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10 years after Indian Ocean tsunami, Asia-Pacific region better prepared: UN

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22 December 2014 – Ten years after the Indian Ocean tsunami hit South and Southeast Asia, countries in the region are better prepared to deal with tragedies, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, while stressing that there is still room for improvement.

“A decade later, while events marking the remembrance of the tsunami recall the human tragedy, FAO examines the lessons learned in mitigating damage to agricultural livelihoods, food security and nutrition wrought by such natural and climatic events,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“What we and our member countries have learned and now see in place is impressive, but there is still more that can and should be done to prevent and mitigate disasters,” he added.

The world’s worst recorded natural disaster hit the Asia Pacific region in December 2004, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 people and leaving the livelihoods of some 1.4 million survivors in tatters as it destroyed entire food production systems on which whole populations depended.

Some of the countries worst affected by the Tsunami are now better prepared for disasters and better positioned to respond but a recent FAO-sponsored workshop with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) stressed additional actions that are needed to further increase resilience to disasters, largely due to the effects of rapid population increases and urbanization, together with eroded natural resource bases and climate change.

The workshop stressed the importance of building pro-active national and regional policy processes for disaster risk reduction and management and for improved data disaggregation on sectors and livelihoods affected. It also stressed the importance of knowledge and technology sharing to empower those most vulnerable and most at risk.

Combining that need with the importance of effective early warning systems, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) have partnered with the German Ministry contributing 250,000 euros to the ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness to add to an initial 500,000 euros contribution made in December 2013.

“ESCAP welcomes the renewed support of the German Government to strengthen early warning systems,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary. “Ten years after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, much has been achieved in strengthening resilience to disasters in the Asia-Pacific region; however, we need to continue to invest in preparedness and early warning, especially in high risk and low capacity least developed countries of the region.”

The German-ESCAP partnership is an example of the shift from reactive to proactive approaches, with the focus shifting from life-saving followed by recovery to anticipative, multi-hazard risk reduction with prevention and mitigation of natural disasters.

With 200 million people in Asia and the Pacific affected each year by a broad range of natural disasters between 2003 and 2013, and with the cost of those disasters averaging $34 billion each year between 2001 and 2010, the change in approach is essential.

Early disaster warning systems and clearly marked tsunami evacuation routes are evident in countries such as Thailand, which established a dedicated Government Department of National Disaster Prevention and Mitigation following the tsunami. In the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, flood protection dykes have been built and there is a nationwide early warning system for flooding.

“It’s clear that many countries in the region are now better prepared to reduce the risks and mitigate the damage of natural disasters such as tsunami and typhoons and protect their agriculture and food systems,” said Mr. Konuma. “The most recent example is Typhoon Hagupit that struck the Philippines earlier this month, where the authorities’ early warnings to farmers and fishers to take pre-emptive action helped ensure that the damage would be far less severe than a year earlier when Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the centre of the country.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49664

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Peru: UN experts warn indigenous peoples’ rights at risk if polluted land re-licensed

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15 December 2014 – Two United Nations human rights experts warned today against the proposed re-licensing of heavily polluted land in the Department of Loreto region of Peru, saying the move would perpetuate and exacerbate serious violations of human rights of indigenous peoples, including their right to health, food and water.

Victoria Tauli Corpuz and Baskut Tuncak, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, and for human rights and hazardous substances sounded their warning after the Peruvian Government’s decision on Monday to license further oil extraction from a heavily polluted block of oil-rich land, despite a signed agreement between the State-owned oil company and indigenous communities to clean up land and water contaminated by 44 years of oil spills.

“Peru has obligations to clean up the toxic oil spilled to protect the rights of people in the region, and to hold the companies accountable for their failure to respect human rights, before re-licensing the land and making an awful situation worse,” Mr. Tuncak stressed. “Companies extracting oil in this region have left behind a toxic mess with disregard for the rights of affected communities and laws of Peru.”

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Health, 98 per cent of children in the affected communities surpass the admissible levels of toxic metals in their blood. Pollution of food and water sources has also resulted in serious health problems.

In 2013 and 2014, the Peruvian Government declared environmental and health emergencies in the Department of Loreto following reports of oil spills in the area that contaminated the region’s lakes and rivers. Recent official studies show high levels of contaminants in water and soil.

“While the world looks on to Paris following the conclusion of the Lima Conference of Parties (COP20) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Peru must adopt measures to ensure remedy to such situations and to protect and respect the rights of indigenous peoples to their land, territories and resources and to consultation towards obtaining their free, prior and informed consent,” Ms. Tauli Corpuz stressed, recalling the recommendations made in 2013 by the previous UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples after his first country mission to Peru.

“The Peruvian Government needs to do more to protect their own citizens from environmental harm and prevent the recurrence of environmental emergencies affecting indigenous peoples,” she said.

The indigenous peoples affected have requested suspension of all new licenses until lands and waters and restored and damage is repaired. Those responsible for damages should face sanctions, they say. They also want their territories titled and a consultation process, and wish to participate in environmental monitoring.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49607

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COP20: Ban Ki-moon hails delegates for paving way to &#39meaningful&#39 climate agreement

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14 December 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the outcome of a United Nations-backed climate conference recently concluded in Lima, Peru, praising delegates for setting the groundwork for a more conclusive agreement to be reached in 2015, a spokesperson for the Organization today announced.

The UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), known also as Conference of the Parties (COP 20), concluded its 12-day meeting last Friday having brought together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in an attempt to hammer out a new universal treaty which would enter force by 2020. The final agreement is expected to be hashed out in Paris at the end of next year.

“The decisions adopted in Lima, including the Lima Call for Climate Action, pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015,” the UN spokesperson said in a statement. “The Secretary-General urges all Parties, at their first meeting in February next year, to enter into substantive negotiations on the draft text of the 2015 agreement coming from the Conference.”

In the statement, Mr. Ban applauded delegates for having made “important advances” in clarifying their needs for preparing and presenting their so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the new agreement and in “finalizing the institutional architecture for a mechanism on loss and damage.”

INDCs are the commitments countries are expected to make in order to keep average global temperature rise below 2ºC – the internationally-agreed limit aimed at staving off irreversible climate change.

Also in Lima, acknowledged the statement, the $10 billion goal for the initial capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund – the initiative designed to direct funding from developed nations to those developing countries most vulnerable to climate change – was surpassed.

The Secretary-General has long spotlighted the urgency of delivering a draft text providing a clear and solid foundation for the upcoming Paris negotiations, warning delegates during the Lima conference that “the more we delay, the more we will pay.”

During the final hours of the Conference, negotiations reportedly “stumbled” over difficult issues, such as how to differentiate the obligations and responsibilities of developing and developed countries, with frustration growing among many of the attendees.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, admitted that the two-week conference had, in fact, proven to be “very, very challenging” but she nonetheless praised the outcome as it had left “a range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation, alongside actions on forests and education.”

“With this COP and moving on to Paris, we cement the fact that we will address climate change,” she noted.

In his latest statement, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General called on all parties, especially the world’s major economies, to submit their “ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris” and added that the UN chief looked forward to working with both the Governments of Peru and France on a new Lima-Paris Action Agenda to “catalyse action on climate change to further increase ambition before 2020 and to support the 2015 agreement.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49600

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COP20: UN chief hails delegates for paving way to &#39universal, meaningful&#39 climate agreement

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14 December 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the outcome of a United Nations-backed climate conference recently concluded in Lima, Peru, praising delegates for setting the groundwork for a more conclusive agreement to be reached in 2015, a spokesperson for the Organization today announced.

The UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), known also as Conference of the Parties (COP 20), concluded its 12-day meeting last Friday having brought together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in an attempt to hammer out a new universal treaty which would enter force by 2020. The final agreement is expected to be hashed out in Paris at the end of next year.

“The decisions adopted in Lima, including the Lima Call for Climate Action, pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015,” the UN spokesperson said in a statement. “The Secretary-General urges all Parties, at their first meeting in February next year, to enter into substantive negotiations on the draft text of the 2015 agreement coming from the Conference.”

In the statement, Mr. Ban applauded delegates for having made “important advances” in clarifying their needs for preparing and presenting their so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the new agreement and in “finalizing the institutional architecture for a mechanism on loss and damage.”

INDCs are the commitments countries are expected to make in order to keep average global temperature rise below 2ºC – the internationally-agreed limit aimed at staving off irreversible climate change.

Also in Lima, acknowledged the statement, the $10 billion goal for the initial capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund – the initiative designed to direct funding from developed nations to those developing countries most vulnerable to climate change – was surpassed.

The Secretary-General has long spotlighted the urgency of delivering a draft text providing a clear and solid foundation for the upcoming Paris negotiations, warning delegates during the Lima conference that “the more we delay, the more we will pay.”

During the final hours of the Conference, negotiations reportedly “stumbled” over difficult issues, such as how to differentiate the obligations and responsibilities of developing and developed countries, with frustration growing among many of the attendees.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, admitted that the two-week conference had, in fact, proven to be “very, very challenging” but she nonetheless praised the outcome as it had left “a range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation, alongside actions on forests and education.”

“With this COP and moving on to Paris, we cement the fact that we will address climate change,” she noted.

In his latest statement, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General called on all parties, especially the world’s major economies, to submit their “ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris” and added that the UN chief looked forward to working with both the Governments of Peru and France on a new Lima-Paris Action Agenda to “catalyse action on climate change to further increase ambition before 2020 and to support the 2015 agreement.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49600

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Central America drought turning into humanitarian crisis, UN warns

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12 December 2014 – A prolonged drought in Central America is turning into a humanitarian crisis for nearly two and a half million people affected by food insecurity in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today.

Briefing the press in Geneva today, OCHA’s Jens Laerke said most of those affected are subsistence farmers, farm labourers and low-income families.

In Honduras and Guatemala, up to 75 per cent of maize and bean crop has been lost and thousands of cattle had died. In the coming months, food insecurity is expected to get worse as families deplete their food stocks.

In Guatemala, the Government declared a state of public calamity in 16 departments in August and by October, 30,000 families had finished their food stocks. Those families were today in deep distress, said Mr. Laerke.

In the so-called “dry corridor” in eastern Guatemala, a joint Government/UN/NGO (non-governmental organization) assessment found that one in four households suffered from moderate or severe malnutrition. Children under five, pregnant women and female-headed households are most vulnerable, said Mr. Laerke.

In Honduras the Government had declared a state of emergency in the drought affected western areas, as crop loss had reached up to 75 per cent. Assessments also found high levels of malnutrition in children under five. An emergency assessment in September found that nearly 20,000 children were malnourished as a consequence of the long drought, said Mr. Laerke.

In El Salvador, the Ministry of Environment and Natural resources had reported that the country was experiencing its worst drought since 1977. The authorities said that in hotspot areas in the eastern part of the country, more than 80 per cent of farmers reported that they have lost all of their crops.

Humanitarian Country Teams had drafted Emergency Response Plans in Honduras and Guatemala to support the Governments in dealing with this emergency and UN agencies were also supporting the Government in El Salvador.

Giving more details on the various appeals by affected countries, Mr. Laerke said in Honduras, the Government has appealed for international help. More than $13 million was needed for the Emergency Response Plan and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) had provided $2.6 million in funding.

In Guatemala, the Government had launched a $28 million Action Plan and was seeking $17 million in support. In El Salvador, UN agencies were also preparing to apply for funding from CERF.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49590

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‘The more we delay, the more we will pay,’ says Ban, urging action on climate

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11 December 2014 – The more action that is taken today on climate change, the more likely countries will push for stronger agreements tomorrow, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level meeting today at the UN Climate Change Conference, known also as the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20).

“The more we delay, the more we will pay,” warned Mr. Ban as he called on countries to deliver by closing tomorrow a draft text for the 2015 Agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations to be held next year in France.

“Actions now will set a strong foundation for Paris, and go hand-in-hand with our efforts to realize sustainable development,” the UN chief added.

COP 20, which opened on 1 December in Lima, Peru, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. The Conference wraps up tomorrow.

Reiterating that climate action and sustainable development are “two sides of the same coin,” Mr. Ban urged States to act to keep average global temperature rise below 2ºC – the internationally-agreed limit.

“We have been talking over the last two decades. Now it is time to begin real, serious negotiations based on a draft text,” the Secretary-General said.

“A non-paper is not an option. I urge all delegations to overcome all procedural matters and deliver a text with a formal status, so that the work of negotiating can begin in earnest at the February session. We don’t have a moment to lose,” he stressed.

Momentum could be based on the success of last September’s Climate Summit in New York, where leaders announced ambitious commitments and new coalitions came together to advance sustainable agriculture and energy efficiency, Mr. Ban said.

During that conference, CEOs also committed to sustainable supply chains that will help preserve the world’s forests and industry leaders in oil and gas, freight, and municipal waste all came forward with commitments as well.

The UN Chief also commended the “milestone” achieved this week when the Green Climate Fund reached its $10 billion monetary goal. But, he added, that amount remained “only a down payment” and the world needed to now ensure ready access to those funds for countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Credit: UNFCCC

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49583

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‘The more we delay, the more we will pay,’ says Ban, urginig action on climate

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11 December 2014 – The more action that is taken today on climate change, the more likely countries will push for stronger agreements tomorrow, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level meeting today at the UN Climate Change Conference, known also as the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20).

“The more we delay, the more we will pay,” warned Mr. Ban as he called on countries to deliver by closing tomorrow a draft text for the 2015 Agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations to be held next year in France.

“Actions now will set a strong foundation for Paris, and go hand-in-hand with our efforts to realize sustainable development,” the UN chief added.

COP 20, which opened on 1 December in Lima, Peru, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. The Conference wraps up tomorrow.

Reiterating that climate action and sustainable development are “two sides of the same coin,” Mr. Ban urged States to act to keep average global temperature rise below 2ºC – the internationally-agreed limit.

“We have been talking over the last two decades. Now it is time to begin real, serious negotiations based on a draft text,” the Secretary-General said.

“A non-paper is not an option. I urge all delegations to overcome all procedural matters and deliver a text with a formal status, so that the work of negotiating can begin in earnest at the February session. We don’t have a moment to lose,” he stressed.

Momentum could be based on the success of last September’s Climate Summit in New York, where leaders announced ambitious commitments and new coalitions came together to advance sustainable agriculture and energy efficiency, Mr. Ban said.

During that conference, CEOs also committed to sustainable supply chains that will help preserve the world’s forests and industry leaders in oil and gas, freight, and municipal waste all came forward with commitments as well.

The UN Chief also commended the “milestone” achieved this week when the Green Climate Fund reached its $10 billion monetary goal. But, he added, that amount remained “only a down payment” and the world needed to now ensure ready access to those funds for countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Credit: UNFCCC

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49583

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At Lima climate talks, UN launches new coalition to promote renewable energy

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10 December 2014 – The launch of a new coalition spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and focused on boosting renewable energy usage around the world was announced today as Member States head into the final three-day stretch of a major UN climate conference in Lima, Peru aimed at tackling the imminent threat of climate change.

Assembled amid an increase in global renewable energy initiatives and energy efficiency projects around the world, the 1 Gigaton Coalition was formed in response to a dearth in measurements and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions reductions which, UNEP explained, would help encourage the uptake of energy efficiency policies and renewable energy technologies.

In fact, according to the UN agency’s estimates, measurements of greenhouse gas emissions reductions would amount to about one gigaton a year by 2020, fully indicating the savings countries could make from the extensive usage of renewable energy.

“Our global economy could be $18 trillion better off by 2035 if we adopted energy efficiency as a first choice, while various estimates put the potential from energy efficient improvements anywhere between 2.5 and 6.8 gigatons of carbon per year by 2030,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated in a press release.

“To build the momentum and support required to achieve such savings, the climate and economic benefits of existing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects should be more widely recognized, instead of passing under the radar as they often do now,” he said.

UNEP spotlighted what it said was “significant evidence” of the financial rewards tied to energy efficiency. For instance, a global shift to energy-efficient appliances and equipment – from lighting and air conditioners to refrigerators and electric motors – would reduce overall electricity consumption by over 10 per cent saving $350 billion annually in bills and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 billion tonnes per year.

In addition, the agency said, new technologies spawned by the renewable energy sector also open up market opportunities and create new jobs. Between 2005 and 2014, employment in the renewables sector doubled from three million jobs to 6.5 million, according to estimates, providing greater incentives for Member States to confront the pressing challenge of climate change.

“Current and planned energy efficiency policies harness merely a third of the economically viable energy efficiency potential,” Mr. Steiner continued. “The 1 Gigaton Coalition will play a crucial role in making these contributions visible by measuring emissions reductions and reporting successes, thus building the case for scaling up of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49569

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‘Only by acting together’ will world transform climate challenge into opportunity – Ban

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10 December 2014 – Only by acting together will world leaders transform the climate challenge into an opportunity to fundamentally rethink how we grow our economies and create a safer, healthier, more liveable world, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“I look around and can clearly see efforts to create this alliance taking shape,” said Mr. Ban in his remarks to the Heads of State segment at the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, known also as the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20).

“That circle of action must continue to grow. Governments as well as business, finance, civil society, academia and all sectors must join forces,” he added.

COP 20, which opened on 1 December, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, which is the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. The Conference wraps up this Friday.

Last week, Mr. Ban presented to the General Assembly his report on the post-2015 agenda entitled “The Road to Dignity by 2030,” which today he said has been received with positive feedback from Member States.

“We can end poverty. Transform our economies. And protect both people and the planet. Poverty eradication and environmental sustainability go hand in hand,” the UN chief said.

But we cannot eliminate poverty and build sustainable economies without strengthening climate resilience and utilizing cleaner, safer sources of energy, he added. We cannot fully meet the climate challenge without enhancing prosperity, equity and environmental protection for all.

With the Lima Conference ending on Friday, Mr. Ban called for a draft negotiating text that can serve as the foundation for a meaningful, universal climate agreement next year in Paris.

This agreement needs to contribute to placing the world on a pathway that keeps average global temperature rise below 2ºC above the pre-Industrial stage – the safety threshold scientists say could prevent climate change from “spinning out of control.”

The Secretary-General said he was encouraged that yesterday the Green Climate Fund crossed the $10 billion initial capitalization goal and that the additional pledges from developing countries today have sent a “powerful signal to the world.”

“Let’s make Lima, COP 20, a place we write our history and we reaffirm our commitment to make this world better world for all,” he added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49571

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Ban urges Lima conference to agree draft text as basis for 2015 climate deal

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9 December 2014 – Urging the 20th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to “act now,” UN officials in Lima, Peru stressed today that fully tackling the impacts of man-made climate change requires a transformation – not mere “tinkering” with past agreements and pledges.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon delivered a message of “hope and urgency,” calling for increased momentum in global efforts. While Governments were responding in unprecedented ways and businesses and communities worldwide were also stepping up, he warned that “collective action does not match our common responsibilities.”

The Conference, which opened on 1 December and wraps up this Friday, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC – the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol – in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. Mr. Ban said he had five requests of all parties.

“First, we must deliver here in Lima a balanced, well-structured, and coherent draft text for the 2015 agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations next year in Paris,” he said, stressing the importance of a common understanding on the scope and status of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and calling particularly on major economies and developed countries, to submit their INDCs by the first quarter of 2015.

He continued, calling for tangible progress in solidifying the climate finance regime, including capitalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and leveraging of private finance, and stressed also the need to prioritize provision of adaptation support and resilience building, particularly for the most vulnerable.

“The GCF must deliver on its promise to balance support for adaptation and mitigation. Work on loss and damage must be accelerated and we must bring the National Adaptation Plans of developing countries to life by agreeing how they should be funded and implemented.”

He also stressed the importance of partnerships, urging Governments to take the lead on building frameworks and to cooperate with a broad range of actors, and he underlined the importance of ratification of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

“This is not a time for tinkering – it is a time for transformation,” he urged, drawing attention to the link between addressing manmade climate change and building more resilient, prosperous, and healthier societies, which was highlighted in his synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda.

“Investments in addressing climate change will propel gains in broader development goals. Conversely, investments made in development must be aligned with our climate aims,” he said.

President of the UN General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, echoed the Secretary-General’s words, warning that the world was moving towards a “tipping point.”

“Without immediate and concerted efforts, it will be impossible for the present and succeeding generations to achieve sustainable development,” he said.

Stressing the importance of mitigation measures to “step back from the precipice of catastrophic climate change consequences,” he underlined the need for collective, international political will to transform the current economic and social models into low carbon and ultimately climate neutral economies.

Expectations are high and time pressure demand those expectations be fulfilled, so he had scheduled a High Level Event on Climate Change for 29 June next year in New York. Taking place mid-way between COP 20 in Lima and COP 21 in Paris, the event sought to maintain momentum and complement UNFCCC negotiations.

Also pointing to high expectations, Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said the time had come to leave “incremental change” behind and steer the world toward a “profound and fundamental” transformation.

“Never before have we had such an opportunity, never before have we had such an urgency for transformation,” she said. “Ambitious decisions, leading to ambitious actions on climate change, will transform growth-opening opportunities instead of propagating poverty; safeguarding resources instead of depleting them; and valuing long-term stability over short-term volatility.”

She looked to the gathered ministers to guide negotiators towards a draft agreement that could be taken from Lima to Paris and to assume their “undeniable role as leaders of the urgent present and stewards of our shared future.”

It is not just about reductions in greenhouse gas emissions but also protecting the most vulnerable, alleviating poverty and creating a future with prosperity for all.

“Here in Lima, we must plant the seeds of a new, global construct of high quality growth, based on unparalleled collaboration bridging all previous divides,” she said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49554

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‘We will provide whatever is needed,’ UN pledges response to Philippines typhoon

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7 December 2014 – The United World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it is “working flat-out” to support the Philippines Government’s humanitarian response to Typhoon Hagupit which could possibly impact more than 30 million people.

“Food, trucks or satphones [satellite phones] – we will provide whatever is needed to help the people of the Philippines as this situation unfolds,” Praveen Agrawal, WFP Philippines Country Director said .

Supplies are being readied for deployment to Eastern Visayas and Bicol regions to rapidly assist in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Typhoon Ruby, which made landfall Saturday night.

WFP says it has its own food stocks in-country if government supplies need to be supplemented. This includes more than 260 metric tons (MT) of high energy biscuits, almost 4,000 MT of rice, and over 130 MT of ready-to-use supplementary food. These food stocks could provide assistance to about 1.8 million people for a two-week period.

Stocks have been strategically stored in Manila, Cebu, and Cotabato, and staff have been deployed to set up a base in Tacloban. Logistics equipment has also been put in place ahead of time in the potential operational areas.

Delivery of government supplies of food to affected communities as quickly as possible entails temporary warehousing space and land and sea transport, as well as information technology (IT) support such as radios, satellite phones and generator sets.

Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Country Team said today that shelter and protection issues concerning women and children will be a priority in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon.

Moving people to higher ground is a priority to ensure lives are saved and the Philippine Government has taken preventative steps by evacuating more than 600,000 people in the past 24 hours.

“We are standing by and fully prepared to assist the Government in the response, should they require it,” said Mr. Terence Jones, the acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

“We have experienced people in-country who responded to Typhoon Haiyan and who are available and prepared for the response,” he added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49535

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Earth at ‘tipping point,’ UN General Assembly President warns, urging climate reform

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8 December 2014 – Planet earth is “moving towards the tipping point” warned the President of the United Nations General Assembly at UN climate talks in Peru, where he called for world leaders to take urgent action towards a climate agreement that promotes socio-economic development in a sustainable manner.

Briefing reporters in Lima ahead of his address to the high-level segment of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Sam Kutesa said that climate change threatens the very existence of humankind.

“Our planet earth is warming. Greenhouse gases concentrations are on the increase. Snow is diminishing. Ice is also diminishing. Sea-levels are rising. Droughts are becoming longer and frequent. Floods and landslides are increasing,” Mr. Kutesa said.

“There is little doubt that human activity is primarily responsible for this. Inevitably, this calls for our collective urgent actions towards mitigation and adaptation,” he added.

COP 20, which opened on 1 December, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, which is the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. The Conference wraps up this Friday.

Calling the Lima Conference “a decisive step” toward achieving a universal, binding agreement in Paris in December 2015, Mr. Kutesa underscored the need to transform the current economic and social models into low carbon and ultimately climate neutral economies.

“I hope the outcome will be ambitious and that commitments will be bold,” he said.

On a related note, Mr. Kutesa said the General Assembly will soon start negotiations on the UN post-2015 development agenda.

“Our efforts towards addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental- clearly relate to what has brought us to Lima,” Mr. Kutesa added.

Mr. Kutesa also commended the Government of Peru for convening the conference and renewing global commitment to address climate change, which remains a top priority of this 69th Session of the General Assembly.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also expected to address the Conference tomorrow.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49545

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