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Deputy UN chief calls for ‘hydro-diplomacy’ as world faces growing water shortages

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30 March 2015 – The international community must gear up for a new era of “hydro-diplomacy” as the threat of water scarcity risks plunging the world into a period of geopolitical tension and stunted development, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told delegates gathered at the General Assembly today.

“Water is one of the highest priorities for development and lives in dignity, as well as a serious factor in maintaining peace and security,” the Deputy Secretary-General said in remarks to open the High-Level Interactive Dialogue on the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life,’ 2005-2015.

“The lack of water causes individual tragedies,” he continued. “And it also, growingly, constitutes a threat to international peace and security. There is a need for ‘hydro-diplomacy’ – making scarce water a reason for cooperation, rather than a reason for conflict.”

Mr. Eliasson warned that in a period of “intensifying disasters, both man-made and natural,” social and economic stresses related to water supply would increasingly flare up, spawning tensions between communities and nations.

The dire straits facing the world’s water situation was recently amplified in the UN’s 2015 World Water Development report, released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and in time for last week’s World Water Day.

According to the report, the planet will face a 40 per cent shortfall in water supply in 2030 unless the international community “dramatically” improves water supply management. Demand for water is slated to skyrocket 55 per cent by 2050 while 20 per cent of global groundwater is already overexploited.

As such, the Deputy Secretary-General called for greater international cooperation based on the growing communal urgency and need for water around the world.

“Shared water sources have historically brought countries closer together. Instead of seeing water-sharing as a problem, we have to treat it as a potential solution, with the help of innovative and dynamic hydro-diplomacy,” he added.

Mr. Eliasson’s remarks come as Member States prepare to roll out a post-2015 development agenda that will focus on sustainability and which may also touch upon issues of issues of water governance and quality to wastewater management and the prevention of natural disasters.

Water consumption, the UN has noted, also directly affects quality of life for millions of people around the world in developing and least developed countries.

On average, nearly 1,000 children die every day from diarrhoeal disease linked to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, or poor hygiene. In three countries in particular – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea – more than half the population does not have improved drinking water.

“The impact of water on human health as well as economic well-being is better understood than a decade ago, including water’s critical importance for households, industries, agriculture, cities, energy production and transportation,” President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, stated in a message to the meeting delivered by the Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations, Einar Gunnarsson.

He observed that despite the considerable accomplishments made under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), some 800 million people continue to live without access to an improved water source while many more remain without a safe and sustainable water supply.

Nevertheless, as the international community hurtles through a year of critical international meetings culminating in the post-2015 development agenda negotiations in New York in September and the climate change summit in Paris in December, the chance to reverse course and build a better future remains within reach.

“This year represents a pivotal opportunity for the international community,” he concluded. “We are in the midst of an historic opportunity to change our world by improving livelihoods everywhere and protecting our planet.”

At the same time, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, sought to frame the issue of water within a human rights viewpoint, emphasizing that everyone is “equally entitled to have access to safe, affordable and accessible water and sanitation.”

“What is needed is a better application of resources – by identifying and targeting those who still do not have access; by practicing effective mechanisms for affordability; by integrating the principle of equality and non-discrimination in policies and programmes and by putting in place the necessary physical and regulatory frameworks to monitor who are benefitting from interventions and who are being left behind,” he affirmed.

“No one should be left without access to water and sanitation under the new post-2015 development framework.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50458

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Earth Hour 2015: UN dims lights to focus attention on climate action, sustainability

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28 March 2015 – The United Nations will go dark later this evening as the Organization shuts off the lights at its iconic Headquarters complex in New York and other facilities around the world in observance of ‘Earth Hour,’ an annual global event raising awareness about the need to take action on climate change and promoting sustainable energy consumption.

In a video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said: “Climate change is a people problem. People cause climate change and people suffer from climate change. People can also solve climate change. Earth Hour shows what is possible when we unite in support of our environment.”

Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour encourages individuals, companies, organizations and Governments to switch off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m., local time worldwide, to focus attention on people-driven solutions to protecting the planet and building a bright, sustainable future.

The Secretary-General notes that this coming December in Paris, the United Nations will bring countries together to agree a new, universal and meaningful climate accord, culminating a “year of action” on sustainable development.

“By turning out the lights, we highlight that more than 1 billion people lack access to electricity. Their future well-being requires access to clean, affordable energy,” said Mr. Ban, stressing that with the world’s lights being switched off, Earth Hour shows what is possible when the international community unites in support of a cause.

First launched in 2007, Earth Hour has become an annual event, mobilizing hundreds of millions of individuals to participate and growing to become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment.

According to the WWF, the UN family will join the thousands of homes, offices, skylines and monuments that will go dark as the world unites to inspire collective action to change climate change. Over 1,200 landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco will turn off their lights. Close to 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Acropolis in Athens and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland are also scheduled to go dark in support of Earth Hour.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50450

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New UN-backed report finds ‘far too high’ levels of elephant poaching across Africa

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23 March 2015 – An ongoing decline in overall elephant numbers remains likely as the poaching of African elephants continued to exceed population growth rates throughout 2014, a new United Nations-backed report warned today.

“African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in Central and West Africa where the situation appears to have deteriorated,” said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The latest figures released by CITES’ programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants, otherwise known as MIKE, show no increase in the overall poaching trends in 2014 with levels dropping and then levelling off since the peak in 2011. However, with overall killing rates exceeding natural birth rates, “poaching trends remain far too high and at a level that cannot be sustained,” said a CITES press release.

In its report, CITES identifies 22 countries that are most heavily implicated in the illegal trade in ivory, with areas such as Bangassou, in the Central African Republic; Garamba, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Niassa, in Mozambique; Pendjari, in Benin; and Selous-Mikumi, in Tanzania, remaining of “particular concern.”

“These poaching trends highlight the need to redouble efforts to mitigate the problem by addressing demand for illegal ivory, strengthening management and ensuring sustainable livelihoods for people who live with elephants,” said Julian Blanc, head of the MIKE programme.

Mr. Scanlon nonetheless admitted that despite the downbeat assessment, there were also some “encouraging signals” in parts of East Africa, where overall poaching trends appeared to have declined, indicating “what is possible through a sustained and collective effort.”

“The momentum generated over the past few years is translating into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most – from the field, to police and customs, to illicit markets,” he continued.

“And this enhanced front line effort gives us confidence that if we persist with, and deepen this collective effort, we will reverse the devastating poaching trends of the past decade.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50406

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On World Meteorological Day, UN chief stresses need to mitigate climate change patterns

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23 March 2015 – With extreme weather and changing climatic patterns taking a heavier toll on the planet, mitigating and adapting to them remains “among the great tests of our time,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, as he stressed the need for timely, reliable information to further strengthen resilience.

“Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of these extremes and threatening water and food security in many parts of the world,” Mr. Ban said in his message for World Meteorological Day.

“In the last three decades, floods, storm surges, droughts and wildfires have taken a huge toll in lives and caused massive economic losses. The devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and other parts of Oceania is just the latest example of how catastrophic weather extremes can be,” he added.

World Meteorological Day commemorates the coming into force on 23 March 1950 of the convention establishing the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This year’s theme for the Day, ‘Climate Knowledge for Climate Action,’ highlights both recent advances in climate science and the need for decisive measures to limit climate change.

Mr. Ban noted that over the last 12 months, thousands of lives have been saved around the world by improved weather forecasting, early warning systems and disaster readiness. The economic benefits of climate services such as seasonal outlooks have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Timely, reliable and accessible information for further decision-making and action remains critical and is the aim of the Global Framework for Climate Services, initiated by WMO to facilitate the use of climate information to reduce disaster risk, promote food and water security, and safeguard public health.

In conjunction with the Day, WMO released its report on the Status of the Climate in 2014, which provides details of weather extremes last year and the impacts of climate change. WMO has already said that 2014 was the hottest year on record, but only by a very small margin.

“The climate knowledge that has been built in the last decades is an invaluable resource and a prerequisite for decision-making and for climate action,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

“Multiple lines of evidence – from mounting temperatures to shrinking glaciers, from sea-level rise to weather extremes – give us high confidence that the climate is changing and that this is largely due to human activities, in particular the emissions of greenhouse gases that every year reach record high levels,” he added, warning that the “cost of inaction is high and will become even higher if we do not act immediately and resolutely.”

The Day is being marked with ceremonies and events, including at WMO headquarters in Geneva, Argentina and France, to showcase the contribution of National Meteorological Services to safety, well-being and sustainable development.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50408

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World Water Day 2015: UN calls for global unity in pursuit of better water access for all

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22 March 2015 – As the perils of climate change increasingly threaten the planet, the international community must unite in “a spirit of urgent cooperation” to address the many water-related challenges facing humanity, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today.

In his message marking the 2015 edition of World Water Day, observed annually on 22 March, the Secretary-General warned that access to safe drinking water and sanitation was among “the most urgent issues” affecting populations across the globe.

“The onset of climate change, growing demand on finite water resources from agriculture, industry and cities, and increasing pollution in many areas are hastening a water crisis that can only be addressed by cross-sectoral, holistic planning and policies – internationally, regionally and globally,” Mr. Ban affirmed.

Despite progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), some 750 million people, or more than 1 in 10 of the world’s population, remain without access to an improved water supply, the UN has reported.

Mr. Ban added that women and children are particularly affected, compromising their overall health and exposing them to numerous hazards during the “unproductive and sometimes dangerous business of collecting water.”

Moreover, the statistics on sanitation remain “even less encouraging” as some 2.5 billion people around the world still live without improved sanitation while another one billion practise open defecation.

In his message, the Secretary-General also warned that the gains made by the international community in working towards a sustainable future were “jeopardized” by climate change – an imminent threat that Member States were prepared to tackle head-on in December when they gather in Paris to draft “a meaningful, universal climate agreement.”

“To address the many challenges related to water, we must work in a spirit of urgent cooperation, open to new ideas and innovation, and prepared to share the solutions that we all need for a sustainable future,” Mr. Ban stated. “If we do so, we can end poverty, promote global prosperity and well-being, protect the environment and withstand the threat of climate change.”

The dire straits facing the world’s water situation were further amplified in the UN’s 2015 World Water Development report, released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and in time for today’s World Water Day celebrations.

According to the report, the planet will face a 40 per cent shortfall in water supply in 2030 unless the international community “dramatically” improves water supply management. Demand for water is slated to skyrocket 55 per cent by 2050 while 20 per cent of global groundwater is already overexploited.

As a result, the report has urged the international community to devote an entire sustainable development goal to water itself – from issues of water governance and quality to wastewater management and the prevention of natural disasters.

Sanjay Wijesekera, head of the UN Children Fund’s (UNICEF) global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene programmes, similarly cautioned about the dangerous disparities in water access around the globe, noting that despite “tremendous progress in the face of incredible odds,” there was still more to do.

“Water is the very essence of life and yet three-quarters of a billion people – mostly the poor and the marginalized – still today are deprived of this most basic human right,” Mr. Wijesekera said in a press release.

On average, nearly 1,000 children die every day from diarrhoeal disease linked to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, or poor hygiene. In addition, in three countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea – more than half the population do not have improved drinking water.

In an effort to raise greater awareness about the importance of improving water quality and access, UNICEF has launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #wateris, the agency’s press release added.

Also marking the Day, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, called for the UN’s post-2015 development agenda to boost incentives for governments, providers and donors to expand their reach to those still struggling with water access.

“We need to aim for a higher rate of progress for disadvantaged groups, otherwise we will not achieve access for all in the foreseeable future,” Mr. Heller stated. “The world will see real achievement and ‘leave no one behind’ only when the efforts of the post-2015 agenda reach and impact the lives of the most disadvantaged groups.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50402

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Natural disasters

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20 March 2015 – In a year when countries are set to adopt a global sustainable development agenda, and to forge a meaningful, binding climate change agreement, world leaders meeting in Sendai, Japan, signed on to a new framework for making the world safer from the threats of natural disasters.

The ruins of a bridge swept away by flash floods in the Solomon Islands in April 2014

From earthquakes to severe flooding, storms to droughts, natural disasters pose an increasing threat to people and property in every region of the world. UNOCHA/Peter Iroga

Read more: UN, partners launch humanitarian response for flood-affected Solomon Islands

A father holds his injured child as he surveys the damage to the devastated city of Balakot, Pakistan, following an earthquake in 2005

Over the last decade, more than 700,000 people lost their lives due to natural disasters, and another 1.4 million suffered injuries, with 23 million left homeless. In total, these events affected more than 1.5 billion people over the ten-year period, and economic losses topped $1.3 trillion worldwide, the UN says. IRIN/Edward Parsons

Read more: Ahead of global risk reduction conference, UN review finds vast majority of disasters climate-related

A “disaster resilient village” in Shymnagar, Bangladesh, built after the community was wiped out by Cyclone Aila in 2009

Investing in disaster risk reduction saves lives and secures hard-won development gains, says the UN, which has been working with high disaster-risk countries to strengthen structures and institutions for better prevention, mitigation and management of disaster risks. UNDP Bangladesh/Nasif Ahmed

Read more: Investing in disaster resilience vital for sustainable development – senior UN official

A mock earthquake drill in Kosovo

Mock drills are proven to expedite the time it takes for people to respond in a real emergency, says the UN. Since 2013, the UN Development Programme – UNDP – has worked with the municipality of Gjilan/Gnjilane in Kosovo, and international partners to ensure that students and the wider community are better prepared for earthquakes and disasters. Following the 2013 drill, above, a national strategy for school safety was put in place, which obliges every primary and secondary school to conduct an earthquake drill once every two years. UNDP Kosovo

Read more: Mock drills prepare Kosovo for earthquakes

A Colombian rescue team checks a collapsed building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, following a massive earthquake, in January 2010, that killed 200,000 people and damaged much of the country’s infrastructure

In Haiti, the UN has been working with the Government to train communities to build back better through disaster-resilient construction techniques. UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Read more: Haitian women rebuild their lives one brick at a time

Aerial view of destruction along the Indonesian coast caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004

In the wake of the powerful earthquake and devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, which claimed 227,000 lives, countries adopted the landmark Hyogo Framework for Action, a disaster resilience agreement laying out the work required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses over the period 2005 to 2015. The strategy produced some successes, including the reduction in the number of people directly affected by natural disasters in Asia – where most such disasters occur – by almost one billion, the UN says, but much more needs to be done. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Read more: ‘Resilience can become hallmark of 2015,’ says UN disaster risk reduction chief

After opening the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, Secretary-General Ban hands the gavel to the Conference President, Japan’s Minister for Disaster Management, Eriko Yamatani

In March 2015, world leaders gathered in Sendai, Japan, to negotiate a successor strategy to the 2005 Hyogo Framework, at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. “What we are discussing here is very real for millions around the world. We must keep their needs in sharp focus during the negotiations on this agreement,” said the UN chief as he opened the forum. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Read more: In Japan, UN chief urges global solidarity to strengthen disaster resilience, boost development

Victim of Cyclone Pam – a car crushed by a tree in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila

Just as the Sendai Conference kicked off, Tropical Cyclone Pam bore down on Vanuatu, pounding the Pacific archipelago with winds gusting to 320 kilometres per hour (198 miles an hour) – enough to lift an airplane, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Early warnings issued by WMO’s regional centre in Fiji and by local meteorological services helped reduce loss of life, WMO said, but the storm caused major damage to property and infrastructure. UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0441/UNICEF Pacific

Read more: Amid logistical challenges, UN focuses on priority needs for cyclone-hit Vanuatu

Children stand outside the remains of their homes in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in the wake of Cyclone Pam

From Sendai, Secretary-General Ban pledged the support of the entire UN system as the extent of the storm’s destruction began to emerge. Up to 60,000 children have been affected by Cyclone Pam, reported the UN Children’s Fund. UNICEF/UNI181134/Crumb

Read more: As UN steps up aid efforts, Ban promises ‘necessary action’ to assist cyclone-hit Vanuatu



Video shown at the opening of the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai, Japan

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50389

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UN officials stress investment, smart policies for sustainable future of world’s forests

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20 March 2015 – The sustainable management and conservation of forests must be included in the sustainable development goals and climate change agreement to be adopted later this year, United Nations officials stressed ahead of the International Day of Forests, observed worldwide on 21 March.

“Forests are integral to the post-2015 development agenda,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day. “To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world’s forests.”

At least 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for food, fuel, shelter and income, but everyone benefits from the clean air, water, and climate regulation that forests provide, Mr. Ban said. Three fourths of freshwater, crucial for human survival, comes from forested catchments.

Healthy forests are also critical for building resilience – the ability to bounce back from storms and other natural disasters. Mangrove forests, when left intact, reduce loss of life and damage caused by tsunamis.

“Sustaining healthy forests and mitigating and adapting to climate change are two sides of the same coin. Forests are the largest storehouses of carbon after oceans,” the UN chief said, stressing that forests are on the “front lines” of climate change.

Forests can absorb and store carbon in their biomass, soils and products, equivalent to about one-tenth of carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century. At the same time, deforestation and land-use changes account for 17 per cent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions.

A special event on the occasion of the International Day was held at UN Headquarters today with Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, delivering opening remarks. In the ensuing discussion, three films ranging on topics from the green economy to sustainable development were screened and a panel discussion was held on ‘Forest-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation.’

“As the world’s population grows, demand for forest goods and services continues to increase. The dividends from forest stewardship will benefit us, and future generations,” Mr. Filho said.

In a news release, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the benefits that forests provide are incalculable. “Forests drive economic development and prosperity, provide jobs and livelihoods, and at the same time, promote health and well-being. Proven solutions exist to create the future we want; investing in our forests is a pathway to transformative sustainable development.”

“Forests are central to the global effort to meet the climate change challenge, eradicate poverty and realise a sustainable century,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The new universal climate agreement to be inked in Paris at the end of the year needs to put in place a swift peaking of global emissions, a deep decarbonisation of the world-wide economy and climate neutrality in the second half of the century,” she stated. “This will not be possible without smarter and more sustainable ways of managing existing forests and the restoration and expansion of many lost and degraded ones.”

The International Day of Forests is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees outside forests. Global celebrations will range from community-level tree-planting events, to publication of new forest data and analysis, as well as cultural activities featuring art, photographs and film festivals.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50391

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UN responding to ‘devastating’ impact of Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, Pacific region

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14 March 2015 – The United Nations announced today that it is taking all necessary steps to respond to the catastrophic impacts of a devastating tropical cyclone that affected most of Vanuatu over the past two days.

“A disaster of this magnitude has not been experienced by Vanuatu in recent history – particularly in terms of the reach of the potential damage and the ferocity of the storm,” said Sune Gudnitz, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office for the Pacific in a statement to the press.

Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, on Efate island, as an extremely destructive Category 5 cyclone yesterday evening. Winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at around 320kmph, causing damage to infrastructure, impacting services such as electricity and leaving debris strewn across the capital.

“While we have no official reports of the damage the cyclone caused, the Pacific Humanitarian Team is ready to support a government-led response to a worst-case scenario,” Ms. Sune added.

The Vanuatu Government has not yet issued a formal request for international assistance. It has, however, accepted OCHA’s offer to deploy staff to support the coordination of the response. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team is expected arrive in Port Vila tomorrow evening. OCHA will also deploy three staff with information management, public information and humanitarian coordination expertise tomorrow as well.

Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest storms seen in the South Pacific in years, left a trail of mass destruction in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Photos: Alice Clements/UNICEF Pacific


Other humanitarian partners, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are also supporting critical areas such as shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and protection.

The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) coordinates expert human and resources regionally and globally should the impacts of a disaster exceed a government’s capacity to respond.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50327

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UN responding to &#39devastating&#39 impact of Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, Pacific region

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14 March 2015 – The United Nations announced today that it is taking all necessary steps to respond to the catastrophic impacts of a devastating tropical cyclone that affected most of Vanuatu over the past two days.

“A disaster of this magnitude has not been experienced by Vanuatu in recent history – particularly in terms of the reach of the potential damage and the ferocity of the storm,” said Sune Gudnitz, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office for the Pacific in a statement to the press.

Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, on Efate island, as an extremely destructive Category 5 cyclone yesterday evening. Winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at around 320kmph, causing damage to infrastructure, impacting services such as electricity and leaving debris strewn across the capital.

“While we have no official reports of the damage the cyclone caused, the Pacific Humanitarian Team is ready to support a government-led response to a worst-case scenario,” Ms. Sune added.

The Vanuatu Government has not yet issued a formal request for international assistance. It has, however, accepted OCHA’s offer to deploy staff to support the coordination of the response. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team is expected arrive in Port Vila tomorrow evening. OCHA will also deploy three staff with information management, public information and humanitarian coordination expertise tomorrow as well.

Other humanitarian partners, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are also supporting critical areas such as shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and protection.

The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) coordinates expert human and resources regionally and globally should the impacts of a disaster exceed a government’s capacity to respond.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50327

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UN stands ready to assist as Tropical Cyclone Pam threatens Vanuatu,Pacific region

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13 March 2015 – As the pacific island nation of Vanuatu braces for Tropical Cyclone Pam, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today that it is standing by to assist the Government.

Currently, Cyclone Pam is category 5 – the highest category – meaning that wind speeds exceeded 249 km/hr, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The agency’s regional meteorological centre in Fiji is monitoring the cyclone, which is expected to result in major flooding and landslides.

“We are committed to helping children and families as they prepare for one of the most severe cyclones,” said UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in the Pacific, Isabelle Austin.

“UNICEF is also supporting a holistic approach to the emergency preparedness and response by ensuring that support is provided to nutrition, health, education and protection clusters,” she added in a news release.

UNICEF is working with a number of actors, including the Ministry of Health, Rural Water Supply, Vanuatu Red Cross, French Red Cross, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to coordinate water, sanitation and hygiene activities.

The Government of Vanuatu has in place well organised preparations and plans, and has convened committed humanitarian partners for the preparedness and response phase, including UNICEF, according to the news release.

UNICEF also remains on standby to provide support to other nations in the Pacific – Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and Fiji as they are also experiencing severe weather at this time.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50317

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Sendai: World leaders gather for UN conference on managing disaster risk

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13 March 2015 – World leaders are gathering for a United Nations conference in Sendai, Japan, to agree on a new framework for managing disaster risk which will reduce mortality and economic losses.

Since the last such conference in Kobe, Japan, in January 2005, at least 700,000 people have died, 1.7 billion people have been affected and there have been $1.4 trillion in economic losses from major reported disaster events. The very first conference took place in Yokohama in 1994.

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which opens on Saturday, aims to update the landmark agreement reached a decade ago, known as the Hyogo Framework for Action, which detailed the work required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses.

“After three years of consultation on a post-2015 framework which updates the current Hyogo Framework for Action, there is general agreement that we must move from managing disasters to managing disaster risk,” Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said on the eve of the gathering.

“If the world is successful in tackling the underlying drivers of risk such as poverty, climate change, the decline of protective eco-systems, uncontrolled urbanization and land use the result will be a much more resilient planet,” she stated.

Ms. Wahlström added that the new framework to be adopted at the conclusion of the conference next Wednesday will help to reducing existing levels of risk and avoid the creation of new risk.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50315

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UN stands ready to assist as Tropical Cyclone Pam threatens Vanuatu

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13 March 2015 – As the pacific island nation of Vanuatu braces for Tropical Cyclone Pam, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today that it is standing by to assist the Government.

Currently, Cyclone Pam is category 5 – the highest category – meaning that wind speeds exceeded 249 km/hr, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The agency’s regional meteorological centre in Fiji is monitoring the cyclone, which is expected to result in major flooding and landslides.

“We are committed to helping children and families as they prepare for one of the most severe cyclones,” said UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in the Pacific, Isabelle Austin.

“UNICEF is also supporting a holistic approach to the emergency preparedness and response by ensuring that support is provided to nutrition, health, education and protection clusters,” she added in a news release.

UNICEF is working with a number of actors, including the Ministry of Health, Rural Water Supply, Vanuatu Red Cross, French Red Cross, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to coordinate water, sanitation and hygiene activities.

The Government of Vanuatu has in place well organised preparations and plans, and has convened committed humanitarian partners for the preparedness and response phase, including UNICEF, according to the news release.

UNICEF also remains on standby to provide support to other nations in the Pacific – Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and Fiji as they are also experiencing severe weather at this time.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50317

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