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Agriculture in Caribbean vital to economic growth, sustainable development, says UN official

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27 February 2015 – The head of the United Nations agriculture agency underlined yesterday the huge importance of agriculture and farming to countries of the Caribbean during an address to Heads of Government at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit in the Bahamas.

“Strengthening agriculture and increasing support to small-scale and family farming will help ensure greater sufficiency in local food production, protecting your economies from external price shock,” the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, told the audience, noting the need to meet challenges like climate challenges and to create jobs, particularly for youth.

Mr. Graziano da Silva described agriculture and family farming as “drivers of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development,” and noted how they can create new employment opportunities and be linked to the tourism industry, an important source of revenue for many Caribbean countries.

He stressed also the substantial progress made through efforts made in the past two decades by CARICOM members to combat hunger and malnutrition, with Barbados, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname among the 70 developing countries to have already met the Millennium Development Goals hunger target of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015.

“Let´s be inspired by these success stories, because a lot remains to be done,” he told the assembled leaders, continuing to note that hunger is only one of the faces of malnutrition, with obesity, which affects over 500 million adults, the other extreme of poor nutrition.

“This is an issue of concern in the Caribbean and FAO is assisting CARICOM countries design and implement strategies, policies and plans of action that tackle the multiple dimensions of malnutrition,” he said, pointing to Action Plans already approved in Belize, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia, and awaiting approval in most remaining countries of the region.

On several efforts to boost security, South-South cooperation was prominent, with Brazil having developed a strong cooperation programme focusing on food security and nutrition, supporting and linking family farming to the provision of school meals, and several other cooperative initiatives in place to protect food production, such as Cuba’s assistance in the fight against the Black Sigatoka banana plague.

Pointing to food price increases that were impacting food import bills for CARICOM countries, he noted also the particular vulnerability of countries in the region to extreme events like hurricanes, and the impact of climate change, which increased the frequency, violence and unpredictability of such events and heightened the threat posed to the region’s agriculture, food security and sustainable development.

Mr. Graziano da Silva said the FAO was working with governments and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to build resilience, strengthen capacities and mobilize resources to deal with the impact of natural disasters.

“In few places is the impact of climate change so evident as in Small Island Developing States. For SIDS, climate change is not just an urgent issue. It is a question of survival,” he said. “FAO is here to work with you to be a partner in the road to achieving sustainable development.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50198

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Natural disasters in Asia and Pacific impact some 80 million people, new UN study shows

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25 February 2015 – When leaders and decision makers from across Asia and the Pacific gather next month in Japan to discuss how to reduce disaster risks, their top priority will be to build resilience in a region that saw some 80 million people affected and nearly $60 billion in economic losses incurred by natural disasters last year.

That’s according to Natural Disasters in Asia and the Pacific: 2014 Year in Review report released today by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The report said that more than half of the world’s 226 natural disasters occurred in the Asia and Pacific region last year.

And although it was a year without a single large-scale catastrophe caused by an earthquake or tsunami, the region experienced severe storms, cross-border floods and landslides, which accounted for 85 percent of all disasters, it said.

In addition, more than 6,000 fatalities were caused by natural disasters, compared to 18,744 deaths in 2013, and an estimated 79.6 million people were affected by natural disasters across the Asia and Pacific, according to the report.

Economic losses owing to natural disasters in 2014 also remained high, amounting to some $59.6 billion, highlighting the lack of economic resilience in the region, said the report, which presented a diagnostic analysis of the region’s state of resilience and lessons learnt.

The report noted that the highest economic losses in Asia and the Pacific were incurred from river-basin floods ($16 billion) and Cyclone HudHud ($11 billion) in India, followed by the Ludian earthquake in China ($6 billion), and the tropical cyclones Lingling and Kajiki in Japan ($5.2 billion).

The region was found largely unprepared in its response to cross-border floods and landslides, according to the report.

“Such disasters, which may very well be on the rise because of climate change, require improved regional information exchanges and the joint coordination of operations for effective early warning and evacuations,” it said. “The report calls for strengthened regional cooperation to address cross-border disasters.”

ESCAP noted that its findings show how preparedness for severe storm events through effective early warning systems has significantly reduced death tolls.

“One important lesson from 2014 is that end-to-end early warning systems save lives,” Shamika Sirimanne, Director of ESCAP’s Disaster Risk Reduction Division, was quoted as saying.

ESCAP said that leaders and decision-makers across Asia and the Pacific are preparing to finalize a new global framework for disaster risk reduction, which will succeed the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action, at a conference to be held next month in Sendai, Japan, expected to attract around 8,000 participants.

“The lessons from 2014 clearly show that building resilience remains a key priority in protecting lives and assets in the Asia and the Pacific,” it said.

The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is the first plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50179

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FEATURE: Climate change and sustainability key to future development agenda, says former UN official

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24 February 2015 – As United Nations Member States come together to launch the future sustainable development agenda, 2015 seems set to be a year of momentous change for the international community.

This year marks the end of implementation of the landmark UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which world leaders agreed on 15 years ago in an effort to tackle poverty and climate change and to pave the way towards a more gender equal global society. The new targets, to be known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are defining the way forward on the world’s most pressing issues until the next critical deadline in 2030.

Overall, there has been significant progress in meeting the MDG targets. Global poverty has been halved well ahead of the 2015 deadline; in developing countries, 90 per cent of children now enjoy primary education; the number of people lacking access to improved drinking water has halved; and the fight against malaria and tuberculosis has shown results.

Nonetheless, numerous challenges persist. Globally, 73 million young people are looking for work and many more are trapped in exploitative jobs. In recent years, more than two and a half million more children in affluent countries fell into poverty, bringing the total above 76 million.


Worldwide, an estimated 805 million people are chronically undernourished. Since many persons with disabilities live in absolute poverty, these two large populations overlap to a considerable extent, making food security of utmost importance. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Meanwhile, children and adolescents continue to bear the brunt of some of the world’s deadliest conflicts. In Nigeria last April, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram. In Pakistan in December, terrorists killed 132 children at school and on the same day in Yemen, more than a dozen schoolgirls were killed in a car bombing. Children are at risk in the Central African Republic, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan.

As the UN moves forward with the SDGs, questions inevitably remain: how will the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda differ from its predecessor? What are the challenges that lie on the road ahead? And what is needed to make a new sustainable development agenda work?

Enter Sir Richard Jolly: a towering octogenarian whose nimble reflections on the UN’s post-2015 agenda have lent context to what is destined to be a critical pivot year for global development. In fact, there are few UN experts around who boast an institutional memory as prodigious as Mr. Jolly’s or who have such a fine grasp of the Organization’s own development agenda. A former Assistant Secretary-General, holding senior positions at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Mr. Jolly was also the architect of the widely celebrated Human Development Report as well as the author of some 20 books spanning everything from the UN’s history to the resilient successes of UN ideas.

During his visit to UN Headquarters in New York last month, Mr. Jolly broke down the elements of the UN’s momentous shift in development, noting that while the MDGs had established an initial consensus on what the development goals for the 21st century should be, the SDGs remained “fundamentally” and “strategically” different, expanding upon the MDGs and reframing the agendas and policies for the next decade and a half.

“The SDGs are universal, which is a major advance,” explained Mr. Jolly in a recent interview with the UN News Centre. “Instead of the North speaking to the South, we’re now really recognizing that all countries need to take action for all peoples. Secondly, the SDGs are integrating sustainability and climate change. That again is a fundamental shift from the MDGs that I think was very important.”


Sustainable development goals. Credits: Sustainable development goals UN website

Climate change in focus

The 17 new SDGs, crafted by a working group of the 193-member UN General Assembly and expected to be adopted by world leaders in September 2015, have pushed sustainability and the fight against climate change to the forefront of the UN agenda. Twelve of the 17 goals underscore the importance of sustainable development in key areas, from urban planning to economic growth, while acknowledging the need to take “urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” across the planet.

“With respect to climate change, the evidence is becoming so overwhelming that last year was the hottest year ever recorded in Britain and ever recorded in the world,” Mr. Jolly said. “Gradually, people are beginning to see these problems despite the naysayers.”

In early February, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) once again confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year on record and part of a larger climate trend of devastating weather patterns and increasing temperatures.

High sea temperatures contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others. Twelve major Atlantic storms battered the United Kingdom in the early months of 2014, while floods devastated much of the Balkans throughout May. The monthly precipitation over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014, meanwhile, was 301 per cent above normal – the highest since area-averaged statistics began in 1946.

At the same time, crippling droughts have struck large swathes of the continental United States, while north-east China and parts of the Yellow River basin did not reach half of the summer average, causing severe drought. The brutal reality of the changing global climate was brought into clearer perspective when the WMO also pointed out that 14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century.

“I think there is the recognition that some global action on climate change, though probably implemented nationally and with a rather weak international agreement, is going to happen,” Mr. Jolly added.


Despite progress with the MDGs, many challenges remain. Children and adolescents, for instance, continue to bear the brunt of some of the world’s deadliest conflicts. Children remain at risk in Ukraine, the Central African Republic, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan. Photo: UNHCR/B. Kinashchuk

Challenges ahead

Mr. Jolly’s sober assessment is built on the restrained engagement of global stakeholders on issues of sustainability caused, in large part, by the massive 2008 financial crisis that crippled economies and plunged millions of people into unemployment. The UN’s pivot year on development, in fact, comes with numerous Member States still reeling from the crisis’ after-effects, prompting Mr. Jolly to warn that international action had suddenly become “tragically weak” amid a “narrow-minded” and “un-UN-like” international perspective.

“I think it is right to look at the failures of the industrial countries at the moment because to my mind they are very cautious. After a brilliant 2009 G20 meeting which really did look at the need for global action, all the actions agreed on internationally then fell apart for political reasons,” he stated. “I think it’s a major, major challenge.”

In addition, notwithstanding the gains made by the MDGs, economic problems continue to plague many across the globe and pose potential problems for the SDG roll-out.


Currently, some 770 million people worldwide lack access to an improved water source and 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation. The UN has long urged countries to collaborate on increasing access to clean water and sanitation and improve water management for irrigation and productive uses, which has the potential of lifting millions out of poverty and hunger. Photo: UNDP Niger/Rabo Yahaya

Mr. Jolly observed, however, that the continuing work to reach development goals had boosted awareness of poverty, prompting the need for national and international bodies to take action which, he said, was a “positive.”

“On the whole, most governments and the international system have understood human goals, and human poverty reduction and human advances. That is just extraordinary,” the former UN official acknowledged.

“So, the SDGs and the MDGs have historical significance that is very impressive and important to recognize. And, I would add that sustainability and climate change are making people realize there is a single global system. That again is an extraordinary positive.”


Today’s generation of youth is the largest the world has ever known. Most of those young people live in developing countries and face numerous challenges: an estimated 75 million youth are unemployed globally; a large number of young people are affected by war and conflict; others suffer widespread lack of access to education and other services. “Put simply, young people deserve a better deal,” UNDP chief, Helen Clark, has said. “And let’s hope the post-2015 development agenda delivers that.” UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Mr. Jolly made no forecast for the success of the SDGs but he did admit that as the international community devotes the next 15 years to realizing them, the mobilization of global support and awareness alone would qualify as a paramount achievement.

“That’s what I would define as success,” he concluded. “The more people know about them and change expectations, the better.”


14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century, fuelling the expectation that global warming will continue given that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the increasing heat content of the oceans are committing the planet to a warmer future. Photo: UNDP

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50165

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2015 pivotal for finalizing universal climate change agreement, Ban tells Member States

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23 February 2015 – This year is pivotal for global action on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in New York, emphasising that all the major advances of 2014 have set the stage for success in 2015.

“Our challenge now is clear: to finalize a meaningful, universal agreement on climate change,” Mr. Ban told Member States at a briefing on relevant progress as momentum builds towards a meeting to be held in Paris this December, when leaders are expected to reach a landmark treaty.

“Addressing climate change is essential for realizing sustainable development. If we fail to adequately address climate change, we will be unable to build a world that supports a life of dignity for all,” the Secretary-General warned.

Joining Mr. Ban at the briefing was President of the UN General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, as well as the Permanent Representatives of Peru and France, who organized the gathering.

Today’s briefing follows the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), held in Lima, last December where Member States reached the “Lima Call for Climate Action”, paving the way for a new, ambitious and universally-binding climate agreement to be adopted in Paris (COP21) this December.

Talks in Lima are also said to have contributed to furthering negotiations during last week’s Geneva Climate Change Conference, where Parties also delivered a comprehensive and balanced text.

“Recent months have seen strong progress on climate change. At the Climate Summit I convened last September, I said we needed ‘all hands on deck.’ I am pleased to say that this is indeed what happened: Governments, along with leaders of finance, business and civil society, came together to announce significant new actions that can reduce emissions and strengthen resilience,” said Mr. Ban.

The Secretary-General’s September Summit also catalyzed “much-needed momentum” on climate finance. Public and private sector leaders pledged to mobilize over $200 billion by the end of 2015 to finance low-carbon, climate-resilient growth. And in Lima, in December, Parties built on earlier announcements by the European Union, China and the United States to reduce their emissions. They also launched the Lima Paris Action Agenda and pledged the $10 billion needed for the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund.

The Secretary-General underscored that 2015 is particularly crucial for several landmark meetings: COP21 in Paris in December to adopt a universal text on climate change; UN special summit in September to adopt a global development agenda; financing for development conference in July in Addis Ababa, to renew commitment to global development; and next month’s gathering in Sendai, Japan, to strengthen framework on disaster risk reduction.

To that end, Mr. Ban urged all pledging countries to deliver their contributions as soon as possible. “Climate finance is critical, not only for catalyzing action, but for building the political trust needed to reach a universal agreement in Paris,” he said, emphasizing that developed countries need to set out a clear trajectory for achieving the goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020. And resilience must be strengthened, especially in the small island states and least developed countries.

“We have no time to waste, and much to gain by moving quickly down a lower-carbon pathway. All countries must be part of the solution if we are to stay below the 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise threshold,” the Secretary-General said.

Also delivering remarks today, Assembly President Kutesa called on Member States to build on the “constructive spirit” that prevailed in Lima and Geneva to reach consensus on both the content and the legal nature of the final agreement.

“To successfully reach this objective, strong and sustained political will is of vital necessity,” he added, reiterating that climate change is one of the key priorities of his 69th General Assembly: a session which is striving to shape the post-2015 development agenda, financing for development, as well as a new global framework on disaster reduction.

Negotiations for all these pertinent issues must be “mutually reinforcing,” Mr. Kutesa explained, noting that his high-level event on climate change to be held on 29 June is an opportunity to ensure the necessary focus and momentum are maintained. “I encourage Member States to participate in this event at the highest political level to convey a strong message on the critical importance of the negotiation process.”

The international community must demonstrate its commitment toward delivering a final agreement in Paris that improves lives, promotes achievement of sustainable development, protects the environment and preserves our planet’s integrity, he added.

“As we make the final push toward Paris, it is abundantly clear that expectations are high. The world is watching with great anticipation to see how we respond to this historic opportunity to shape the future of our planet,” Mr. Kutesa emphasized.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50151

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Drought-stricken Cape Verde to receive urgent assistance from UN agriculture agency

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18 February 2015 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced that it will provide urgently needed food crop seeds, animal feed and drip irrigation equipment to help thousands of people in drought-stricken Cape Verde, while also helping to build resilience and make agriculture less dependent on unpredictable rains.

An agreement for $500,000 for urgent assistance to assist people whose food security and livelihoods are at risk following a sharp fall in crop production due to drought was signed by Cape Verde’s Prime Minister, José Maria Pereira Neves, and FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, during a meeting in Rome.

Cabo Verde experienced 65 percent less rain in 2014 compared to the previous year and some 30,000 people need urgent assistance, with many of the most vulnerable households having lost all or a large part of their cereal crops in eight of the country’s most affected islands. The emergency intervention aims to assist 8,237 rural households which are most vulnerable to the impact of drought.

Estimates from a FAO assessment mission carried out last month indicated the output from maize crop at some 1,000 tonnes. This represents the lowest level of production ever recorded in the country, and one which follows a steep downward trend over the last few years.

“This is an extremely important agreement that will not only allow us to face the current drought, but also help to create conditions to build a sustainable agriculture in Cabo Verde,” Mr. Pereira Neves said.

Building on previous experience aimed at improving the use of the country’s scarce water resources, and with a view to strengthen resilience capacities, drip-irrigation kits will be distributed.

Considering that the production of livestock fodder was also found to be very seriously affected by the low rain levels, putting thousands of animals at risk, emergency distribution of animal feed will also be provided to 668 livestock breeding households, said FAO.

In line with one of its strategic objectives, FAO is committed to building the resilience of agricultural systems and agriculture-dependent livelihoods to threats and crises. Making agriculture production less dependent on highly variable and unpredictable rainfalls is particularly crucial in an effort to build resilience in Cabo Verde.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50115

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Drought-stricken Cape Verde to receive rugent assistance from UN agriculture agency

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18 February 2015 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced that it will provide urgently needed food crop seeds, animal feed and drip irrigation equipment to help thousands of people in drought-stricken Cape Verde, while also helping to build resilience and make agriculture less dependent on unpredictable rains.

An agreement for $500,000 for urgent assistance to assist people whose food security and livelihoods are at risk following a sharp fall in crop production due to drought was signed by Cape Verde’s Prime Minister, José Maria Pereira Neves, and FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, during a meeting in Rome.

Cabo Verde experienced 65 percent less rain in 2014 compared to the previous year and some 30,000 people need urgent assistance, with many of the most vulnerable households having lost all or a large part of their cereal crops in eight of the country’s most affected islands. The emergency intervention aims to assist 8,237 rural households which are most vulnerable to the impact of drought.

Estimates from a FAO assessment mission carried out last month indicated the output from maize crop at some 1,000 tonnes. This represents the lowest level of production ever recorded in the country, and one which follows a steep downward trend over the last few years.

“This is an extremely important agreement that will not only allow us to face the current drought, but also help to create conditions to build a sustainable agriculture in Cabo Verde,” Mr. Pereira Neves said.

Building on previous experience aimed at improving the use of the country’s scarce water resources, and with a view to strengthen resilience capacities, drip-irrigation kits will be distributed.

Considering that the production of livestock fodder was also found to be very seriously affected by the low rain levels, putting thousands of animals at risk, emergency distribution of animal feed will also be provided to 668 livestock breeding households, said FAO.

In line with one of its strategic objectives, FAO is committed to building the resilience of agricultural systems and agriculture-dependent livelihoods to threats and crises. Making agriculture production less dependent on highly variable and unpredictable rainfalls is particularly crucial in an effort to build resilience in Cabo Verde.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50115

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New software may allow better protection of endangered shark species, says UN agency

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19 February 2015 – The United Nations agricultural agency has today announced the launch of new technology that will allow quick identification of species of the fish while better helping to protect endangered shark species and to combat illegal trade in shark fins.

“The target users are port inspectors, customs agents, customs officers and also fish traders,” said Monica Barone, who led a team in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in developing the software. “People with or without training. And the ultimate goal is identification of fins for protecting species.”

The software, called iSharkFin, allows people without formal taxonomic training to identify different species of shark by uploading photographs. The user then chooses several key points of the fin shape along with identifying a few other characteristics, and an algorithm compares the information with iSharkFin’s memory bank and identifies the shark species.

So far, the software, which has been in development since 2013, when five shark species were added to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), can identify 35 shark species from their dorsal fins – the iconic one atop the animal’s spine – and seven from just the pectoral fins underneath.

Many of those species are the ones most frequently traded internationally and use of the software may allow authorities to crack a long-running mystery over the actual magnitude of global shark fishing.

Currently, estimates of the number of sharks killed each year vary enormously, with one study suggesting the annual figure could be above 73 million, or more than six per cent of the total stock. If true, that would exceed the rate considered sustainable, as sharks take a long time to mature and produce few offspring. The number would also be four times higher than the FAO’s estimates, which are based on official production statistics.

The gap in estimates is often blamed on ‘shark finning’, a practice involving slashing off a shark’s fins and dumping the animal back into the sea. Many nations have declared shark finning illegal and insist that shark fins may be traded only if the whole carcass is brought to shore.

“The tool is important to improving shark statistics in the world,” said Barone, adding that it will benefit enforcement of protection of species.

The challenges of effective management in high seas areas, including responsible fishing and conservation of species at risk, are being discussed this week at a high-level workshop at FAO.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50125

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Invest in cities, renewable energy, UN envoy Michael Bloomberg tells conference in India

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17 February 2015 – Welcoming India’s efforts to confront climate change, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, said today that the country was incredibly well placed to capitalise on the benefits of renewable energy.

Noting the Government’s plan to install about 100 gigawatts of solar power across the country by 2022, Mr. Bloomberg pointed to the major development benefits that the country could achieve, given the large amount of solar radiation it gets and the reduced level of infrastructure needed to pump solar energy into people’s homes.

“Imagine the signal it would send to the world if India were able to achieve its goal of bringing electricity to every household that lacks it, largely using clean solar power – at a fraction of the cost of the conventional grid.,” said the Special Envoy during his keynote address to the ‘RE-Invest’ conference, aimed at scaling-up financing for renewable energy. “It would be a success story told – and copied – around the world.”

Mr. Bloomberg joined leading renewables and investment professionals from India and across the world at the RE-Invest conference, as part of a two-day visit to the country in which he advocated for increased renewables, smarter cities, sustainable transport and urban climate adaptation.

He arrived at the Conference in a rickshaw powered by compressed natural gas, which is a far cleaner alternative to the fuels that make Delhi one of the most polluted cities in South Asia. He noted that most of the world’s total carbon emissions stem from cities and sources like buildings, transportation and waste, over which at least limited control can be exerted.

“Steps to make those systems more efficient also make cities better places to live,” he said, stressing the difference such investments could make. “In New York City, we were able to reduce our carbon footprint by 19 percent in just six years while also making our air cleaner than it has been in more than 50 years, increasing life expectancy by three years, and leading the U.S. in creating new jobs. And India can do the same for its citizens.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York for 12 years, said that those gains came not in spite of investments in sustainability but because of them and he stressed that the most effective economic policies for India would be those that improved people’s health and quality of life.

“The fact is: People want to live in cities with clean air and water, good public transportation, and streets that are safe for walking and biking. And where people want to live, businesses want to invest,” he said. “The good news is, as Prime Minister Modi is showing, confronting climate change goes hand-in-hand with smart economic growth. And from my experience, he is absolutely correct to make cities a central focus of his work.”

With countries coming to Paris this December to reach a new climate change agreement, Mr. Bloomberg said that no country will commit to goals they don’t think they can reach, or that come at too great a cost to economic growth. However, countries are continuing to move forward because they realise the benefits of action – for their economies and the health of their citizens.

“India’s leadership is helping to show other countries how much is possible – by showing that clean-energy, climate-resilient growth is the path to a brighter future,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We’re all in this together, and we have a great deal to learn from one another.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50109

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As Kyoto Protocol turns 10, UN says &#39first critical step&#39 must trigger new 2015 emissions-curbing deal

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16 February 2015 – As momentum builds towards negotiations in Paris next year on a universal climate agreement, the United Nations announced today that early analysis shows that countries with targets under the landmark Kyoto Protocol – the world’s first emission reduction treaty – have collectively exceeded their original ambition.

According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), those countries who took on targets under the treaty have reduced their emissions by over 20 per cent – well in excess of the 5 per cent target they aimed to meet.

The achievement, which comes as the world today marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, underlines what can be achieved via international cooperative action.

The news also comes as countries meeting in Geneva last week produced negotiating text for a successor climate change agreement that is excepted to be approved later this year in Paris – the next key chapter in humanity’s quest to chart a defining path to keep the world and its people under a 2 degree C temperature rise.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said: “The Kyoto Protocol was a remarkable achievement in many ways. It not only underscored the scientific reality that greenhouse gas emissions need to fall. But it also put in place pioneering concepts, flexible options, practical solutions and procedures for accountability that we often take for granted today”.

Continuing, Ms. Figueres said she is convinced that without the treaty and its various mechanisms “we would not be as far forward as we are today in respect to, for example, the growing penetration of renewable energies.” The Kyoto Protocol’s vision also helped spawn new and innovative initiatives like supporting developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, she added.

“The Kyoto Protocol was the first critical step – today we must take further and more far reaching action towards a truly sustainable future for seven billion, rising to over nine billion, people. Despite our best efforts, greenhouse gases continue to rise, threatening sustainable development and putting millions if not billions of people at risk over the coming decades, “said Ms. Figueres.

As such, the Paris agreement of December 2015 would bring all nations into common cause in support of men, women and children everywhere.

“It needs to be a long term, paradigm shift that reflects today’s scientific reality – one that speaks to the urgency of swiftly peaking global greenhouse gas emissions, triggering a deep de-carbonization of the global economy and achieving climate neutrality in the second half of the century,” she added.

The Protocol, an international agreement under the UNFCCC, was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005.

During its first commitment period, from 2008 to 2012, 37 industrialized countries and the European Community committed to take a leading role in climate action by reducing their emissions to an average of just over five percent against 1990 levels.

The UNFCCC secretariat is expected to complete final accounting for the first phase later this year or early next year.

“Paris will not solve climate change at a pen stroke. But similarly it must trigger a world-wide over-achievement and a clear sense of direction that can restore the natural balance of emissions on planet Earth,” said Ms. Figueres.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50099

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States agree key document on route to climate change agreement – UN

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13 February 2015 – A key milestone on the route to a new, universal agreement on climate change was reached today in Geneva, with a week of United Nations-facilitated discussions among over 190 States ending with successful conclusion of the negotiating text for a binding treaty expected to be adopted in Paris at the end of this year.

“This fulfils the internationally-accepted timetable for reaching a possible treaty because it alerts capitals to the fact that a legal instrument could be adopted in Paris,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a press release.

“It does not, however, set this possibility in stone – it merely opens the door for this possibility. As for the legal nature of the agreement, this will only be clarified later in the year.”

Successful construction of the negotiating text kick-starts a year of intense negotiations towards the new agreement, expected to be finalized at a Paris Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in December. The Geneva talks gave 194 countries a chance to follow-up on the work done at the Lima Climate Change Conference held at the end of last year, which produced elements for the negotiating text, known as the Lima Call for Climate Action.

The text agrees today covers the substantive content of the new agreement including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity-building. Countries worked hard to identify the main choices, put their views forward and add more sharpened options to the text.

“The text was constructed in full transparency. This means that although it has become longer, countries are now fully aware of each other’s positions,” Ms. Figueres said. “I am extremely encouraged by the constructive spirit and the speed at which negotiators have worked during the past week.”

The next step is for negotiators to narrow down options and reach consensus on the content. Formal work and negotiations on the text will continue at the Climate Change Conference in Bonn in June with two further formal sessions planned for later in the year, as well as ministerial-level meetings that will take place throughout 2015.

“These opportunities will help to ensure that countries have opportunities to work with each other at several political levels–what is needed now is vertical integration so that the views of heads of state, through ministers and to negotiators reflects a seamless and consistent view of ambition, common ground and ultimately success in December,” Ms. Figueres said.

The negotiating text is available on the UNFCCC’s website and will be edited and translated into the UN’s official languages. After this, the text will be communicated to the world’s capitals by the UNFCCC secretariat in the first quarter of 2015.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50082

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21st century &#39hottest&#39 on record as global warming continues

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2 February 2015 – Devastating weather patterns and increasing temperatures will last into the foreseeable future as global warming is expected to continue, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed today as it explained that 2014’s ranking as the “hottest year on record” is part of a larger climate trend.

“The overall warming trend is more important than the ranking of an individual year,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud clarified today in a press release. “Analysis of the datasets indicates that 2014 was nominally the warmest on record, although there is very little difference between the three hottest years.”

High sea temperatures, the UN agency has said, have contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others. Twelve major Atlantic storms battered the United Kingdom in early months of 2014, while floods devastated much of the Balkans throughout May. The monthly precipitation over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014, meanwhile, was 301 per cent above normal – the highest since area-averaged statistics began in 1946.

At the same time, crippling droughts have struck large swathes of the continental United States while Northeast China and parts of the Yellow River basin did not reach half of the summer average, causing severe drought.

The diverse climate impact which afflicted nations around the planet throughout 2014 were, in fact, consistent with the expectation of a changing climate, Mr. Jarraud continued.

In addition, he warned that 14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century, adding the UN agency’s expectation that global warming would continue “given that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the increasing heat content of the oceans are committing us to a warmer future.”

Around 93 per cent of the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other human activities ends up in the oceans, the WMO press release noted, as it pointed out that global sea-surface temperatures had reached “record levels” in 2014, even in the absence of a “fully developed El Niño” weather pattern. High temperatures in 1998 – the hottest year before the 21st century – occurred during a strong El Niño year.

The WMO has released its latest findings regarding its global temperature analysis in advance of climate change negotiations scheduled to be held in Geneva from 8 to 13 February. These talks are expected to help pave the way towards the December 2015 conference scheduled in Paris, France, where a new universal UN-backed treaty on climate change will be adopted.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49970

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21st century ‘hottest’ on record as global warming continues, UN agency warns

Print

2 February 2015 – Devastating weather patterns and increasing temperatures will last into the foreseeable future as global warming is expected to continue, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed today as it explained that 2014’s ranking as the “hottest year on record” is part of a larger climate trend.

“The overall warming trend is more important than the ranking of an individual year,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud clarified today in a press release. “Analysis of the datasets indicates that 2014 was nominally the warmest on record, although there is very little difference between the three hottest years.”

High sea temperatures, the UN agency has said, have contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others. Twelve major Atlantic storms battered the United Kingdom in early months of 2014, while floods devastated much of the Balkans throughout May. The monthly precipitation over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014, meanwhile, was 301 per cent above normal – the highest since area-averaged statistics began in 1946.

At the same time, crippling droughts have struck large swathes of the continental United States while Northeast China and parts of the Yellow River basin did not reach half of the summer average, causing severe drought.

The diverse climate impact which afflicted nations around the planet throughout 2014 were, in fact, consistent with the expectation of a changing climate, Mr. Jarraud continued.

In addition, he warned that 14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century, adding the UN agency’s expectation that global warming would continue “given that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the increasing heat content of the oceans are committing us to a warmer future.”

Around 93 per cent of the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other human activities ends up in the oceans, the WMO press release noted, as it pointed out that global sea-surface temperatures had reached “record levels” in 2014, even in the absence of a “fully developed El Niño” weather pattern. High temperatures in 1998 – the hottest year before the 21st century – occurred during a strong El Niño year.

The WMO has released its latest findings regarding its global temperature analysis in advance of climate change negotiations scheduled to be held in Geneva from 8 to 13 February. These talks are expected to help pave the way towards the December 2015 conference scheduled in Paris, France, where a new universal UN-backed treaty on climate change will be adopted.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49970

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