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Climate change impacting entire planet, raising risk of hunger, floods, conflict

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31 March 2014 – The effects of climate change are already occurring in all continents and across the oceans, and the world, for the most part, is ill-prepared for their risks, says a United Nations report issued today, which also warns that while action can be taken, managing the phenomenon’s impacts will be difficult on a rapidly warming planet.

The report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. The survey was released earlier today in Yokohama, Japan.

The report, the Nobel-Prize winning’s IPCC’s fifth such assessment, concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though the phenomenon will also continue to produce surprises.

It identifies vulnerable people, industries, and ecosystems around the world and finds that risk from a changing climate comes from vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends).

Welcoming the IPCC’s findings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the report confirms that the effects of human-caused climate change are already widespread and consequential, affecting agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some industries.

“To reduce these risks, substantial reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions must be made, along with smart strategies and actions to improve disaster preparedness and reduce exposure to events caused by climate change,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.

The UN chief urged all countries to act swiftly and boldly at every level, to bring ambitious announcements and actions to the climate summit he will convene on 23 September, and to make every effort needed to reach a global legal climate agreement by 2015.

During a press conference in Yokohama, IPCC Chairperson Rajendra K. Pachauri said: “In view of the impacts [presented in the report] and those that we have projected for the future, we know that nobody on the planet will be untouched by climate change.”

He cited shrinking glaciers, species migration, dwindling crop yields, rise in vector-borne diseases, and the increase in extreme events as clear evidence of the need for the international community to make better adaptation and mitigation choices, which is the only way to manage the risks of climate change.

“The world has to take this report seriously because there are implications for security of food supply, impacts of extreme events on morbidity and mortality, severe and irreversible impacts on species, and a risk of crossing various tipping points because of increasing temperatures,” said Mr. Pachauri, explaining that those impacts also affect human security, in that climate change could spark mass population displacement or increased conflict.

A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report. They enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors, and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers.

“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

The report says, “People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally, or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change and also to some adaptation and mitigation responses.”

Observed impacts of climate change have already affected agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods. The striking feature of observed impacts is that they are occurring from the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the wealthiest countries to the poorest.

“Adaptation can play a key role in decreasing these risks,” Mr. Barros noted. “Part of the reason adaptation is so important is that the world faces a host of risks from climate change already baked into the climate system, due to past emissions and existing infrastructure,” said Mr. Barros.

The IPCC is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47471&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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Earth Hour: UN to go dark globally, raising awareness on energy consumption, climate change impacts

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29 March 2014 – It will be “lights out” for the United Nations later this evening as the Organization shuts off the lights at its iconic Headquarters complex in New York and other facilities around the world in observance of “Earth Hour,” an annual global event raising awareness about the need to take action on climate change and promoting sustainable energy consumption.

Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour encourages individuals, companies, organizations and Governments throughout the world to switch off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m., local time worldwide.

The event also recognizes that everyone’s involvement is needed in order to make a collective impact and take accountability for their ecological footprint.

Coming in the lead-up to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s climate summit this September, Earth Hour aims to focus attention on the need for climate action. This is a message Mr. Ban brought back from his visit earlier this week to Greenland, where he travelled to the Ilulissat Icefjord and witnessed first-hand the alarming impacts of the climate change phenomenon.

Speaking to reporters yesterday in New York, he said the fjord’s icebergs and glaciers there were melting rapidly. “The effects of global warming – melting glaciers, extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels – are starting to seriously threaten the livelihoods [of Greenland’s people],” the UN chief said, calling on world leaders to come to the climate summit with “strong political will.”

For the last few years, the UN Headquarters in New York, its offices in Geneva and many other UN facilities around the world have joined other international landmarks participating in Earth Hour. This year, the UN is going the extra mile and turning off all non-essential lights at its NY campus for three hours, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., local time.

All UN staff members around the world have been invited to take part both in their offices and homes to demonstrate the UN’s commitment to support action on climate change, one of the top priorities of the Organization.

Meanwhile, the WWF says that along with historic United Nations buildings, this year’s celebration will include activities taking place from all points on the globe and beyond: from Thailand to Tahiti, from Iran to Las Vegas, Times Square to Rio de Janeiro, and from Sudan to the International Space Station.

The date traditionally coincides with the Spring and Autumn equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, which allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global “lights out” event.

The first major city to go dark will be Auckland in New Zealand before Earth Hour moves to Australia, where the movement began seven years ago.

This year, according to WWF, a massive candle lit display on the lawn of Parliament House in Canberra will spell out, ‘It’s Lights Out For The Reef’ as events across Australia mark the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, a threatened natural wonder which, like Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, has been inscribed on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47464&Cr=climate&Cr1=

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Secretary-General wraps up visit to Greenland with tour of Ilulissat Icefjord

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27 March 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled to the Ilulissat Icefjord today as he wrapped up his visit to Greenland, which was aimed at building momentum ahead of the summit he will convene in September on climate change.

Designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fjord is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to better understanding of climate change.

Mr. Ban’s two-day visit to Greenland provided him with an opportunity to see first-hand the impacts of climate change, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating.

Yesterday, Mr. Ban visited the town of Uummannaq, which is several hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle, along with the Premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

The UN chief expressed his deep concern at the fast-moving glaciers and by the fast-melting ice cap which raises the sea level, affecting the entire international community’s environmental system.

“It’s not only Greenland’s people – it’s the people of the whole world [who] are threatened because of this rapidly changing climate change,” he said on Wednesday at a joint press encounter with the two officials.

“There may be still many studies to make, the nature and the impact of the climate change, but [there is] one, simple plain fact: climate change is happening much, much faster than we might think.”

The climate summit planned for 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York comes ahead of a conference scheduled to take place next year in Paris to agree on a global, legal climate change agreement.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs the media about his experience on the ice in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives a gift from a local artist in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

An Inuit musher and dog team in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tries his hand at ice fishing with a Inuit fisherman. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mrs. Ban and Prime Ministers of Denmark and Greenland with an Inuit family. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Mrs. Ban checks out a couple new Inuit dog sled puppies. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon motions for the world to see what is happening to the environment after touring the ice in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tries out an Inuit dog sled ride in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond of Greenland take a look at the ice. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt take a tour of Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Indiginous Inuit women in the Uummannaq community await Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Members of the Uummannaq community await Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tours a whaling museum in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s delegation with a local church pastor. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets the honour of hoisting the UN flag at the town hall in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

School children and other members of the Uummannaq community await Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon disembarks the plane on arrival in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets a first-hand view from above of the worlds fastest moving glacier in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten

A scene from the town of Illulissat, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten


Mr. Ban has invited leaders of Government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change to the summit, which will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

“We cannot negotiate with nature. A lot of disasters, natural disasters, have happened,” he stated. “We have to take action now. The time is now, and I’m very much committed to working with world leaders.”

Following his return to New York, Mr. Ban will travel next week to Brussels, Prague and Kigali.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47448&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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‘Majestic’ Greenland provides UN chief first-hand look at impacts of climate change

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26 March 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw first-hand the impacts of climate change during a visit today to Greenland, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating.

“I am just overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of this great land, with over 2 million square kilometres of ice cap and with such vast land covered with snow and ice – this is majestic,” Mr. Ban said at a joint press encounter with the Premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, and the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

“At the same time, I am deeply alarmed by fast-moving glaciers and by the fast-melting ice cap which raises the sea level, which affects the whole international community’s environmental system,” he added.

Together with the two officials, the Secretary-General spent the morning in the town of Uummannaq, which is several hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle.

They hoisted flags and observed a prayer ceremony in a local church. The Secretary-General also went dog sledding and met with indigenous people.

Also today, Mr. Ban toured the Ilulissat Icefjord by boat. Designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fjord is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to better understanding of climate change.

He is also expected to be briefed on solutions available and innovations that are under way to address climate change in Greenland.

The UN chief’s visit is aimed at building momentum ahead of the climate summit which he is convening on 23 September, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its annual high-level debate.

Mr. Ban has invited leaders of Government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change to the summit, which will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47436&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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Visit to Greenland provides UN chief first-hand look at impacts of climate change

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26 March 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw first-hand the impacts of climate change during a visit today to Greenland, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating.

Together with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and the Prime Minister of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, the Secretary-General spent the morning in the town of Uummannaq, which is several hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle.

They hoisted flags and observed a prayer ceremony in a local church, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York, adding that the Secretary-General also went dog sledding and met with indigenous people.

Also today, Mr. Ban will tour the Ilulissat Icefjord by boat. Designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fjord is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to better understanding of climate change.

He is also expected to be briefed on solutions available and innovations that are under way to address climate change in Greenland.

The UN chief’s visit is aimed at building momentum ahead of the climate summit which he is convening on 23 September, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its annual high-level debate.

Mr. Ban has invited leaders of Government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change to the summit, which will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47436&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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On International Day, UN calls for boosting resources for world’s forests

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21 March 2014 – United Nations officials today called on countries to scale up efforts and resources devoted to forests, which provide countless economic and social benefits, as well as being essential to combating climate change.

“Forests are the lungs of our planet,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in his message for the second annual International Day of Forests, observed on 21 March. “

They cover one-third of all land area, and are home to 80 per cent of terrestrial biodiversity. They are crucial for addressing a multitude of sustainable development imperatives, from poverty eradication to food security, from mitigating and adapting to climate change to reducing disaster risk.”

Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood. Forests also help combat climate change as they store more carbon than is in the atmosphere.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 21 March as the International Day of Forests to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests, and encouraged countries to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree-planting campaigns.

“This day marks a worldwide commemoration to celebrate our forests and to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our essential global ecosystems,” General Assembly President John Ashe said in his message.

As countries work to create a future global development agenda, he urged them to recognize the ecological, economic, social and health benefits of the world’s forests, noting that in recent years, global deforestation has spread at an “alarming” rate.

Over 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed each year and deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Indeed, new data released on the occasion of the International Day by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirm that forest areas continue to decline globally, with the biggest losses of tropical forests occurring in South America and Africa.

Improving information on forest resources is a key factor in halting illegal deforestation and forest degradation, said FAO, which is using this year’s Day to discuss ways to improve the availability of information on the state of forests at all levels: nationally, regionally and globally.

“If we want to be serious about halting deforestation, in line with FAO’s Zero Illegal Deforestation challenge, this must be premised on the availability of sound information and data,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

Activities to mark the Day this year includes tree-planting and other community-level events, and national celebrations including art, photo and film as well as social media.

An event held at UN Headquarters in New York brought together thought leaders, Forest Heroes and filmmakers to spotlight the role of women as agents of change for forests and sustainable development.

Forest Hero Rhiannon Tomtishen said that it was from the example set by her hero and environmental activist Jane Goodall that she learned the three most important characteristics of being a change-maker: passion, dedication and perseverance.

In 2007, as 11 year olds, Ms. Tomtishen and fellow Forest Hero Madison Vorva launched campaigns calling for the Girl Scout organization to remove palm oil – the cultivation of which is linked to rainforest deforestation – from their cookies.

“This project has been a major part of our lives for the past seven years,” noted Ms. Vorva. “And we’ve grown from shy girls to confident and capable young women. As we grow up, the direction of our work will continue to grow with us.

“Ironically, Girl Scouting taught us to serve others, so our story began by questioning the use of unsustainable palm oil in Girl Scout cookies in an effort to save orang-utans. Having grown from this experience, an opportunity exists for us to approach our activism from new perspectives.”

“Those passionate about forest conservation,” added Ms. Tomtishen, “need to continue to speak out about the palm oil crisis until 100 per cent of the world’s palm oil is grown under deforestation-free regulations.”

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rosa Rodgers said that women play a vital role in protecting the environment. “But it’s a role that quite often goes unrecognized.”

Her film “The Water Forest” is about the campaign by a group of activists in Senegal working to replant and preserve the fast disappearing mangrove forest. She noted that while the most visible activists were men, it was women who went out every day to work in the mangroves, often taking their children with them. “It’s only when women really understand the importance of the mangroves and the importance of protecting them that change can really begin to happen.”

Delivering a keynote address at the event, Susana Malcorra, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Chef de Cabinet, said that despite some progress, women are often excluded from the decision-making process related to the sustainable management of forests. “Women’s contributions to forest management are largely in the form of informal, unpaid work. And so their share of the benefits is not proportionate to their contribution,” she noted.

“Only by empowering women, and in particular rural women, can we fulfil their potential as critical agents of change and drivers of sustainable development. Sustainable forest management will also benefit from empowering women.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47403&Cr=forest&Cr1=

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Ban hails impact of UN climate change treaty, urges renewed commitment to ideals

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20 March 2014 – Over the past 20 years, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has galvanized the world to seek multilateral solutions to the grave threat of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging stakeholders to use the occasion of its twentieth anniversary to “rediscover the commitment that brought the Convention to life.”

Hailing the twentieth anniversary of the Convention (UNFCCC) and commending all those who made it possible, Mr. Ban emphasized that the accord’s landmark Kyoto Protocol established the world’s first greenhouse gas reduction treaty, with binding commitments for industrialized countries, and set the stage for the establishment of the world’s carbon markets.

Further, the clean development mechanism and joint implementation initiatives have enabled emissions trading and carbon offsets in the developing and developed worlds. The expanded UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) programme is helping to place value on carbon stored in forests and reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation.

The Secretary-General also noted that finance, technology transfer and capacity-building have unlocked access by developing countries to public and private resources. “In aggregate, the UNFCCC has been a major catalyst in the growing developmental shift to clean technology, renewable energy, improved efficiency and adaptation,” he declared.

“At the same time, considerably greater ambition is needed to match the scale of the global challenge posed by climate change,” said the UN chief, explaining that greenhouse gases are at their highest atmospheric concentration in 800,000 years. People everywhere – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – are experiencing the growing effects of unpredictable and increasingly extreme weather patterns.

Two decades of work by the UNFCCC and its parties have created the infrastructure to spur a resilient, low-carbon global economy. “Our challenge now is to use this machinery – not only to tackle climate change, but to deliver sustainable energy for all, make the air in our cities fit to breathe, generate decent jobs and help eradicate extreme poverty,” he said.

Continuing, Mr. Ban said that Governments have agreed to reach a new universal climate agreement by 2015. To support them, he will convene a climate summit on 23 September to mobilize political will and showcase action that can help to raise ambition levels worldwide. He has invited world leaders, along with senior representatives from civil society and the private sector, to work together for transformative results.

“We know what we need to do and how to do it. As we mark this anniversary, let us rediscover the commitment that brought the Convention to life,” the UN chief said, urging stakeholders to work together for a meaningful climate agreement that will set the world on a sustainable path for generations to come.

Making a similar call to action is Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, who in her statement said the anniversary is a moment to celebrate the far-sightedness of the Convention and all of the investment in its implementation that so many thousands of people have made over the last two decades.

“But it is also a time when we can reflect on the distance we all have yet to travel to achieve the ultimate objective enshrined in the Convention, which is to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system and ensure sustainable development for everyone,” she said, adding that she hopes this anniversary inspires everyone to recommit to the Convention, to its implementation and to a meaningful 2015 agreement.

Meanwhile, a new report released today by the International Resource Panel and the UN REDD+ Programme states that an investment of $30 billion per year – under 7 per cent of the $480 billion paid in annual global fossil fuel subsidies – in the REDD+ forest conservation initiative can accelerate the global transition to green and sustainable growth and ensure the long-term well-being of tens of millions in developing countries.

The report Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy, lays out recommendations to deliver the new integrated REDD+ and Green Economy approach, including better coordination, stronger private sector engagement, changes in fiscal incentive frameworks, greater focus on assisting policy-makers to understand the role forests play in propping up economies, and equitable benefit sharing. The report stresses, in particular, the need for a rights-based approach to ensure that benefits flow to the rural poor.

Commenting on the aims of the report, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said REDD+ is a bold project that offers an opportunity for countries to pursue a more sustainable development pathway through the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of forests.

“We need to create the enabling conditions required for REDD+ to succeed from good governance and sustainable financial policies to equitable distribution of benefits. These enabling conditions are themselves the building blocks for an inclusive Green Economy,” he added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47393&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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&#39We need to rethink urbanization in the 21st century&#39 &#8211 UN official

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4 March 2014 – How countries plan, build and manage their cities today will determine the outcome of global efforts to achieve a sustainable future, a panel of United Nations and civil society experts said today, calling on the international community to “get cities right” so the impacts of rapid urbanization can be better managed and sustainable development for all can be achieved.

“We need a platform for profound debate about the challenges we have in front of us,” said Joan Clos, Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), previewing The City We Need, a document outlining the vision of a city for the 21st century and which also aims to draw attention to the links between urbanization and major global development challenges such as climate change and grinding poverty.

Launching the document at a Headquarters press conference, Mr. Clos was joined by Nicholas You, Chair of the Steering Committee of the World Urban Campaign, Professor Eugenie Birch, co-director of the Penn institute for Urban Research, and Mr. Jocking Arputham, President and Founder of Slum Dwellers International.

The City We Need is a booklet of nine principles that can be implemented in order to achieve sustainable urban development. It is conceived, designed and written by the members of the World Urban Campaign. “It represents the aspiration of the new model of urbanization that is needed in the future,” said Mr. Clos, who emphasized: “We need a more socially inclusive city, a city that is more efficient, better organized and resilient, and where the dignity of every citizen is respected.”

Calling for a paradigm shift in urban development for the 21st century, he warned: “If we keep building cities in old fashioned ways, we are planting the seeds of continuing crises – in climate change, in lagging development, lack of integration and lack of dignity.”

“We need to rethink urbanization and that is why we need the participation of all stakeholders,” said Mr. Clos, stressing the need for such an approach in the run-up to the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in 2016.

“The cities of the world generate 80 per cent of the wealth and economic growth,” said Pr. Birch.

“The battle for a more sustainable future will be won or it will be lost in cities.”

The World Urban campaign is a platform of more than 70 institutions and networks coordinated by UN Habitat, and created in 2010 to define the direction that urban development must take in the coming decades.

In preparation for the 7th session of the World Urban Forum, to be held in April in Medellin, Colombia, the booklet advocates among other things for more physically resilient cities and the development of affordable housing in order to ensure that the billion people who are living in slums today will have a better future.

Mr. You, from the World Urban Campaign, emphasized that in the next 40 years, the world urban population is expected to double and “we will be building and constructing more human settlements than we have since the beginning of human history. If we do that right we have every hope of achieving sustainable development for everybody. If we do it wrong, we are in very, very serious trouble,” Mr. You said.

“We have one chance to get the future of our urban world right, and only this chance in the next 30 years and we have to start now.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47274&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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On inaugural World Day, UN urges preservation of wild animals and plants

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3 March 2014 – Senior United Nations officials are sounding the alarm that nature is under threat, marking today’s first ever World Wildlife Day with calls to protect biological diversity and halt environmental crimes.

“Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, adding that some of the world’s most charismatic animals are in immediate danger of extinction as a result of habitat loss and illicit trafficking.

“I urge all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably,” Mr. Ban noted in his message for the Day.

Speaking at the opening today in Geneva of the “Wild and Precious” exhibition, which includes photographs of dancing mantas, magnificent elephants, iconic apes and majestic trees, Mr. Ban noted that, sadly, many of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser known but ecologically important plants and animals, are in immediate danger of extinction. “Wildlife is part of our shared heritage. We need it for our shared future,” he stressed.

The UN General Assembly designated 3 March for the World Day to coincide with the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 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 close to 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival.

The CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with UN agencies, implements the aims of the World Day. The Convention’s Secretary-General, John Scanlon, echoed Mr. Ban’s message, calling on everyone celebrating the Day “as citizens and as consumers” to bring the illegal billion-dollar industry to an end.

“Let’s work for a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony,” Mr. Scanlon said.

Wildlife crime is another form of organized crime and fuels trafficking and terrorism, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has said.

In his message for the Day, Executive Director Yury Fedotov stressed that the UNODC is active in two areas essential to reducing such crimes, demand reduction and sustainable livelihoods to combat failure in our “stewardship of this planet’s biodiversity.”

He emphasized the importance of breaking with the past traditions that help drive these crimes, noting that “young people are the next generation of potential purchasers of illegal wildlife commodities. Working globally, we can deliver science-based information to young people and help dispel the misinformation.”

For example, African elephants are poached for ivory, often sold in Asian markets with third countries acting as transit points for this illicit trade, according to UN figures.

Cutting demand means changing the attitudes of consumers in these countries, and working with authorities to combat wildlife crime through a series of national and cross regional enforcement crackdowns.

Last year, China organized its first ever crush of illicitly traded ivory, and in 2012, a national campaign mobilised 100,000 officers country-wide to partner with authorities in 28 other countries in a collaborative enforcement effort to stop the trade.

This year’s World Wildlife Day falls within the UN Decade on Biodiversity, which started in 2011, to promote the implementation of a strategic plan on biodiversity and its overall vision of living in harmony with nature.

“We have a stronger economy, diverse food products and advancements in medical research all as a result of wildlife and natural ecosystems,” Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), whose message, along with a host of others, appears on the World Wildlife Day website [http://wildlifeday.org/].

Irina Bokova, head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), noted that the UN agency’s global network of World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserve are home to some of the most emblematic and threatened wildlife species, including mountain gorillas, pandas, tigers and different species of rhino.

“I call upon all actors – including, government authorities, nongovernmental organizations, customs services, police forces and the scientific community – to redouble their efforts and deepen cooperation,” she said. “Only by joining forces can we craft a sustainable future for the planet’s precious wildlife and biodiversity.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47258&Cr=wildlife&Cr1=

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