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Football star Yaya Touré to spotlight illegal wildlife trade as UN Goodwill Ambassador


29 October 2013 – International football star Yaya Touré today joined the roster of Goodwill Ambassadors for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), pledging to combat the illegal ivory trade that sees thousands of African elephants slaughtered each year.

“Poaching threatens the very existence of the African elephant and if we do not act now we could be looking at a future in which this iconic species is wiped out,” said Mr. Touré, who was African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and an inspirational figure for Manchester City and his national side Côte d’Ivoire.

“I became a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador to spread the message that this poaching – and other forms of wildlife crime – is not only a betrayal of our responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries,” he added.

Increased poaching and loss of habitats are decimating African elephant populations, especially in Central African countries, according to a report released earlier this year at a meeting of the UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The UN estimates that over 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in monitored sites in 2011 alone. Overall figures may be much higher, UNEP noted in a news release.

Yaya Touré presented as UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi. Photo: UNEP

“The extent of the killings now far exceeds the natural population growth rates, putting elephants at risk of extinction, especially in Central and Western Africa. But even previously secure populations, such as those in East Africa, are now under threat,” the agency warned.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the agency is honoured that Mr. Touré has agreed to be a Goodwill Ambassador.

“His personal commitment to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle and his global status as an internationally renowned sportsman makes him a particularly powerful African voice to speak and inspire action on the environmental challenges and the solutions to these challenges.”

The illegal ivory trade has tripled since 1998, according to the report. Criminal networks are responsible for the illegal trafficking of ivory between Africa and Asia, and large-scale seizures of ivory destined for Asia have more than doubled since 2009 and reached an all-time high in 2011.

UNEP said that the international community is looking at measures to address the crisis, including improved law-enforcement across the entire illegal ivory supply chain and training of enforcement officers in the use of tracking, intelligence networks and innovative techniques, such as forensic analysis.

Strengthened national legislative networks, better international collaboration across range States, transit countries and consumer markets, as well as action to fight collusive corruption, identifying syndicates and reducing demand are also vital, the agency noted.

UNEP’s roster of Goodwill Ambassadors includes renowned personalities such as Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, United States actor Don Cheadle, Chinese actress Li Binging, French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand and Indian economist Pavan Sukhdev, all of whom help generate public awareness and understanding of environmental causes.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46363&Cr=elephant&Cr1=

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Marking one year since Hurricane Sandy, UN officials urge focus on Caribbean


29 October 2013 – On the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy making landfall in the United States, United Nations officials are reminding the public not to forget the storm’s less documented Caribbean victims.

Commemoration ceremonies will take place around the northeast United States today, particularly in New York, where the devastating storm caused over $18 billion worth of damage to the city.

In an editorial published yesterday, in Aljazeera, Heraldo Muñoz, Director of UN Development Program (UNDP) Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, called on New Yorkers not to forget that the US was but the last stop on Sandy’s tour of destruction.

“Sandy, one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes on record, rumbled across the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries before finally reaching the eastern seaboard of the US,” Mr. Muñoz wrote in the online editorial.

One year on, UNDP says that recovery efforts from the storm are underway, but some of the agency’s officials say that the suffering of those in developing Caribbean nations may have been underplayed.

“Because of socio-economic vulnerabilities, people in developing countries are often less prepared for a large event and unfortunately are not as quick to bounce back or recover,” said Jo Scheuer, UNDP Coordinator of Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery.

“While the mainland US suffered greater losses in terms of total fatalities and the extent of damage, for the Caribbean nations, Cuba and Haiti in particular, the storm was comparatively more expensive – having a much more profound impact on local livelihoods and the GDP,” Mr. Scheuer said, adding that in Haiti, the storm intensified the humanitarian crisis caused by the 2010 earthquake.

Efforts to help prepare Caribbean nations for disaster minimized the potential loss caused by the storm.

“In Cuba, UNDP support to the government over the years has made that country particularly good at preventing deaths from hurricanes,” Mr. Scheuer noted.

Over the last 10 years, fewer Cubans die in the hurricane season than in any neighbouring states, according to the UN agency figures.

Likewise in Haiti, earthquake recovery projects set up by the Government and supported by the UN have helped mitigate the impact of storms.

Projects undertaken in Haiti include disaster- resilient construction for homes, sea walls and flood barriers, as well as short term employment to generate income and rebuild better.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46364&Cr=hurricane+sandy&Cr1=

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In Denmark, Ban launches sustainable energy hub, urges commitments on climate financing


23 October 2013 – The world is at a “tipping point,” and how it produces, distributes and uses energy will determine if sustainable development succeeds, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, highlighting climate financing, in particular new public-private partnerships, increased investment and enhanced market development.

“Promoting energy efficiency will realize massive new investment opportunities in developing and developed countries,” Mr. Ban said at the launch of the Sustainable Energy for All – Efficiency Hub at UN City in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

The Hub, placed in “the most energy efficient UN building in the world,” according to the UN chief, will combine the efforts of Governments, development banks, the private sector and civil society to dramatically increase energy access, energy efficiency and the use of renewables by 2030.

Opening the Hub, Mr. Ban said that access by all to clean, efficient energy would be critical in promoting sustainable development while, at the same time, reducing humankind’s emissions footprint.

“I expect this hub, supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to stand at the centre of our efforts to double the global rate of energy efficiency over the next 17 years,” said Mr. Ban.

The Hub is central to Mr. Ban’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched in September 2011, which aims to achieve three inter-linked global targets by 2030: universal access to modern energy services; the doubling of energy efficiency; and the doubling of the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses university students during a town hall meeting at the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen. Journalist Nynne Bjerre Christensen moderated. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Universitystudents at the town hall meeting at the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed them. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the launch of the Energy Efficiency Hub in Copenhagen, Denmark. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon being interviewed by Jørgen Steen Nielsen, writer and journalist at the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening of the Copenhagen Climate Finance Meeting. To his right is Martin Lidegaard, Minister for Climate, Energy and Building of Denmark. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Minister Martin Lidegaard at a joint press conference. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

“Energy efficiency is a win-win for the people and the planet,” he noted on the second day of his two-day visit to Denmark.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban spoke to a meeting on climate finance convened by the Danish Government.

“Climate finance is an investment in the future and must not be taken hostage by short-term budget constraints or profit considerations,” he told an audience that also included private sector actors.

“Private investment is essential to meet the growing demand for energy in the developing world,” said Mr. Ban. “We need in particular to win over institutional investors that collectively manage more than 70 trillion dollars of assets.”

The bulk of these investments are high-carbon assets, he noted, adding that less than one per cent of pension fund assets are invested in sustainable infrastructure projects.

“These investors have the power – and I believe the responsibility – to do their part in transforming the global economy and setting us on a safer path,” the top UN official stressed.

Speaking to journalists after bilateral discussions with Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Building, Martin Lidegaard, Mr. Ban added that strengthening and expanding the UN partnership network will be the key successfully addressing climate change.

During his visit to Copenhagen, the UN chief has met with leaders of pension funds and insurance companies, which he described as “very positive.”

“They were very positively inclined to fully commit themselves and engage themselves in working together with the international community, and the United Nations in particular, in this process,” he noted.

Mr. Ban admitted, however, that mobilizing $100 billion a year for climate finance by 2020 and every year thereafter will be a “huge challenge” but “I do not think it is sort of a miracle or something impossible.”

“This is why I am asking first public funds, second, private financing,” he said.

Mr. Ban has proposed convening a Climate Summit at UN Headquarters in New York next September to bring together Government, business, finance and civil society leaders from around the world to tackle climate change and give equal balance to the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.

The urgency to tackle climate change has been reenergized amidst the 1,000 days of action to achieve the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline. World leaders have also agreed on 2015 as the year for establishing a new sustainable development framework and reaching an agreement on climate change.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46314&Cr=sustainable+energy&Cr1=

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In Copenhagen, Ban calls for clean energy transformation for more sustainable future


22 October 2013 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for a clean energy transformation to help put the world on a more sustainable path, stressing that this will require innovation, investment and collaboration by all partners.

“Achieving a clean energy transformation will need the combined efforts of governments, multilateral investment banks, private finance, civil society, the knowledge community and the private sector,” Mr. Ban said in a keynote address at the Third Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen. “We are partners on a path to sustainability… But we have no time to waste.”

He noted that the way energy is produced and used is “the dominant cause” of climate change. “The impact on our global economy is increasingly clear. We count the cost in human lives and economic loss,” he stated. “But, we are forging solutions together all over the world.”

In September 2011, the Secretary-General launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims to achieve three inter-linked global targets by 2030: universal access to modern energy services; the doubling of energy efficiency; and the doubling of the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy mix.

“Each of these objectives serves a common end: clean, low-carbon growth. This is critical for sustainable development,” said Mr. Ban.

He highlighted the fact that the world is fast approaching a triple deadline. The target date for achieving the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) falls at end of 2015. World leaders have also agreed on 2015 as the year for establishing a new sustainable development framework and reaching an agreement on climate change.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with the International Pension Funds which was hosted by Bjarne Corydon, Minister for Finance, Denmark. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Denmark’s Minister for Finance, Bjarne Corydon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the meeting with the International Pension Funds. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

“2015 thus represents an historic opportunity to set the world on a sustainable path,” Mr. Ban stated. “To do that we must eradicate extreme poverty and hold global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“These objectives are mutually reinforcing and interdependent. Achieving them will require significant global momentum – beginning with a concerted push to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.

“On that foundation we must agree an inclusive post-2015 development framework with poverty reduction at its core and sustainable development as its guide. And to support these efforts, we must increase action and ambition on climate change.”

To that end, Mr. Ban has proposed convening a Climate Summit next September to bring together government, business, finance and civil society leaders from around the world to mobilize political will for the climate negotiations, deliver concrete new commitments and spark “a race to the top” in climate action.

He asked leaders to bring solutions and initiatives with targets, deliverables and investment plans. He also urged them to raise their level of ambition by scaling up the investments and financial flows necessary for making the transformation to a low-carbon economy.

“We need large amounts of capital for the rapid development of low-carbon infrastructure,” he stated. “We are seeing progress – but not fast enough; and not at sufficient scale.

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to sustainable development. Yet, too often, one important fact gets lost amid the fear: addressing climate change is one of our greatest opportunities,” he noted.

“With enlightened action, we can create jobs, improve public health, protect the environment and spur sustainable green growth. In the coming year we should all do our utmost to unlock the barriers to climate finance that exist across the global economy.”

The Secretary-General said he is personally engaged in trying to move the financial actors, regularly meeting with financial actors and investors. Today he attended a meeting with pension fund executives, at which he asked them to help in unlocking new opportunities for capital investment in climate and development.

He also noted, in the meeting, his intention to include pension fund leaders in the Climate Summit, and discussed the possibilities for using the event as a unique opportunity to leverage unprecedented financial, political and organizational capital.

“I will continue to engage and challenge pension funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds to look beyond the fossil-related segments of the global economy. Less than 1 per cent of pension fund assets are currently invested in sustainable infrastructure projects,” Mr. Ban told the forum.

“Our hope is that greater investment can move towards low-carbon assets, for the good of the world and the long-term financial health of investors. At the same time, development and commercial banks can and should unlock capital to enable low-carbon investments. And regulators can break barriers to facilitating these flows.

“There are enormous untapped investment opportunities in developing countries. All financial actors have to work together to create the mechanisms for making these investments possible. Companies and countries have to make sure that bankable projects are ready, when the money is available.

“With focus, resolve and ambition, we can lower the global thermostat and raise the level of economic opportunity for all – from the poorest households to the largest enterprises.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46303&Cr=sustainable+energy&Cr1=

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UN team hails Japan’s remediation efforts in Fukushima-affected areas


21 October 2013 – Good progress has been made by Japan in remediation efforts in areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, a group of United Nations experts have said in a preliminary report, while encouraging the Government to better communicate its decontamination goals to the public.

The expert mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review remediation efforts, which concluded today, is a follow-up to the first mission carried out in October 2011 in the wake of the incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in March of that year.

In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake created a tsunami that in addition to killing 20,000 people, slammed into the power station, disabling cooling systems and leading to fuel meltdowns in three of the six units. The incident was reported to be the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The mission recognized the “huge effort and enormous resources” that Japan is devoting to its remediation strategies and activities, with the aim of improving living conditions for people affected by the nuclear accident and enabling evacuees to return home, the IAEA said in a news release.

“Japan has done an enormous amount to reduce people’s radiation exposure in the affected areas, to work towards enabling evacuees to go back to their homes and to support local communities in overcoming economic and social disruption,” said team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo, Director of the Division of Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology in the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy.

He added that the team was really impressed by the involvement of a wide range of ministries, agencies and local authorities in driving these crucial remediation efforts.

The 14-21 October mission, which was requested by the Japanese Government, welcomed the extensive provision of individual dosimeters so that residents can monitor their own radiation dose rates, helping to boost public confidence.

“Good progress has been made in the remediation of affected farmland, and comprehensive implementation of food safety measures has protected consumers and improved consumer confidence in farm produce,” the press release noted, adding that a comprehensive programme to monitor fresh water sources such as rivers, lakes and ponds is ongoing, including extensive food monitoring of both wild and cultivated freshwater fish.

The mission encouraged the Government to strengthen its efforts to explain to the public that an additional individual radiation dose of 1 millisievert per year (mSv/y), which it has announced as a long-term goal, cannot be achieved in a short time by decontamination work alone.

It also encouraged the relevant institutions in Japan to assess the role that the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) could play in the independent review of the remediation activities, particularly those required for the long term.

In addition, the mission encouraged the relevant organizations to conduct safety assessments of the facilities and activities for the long-term management of contaminated materials, and to allow for their independent review.

The 16-person team consisted of international experts and IAEA staff working in a range of disciplines, including radiation protection, remediation technologies, waste management and stakeholder involvement.

It assessed comprehensive information provided by the Japanese authorities and held discussions with the relevant institutions, including national, prefectural and local institutions. It also visited the affected areas, including several sites where remediation activities were conducted and some temporary storage sites for radioactive waste and soil, as well as a survey area for an interim storage facility, and a demonstration facility for incineration of sewage sludge.

The team’s preliminary report was presented to the Government today and the final report is expected in December.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46295&Cr=fukushima&Cr1=

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Greater financial investment needed to combat climate change &#8211 UN chief


13 October 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the international community to step up its financial investment in technologies, policies and practices that can help combat climate change, adding that time is running out to address this global threat.

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to sustainable development. Yet too often, one important fact gets lost amid the fear: addressing climate change is one of our greatest opportunities,” Mr. Ban said at the annual meeting of the International Development Finance Club (IFDC) in Washington, D.C.

“With enlightened action, we can create jobs, improve public health and protect the environment.”

In his remarks, Mr. Ban underlined the role that the development finance community and the financial sector have in forging solutions to climate change. For example, large amounts of capital are needed to develop low-carbon infrastructure, and green enterprises need investments to close the gap between low-emissions and fossil-fueled based projects.

As the economic impact of climate change grows, more needs to be done, Mr. Ban stressed, calling on the IDFC to actively engage in next year’s Climate Summit, which will bring together Heads of State, global leaders from business, finance and civil society.

“Our goal is mobilize political will for the negotiations, deliver concrete new commitments and spark a race to the top in climate action,” he said. “I hope you will collectively use the 2014 Climate Summit to reach the goal of $100 billion-a-year for new climate finance commitments. I also encourage you to double your portfolio of adaptation financing.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with members of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) in Washington, D.C. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre right) addresses the second annual meeting of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) in Washington, D.C. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Ulrich Schröder, Chief Executive Officer of KfW Bankengruppe and Chairman of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Ulrich Schröder, Chief Executive Officer of KfW Bankengruppe and Chairman of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his delegation being briefed by Robert Orr on arrival in Washington, D.C. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Mr. Ban emphasized that action from development banks would not just help make economies and financial institutions more climate-resilient, but would also inspire other financial actors to follow suit.

“Development banks have proven that smart public financing can spur local and international private sector investments and meet the growing demand for energy and climate resilience.

I urge you to do even more at the global and national level: by helping to open new markets… facilitate new business models and support entrepreneurs in the developing world where demand for clean investment solutions is greatest,” he said.

Mr. Ban later had lunch with members of the IDFC, and thanked them for their leadership and commitment to further strengthen collaboration between IDFC development banks and the UN system.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46259&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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On International Disaster Reduction Day, UN focuses on safety of persons with disabilities


13 October 2013 – Marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the United Nations today called on countries to ensure the safety of persons with disabilities by including them in their planning and preparedness measures.

“Early warning systems, public awareness campaigns and other responses often fail to consider the needs of persons with disabilities, putting them at an unnecessarily elevated risk and sending a harmful message of inequality,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day.

“We can change this situation by including persons with disabilities in disaster resilience initiatives and policy planning.”

The General Assembly designated 13 October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction in 2009, replacing an earlier version of the Day. Its objective is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.

More than one billion people in the world live with a disability and this year’s theme seeks to spotlight their vital role in fostering resilience as they are at high risk of injury or death during disasters.

“Unfortunately, most persons with disabilities have never participated in disaster risk management or related planning and decision making processes. They suffer disproportionately high levels of disaster-related mortality and injuries,” Mr. Ban said.

“Inclusion saves lives. And it empowers persons with disabilities to take ownership of their own safety – and that of their community.”

This year, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and partners, consulted nearly 6,000 persons with disabilities in 126 countries on how they cope and prepare for disasters.

The results show that people living with disabilities across the world are rarely consulted about their needs in times of disasters. They also illustrate the various challenges they face such as evacuating premises and receiving proper care in emergency facilities.

Mr. Ban called on the international community to “do everything possible to ensure that all persons with disabilities have the highest possible levels of safety and the greatest possible chance to contribute to the overall well-being of society.

“Let us build an inclusive world where persons with disabilities can play an even greater role as resourceful agents of change.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46258&Cr=disaster&Cr1=

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UN atomic agency reviews Czech Republic’s largest national electricity company


10 October 2013 – An international team led by United Nations nuclear safety experts today completed a review of corporate safety performance at CEZ, the largest national electricity company in the Czech Republic, to address safety operations at the Dukovany and Temelin nuclear power plants.

The Corporate Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) – composed of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as experts from Finland, France, Romania and the United States – reviewed the operations at the nuclear facility using IAEA’s safety standards, and proposed recommendations for improvement.

“The OSART team identified good corporate practices,” the UN agency said, which will be shared wiOSART missions are one of the most important tools of the Agency to ensure better and wider implementation of the IAEA Safety Standards.th the rest of the nuclear industry for consideration of their possible application elsewhere.

The team also identified proposals for improvements of corporate processes and performance important to the operational safety of the plants.

The review also covered aspects related to corporate management, independent oversight, human resources, communication, maintenance, technical support and procurement, according to a news release by the IAEA.

According to the Vienna-based agency, CEZ management committed to addressing all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months’ time.

“OSART missions are one of the most important tools of the Agency to ensure better and wider implementation of the IAEA Safety Standards,” said Denis Flory, Deputy Director General in the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

“Since 1982, we have conducted close to 200 safety review missions around the globe; however, this mission is the first of its kind because we focused on the corporate performance that is a necessity for a safe operation of [nuclear poser plants],” Mr. Flory added. “We wanted to focus on the organizational and human side rather than the technology.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46236&Cr=nuclear&Cr1=safety

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Water holds key to sustainable development, UN chief tells Budapest summit


8 October 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the vital role of water in sustainable development, highlighting in particular its importance with regard to food security, climate change and sanitation.

“Water holds the key to sustainable development. We need it for health, food security and economic progress,” Mr. Ban said in his opening remarks at the Budapest Water Summit. “Yet, each year brings new pressures.”

He noted that by 2030, nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity and demand could outstrip supply by 40 per cent.

“We must address unsustainable use… We must use what we have more equitably and wisely. We cannot expect governments to do this alone. Guaranteeing a water secure world will require the full engagement of all actors, not least the world of business.”

Mr. Ban noted that agriculture is by far the largest user of freshwater, and there is growing urgency to reconcile its demands with the needs of domestic and industrial uses, especially energy production.

“Small farmers and industrial giants alike must learn to get more crop per drop,” he said. This means improved irrigation technologies, and less water-intensive and more climate-resilient crops.

Climate change, he continued, poses the risk of diminished water supplies in much of the world.

“We must make sure that water remains a catalyst for cooperation not conflict among communities and countries,” Mr. Ban said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers a lecture at Budapesti Corvinus University. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives an Honorary Doctorate from Budapesti Corvinus University. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Mr. Ban Ki-moon signs the guest book at Sándor Palace, the official residence of the President of Hungary, in Budapest. President János Áder looks on. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueira

Mr. Ban Ki-moon with President János Áder prior to their luncheon hosted in honour of the Secretary-General. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

The UN stands ready to assist in this area, he added, noting for example the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Shared Waters Partnership that is supporting political agreement on common resources, such as in the Nile Basin.

He recalled that last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that climate change is affecting the global water cycle, noting that ‘extreme precipitation events’ will very likely become more intense and more frequent by the end of this century, as global surface temperatures increase.

“In layman’s terms, this means more floods,” said Mr. Ban. “We will also see more droughts.

That is why we must do everything we can to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To do that, we need to finalize a robust legal agreement on climate change in 2015.”

He added that water and sanitation feature large in the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose deadline is 2015. While the MDG target for providing access to improved water sources has been reached, 780 million people lack this basic necessity.

“Roughly 80 per cent of global wastewater from human settlements or industrial sources is discharged untreated. Water quality in at least parts of most major river systems still fails to meet basic World Health Organization standards. Close to one-third of people drink water that endangers health. Even more people lack adequate sanitation.”

“Some 2.5 billion people lack the dignity and health offered by access to a safe, decent toilet and protection from untreated waste,” he continued. “One billion people practice open defecation. Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five in the world after pneumonia…

“It is plain that investment in sanitation is a down-payment on a sustainable future,” said Mr. Ban. “Economists estimate that every dollar spent can bring a five-fold return.”

The Secretary-General said water and sanitation are obviously central to efforts to achieve the MDGs and must figure prominently in the post-2015 development agenda. “Beyond 2015, our aim is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and to create an equitable world of opportunity for all.

“Our societies cannot prosper without clean, plentiful freshwater. People cannot thrive without adequate sanitation.”

Speaking at a joint press encounter with Hungarian President János Áder, Mr. Ban said he was impressed by the turnout of many leaders from all around the world for the summit. “More and more countries recognize that water should be a source of common cause – not of conflict or not of concern,” he noted.

He also highlighted Hungary’s important international role in this effort, noting that it is a leader in the UN Group of Friends of Water, which is promoting wider understanding and cooperation on water issues.

“I also count on Hungary’s leadership on other long-term challenges. Poverty, environmental degradation and climate change will all define humanity’s fate in the future. That is why our campaign for sustainable development is so important.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46214&Cr=water&Cr1=

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Recycling, proper waste treatment can be veritable ‘gold mine’


7 October 2013 – Some 3.5 billion people, half the world’s population, lack crucial waste management services, significantly harming environment, health and economies, the United Nations reported today, stressing that recycling and proper treatment can be a literal and metaphorical gold mine.

“Open dumping, the most prevalent waste disposal method in many countries, can lead to acute health impacts for those living closest to dumping sites, most often the urban poor,” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said, calling the statistics “staggering” as it released a new study on the problem that showed that one tonne of recycled electronic waste could yield as much gold as five to 15 tonnes of typical gold ore.

“In addition, poor waste management can lead to significant environmental hazards: leachate from waste can contaminate soil and water, open burning of waste can cause air pollution and a failure to use recycled materials from waste means acceleration in the depletion of ‘raw’ materials,” it added, seeks to provide strategic guidance to countries where waste management systems are disorganized, haphazard or under-resourced.

The study – Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies: Moving from Challenges to Opportunities – released in conjunction with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).stresses that management is not only a challenge but “a largely untapped opportunity,” with treated waste used as a recoverable resource put to profitable use.

Beyond the potential amount of recovered gold from one tonne of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), it notes that recovered copper, aluminium and rare metals would exceed by many times the levels found in typical ores. Printed circuit boards are “probably the richest ore stream you’re ever going to find,” it says.

Other benefits include:

  • Recycling a tonne of aluminium saves 1.3 tonnes of bauxite residues, 15 cubic metres of cooling water, 0.86 cubic metres of process water and nearly 40 barrels of oil, while preventing the emission of two tonnes of carbon dioxide and 11 kilos of sulphur dioxide.
  • In 2000 recycling in the European Union generated over 229,200 jobs, which by 2008 had increased to nearly 512,340 – an annual growth rate of over 10.5 percent. The proportion of people employed in waste-related recovery activities in there increased from over 400 persons per million inhabitants in 2000, to over 600 in 2007, an increase of some 45 per cent.
  • Globally, about one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year.
  • The global waste market, from collection to recycling, is estimated at $410 billion a year, not including the sizable informal segment in developing countries.

    Overall, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected worldwide, a figure expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, with almost all of the increase from developing countries. Moreover, decay of the organic fraction of solid waste contributes about 5 per cent of global greenhouse gases.

    “Even more progress can be made if production and consumption processes are re-evaluated, so that all the inefficiencies, losses and adverse impacts associated with generating and managing waste are reduced, or, for certain kinds of products, even eliminated completely,” the document said.

  • Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46211&Cr=waste&Cr1=

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    Cities must use full spectrum of local resource to mitigate flood risks, says senior UN official


    4 October 2013 – Increased urban flooding poses a direct threat to the wellbeing of metropolitan areas unless cities use more fully the complete panoply of local resources to mitigate disaster risks, according to a senior United Nations official.

    “More needs to be done to address underlying drivers of disaster risk such as better planning regulations, better management of local ecosystems and better access to risk knowledge on the ground.” UN Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlström told the Fourth United Cities and Local Governments Congress that ended in Rabat, Morocco, today.

    “Successful and safe cities of the future will see more partnerships based on the perspectives of those communities and disaster managers at the local level. “They are the ones who face the biggest challenges and often have the fewest resources. The dynamism and creativity of cities means that many of the solutions to reduce disaster risk, particularly from the increasing threat of floods, are within their grasp.”

    Last year 116 million people around the world were affected by floods and many millions were forced to flee their homes.

    Ms. Wahlström, who heads the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), highlighted the progress many municipalities have made within UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign, launched in May 2010, which now has more than 1,500 members.

    The 10 essential points in this campaign include the participation of citizen groups and civil society, building local alliances, and ensuring that all departments understand their role to disaster risk reduction and preparedness and that information and plans are readily available to the public.

    Other planks call for investing in critical infrastructure such as flood drainage, upgrading the safety of schools and health facilities, enforcing building and land use regulations, providing training on disaster risk reduction in schools and local communities, protecting ecosystems and natural buffers to mitigate floods and storm surges, and installing early warning systems and emergency management capacities.

    The Congress saw more than 3,000 delegates converge on the Moroccan capital to emphasize the growing influence of city and local leadership.

    Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46194&Cr=disaster&Cr1=

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