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At UN meteorological forum, experts meet to discuss post-2015 action plan, climate change

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25 May 2015 – With a welcoming ‘tweet’ from the International Space Station and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s renewed appeal for “bold climate action,” the United Nations-backed World Meteorological Congress opened its seventeenth session today as international delegates will seek to address continuing concerns over global warming.

“We rely on you, the world’s meteorologists to provide us with the scientific knowledge that leaders in government, business and society at large need to make informed choices,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared in a video message.

“As the global thermostat rises, meteorological services are more essential than ever,” he continued. “I look forward to working with you to advance bold climate action which will improve the lives of people and the health of our planet.”

The opening of the quadrennial session of the World Meteorological Congress was also greeted by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from orbit as she tweeted “captivating and powerful” images of the planet’s atmosphere but admitted that understanding it was “a challenge,” according a press release issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The Congress will now discuss the strategic role of the WMO in the post-2015 new global agenda on sustainable development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction while also deciding on the UN agency’s Strategic Plan, budget and office holders for the next four years.

In addition, it will debate cross-cutting programmes to meet the needs of the world’s ever-growing urban areas, which will be home to 70 per cent of the world’s population by 2050 and increasingly susceptible to multiple weather and water-related hazards as well as environmental “stressors” like pollution.

“It is a pivotal year for action on behalf of future generations,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud affirmed.

“We have more than a responsibility. We have a moral duty to take action to limit climate change. “If we don’t do it we will be judged by our children and our grandchildren.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50960

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On International Day, Ban says biodiversity is essential to sustainable development, eradicating poverty

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22 May 2015 – Variety of life on Earth is essential for the welfare of current and future generations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today on the International Day for Biological Diversity, as he called on the international community to recommit to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss particularly as the United Nations prepares to adopt a new set of development goals.

“Protecting ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services by poor and vulnerable groups are essential to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks on the Day, marked around the world every year on 22 May, with the 2015 theme focusing on ‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.’

“The sustainable development goals and the broader post-2015 development agenda, which are under negotiation now, will provide an opportunity to mainstream biodiversity and promote transformational change in how economies and societies use and regard biodiversity,” he added.

Later this year, the post-2015 development agenda will be adopted by the world’s Governments at a high-level United Nations summit taking place during the opening of the substantive session of the General Assembly this coming September.

Mr. Ban said that reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands generate significant benefits and are cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change.

Hence, any sustainable development framework must provide conditions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for more equitable sharing of benefits.

The globally adopted Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets provide a model that Member States can use in considering how to implement the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Meeting these targets and addressing biodiversity loss more generally can contribute significantly to the post-2015 development agenda.

Also speaking on the Day, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Braulio F. Souza Dias, said biodiversity serves as a critical foundation of the Earth’s life support system on which the development and welfare of current and future generations depend.

“Biodiversity underpins all those ecosystem functions and benefits essential to human well-being, not only in terms of our economies, but also for our health, food security, prevention of natural hazards, and our cultural roots,” he added.

Mr. Souza Dias said that in the 21st century, conserving, restoring, enhancing and using the components of biodiversity sustainably can provide solutions to a range of challenges to sustainability and human well-being, including poverty eradication, food security, sustainable production and consumption, water security, disaster risk reduction and climate change.

Echoing the UN chief, Mr. Souza Dias said that reducing deforestation and ecosystem degradation, promoting ecosystem restoration and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, wetlands, drylands, rangelands and croplands are cost effective ways to mitigate climate change that generate other social and economic benefits.

“We will not be able to achieve sustainable development and the goals established in the post-2015 development agenda if we do not effectively respond to the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and fail to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,” he emphasised.

Likewise, we will not achieve these internationally agreed goals for protecting and restoring biodiversity and using it sustainably and equitably if we fail to mainstream biodiversity firmly into the broader policies for sustainable development and in the implementation of those policies.

“The time for global action is now, by Governments, businesses, civil society, indigenous peoples, and by individuals. We owe it to future generations to ensure that biodiversity will provide them with the same benefits that we enjoy. That is truly the future we want, a future of life in harmony with nature,” he added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50931

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At high-level energy forum, UN deputy chief says action on sustainability a &#39moral and historical duty&#39

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20 May 2015 – The world is facing complex challenges regarding the future of sustainable energy which demand comprehensive and immediate solutions, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson declared today as he delivered remarks to the General Assembly’s Global Energy Ministerial Meeting.

“All of us here today have a great responsibility. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical duties in this year of action,” affirmed the Deputy Secretary-General as he spotlighted the importance of charting a new course for global sustainable development.

“Success depends on Governments, companies, investors, educators, scientists, civil society and citizens acting in concert,” he told the meeting, which is being held in connection with the second annual Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum Forum, which opened Monday in New York and wraps up tomorrow. “Working together, we can light rural clinics, empower local businesses, invigorate economies and protect the environment.”

According to the World Bank’s recently released report, Progress Toward Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2015, some 1.1 billion people in the world still live without electricity and almost 3 billion still cook using polluting fuels like kerosene, wood, charcoal and dung. And, while picking up steam, renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements will need to accelerate dramatically, it says.

Speaking to the gathered delegates, Mr. Eliasson underscored that 2015 would be “a milestone year” for the UN and the international community as it addressed these economic, social and environmental imperatives at three key meetings: in Addis Ababa in July, where UN Member States will work to agree a new forward-looking financing framework for development; in New York in September where they would seek to adopt “a bold universal new post-2015 development agenda” and in Paris in December where they would work to reach a robust universal climate agreement.

“Our aim is – and must be – to bring about transformative change across sectors and across societies,” he added. “We need new approaches that go to the heart of unsustainable production and consumption patterns – across agriculture, industry, infrastructure and transport, and from factories to offices, from homes to market places.”

The Deputy Secretary-General observed that more than 80 developing countries had already joined the SE4All initiative, making commitments worth billions of dollars and taking ambitious actions on the ground. In one particular instance, he said, the UN-backed Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative had brought 18 countries, oil companies and development institutions into the fold to scale up energy efficiency efforts.

At the same time, much remains to be done to help close the remaining gap. According to the World Bank report – which was presented to the opening of the SE4All forum on 18 May – global policy makers must work to triple energy investments from the current level of roughly $400 billion to $1.25 trillion and to adopt modern methods of measuring energy access to replace more traditional measures, such as presence of a household electricity connection, which mask vast differences in the quality of energy services.

The report also calls for transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable energy and for increased effort to address the linkages between energy and other development sectors, including water, agriculture, gender and health. Better understanding those linkages will be critical to achieving SE4All and other development goals.

“Member States have already indicated that energy will be part of this new generation of development goals,” Mr. Eliasson concluded. “Now we must ensure that means of implementation are equal to the task.”

Also, addressing the ministerial meeting Acting President of the General Assembly, Kaha Imnadze, explained that by ensuring access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all,” the international community would “greatly contribute” to the world’s economic transformation, improving people’s livelihoods, addressing climate change and protecting our planet.

“It is essential that governments continue to prioritize energy access, higher energy efficiency and cleaner energy in national development plans and strategies,” he added.

“We need appropriate policy and institutional frameworks to encourage investment in the energy sector and spur further advances in the development of clean-energy technology.”

The SE4All Forum will conclude on 21 May.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50912

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Progress on sustainable energy improving, but ‘world must move faster’ – UN backed-report

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18 May 2015 – Renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements will need to accelerate dramatically if the world is to achieve universal access to sustainable energy by 2030, according to a United Nations-backed report released today as senior leaders from government, business, finance, civil society and global institutions are gathering in New York for the second annual Sustainable Energy for All Forum.

The world is heading in the right direction under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, the Progress Toward Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2015 report says, but it must move faster.

According to the report, some 1.1 billion people in the world still live without electricity and almost 3 billion still cook using polluting fuels like kerosene, wood, charcoal and dung. And, while picking up steam, renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements will need to accelerate dramatically, it says.

“We are heading in the right direction to end energy poverty,” said Anita Marangoly George, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice. “But we are still far from the finish line.”

The Forum, which opened today and runs through 21 May, comes at a significant time, building momentum on energy issues ahead of both the September UN summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, and the December climate conference in Paris. It will contribute to shaping the direction of energy policy for the crucial decades to come, and catalyse vital investment to help make sustainable energy for all a reality by 2030.


Source: World Bank Group

“Energy touches everything. That’s why you’re here,” Kandeh Yumkella, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the SE4All initiative, told delegates at the opening plenary today. “Our mantra going forward is very simple: converting commitments to kilowatt hours for real people.”

Mr. Yumkella was joined at the opening by Ms. George, as well as Nilda Mesa, Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; NASDAQ Vice Chairman Sandy Frucher; and Thione Niang, co-founder with RB artist Akon of Akon Lighting Africa, which is working to provide solar power in more than 10 African countries.

“I grew up trying to beat the sun so I could do my homework before the sun went down,” Mr. Niang said. “We take this fight very personally because we grew up knowing the disadvantages of not having electricity.”

In the report’s tracking period – from 2010 to 2012 – the share of modern renewable energy in the global energy mix grew rapidly at 4 per cent a year, making up 8.8 per cent of total, but to meet the 2030 SE4All objective, the annual growth rate for renewables needs to be closer to 7.5 per cent.

Other areas also saw a pick-up in pace, though not enough to meet the three goals of SE4All, which are universal energy access, a doubling in the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and a doubling in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix – all by 2030.

The number of people without access to electricity and the number of people still cooking using polluting fuels like kerosene, wood, charcoal and dung reduced at a faster rate over the two years tracked compared to the previous 20 years, though progress on the latter was slower.

Renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements also picked up steam but will need even more dramatic accelerations, the report says.

“We will need to work a lot harder especially to mobilize much larger investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Ms. George. “Leveraging public finance to mobilize private capital is imperative in achieving these goals.”

To help close the gap the report recommends global policy makers work to triple energy investments from the current level of roughly $400 billion to $1.25 trillion and to adopt modern methods of measuring energy access to replace more traditional measures, such as presence of a household electricity connection, which mask vast differences in the quality of energy services.

The report, compiled by the World Bank, also calls for transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable energy and for increased effort to address the linkages between energy and other development sectors, including water, agriculture, gender and health. Better understanding those linkages will be critical to achieving SE4All and other development goals.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50888

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Progress on sustainable energy improving, but more needed to meet agreed targets – UN backed-report

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18 May 2015 – Renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements will need to accelerate dramatically if the world is to achieve universal access to sustainable energy by 2030, according to a United Nations-backed report released today as senior leaders from government, business, finance, civil society and global institutions are gathering in New York for the second annual Sustainable Energy for All Forum.

The world is heading in the right direction under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, the Progress Toward Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2015 report says, but it must move faster.

According to the report, some 1.1 billion people in the world still live without electricity and almost 3 billion still cook using polluting fuels like kerosene, wood, charcoal and dung. And, while picking up steam, renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements will need to accelerate dramatically, it says.

“We are heading in the right direction to end energy poverty,” said Anita Marangoly George, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice. “But we are still far from the finish line.”

The Forum, which opened today and runs through 21 May, comes at a significant time, building momentum on energy issues ahead of both the September UN summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, and the December climate conference in Paris. It will contribute to shaping the direction of energy policy for the crucial decades to come, and catalyse vital investment to help make sustainable energy for all a reality by 2030.


Source: World Bank Group

“Energy touches everything. That’s why you’re here,” Kandeh Yumkella, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the SE4All initiative, told delegates at the opening plenary today. “Our mantra going forward is very simple: converting commitments to kilowatt hours for real people.”

Mr. Yumkella was joined at the opening by Ms. George, as well as Nilda Mesa, Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability; NASDAQ Vice Chairman Sandy Frucher; and Thione Niang, co-founder with RB artist Akon of Akon Lighting Africa, which is working to provide solar power in more than 10 African countries.

“I grew up trying to beat the sun so I could do my homework before the sun went down,” Mr. Niang said. “We take this fight very personally because we grew up knowing the disadvantages of not having electricity.”

In the report’s tracking period – from 2010 to 2012 – the share of modern renewable energy in the global energy mix grew rapidly at 4 per cent a year, making up 8.8 per cent of total, but to meet the 2030 SE4All objective, the annual growth rate for renewables needs to be closer to 7.5 per cent.

Other areas also saw a pick-up in pace, though not enough to meet the three goals of SE4All, which are universal energy access, a doubling in the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and a doubling in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix – all by 2030.

The number of people without access to electricity and the number of people still cooking using polluting fuels like kerosene, wood, charcoal and dung reduced at a faster rate over the two years tracked compared to the previous 20 years, though progress on the latter was slower.

Renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements also picked up steam but will need even more dramatic accelerations, the report says.

“We will need to work a lot harder especially to mobilize much larger investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Ms. George. “Leveraging public finance to mobilize private capital is imperative in achieving these goals.”

To help close the gap the report recommends global policy makers work to triple energy investments from the current level of roughly $400 billion to $1.25 trillion and to adopt modern methods of measuring energy access to replace more traditional measures, such as presence of a household electricity connection, which mask vast differences in the quality of energy services.

The report, compiled by the World Bank, also calls for transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable energy and for increased effort to address the linkages between energy and other development sectors, including water, agriculture, gender and health. Better understanding those linkages will be critical to achieving SE4All and other development goals.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50888

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Senior UN official tells Forest Forum how it can contribute to sustainable development

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13 May 2015 – A new international agreement on forests should aim at advancing implementation of sustainable forest management and bring about a reversal of deforestation, the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said this morning.

Addressing the High-Level Segment of the 11th Session of the UN Forum on Forests, ECOSOC President, Martin Sajdik, said the international arrangement on forests (IAF) should also harness its full potential to mobilize further political support and resources required to fulfil its objectives, and should mainstream forests and sustainable forest management into sustainable development at the global, regional, national and local levels.

“I am pleased to see that the Forum considers as a high priority the integration of its future arrangement in the broader development agenda beyond 2015, and is undertaking adaptations to the new agenda through its deliberations on the international arrangement on forests (IAF) beyond 2015,” said Mr. Sajdik.

A strengthened and effective IAF beyond 2015 would enable the UN Forum on Forests to provide further contributions to the Council’s efforts to support the achievement of sustainable development, he said, adding that a strong Ministerial Declaration from the current Forum would “send a signal” on the importance of further elevating the profile of forests and serve as a concrete input to the post-2015 development agenda.

Mr. Sajdik said the Forum had been successful in integrating the multiple benefits of forests and their contributions to sustainable development into the broader development agenda, including the sustainable development goals (SDGs) which were currently under consideration as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

This was one of several ways in which the Forum had promoted management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests in the past 15 years and become an “indispensable” member of the ECOSOC system.

“One of the most significant contributions made by the Forum is the agreement on the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests, also known as the Forest Instrument,” he said. “The impact of the work of the Forum has been visible in other forest-related intergovernmental bodies and processes, as well as sustainable development processes.”

The Council President stressed how well-placed the Forum is to define the role of forests in sustainable development, and to contribute to the work of the ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) going forward.

“You are approaching the decision on the IAF beyond 2015, and are about to shape the framework for the next fifteen years,” he said. “I look forward to a constructive and energetic policy dialogue on the integration of forests in the post-2015 development agenda, and renewed commitments to the implementation of the IAF beyond 2015.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50849

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New UN-backed report emphasizes possible contribution of forests to ending hunger

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6 May 2015 – A new United Nations-backed report on the link between forests and food production and nutrition says that woodlands could be the key to ending hunger and will be intimately linked to the global fight against climate change.

Launched today at UN Headquarters in New York, where the 11th session of the UN Forum on Forests, the Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition report outlines the potential of forests to improve food security and nutrition, and to ensure the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“What the report is trying to get us to focus on is the relatively neglected contribution that forests and trees make to food security and nutrition,” said Bhaskar Vira, who serves as Chair of the Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security. “Not necessarily neglected by the people who actually consume them but possibly neglected in some of the policy discourses.”

He stressed that it was understood in the report that conventional agriculture would remain the major source of people’s nutrition needs but underlined the complementary role that forests and tree-based systems would also play in feeding the world.

“We’re not trying to suggest that forests and tree-based systems will replace agricultural in relation the critical relationship between crops and food,” said Mr. Vira. “But what we document in extensive detail is the role that forests and tree-based systems already play in supplementing people’s diets and the important roles they play in supplying people with a nutritionally balanced diet.”

Apart from the importance of forests and trees to food security and nutrition, the report’s other key messages are that integrated governance is important in the interaction between different areas of land-use, that local control of forests are vital to their well-being and to food security as a whole, and that there is a need going forward to reimagine forests and food security.

The report, which is based on existing knowledge, was put together by more than 60 renowned scientists who are part of the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Food Security. The initiative was led by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) – a world-wide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences, and a member of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which is an informal arrangement among 14 international organizations and secretariats with substantial programmes on forests.

The current session of the Forest Forum is trying to forge an international forest policy for the next 15 years that will be aligned with the new sustainable development agenda expected to be adopted in September. The current integration of forests into the new agenda demonstrates the increasing recognition of the critical role forests play in eradicating poverty, as well as addressing climate change.

“Conservation of forests and arresting deforestation remains the most affordable and most interesting and valuable cost-benefit option to decrease carbon emissions,” said Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, who also stressed the how crucial the current year was as the international community discussed a new development agenda and he noted that forests were to be included in two of the proposed new sustainable development goals.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50787

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New UN-backed report emphasizes possible contribution of forests to ending hunger

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6 May 2015 – A new United Nations-backed report on the link between forests and food production and nutrition says that woodlands could be the key to ending hunger and will be intimately linked to the global fight against climate change.

Launched today at UN Headquarters in New York, where the 11th session of the UN Forum on Forests, the Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition report outlines the potential of forests to improve food security and nutrition, and to ensure the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“What the report is trying to get us to focus on is the relatively neglected contribution that forests and trees make to food security and nutrition,” said Bhaskar Vira, who serves as Chair of the Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security. “Not necessarily neglected by the people who actually consume them but possibly neglected in some of the policy discourses.”

He stressed that it was understood in the report that conventional agriculture would remain the major source of people’s nutrition needs but underlined the complementary role that forests and tree-based systems would also play in feeding the world.

“We’re not trying to suggest that forests and tree-based systems will replace agricultural in relation the critical relationship between crops and food,” said Mr. Vira. “But what we document in extensive detail is the role that forests and tree-based systems already play in supplementing people’s diets and the important roles they play in supplying people with a nutritionally balanced diet.”

Apart from the importance of forests and trees to food security and nutrition, the report’s other key messages are that integrated governance is important in the interaction between different areas of land-use, that local control of forests are vital to their well-being and to food security as a whole, and that there is a need going forward to reimagine forests and food security.

The report, which is based on existing knowledge, was put together by more than 60 renowned scientists who are part of the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Food Security. The initiative was led by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) – a world-wide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences, and a member of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which is an informal arrangement among 14 international organizations and secretariats with substantial programmes on forests.

The current session of the Forest Forum is trying to forge an international forest policy for the next 15 years that will be aligned with the new sustainable development agenda expected to be adopted in September. The current integration of forests into the new agenda demonstrates the increasing recognition of the critical role forests play in eradicating poverty, as well as addressing climate change.

“Conservation of forests and arresting deforestation remains the most affordable and most interesting and valuable cost-benefit option to decrease carbon emissions,” said Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, who also stressed the how crucial the current year was as the international community discussed a new development agenda and he noted that forests were to be included in two of the proposed new sustainable development goals.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50787

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UN deputy chief calls for ‘meaningful decision’ on strengthened international arrangement on forests

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4 May 2015 – Opening the eleventh session of the United Nations Forum on Forests today, the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, today called on delegates to work on agreeing a strengthened International Arrangement on Forests, which balanced ambition and practicality.

“A meaningful decision on strengthening the International Arrangement on Forests will put us on a path towards a greener economy and a more equitable and sustainable future for all,” said Mr. Eliasson said in remarks to the Forum, which is holding its current session in New York through 15 May.

“Realizing the full potential of the future arrangement will require all of us to play a role. We must all work to mobilize tangible and coordinated support, across sectors, and at all levels.”

He stressed the vital importance of the current year to providing development and life in dignity for all and explained how agreeing a new Arrangement on Forests fit in with work to adopt a universal and transformative post-2015 agenda and set of sustainable development goals, to reach a universal and meaningful agreement on climate change, and to agree on a financing framework for the future development agenda.

“In shaping the International Arrangement on Forests beyond 2015, it will be important to define ways in which the future arrangement will advance forest-related sustainable development goals and targets,” Mr. Eliasson said. “We must at the same time address the challenges of poverty eradication and climate change.”

A more relevant and effective Arrangement to more sustainably manage forests was important because of the huge number of the world’s people – around 1.6 billion, he said – who depend to some degree on forests for food, shelter and income, as well as because some of the poorest and most vulnerable, including some 60 million indigenous people, rely on forests for subsistence and survival.

“The post-2015 agenda calls on us to leave no-one behind,” Mr. Eliasson said. “The sustainable management of forests – in partnership with those who live in the forest regions – will be critical for meeting our ambition to eradicate poverty in all its forms.”

And the fight to keep global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius would be impossible without serious efforts on forest preservation, he stressed.

“Three-fourths of freshwater comes from forested catchments,” he said. “Forests build resilience. Forests provide renewable energy. And forests offer effective and cost-competitive natural carbon capture and storage.”

He underlined the link between delivering on a global commitment to forests and ambition on financing and implementation and looked forward to an Accord emerging from the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July this year.

“The Addis Accord should help put us on a path to meet forest financing needs,” he said, calling also for the mainstreaming of the forest sector into sustainable development at all levels and in all sectors, and for establishment of governance systems to address destructive practices and illegal deforestation.

Mr. Eliasson said indigenous and local communities would be vital to any new Arrangement because of the important, traditional forest-related knowledge they possess, while the role of women as forest managers, stewards and agents of change needed also to be properly recognized.

“We need equitable sharing of benefits from forests and forest products,” he said. “We also need to ensure payments for forest ecosystem services, not rewarded, not remunerated by markets.”

He saw a stronger International Arrangement on Forests providing the necessary roadmap to meeting such challenges and called on the Forum to build on the momentum and opportunity offered by the current year.

“Let us show the international community that it is time to get serious about forests,” he urged. “This pursuit is fundamentally about respect for everything living and for the necessary balance between Man and Nature.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50766

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UN environment chief warns of ‘tsunami’ of e-waste at conference on chemical treaties

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4 May 2015 – The head of the United Nations body tasked with setting the global environmental agenda today stressed the need to limit the use of dangerous chemicals and to find a solution to the masses of electronic waste building up around the world, as a Conference of Parties to three major Conventions on the subject began in Geneva today.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told journalists that the “tsunami of e-waste rolling out over the world” not only accounted for a large portion of the world’s non-recyclable “waste mountain” but also needed dealing with because many elements found in electronic equipment are potentially hazardous to people and the environment.

“Never mind that it is also an economic stupidity because we are throwing away an enormous amount of raw materials that are essentially re-useable,” said Mr. Steiner. “Whether it is gold, silver or some of the rare earths that you have heard about perhaps in recent years, it is still an incredible amount.”

Mr. Steiner said that the amount of some such materials that are available above ground in unused electronics now exceeds the amount still in the ground and he looked to the potential of the Basel Convention to help access ‘urban mines’ by working to better inform people of how to dispose of their e-waste.

As well as the Basel Convention, for which the Geneva meeting is the 12th Conference of Parties, the eleven-day ‘2015 Triple COPs: Setting the Scene for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste, Worldwide’ will also cover the Seventh Conference of Parties to both the Rotterdam and the Stockholm Conventions. Over 1,500 delegates are expected to take part in the talks, which aim to improve three international conventions contributing to global controls on hazardous chemicals and waste.

The Executive Director said the three Conventions were not about stopping the use of chemicals but about providing a clear platform from which to inform policy-makers of science that can inform decisions to help protect citizens from toxicity and about signalling to the market that alternatives are needed.

He pointed out how materials used in production of various items are becoming ever more present in people’s daily lives, and he said people were becoming “increasingly a repository for the chemical footprint of the 21st century,” often in ways that damage health.

“Annually, one million people die from occupational poisoning,” Mr. Steiner said, referring to the effects of the use of chemicals on people’s bodies. “This is something that is, in this day and age, not only unnecessary it’s really intolerable. And this is why the sound management of chemicals is something that has brought Governments, civil society but also the private sector and the chemical industry together.”

The Executive Secretary of Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Rolph Payet, echoed Mr. Steiner’s concerns about the number of people dying from occupational poisoning and described the wide reach of chemicals, with DDT found in polar bear and fat because of its transport in water and in the air. While the number of those dying from occupational poisoning was notable, he also pointed to the “silent crisis,” whereby the accumulation of chemicals in people’s bodies was possibly slowly killing them.

Clayton Campanhola, the Executive Secretary of Rotterdam Convention and a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the agency was particularly focused on the prevention of use and safe disposal of obsolete pesticides. About 500,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides scattered around the developing wold posed serious risks to people and environment, he said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50763

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