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New UN report warns of ‘devastating’ effects from ongoing destruction of mangrove forests


29 September 2014 – The world is losing its mangroves at a faster rate than global deforestation, the United Nations revealed today, adding that the destruction of the coastal habitats was costing billions in economic damages and impacting millions of lives.

In a new report launched today at the 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, held in Athens, Greece, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned that the deforestation of the planet’s mangroves was exceeding average global forest loss by a rate of three to five times, resulting in economic damages of up to $42 billion annually and exposing ecosystems and coastal habitats to an increased risk of devastation from climate change.

“The escalating destruction and degradation of mangroves – driven by land conversion for aquaculture and agriculture, coastal development, and pollution – is occurring at an alarming rate, with over a quarter of the earth’s original mangrove cover now lost,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“This has potentially devastating effects on biodiversity, food security and the livelihoods of some of the most marginalized coastal communities in developing countries, where more than 90 per cent of the world’s mangroves are found,” he added.

The Executive Director noted that mangroves – which are found in 123 countries around the world – provide ecosystem services worth up to $57,000 per hectare per year, storing carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and providing the over 100 million people who live in their vicinity with a variety of goods and services such as fisheries and forest products, clean water and protection against erosion and extreme weather events.

Mr. Steiner stressed that their continued destruction “makes neither ecological nor economic sense.”

In addition to the economic problems posed by mangrove deforestation, the report, entitled The Importance of Mangroves: A Call to Action, also cautions that a continued reduction in the surface area of mangrove forests would inevitably expose coastal environments to the harmful effects of climate change.

In the Caribbean, for instance, mangrove-lined “hurricane holes” have functioned for centuries as safe-havens for boaters needing to ride out storms. Meanwhile, the complex network of mangrove roots can help reduce wave energy, limit erosion and form a critical barrier to the dangers posed by the strengthening tropical storms, cyclones and tsunamis which have been assailing coastal communities in recent years due to climate change.

In order to safeguard what UNEP calls “one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet,” the report outlines a number of financial mechanisms and incentives designed to stimulate conservation, including the creation of a Global Mangrove Fund, encouraging mangrove conservation and restoration through carbon credit markets, and promoting economic incentives as a source of local income from mangrove protection, sustainable use, and restoration activities.

Mr. Steiner admitted that it was important to present the survival of mangroves in real terms, underlining the economic impact their destruction would have on the local and global communities and pushing for greater international concern for their overall preservation.

“By quantifying in economic terms the value of the ecosystem services provided by mangroves as well as the critical role they play in global climate regulation, the report aims to encourage policymakers to use the tools and guidelines outlined to better ensure the conservation and sustainable management of mangroves.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48931

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In Republic of Korea, UN meeting tackles safe use of living modified organisms


29 September 2014 – Representative from governments, civil society and industry around the world today kicked off a five-day United Nations meeting in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to ensure the safe use of modified living organisms.

The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (or COP-MOP 7), is being held at the Alpensia Convention Center in Pyeongchang, and is expected to adopt decisions to ensure the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms – also known as LMOs – that may have negative effects on biodiversity.

LMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered using engineering techniques. These could include microorganisms such as bacteria, insects, plants, fish and mammals. LMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and they are also used in scientific research.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. The Protocol, named after the Colombian city where the final round of its negotiations was launched, was adopted in January 2000 and entered into force in September 2003. To date, 166 countries and the European Community are party to the Protocol.

In his opening statement, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, urged countries who have not yet done so to ratify the Protocol.

“Many Parties have taken steps to establish legal, administrative and other measures to implement their obligations under the Protocol,” he said, adding that countries must keep this momentum going as the use of LMOs continues to increase.

“The continuous growth in the development and use of LMOs requires a consolidation of the biosafety measures.”

Mr. Dias stressed that at the COP-MOP 7, countries will also have the opportunity to share their experiences in the implementation of the Protocol and discuss ways to better integrate biosafety into national development plans and programmes.

“The common denominator of our presence here is the theme for the meetings of the Convention and its Protocols – Biodiversity for Sustainable Development. Your discussions over the coming week will contribute to building a strong and vibrant Biosafety Protocol, which contributes to sustainable development.”

The meeting is the first of three major biodiversity meetings being held in Pyeongchang.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48934

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Faced with existential climate threat, small island nations sound climate alarm at UN


27 September 2014 – In their addresses to the United Nations General Assembly today, King Tupou VI of Tonga, Fijian Prime Minister Josaia V. Bainimarama, and Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu, all reaffirmed their commitment to the fight against climate change and for sustainable development amid growing environmental challenges for small island developing States (SIDS).

“We are cognizant that we must be ambitious and transformative in our approach to ensure tangible benefits for our people,” King Tupou, the first of the leaders from the region to address the Assembly said, in reference to the post-2015 development agenda, the environmental and anti-poverty targets now being crafted as a successor framework to the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are set to expire next year.

“Responsive access to financial resources is needed to cement the adoption of a meaningful Development Agenda and its full implementation,” he continued, adding that the recommendations put forward in the Intergovernmental Report of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “should be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda.”

“Without them,” King Tupou warned, “our joint aspirations for sustainable development and economic growth will not be achieved and we will be left behind.”

Turning to the growing threat of climate change, he reminded the gathered delegates that Tonga is ranked the second most vulnerable country in the world to natural disasters, according to the 2013 World Risk Report, and that such vulnerability had recently been made starkly clear in the wake of the Category 5 hurricane which struck the island nation causing one fatality.

“We support the call to urgently address the adverse impact of climate change,” King Tupou stated.

He noted that his country was “incrementally reducing its fossil fuel consumption” in order to mitigate the effects of the climate change threat and pressed the international community and the Security Council to act upon the growing implications of climate change on regional and global security.

In addition, King Tupou called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a Special Representative on Climate Change and Security “to research this linkage and report back to Member States.”

Prime Minister Josaia V. Bainimarama of the Republic of Fiji addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

In his address, Fijian Prime Minister Josaia V. Bainimarama similarly called on neighbouring Member States to urgently unite in the implementation of more sustainable and climate-friendly policies, while also criticizing industrialized nations for not doing more to reduce their impact on the environment.

“We need a more concerted effort to strengthen our regional institutions to confront the enormous challenges we face in the Pacific,” Commodore Bainimarama said as he listed population growth, the unsustainable use of the ocean’s natural resources and rising sea levels caused by climate change among the imminent existential threats facing the SIDS.

“History will judge the world’s major carbon emitters extremely harshly unless they take immediate and comprehensive steps to reduce emissions. It is simply not acceptable – purely in moral terms – for the world to allow the small island developing states to sink slowly beneath the waves because of the selfish determination of industrialised nations to protect their own economies,” he continued.

“Time is fast running out and I beg you all to act.”

Commodore Bainimarama also pointed to his own country’s transition to democracy, reminding those gathered in the Assembly that he “kept his promise” to the global community to introduce “the first genuine democracy in Fiji’s history.”

In celebrating his role as the “duly elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji,” he noted that although his country laboured for nearly four decades under “a system that was undemocratic, unjust and unfair,” it is now a “transformed nation.”

He indicated that his Government has passed into law a range of social and economic rights in compliance with UN conventions such as the right to economic participation, a just minimum wage, the right to education, housing, health and adequate food and water, and the right to live in an environment free from pollution which, he said, was a principle he hoped “every nation will embrace as we strive for the preservation and protection of our natural surroundings.”

“I am proud to report to you that Fiji is a fairer, more just society, and a more compassionate society as we step up our efforts to alleviate poverty on the back of a rapidly strengthening economy,” he declared.

Also speaking at the podium, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, also underscored the grave threat to his country posed by climate change and the consequent rising waters of the Pacific Ocean, adding that Tuvalu, like other island nations, was experiencing “unprecedented life threatening impacts from climate change.”

“Tuvalu’s security and survival and the future and human rights of its citizens are seriously being compromised,” he warned delegates in the Assembly. “We cannot continue along this path.”

Mr. Sopoaga urged the UN and Member States to “work harder to address the root causes” of the world’s ongoing crises which, he said, also stemmed from the aftereffects of environmental degradation and climate change. As a result, he suggested an “urgent need for reforms” in the UN Security Council and the expansion of the body’s agenda to include climate change as a central issue.

In addition, he reminded Member States that the entire global community must “step up and take commitments to reduce our emissions and support those that are vulnerable.” To that point, he underscored Tuvalu’s pledge to transforming the country’s electrical grid into one supplied by 100 per cent renewable energy by the year 2020.

“Unless we stop greenhouse gas pollution, we will have failed our future generations,” the Prime Minister concluded. “The future is ours to create. Let us be bold.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48912

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At meeting with Pacific island leaders, Ban urges progress on climate change fight


26 September 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded Pacific Island nations for their “strong position” on the sustainable development of the world’s oceans and underscored the United Nations’ continuing role in assisting the region’s small island developing states (SIDS) in their battles against climate change and in their transition to democracy.

In remarks delivered to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in New York, Mr. Ban said he was “impressed by the energy and determination of the peoples of the Pacific to confront and overcome our pressing challenges” of climate change, recalling that in his recent trip to the region, he visited a displaced community still reeling from the effects of a 2009 tsunami.

“It was a stark reminder of the effects of climate change,” Mr. Ban told the gathering, adding that he was “deeply encouraged” by the commitments, partnerships and pledges made by Member States at the recent UN Conference on SIDS, held in the Samoan capital of Apia.

In particular, the Secretary-General pointed to the Samoa Pathway, the Conference’s outcome document, formally known as the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway, stating that the agreement should be “high on the agenda” of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and the High-Level Political Forum.

In its 124 points, the Samoa Pathway includes actions for categories ranging from “sustained and sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth with decent work for all” to “climate change” and “health and non-communicable diseases.”

At the same time, Mr. Ban emphasized the importance of reaching a consensus at next year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, known as COP21.

“I am doing everything possible to press for the adoption of a meaningful, legal climate agreement next year,” he continued.

“And we are shaping a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the vulnerabilities and needs of all countries, including small island developing States.”

The Secretary-General also welcomed the recent elections held in Fiji on 17 September, applauding the Fijian people “for exercising their constitutional right to vote.”

“I hope this election will advance Fiji’s transition to democracy,” Mr. Ban said. “The United Nations fully supports this goal.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48875

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On World Maritime Day, UN urges ratification of conventions to protect global seaways


25 September 2014 – The implementation of measures ensuring shipping safety, maritime security and the protection of the marine environment can only be guaranteed if Member States ratify conventions enshrined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations officials said today.

Marking the annual observance of World Maritime Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon celebrated the IMO’s contribution towards making global shipping “progressively safer, more secure and more environment-friendly” through over 50 conventions aimed at safeguarding the world’s seaways.

But, he added in his message, the ratification and enforcement of the conventions was a key step forward in securing the application of these protections.

“The real value of those conventions can be fully realized only if they are properly implemented. This entails early entry into force, broad participation, effective policies and programmes, stringent oversight and vigorous enforcement,” Mr. Ban stated.

“I urge all concerned to strengthen their efforts to achieve the full and effective implementation of all IMO conventions,” he added.

The theme of this year’s World Maritime Day, the 37th to be observed, is IMO Conventions: effective implementation.

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu similarly underscored the importance of ratifying the conventions and warned that there were still several conventions for which “a slow pace of ratification and a lack of implementation are serious causes for concern.”

“A slow pace of ratification, a prolonged state of non-fulfilment of entry-into-force conditions, a lack of compliance oversight and of enforcement mechanisms all add up to ineffective implementation, which in turn prevents the benefits enshrined in IMO measures from being fully felt,” he stated in his message for the Day.

Pointing to those conventions which have occupied IMO efforts but have yet to enter into force, Mr. Sekimizu highlighted the Ballast Water Management Convention, the Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling, the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 to implement the Torremolinos Protocol on fishing vessel safety, the 2010 Protocol to the HNS Convention, and the Nairobi Convention on wreck removal.

“During the course of this year, our theme has enabled us to make genuine progress towards ratification, entry into force and implementation of all IMO conventions – but especially those which have yet to be widely accepted,” he continued.

“And this is what IMO is really all about.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48867

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Mayors at UN climate summit announce pledges towards major carbon cuts in cities


23 September 2014 – A compact of Mayors from cities around the world announced today that they will expand their commitments to scale up climate resilience efforts, energy efficiency programs and resilient financing mechanisms including through an initiative that aims to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 454 megatons by 2020.

According to a statement, these and other initiatives announced at Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit, aim to address the effects of development on the environment both in urban and rural areas.

This particular plan – known as the Compact of Mayors – brings together well over two thousands cities, including over 200 with specific targets and strategies for greenhouse gas reductions. Sixty per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030 and that figure increases to 70 per cent by 2050.

“From Rio to Seoul, mayors are already making great progress in fighting climate change and preparing their cities for its devastating impacts,” said Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes. “These announcements show the world that we are committed to transparent, easily accessible, emissions reporting.”

Other announcements including the City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance and a City Creditworthiness Partnership will also help the world’s cities to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 8 gigatons annually in 2050 – the equivalent of 50 per cent of global coal use.

National Governments can be more ambitious in their emissions reduction commitments, according to research recently unveiled by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Now is the time for nations to partner with cities as they create more ambitious climate targets over the next year, both to help the world avoid the worst impacts of climate change and to benefit millions of people,” said Mr. Bloomberg.

Today cities, banks, national governments and civil society organizations gathered at the Climate Summit to accelerate commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions. National Governments, including China, Germany and the United States, also announced their commitments.

The carbon Cities Climate Registry, the designated central repository of the Compact of Mayors, will serve as a platform for city climate data.

“Today’s announcements, including the Compact of Mayors and its standardized reporting process and public data portal, came out of an unprecedented collaboration among city networks,” said Seoul South Korea Mayor Park Won-soon.

About 20 public and private sector partners also united today to launch the City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance to generate trillions of dollars to invest in low-carbon and climate-resistant infrastructure in cities in low- and middle-income countries.

“This will allow increased capital to flow to cities, unblocking the transformational change needed to meet the challenge of climate change and contributing to the new urban agenda of cleaner, more resilient and environmentally sustainable cities,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos.

The World Bank and its partners are uniting to help 300 cities strengthen their creditworthiness to attract investors. This will help cities improve their financial management, which ultimately will boost their access to private capital.

Making cities climate-friendly is one of eight action areas identified as critical during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting held in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014. Other topics include agriculture and renewable energy.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48800

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At UN summit, plans announced to boost low-carbon, renewable energy in Africa, small islands


23 September 2014 – A new initiative announced today at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York is expected to reduce dependency on fossil fuels in eastern and southern Africa at a time when regional demand for electricity is estimated to at least double over the next quarter century.

A second initiative, also coordinated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), aims to deliver a cleaner energy mix for up to 4.7 million people on the frontlines of climate change in so-called small island developing States.

“These initiatives will help reduce emissions and contribute to improved health, wealth and opportunity, and a life of dignity for all,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is hosting as Climate Summit today in New York to mobilize resources and generate actions that will reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.

At the Summit, 19 ministers from Africa endorsed the Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC). If developed as planned, the initiative will advance the development of renewable energy projects used by the Eastern Africa Power Pool and Southern African Power Pool from its current 12 per cent to at least 40 per cent by 2030.

Four-fifths of all electricity in eastern and southern Africa is from gas, oil or coal. The switch away from carbon-bearing fossil fuels would save 2,500 metric tonnes of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions.

The combined effort will also diversify resource availability, improve energy security and foster investment opportunities and job growth.

“Cooperation on renewable energy deployment in the region would reduce generation costs by four per cent and nearly triple electricity supply, transforming the current energy mix of a large portion of the African continent,” according to a press release on the initiative.

Meanwhile, the Small Island Developing States Lighthouse Initiative pledges to mobilize $500 million within five years and deploy 100 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic capacity, consisting of new wind power, significant quantities of small hydropower and geothermal energy, and marine technology.

The Lighthouse Initiative was first introduced earlier this month at the UN Small Island Developing States Conference in Apia, Samoa.

It aims specifically to aid small islands which are disconnected from mainland electricity grids and vulnerable to fluctuations in the supply and cost of fossil fuels.

The initiatives based on identified action areas, were announced at the one-day Summit which Mr. Ban has called an “unprecedented and important gathering” of more than 120 Heads of States and Government, business, and civil society.

The Summit aims to raise ambition, mobilize resources, and generate action towards a universal climate deal that will be hammered out next year in Paris.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48790

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Governments, corporations pledge at UN summit to eliminate deforestation by 2030


23 September 2014 – Dozens of Governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples participating in the United Nations Climate Summit in New York today pledged to halve deforestation by 2020 and to end within the following decade.

“Forests are not only a critical part of the climate solution – they hold multiple benefits for all members of society,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an announcement about the initiative.

The New York Declaration on Forests, a non-legally binding political agreement, calls for the restoration of more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands, an area greater than the size of India.

Deforestation is a significant contributor to climate change. Trees, which store carbon, release it when they are burned during slash-and-burn land clearing of forests, for example.

If it works as expected, the initiative would avoid between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2030. That is equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars that are currently on the world’s roads.

“The New York Declaration aims to reduce more climate pollution each year than the United States emits annually,” Mr. Ban noted.

In support of the Declaration, 20 global food companies, most recently Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, announced their pledges to deforestation-free sourcing policies of palm oil.

The world’s largest palm oil companies – Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources and Cargill – also committed to work together to implement and join the Indonesian Business Council in asking incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo to support their efforts through legislation and policies.

Taken together, the share of palm oil under zero deforestation commitments has grown from 0 to about 60 per cent in the last year, with the potential to reduce up to 450 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2020. That is the equivalent of 2 billion tonnes in the period through 2020.

Among other announcements, 26 governors from Peru and Liberia presented new forest policies and pledged to cut deforestation by 80 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda and several other countries are set to make national pledges to restore more than 30 million hectares of degraded lands.

Also today, the Consumer Goods Forum, a coalition of 400 companies, called on Governments to pass a legally binding climate deal in Paris in 2015 that includes REDD+, including large-scale payments to countries that reduce deforestation.

More than 120 Heads of States and Government, business, finance and civil society representatives are today expected to announce commitments that will reduce emissions, enhance resistance to climate change and mobilize financing for climate action. They are taking part in Mr. Ban’s one-day Climate Summit at UN Headquarters.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48801

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Leaders at UN summit take steps to ensure food security for 9 billion people by 2050


23 September 2014 – With demand for food set to increase 60 per cent by 2050, world leaders, major corporations and civil society at the United Nations Climate Summit today pledged commitments to transform agricultural practices by increasing productivity while reducing carbon emissions.

“I am glad to see action that will increase agricultural productivity, build resilience for farmers and reduce carbon emissions,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he opened the meeting. “These efforts will improve food and nutrition security for billions of people.”

Nine billion people are expected to be living on the planet in 25 years and food production will need to spike in order to feed them.

Today, at the biggest climate conference in history, more than 20 Governments, and 30 organizations and companies announced they would join the newly launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, which aims to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture.

The countries joining represent millions of farmers, a quarter of the world cereal production, 43 million undernourished people and 16 per cent of total agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

Civil society organizations also committed to take action on the ground that “protect the poorest and most vulnerable farmers from climate change,” according to a joint statement released today.

While farmers, fishers, and foresters have already adapted to climate change through indigenous and scientific knowledge, they need investment and policy changes to better manage risk, forecast weather and better use natural resources.

The Global Alliance strives to achieve increases in agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes while simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ensuring people have access to quality food and nutrition is also a priority.

On a regional level, the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance- set up by the African Union- brings governments and civil society together to help about 25 million farming households across the continent practice climate-savvy agriculture by 2025.

“Africa is leading by example, and the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance will help ensure that the agriculture sector can continue to be an engine of economic growth and social development for all our people, even in the face of climate change,” said Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma, Chair of the African Union Commission in a statement.

A similar initiative in North-American will be launched in 2015 to help farmers adapt and improve resilience to climate change.

Major corporations are committing to the cause as well. Walmart, McDonald’s and the Kellogg Company have committed to increase the amount of food in their supply chains that are produced with climate-smart approaches – an important step to curb carbon emissions.

Walmart, the world’s largest grocery store, sells 70 million tonnes of food annually. McDonald’s buys two per cent of the world’s beef, a major source of agricultural greenhouse gas production.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank also announced today that 100 per cent of their agricultural investment portfolios – about $11 billion – would be climate-smart by 2018.

And the World Food Programme (WFP) expanded its R4 Rural Resilience Initiative to empower food insecure rural households in Malawi and Zambia.

These pledges come on the heels of the Secretary-General’s plea to keep global temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius by reducing emissions, moving money, pricing pollution, and strengthening resilience.

Agriculture is just one of eight action areas identified as critical during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting held in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014. Others include sustainable urban public transport and investment in renewable energy.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48802

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At summit, UN agencies pledge action to curb climate change


23 September 2014 – Joining the chorus of Government, businesses, civil society and indigenous leaders at today’s landmark Climate Summit at Headquarters, United Nations agencies pledged action to help curb the effects of climate change and transition towards a sustainable world economy.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced a new initiative to accelerate the transition to more efficient appliances and equipment to reduce global energy demand, mitigate climate change and improve access to energy.

The plan aims to bring together inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, appliance and equipment manufacturers, utilities, international development banks and financial institutions, to provide tailored assistance to governments on how to facilitate the permanent transition to energy-efficient products.

As in most developing countries and emerging economies, the demand for energy-consuming products is increasing rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean due to the fast growing urban population. In Paraguay, the stock of domestic refrigerators will double by 2030. In Panama, the stock of air conditioners is expected to increase by 400 per cent over the same period.

A worldwide shift to energy-efficient appliances would reduce global electricity consumption by more than 10 per cent, saving $350 billion annually in electricity bills and reducing global CO2 emissions by 1.25 billion tonnes per year.

Another UNEP initiave , announced today said that a group of leading institutional investors – including two of the largest asset managers, and pension funds in Europe – have joined forces with the UNEP and its Finance Initiative (FI), to substantially reduce the carbon footprint of $100 billion of institutional investment worldwide.

Having a critical mass of institutional investors decarbonize their portfolios will send a strong and unequivocal signal to carbon-intensive companies that carbon-efficiency is now centre stage.

The Coalition will reach out to institutional investors worldwide and it will be aided by the largest global network of investors focused on sustainable development – the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) – as well as other relevant networks.

Meanwhile, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Dell computers said today that they signed an agreement to find a sustainable solution for e-waste management for developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Developing countries are expected to account for the majority of discarded electronics by 2016, and twice that of developed regions by 2030. The aim of this agreement is to create awareness, an economically viable collection method, and process e-waste in an environmentally safe way.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48803

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First-ever indigenous peoples’ world conference concludes with focus on climate


23 September 2014 – With climate change taking centre stage at the United Nations, the first ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples wrapped up today with a focus on Mother Earth and the future of the planet.

“Issues related to territory, our natural resources, territories, seas, rivers, are today like the soul of indigenous rights,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú told UNTV and UN Radio.

Ms. Menchú, an indigenous Guatemalan activist, said that for indigenous peoples this week’s events are a sign of hope towards a “full life and not just survival.”

Convened as the first high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly’s 69th session, the two-day World Conference brought together over a thousand indigenous and non-indigenous delegates to discuss the realization of their rights, including pursuing the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007.

The Conference yesterday approved an Outcome Document strengthening the rights for more than 370 million indigenous people worldwide.

“We have set an important precedent with regard to our rights. The dream is that it will allow us to have a prosperous life for all the peoples benefited by this day,” Ms. Menchú said.

Addressing the closing session today, the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, called the Outcome Document “a balance” between the collective, inclusive action of the indigenous people and an agreement from the Member States.

“I am convinced that its action-oriented provisions, when implemented, will bring about sweeping changes for current and future generations of indigenous peoples,” Mr. Kutesa said, urging representatives to “do your part to keep the momentum of our discussions moving forward.”

The Outcome Document also focuses on the rights of indigenous women and addressed the problem of violence against women, which he said “must be at the top of the agenda.”

He noted also references in the text to youth and the challenges they face, from the difficulty in sustaining indigenous languages to preserving traditional knowledge and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.

Also today, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) called for greater support to the economic and social empowerment of indigenous peoples.

While indigenous people account for five per cent of the world’s population, they make up 15 per cent of those living in poverty.

“Unless we mainstream the rights of indigenous peoples, unless we are serious about their empowerment, unless we work with them as equal partners – then any global development agenda we conceive will be a hollow exercise, empty because it will not reach the most disadvantaged,” said IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze.

The second day of the World Conference is being held in parallel with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit.

More than 120 Heads of States and Government, business, finance and civil society representatives are participating in the one-day event which aims to raise ambition, mobilize resources, and generate action towards a universal climate deal next year in Paris.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48804

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Ban hails ‘bold’ announcements on tackling climate change as historic UN summit closes


23 September 2014 – Bold new actions to immediately tackle climate change were announced today by Government, business, finance and civil society leaders attending a historic Climate Summit convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has long urged workable solutions based on “clear vision anchored in domestic and multinational actions.”

“Today was a great day – a historic day. Never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change,” Mr. Ban said, summing up the day-long event,which drew a unique mix of international players who announced their vision and commitment for reaching a universal and meaningful climate agreement in 2015, as well made announcements on actions that will reduce emissions, enhance resistance to climate change and mobilize financing for climate action.

“The Summit delivered,” declared the UN chief, noting that leaders had reaffirmed determination to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius by cutting emissions. And many, from all regions and all levels of economic development, advocated for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, decisively reduced emissions thereafter, and climate neutrality in the second half of this century.

On finance, the Secretary-General said public and private sources showed the way forward for mobilizing the needed resources. Leaders expressed strong support for the Green Climate Fund. And a total of $2.3 billion was pledged towards the Fund’s initial capitalization today, and others committed contributions by November 2014.

“A new coalition of Governments, business, finance, multilateral development banks and civil society leaders announced their commitment to mobilize upwards of $200 billion for financing low-carbon and climate-resilient development,” he said, adding that private banks announced they would issue $20 billion in “Green Bonds” and that they would double the market to $50 billion by 2015, next year.

As for carbon pricing, “one of the most powerful tools available for reducing emissions and generating sustainable development and growth”, Mr. Ban said that many Government and business leaders supported putting a price on carbon through various instruments and called for intensified efforts to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Some 30 companies had announced their alignment with the Caring for Climate Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing.

Among the day’s other highlights, he said the Summit had heard how strengthening resilience – both climate and financial – is a smart and essential investment. Adaptation needs are growing, particularly for the least developed countries and small island developing States, which are most at risk and need most international support.

Finally, he spotlighted that “new coalitions are forming to meet the full scope of the climate challenge,” and citied the first Global Agricultural Alliance which was launched today to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture by 2030.

Leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020.

“A new Compact of Mayors, representing 200 cities with a combined population of 400 million people, pledged new commitments to reduce annual emissions by between 12.4 and 16.4 per cent,” added the Secretary-General, telling delegations that those highlights would serve as his Chairman’s Summary, which would be distributed soon to Member States.

Looking ahead, Mr. Ban urged the participants to maintain the spirit of compromise and commitment that characterized the discourse at the Summit. “We must fulfil and expand on all the pledges and initiatives brought forward today.”

As the international community walked together on the road to Lima and Paris (milestone meetings of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in December 2014 and 2015, he said “let us look back on today as the day we decided – as a human family – to put our house in order to make it liveable for future generations. Today’s Summit has shown that we can rise to the climate challenge.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban already welcomed specific commitments made by specific countries, including “generous pledges’ of $1 billion each by President François Hollande of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

He noted that The European Union pledged to adopt the 40 per cent emissions reductions target this October, Grenada called for all island states to go 100 per cent renewable, and China announced that it will peak its emissions as soon as possible and double its support for the South-South Cooperation.

“We have heard significant pledges of finance and resources,” he said. “Finance is the enabler of what we want to achieve. This morning, you have acknowledged its crucial importance. Private finance is out there, and public finance can be the lever to access it.”

Addressing the special mid-day wrap up session, United States President Barrack Obama said that of all the immediate challenges world leaders were set to address this week during the General Assembly’s high-level segment – terrorism, inequality disease – there is one issue that would define the contours of the current century more than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.

United States President Barack Obama, speaks at the UN Climate Summit 2014. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon adressing the Climate Change Summit 2014, 23 September 2014. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The Head of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Head of Iraq during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The Head of State of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The Head of State of Uganda during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The Head of State of Croatia during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The Head of State of Chile during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The Head of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

François Hollande, President of France, speaks at the UN Climate Summit 2014. UN Photo/Cia Pak

The Head of State of Turkey during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The Head of Government of the United Kingdom during the National Action and Ambition Sessions of the Climate Change Summit. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

“Indeed … deepening scientific evidence says this once distant threat has moved firmly into the present; no nation is immune,” he said, underscoring that “the climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. The alarm bells keep ringing. Our citizens keep marching. We cannot keep pretending we do not hear them. We have to answer the call.”

The mid-day segment was also addressed by Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania and Coordinator of the Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change; Baron Waqa, President of Nauru and Chair of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS); and Zhang Gaoli, Vice-Premier of China.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48806

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