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Nicaragua’s ‘Dry Corridor’ to benefit from UN-backed sustainable agriculture project

29 November 2016 – About 30,000 families in 58 municipalities in Nicaragua’s ‘Dry Corridor,’ the area of the country most affected by droughts and climate change, are expected to benefit from a financial agreement between the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Nicaragua to boost sustainable agricultural production.

“In recent months, we have seen how bad things can be, not only for small farmers, but for the entire population living in the area,” said Ladislao Rubio, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Nicaragua, noting that the rise in temperatures caused by the El Niño phenomenon made agriculture almost impossible, leaving more than 3.5 million people in Central America dependent on food aid to survive.

“The only way to avoid these food crises is to build small farmers’ resilience to climate change by investing in climate-smart agriculture,” he added.

Regional falling agriculture production has led to food insecurity and particularly a decline in household incomes and has stretched rural families and indigenous people’s resilience.

With the investment, the UN agency, through the Dry Corridor Rural Family Sustainable Development Project (NICAVIDA) project, addresses the situation of Nicaraguan smallholders living in the Dry Corridor, a strip of land in which with 52 per cent of soils are overused and 40 per cent is strongly or severely eroded.

By assisting with projects such as this storage system for irrigation water, FAO is supporting the countries of the Dry Corridor in Central America in addressing disaster risks that affect agriculture and food and nutrition. Photo: FAO/Honduras

“Life in the Dry Corridor was never easy, but climate change has made things even worse and, unless we give small farmers living there the tools they need to adapt to increasingly dry and unpredictable weather, they will not be able to cope,” said Mr. Rubio.

The NICAVIDA project aims to ensure small farmers’ access to nutritious food and an adequate diet and increase their capacity for natural resource management and adaptation to climate change by promoting the links between economic diversification, productive transformation, environmental protection and family nutrition.

IFAD, together with regional partners will, among others, focus on the needs of communities in terms of infrastructure, road improvement and investments in public services that will improve the living standards of the Corridor’s rural families and indigenous peoples, and connect them to markets.

The term Dry Corridor defines a group of ecosystems in the eco-region of dry tropical forests in Central America covering the lowlands of the Pacific coastal area, and most of central pre-mountain region of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and parts of Costa Rica and Panama.

The total cost of the project is $48.5 million, of which IFAD is providing $20.5 million. The other contributors are: the Central American Bank for Economic Integration ($15 million), the Government of Nicaragua ($6 million) and the beneficiaries themselves ($7 million).

About 191,380 households benefit from IFAD’s involvement in the Central American country, and the NICAVIDA project is one of the agency’s three ongoing operations. IFAD also sponsors the Agricultural, Fishery and Forestry Productive Systems Development Programme project in North Atlantic Autonomous Region and South Atlantic Autonomous Region Indigenous Territories as well as Adapting to Markets and Climate Change Project.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55675

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UN launches new strategy to minimize environmental footprint of its peace operations

29 November 2016 – Underscoring the importance of environmental protection and management in the work of peacekeeping missions, the United Nations Department of Field Support (DFS) today launched a new strategy to maximize its peace operations’ efficiency in the use of natural resources, and to minimize their risk to people, societies and ecosystems.

“Environmental performance is crucial to ensure that we do no harm to the people we are mandated to protect,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and the head of DFS Atul Khare in New York at the launch of the strategy at Columbia University.

“We need to change our systems and we need to change our mind set,” he added.

DFS is the key service provider to international peacekeeping operations, supporting both UN and non-UN peace missions, with nearly 168,000 authorized personnel, in over 30 countries.

The six-year strategy, which is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), identifies challenges and objectives based on five pillars: energy; water and wastewater; solid waste; wider impact; and environmental management systems. It also includes key performance indicators for these areas.

In its first phase – through July 2020 – the strategy will focus on improving environmental analytics to effectively monitor progress. The five pillars will then be reviewed and specific targets set for the second phase of strategy implementation to conclude in June 2023.

On one of the areas covered – energy – an indispensable aspect for a mission but one that also has an environmental impact, Mr. Khare said the strategy’s objective is to reduce overall demand through increased efficiency, increase the proportion of energy from renewable sources such as solar arrays and reduce the level of pollution.

In another area – water – he highlighted the objective is to conserve water and reduce the level of risk to personnel, local communities and ecosystems from wastewater management practices.

He also emphasized the importance of proper treatment of wastewater, as well as of frequent monitoring of disposal practices.

Noting that the strategy is a “living document,” Mr. Khare said that it will continue to be refined and improved in light of new information and achievements.

In his presentation, he also discussed relevant initiatives already under way to decrease peace operations’ environmental impact.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55677

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&#39The answer to global transportation challenges is not less transport &#8211 it is sustainable transport&#39 &#8211 UN chief

26 November 2016 – Opening the first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegations gathered in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, that the world has the resolve, commitment, imagination and creativity “to transform our transport systems in a sustainable manner that will improve human wellbeing, enhance social progress and protect our planet.”

“This sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. And that is expected to substantially increase in the future,” said Mr. Ban in his opening remarks to the conference, which opened today in the Turkmen capital and wraps up tomorrow, adding: “Without action on the transportation front, we will not be able to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 as possible.”

The 2 degrees Celsius threshold was set by global leaders with the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change last December, which entered into force early this month, on 4 November 2016.

The two-day conference has brought together representatives from the UN, governments, the private sector and civil society, with the common goal of setting new directions for global transport efforts.

Putting humanity first

Mr. Ban noted that the transport sector transcends economics, indeed, it has a human side, and “we should all be concerned about people who do not have the access they deserve.”

“Sustainable transport is out of reach for too many rural communities. Millions of persons with disabilities cannot use public transportation because it is inaccessible. Older persons struggle to move from one place to the next. Even where transport is available it may not be safe – especially for women and girls, who often rightly fear they may be attacked,” he explained.

In this respect, the Secretary-General highlighted the critical importance of sustainable transport, noting that it has to answer to the needs of those who have the least. “When it does, we can bridge more than physical distances; we can come closer as one human family,” he underscored.

We need a broad view that resolves interlocking problems of transport with an integrated policy framework. This has to align with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Further highlighting the heavy toll of unsustainable transport on human life, Mr. Ban said road accidents claim about one and a quarter million lives every year. “The vast majority – nine out of 10 – is in developing countries,” he said, also noting that city traffic saps productivity. Further, transport contributes to air pollution, which costs more than three million lives a year.

Mr. Ban noted that the answer to such challenges “is not less transport – it is sustainable transport […] we need more systems that are environmentally friendly, affordable and accessible. Technological advances can get us there.”

Seven ideas for sustainable transport

The Secretary-General went on to outline seven ideas for sustainable transport, including the need for an integrated policy framework that aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Second, we must address the needs of vulnerable countries, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States,” he said, noting that those countries need simplified border crossings and harmonized regional regulations and requirements.

The third idea, Mr. Ban said, was the need to promote better transport systems in cities. “That means improving public transport while promoting walking and cycling,” he said.

He also highlighted the need to make all transport systems safe and secure “to reach the ambitious target set in the 2030 Agenda calling for access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.”

Calling for bold and innovative steps in re-thinking transport systems, from design, to technology and consumption patterns, the UN chief stated, as his fifth idea, the need to address the environmental impacts of transport in order to mitigate the impact on climate change and reduce local air pollution.

Mr. Ban underscored that all these ideas need financing, noting, “it takes investments to see results.”

“That means mobilizing funds from a variety of sources and fostering North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. Public-private partnerships are indispensable,” he explained.

Lastly, Mr. Ban highlighted, as his seventh idea, the importance of partnerships, saying: “We have to mobilize all partners by putting people at the centre of transport planning – and by working together. Transport is team work.”

As this will be the finial international conference he is convening as UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said he is happy to end his term by focusing on sustainable transport, telling delegations that he is confident the international community as “the resolve, commitment, imagination and creativity to transform our transport systems in a sustainable manner that will improve human wellbeing, enhance social progress and protect our planet Earth.”

New UN House opens in Ashgabat

Later in the day, Mr. Ban took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the new UN House in Ashgabat, where he noted that the Government of Turkmenistan has worked tirelessly with the UN over the past 16 months to renovate the building to ensure it meets the highest standards.

“This new UN House is a great example for other countries around the world,” said the Secretary-General, thanking President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for his commitment to providing the facility, as well as his support to its maintenance in the coming years.

Calling the grand structure “a powerful symbol of the strong partnership between Turkmenistan and the United Nations,” Mr. Ban noted that many members of the UN family are working with the Government and people of Turkmenistan: led by the UN Resident Coordinator, together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), The UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International organization for Migration (IOM), UN Women, the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), as well as the World Bank.

“I count on our staff to open the doors of this UN House wide to many partners, especially from civil society,” he said, stressing that by supporting the activities of civil society, securing human rights and promoting fundamental freedoms, “we can realize true progress. This also demands full equality and true empowerment for women and girls.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55655

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Water resources ‘a reason for cooperation, not conflict,’ Ban tells Security Council

22 November 2016 – Noting that three quarters of UN Member States share rivers or lake basins with their neighbours, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the value of water resources as a reason for cooperation, not conflict.

“The need for coordination in water management is especially compelling for the more than 260 international rivers and at least that many transboundary aquifers,” Mr. Ban told a Security Council debate, which was open to non-Council members.

According to a concept note issued by Senegal, the Council’s President for November, in the same way that disputes over oil and land have led to conflicts now and in the past, disputes over water could lead to confrontations in the future, if nothing is done. The debate is an opportunity to showcase successful experiences and mechanisms for cooperation and mediation with a view to strengthening one of the UN’s weaknesses – conflict prevention.

“Access to water can exacerbate communal tensions,” the UN chief said, citing hostile competition for scarce water resources in Darfur and Afghanistan as well as protests and violence against extractive companies by local communities in Peru.

On the other hand, shared water has historically – and sometimes rather improbably – brought adversaries together, and served as a crucial confidence-building measure in both inter-state and intrastate conflicts, Mr. Ban stressed, noting that in the second half of the 20th century, more than 200 water treaties were successfully negotiated.

A dam in Um Baru, North Darfur, which, during the rainy season, increases water storage, supports frequent irrigation of agricultural lands and reduces the risks of floods. Photo: UNAMID/Hamid Abdulsalam

In addition, he said, international river agreements have enhanced security and stability in river basins, such as the 1960 Indus Waters agreement between India and Pakistan, which has famously survived at least two wars and numerous clashes and diplomatic crises.

In the Nile Basin, last year’s signing of a Declaration of Principles by the Governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, followed more recently by various formal and informal dialogues, has been a vital confidence-building measure.

And in the Senegal River Basin, riparian States including Mali, Mauritania and Senegal have had a long history of benefit-sharing, providing a cornerstone for regional stability and peace.

With at least one in four human beings likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water by 2050, the UN has actively promoted the potential of water for cooperation, the Secretary-General said.

The work of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) on “hydro-diplomacy” is one notable example. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Water Convention is now open for accession to all UN Member States, offering the opportunity to create a global framework for dealing with transboundary water issues. The Department of Political Affairs and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have published a useful guide containing best practices in this area.

The Laghman River, one of Afghanistan’s many waterways, is essential to agriculture and other development in this largely rural eastern province. Photo: UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

Mr. Ban also stressed the central role of women in local water management, the negatively compounding impact of climate change on these challenges as well as the holding of water resources as military strategies.

“Despite these serious challenges, we must also recognize the potential for cooperation around shared water resources,” he said. “And let us commit to invest in water security as a means to ensure long-term international peace and security.”

Today’s debate was also addressed by Danilo Turk, Chair of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace; Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee on Red Cross; and Sundeep Waslekar, Strategic Foresight Group President.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55626

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MARRAKECH: Countries at UN conference pledge to press ahead with implementation of Paris Agreement

18 November 2016 – As they wrapped up their work today in Marrakech, Morocco, countries gathered at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 22), pledged on Friday to move forward on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which entered into force two weeks ago.

In the Marrakech Action Proclamation, for our climate and sustainable development,” State Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), affirmed their “commitment” to the “full implementation” of the Paris Agreement.

They welcomed the “extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide.” As of Friday 18 November, 111 countries have ratified the Agreement.

Last December at the previous Conference, known as COP 21, 196 Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement, so-named after the French capital where it was approved. It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, in time for COP 22, which has been under way since 7 November.

“This momentum is irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels,” adds the Proclamation. “Our task now is to rapidly build on that momentum, together, moving forward purposefully to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster adaptation efforts, thereby benefiting and supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

President of COP 22 Salaheddine Mezouar. Photo: UNFCCC

Negotiations between State-Parties were continuing on Friday afternoon on aspects of the implementation of the Agreement. “We continue to negotiate on a number of things”, said the President of COP 22, Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, at a press conference.

Welcoming the outcome of the Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that all countries understand that climate action is essential for their security, economic prosperity and the health and well-being of their citizens. Global cooperation rooted in strong national action is essential, he noted, saying that no country, irrespective of its size or strength, is immune from the impacts of climate change, and no country can afford to tackle the climate challenge alone.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, Mr. Ban applauded the bold leadership shown by many of the world’s most vulnerable countries, many of whom are in Africa, to strengthen their ambition and to move as quickly as possible toward a one-hundred-percent clean energy, climate-resilient future.

“As the global thermostat continues to rise, the Secretary-General renewed his call for all countries and all sectors of society to significantly increase their ambition and redouble their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said the statement, adding that the UN chief also called on developed countries to deliver on their pledge to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 in support of climate action by developing countries.

The Marrakech Proclamation calls for “the highest political commitment to combat climate change” and calls for “strong solidarity with those countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” underscoring the need to support efforts aimed to enhance their adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability.

State-Parties also call “for urgently raising ambition and strengthening cooperation amongst ourselves to close the gap between current emissions trajectories and the pathway needed to meet the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement” and “for an increase in the volume, flow and access to finance for climate projects, alongside improved capacity and technology, including from developed to developing countries.”

In the Marrakech Proclamation, developed country reaffirmed their $100 billion mobilization goal per year by 2020 to support climate action by developing countries. All countries also called on all non-state actors to join them “for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization, building on their important achievements.”

Alongside the negotiations, the two-week Marrakech Conference focused on various actions and initiatives taken by Governments and non-state actors to address climate change. On Thursday, the Conference launched the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action Agenda to further scale up cooperative efforts in which businesses, sub-national and local governments and civil society team up with national governments to promote low-emission and resilient development.

“We need everyone,’ the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday, urging society-wide engagement in implementation of Paris climate accord.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55602

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MARRAKECH: ‘We strive to lead,’ climate-vulnerable countries declare, pledging robust action on Paris accord

18 November 2016 – At the United Nations Climate Conference under way in Marrakech, Morocco, known as ‘COP 22,’ more than 45 of the world’s countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change pledged today to pursue robust action towards implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement.

“We will survive and thrive,” the countries said through the Marrakech Communiqué, a joint declaration by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), the international partnership of countries that are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. It aims to exert additional pressure for action to tackle the challenge.

CVF members include countries from several regions of the world, from Maldives to Costa Rica, to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tuvalu, Madagascar, and Nepal. They adopted their declaration as part of the work of the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has been meeting in Marrakech since Monday 7 November and wraps up today.

The country’s expressed solidarity with fellow member, Haiti, devastated by Hurricane Matthew, a humanitarian catastrophe amplified by capability constraints clearly overwhelming any capacity to adapt in a “now all-too familiar repetition of disaster.”

In the declaration, the CVF emphasized that any country with a nationally determined contribution (NDC) not yet compliant with its fair share consistent with the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal “must update these contributions by 2020 at the latest.”

Although small island states contribute the least to climate change, they bear the brunt of its effects. Photo: FAO/Sue Price

They pledged to green their economies as their contribution “towards achieving net carbon neutrality and 100 per cent renewable energy.” They also expressed their commitment to develop and submit updated NDCs as early as possible before 2020, emphasizing that “additional enabling support on means of implementation from donors, especially capacity building, is indispensable to any upscaled mitigation and adaptation action by our countries.”

“We will plot a clear path to the future,” added members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, pledging to prepare long-term strategies before 2020 to attain maximal resilience.

“We have all gathered here today to fight the good fight,” said Dr. Gemedo Dale, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of Ethiopia, who chaired a CVF meeting at COP 22 today.

“Although our contribution [to climate change] is insignificant, the impact that [it] has brought on us is very high, and we are here together to make sure that we have a say in our future”, he added. “We invite all CVF members to pursue robust domestic climate action.”

Welcoming the Communiqué from the Climate Vulnerable Forum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded “the initiative by many of the world’s most vulnerable countries to lead by example and move towards a low-energy, clean-energy, climate-resilient future.”

“This is the type of bold leadership by example the world needs right now on climate change. If countries that have done the least to cause climate change can take such strong steps, so can others. We need action by all, on behalf of all,” he added.

The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, stressed that the level of ambition and the vision expressed by the most vulnerable countries “is needed now more than ever.”

“We welcome this document adopted by the members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and we assure you of our support for the implementation of this vision,” she emphasized.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55594

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New UN initiative aims to save lives and cut climate change by protecting peatlands

17 November 2016 – A new global initiative was launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 22) under way in Marrakech, aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of live by protecting peatlands – the largest terrestrial organic soil carbon stock.

According to the UN environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Peatlands Initiative seeks mobilize governments, international organizations and academia in an effort to protect peatlands, which contain almost 100 times more carbon than tropical forests.

If global temperatures continue to rise, this could lead to thawing permafrost, switching boreal and Arctic peatlands from carbon sinks to sources, resulting in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and potentially causing climate change to spiral out of control.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment stressed that despite the Paris Agreement, global temperatures will rise over 3 degrees Celsius this century. “This will cause misery and chaos for millions of vulnerable people, so we cannot afford to let any opportunity to reduce emissions slip by,” he added.

Mr. Solheim also urged taking action through the Global Peatlands Initiative, as it is “critical we do not reach the tipping point that will see peatlands stop sinking carbon and start spewing it into the atmosphere, destroying any hope we have of controlling climate change.”

UNEP said that peatlands are coming under increased threat from conversion for palm oil and pulp wood production, which may result in environmental problems such as enormous fires in Indonesia and Russia in recent years. In recent years, Indonesia has suffered from peat forest fires, resulting in greater emissions than the daily ones from the entire United States economy.

However, emission is not the only negative impact of peatland degradation. The 2015 peat fires in Indonesia may have indirectly killed up to 100,000 people through the toxic haze, in addition to causing $16.1 billion in economic damage, according to recent studies.

Therefore, with support from over a dozen partners, a UN Environment team launched the largest effort on peat so far, called the Global Peatlands Initiative, which aims to increase the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of peatlands in countries with significant peat deposits.

The initiative was launched at the Global Landscapes Forum, the leading side event of the UN’s COP22 climate change talks in Marrakech, Morocco. The Global Peatlands Initiative was founded by the governments of Indonesia, Peru, the Republic of Congo, UNEP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, CIFOR, Wetlands International, UNEP-WCMC, GRID-Arendal, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, European Space Agency, WRI, Greifswald Mire Centre and StarVision/Sateligence.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55585

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MARRAKECH: ‘We need everyone,’ Ban says, urging society-wide engagement in implementation of Paris climate accord

17 November 2016 – Rallying stakeholders gathered in Marrakech, Morocco, for the United Nations Climate Conference, known as ‘COP 22,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged everyone – “from the local to the global” – including the private sector, cities and civil society, to get involved in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“We need everyone. And we need action from the local to the global. Partnerships should focus on results today – and make progress for the long-term. We have no time to waste, and much to gain, by acting now,” Mr. Ban told a High-Level event on Accelerating Climate Action.

The President of COP 22, Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, noted that “without minimizing the eminent responsibility of States,” the contribution of non-State actors serves as a “structuring supplement” to multilateral action against the impacts of climate change.

Last December at the previous Conference, known as COP 21, 196 Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement, so-named after the French capital where it was approved. It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, in time for COP 22, which has been under way since 7 November.

The Global Climate Action Agenda, launched formally in 2014 at COP 20, in Lima, Peru, aims to mobilize non-State actors in addressing climate change.

In Paris the next year, two Climate Champions, Laurence Tubiana, French Ambassador for climate change negotiations, and Hakima El Haité, Moroccan Minister for the Environment, were appointed to accelerate joint action on the Agenda.

Climate Champions Laurence Tubiana (right) and Hakima El Haité at the UN Climate Conference in Marrakech (COP 22). Photo: UNFCCC

“We have found committed partners, partners on the move, cooperative partners,” said Ms. El Haité at the high-level meeting. “The business community understands that this is where future growth lies. Investors have realized that this is where sustainable returns can be found.”

Ms. Tubiana announced today the launch of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, with the aim of ensuring that efforts are “more coherent, more continuous, and stronger.” The Partnership “belongs to everyone, all those who seek to extend climate action. It will seek to create space for everyone to work together, remove barriers, understand solutions and see the future in a much more active and optimistic way,” she added.

For his part, Mr. Ban said the Action Agenda is “central to this effort” to implement the Paris Agreement on the ground. “We need to immediately drive a radical transformation of the global economy”, he said, adding that the private sector has a key role to play.

UN chief: Climate adaptation “is a prudent investment in our future.” Credit: UN News Centre

The Secretary-General went on to stress the importance of adaptation. Climate resilient innovations are needed to help billions of people adapt to increasing droughts, floods, temperatures and other impacts. “Adaptation is not a luxury. It is a prudent investment in our future”, he said.

The UN chief said he was pleased to see so many African countries mobilizing climate action, taking as an example the Adaptation of African Agriculture initiative. “This partnership will help create more resilient food systems on the continent and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he stated.

Tuesday, at the opening of the high-level segment of COP 22, dozens of Heads of State and Government showed a strong support for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Before the Conference wraps up on 18 November, parties hope to define the rules for the accord and to lay out a viable plan for providing at least $100 billion a year to developing countries to support climate action.

Marrakech Climate Change Conference - November 2016

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55582

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‘Great Green Wall’ initiative offers unique opportunity to combat climate change in Africa – UN agency

17 November 2016 – At the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 22) under way in Marrakech, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) participated in the launch of a ground breaking map of restoration opportunities to combat climate change in Africa, an area being called the ‘Great Green Wall.’

The map is based on a collection and analysis of land-use information in Africa’s drylands in order to improve resilience to climate change.

“The Great Green Wall initiative is Africa’s flagship programme to combat the effects of climate change and desertification,” said Eduardo Mansur, Director of the FAO’s Land and Water Division, as he presented the map yesterday during a high-level event at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

During the event, held at the African Union Pavilion on the theme ‘Resilient Landscapes in Africa’s Drylands: Seizing Opportunities and Deepening Commitments,’ Mr. Mansur explained that so far, the Great Green Wall initiative has shown that degraded lands can be restored, but “these achievements pale in comparison with what is needed.”

According to Mr. Mansur, the tools used to create the map are vital in providing critical information to understand the true nature of restoration needs throughout drylands in North Africa, the Sahel region, and the Horn of Africa.

Through the Global Drylands Assessment, a study conducted by FAO and its partners from 2015-2016, an estimated 166 million hectares of the Great Green Wall area offer opportunities for restoration projects.

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative supports local communities in the sustainable management of drylands. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano

The Great Green Wall covers both arid and semi-arid areas in the north and south ends of the Sahara Desert. Its core area consists of 780 million hectares and is home to 232 million people. In order to halt and reverse land degradation, some 10 million hectares must be restored each year. Such an achievement would provide critical support to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In order to obtain the data, experts behind the project analyzed 63,000 half-hectare sample plots spread across drylands in North Africa, Sahel, and the Horn using FAO’s Open Foris Collect Earth tool and extremely high resolution satellite images from Google Earth Engine and Bing Maps.

A variety of restoration approaches are possible and necessary in order to implement the Great Green Wall initiative. These include natural regeneration that allows farmers to protect and manage the natural regeneration of forests, croplands and grasslands; large-scale land preparation and enrichment planning, especially in areas where degradation is severe; mobilization of high-quality seeds and planting materials; and involving communities in the selection of native species to be used.

In areas closer to the desert, sustainable management of oases systems and use of native woody and grassy vegetation can help fight sand encroachment.

The data collection is a collaborative effort on behalf of FAO, the African Union, the CILSS/AGRHYMET Regional Centre, the Directorate General of Forests in Tunisia, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, Google, and the World Resources Institute.

Africa’s Great Green Wall. Source: FAO

The map itself was made possible due to support from Action Against Desertification, an African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States initiative to support the Great Green Wall programme, as well as national UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) action plans and south-south cooperation, FAO, and funding from the European Union.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55583

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MARRAKECH: UN chief urges rapid scale-up in funding to address climate change

16 November 2016 – As the United Nations Climate Conference, known as COP 22, continued its work today in Marrakech, Morocco, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged greater efforts to mobilize funding to address climate change, especially to support developing countries.

“Finance and investment hold the key to achieving low-emissions and resilient societies,” Mr. Ban said in remarks read by his Special Advisor on Climate Change, Bob Orr, to a High-Level Ministerial dialogue on climate financing at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The UN chief underscored that one of the core objectives of the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016, is “to make all finance flows consistent with a pathway to low-emissions climate-resilient development.” He noted that there has been progress, in particular in renewable energy.

Last December at the previous Conference, known as COP 21, 196 Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement, so-named after the French capital where it was approved. It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement entered into force in time for COP 22, which has been under way since 7 November. Before the meeting wraps up on Saturday, 18 November, parties hope to define the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement and establish a viable plan to provide financial support to developing countries to support climate action.

“We will invest 90 trillion dollars in global infrastructure over the next fifteen years. It would not cost much more to ensure that this infrastructure delivers the low-emission resilient economy envisioned in the Paris Agreement”, added the UN chief.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to journalists on the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The Secretary-General noted that in Paris, governments collectively reaffirmed their 2009 pledge to mobilize 100 billion dollars per year by 2020, and to continue financing at this level until 2025 to support climate action by developing countries. “This goal is within reach – if we stay focused,” he said.

In remarks read by the World Bank Vice-President for sustainable development, Laura Tuck, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said that his organization is doing its best “to try to mobilize as much as financing as possible.”

“It is not just about trying to persuade donors and financiers to put up more money, although we are definitely trying to do that, but it also about creating the environment that crowds in a lot more financing. Even if we have the 100 billion dollars we are talking about, it is not nearly enough to reach our goals,” he added.

For the World Bank, the other priority is greening the financial sector. “We are trying to find ways to improve the way the existing banking sector understands and considers the risks of climate smart investments,” Mr. Kim stressed.

The Secretary-General stressed that financing is central to building resilience. Last year in Paris, Mr. Ban launched the Initiative on Climate Resilience, or ‘A2R’ – Anticipate, Absorb and Reshape. It has the goal of redoubling efforts to provide climate risk insurance, in close cooperation with the insurance sector.

On the margins of COP 22, the Secretary-General also participated in a Summit of African heads of State and Government hosted, by King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

In remarks at the Summit, Mr. Ban reminded participants that Africa is at the forefront of climate change. “Compared to the global average, temperatures are rising higher in this continent. Out of the 50 countries hit hardest by climate change, 36 are in Africa,” he added.

He said that he has seen climate solutions across Africa. “This continent is dynamic,” the Secretary-General underscored, saluting the entrepreneurial spirit across Africa, especially among youth.

“Africa has tremendous potential to be a global renewable energy leader. This continent has vast solar, wind and geothermal energy resources,” Mr. Ban added, calling on “partners from both developed and developing countries to scale up investment and technical assistance.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55571

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MARRAKECH: Middle East and North Africa region taking action to combat climate change

16 November 2016 – Aware of their vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have begun taking action to confront the phenomenon and today, several highlighted their initiatives at the United Nations Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, known as COP 22.

“Climate change will make a difficult situation much worse, and will affect millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa region,” World Bank MENA Vice-President Hafez Ghanem told a press conference at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “Countries in the region are aware of the challenges, and have begun taking action.”

Agriculture in the MENA region is especially vulnerable to changes in temperature and precipitation. As global temperatures rise, they will rise even faster in MENA, causing more frequent and severe droughts. The 2015 drought in Morocco destroyed more than half the wheat harvest and led to a 1.5 per cent drop in the country’s Gross Domestic Output.

During a panel discussion on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Initiative on Climate Resilience at COP 22 on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Chief Climate Negotiator, Khalid Abuleif, said that the region “is going to see a lot of challenges from an ecosystem point of view and from a socio-economic point of view.” The challenge is not only about reducing gas emissions but also about raising “our resilience.”

Mr. Abuleif stressed that as Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy, any new sector will be put under regulations that will address sustainability and climate resilience. He added that his country is focusing especially on water management, “making sure we are using water in a sustainable manner,” and on the protection of coastal zones.

Wind turbine farm in Tunisia. Photo: World Bank/Dana Smillie

Tunisia has announced a 41 per cent emission reduction by 2030. Most importantly, 13 per cent will be based on national efforts, while the rest will come from support provided by the international community. A week after COP 22 concludes, Tunisia will host an international investment conference (29-30 November) to mobilize $2.4 billion dollars, 40 per cent of which will be allocated to projects pertaining to the ‘green economy,’ with a focus on renewable energy.

In Morocco, to meet the country’s commitments on climate action, the Bank Al Maghrib (Central Bank of Morocco) recently unveiled the road map of the Moroccan financial sector in climate financing.

That country has also taken steps to adapt its agriculture, with better water management and more climate-resistant crops, while also lowering its emissions by eliminating most energy subsidies and with the construction of the large solar plant in Ouarzazate, World Bank senior official Hafez Ghanem noted.

“This is the kind of comprehensive climate action we will support across the region, with a special focus on the poorest and most vulnerable,” he added.

The World Bank Group announced on Tuesday a new plan to ramp up support for countries in the MENA region by nearly doubling the portion of Bank financing dedicated to climate action, taking it to around $1.5 billion dollars per year by 2020.

The plan focuses on four priorities: food and water security; sustainable cities adapted to new climate conditions; the transition to low-carbon energy; and the protection of the poorest that are most exposed to the impacts of climate change.

The current Conference follows the adoption by 196 UNFCCC States Parties last December, of the Paris Agreement, so-named after the French capital where it was approved, which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement entered into force in time for COP 22, which has been under way since 7 November. Before the meeting wraps up on Saturday, 18 November, parties hope to define the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement and establish a viable plan to provide financial support to developing countries to support climate action.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55568

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INTERVIEW: What extreme weather and global temperature rise mean for humanity

15 November 2016 – In a new report analyzing the global climate between 2011-2015, the World Meteorological Organization – the United Nations system’s weather agency – found an increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts.

This “hot and wild” weather meant that global ocean temperatures rose at unprecedented levels, Arctic sea ice coverage and mountain glaciers declined and surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet continued at above-average levels.

The extreme weather also meant that people around the world suffered from high-impact climate events such as severe droughts in Africa, devastating floods in South-East Asia, terrible heatwaves in India and Pakistan, and catastrophic hurricanes and typhoons in the United States and the Philippines.

Against this backdrop, and within the context of the ongoing 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Marrakech, Morocco (07-18 November 2016), the United Nations News Centre spoke with Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of World Meteorological Organization (WMO), on the state of the Earth’s weather and what it means to the people who inhabit the planet.

UN News Centre: The global climate report 2011-2015 confirms that the average global temperature in 2015 has already reached the 1 degree Celsius mark. What does this 1 degree Celsius really mean to people on the ground, say for an office worker in South-East Asia or a farmer in South Africa? 

Petteri Taalas: One degree does not sound like a big number if you compare the temperate over a couple of days but globally [over a long period of time] it means that we have seen an increase in the amount of disasters related to the weather. It means that we have observed more heat waves, for example, in Kuwait, the temperature hit 54 degrees Celsius limit last summer and there have been devastating heat waves in many continents.

We have also seen changes in the pattern of rainfall, which means that some areas are now seeing flooding – when it rains, it rains much more — and that led to problems for human beings and also for economies. And then in some parts of the world we have seen more droughts, caused by the heat waves, and leading to forest fires and difficulties in agriculture. For example, at the moment, the southern part of Africa is suffering because of a drought that was partly caused by El Nino last year but also by a drying trend behind it. In tropical zones we have observed more intense tropical storms and they have been devastating for countries like Vanuatu. We also observed the first hurricane hitting Cabo Verde on the African coast.

So this one degree change means that the amount of disasters related to weather and hydrology have been increasing and if it goes beyond that one degree limit – which seems to be the case according to this year’s observations – we can expect to see more of these kind of disasters. And it will have a negative impact on the economies of the countries, and it will also impact the lives and wellbeing of all humans.

Temperature in Kuwait hits 54 Celsius, sets possible record amid Middle East heatwave – UN

26 July 2016 – The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a United Nations specialized agency, will set up a committee to examine whether a 54 degrees Celsius temperature recently recorded in Kuwait, has set the new highest temperature for Asia, as well as for the entire Eastern hemisphere.

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UN underscores readiness to assist South-East Asian countries hit by floods

18 October 2011 – The United Nations voiced deep concern over the devastating floods in Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam and offered to assist the affected countries to respond to the disaster that has claimed hundreds of lives and caused heavy damage to property and infrastructure.

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UN News Centre: What has caused this dramatic change in temperatures?

Petteri Taalas: The main reason behind it is that we are using much more fossil fuel: coal, gas, and oil. We have changed the composition of the atmosphere. Therefore, we have seen a very dramatic increase of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere. And we have also seen an increase in the amount of methane (CH4) in the atmosphere and an increase of the nitrous oxide (N2O). And all these are contributing to this warming that we have seen.

UN News Centre: Earlier WMO had said that this 1 degree rise – already halfway to the 2 degree threshold ­– and that the national climate change plans adopted so far may not be enough to prevent even a 3 degree rise. Do you think this is something that could have been foreseen before the Paris agreement?

Petteri Taalas: In our field we have known about this problem for 30 years. So about 30 years ago, we established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and then years later we established the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to start mitigating climate change. So this problem has been around for a long time, but the good news is that governments now understand the need to mitigate climate change, and that’s why they adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change last year, and it has very recently entered into force. This gives us a good basis for moving forward, and to mitigate the effects of climate change. And the key issue is whether we are acting quickly enough to avoid a 1.5 or 2 degree warming or are we going to go beyond that. So far the pledges behind the Paris Agreement indicate about a 3 degree warming level, which would mean that we might have a larger amount of disasters related to the weather. So it would be a smart thing for the governments to start reducing the emissions, and that would also be good for the coming generations.

UN News Centre: In this context, what other messages would you like to give to the leaders attending the COP22 in Morocco?

Petteri Taalas: I would like to thank them for ratifying the Paris Agreement, which gives us hope. And we also now have better technological means for mitigation. And those means are also cheaper than they used to be. For example, solar and wind energy sources are cheaper than they used to be ten years ago. And we also have possibilities to convert our transport systems to use more electric cars. In the case of diet, we can go to more vegetarian diet; which could also reduce emissions.

So we have all the means available, and now it’s time to act and prevent these negative impacts of climate change, and it’s important that we start acting very soon, because if we wait, the problem will become more severe. I am very optimistic that we have all the means to be successful, but we should start changing our behavior very soon.

MARRAKECH: ‘The eyes of the world are upon us,’ chair of UN Conference says as new round of climate talks opens

7 November 2016 – The United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as ‘COP 22,’ opened today in Marrakech, Morocco, just days after the entry into force of the landmark Paris Agreement which has now been ratified by 100 countries.

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UN News Centre: What is something that society, as a whole, can do to mitigate these impacts?

Petteri Taalas: All normal consumers now have big powers – they can decide what kind of sources of energy they use in their houses, what kind of means of transport they use, and what kind of diet they are eating. For example, a vegetarian diet is better for climate than a meat-based diet. Consumers have big power here and if they decide to go to these low emission solutions, they are the ones who have power to do that. And also the policy-makers are watching very closely what the opinion of the ordinary people is, and I believe that they are able to change the consumption behaviour in the coming years.

Put ‘people, not cars’ first in transport systems, says UN Environment chief

20 October 2016 – Lack of investment in safe walking and cycling infrastructure not only contributes to the deaths of millions of people in traffic accidents on unsafe roads and poorly designed roadways, but also overlooks a great opportunity to boost the fight against climate change, a new UN Environment report said today.

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‘Climate action starts in the kitchen,’ says UN, launching #Recipe4Change campaign

4 November 2016 – With the Paris Agreement on climate change entering into force today, famed chefs Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca are joining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund) to tackle climate change from a different perspective: sustainable cooking.

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Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55564

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