UN joins international community to salute park rangers' dedication and commitment
31 July 2017 Park rangers across the world face increasing challenges and risks due to a surge in poaching and illicit trafficking in wildlife, the head of the United Nations entity on protection of endangered species today said, honouring the work of park rangers in protecting wild animals, plants and culture.
“Honest and hardworking park rangers devote their lives to protecting our natural resources and cultural heritage and, in some areas, these brave men and women regularly encounter well-resourced groups of poachers, equipped with high caliber weapons, who do not hesitate to use violence or threats of violence against them,” said John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
In recent years, rangers have increasingly been targeted by criminals seeking some of the world’s most iconic animal species, such as elephants and rhinos, and plants, such as rosewood.
Mr. Scanlon added that the “illegal trade in wild animals and plants is occurring at a scale that threatens wildlife, people and their livelihoods” and is being driven by transnational organized crime groups and rebel militia groups, as well as rogue elements of regular military forces.
“The dedication and commitment shown by these honest hard working park rangers on a daily basis is worthy of much greater public recognition,” Mr. Scanlon said, welcoming World Ranger Day which is marked by the international community but not by the UN specifically.
VIDEO: Message from Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit
World Ranger Day takes place annually on 31 July to recognize the park rangers around the world who have been injured or killed in the line of duty.
In the past year, at least 105 rangers were killed doing their job, according to the International Ranger Federation.
The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Wild For Life programme added its voice today to celebrate rangers’ work.
Praising park rangers for facing an array of challenges, including natural disasters like avalanches and floods, Wild For Life called rangers “hands-on heroes.”
“Fighting crime, educating the public, and protecting our heritage… all in a day’s work for the rangers that safeguard the earth’s most treasured locations,” the campaign said.
It noted that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 140 rangers were killed in the past 15 years in the Virunga National Park.
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On International Day, UN spotlights threatened coastal mangrove ecosystems
26 July 2017 Coastal mangroves are among the most imperiled ecosystems on earth, with current estimates indicating that up to 67 per cent have been lost to date, according to the United Nations science wing.
“The stakes are high, because mangrove ecosystems provide benefits and services that are essential for life,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a message on the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.
“From advancing food security, sustaining fisheries and forest products and offering protection from storms, tsunamis and sea level rise to preventing shoreline erosion, regulating coastal water quality and providing habitats for endangered marine species – the list is long on the importance of mangrove ecosystems,” she added.
UNESCO shined a spotlight their unique role in sequestering and storing significant amounts of coastal blue carbon from the atmosphere and ocean – crucial for mitigating climate change.
While healthy mangrove ecosystems are vital, Ms. Bokova pointed out that “nearly all unprotected mangroves could perish over the next 100 years.”
Through its ‘Man and the Biosphere Programme,’ its International Hydrological Programme, its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems Programme, UNESCO is drawing on all of its strengths to protect mangrove ecosystems.
“This action reaches across the world, from the Bosque de Paz transboundary biosphere reserve in Ecuador and Peru, and the Delta de Saloum Biosphere Reserve in Senegal to the Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark in Malaysia,” the Director-General elaborated.
UNESCO is deeply engaged in supporting the conversation of mangroves, while advancing the sustainable development of local communities who interact closely with mangroves and depend on their goods and services.
She underscored that UNESCO is also leading an active role in the Blue Carbon Initiative to mitigate climate change through the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems, focusing on mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.
“We must do far more and this calls for stronger science,” she exhorted.
To this end, UNESCO is working to broaden the capacities of States and reinforce their scientific knowledge, especially in countries that are highly dependent on these ecosystems in Africa and small islands development States, always working with local communities, always drawing on indigenous knowledge.
This Day provides “the moment for everyone to redouble their commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Ms. Bokova.
“UNESCO’s message today is clear – we must reverse the trend of degradation and protect the mangroves that are so essential to the health of the planet,” concluded the Director-General.
The International Day, commemorated annually on 26 July, aims to raise awareness of the valuable services provided by mangrove ecosystems.
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UN agency develops new guidelines to help countries better monitor forest resources
26 July 2017 The United Nations agriculture agency has created new guidelines to help countries develop a strong mechanism to monitor national forest resources.
“The demand for reliable, up-to-date and more diverse forestry data and stronger analytical capacities at a national level has grown considerably in recent years,” said Eva Muller, Director of Forestry Policies and Resources Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“Understanding forest resources and how they change is key to address climate change and make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she added.
In 2010, only 45 countries worldwide were able to assess changes in forest area and characteristics through consecutive systematic national forest inventories, suggesting a serious gap in information. Moreover, it is likely that the data collected is incomplete. It is common for forest inventories to collect data on more than 100 variables.
The guidelines aim to fill this gap, drawing on experiences and lessons learned from FAO member countries and FAO national forest monitoring projects, and provide good practices, and a framework and tools for planning and implementing multi-purpose national forest monitoring, she added.
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Japanese YouTube star Piko Taro makes first UN appearance, promotes Global Goals
18 July 2017 Japanese entertainer Piko Taro, famous for his “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” (PPAP) viral music video, has joined the ranks of celebrities who promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on behalf of Governments, the United Nations, civil society and other actors in the global development community.
“I knew SD Gundam, but I had no idea what the SDGs stand for,” the comedian said jokingly referring to the Japanese anime television series, while visiting the UN Headquarters on Monday. He noted that he had been surprised when the Japanese Government asked him to assume this promotional role and perform at the UN.
Piko Taro’s PPAP dance music video has gone worldwide, having scored more than 100 million views since its release in August 2016.
At a reception the Japanese Government hosted on the sideline of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development, Piko Taro presented both the original song and the rearranged version, whose lyrics stand for “Public-Private Action for Partnership” on SDGs.
Schoolchildren from the UN International School joined him on stage, singing and dancing along the revised version. The event was also attended by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
Earlier that day, he swung by “Spotlight on SDGs” exhibition featuring prize-winning photos taken by students around the world. He said he was convinced of the power of visuals to convey the key concepts of the SDGs.
Likewise, he hopes that his rejiggered PPAP song can help people around the world better understand the SDGs, which were adopted by UN Member States in 2015, with 2030 as a target year to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all.
“The Sustainable Development Goals, if people remember these words, they may get curious. What are the SDGs? They learn – oh, 17 Goals,” he said.
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'Smart' money moving to 'green' financing, reveals new UN report
14 July 2017 Even though investments towards sustainable development in developing countries have fallen short by nearly $2.5 trillion each year, emerging financial products and encouraging policies illustrate that both public and private sectors are serious about correcting that trend, the United Nations environment arm has said.
In its new report on green finance, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has noted that the G20 and other countries have taken huge strides over the last year towards mobilizing public resources and private capital needed to make sustainable development and climate action a reality.
“The world has committed to creating a better future for people and planet. But we will not be able to achieve [this] vision without the global financial system using its capital to fuel the transformation,” said the Executive Director of UNEP, Erik Solheim, in a news release announcing the findings.
“This new research […] shows encouraging progress in this regard. From a record number of new green finance measures to ambitious plans for green finance hubs, we are seeing the smart money move to green financing,” he added.
The Green Finance Progress Report further notes that the establishment of the Green Finance Study Group by the G20 last year, under its Chinese Presidency, showed the group understood that green financing at scale is critical to achieve the G20’s goal of securing balanced and sustained growth.
This message was reinforced by Germany’s decision to continue the work during its G20 Presidency this year, the report highlights.
The report also draws out examples from G20 countries of actions they took in relation to green finance, such as the disclosure requirements announced by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for the issuing and listing of green debt securities, and pilot areas for green finance announced by the State Council of China.
It also finds that the progress made nationally, internationally, and in financial and capital markets shows that financial system is reshaping themselves to align with the sustainable development imperatives of the 21st century.
“The challenge now is to rapidly increase capital flows to investments that will support our sustainable development objectives and create commercially viable green businesses for decades to come,” said Mr. Solheim.
“The G20 and others have set the wheels in motion. Now is the time to press hard on the accelerator,” he added.
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Eleven global banks partner with UN to make financial markets more climate transparent
11 July 2017 Representing over $7 trillion, eleven major financial institutions around the globe have joined forces with the United Nations to promote climate transparency in financial markets, the Organization’s environment wing said today.
According to a news release by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ANZ, Barclays, Bradesco, Citi, Itaú, National Australia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Santander, Standard Chartered, TD Bank Group, and UBS have jointly committed to develop analytical tools and indicators to strengthen assessments and disclosures of climate-related risks and opportunities.
“The message from financial heavyweights is clear – climate change poses a real and serious threat to our economy,” said Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of UNEP, in the release.
“At the same time, there are enormous business opportunities in taking climate action. Transparency on how financial institutions mitigate the risks and seize the opportunities of a two degrees pathway is crucial to move international markets towards actively supporting a low-carbon and climate-resilient future,” he added.
In the news release, UNEP noted that increasing the amount of reliable information on financial institutions’ exposure to climate-related risks and opportunities would also strengthen the stability of the financial system and help boost climate-friendly investments.
The partnership between the institutions and the UNEP Finance Initiative follows the recommendations by the Financial Stability Board (FSB)’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
The Task Force was mandated by the Board to develop voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies, investors, lenders and insurers. Its final recommendations were published in June and submitted to the G20 last week.
It is anticipated that results from the undertaking will encourage banks worldwide to adopt such climate-focused efforts.
“After the G20, the issue now is about implementation: how can the finance industry put the framework into practice and deliver disclosure that is meaningful? Through this and other industry-led working groups UNEP FI is helping the finance sector to do just that: move from awareness to action.” said Christian Thimann, Group Head of Strategy, Sustainability and Public Affairs at the AXA Group, Co-Chair of UNEP Finance Initiative and TCFD Vice-Chair.
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Amid rising temperatures, UN agency launches video ‘forecasts’ on impact of climate change
5 July 2017 In a year already marked by heatwaves and new daily temperature records, the United Nations weather agency and television weather anchors have joined forces to create video forecasts that explore how climate change would make future summers even hotter in major cities of the world.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Climate Central, a research and communications organization based in the United States, invited weather presenters from a dozen countries to work with meteorological services and other national experts to explore the implications.
“What the weather presenters have created are only possible scenarios, and not true forecasts. Nevertheless, they are based on the most up-to-date climate science, and they paint a compelling picture of how climate change may impact daily life in cities where most of the world’s population lives,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a press release.
Cities featured in the “Summer in the City” videos include Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Frankfurt, Hanoi, Havana, Kampala, Madrid, Montreal, Nairobi, Paris, Sofia and Tokyo.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the Earth’s average global surface temperature could rise more than 4 degrees Celsius or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, according to WMO.
TV weather presenters used two different climate change scenarios – high emissions and moderate emissions – and matched each selected city with a city that already experiences such temperatures.
For instance, in 2100, the citizens of Paris, where daily summer high temperatures now average 22.7 degrees Celsius, may see summer high temperatures hit 29.2 degrees Celsius as experienced today in Fez, Morocco.
Climate Central has posted an interactive map to visualize these match-ups.
Many of the assessed cities could see their maximum daily temperatures in summer rise by as much as 6 to 9 degrees Celsius.
“Urban warming could be double that of surrounding areas due to the presence of stone materials and paved roads. This would lead in particular to higher night-time temperatures,” said Mr. Taalas.
“The enhanced heat – and an expected increase in associated extreme weather like summer storms – will have major implications for energy and water supplies, public health and transportation. More intense heatwaves would also often lead to poorer air quality, which can even be lethal,” he added.
The videos are posted on the WMO YouTube channel.
In a similar exercise, WMO previously worked with some 60 weather presenters on “Weather Reports from the year 2050.”
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On Asteroid Day, UN space agency urges international cooperation against potential threat
30 June 2017 A top United Nations official today urged the international community to come together to jointly raise awareness and develop a plan to mitigate the danger from a potential asteroid impact.
Marking the first observance of International Asteroid Day, the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), said today was an opportunity to learn about the technological progress taking place around the world to both identify and counter asteroids.
“International cooperation is the best way to address the potential impact of an asteroid on our planet,” said Simonetta Di Pippo.
“Join us to raise awareness of the value of space technology to address global challenges, no matter where they come from and let’s work together for the benefit of all humankind.”
The Day, which will be marked annually on 30 June, is meant to “raise public awareness about the asteroid impact hazard and inform the public about the crisis communication actions to be taken at the global level in case of a credible near-Earth object threat,” according to the dedicated UN website.
The General Assembly chose 30 June to mark the date in 1908 when a massive explosion above Tunguska, in Siberian Russia, caused by an asteroid, hit a forested area reportedly flattening some 80 million trees.
The incident was “the Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history,” according to the UN.
UNOOSA has said that it worked for many years to recognize asteroids or comets – both considered near-earth objects (NEOs) – as global issues demanding an international response.
“Addressing such a hazard, including the identification of those objects that pose a threat of impact and planning a corresponding mitigation campaign, requires cooperative action in the interest of public safety on the part of the global community,” the UN agency said.
Among most recent NEOs entering the Earth’s atmosphere, a large fireball disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk on 15 February 2013. The fireball is said to have travelled at a speed of 18.6 km per second and was estimated to carry the equivalent of 440 kilotons of TNT explosives.
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