António Guterres swears in as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations

The former Portuguese prime minister will replace Ban Ki-moon on the first of January and become the ninth United Nations Secretary-General. He will place development at the center of the organization’s work and hopes to be the leader of the changes the UN needs.

Guterres, a former Socialist prime minister of Portugal and the head of the United Nations refugee agency for 10 years, focused his speech mainly on the importance of preventing conflict. He also said he would make the United Nations more “nimble” and “efficient” and promised a deep management reform for the following years.

Most UN diplomats affirm Guterres’ greatest challenge will certainly be dealing with the Trump administration. In his speech on Monday he indicated he would be “gentle”, at least for now.

The truth is that he is now under pressure to recruit women to his administration. Many diplomats had been campaigning for a woman to lead the international organization for the first time in 70 years, and Mr. Guterres has assured gender parity in his leadership.

Moreover, the General Assembly made an emotive tribute to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who leaves the office at the end of December after leading the United Nations for the past 10 years.

A new research study shows alarming data about air pollution in Africa

A global policy forum has launched a determining study which reveals that Africa’s air pollution is provoking more premature deaths than unsafe water or childhood malnutrition.  This disquieting situation could create a health and climate crisis similar those happening in countries like China or India.

This has been the first major attempt to evaluate both human and financial costs of the continent’s pollution and it underlines that dirty air could be killing up to 712,000 people a year, compared with approximately 542,000 from unsafe water, 275,000 from malnutrition and 391,000 from unsafe sanitation and lack of hygiene.

Outdoor air pollution from traffic, power generation and industries is increasing more rapidly, especially within the fast-developing countries of Africa such as Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The main problem is that there is not nearly enough knowledge of the sources of air pollution and its impact in much of Africa.

Sufficient economic and social developments in countries like China have allowed them to concentrate on solving environmental problems. However, most African states have the need to face other urgent issues such as pandemics and malnutrition, and this does not enable them to give a total focus on pollution problems.

Consequently, the report calls for urgent international action in order to help most African countries deal with such serious issue.