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Action needed to end deadly clashes between African herders and farmers: UN chief

More than 80 people in central Nigeria were killed in land disputes between the two sides this week. However, this has been a long-standing issue with similar incidents occurring in other countries in Africa, causing more than 1,000 deaths over the past year alone, according to media reports.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep concern over the mounting violence, as well as the resulting banditry, extortion and cattle rustling.

 “He condemns the resulting loss of life, property and livelihoods, as well as population displacement, which undermines peaceful coexistence between communities in many of the affected countries. It is also detrimental to regional stability,” the statement said.

 The UN chief urged all concerned governments, regional organizations, civil society and other parties to work together to find solutions to the conflicts.

 He underlined the readiness and commitment of the UN to support national and regional efforts in this regard. 

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1013392

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On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

In a statement marking the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said that everyone needed to recognize the true value of land.

“I would ask you: when you choose what to eat, what to wear or what to drive, think about how your choice impacts the land — for better or for worse,” said Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, in her message for the day, marked on 17 June.

Land-grabbing, unplanned urban sprawl, unsustainable agriculture and over-consumption can yield quick economic gains, but such short-sightedness eventually causes degradation and loss of critical ecosystem services due to unsustainable land use.

As a result, a third of the world’s usable land has already severely degraded over the last 30 years, with 75 billion tons of soil from arable land lost annually, said UNCCD.

However, the UNCCD says everyone can contribute to, and benefit from, investing in sustainable land management — as consumers, producers, corporations or governments. Farmers can invest in smart agriculture with higher yields but reduced pesticides. Policymakers and land managers can invest in sustainable land management while consumers can choose to spend on organic and fair-trade products that avoid ruining the land.

“Let us work together to transform the way we consume, produce, work, and live together without compromising our current or future social, economic or environmental security. Without compromising the land on which it all depends,” said Ms. Barbut.

The UN General Assembly established the World Day in 1994 to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the UNCCD — the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The World Day is observed annually on 17 June, the date the UNCCD was adopted.

This year’s theme for the Day is “Land has true value — invest in it.” The campaign hopes to promote changes in behaviour and adoption of more efficient planning and practices, to ensure there are sufficient land resources for the world’s long-term sustainability and economic prosperity.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1012222

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FROM THE FIELD: Plastic pollution choking world’s oceans

The world must unite to “beat plastic pollution” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day on Tuesday, noting that microplastic particles in the ocean, “now outnumber stars in our galaxy”.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011671

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‘We face a global emergency’ over oceans: UN chief sounds the alarm at G7 Summit event

“The facts are clear.  Our oceans are a mess,” said António Guterres at an outreach event, that was part of the Group of Seven – or G7 – Summit of industrialized nations, taking place over two days, in Charlevoix, Canada.

The G7 group of advanced economies, consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Plastic waste is now found in the most remote areas of the planet.  It kills marine life and is doing major harm to communities that depend on fishing and tourism,” he added.

Pointing out that one mass of plastic in the Pacific is now bigger than France, Mr. Guterres welcomed the G7 Plastics Charter, agreed on Saturday, which is being seen by some observers as a Paris-style watershed moment for cleaning up ocean garbage, referencing the 2015 Agreement on climate change.

“But we all need to do so much more,” Mr. Guterres underscored, “not just on plastic waste but on all ocean issues.”

“Make no mistake, we are in a battle. And we are losing on every front,” he stressed.

The UN chief painted a picture of fish stocks being crippled by overfishing, vast coastal dead zones from pollution and untreated waste being discharged into the sea.

“And, to compound these issues, we have the growing impacts of climate change,” he asserted.

Ocean acidification is disrupting the marine food chain and record-level ocean temperatures are killing coral reefs and creating fiercer, more frequent storms.

Moreover, 40 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometres of a coast – leaving them vulnerable to storms, sea level rise and coastal erosion.

Low-lying island nations and many coastal cities are in jeopardy of inundation, the Secretary-General spelled out.

“Thankfully,” continued Mr. Guterres “we have a battle plan.”

“Our guide is the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], and especially Goal 14 with its 10 targets from addressing marine pollution and acidification, to ending overfishing and protecting ecosystems,” he elaborated.

“Our legal framework is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – the world’s ‘constitution for the oceans,’” he added.

Mr. Guterres noted that while last year’s Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters registered more than 1,300 commitments and partnerships, none of the initiatives and declarations are worth anything “unless we accept that we face a global emergency.”

“And that is why I am here today.  To sound the alarm.  To inject a sense of real urgency in your deliberations and decision-making,” he said.

“Your leadership is needed now, more than ever – on combatting land-based pollution; on creating marine protected areas; on reviving fisheries; on building the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities, and, especially, on climate change,” he added.

He flagged that if our seas and oceans are not protected, and we lose the battle against climate change, all the assumptions on which our policy-making has been based “will be worthless”.

“Take seriously these threats to our global environment and understand that our collective future and security is at stake,” he concluded.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011811

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World must unite against ‘preventable tragedy’ of ocean pollution: UN chief

Marking the day on Friday, the UN chief reminded everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life, as the lungs of the planet, providing most of the oxygen that we breathe.

“The oceans make our blue planet unique in our solar system – and not just visually,” he said adding that they help regulate “the global climate and are the ultimate source of the water that sustains all life on Earth, from coral reefs to snow-covered mountains, from tropical rain forests to mighty rivers, and even deserts.”

“However,” he continued “the ability of the oceans to provide their essential services is being threatened by climate change, pollution and unsustainable use.”  

Plastic pollution alone is reeking tremendous havoc on the marine resources of the world, he said, highlighting the problem of plastic pollution in particular.

Eighty per cent of all pollution in the sea comes from land, including some eight million tons of plastic waste each year, that have cost the lives of one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. Moreover, it causes $8 billion in damage annually to marine ecosystems.

Pollution, said Mr. Guterres, “chokes waterways, harms communities that depend on fishing and tourism, kills turtles and birds, whales and dolphins, and finds its way to the most remote areas of the planet and throughout the food chain on which we ultimately rely.”

“Unless we change course, plastic waste could soon outweigh all the fish in the oceans,” Mr. Guterres added.

The UN chief urged everyone to work individually and collectively to “stop this preventable tragedy” and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.

“Action starts at home, and speaks louder than words,” he said. “The United Nations aims to lead by example, and more than 30 of our agencies have now begun working to end the use of single-use plastic.” 

But everyone needs to play a part by taking simple actions like carrying your own water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags; recycling plastic, said Mr. Guterres; avoiding products that contain microplastics; and volunteering for a local clean-ups.

“If we all do a little, our combined actions can be massive,” he added.  

 “On this World Oceans Day, I urge governments, communities and individuals alike to celebrate our oceans by helping clear them of pollution and ensure they remain vibrant for generations to come,” concluded the Secretary-General.

 

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011721

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From the field: Plastic pollution choking world’s oceans

The world must unite to “beat plastic pollution” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day on Tuesday, noting that microplastic particles in the ocean, “now outnumber stars in our galaxy”.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011671

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Hunger surges amid deadly conflicts, poor weather conditions in many countries – UN agriculture agency

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) new Crop Prospects and Food Situation reveals that since its last report in March, the number of countries requiring external food assistance has jumped by two, namely Cabo Verde and Senegal, to 39.

According to the report, civil war and insecurity in Africa and the Middle East have displaced millions – resulting in high hunger rates.

“Poor rains have hit cereal production prospects in South America and Southern Africa,” FAO explained. “Unfavourable weather conditions are also placing a heavy burden on pastoralists in West Africa.”

The food insecure countries on FAO’s list are: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Conflict and erratic rainfall

Turning to cereal production, FAO foresees a 1.5 per cent annual drop from last year’s record high, with a larger decline in some areas, such as South and North America and Southern Africa.

“Conflicts have choked agricultural activity in swathes of Central Africa, notably in the Central African Republic and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where access to food is further hindered by surging inflation,” FAO elaborated.

On a brighter note, after consecutive seasons of drought-reduced harvests, fresh rains point to cereal production gains in East Africa.

Meanwhile, abundant rains recently triggered flooding in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, displacing some 800,000 people. In contrast to the trend in the subregion, high staple food prices are rising in Sudan and South Sudan, intensifying food insecurity risks.

In the absence of humanitarian assistance, the number of severely food insecure people in South Sudan is expected to rise to 7.1 million people during the June-July lean season.

Turning to Asia, the cereal harvest is projected to remain similar to last year’s, with recoveries in countries affected by unfavourable weather conditions, including Bangladesh, Viet Nam, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and, to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka. 

While favourable crop conditions in India and Pakistan mean wheat outputs are expected to rise further, fair weather will not be enough to boost crop production in war-afflicted areas, as chronic conflicts impedes access to fields such as in Iraq and Syria, where this year’s harvests are expected to decline further.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011601

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The world is being ‘swamped’ by harmful plastic waste says UN chief, marking Environment Day

In his message marking the day on 5 June, he said a healthy planet was essential for a prosperous and peaceful future, spelling out that: “We all have a role to play in protecting our only home.”

“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” he stated. “Every year, more than eight million tonnes end up in the oceans.”

Pointing out the astonishing comparison between stars in the cosmos and ocean plastics, Mr. Guterres underscored that “from remote islands, to the Artic, nowhere is untouched.”

If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish, he said.

On World Environment Day, Mr. Guterres is encouraging everyone to also stop using plastic products which are designed just to be thrown away, such as plastic bottles.

“Refuse what you can’t re-use,” he asserted.

“Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” concluded the Secretary-General.

Since it was first celebrated in 1974, the Day has helped raise awareness and generate political momentum around global environmental concerns such as ozone depletion, desertification and global warming.

 

 The state of renewable energy

In conjunction with the Day, UN Environment (UNEP), on Monday, launched REN21, or the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report, which paints a positive picture of a renewable power sector characterized by falling costs, increased investment, record-setting installation and innovative business models that are driving rapid change.

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, or REN21 – supported by UNEP – is a global renewable energy policy network that aims to facilitate knowledge exchange, policy development and joint action towards a rapid global transition to renewable energy.

After years of active policy support – driven by technology advances, rapid growth and dramatic cost reductions in solar and wind – renewable electricity is now less expensive than newly installed fossil and nuclear energy generation in many parts of the world.

But not all of the news is good. There is uneven progress between sectors and across different geographical regions, and a “fundamental disconnect” between commitments and real action on the ground.

The power sector on its own will not deliver the emissions reductions demanded by the Paris Climate Agreement or the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, says the report.

The heating, cooling and transport sectors, which together account for about 80 per cent of global total final energy demand, are also lagging.

Simply put, the global renewable energy transition is progressing far too slowly.

 

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011351

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UN agencies join forces against environmental risks that cause 12.6 million deaths a year

The agency also highlighted the threat from climate change, noting that Hurricane Maria claimed 64 lives in Puerto Rico last September, only for new research to reveal that it actually led to more than 4,600 deaths, “because of a breakdown in healthcare, electricity and infrastructure”.

WMO’s role in coordinating Member States’ seasonal rainfall and temperature forecasts will also help in the fight against many diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, which depend on these variables.

Similarly, scientific drought predictions could help protect farming communities during the dry season, while extreme heat warnings are increasingly used to reduce the health impact of heatwaves.

In its statement WMO noted that the plan is line with internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, and their focus on helping populations to implement disaster risk reduction measures and adjust to climate change.

This involves placing “special emphasis” on reaching the most vulnerable populations in developing countries, Small Island Developing States and urban areas.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/05/1011071

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