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Ban appoints former leaders of Ghana, Norway as special envoys on climate change


23 December 2013 – The United Nations efforts to stem climate change got a boost today with the appointment of two special envoys to mobilize political will and action ahead of the 2014 Climate Summit.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he appointed former President of Ghana, John Kufour, and former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, as his Special Envoys on Climate Change, an issue “that is of the highest importance to the future of our planet”.

Their engagement with world leaders will assist with discussions at the 2014 Climate Summit he plans to convene in New York in September during the annual General Assembly meeting.

As part of their work, the Special Envoys will assist Mr. Ban in his consultations with world leaders to raise the level of ambition to address climate change and to accelerate action, and provide strategic advice, according to today’s statement.

In his opening address to the current General Assembly this past September, Mr. Ban invited leaders from Governments, businesses and civil society organizations “to bring bold announcements and actions to the 2014 Climate Summit to raise the level of ambition through new and more robust action on climate change”.

He said the Summit will be “an important milestone” to mobilize political commitment towards a universal legal agreement that is expected to be hammered out at the UN-led climate talks in Paris, France, in 2015.

The outcome of that UN Climate Change Conference, which would not enter force until 2020, would cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilient communities.

Mr. Kufour and Mr. Stoltenberg are recognized for their commitment to public police and environmental work.

As its President, Mr. Kufour led Ghana to become the first country in Sub-Saharab Africa to cut in half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and poverty, and those living on less than a dollar per day.

He also served as Chairman of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, among other positions.

Mr. Stoltenberg, who worked with Mr. Ban before on climate change, led a 21-member High Level Advisory Group on Climate Financing along with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The Panel found that mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate financing would be challenging, but feasible.
“If we are to reach this goal, we will need a mix of new public sources, a scaling-up of existing public sources and increased private flows,” the Panel’s report highlighted.

In 2010, Mr. Stoltenberg convened a group consisting of the most important forest countries to coordinate and contribute to measures against deforestation in these countries and to give forests a central role in a new climate agreement.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46809&Cr=Climate&Cr1=

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UN General Assembly proclaims 3 March as World Wildlife Day


23 December 2013 – The United Nations is highlighting the intrinsic values and contributions of wild animals and plants, particularly endangered and protected species, by devoting 3 of March as ‘World Wildlife Day.’

In a resolution adopted last Friday, the 193-member Assembly reaffirmed the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions. Those include “ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic, to sustainable development and human well-being, and recognized the important role of CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species’ survival.”

The Assembly selected 3 March for the Day, to coincide with the adoption of the CITES document, an international agreement between Governments of 176 Member States. Administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva, its aim is to ensure that global trade in in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival.

The CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with UN agencies, will implement the World Wildlife Day.

“The Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts,” said CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon, who helped to bring the resolution creating the Day to the General Assembly.

“We invite all member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system as well as all other interested organizations and individuals – from airports to museums to schools – to get involved in this global celebration of wildlife,” he added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46815&Cr=CITES&Cr1=

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Increased resources vital for world’s mountain farmers, UN report says


11 December 2013 – With mountains providing freshwater to half the world’s population mainly thanks to the water and soil management practiced by millions of mountain farmers, the United Nations today called for increased resources and secure land tenure for this crucial sector.

“Raising the profile of mountain farmers and supporting them through an enabling policy environment will benefit both mountain people as well as populations living in lowlands that benefit from their products and services,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director-General for Forests Eduardo Rojas-Briales said in Rome in launching a new report to mark International Mountain Day.

Around 40 per cent of mountain populations in developing and transition countries – about 300 million people – are food insecure, with half of them suffering from chronic hunger, according the report, Mountain Farming is Family Farming, which cites secure land tenure, improved access to credit, empowering women, and public investment in education, health, transport and research as requirements to promote sustainable family farming in mountain regions.

“The report comes out at a time as the post-2015 development agenda is being discussed,” Mr. Rojas-Briales said. “We need to ensure that issues related to sustainable mountain development are adequately reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda.”

Policies for mountain family farming should promote regional centres and small towns, which provide alternative employment opportunities in the artisanal, industrial and service sectors, stimulate the local economy and reduce migration, according to the report.

Sustainable mountain family farming produces ecosystem services that are vital for lowland areas for which farmers should be compensated. Such services include sound watershed management for the provision of freshwater, conservation of biodiversity and attractive cultural landscapes for tourism and recreation.

Today, family farming in mountain regions is undergoing rapid transformation, due to population growth, economic globalization, the spread of urban lifestyles and the migration of men and youth to urban areas. It results in increased workloads for women, higher pressure on local resources and the increased vulnerability of mountain farmers to global changes.

At the same time, these changes can also provide opportunities for local development. For example, mountain people can diversify their income by engaging in non-farm activities such as tourism and the marketing of local handicrafts.

“The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) 2014 presents an opportunity to focus attention on the merits and challenges of family farming in mountain areas,” said Rosalaura Romeo, FAO Programme Officer at Forestry Department. “In mountain areas, family farming has for centuries contributed to sustainable development, thanks to its small-scale character and low carbon footprint.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46716&Cr=mountain&Cr1=

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Environment should play greater role in peacebuilding, UN reports


10 December 2013 – Natural resources – which, in many conflict-affected countries, fuel and finance armed groups – can also play a major role in bringing about sustainable peace, the United Nations today reported urging Governments and partners to integrate natural resource management in post-conflict reintegration programmes.

Incorporating natural resources in peacebuilding efforts can help to mitigate potential conflicts, such as disputes over land or water, and give green jobs to former soldiers, according to a joint report released today by UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“When helping former fighters and their communities to start new lives after a conflict, it is often critical to help them turn existing natural resources into economic opportunities,” said Jordan Ryan, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

“However, natural resources need to be managed properly as part of a well thought-out peace process,” he stressed in reference to minerals, oils, gas and timber.

According to ‘The Role of Natural Resources in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration – Addressing Risks and Seizing Opportunities’, plans for the fair management and distribution of natural resources are usually excluded from peace negotiations and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes, which have become an integral part of the UN’s post-conflict peace consolidation over the last 20 years.

For example, in Sierra Leone, natural resources, which now make up 90 per cent of the country’s exports, were implicated in the country’s civil war, according to the report authors.

Meanwhile, as an example of the creation of “green jobs” in a post-conflict setting, after the signing of the peace agreement in Nepal in 2006, approximately 19,600 former Maoist fighters awaiting integration into the Nepalese National Army were taught how to upkeep water systems and improved cooking stoves in their own cantonment camps.

The report notes that given one-third of UN peacekeeping operations since 1990 have taken place in areas where the conflicts have been economically fuelled by, or otherwise driven by, natural resources, effective natural resource management has the potential to reduce risk of inflaming conflicts.

The authors also noted the need to consider access to natural resources among vulnerable groups, such as women, who play a particularly important role as they are primarily responsible for providing food, water and other basic resources for households.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46711&Cr=environment&Cr1=

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Urban inequity presents new social, development challenges, says senior UN official


9 December 2013 – Sustainable cities are an aspiration as the number of slum dwellers continues to rise and the rate of urbanization skyrockets, a senior United Nations official today said, ahead of an upcoming UN forum that will focus on creating cities and towns more economically, socially and politically accessible.

“One of the main aspects in urbanization is to diminish the level of inequality because it presents a new set of social challenges,” the Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Joan Clos, told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York.

Those include diminished security, Mr. Clos said, which is apparent in areas such as gated communities: “When we need to bring walls inside our own community to protect us from the rest, this is a clear symbol that something is not doing well.”

The world population is expected to grow in absolute terms between 2.5 and 3 billion in the next 30 years with 96 per cent of the growth in developing countries, the UN official said.

“What we have done in all of human history we will nearly do in the next 30 to 40 years. It’s a huge change rate,” Mr. Clos said, noting that the current population is estimated at 7 billion.

Half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and a third of them are in slums and informal settlements. By the year 2050, over 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities, according to UN-Habitat figures.

How to create cities that are more dense, compact, and inclusive to reduce inequalities and reclaim public space as a common good for all citizens is among the topics to be discussed at the World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Medellin, Colombia, between 5 and 11 April 2014, on the theme of ‘Urban equity in development – Cities for life.’

“This is an occasion… for UN-Habitat to listen to academia, local authorities, [the] private sector and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and all of them come with a list of aspects to be dealt with,” said Mr. Clos.

During next year’s conference, participants will share ideas, which will be collected and submitted to government officials for debate and consideration the following year.

The Forum will be held as governments and partners speed towards progress on the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and finalize a global development agenda beyond the target date for the Goals, which is 2015.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46697&Cr=urbanization&Cr1=

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"Climate-smart" agriculture needed to steer food security through changing weather, Ban says


5 December 2013 – Agroforestry, diversification of crops with legumes and other practical measures must be scaled up to end hunger while meeting the challenge of climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a global conference on the issue today.

“Agriculture is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, famers worldwide are increasingly feeling the effects of a warming climate,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the Third Global Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security and Climate Change taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“The answer to these interconnected problems lies in climate-smart agriculture,” he said, emphasizing in particular the need to eliminate of childhood under-nutrition through sustainable agriculture that benefits smallholders around the world.

Mr. Ban said that his recent visit to the Sahel reinforced his perception of how climate change compounds the challenges for small farmers, following three major droughts in a decade that exacerbated poverty, conflict and disease.

“The region’s Governments are working to help their people become more resilient, but they need international support, including through an ambitious climate change agreement in 2015,” he said.

He called on leaders from Government, finance, business and civil society to work together on solutions, welcoming proposals to develop a Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance and inviting all stakeholders to bring bold initiatives to the table at next September’s Climate Summit, to be held at UN Headquarters in NY.

The Secretary-General’s message to the three-day Conference, which closed today, was delivered by David Nabarro, his Special Representative for Food Security and Nutrition.

In related news, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported today that a record world cereal output is predicted for the year 2013, reaching a new high of almost 2,500 tonnes. At the same time, it warned that food security in several parts of Africa and elsewhere is deteriorating.

The latest issue of the agency’s “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report says that cereal production rose 8.4 per cent, while food security remains precarious in the Sahel, Central Africa, Southern Africa, parts of the Middle East and Philippines due to instability and/or drought, other types of severe weather and land degradation.

At FAO’s Rome headquarters, scientists and research organizations gathered today to draw attention to importance of better management of the Earth’s soil in the effort to feed a growing world population while coping with climate change.

Healthy soil is not only the foundation of food production but also sequesters twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo, told the gathering.

The UN General Assembly is currently considering a proposal to name 5 December of each year as “World Soil Day,” as supported by the FAO Conference this past June, to raise awareness of the importance of this natural resource to agriculture, biodiversity and climate change.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46671&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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UN-backed green fund hailed as ‘milestone’ in global effort to tackle climate change


4 December 2013 – Senior United Nations officials hailed the opening in the Republic of Korea today of the UN-backed Green Climate Fund as a significant step in the collective effort to support mitigation, adaptation and resilience measures in developing countries.

“Today’s opening of the secretariat – combined with the advances by the Conference of Parties in Warsaw and progress on the Fund’s Business Model Framework – are milestones in moving to full capitalization,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a video message to the opening ceremony of the Fund headquarters in Songdo.

“The imperative now is to bring the Fund into operation as soon as possible,” he said, explaining that while it will not be the only conduit for climate finance, it will be an important element of a public-private framework that supports low-carbon investment and fair access to climate financing.

“It can strengthen national ownership and enable countries to develop the necessary expertise and institutions for using climate finance effectively,” said the UN chief, expressing hope that the mechanism will soon be able to deliver capital to reduce emissions, light rural clinics and schools, empower local farmers and support Governments and businesses to adopt low-emissions and climate-resilient options.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who attended the ceremony, called the opening “historic” and declared: “Governments now have a crucial tool at their disposal to leverage billions in finance for developing counties to green their economies and increase their resilience to the inevitable effects of climate change.”

Urging Governments to capitalize the Fund once the final modalities are worked out next year, she said such funding is essential so that developing countries know that the developed world will deliver on its promise to help the poor and vulnerable gain access to the finance and technology they need.

“Only by creating the right conditions and providing adequate financial tools can Governments vastly accelerate the shift of capital towards a greener and more resilient global economy and meet the agreed goal of limiting average global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius,” said Ms. Figueres.

The Fund, agreed at the 2010 Conference of States Parties to the UNFCCC (held in Cancun), was designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention. It will aim to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the efforts towards attaining agreed international goals on combating climate change, including promoting a paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46662&Cr=climate&Cr1=

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