that led to a strengthened Danish economy. On the eve of the General Assembly’s seventieth session, Sam Kutesa (Uganda), President of the sixty-ninth session, invites Mogens Lykketoft to the podium and hands over the gavel as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauds (left). UN Photo/Rick Bajornas Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark), President of the UN General Assembly’s seventieth session, shares his thoughts with the UN News Centre in a recent interview. UN Photo/Mark Garten Now there are good signs that it will be a productive outcome in Paris. Maybe not sufficient – I don’t know when these decisions will be really sufficient – but much more positive than we have seen in the previous COP [Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change].  It seems to be possible to have an outcome in Paris where both the United States, as President Obama announced recently, and China, and the European Union, and hopefully India and other big players as well, really commit themselves. And, you are right, the COP21 in Paris will be the first real test of the political will to implement the totality of the Sustainable Development Goals – because the climate change issue is maybe the most urgent. That’s where it’s really necessary to act now in order to avoid irreparable damage to the balance of the world. And that’s where not acting creates the risk of uncontrolled waves of hundreds and hundreds of millions of people who cannot be continue to live where they live now, because of sea levels rising, because of fresh water access disappearing. So we will really – by not implementing the big goals of fighting against climate change – risk instability and the collective conflicts with that instability that make it impossible for us to mobilize resources to fight poverty in the future. It’s the whole living condition of the human race that’s endangered, and it takes the whole world in cooperation to do something about it.So that shows very much the interconnectivity of all the big challenges we are facing. And that’s why I think that now, finally, the big players in the world economy are realising the necessity and the urgency of acting.UN News Centre: Is there anything else during this Assembly that you would like to see accomplished?Mogens Lykketoft: Of course there are these three pillars of the whole idea of the United Nations: development – which we have talked much about in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals in this interview; there are peacekeeping and peacebuilding architectures; and there is also the human rights dimension. And we also have to realise that those three are interconnected as well.  You cannot make fruitful development without peace. You cannot make fruitful development without inclusive government, rule of law, respect for human rights. You have to include each and every human being in this world, as far as possible, in the whole development exercise.  So, of course, working with the United Nations General Assembly is also about working with peace and security – not specifically with the different conflicts, because that’s more the authority of the Security Council, of course. But we will have to work hard in order to modernize the whole concept of peacekeeping operations and especially political missions, conciliation efforts, so we could avoid, hopefully, more costly peacekeeping operations. We will have to work on the peacekeeping architecture, and we will have to work on the reports coming out on women and conflict  in order to make the whole role of the United Nations  in peacebuilding and peacekeeping stronger and more universal. A scene of traffic in Beijing, China. World Bank/Li Lou And we of course also have to work with the human rights issue, for instance, in connection with the huge challenges we are facing with the more than 160 million people on the run as refugees or migrants because of war and because of extreme poverty. All these things are integrated. And what we will do is to make it as obvious as possible – one, the need for action, and, two, the need for realising that all the things we’re talking about are closely interconnected and universal in their character.UN News Centre: Finally, on a more personal note, you’ve said that in your youth you took an interest in the UN. Could you tell us what shaped your interest at such an early age? What drew you to the UN, and did you ever hope to play a direct role in its work?Mogens Lykketoft: Well, that I should play a direct role in the UN I never imagined when I was a young boy! I was interested in history, in international development and politics in general.  But actually my political interest came out of my interest in history and in international development at the time, and in the big issues. So, in a strange way, that explains why I am here also near the end of my political career – because it has always been the holistic view of world development and the wish to transfer also to other parts of the world the experiences and successes of the part of the world I come from where we have actually been able to create some of the richest, some of the most equal and socially harmonious societies in this world. And I think where we have something also to contribute to the whole discussion of sustainable development – because sustainable development is also about realising that we can’t do everything good with an economic growth of the kind we know. We have to redistribute. We have to understand that inequality inside nations and, especially, between nations, is a route to conflict, a route to not using the resources of billions of people sufficiently. And, therefore, the fight against inequality in living conditions is essential for creating a better [email protected] only screen and (min-width: 760px), screen9 {#PhotoHolder3 #PhotoCrop { max-height: 770px; /* sets max-height value for all standards-compliant browsers */ width: 134%; margin-left:-161px; margin-top: -280px;}#story-headline{ font-size: 3.6em; line-height: 1.2em; color:#fff; position: relative; top: 200px; xtext-align:center; text-shadow: 1px 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.8); width:57%;}}#sidebar {display:none;} div#story-content .span8 {width:100% !important} #fullstory p { font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.6em;}strong { font-size: 1.1em; line-height: 1.7em; xfont-family:Georgia, “Times New Roman”, Times, serif;}blockquote { font-size: 1.2em; line-height: 1.5em; font-style:italic;}.videoWrapper { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; /* 16:9 */ padding-top: 25px; height: 0;}.videoWrapper iframe { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;} read more

Teachers Union walks out on Govt officials over impasse on salary

…to commence strike action next week Friday By Jarryl BryanIn a new twist, an unsatisfied delegation from the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) staged a walk out on officials of the Ministry of Education during a meeting on Thursday to discuss a proposed Multi-Year agreement.Present at the meeting were Education Minister Nicolette Henry, Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson and team; while the union had its President Mark Lyte, General Secretary, Coretta McDonald and other union members.According to the Ministry in a statement after the meeting, the walk out was prompted by Minister Henry informing the union that Government could only offer teachers the same increases it offered all public servants.Government had announced its “final offer” to the unionized workers in the Public Service—an increase in the minimum wage from $55,000 per month to $60,000 along with staggered increases in wages and salaries with the band of lowest paid workers being offered an eight per cent increase.The two sides as they sat down for the meeting“Teachers, being public servants therefore will also benefit from the proposed wage increases,” the Ministry said. “Dissatisfied with the response, the GTU President decided that the meeting should not continue and together with his colleagues left the boardroom thereby leading to a premature end of the discourse.”According to the Ministry, the GTU had informed them it has no problem with the Government’s approach to non-financial issues, based on the last meeting the union had with officials. The problems reportedly arose from the financial aspect of discussions which included salary increases, debunching, allowances and duty-free concessions.“What should be noted is the fact that even as the GTU President Mr Lyte stood up to truncate the meeting; all other members of the union remained seated including the General Secretary of the union Ms Coretta Mc Donald. McDonald suggested to Mr Lyte to sign the non-financial aspect of the agreement but those pleas were not heeded.”“Following the meeting, Minister Henry reiterated that at this point in time, the Government of Guyana is proposing to all of its public servants including teachers’ increases which have been made public,” the Ministry noted.GTU President, Mark Lyte standing after it was announced  that teachers will receive the same increases as public servantsWhen contacted by this publication, Lyte stated that the walk out resulted from the Government not addressing the union’s substantive proposal. While noting that they remained open to talks with the Government, Lyte revealed that the union will be commencing countrywide strike action from next week.“The talks were specific to proposals from the union two and a half years ago. The Minister, in her chairing of the meeting, subsequently tried to treat with matters outside of the purpose of the meeting.”“Also, the Minister bluntly indicated during the five minutes or so the meeting lasted that the teachers would get the same that was offered (to) public servants, without even talking about what we proposed,” Lyte claimed, adding that the Government’s “imposition” would not be accepted this time around.Among other proposals, the union was reportedly seeking a 40 per cent increase in salaries for teachers.That being said, Lyte stated that a countrywide strike is expected to commence by next week Friday. This, according to the GTU President, is to allow enough time to ensure the membership is properly notified.“Even in that interim, we are still open for something definitive to be put before us in terms of our proposal. (But) I take having the Minister trying to side-line the discussion this afternoon as an indication that the Administration was not prepared to treat with the proposal put forward.”GTU union members as they walked out of the meeting with the MinistryIt was only on Wednesday that Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, had thrown his support behind the GTU and called for Government to have a sit down with the union. The union had recently threatened strike action over frustrated efforts to negotiate salary increases.Jagdeo had expressed his support for a new agreement and had lauded the previous agreement that gave teachers a number of benefits. In light of this, Jagdeo had urged that the Government make meeting with the teachers a priority.“Teachers have been calling for two and a half years now to have another agreement similar to the five year agreement that they had with us that had many benefits, for example money set aside for housing for teachers and duty free concessions for teachers of certain categories.”“A lot of teachers are retiring now and they can’t get the benefits there. So I would urge that the Government meet urgently with those teachers and continue to have the discussions surrounding an agreement that would look at all those benefits the teachers enjoyed,” he stated.At a press conference last week, Lyte had been critical of government refusing to act on proposals for salary increases and benefits. In retaliation for this inaction, he had said GTU would be calling out its members to engage in strike action.Lyte said that, after more than two years, officials at the Ministry of Education remain reluctant to have a sit down with the Union and discuss debunching payments. He had noted that the teachers are becoming more frustrated by the day, and warned of the consequences if the teachers decide to down tools to make their voices heard.“Another budget would be presented and we have not come to an agreement for the proposal. We believe that this is disrespectful and comes in direct contravention to the labour agreement (in effect) between the Ministry and the Union, and it is a clear fact that this administration is not seeking to properly remunerate our teachers,” Lyte had said.The issues of concern to the union include the stagnated negotiation between the GTU and the Ministry of Education. This negotiation included for increased teachers’ remuneration and outstanding paymentsAdditionally, the union had expressed concern about a memorandum that could see teachers having to work during their designated lunch period. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedTeachers receiving same salaries as public servants was never the final position- HarmonOctober 27, 2017In “latest news”GTU strikes called off: ‘High-Level Task Force’ to be established for Education sectorOctober 30, 2017In “latest news”Teachers’ strike: Gov’t reconvening meeting with GTU tomorrowSeptember 5, 2018In “latest news” read more