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As momentum builds for December climate talks in Paris, Ban looks ahead to ‘bold’ outcome


26 August 2015 – Commending France’s “exemplary leadership” on efforts to tackle climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today affirmed that the international community is now at a stage where the final elements of the new climate agreement are being negotiated.

“The climate conference in Paris later this year is at the very top of the international agenda. I expect a bold and meaningful outcome at the Conference of Parties…in December,” stated the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his remarks to the French diplomatic corps, which has been meeting this week in Paris.

“I was especially glad to be invited to attend your gathering this year because of the historic efforts that are under way to chart a new development path for the human family,” Mr. Ban continued, adding that the climate negotiations cap a “transformational” year for human progress.

In March, he underlined, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, agreed on important steps to build more resilient societies, while in July, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, in Addis Ababa, revitalized the global partnership for development.

“And earlier this month, in New York, Member States agreed on the final text of an inspiring new development agenda that will guide us through to the year 2030,” he also mentioned, rejoicing that world leaders will formally adopt it next month.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of President Hollande for the protection of the planet. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) is greeted by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (shaking hand) and Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Minister of Environment of Peru. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) at joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (center) and Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Minister of Environment of Peru. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Minister of Environment of Peru. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives a standing ovation after his speech at the Conference of Ambassadors. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Calling the 17 adopted Sustainable Development Goals a “path to sustainable development,” the Secretary-General said they offered a “blueprint” for ending poverty in all its dimensions “without leaving anyone behind” and identified the fundamental links between promoting prosperity and ensuring peaceful societies and respect for human rights.

But unless the world takes urgent action on climate change, sustainable development will not be achieved, he warned. “In my engagement with leaders, I have made it clear what I believe a meaningful [climate] agreement could include,” referring to the expected outcome of the 21st meeting of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), widely referred to as COP-21.

First, Mr. Ban noted, it must send a strong signal that the world is committed to a low-carbon future, “and there is no going back.”

Second, he continued, an agreement must be durable so that it provides the private sector with the predictability and policy frameworks it needs to invest in clean energy and climate-resilient approaches.

“Third, it must be flexible so that it can provide incentives and incorporate more ambitious, science-based nationally determined targets over time,” the Secretary-General recommended.

Fourth, it must uphold the principle of equity, support the adaptation needs of developing countries, and demonstrate solidarity with the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

Fifth, it must include credible, clear mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress in a transparent manner on a full range of actions, Mr. Ban went on to say.

And sixth, credible climate financing is essential, he stressed, recalling it is “imperative” that developed countries provide greater clarity on the public finance component of the $100 billion before the Paris conference, as well as on how they will engage private finance.

The UN chief therefore is engaging with leaders “from north and south” to make sure this goal is met and is considered credible by all.

An agreement must also acknowledge the need for long-term, very significant financing beyond 2020, and the Green Climate Fund must be up and running, with funds that can be disbursed before Paris, he emphasized in conclusion, encouraging countries and companies to “take the lead” in developing clean energy technologies and markets.

The Secretary-General also had today a “very productive meeting” with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, with whom he discussed a number of global challenges with national and continental implications, including migrations.

“More people are displaced today than at any time since the Second World War. Many millions are fleeing violence and persecution in Syria and elsewhere. Others are seeking to escape poverty and looking for opportunities to lead a dignified life. They are making perilous journeys and should not face yet another ordeal upon arrival,” he said, welcoming countries that are showing solidarity.

Violent extremism is another major area of concern, the UN chief added. “As we saw with the recent potential mass attack here in France, we must be vigilant in addressing threats without ever becoming overcome by fear and suspicion, which is precisely the intent of those who seek to terrorize.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51727

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In France, Ban and President Hollande discuss global issues including upcoming Paris climate talks


25 August 2015 – In Paris today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the President of France, François Hollande, with whom he discussed a range of issues, including the climate change conference, which is due to start in December (COP-21) in the French capital, as well as the next steps to be taken to ensure an ambitious outcome.

Both men discussed the different ways of engaging Heads of State and Governments on the issue of climate change, including on the margins of the 70th session of the General Assembly in New York in September, as well as at other meetings involving leaders, indicates a read-out.

They agreed on the importance of drawing attention to the climate finance package for The meeting of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21) “as early as possible,” such as at the meeting of Finance Ministers in Lima in October, while operationalizing the Green Climate Fund and reaching out to all Member States to further accelerate momentum in the coming months.

The Secretary-General and the French President also discussed a number of peace and security issues, including the situations in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, as well as the Middle East Peace Process.

While they noted progress towards elections and restoring security in the Central African Republic, Mr. Ban stressed his resolve and commitment in addressing issues of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, by UN peacekeepers.

In the aftermath of his visit to Nigeria, the Secretary-General and President Hollande also discussed the threat of Boko Haram across the region and the need to address violent extremism everywhere.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51718

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Senior UN climate change official envisages ‘good agreement’ at upcoming Pairs conference


25 August 2015 – The climate change agreement world leaders are expected to sign in December “has to take us to a less than 2 degree global warming path because that is the ultimate test of the whole package that will come out of Paris,” according to Janos Pasztor, a senior United Nations official dealing with the issue.

“Our expectation is that there will be a good agreement signed,” Mr. Pasztor said in an interview with the UN News Service ahead of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s meeting today in Paris with French President François Hollande to discuss the latest developments in the lead up to the Conference of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP-21, as well as the next steps to be taken to ensure an ambitious outcome.

The UN official elaborated on the expected outcome in Paris by saying that “there has to be something that is there for the long term so that there is a clear signal that is provided to the market and to other actors that we are going in a certain direction of increasingly low carbon development.”

“It also has to have dimension of solidarity – solidarity with those who are more vulnerable, and those who are less capable of taken action on their own without financial and technological support,” he said.

“It also has to be credible – credible in terms of what we measure of what countries are doing but also credible in terms of what is being proposed such as financial support,” Mr. Pasztor said.

“And finally, what is perhaps most important, it has to take us to a less than 2 degree global warming path because that is the ultimate test of the whole package that will come out of Paris,” he said.

In this regard, Secretary-General Ban and President Hollande in Paris noted the importance of, and different ways of engaging Heads of State and Governments on climate change, including on the margins of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York in September as well as at other meetings involving global leaders.

They also agreed on the importance of generating signals about the climate finance package for COP-21 as early as possible, such as at the meeting of Finance Ministers in Lima in October. In addition, the two men agreed on the importance of operationalizing the Green Climate Fund, and of reaching out to all Member States to further accelerate momentum in the coming months.

In his interview, the senior official said he had been up in the Arctic with the Secretary-General recently “where already they are measuring 2 degree warming over the baseline which is twice the global average.”

Mr. Pasztor said “you see the impact” everywhere, but he also drew attention to “a lot of incredible solutions especially when it comes to renewable energy.”

“If you see what has happened in Denmark and Germany and China, in different parts of the world, it just really amazing,” he said.

On another positive note, Mr. Pasztor said that “everybody has a role to play” to combat climate change.

“Everybody can do something,” he said, adding “If everybody in the world does something we would have solved the climate change problem.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51721

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Helped by floating robots, UN-backed research ship scours Indian Ocean for plastic waste


14 August 2015 – The United Nations is supporting a project aiming to chart the impact of plastic waste, including garbage like plastic bags, and ‘microplastics’ used in products such as cosmetics and shower gels, in the Indian Ocean, underscoring the risk of dramatic upheavals in marine ecosystems even in one of the world’s least-known and least-visited environments.

An estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently float in the world’s oceans, up from none in 1950 and posing a question about their potential impact on a food supply chain that stretches from plankton – which have been filmed eating plastic pellets – up through shellfish, salmon, tuna and eventually humans, not to mention whales.

With these troubling facts in mind, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting the efforts of the Dr Fridtjof Nansen, which is plying the waves of the southern Indian Ocean, trawling for trash.

The research vessel, operated by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in collaboration with FAO, has since 1975 plied the world’s oceans to collect information on marine resources and the health of the marine ecosystems and to help train scientists from around the world.

Some 18 scientists from eight countries and crew are aboard now, in the second of two seasonal missions. Researchers typically measure ocean temperatures, oxygen levels, chlorophyll and biological processes like plankton production and fish distribution, but there are two particular additional goals this year: to assess the scale and nature of industrial rubbish in remote parts of the southern Indian Ocean, and to study how the local Gyre, a cyclical vortex of currents, operates to spread plankton and tiny fish.

“We have found some plastic particles in almost all the stations we sampled,” said Reidar Toresen of IMR, cruise leader of the first leg. IMR is providing scientific services to the FAO EAF-Nansen Project financed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

Ocean-borne plastic trash can be ingested by wildlife – some sea creatures have even been seen to prefer beads of a particular colour – causing harm. Even tiny plankton have also been observed consuming plastic beads. Such menu choices can have tragic outcomes; sea turtles that eat plastic bags, for example, often die of dehydration and sunburn as their digestion is paralyzed and decomposing food turns into gas that forces the animals to float.

According to FAO, huge floating islands of trash twice the size of Texas have recently been located in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but the southern Indian Ocean is relatively unexplored. The Trans-Indian Ocean Survey will yield critical information to scientists concerned about the extent and impact of so-called plastic beads in the ocean.

On the current mission, the crew is also launching new, high-technology sinking sensors to measure levels of a range of deepwater biological elements. Provided by Australia with help from India, these robotic sensors are a step beyond the floating robots already in use to monitor ocean temperatures and salinity, as they are programmed to dive down as deep as 2,000 meters to sample oceanic health indicators.

When they resurface, these diving devices gather data at various depths, then resurface and transmit the data to scientists by satellite. The sensors will collect data on levels of chlorophyll, an indicator both of trends in the ocean’s carbon storage capacity as well as in the basic food supply that plankton and the fish that eat them can rely on.

Promoting sustainable oceans and fishing practices is a priority for FAO as capture fishery production is the source of 80 million tonnes of nutritious food each year.
Together with aquaculture, the world’s capture fisheries provide nearly 3 billion people with 20 percent of their protein intake, as well as almost 60 million jobs.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51642

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UN body stresses vital role of geospatial data to achieving sustainable development goals


11 August 2015 – Geographic information about people and the planet is critical to making better decisions and using resources more wisely, and will be vital to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals that countries have recently agreed on, according to a United Nations expert on the issue.

“There’s a recognition of the need and the benefit that can be realized from this kind of activity,” Tim Trainor of the United States, one of three co-chairs of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), said in an interview during the body’s fifth session held last week at UN Headquarters.

Geospatial – or geographic – information shows where social, environmental and economic conditions occur. It helps answer questions such as: where are people at risk of rising sea levels? How do we protect the people living there? Where is disease occurring? How do we contain it? How many hectares are forests are there? Are we managing them sustainably?

Such data is indispensable for advancing the global development agenda, particularly the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that world leaders will formally adopt next month in New York with the aim of ending poverty, and promoting prosperity and people’s well-being while protecting the environment, by 2030.

“If you look at the Sustainable Development Goals… all of them deal with information and all of that information has some relationship to where those events or where those activities are happening on the Earth,” Mr. Trainor explained. “In order to make the Sustainable Development Goals really meaningful, they have to know where these events are happening.”

Efforts to increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data, disaggregated by geographic location, will be critical, he stressed.

“The whole notion of this Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management is really attempting to alert leaders of the world about the importance of geospatial information so that they can make better informed decisions… so they can answer those questions and understand better the condition of their populations, or the condition of their economy, or the condition of their natural resources and environment and so forth.

“By making them aware and by promoting the notion of the importance of geospatial information within their country, they can make better informed decisions.”

Although it is probably not as well-known as some other UN committees, the Committee of Experts formulated the first geospatial resolution adopted by the General Assembly in February this year. This landmark resolution recognized the global importance of location and positioning for many areas of development.

This year’s session of the Committee brought together over 290 participants consisting of ministers, heads of national mapping agencies, geospatial information management authorities and industry observers from over 85 countries.

Twenty countries participated for the first time, signalling – according to the Committee – the increasing global reach of the body and the growing awareness of the use and value of geospatial information to underpin economic growth and as a vital part of sustainable development.

Among the issues discussed at its three-day session last week were guidelines to assist Member States in implementing and adopting international geospatial standards and best practice, as well as the application of geospatial information to land administration and management.

“The monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals over the past 15 years taught us that data are an indispensable element of the development agenda,” Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo told the Committee during its session.

“Knowing where people and things are, and their relationship to each other, is essential for informed decision-making, and to measure and monitor outcomes.”

Over the next 12 months, one of the major objectives of the Committee will be to ensure that geospatial information is included in the preparation of the indicators to measure the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51608

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UN chief welcomes climate change plan unveiled by President Obama


3 August 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Clean Power Plan formally unveiled today by President Barack Obama, saying it shows the determination of the United States to address global warming while also saving money and growing the economy.

The Plan reportedly assigns each state a target for reducing its carbon pollution from power plants. States will be allowed to create their own plans to meet the requirements and will have to submit initial versions of their plans by 2016 and final versions by 2018.

It aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from US power stations by nearly a third within 15 years, and emphasizes wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources.

“The Plan is an example of the visionary leadership necessary to reduce emissions and to tackle climate change,” Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, told reporters in New York.

“The Secretary-General appreciates President Obama’s strong, personal leadership on climate change,” he added. “President Obama’s leadership by example is essential for bringing other key countries on board and securing a universal, durable and meaningful agreement in Paris in December.”

Mr. Ban will travel to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to meet with Mr. Obama on a range of issues.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51554

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Amid &#39steady rise&#39 in rhino poaching and elephant killings, UN urges action to tackle illegal wildlife trade


30 July 2015 – Recognizing that wild animals and plants are an “irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the Earth,” the United Nations General Assembly today urged its Member States to take decisive steps to prevent, combat and eradicate the illegal trade in wildlife, “on both the supply and demand sides.”

Through the new resolution, the Assembly expressed serious concern over the steady rise in the level of rhino poaching and the alarmingly high levels of killings of elephants in Africa, which threaten those species with local extinction and, in some cases, with global extinction.

“Illegal wildlife trafficking not only threatens species and ecosystems; it affects the livelihoods of local communities and diminishes touristic attractions. It compromises efforts towards poverty eradication and the achievement of sustainable development,” said Assembly President Sam Kutesa in remarks read by Vice-President Denis Antoine.

Adopting a consensus text resolution, the 193-Member body encouraged Governments to adopt effective measures to prevent and counter the serious problem of crimes such as illicit trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products, including flora and fauna and poaching.

The resolution suggests “strengthening the legislation necessary for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of such illegal trade, as well as strengthening enforcement and criminal justice responses, acknowledging that the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime can provide valuable technical assistance in this regard.”

The General Assembly also calls upon Member States to make illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora involving organized criminal groups a “serious crime.”

Member States are equally encouraged to harmonize their judicial, legal and administrative regulations to support the exchange of evidence, as well as to establish “national-level inter-agency wildlife crime task forces.”

“The adoption of this resolution today and its effective implementation will be crucial in our collective efforts to combat illicit trafficking in wildlife worldwide,” adds the President’s statement.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51536

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