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Ban praises small islands’ commitment to address climate change

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2 April 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the commitment by small islands in the Pacific to low-carbon development and urged them to continue their ambitious efforts to combat climate change and spur other nations to come to a binding agreement on this issue next year.

“Because you are on the front lines, you know that we are at a pivotal moment and that more needs to be done. You know that the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the Pacific launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which took place in Fiji.

While Mr. Ban noted that small island nations face special challenges, such as rising sea levels, restricted markets and high energy prices due to their remote location, he also highlighted successful initiatives that are helping these countries achieve sustainable development.

“The Pacific Islands are demonstrating real global leadership in our shared efforts to make a much-needed transition to a new era in energy use and production,” he said. “Tokelau has become the first territory in the world to generate 100 per cent of its power from renewable energy, while our host, the government of Fiji, is demonstrating its commitment to support sustainable energy for all through concrete actions. These and other efforts are helping to point the way to a sustainable future.”

The period from 2014 to 2024 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade for Sustainable Energy for All and two years ago, Mr. Ban launched his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy, thus providing services such as lighting, clean cooking and mechanical power in developing countries, as well as improved energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

“There are climate solutions with a demonstrated track record of success. They are feasible, affordable and they can bring economic opportunity that supports our sustainable development goals,” the UN chief said in his message, delivered by the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Gyan Chandra Acharya.

“I therefore urge your Governments to continue to be ambitious as we move forward with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process. Member States must deliver a global and legally binding agreement by 2015. Sustainable energy is also a central issue in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.”

Mr. Ban stressed that the leadership of small island developing states will be crucial to advance on this issue and urged these nations to ensure that their voices are heard “loudly and clearly” at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in June and at the climate summit in September.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47493

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In Brussels, Ban says ‘much heavy lifting’ required by all to curb impacts of climate change

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3 April 2014 – From the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the poorest countries to the wealthiest, the ominous signs of climate change are profoundly visible, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today, calling for transformative collective action to tackle the phenomenon now – on all fronts– before it is too late.

“My objective has been to impress on Member States, the world of business and the public at large that climate change is an obstacle to the future security, prosperity and sustainable development of humankind,” Mr. Ban told the Friends of Europe Policy Spotlight, held at the Bibliothèque Solvay, in Brussels, where he has been much of this week holding talks with European Union (EU) officials on a host of pressing global issues.

While noting that it is vitally important for the international community to work together to tackle political and security challenges in Syria, the Central African Republic and other crisis hotspots, the UN chief stressed today: “we must look beyond the horizon and build the long-term foundations of peace…these too are life and death undertakings.”

Mr. Ban said that was why, after he wrapped up a recent visit to Moscow and Kyiv to press for a diplomatic solution over the Ukraine crisis, he made a trip to Greenland. Upon visiting the Ilulissat Icefjord, his greatest fears about climate change were confirmed: the impacts of the phenomenon were profoundly visible.

“Greenland is a canary in a coalmine. As our world warms, Greenland’s ice will slip faster into the sea, contributing to a rise in sea levels that already threatens hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying nations and coastal cities,” he said, noting similarly obvious impacts and consequences he witnessed on earlier visits to the Pacific island of Kiribati and to drought stricken countries in the Sahel.

Echoing the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Mr. Ban said the phenomenon has already affected agriculture, human health and ecosystems, and could also threaten security, especially from of food and water shortages.

“All around the world, it is plain that climate change is happening. Human activities are the principal cause. We must act on what we know and take urgent steps before it is too late. The problem is global and everyone has a role to play,” he said, noting that the Policy Spotlight event is well placed to contribute, as Europe has both the power and a responsibility to lead in pioneering solutions at home; in propagating answers abroad; and in the climate negotiations.

With all this in mind, the UN chief laid out his prescription for action, which he said must begin with a meaningful, robust, universal and legal climate agreement by 2015.

Recalling that Member States have agreed to take action towards reducing emissions rapidly enough to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above, pre-industrial levels, he said that to add political momentum to that target, he will convene on 23 September a climate summit in New York.

“I am inviting leaders from Government, civil society and the business and finance communities to attend. I am urging all to raise the level of ambition. Governments have to lead. But civil society and the private sector have a significant role to play,” said Mr. Ban, adding that the business sector must also make sure that it is a part of the solution, not the problem.

He went on to urge action to boost climate finance as an essential investment in the future; to make progress towards a realistic price on carbon that reflects the real environmental costs of the fossil fuel economy; and to summon the political will to act on high-impact initiatives.

“Our motto should be adopt and adapt. Let us adopt the solutions that will work fastest and best. And let us adapt them and scale them up wherever and whenever we can,” said the Secretary-General, urging “climate smart” actions that can reduce black carbon emissions, curb deforestation, boost sustainable energy practices and enhance agriculture.

He also urged the EU to reach a decision as soon as possible on its pledge to adopt economy-wide emissions reduction targets as well as on renewable energy efficiency, preferably at the June 2014 meeting of the European Council.

Finally, Mr. Ban urged civil society step up advocacy for action because the world is at a critical juncture in efforts to address climate change, and grass roots voices would be vital to finding solutions.

The road ahead includes his climate summit in September, as well as meetings of the State parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru this year, and in Paris in 2015, he pointed out.

“Much heavy lifting is required. We need to apply political courage, technological knowhow, and sensitivity toward human need. Humankind has caused this problem. We can only look to ourselves for the solution,” the Secretary-General said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47496

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In Prague address, Ban highlights ‘crossroads moment’ in shaping better future for all

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4 April 2014 – From reducing poverty and hunger to addressing climate change, the world faces big challenges that cannot be tackled alone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, highlighting the importance of shared global responsibility in an address to students in the Czech Republic.

“We face a crossroads moment. There are three issues on the global agenda for the coming year that will shape people’s lives for generations to come. 2015 will be a year of global choices,” Mr. Ban said in a lecture delivered at Charles University in Prague.

Firstly, he noted, it is vital to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s blueprint for tackling poverty, hunger and disease and expanding education, opportunity and cleaner greener future.

“Important progress has been made. Global poverty has been cut in half. More children are in school,” said the Secretary-General. “But there is a long way to go. Grinding poverty still affects more than one in every seven people on earth. Hunger plagues nearly a billion people…”

“I am urging the international community to spare no effort in speeding up our progress to meet the MDGs by next year.”

Secondly, Mr. Ban highlighted the need to usher in a sustainable future while adapting to the changing global landscape. “We are learning lessons from the MDG experience as we work to craft a long-term agenda that will shape development efforts for the next generation.”

A third challenge is tackling climate change, a problem the UN chief has been spotlighting with visits around the world, most recently to Greenland, where the ice is melting fast. While in the Czech capital today, he will visit the Prague flood protection system to see first-hand how the city is adapting to the climate change challenge.

“Around the world, climate change is an existential threat – but if we harness the opportunities inherent in addressing climate change, we can reap enormous economic benefits,” said Mr. Ban.

In September, the Secretary-General will convene a summit in New York to pave the way for a legal agreement on climate change by 2015 and to focus on climate solutions.

“These are big challenges and we cannot tackle them alone,” he noted. “That is why I am also so focused on activating the real drivers of change in today’s world. That starts with ensuring equality for women and empowerment of young people.”

Young people, in particular, have the power to transform the world, he noted. “You are part of the largest generation of youth in history. You have an unprecedented ability to network. You have access to information at lightning speed. But it takes more than connectivity to change the world – it takes conviction.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47504

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Ban applauds Prague’s climate change preparedness

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4 April 2014 – During his official visit in the Czech Republic’s capital, United Nations Secretary-General congratulated the city of Prague for its new protection system against floods, which involves mobile barriers to prevent the Vltava River from inundating the streets.

“Cities such as Prague have experienced major floods over the past two decades,” said the UN chief today after giving a lecture on climate change to the students of Charles University. “Lives have been lost, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and billions of euros of damage has been caused.”

“I was struck by the pictures from 2002 showing the flooded Czech capital, the Jewish Quarter under water, and UNESCO sites threatened by the rising tide,” he noted.

The Prague flood protection system is part of the most extensive in Europe. “This is a good example of leadership which makes a difference in saving lives and properties and protecting all of us from the damage and impact of climate change,” said Mr. Ban, adding that the UN holds risk reduction at one of its priorities.



While Czech Republic, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon takes time out to visit part of the new mobile flood barriers put up by the Prague fire department. Photos: UN


Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47509

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On Mother Earth Day, UN urges protecting planet from ‘heavy hand of humankind’

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22 April 2014 – On International Mother Earth Day, the United Nations is urging greater efforts to promote sustainable development and use of renewable energy sources, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealing for worldwide changes in attitude and practice to curb the negative impact of human activity on the planet.

“From tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries, from growing freshwater shortages to the rapid decline of biodiversity and increasingly polluted skies and seas in many parts of the world, we see the heavy hand of humankind,” said the UN chief.

As a part of the Organization’s efforts to drive home the importance of respecting and protecting the planet towards ensuring ‘the future we want’, the General Assembly is convening an interactive dialogue on “Harmony with Nature” to commemorate the International Day, marked annually on 22 April.

Following a high-level segment this morning, Member States, UN agencies and independent stakeholders will discuss in a series of roundtables ways to promote a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

In his message on the Day, which gives an opportunity to reflect on humankind’s relationship with the planet, Mr. Ban said: “The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food are part of a delicate global ecosystem that is increasingly under pressure from human activities.”

As such, and with a growing population, everyone must recognize that consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable. “We need a global transformation of attitude and practice. It is especially urgent to address how we generate the energy that drives our progress,” said the Secretary-General, emphasizing that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change, which increasingly threatens prosperity and stability in all regions.

“That is why world leaders have pledged to reach a global legal climate agreement in 2015.

He said that action on climate change presents multiple opportunities to “reset our relationship” with Mother Earth and improve human well-being, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. Sustainable energy for all can increase health, wealth and opportunity for billions of people, as can climate-smart agriculture, more efficient cities, and better managed and protected forests.

To generate ambitious action on the ground and raise momentum for a new climate treaty in 2015, Mr. Ban is convening a climate summit in New York on 23 September this year. He is inviting Heads of State and Government along with private sector and civil society leaders to showcase initiatives and forge alliances that can help launch a sustainable future.

“But, they need support and encouragement, for change is never easy. So today, on International Mother Earth Day, I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home,” said the Secretary-General.

General Assembly President John Ashe meanwhile called on the UN family to promote sustainable development and the use of renewable energy sources throughout cities and communities.

“As we look to promote the post-2015 development agenda, I call on Member States, civil society and other stakeholders to answer the call put forth in the 2009 UN resolution by the General Assembly to invest more in sustainable technology and to promote our ecosystems through global environmental public policies,” he said.

As the world confronted today’s unique sustainable development challenges, stakeholders’ understanding of the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations must be rooted in the most up-to-date scientific information.

“Our global strategy must promote sound environmental ethics, and continually emphasize humanity’s interconnectedness with nature,” said Mr. Ashe, looking forward to the Assembly’s discussions on the issue throughout the day.

In his remarks to the Assembly dialogue, Mr. Ashe said the history of civilization is the story of the sometimes complex relationship of human beings with nature and the planet.

“From the time man sought dominance and control over the environment, the quality of our lives as human beings has changed radically.

While that change was largely positive, modern patterns of consumption and production have caused such overexploitation of natural resources that there is disequilibrium in the delicate balances of earth’s ecosystems,” he said.

The evidence is that the current global population is using vast quantities of natural resources at so rapid a rate that we are consuming 50 per cent more resources than the planet can provide.

“Consequently, today’s lifestyles have ushered in what scientists are now calling the Anthropocene Era,” said Mr. Ashe, explain that this essentially this means man’s lifestyles, actions, technologies and practices can and are irrevocably and adversely impacting nature, putting the survival of many species under threat.

“We cannot and must not ignore the cries of our planet to restore a more harmonious relationship with nature. Nor must we lose the opportunity to work harmoniously with each other for the common good,” he said, encouraging delegations to consider the relevant information on the UN Harmony with Nature website as they consider ways to further build a knowledge network on sustainable development, the efforts of which will serve to produce a balanced paradigm for the planet and for people.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47620

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Long-term food production must factor in potential impacts of climate change – UN official

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23 April 2014 – Countries need to shift to more sustainable food systems to adapt to the effects of climate change, the Director-General of the United Nations Food and Drug Organization (FAO) José Graziano da Silva told a conference in Morocco today, warning that the phenomenon has the potential to reshape the planet’s food production scenario.

“Everything we do needs to take climate change into consideration,” Mr. da Silva stressed “and the time is now. We cannot afford to wait.”

In an address to the seventh Forum on Agriculture in Menkes, Morocco, the Director-General asserted that climate change has reintroduced “an element of uncertainty” – after decades in which hunger was mostly caused by the inability to produce or purchase food, rather than insufficient supplies globally.

“Climate change has the potential to reconfigure the planet’s food production scenario,” Mr. da Silva pressed.

The world’s poorest are particularly vulnerable. Mr. da Silva explained, that: “Not only do they have fewer means to react, but they also tend to live in already marginal production areas,” where the impact of climate change in agricultural production is felt to an even greater extent.

FAO’s Director-General pointed to recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that reflected these concerns and called for urgent action.

Noting that the United Nations had declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, Mr. da Silva also underscored family farming as a tool for rural development and stability.

“By providing adequate support to family farming we can combat food insecurity by reaching out to a group that is in itself vulnerable – and by increasing food supply where we need it the most,” he said.

He noted that some 500 million family farms account for about 80 per cent of the world’s holdings, yet also include many of the most vulnerable families globally.

“Climate change is a challenge faced by both large, modernized family farms as well as small-scale family farmers,” he emphasized.

Family farmers make up an estimated 70 per cent of all food insecure households in rural areas of developing countries. Linking productive support to social protection would help to jumpstart local and inclusive sustainable development.

“It cuts across a broad range of development priorities, including ending hunger, supporting sustainable production, reducing rural poverty, improving food markets and building resilience,” Mr. da Silva said.

The Director-General, the Moroccan Ministers of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries and of the Economy and Finance signed an agreement to support food security projects elsewhere in Africa through the FAO South-South Cooperation programme as an innovative initiative to combine Government and private sector funds.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47630

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In Brussels, Ban says ‘much heavy lifting’ required by all to curb impacts of climate change

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3 April 2014 – From the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the poorest countries to the wealthiest, the ominous signs of climate change are profoundly visible, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today, calling for transformative collective action to tackle the phenomenon now – on all fronts– before it is too late.

“My objective has been to impress on Member States, the world of business and the public at large that climate change is an obstacle to the future security, prosperity and sustainable development of humankind,” Mr. Ban told the Friends of Europe Policy Spotlight, held at the Bibliothèque Solvay, in Brussels, where he has been much of this week holding talks with European Union (EU) officials on a host of pressing global issues.

While noting that it is vitally important for the international community to work together to tackle political and security challenges in Syria, the Central African Republic and other crisis hotspots, the UN chief stressed today: “we must look beyond the horizon and build the long-term foundations of peace…these too are life and death undertakings.”

Mr. Ban said that was why, after he wrapped up a recent visit to Moscow and Kyiv to press for a diplomatic solution over the Ukraine crisis, he made a trip to Greenland. Upon visiting the Ilulissat Icefjord, his greatest fears about climate change were confirmed: the impacts of the phenomenon were profoundly visible.

“Greenland is a canary in a coalmine. As our world warms, Greenland’s ice will slip faster into the sea, contributing to a rise in sea levels that already threatens hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying nations and coastal cities,” he said, noting similarly obvious impacts and consequences he witnessed on earlier visits to the Pacific island of Kiribati and to drought stricken countries in the Sahel.

Echoing the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Mr. Ban said the phenomenon has already affected agriculture, human health and ecosystems, and could also threaten security, especially from of food and water shortages.

“All around the world, it is plain that climate change is happening. Human activities are the principal cause. We must act on what we know and take urgent steps before it is too late. The problem is global and everyone has a role to play,” he said, noting that the Policy Spotlight event is well placed to contribute, as Europe has both the power and a responsibility to lead in pioneering solutions at home; in propagating answers abroad; and in the climate negotiations.

With all this in mind, the UN chief laid out his prescription for action, which he said must begin with a meaningful, robust, universal and legal climate agreement by 2015.

Recalling that Member States have agreed to take action towards reducing emissions rapidly enough to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above, pre-industrial levels, he said that to add political momentum to that target, he will convene on 23 September a climate summit in New York.

“I am inviting leaders from Government, civil society and the business and finance communities to attend. I am urging all to raise the level of ambition. Governments have to lead. But civil society and the private sector have a significant role to play,” said Mr. Ban, adding that the business sector must also make sure that it is a part of the solution, not the problem.

He went on to urge action to boost climate finance as an essential investment in the future; to make progress towards a realistic price on carbon that reflects the real environmental costs of the fossil fuel economy; and to summon the political will to act on high-impact initiatives.

“Our motto should be adopt and adapt. Let us adopt the solutions that will work fastest and best. And let us adapt them and scale them up wherever and whenever we can,” said the Secretary-General, urging “climate smart” actions that can reduce black carbon emissions, curb deforestation, boost sustainable energy practices and enhance agriculture.

He also urged the EU to reach a decision as soon as possible on its pledge to adopt economy-wide emissions reduction targets as well as on renewable energy efficiency, preferably at the June 2014 meeting of the European Council.

Finally, Mr. Ban urged civil society step up advocacy for action because the world is at a critical juncture in efforts to address climate change, and grass roots voices would be vital to finding solutions.

The road ahead includes his climate summit in September, as well as meetings of the State parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru this year, and in Paris in 2015, he pointed out.

“Much heavy lifting is required. We need to apply political courage, technological knowhow, and sensitivity toward human need. Humankind has caused this problem. We can only look to ourselves for the solution,” the Secretary-General said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47496&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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In Prague address, Ban highlights ‘crossroads moment’ in shaping better future for all

Print

4 April 2014 – From reducing poverty and hunger to addressing climate change, the world faces big challenges that cannot be tackled alone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, highlighting the importance of shared global responsibility in an address to students in the Czech Republic.

“We face a crossroads moment. There are three issues on the global agenda for the coming year that will shape people’s lives for generations to come. 2015 will be a year of global choices,” Mr. Ban said in a lecture delivered at Charles University in Prague.

Firstly, he noted, it is vital to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s blueprint for tackling poverty, hunger and disease and expanding education, opportunity and cleaner greener future.

“Important progress has been made. Global poverty has been cut in half. More children are in school,” said the Secretary-General. “But there is a long way to go. Grinding poverty still affects more than one in every seven people on earth. Hunger plagues nearly a billion people…”

“I am urging the international community to spare no effort in speeding up our progress to meet the MDGs by next year.”

Secondly, Mr. Ban highlighted the need to usher in a sustainable future while adapting to the changing global landscape. “We are learning lessons from the MDG experience as we work to craft a long-term agenda that will shape development efforts for the next generation.”

A third challenge is tackling climate change, a problem the UN chief has been spotlighting with visits around the world, most recently to Greenland, where the ice is melting fast. While in the Czech capital today, he will visit the Prague flood protection system to see first-hand how the city is adapting to the climate change challenge.

“Around the world, climate change is an existential threat – but if we harness the opportunities inherent in addressing climate change, we can reap enormous economic benefits,” said Mr. Ban.

In September, the Secretary-General will convene a summit in New York to pave the way for a legal agreement on climate change by 2015 and to focus on climate solutions.

“These are big challenges and we cannot tackle them alone,” he noted. “That is why I am also so focused on activating the real drivers of change in today’s world. That starts with ensuring equality for women and empowerment of young people.”

Young people, in particular, have the power to transform the world, he noted. “You are part of the largest generation of youth in history. You have an unprecedented ability to network. You have access to information at lightning speed. But it takes more than connectivity to change the world – it takes conviction.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47504&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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On Mother Earth Day, UN urges protecting planet from ‘heavy hand of humankind’

Print

22 April 2014 – On International Mother Earth Day, the United Nations is urging greater efforts to promote sustainable development and use of renewable energy sources, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealing for worldwide changes in attitude and practice to curb the negative impact of human activity on the planet.

“From tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries, from growing freshwater shortages to the rapid decline of biodiversity and increasingly polluted skies and seas in many parts of the world, we see the heavy hand of humankind,” said the UN chief.

As a part of the Organization’s efforts to drive home the importance of respecting and protecting the planet towards ensuring ‘the future we want’, the General Assembly is convening an interactive dialogue on “Harmony with Nature” to commemorate the International Day, marked annually on 22 April.

Following a high-level segment this morning, Member States, UN agencies and independent stakeholders will discuss in a series of roundtables ways to promote a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

In his message on the Day, which gives an opportunity to reflect on humankind’s relationship with the planet, Mr. Ban said: “The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food are part of a delicate global ecosystem that is increasingly under pressure from human activities.”

As such, and with a growing population, everyone must recognize that consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable. “We need a global transformation of attitude and practice. It is especially urgent to address how we generate the energy that drives our progress,” said the Secretary-General, emphasizing that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change, which increasingly threatens prosperity and stability in all regions.

“That is why world leaders have pledged to reach a global legal climate agreement in 2015.

He said that action on climate change presents multiple opportunities to “reset our relationship” with Mother Earth and improve human well-being, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. Sustainable energy for all can increase health, wealth and opportunity for billions of people, as can climate-smart agriculture, more efficient cities, and better managed and protected forests.

To generate ambitious action on the ground and raise momentum for a new climate treaty in 2015, Mr. Ban is convening a climate summit in New York on 23 September this year. He is inviting Heads of State and Government along with private sector and civil society leaders to showcase initiatives and forge alliances that can help launch a sustainable future.

“But, they need support and encouragement, for change is never easy. So today, on International Mother Earth Day, I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home,” said the Secretary-General.

General Assembly President John Ashe meanwhile called on the UN family to promote sustainable development and the use of renewable energy sources throughout cities and communities.

“As we look to promote the post-2015 development agenda, I call on Member States, civil society and other stakeholders to answer the call put forth in the 2009 UN resolution by the General Assembly to invest more in sustainable technology and to promote our ecosystems through global environmental public policies,” he said.

As the world confronted today’s unique sustainable development challenges, stakeholders’ understanding of the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations must be rooted in the most up-to-date scientific information.

“Our global strategy must promote sound environmental ethics, and continually emphasize humanity’s interconnectedness with nature,” said Mr. Ashe, looking forward to the Assembly’s discussions on the issue throughout the day.

In his remarks to the Assembly dialogue, Mr. Ashe said the history of civilization is the story of the sometimes complex relationship of human beings with nature and the planet.

“From the time man sought dominance and control over the environment, the quality of our lives as human beings has changed radically.

While that change was largely positive, modern patterns of consumption and production have caused such overexploitation of natural resources that there is disequilibrium in the delicate balances of earth’s ecosystems,” he said.

The evidence is that the current global population is using vast quantities of natural resources at so rapid a rate that we are consuming 50 per cent more resources than the planet can provide.

“Consequently, today’s lifestyles have ushered in what scientists are now calling the Anthropocene Era,” said Mr. Ashe, explain that this essentially this means man’s lifestyles, actions, technologies and practices can and are irrevocably and adversely impacting nature, putting the survival of many species under threat.

“We cannot and must not ignore the cries of our planet to restore a more harmonious relationship with nature. Nor must we lose the opportunity to work harmoniously with each other for the common good,” he said, encouraging delegations to consider the relevant information on the UN Harmony with Nature website as they consider ways to further build a knowledge network on sustainable development, the efforts of which will serve to produce a balanced paradigm for the planet and for people.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47620&Cr=Climate+change&Cr1=

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Long-term food production must factor in potential impacts of climate change

Print

23 April 2014 – Countries need to shift to more sustainable food systems to adapt to the effects of climate change, the Director-General of the United Nations Food and Drug Organization (FAO) José Graziano da Silva told a conference in Morocco today, warning that the phenomenon has the potential to reshape the planet’s food production scenario.

“Everything we do needs to take climate change into consideration,” Mr. da Silva stressed “and the time is now. We cannot afford to wait.”

In an address to the seventh Forum on Agriculture in Menkes, Morocco, the Director-General asserted that climate change has reintroduced “an element of uncertainty” – after decades in which hunger was mostly caused by the inability to produce or purchase food, rather than insufficient supplies globally.

“Climate change has the potential to reconfigure the planet’s food production scenario,” Mr. da Silva pressed.

The world’s poorest are particularly vulnerable. Mr. da Silva explained, that: “Not only do they have fewer means to react, but they also tend to live in already marginal production areas,” where the impact of climate change in agricultural production is felt to an even greater extent.

FAO’s Director-General pointed to recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that reflected these concerns and called for urgent action.

Noting that the United Nations had declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, Mr. da Silva also underscored family farming as a tool for rural development and stability.

“By providing adequate support to family farming we can combat food insecurity by reaching out to a group that is in itself vulnerable – and by increasing food supply where we need it the most,” he said.

He noted that some 500 million family farms account for about 80 per cent of the world’s holdings, yet also include many of the most vulnerable families globally.

“Climate change is a challenge faced by both large, modernized family farms as well as small-scale family farmers,” he emphasized.

Family farmers make up an estimated 70 per cent of all food insecure households in rural areas of developing countries. Linking productive support to social protection would help to jumpstart local and inclusive sustainable development.

“It cuts across a broad range of development priorities, including ending hunger, supporting sustainable production, reducing rural poverty, improving food markets and building resilience,” Mr. da Silva said.

The Director-General, the Moroccan Ministers of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries and of the Economy and Finance signed an agreement to support food security projects elsewhere in Africa through the FAO South-South Cooperation programme as an innovative initiative to combine Government and private sector funds.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47630&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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On Mother Earth Day, UN urges protecting planet from ‘heavy hand of humankind’

Print

22 April 2014 – On International Mother Earth Day, the United Nations is urging greater efforts to promote sustainable development and use of renewable energy sources, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealing for worldwide changes in attitude and practice to curb the negative impact of human activity on the planet.

“From tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries, from growing freshwater shortages to the rapid decline of biodiversity and increasingly polluted skies and seas in many parts of the world, we see the heavy hand of humankind,” said the UN chief.

As a part of the Organization’s efforts to drive home the importance of respecting and protecting the planet towards ensuring ‘the future we want’, the General Assembly is convening an interactive dialogue on “Harmony with Nature” to commemorate the International Day, marked annually on 22 April.

Following a high-level segment this morning, Member States, UN agencies and independent stakeholders will discuss in a series of roundtables ways to promote a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

In his message on the Day, which gives an opportunity to reflect on humankind’s relationship with the planet, Mr. Ban said: “The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food are part of a delicate global ecosystem that is increasingly under pressure from human activities.”

As such, and with a growing population, everyone must recognize that consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable. “We need a global transformation of attitude and practice. It is especially urgent to address how we generate the energy that drives our progress,” said the Secretary-General, emphasizing that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change, which increasingly threatens prosperity and stability in all regions.

“That is why world leaders have pledged to reach a global legal climate agreement in 2015.

He said that action on climate change presents multiple opportunities to “reset our relationship” with Mother Earth and improve human well-being, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. Sustainable energy for all can increase health, wealth and opportunity for billions of people, as can climate-smart agriculture, more efficient cities, and better managed and protected forests.

To generate ambitious action on the ground and raise momentum for a new climate treaty in 2015, Mr. Ban is convening a climate summit in New York on 23 September this year. He is inviting Heads of State and Government along with private sector and civil society leaders to showcase initiatives and forge alliances that can help launch a sustainable future.

“But, they need support and encouragement, for change is never easy. So today, on International Mother Earth Day, I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home,” said the Secretary-General.

General Assembly President John Ashe meanwhile called on the UN family to promote sustainable development and the use of renewable energy sources throughout cities and communities.

“As we look to promote the post-2015 development agenda, I call on Member States, civil society and other stakeholders to answer the call put forth in the 2009 UN resolution by the General Assembly to invest more in sustainable technology and to promote our ecosystems through global environmental public policies,” he said.

As the world confronted today’s unique sustainable development challenges, stakeholders’ understanding of the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations must be rooted in the most up-to-date scientific information.

“Our global strategy must promote sound environmental ethics, and continually emphasize humanity’s interconnectedness with nature,” said Mr. Ashe, looking forward to the Assembly’s discussions on the issue throughout the day.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47620&Cr=Climate+change&Cr1=

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Ahead of Sendai conference, Ban pushes for 2015 global agreement on disaster risk

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16 April 2014 – Disaster risk reduction and climate change are closely linked, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed, reiterating to the world community his key priorities through the next year as preparations continue for the 2015 world conference on reducing risk from natural disasters.

“The aim is simple: to leave a more resilient world to future generations,” Mr. Ban told high-level representatives of Member States attending a briefing on the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held next year in the Japanese city of Sendai.

The main item on that agenda is agreement on a new post-2015 global framework for disaster risk reduction which will succeed the current Hyogo Framework for Action created in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

In 2005, 168 countries endorsed the Hyogo Framework, under which they agreed to achieve by 2015 the substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries.

The 10-year plan “gave the world a common approach,” Mr. Ban said, leading to strides in monitoring risks, enhancing preparedness and improving early warning.

With the 2015 deadline approaching, calls for a new disaster management blueprint have been gaining traction.

In his remarks today, Mr. Ban called the agenda “an ambitious vision” and stressed that the new framework which participants will create should be based on “evidence, experience and aspirations.”

He noted that the three major UN goals for the year 2015 – meeting the anti-poverty goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), shaping a development agenda to build on their progress, and paving the way for a climate change agreement – are “closely tied” to the global disaster risk reduction framework.

“To achieve this, we must factor disaster risk into our broader discussions of the post-2015 agenda for sustainable development,” he noted, in reference to ongoing consultations which have been a priority for the UN General Assembly this year.

The next major UN-related events are due in September when Mr. Ban will convene a Climate Summit in New York to mobilize political will for next year’s climate agreement talks, and the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States which is to be held in Apia, Samoa.

“When we address the needs of small island developing States, we can drive progress around the world,” the top UN official said.

UN Member States agreed two years ago to support the 51 highly vulnerable small island developing States (SIDS) – a group that was politically recognized at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, underscored at a major international conference in Barbados in 1994 and again at a follow-up meeting in Mauritius in 2005.

The group of States share similar sustainable development challenges, including small but growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on international trade, and fragile environments.

The events in New York and Samoa will take place during the same month that the UN General Assembly will devote its annual high-level segment to deliberations on the sustainable development agenda beyond 2015, the deadline for the MDGs.

Mr. Ban also spoke personally about stories of survival he heard following Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, earthquakes in China and Haiti, the nuclear disaster in Japan, flooding across Pakistan and the current rehabilitation in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

Also attending today’s event is the head of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlström, who is also Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.

She is among the top UN officials active in preparations for the event in Sendai.

Over 8,000 people are expected to attend the world conference, including senior government officials, academics, civil society representatives and the private sector.

Sendai was chosen as a host city for the summit given the earthquake and tsunami which killed more than 15,000 people there in March 2011 and resulted in damages that were among the costliest in natural disasters throughout history.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47599&Cr=disaster&Cr1=

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