Simon Ateba: This is how the United Nations General Assembly 2019 betrayed our planet

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Alvin Toffler said “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn

My coverage of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2019 has come to an end and I am headed back to Washington D.C. to be in my #districtchurch on Sunday and my small group on Tuesday and the gym every minute to shed weight.

Simon Ateba attends the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019 in New York

Here, I learned many things about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs by the UN, and I would be writing about each of them. I was also fortunate to meet the agents of change.

As a journalist, I also realized how sad it was for African journalists or media assistants to politicians covering these things. They follow their sponsors, take pictures of them, shoot their videos, do interviews that are not really interviews and crowd in front of their hotel rooms or residences, and fail to attend great sessions and to network with people from around the world, fail to learn new things to one day be at the table discussing the issues our planet is grappling with.

They fail to learn, unlearn and relearn. They are the illiterate of the 21st century, although with some money in their pockets, but with old brains that cannot survive once their principal is gone.

At the end of the General Assembly, I was left with this thought: When the 17 SDGs were unveiled in 2015, data was not a pressing issue as it is now. I felt like the attention devoted to climate change should have been more for our planet’s greatest threat – data. Those who control it now control governments, businesses, people’s minds and thoughts, they can influence who comes to power and who does not, they determine what you see, what you read and what you do not. They can rank todaynewsafrica.com higher today and millions of people see our great articles and advertisers flock in, or they can push it below and cripple our great perspectives and kill our paper.

Data, which new media organizations are exploiting should have been the main thing in 2019. Instead, the UN chose to get stuck to the past, to 2015. In so doing, the United Nations failed to learn, unlearn and relearn, a catastrophic dereliction of duties, a betrayal of our planet, a condemnation of the poor to perpetual poverty and the elevation of a few guys in Silicon Valley to control the world from their computers and algorithms. Washington DC, here I come.


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