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Small islands remain ‘humanity’s moral compass,’ leaders tell UN, urging action on climate change

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29 September 2015 – The President of the Dominican Republic, among other leaders of small island developing States addressing the General Assembly today, noted the importance of tackling climate change as a key part of the broader work of ensuring sustainable development for all.

President Danilo Medina Sánchez welcomed the fact that “industrialized nations have finally stepped forward to fight climate change, with firmness and determination.”

He also spoke of the new UN development agenda and the opportunity it offered to combat inequality, which he said was “the great enemy of sustainable development.”

Citing a 2014 study by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Mr. Medina Sánchez said that growth with equity required a “responsible productive sector that guarantees the generation of wealth in all layers of society.”

“Along with the necessary transformation of our economic structures, the second pillar of the fight against inequality has to be the State,” he continued. “We must regain the role of the State as an efficient wealth distributor, as a creator of opportunities and as a defender of the rights of all citizens.

Seychelles’ President, James Alix Michel, stressed UN institutional reform before he discussed the impact of climate change on small island developing States (SIDS), which he called the “sentinels of nature and the guardians of the oceans.”

President James A. Michel of the Seychelles addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Mr. Michel said “we must break the present growth model” and place nature over consumerism in order to minimize the effects of climate change.

“Climate change is not of the making of the small island developing States, but we bear the full brunt of it, which is why we will never cease to raise the issue in every forum, including this one, because we are the conscience of the world,” he declared.

Mr. Michel also spoke about the special and differentiated treatment of SIDS, cautioning that a “one size fits all approach to development cannot be the order of the day.”

“We, the inhabitants of SIDS shall constantly remind you of this because islands remain the moral compass of the world, because our own agenda is inextricably linked to humanity’s,” he added.

He also noted the importance of Goal 14 of the 2030 agenda to all SIDS and coastal States, emphasizing that it presented a “unique opportunity for global governance of the oceans and seas” and a mechanism to realize sustainable growth for SIDS based around an ocean economy.

Referring to the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris, Mr. Michel said that “it will be a crucial and decisive moment of choice for all of us,” adding that “we cannot allow ourselves to be condemned to the wrong side of history” and called on developed countries to commit to devoting $100 billion annually by 2020 for the operationalization of the climate change fund.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said that the Assembly was “beset by global threats and risks.”

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

He spoke of the “grave and gathering threat of climate change” and of the “rising and raging seas” attacking the coastline of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where, he said, climate volatility threatens lives and livelihoods.

Speaking of the recent devastation wrought by tropical storm Erica on the island of Dominica, Mr. Gonsalves noted that nations’ existential struggles in the face of climate change must be addressed through reaching an agreement at the upcoming Paris conference.

Similarly, the Prime Minister of Tonga, Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, said his country looked forward to the successful conclusion of negotiations on a climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year.

Prime Minister Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva of the Kingdom of Tonga addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

“This agreement must reaffirm the ultimate objective of the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere,” he underscored.

“Tonga remains highly vulnerable to natural disasters, which continue to increase in frequency and destructiveness,” he continued. “Climate change continues to pose an irreversible threat to our people, our society, our livelihoods, and our natural environment.”

President Pohiva also noted that Tonga’s vulnerability to natural disasters epitomized the island nations’ special case for sustainable development. Such vulnerabilities, he said, should be factored into development finance calculations designed to assist SIDS.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52061

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Informal talks on climate change reveal broad support for ‘durable’ deal in Paris, Ban reports

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27 September 2015 – Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported today that ahead of an upcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris, world leaders have voiced broad support for reaching a durable agreement that will accelerate investments in clean energy and spur a global, low-carbon transformation well before the end of the century, consistent with a below 2 degrees Celsius pathway.

“Leaders expressed their resolve to finalize a durable, meaningful agreement in Paris that applies to all countries,” Mr. Ban told reporters following a high-level working lunch held on the margins of the UN Sustainable Development Summit, which opened in New York on Friday and wraps up later today.

The Summit, which has adopted the landmark new sustainability blueprint, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate over the next 15 years – is also being seen as an opportunity to continue momentum ahead of the Twenty-first meeting of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), informally known as COP 21, taking place in the French capital this December.

“Our meeting today was not a negotiation, but an informal gathering to inject greater political energy,” explained the UN chief at a press conference alongside Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and French President François Hollande, who both had participated in the working lunch and welcomed the generally positive nature of the discussions.

Stressing that the points of political convergence that had emerged must be translated into tangible action, the Secretary-General said that leaders had noted that a Paris agreement must be a turning point that sends a clear signal to citizens and the private sector that the transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial, and already underway.

“There was also consensus that the agreement must strengthen resilience to climate impacts, with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable. Leaders agreed that Paris must be the floor, not the ceiling, for collective ambition,” said Mr. Ban, adding that they had also agreed that a review process is needed to strengthen national commitments over time in order to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.

While noting that collectively, national contributions are still not enough, the UN chief said he was pleased to hear leaders pledge to continue working closely with each other and with other leaders to remove political roadblocks.

The Secretary-General went on to highlight several upcoming meetings that “can help us cross the finish line in Paris,” including the October meeting of finance ministers in Lima, Peru; the G20 Summit in Turkey; the Cochabamba Summit and the Commonwealth Heads of Government in November.

“I appeal to all leaders to show flexibility, vision and leadership,” said Mr. Ban, noting that the UN general Assembly had just adopted the inspiring new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and that momentum must continue with a “robust” agreement in Paris.

For his part, President Humala said participants in the working lunch had evinced a joint vision on the need to collectively tackle climate change. In that regard, there was general agreement on the need to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, as well as ensuring support for developing countries to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

He also urged countries heading to Paris to make their commitments on climate change and to likewise support the efforts of the French Government in hosting a successful meeting. “Humanity has the opportunity to build the strongest and most powerful alliance ever,” to protect the planet, he declared.

President Hollande said that from what he had heard at today’s meeting, none of the leaders had expressed any reservation or opposition to reaching an agreement in Paris. There was a will towards sticking to the 2 degree Celsius pathway. With that in mind, he urged all those countries that had not presented their climate initiatives to do so ahead of COP 21.

He went on to stress the need to set out a five-year review mechanism that would help ensure that the goals agreed in Paris will be met. President Hollande also said it was important for every country to implement a carbon pricing system, without which, “there will be no real change.”

He looked forward to reaching a “pre-agreement” ahead of COP 21 to set out a clear guide to what could be expected in Paris. “Everyone is convinced that there will be an agreement in Paris but the question is what type of agreement” and how strong the commitment will be to implement it, he concluded.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51992

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Ban welcomes joint China-US announcement on measures to tackle climate change

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25 September 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the joint announcement made today by the Governments of China and the United States on the significant steps each country is aiming to take to address climate change.

“This announcement bolsters prospects for a universal, meaningful agreement in Paris this year. It further signals the shared vision and seriousness with which the world’s two largest economies are moving to a low carbon future,” said Mr. Ban in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.

China’s plans to create the world’s largest carbon market by 2017, coupled with its ground-breaking commitment of $3 billion to South-South cooperation on climate change, will improve the health and well-being of its citizens and deliver tangible benefits to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, the statement said.

“The Secretary-General also welcomes the United States’ reaffirmation of its commitment to significant emissions reductions and its pledge to the Green Climate Fund,” the statement continued.

Concluding, it said that the joint China-US announcement provides strong leadership and momentum for a comprehensive global climate agreement in Paris that can put the world on a safer, more sustainable pathway.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51975

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At meeting of African Presidents, Ban highlights importance of urban planning as tool for development

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24 September 2015 – Speaking at a presidential dialogue on the African Urban Agenda at United Nations Headquarters in New York today, the Secretary-General addressed the leaders of several African countries and highlighted the importance of effective urban planning as a vital tool for development.

“Africa is the most rapidly urbanizing region of the world,” said the Secretary-General. “Two-thirds of Africa`s projected total population of 2.5 billion people will require urban services by 2063. And Africa needs to be ready,” he urged.

Thanking the assembled dignitaries for their “leadership and commitment to the African urban agenda,” Mr. Ban said that urbanization, if managed well, could be a powerful engine to aid sustainable development, while “a failure in urban design can lead to more poverty, insecurity and social ills.”

“The urban model of the last 50 years showed us the role of urbanization in accelerating development,” said Mr. Ban. “However, the record is mixed. Some models have been successful in terms of economic development, but were less so in other areas such as environmental preservation and social cohesion.”

He added that, with the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 11, there is a chance to encourage effective urban planning, and make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, and develop efficient urbanization as a tool for development.

The Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of the UN Conference for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, also known as Habitat III , which is set to take place in Quito, Ecuador, in October next year, calling it “an extraordinary opportunity to help shape the urbanization in Africa.”

The African Urban Agenda, an initiative launched by UN-Habitat, aims at raising the profile of urbanization as an imperative for development in Africa.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51961

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Indigenous and local groups from 19 countries recognized with UN Equator Prize

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21 September 2015 – A Brazilian indigenous group that inspired the film Avatar, a conservation outfit in Indonesia that is saving sea turtles and a movement for pygmy rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are among the 21 winning initiatives of a United Nations prize that recognizes outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty, protect nature and strengthen resilience in the face of climate change.

The winners of the 2015 Equator Prize were announced by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) at a press conference in New York that also featured Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and actor and activist Alec Baldwin.

“These winners show what is possible when indigenous peoples and local communities are backed by rights to manage their lands, territories and natural resources,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

In addition to Brazil, Indonesia and DRC, the other winners are from Belize, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ethiopia/Kenya, Honduras, Madagascar, Malaysia/Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Uganda. The award was given to groups from Afghanistan, Guyana and Iran for the first time.

Speaking at the press conference, Miss Clark noted that among this year’s winners are those who have used drones and smartphones; and others who are practising organic agriculture; promoting peaceful conflict resolution; and advocating through media and other campaigns.

Some have succeeded in securing land rights and resource access for hundreds of communities, she added. Between them, their actions have protected forests, fields, coastlines, and waterways from degradation and destruction. In the process, thousands of sustainable jobs have been created for communities.

“This is the true face of sustainable development,” said the Administrator. “The achievements of Equator Prize winners tell us something fundamental: that low-cost, innovative, local solutions do help the world battle climate change and realize sustainable development.”

Noting the importance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, Ms. Figueres stressed the vital role of indigenous groups and local communities in assisting the world in reaching its collective climate goals.

“The agreement governments will reach in Paris will be a crucial catalyst for sustainable development in the 21st century – everyone, from governments, cities and companies to local and indigenous communities have an interest and everyone has a role to play in bending down emissions and building resilient societies,” she stated.

Mr. Baldwin commended the efforts of the “remarkable” group of winners and stated that the “world is in awe of their leadership and bravery.”

This year’s winners were chosen from a record 1,461 nominations from across 126 countries. Each winning group will receive $10,000 and is able to participate in a two-week community summit during the Paris conference, where the awards will be handed out at a star-studded gala.

The Equator Prize is a leading programme of the Equator Initiative that includes the UN, governments, civil society groups, local organizations and business to promote sustainable development solutions.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51927

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Unilever chief honoured by UN for advocating more sustainable business models

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18 September 2015 – Paul Polman, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unilever and transformative business leader, is the winner of this year’s United Nations Champions of the Earth Award in the Entrepreneurial Vision category.

“With his ambitious vision and personal commitment to sustainability, Mr. Polman has established a reputation for leading by example,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), while announcing the award.

UNEP recognized Mr. Polman’s “bold leadership” in proving that transitioning to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity waiting to be seized.

“As Unilever CEO, he is demonstrating the need for long-term corporate thinking that accounts for social and environmental concerns. In addition, his leadership on UN and other sustainability boards is directly influencing a sustainability shift in the corporate world beyond his own company,” said Mr. Steiner.

Mr. Polman has introduced plans to halve the environmental footprint produced by Unilever by 2020. Under his sustainable business models, Unilever has already achieved zero waste to landfill and reduced the amount of CO2sub from energy and water in manufacturing by 37 and 32 per cent since 2008.

“I’m deeply honoured to accept this award,” Mr. Polman said in response to the announcement. “As the United Nations prepares to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals and agree a global climate deal, it is more important than ever that businesses take active leadership to show that growth and sustainability are not in conflict.”

Mr. Polman also serves as Chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and sits on the Board of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative, and other committees dedicated to pushing successful measures for sustainability for all businesses.

He was also a part of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel helped draft Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17, which aims to ‘to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.’

The annual Champions of the Earth awards are the highest environmental accolade that the UN confers upon outstanding individuals and organizations. The awards will be handed out at a gala ceremony at the close of the Sustainable Development Summit, on 27 September in New York.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51917

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Countries urged to submit climate action plans ahead of UN conference in Paris

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17 September 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is eager to get countries to submit as soon as possible their action plans that will form the basis of the new universal climate change agreement to be adopted in December in Paris, a senior United Nations official dealing with the issue said today.

Janos Pasztor, Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change, told a press conference at United Nations Headquarters that, to date, 62 out of 194 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

The Secretary-General is “eager” to get all countries to submit their climate action plans, Mr. Pasztor said, adding “the earlier we get them the better.”

According to the UNFCCC, the Paris agreement will come into effect in 2020, empowering all countries to act to prevent average global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius and to reap the many opportunities that arise from a necessary global transformation to clean and sustainable development.

Mr. Pasztor described as “remarkable” the submissions that have been put forward so far, drawing attention to the fact the plans are based on what countries are prepared to do in response to climate change. Countries have agreed that there will be no back-tracking in these national climate plans, meaning that the level of ambition to reduce emissions will increase over time.

He added that the Secretary-General hopes the visit to the UN by Pope Francis during next week’s General Assembly session devoted to adopting a new global development agenda will bolster support for action on climate change.

The UN expects 154 Heads of State or Government and 30 ministers for the Sustainable Development Summit, which will be held from 25 to 27 September.

On Wednesday, Mr. Ban voiced his concerns at a press conference that not enough is being done to keep temperature rise under the 2-degree Celsius threshold and urged world leaders “to raise ambition – and then match ambition with action.”

Against the backdrop of unprecedented population movements confronting the world today and in response to a question about whether climate change was a cause that forced people to be on the move, Mr. Pasztor said that there is “increasing evidence” that climate change is a factor.

“Climate change is a threat multiplier,” he said, adding that if there are already conditions that are prompting people to be on the move, the effects of climate change are making them worse.

“The facts are clear on the ground,” said Mr. Pasztor.

He also noted that there is “no silver bullet in reducing emissions,” and advocated for investing in substantive research for new technologies in the long-term battle against climate change.

“We are in this game for a long time,” he said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51904

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UN welcomes new partnership and leadership to spearhead sustainable energy efforts

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16 September 2015 – A firm foundation to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all has been built but a solid long-term institutional arrangement is needed, the United Nations Secretary-General said today, as he welcomed the creation of an international not-for-profit organization to spearhead renewable energy efforts.

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity and a healthy environment,” Ban Ki-moon told participants at a briefing on the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All).

Launched by Mr. Ban in 2011, SE4All is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to achieve three inter-linked global targets, namely to ensure universal access to modern energy services, to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

In 2015, access to affordable and clean energy became the 7th of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world leaders will adopt next week at a special summit at UN Headquarters. These Global Goals are intended to stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance towards building a more equitable and sustainable world for all.

“I strongly commend the inclusion of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy,” Mr. Ban continued. “With targets on access, renewables, energy efficiency and means of implementation, this goal is a game-changer – for everything from eradicating poverty to combating climate change. […] But we can, and must, do more.”

The Secretary-General announced that a new Sustainable Energy for All Partnership will now spearhead SE4All, and be led by the current World Bank Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte.

In addition to becoming the first Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All Partnership, Ms. Kyte will also take over as the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All on 1 January 2016.

“If we are successful over the next decade or more in realizing the ambition in SDG 7, we will be successful in realizing the ambitions in many more of the goals, not least of which will be SDG 13 [climate action],” the new CEO stated.

“Sometimes when we talk about energy, we talk about megawatts and kilowatts […]. But this agenda is firmly rooted in the ability of a woman to seek medical care in a hospital, knowing that the lights won’t go out. This is an agenda about being able to turn the irrigation pump on for the small farmer in a desertified part of the developing world. This is about being able to put the light on, do the homework, graduate, and go on and do more, and contribute back,” Ms. Kyte added.

Meanwhile, the outgoing Special Representative for SE4All said that if the world wants transformative change, it will need major financing and major deployment of technologies.

“To do that, we will need a new way of working with the private sector, not the philanthropic side of the private sector but in fact, the core investment part of the private sector,” Kandeh Yumkella underlined. “And that is what we’ve developed for you on the Sustainable Energy for All to drive about $120 billion a year into energy sector investments.”

He added that he believes one of Mr. Ban’s biggest legacies for the UN is that, under his leadership, he was able to establish an energy agenda for the Organization – something that has been attempted but unrealized for 20 years.

Also speaking at the event, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said the international community now has, with this new partnership, a tool to make sure it delivers on Global Goal 7.

“And I feel also supremely confident in the leadership transition from Kandeh’s dynamic strong leadership in the creation of this initiative, driving it forward, to Rachel Kyte now taking over, whom I’ve seen on the barricades of fighting for water and sanitation, climate change, and a number of issues where we have coinciding views.”

Following a competitive and transparent bidding process, the SE4All Executive Committee has chosen Vienna, Austria, to host the new Partnership.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51890

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World must protect climate as it preserved ozone layer, Ban says on International Day

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16 September 2015 – A political commitment to manage hydrofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol – a huge environmental success that agreed to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals – could be one of the biggest climate change wins in the lead-up to the December’s climate conference, says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Let us ensure that we protect our climate the way we have preserved the ozone layer,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, observed annually on 16 September.

“Not so long ago, humanity stood on the brink of a self-inflicted catastrophe,” he recalled. “Our use of ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) had torn a hole in the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

“But we tackled this challenge,” he reminded citizens of the world.

The scientific confirmation of the depletion of the ozone layer prompted the international community to establish a mechanism for cooperation to take action to protect the ozone layer.

This was formalized in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted and signed by 28 countries, on 22 March 1985. In September 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was drafted.

“Together, we have succeeded in putting the stratospheric ozone layer on the road to recovery by the middle of this century,” Mr. Ban said. “As a result, up to 2 million cases of skin cancer may be prevented each year, along with even more avoided cases of eye cataracts.”

Ahead of next week’s adoption in New York of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the effort by governments to forge a new, collective path forward on climate change later this year in Paris, the UN chief said the Montreal Protocol’s success should serve as inspiration.

Noting that the work of the Montreal Protocol is not yet done, the Secretary-General said hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that have been used as replacements for many ozone-depleting substances are extremely potent greenhouse gases and will contribute a great deal of warming to an already overheated planet in the coming decades “unless we act now.”

“Many countries are now considering using the Montreal Protocol regime to phase down HFCs,” Mr. Ban said. “A political commitment to managing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol could be one of the biggest climate change wins in the lead-up to the Paris climate conference.”

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which serves as the Ozone Secretariat, is marking the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Convention.

As part of the commemorative activities, the Ozone Secretariat is conducting the “Precious Ozone” digital campaign to celebrate the many successes achieved under the ozone protection regime over the past 30 years and highlight the importance of the ozone layer in protecting life on Earth from the harmful effects of UV radiation.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51888

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UN announces new partnership and leadership to spearhead sustainable energy efforts

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16 September 2015 – A firm foundation to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all has been built but a solid long-term institutional arrangement is needed, the United Nations Secretary-General said today, as he announced the creation of an international not-for-profit organization to spearhead renewable energy efforts.

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity and a healthy environment,” Ban Ki-moon told participants at a briefing on the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All).

Launched by Mr. Ban in 2011, SE4All is a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to achieve three inter-linked global targets, namely to ensure universal access to modern energy services, to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

In 2015, access to affordable and clean energy became the 7th of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world leaders will adopt next week at a special summit at UN Headquarters. These Global Goals are intended to stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance towards building a more equitable and sustainable world for all.

“I strongly commend the inclusion of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy,” Mr. Ban continued. “With targets on access, renewables, energy efficiency and means of implementation, this goal is a game-changer – for everything from eradicating poverty to combating climate change. […] But we can, and must, do more.”

The Secretary-General announced that a new Sustainable Energy for All Partnership will now spearhead SE4All, and be led by the current World Bank Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, Rachel Kyte.

In addition to becoming the first Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All Executive Committee, Ms. Kyte will also take over as the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All on 1 January 2016.

“If we are successful over the next decade or more in realizing the ambition in SDG 7, we will be successful in realizing the ambitions in many more of the goals, not least of which will be SDG 13 [climate action],” the new CEO stated.

“Sometimes when we talk about energy, we talk about megawatts and kilowatts […]. But this agenda is firmly rooted in the ability of a woman to seek medical care in a hospital, knowing that the lights won’t go out. This is an agenda about being able to turn the irrigation pump on for the small farmer in a decertified part of the developing world. This is about being able to put the light on, do the homework, graduate, and go on and do more, and contribute back,” Ms. Kyte added.

Meanwhile, the outgoing Special Representative for SE4All said that if the world wants transformative change, it will need major financing and major deployment of technologies.

“To do that, we will need a new way of working with the private sector, not the philanthropic side of the private sector but in fact, the core investment part of the private sector,” Kandeh Yumkella underlined. “And that is what we’ve developed for you on the Sustainable Energy for All to drive about $120 billion a year into energy sector investments.”

He added that he believes one of Mr. Ban’s biggest legacies for the UN is that, under his leadership, he was able to establish an energy agenda for the Organization – something that has been attempted but unrealized for 20 years.

Also speaking at the event, Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said the international community now has, with this new partnership, a tool to make sure it delivers on Global Goal 7.

“And I feel also supremely confident in the leadership transition from Kandeh’s dynamic strong leadership in the creation of this initiative, driving it forward, to Rachel Kyte now taking over, whom I’ve seen on the barricades of fighting for water and sanitation, climate change, and a number of issues where we have coinciding views.”

Following a competitive and transparent bidding process, the SE4All Executive Committee has chosen Vienna, Austria, to host the new Partnership.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51890

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Creator of energy solutions to shine a light on childbirth wins $1 million UN grant

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14 September 2015 – We Care Solar, which provides renewable energy at low cost with a medical device that prevents maternal and child complications during labour in areas without electricity, was announced today as the winner of a $1 million grant by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

The “Powering the Future We Want” grant aims to fund capacity development activities in energy for sustainable development. It is awarded to an individual, institution or partnership based on past and current achievements.

“We in this room know how to solve darkness – with light,” Dr. Laura Stachel, co-founder of We Care Solar, said as she accepted the award at a ceremony held at UN Headquarters. We Care Solar’s goal, she said, was to “put that solution in a box and get it to every healthcare facility in the world.”

“Women have the right to safe childbirth,” she said, adding that “every health centre is entitled to life-saving electricity.”

The “Powering the Future We Want” grant initiative is carried out by DESA in collaboration with the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a Hong Kong-based non-governmental organization in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The ten finalists for the award were Eco-Fuel Africa; Electricity Regulatory Authority of Uganda; MicroEnergy International; Pact Institute; Powerhive; Self Employed Women’s Association, Bharat (SEWA Bharat); SolarAid; Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF); Strathmore Energy Research Centre (SERC), Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) and Village Energy; and We Care Solar.

Masdar, a renewable energy company, received a special award, and BYD, an electric vehicle company, was chosen to receive special recognition.

“Energy is a key priority for the UN,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the ceremony, adding that it underpinned all efforts to achieve development objectives.

“I know what it is like to not have access to modern energy,” he said. “When I was growing up in Korea, I studied by candle or kerosene lamp.”

Mr. Ban noted that one third of the world’s population lacks access to electricity, and four million die each year from the effects of indoor air pollution.

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa thanked the finalists for their hard work and innovation in seeking practical solutions in sustainable energy, and said he was “impressed by a number of proposals and the inspired way in which applicants addressed sustainability issues.”

Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo said that the finalists all deserved the UN’s deep gratitude. “You have demonstrated through your actions on the ground how you are contributing to the sustainable energy commitment,” he said.

“Access to energy should be a basic universal right of every man and woman,” said the Secretary-General of the CEFC, Patrick Ho, adding that energy security and energy sustainability should transcend private interests.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51869

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Bangladeshi Prime Minister wins UN environment prize for leadership on climate change

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14 September 2015 – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has been announced as one of the winners of the United Nations Champions of the Earth award in recognition of her country’s initiatives to address climate change.

“Serving as Prime Minister of Bangladesh – one of the world’s least-developed countries – Sheikh Hasina has proven that investing in climate change is conducive to achieving social and economic development,” said the announcement issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which confers the awards.

UNEP noted that Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populated countries, with over 159 million people. It is also one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Cyclones, floods and droughts have long been part of the country’s history, but they have intensified in recent years.

“Through a number of forward-looking policy initiatives and investments, Bangladesh has placed confronting the challenge of climate change at the core of its development,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“These initiatives, from climate change adaptation measures to ecosystem preservation legislation, mean that current and future generations of Bangladeshis are better prepared to address climate change risks and reverse the impacts of environmental degradation.”

He added that Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated “leadership and vision” in both making climate change an issue of national priority and advocating for an ambitious global response.

“As an early adopter and advocate of climate change adaptation policy, she continues to be an example to follow as world leaders seek to take action on climate change as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate conference in December.”

The award cites, among other initiatives, the progressive Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan of 2009, which made the South Asian nation the first developing country to frame such a coordinated action plan. Bangladesh is also the first country to set up its own Climate Change Trust Fund, supported by nearly $300 million of domestic resources from 2009-2012.

Also noted is the fact that the Government currently earmarks 6 to 7 per cent of its annual budget – some $1 billion – on climate change adaptation, with only 25 per cent of this coming from international donors. In addition, under her leadership, the Bangladesh Constitution was amended in 2011 to include a constitutional directive to the State to protect the environment and natural resources for current and future generations.

“As one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, Bangladesh understands the importance of addressing the impact of climate change. The country is already experiencing its detrimental effects, and it is often the poorest and marginalised who feel it most,” said Robert Watkins, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.

He noted that by 2050 it is estimated that one in every seven people in Bangladesh is likely to be displaced by climate change, and they are also likely to move to urban centres already burdened with meeting the needs of a dense population.

“I congratulate the Government of Bangladesh for being proactive in tackling climate change as a priority of the country. It is also a clarion call for the global community to take action today, and to realise that climate change is not a problem of the future, it is already happening in our lifetime.”

The awards will be handed out at a special ceremony on 27 September in New York at the close of the Sustainable Development Summit. In addition to Sheikh Hasina, the other winners announced so far are the National Geographic Society (Science and Innovation); Brazilian cosmetics firm Natura (Entrepreneurial Vision); and South Africa’s Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit (Inspiration and Action).

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51865

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