U.N. Round-Up

    The UN refugee agency has been ranked 16th in a pioneering table listing the extent and value of business partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGO) and UN bodies. In a worldwide study of 20,000 companies, survey author Dalberg Global Development Advisors identified 550 NGOs, UN agencies, foundations, and other social actors with which companies had partnered, and profiled 85 based on company ratings. Partnerships were assessed by the companies on four criteria ? accountability, adaptability, communication and execution. In each area they were ranked on a scale of one to five. In the table of global organizations, which was run last week in a special Financial Times supplement on Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy, UNHCR was ranked 16th ? the third highest UN agency.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed July 11 on its Web site the death of a 6-year-old Indonesian boy from bird flu. Of the 102 cases confirmed to date in Indonesia, 81 have been fatal. Since the virus re-emerged in Asia in 2003, outbreaks have been confirmed in around 59 countries and territories, according to data from the World Organization for Animal Health. More than 30 countries have reported outbreaks in the past year, in most cases involving wild birds such as swans. The virus has killed 192 people since 2003, according to the WHO. Countries with confirmed human deaths are: Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

    South America and the Caribbean have made substantial progress towards eliminating hunger, but Central American States are lagging behind in the same fight, the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a meeting in Brazil July 9. Director-General Jacques Diouf told a conference on food and nutritional security in Fortaleza that the number of people across the whole region suffering from hunger fell from 59 million in the early 1990s to 52 million in 2001-03. But that sharp drop was confined to South America and the Caribbean, whereas in Central America the progress was not as positive, either in the number or proportion of victims of hunger and malnutrition, Diouf said.

    Despite four years of high prices and increasingly dire warnings about climate change, a new report this week predicted that world oil demand would rise faster than previously expected over the next five years while production slips, threatening a supply crunch. In its report, the International Energy Agency, which advises 26 industrialized countries, said that global oil demand would rise by an average 2.2 percent a year from 2007 to 2012, up from a forecast in February 2007 of 2 percent annually from 2006 to 2011.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have strongly endorsed a summit to be held later this year aiming to boost information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in Africa to advance development on the continent. The Connect Africa Summit, to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 29 to 30 October, will bring together the private sector, governments and international organizations to seek ways to address the “digital divide” across the continent and to promote the use of information technology to achieve development goals.

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