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Sustainable farming, ‘key’ to world free of hunger, malnutrition, says UN agriculture chief

Focusing this year on the links between agricultural trade, climate change and food security, Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in the foreword that “ensuring food security for all is both a key function of, and a challenge for agriculture, which faces ever-increasing difficulties.”

“As populations rise, urbanization increases and incomes grow, the agricultural sector will be under mounting pressure to meet the demand for safe and nutritious food,” Mr. da Silva explained.

Climate change will have an increasingly adverse impact on many regions of the world, with those in low latitudes being hit the hardest – FAO chief

He sized up that agriculture must generate decent jobs to support billions of rural people globally, especially in developing countries where hunger and poverty are concentrated.

Turning to the warming planet, he underscored that agriculture is pivotal in helping to sustain the world’s natural resources and biodiversity.

“Climate change will have an increasingly adverse impact on many regions of the world, with those in low latitudes being hit the hardest,” he said.

The report points out that by the middle of this century, higher temperatures, precipitation changes, rising sea levels, extreme weather events and a likely increase in damage due to pests and disease, will all significantly impact agriculture and food security.

Climate change impacts will be affect different places in different ways, with variations across crops and regions. Arid and semi-arid regions will be exposed to even lower rainfall levels and higher temperatures, lowering crop yields.

Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be disproportionately affected, many of which already suffer from poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Conversely, countries in temperate, largely more-developed areas, may benefit from warmer weather during their growing season, further exacerbating existing inequalities and widening the development gap.

“Unless we take urgent action to combat climate change, we can expect to see a very different global picture of agriculture in the future,” the FAO chief stressed.

Agricultural trade impact

 

The relationship between agricultural trade and food security is increasingly important in both trade and development agendas, with developing countries requiring international support to cope with climate change.  

While international trade can potentially stabilize markets and reallocate food from surplus to deficit regions, Mr. Graziano da Silva emphasized: “We must ensure that the evolution and expansion of agricultural trade is equitable and works for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition globally.” 

Against the backdrop that the world’s food system overall in 2050 will need to produce almost 50 per cent more, compared to 2012, according to the report, the sector needs to adjust to climate change effects and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting a growing demand.

Producing more with less, while preserving natural resources and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale family farmers, will be a key challenge for the future.

 “Developing and implementing policies that shift global agricultural production onto a more sustainable path, protect the most vulnerable countries and regions…will be key if we are to see a world free of hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” concluded the Director-General.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1019552

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More than 65 million ‘low-carbon jobs’ can be created by 2030: UN-backed Climate Summit urges action ‘to the next level’

Those are some of the opportunities of moving to a low-carbon economy, outlined on Friday, at the close of the Global Climate Action Summit, which took place in San Francisco.

It brought together national, regional and urban leaders from across the world, together with businesses, investors and civil society organizations, in an effort to keep global warming to well-under 2 degrees Celsius, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Committing to take “their collective ambition to the next level”, participants focused on five specific areas.

  • Healthy Energy Systems: An alliance of more than 60 state, regional and city governments pledged to 100 per cent zero-emission targets, together with 23 multinational corporations with revenue of more than $470 billion.
  • Inclusive Economic Growth: 488 companies from 38 countries, adopted emission-reduction goals, in line with the Paris Agreement – 40 per cent up on the number last year.
  • Sustainable Communities: More than 70 big cities are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, representing 450 million citizens.
  • Land and Ocean Stewardship: A leaders’ group will head a new alliance linking more than 100 NGOs, pledged to more action on behalf of forest, food and land sustainability.
  • The Investor Agenda: brings together nearly 400 investors, managing $32 trillion of assets, who pledged to scale up the flow of capital into climate action, and a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.

The summit issued a formal “Call to Global Climate Action” saying that “now I the time for all leaders to step up”.

“Only together will we transform our communities and energy systems, create employment opportunities and economic prosperity, protect our oceans and natural environment and complete the transition to a zero-carbon world”.

This Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to boost ambition that we need to address climate change – Patricia Espinosa, UN climate change chief

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said the summit had demonstrated “the vast opportunity afforded by climate action. They are betting on green because they understand this is the path to prosperity and peace, on a healthy planet.”

The Call to Action, was presented to the UN’s Special Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, in a symbolic gesture to illustrate that it is future generations who will be most affected by the decisions of the current generation to build a more resilient world.

Accepting the Call to Action on behalf of the United Nations, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, saidThis Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to boost ambition that we need to address climate change.”

“We must increase climate action and create unstoppable momentum towards COP24 in Poland and the Secretary General’s 2019 Climate Summit,” she added adding that the summit “will encourage governments worldwide to step up their actions, demonstrating the vital role that states and regions, cities, companies, investors, and civil society are playing to tackle climate change.”

The event took place against a background of accelerating impacts of climate change, evidenced this week through the destructive power of Super Typhoon Mangkhut in South East Asia, and Hurricane Florence, on the east coast of the United States, which killed dozens and caused billions of dollars-worth of destruction.

UN Environment highlighted the vital role of non-Party stakeholders in propelling the global fight against climate change forward, in an excerpt of their Emissions Gap Report, launched at the Summit.

“Climate change is undoubtedly the defining issue of our time, and working together across nations, organizations and communities is the only way that we can tackle this enormous task and seize the huge opportunities,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. 

“We have seen here over the past few days the inspiring amount of work that is already being undertaken by communities around the world to address these issues. If we manage to put our environment first, we can come out on the other end of this formidable challenge and achieve our common goal: a sustainable world for all.”

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1019472

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Now is a ‘pivotal time for climate action’ says UN chief, looking to ozone layer gains

When scientist revealed that chlorofluorocarbons, found mainly in refrigerants and aerosol sprays, were tearing a hole in the ozone layer – a fragile shield of gas that protects the earth and helps preserves life – the world responded with the Montreal Protocol. The landmark 1987 global agreement, heralded the phasing out of the production of ozone-depleting substances.

 “We can draw inspiration from the Montreal Protocol, a shining example of how the world can come together for people and planet,” added the UN chief.

Phasing out ozone-depleting substances has not only helped protect the ozone layer but also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change.

Moreover, it has protected human health and ecosystems by preventing some harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth. “Thanks to this global commitment,” Mr. Guterres stated, “the ozone layer is expected to return to its 1980 levels by mid-century.”

“However,” he continued, “this work is not yet done.”

We can draw inspiration from the Montreal Protocol, a shining example of how the world can come together for people and planet – UN chief

He explained that the landmark Kigali Amendment, which enters into force on 1 January 2019, sets its sights on hydrofluorocarbons; powerful climate-warming gases, still being used in cooling systems throughout the world.

“So far,” Mr. Guterres said, “46 countries have ratified this new instrument,” as he called on all others to show their commitment to a healthier planet and “follow suit.”

“I expect countries to demonstrate significant progress in implementing the Kigali Amendment at the Climate Summit I am convening in September 2019,” the Secretary-General stressed.

For over three decades, the Montreal Protocol has done much more than helped repair the ozone layer.

“It has shown us how environmental governance can respond to science, and how countries can come together to address a shared vulnerability,” said Mr. Guterres.

“I call for that same spirit of common cause and, especially, greater leadership as we strive to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and mobilize the ambitious climate action we so urgently need at this time,” he concluded.

Keep Cool and Carry On

The theme for this year’s Ozone Day, commemorated annually on 16 September, is a “motivational rallying call” urging everyone to protect the ozone layer and climate under the Montreal Protocol.

“The theme has two connotations – that our work of protecting the ozone layer also protects climate, and that the Montreal Protocol is a “cool” treaty, as exemplified by its outstanding success”, says the UN’s official webpage marking the day.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1019342

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Devastating storms like Hurricane Florence ‘unusual this far north’: UN weather agency

Hurricane Florence is ranked as a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  According to the US National Hurricane Center, category 4 hurricanes are ranked as major hurricanes, with winds at 130-156 mph (209-251 km/h), and a likelihood of catastrophic damage.

Hurricane Florence, currently moving West over the northern Atlantic, is currently moving West over the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas and is forecast to approach the coast of North Carolina or South Carolina on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the WMO described Hurricane Florence as “very large, very strong and very dangerous. Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday. It’s a very big hurricane which can be seen from space”.

One of the main dangers from hurricane Florence is the rainfall, added the spokesperson. There is currently a 1-7 day rainfall forecast of more than 10-15 inches (254 to 381 mm).

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas spoke to UN News on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York where, on the same day, UN chief António Guterres delivered a speech describing climate change as “the defining issue of our time”, and calling for more leadership and greater ambition for climate action.

Mr. Taalas confirmed that we are seeing the highest worldwide temperatures since records began. “We have been breaking records in some parts of the world. We have seen heatwaves hitting Japan, Europe – especially the northern part of Europe – where a large part of the harvest has been lost, and we have seen quite devastating fires hitting Canada and western parts of the USA,” he told us.

“We just saw a record-breaking typhoon hitting Japan a couple of days ago, the most intense typhoon in Japan for the past 25 years. Japan was also exposed to very intense rainfall, leading to flooding and landslides, with casualties.”

Although the early part of the Atlantic hurricane season was quiet, there are now three active hurricanes moving across the ocean (Florence, Isaac and Helene).

There have been 10 other years on record where we have had at least 3 hurricanes simultaneously, most recently last year (Irma, Jose and Katia)

In the Pacific Ocean, Typhoon Manghut, a very strong tropical cyclone and the largest currently active, is expected to impact the northern part of the Philippines later in the week.

 

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1019032

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‘Direct existential threat’ of climate change nears point of no return, warns UN chief

The pledge made by world leaders in the Paris Agreement three years ago to stop temperature rising by less than 2-degree-Celsius and working to keep the increase as close as possible to 1.5-degree-Celsius, “were really the bare minimum to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” said Secretary-General Guterres, in a landmark speech on climate action, at UN Headquarters in New York.

“The mountain in front of us is very high but it is not insurmountable. We know how to scale it,” he continued.

“Put simply, we need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action,” he added, calling for a shift away from the dependency on fossil fuels towards cleaner energy and away from deforestation to more efficient use of resources.

Put simply, we need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action

The UN chief went on to say that such a shift in thinking is where “enormous benefits await humankind.”

“I have heard the argument – usually from vested interests – that tackling climate change is expensive and could harm economic growth. This is hogwash. In fact, the opposite is true,” he stressed.

In his message, Mr. Guterres highlighted the huge economic costs of climate change and the opportunities presented by climate action.

Climate action, socio-economic progress mutually supportive

“Climate action and socio-economic progress are mutually supportive, with gains of 26 trillion dollars predicted by 2030 compared with business as usual, if we pursue the right path,” he said, citing the findings of the recent Climate Economy report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change.

The benefits transcend monetary figures.

“Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year, clean air has vast benefits for public health [and] in China and the United States, new renewable energy jobs now outstrip those created in the oil and gas industries,” explained Mr. Guterres, noting several examples from across the world of climate action resulting in enormous benefits for countries and communities.

Underscoring that important strides are being made, the UN chief highlighted the imperative to speed up these transitions.

There is another reason to act – moral duty … the world’s richest nations are the most responsible for the climate crisis, yet the effects are being felt first and worst by the poorest nations and the most vulnerable peoples and communities

“And for that to happen, the leaders of the world need to step up. The private sector, of course, is poised to move, and many are doing so.

In his remarks, Secretary-General Guterres highlighted the skewed impact of the climate crisis on vulnerable nations and urged richer countries to do more to assist them.

Looking ahead, the UN chief emphasized that he would be reiterating this message at the General Assembly’s high level segment later in the month as well as at other key events, including the G7 and G20 meetings of world leaders; and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings.

“The time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands. We need them to show they care about the future,” he stressed.

Climate Summit in 2019

Mr. Guterres further announced that in September 2019, he will convene a Climate Summit to bring climate action to the top of the international agenda and unveiled the appointment of Luis Alfonso de Alba, a former Mexican diplomat, as his Special Envoy to lead its preparations.

The Summit, he said, will focus on the heart of the problem – the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience could make the biggest difference – as well as provide leaders and partners the opportunity to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition.

“I am calling on all leaders to come to next year’s Climate Summit prepared to report not only on what they are doing, but what more they intend to do when they convene in 2020 for the UN climate conference and where commitments will be renewed and surely ambitiously increased,” he said.

In the same vein, the Secretary-General called on civil society and young people to push the agenda of climate action.

“There is no more time to waste. We are careering towards the edge of the abyss,” warned Mr. Guterres, adding that though it is not too late to shift course, “every day that passes means the world heats up a little more and the cost of our inaction mounts.”

“Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants – a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth.”

 

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018852

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Uneven progress on climate action at Bangkok conference

Greater ambition, urgency and action are needed if we are to prevent ever greater climate-related crises, said UN Chief Antonió Guterres on Wednesday, at the launch of the 2018 New Climate Economy report, at UN Headquarters in New York

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018831

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Caribbean hurricane season ‘will be different this time’

15 year old Ahijah Williams is terrified by the idea of another hurricane season.  

He is a student at North East Comprehensive School in Wesley, Dominica. He remembers how he felt when Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 5 storm, ripped through his community 12 months ago.

 “I was extremely horrified to hear those winds howling like wolves in the sky and houses flying away and people dying.” 

 Although fearful of the dangers that the 2018 hurricane eason could bring, he says he “would like to be more ready this time: prepare for the season, stock up on food, repair houses.”

Part 2: On the climate-change front-line

Dominica has been rebuilding its education system in the aftermath of Maria and preparing for the coming hurricane season. The European Commission provided the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF – working with the Government of Dominica and IsraAID – with 500,000 euros to support the education sector across all 72 schools

The rebuilding has not just been taking place in the physical sense, but also in terms of preparing teachers and students to respond appropriately during a natural disaster like a hurricane.

“I want to learn how to prepare for a hurricane and what we do after a hurricane. It is my responsibility to help as a member of the Dominica Cadet Corps,” says Ahijah. “I am looking forward to learning safe practices. It’s going to be different this time”

UNICEF also launched a “Return to Happiness” programme for the thousands of children affected by the hurricanes, helping them to work through their trauma using play, writing, drama and poetry.

Hurricane readiness

The people of Dominica are not alone. Across the islands of the eastern Caribbean, citizens, communities and governments are developing ways to improve their hurricane readiness.

And the UN is playing a major part in helping them to become more resilient, and better able to withstand the next season, as extreme weather events grow in frequency and scale.

The eastern Caribbean islands are no stranger to life-threatening weather conditions. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has identified the region as the second most hazard-prone in the world (after the Asia-Pacific region).

As well as hurricanes, inhabitants face threats such as floods and volcanoes, with regular annual losses from disasters estimated at $3 billion per year. In its 2018 Caribbean Outlook report, ECLAC recommended that governments in the region improve resilience by undertaking recovery and reconstruction assessments.

Following the back-to-back batterings from Irma and Maria, Dominica has taken this message on-board. Shortly after the hurricanes, Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said: “Our devastation is so complete that our recovery has to be total, and so we have a unique opportunity to be an example to the world, an example of how an entire nation rebounds from disaster and how an entire nation can be climate resilient for the future.”

To reach this goal, the Dominican Government created a task-force to determine best practice across every sector and enforce new disaster mitigation measures throughout the island.

The UN played an important role and, even in the very early days of the humanitarian recovery efforts, started planning for resilience.

The UN Development Programme, UNDP, restored over 800 buildings for the most at-need people in Dominica and Antigua Barbuda, trained hurricane-affected Dominicans to rebuild their own communities, and ensured that roofs were put up in accordance with improved building codes.

In addition, the UNDP looked at existing building standards and, where necessary, reviewed them and raised them to bolster resilience. The aim is to enable Dominica to rebound from a Category 5 storm in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.

UN disaster risk reduction

Raúl Salazar, Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Americas and The Caribbean says that preparedness in the region has improved over the last year: “With the contribution of the international community and cooperation among countries of the region, the affected islands have initiated a process of ‘risk informed’ recovery in sectors as diverse as education; with a safe schools perspective, where schools are able to resist the impact of hurricanes; tourism, with a strong engagement of the private sector to re-establish services; and the building of national disaster risk reduction plans.”

However, one of the big fears for the coming years, according to Raúl Salazar, is the unpredictability brought about by climate change: “Through changing temperatures, precipitation and sea levels, amongst other factors, global climate change is already modifying hazard levels and exacerbating disaster risks,” he said, adding that “climate change will contribute an additional $1.4 billion to the expected annual losses from cyclone wind damage alone.”

Raúl Salazar’s concerns are echoed in the 2018 ECLAC Caribbean Outlook report, which predicts that “disaster-related costs are expected to escalate in the Caribbean in the face of population growth, rapid urbanization, increased exposure of assets and climate-change-related damage.”

For the UN Secretary-General, Antonió Guterres, climate change remains an overriding factor in the devastation wreaked by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Speaking on a visit to Dominica and Barbuda shortly after the hurricane struck, he said:  “the intensity of hurricanes in the Caribbean in this season is not an accident. It is the result of climate change.”

As more and more countries are affected, and the associated costs, human and financial, continue to rise the international community is moving towards meaningful action.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed, committing all countries to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change. And, because reducing carbon emissions is no longer enough to halt climate change, States agreed to a “Global Adaptation Goal”, strengthening the ability of the most vulnerable countries to deal with its effects.

For more on Dominica’s “war” on climate change click here:

One of the crueller ironies of climate change is that, whilst they contribute less than 1 per cent to total greenhouse gas emissions, the Small Island Developing States tend to suffer disproportionately from its effects: just weeks after the hurricanes devastated his nation, Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, in an emotional address, told the UN General Assembly:

“The stars have fallen, Eden is broken… We as a country, and as a region, did not start this war against nature. We did not provoke it. The war has come to us!”

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018591

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Caribbean hurricane season ‘will be different this time’

15 year old Ahijah Williams is terrified by the idea of another hurricane season.  

He is a student at North East Comprehensive School in Wesley, Dominica. He remembers how he felt when Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 5 storm, ripped through his community 12 months ago.

 “I was extremely horrified to hear those winds howling like wolves in the sky and houses flying away and people dying.” 

 Although fearful of the dangers that the 2018 hurricane eason could bring, he says he “would like to be more ready this time: prepare for the season, stock up on food, repair houses.”

Part 2: On the climate-change front-line

Dominica has been rebuilding its education system in the aftermath of Maria and preparing for the coming hurricane season. The European Commission provided the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF – working with the Government of Dominica and IsraAID – with 500,000 euros to support the education sector across all 72 schools

The rebuilding has not just been taking place in the physical sense, but also in terms of preparing teachers and students to respond appropriately during a natural disaster like a hurricane.

“I want to learn how to prepare for a hurricane and what we do after a hurricane. It is my responsibility to help as a member of the Dominica Cadet Corps,” says Ahijah. “I am looking forward to learning safe practices. It’s going to be different this time”

UNICEF also launched a “Return to Happiness” programme for the thousands of children affected by the hurricanes, helping them to work through their trauma using play, writing, drama and poetry.

Hurricane readiness

The people of Dominica are not alone. Across the islands of the eastern Caribbean, citizens, communities and governments are developing ways to improve their hurricane readiness.

And the UN is playing a major part in helping them to become more resilient, and better able to withstand the next season, as extreme weather events grow in frequency and scale.

The eastern Caribbean islands are no stranger to life-threatening weather conditions. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has identified the region as the second most hazard-prone in the world (after the Asia-Pacific region).

As well as hurricanes, inhabitants face threats such as floods and volcanoes, with regular annual losses from disasters estimated at $3 billion per year. In its 2018 Caribbean Outlook report, ECLAC recommended that governments in the region improve resilience by undertaking recovery and reconstruction assessments.

Following the back-to-back batterings from Irma and Maria, Dominica has taken this message on-board. Shortly after the hurricanes, Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said: “Our devastation is so complete that our recovery has to be total, and so we have a unique opportunity to be an example to the world, an example of how an entire nation rebounds from disaster and how an entire nation can be climate resilient for the future.”

To reach this goal, the Dominican Government created a task-force to determine best practice across every sector and enforce new disaster mitigation measures throughout the island.

The UN played an important role and, even in the very early days of the humanitarian recovery efforts, started planning for resilience.

The UN Development Programme, UNDP, restored over 800 buildings for the most at-need people in Dominica and Antigua Barbuda, trained hurricane-affected Dominicans to rebuild their own communities, and ensured that roofs were put up in accordance with improved building codes.

In addition, the UNDP looked at existing building standards and, where necessary, reviewed them and raised them to bolster resilience. The aim is to enable Dominica to rebound from a Category 5 storm in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.

UN disaster risk reduction

Raúl Salazar, Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Americas and The Caribbean says that preparedness in the region has improved over the last year: “With the contribution of the international community and cooperation among countries of the region, the affected islands have initiated a process of ‘risk informed’ recovery in sectors as diverse as education; with a safe schools perspective, where schools are able to resist the impact of hurricanes; tourism, with a strong engagement of the private sector to re-establish services; and the building of national disaster risk reduction plans.”

However, one of the big fears for the coming years, according to Raúl Salazar, is the unpredictability brought about by climate change: “Through changing temperatures, precipitation and sea levels, amongst other factors, global climate change is already modifying hazard levels and exacerbating disaster risks,” he said, adding that “climate change will contribute an additional $1.4 billion to the expected annual losses from cyclone wind damage alone.”

Raúl Salazar’s concerns are echoed in the 2018 ECLAC Caribbean Outlook report, which predicts that “disaster-related costs are expected to escalate in the Caribbean in the face of population growth, rapid urbanization, increased exposure of assets and climate-change-related damage.”

For the UN Secretary-General, Antonió Guterres, climate change remains an overriding factor in the devastation wreaked by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Speaking on a visit to Dominica and Barbuda shortly after the hurricane struck, he said:  “the intensity of hurricanes in the Caribbean in this season is not an accident. It is the result of climate change.”

As more and more countries are affected, and the associated costs, human and financial, continue to rise the international community is moving towards meaningful action.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed, committing all countries to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change. And, because reducing carbon emissions is no longer enough to halt climate change, States agreed to a “Global Adaptation Goal”, strengthening the ability of the most vulnerable countries to deal with its effects.

For more on Dominica’s “war” on climate change click here:

One of the crueller ironies of climate change is that, whilst they contribute less than 1 per cent to total greenhouse gas emissions, the Small Island Developing States tend to suffer disproportionately from its effects: just weeks after the hurricanes devastated his nation, Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, in an emotional address, told the UN General Assembly:

“The stars have fallen, Eden is broken… We as a country, and as a region, did not start this war against nature. We did not provoke it. The war has come to us!”

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018591

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Runaway climate change still ‘a real possibility’: UN Secretary-General

The document, published by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate – a project comprising several UN bodies, and other institutions – finds that the benefits of smarter and clearer growth are significantly under-estimated, and that bold climate action could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030.

Other benefits of switching to a clean economy include the creation of over 65 million new low-carbon jobs, and 700,000 fewer air pollution-related deaths.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Co-Chair of the Global Commission, said that “policy makers should take their feet off the brakes, send a clear signal that the new growth story is here and that it comes with exciting economic and market opportunities. $26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer if we act decisively now.”

Speaking at the launch, Secretary-General Guterres said that momentum for climate action is growing every day, with over 130 of the world’s most influential companies now committed to using only renewable energy, fossil fuel-dependent countries looking to diversify, and over 250 investors with $28 trillion in managed assets signing on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative.

Shifting to a sustainable growth path has many other benefits. Climate resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year, restoring degraded lands means better lives for farmers, and clean air has vast benefits for public health.

Mr. Guterres that clean energy systems help developing countries, where over 1 billion people still do not have access to electricity,” adding that “it can help deliver access to energy to the one billion people who currently lack electricity. For example, Bangladesh has installed more than four million solar home systems. This has created more than 115,000 jobs and saved rural households over $400 million dollars in polluting fuels.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, Economics and Government Professor at the London School of Economics, who also Co-Chairs the Global Commission, said “we know we are grossly underestimating the benefits of this new growth story. And further, it becomes ever more clear that the risks of the damage from climate change are immense, and tipping points, irreversibilities, getting ever closer.”

Underlining the risks faced by the world, the UN chief said that climate change is “running faster than we are”, and that women, the poorest and the most vulnerable are hit first and worst by storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas.

Mr. Guterres reminded those present that the last 19 years included 18 of the warmest on record, that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise, and that there is still a significant gap between national commitments to lower emissions, and actual reductions.

The Secretary-General told those present that climate change will be high on the agenda of the 2018 opening session of the General Assembly, as part of efforts to galvanise action ahead of the milestone 2020 meeting of parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018501

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In the eye of the Caribbean storm: one year on from Irma and Maria

In September 2017, Primrose Thomas was at her home on Barbuda, when disaster struck: two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, swept over the islands of the eastern Caribbean, wreaking chaos and destruction.

 “The first time I came back, I didn’t know where to go. I couldn’t recognize anywhere. I had to ask for directions to my own house.”

Thousands of people in the region found themselves in the same situation as Primrose, and the UN played a major role in helping affected communities get back on their feet.  

Click here for more first-hand accounts of the hurricane. UNDP November 2017

In this two-part report – one year on from the hurricanes – we look at the ways in which the Organisation provides aid to those in need and, in a world increasingly affected by the effects of climate change, is finding ways to make the region better able to withstand such events in the years to come.

Part 1: “A paradise turned into Hell”

This is how the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, described Barbuda in the aftermath of the storms:  “I have never seen anywhere else in the world a forest completely decimated without one single leaf on any tree…In every community, most of the buildings are destroyed or heavily damaged.”

Irma and Maria were “Category 5” hurricanes, described by the US Government’s National Hurricane Center Website, as winds reaching 157 miles per hour or higher, during which “catastrophic damage will occur”. Irma reached record-breaking sustained speeds of over 183 mph, longer than any other Atlantic hurricane on record.

The most severely affected nations were the two-island State of Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica; but many other Caribbean islands suffered damage, including Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Maarten as well as Cuba; the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, were also impacted.

On 6 September 2017, Antigua and Barbuda was battered by Irma, the first of the two mammoth Atlantic hurricanes tearing westward along Hurricane Alley, the name for the body of warm water that stretches from the west coast of northern Africa to the east coast of Central America and the Gulf Coast of the United States.

For the first time in its history, the entire population of Barbuda, some 1,600 people, was evacuated to the larger island of Antigua. Ninety per cent of homes and buildings in Barbuda were affected, 40 per cent of the roads were damaged, and the entire energy distribution network was destroyed.

Dominica also saw 90 per cent of buildings destroyed by the storms, affecting over 70,000 people.
 

 
In the aftermath of Irma and Maria, a UN-wide Crisis Management Unit sent waste management and debris removal experts into the affected areas, opening up roads, collecting garbage, and restoring the water and power networks. Emergency work programmes created temporary jobs and training for affected women and men, quickly injecting cash into communities.

Small businesses were given grants to help them to recover: On the Turks and Caicos Islands, the large majority of MSMEs (Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises) were severely impacted by the hurricanes, and the UN supported a wide range of businesses, from pest controllers and farmers, to taxi drivers and people renting out holiday homes.

Like 70 per cent of the inhabitants of South Caicos, Henry Handfield relies on fishing for a living. One of the 40 MSME owners selected for a hurricane relief grant, he says that the $550 received made an impact: “(My boat) was flipped upside down and one portion of it was broken off. The top of the engine was smashed up, the roof was destroyed…all I had was the hull of this boat.” Handfield recalls. “The help I got from UNDP (the UN Development Programme) was very helpful. I was able to take that and put with some other monies to remodel this boat.”

Financial support also came in the form of an innovative direct cash transfer scheme, which puts money directly in the hands of affected families. Run by the Government of Dominica, the programme is supported by UNICEF and the World Food Programme and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Between December and February 2017, it provided 8,000 of the most vulnerable families affected by Maria with monthly payments ranging between $90 and $239, depending on the number of children in the household.

Yvonne Hill Williams lives in Roseau, Dominica. A shopkeeper and foster carer who also looks after her five grandchildren, Yvonne lost all of her merchandise when the nearby river overflowed during Hurricane Maria. She found that the cash initiative came in handy during a difficult time: “We bought clothes, shoes, and a little shopping and groceries. You feel that you can buy certain things in town. It’s a good feeling…I appreciate it very much.”

In Dominica, the priority for women farmers was to be able to get back on their feet as soon as possible. UN Women facilitated this by providing seeds, labour and equipment to bring their farms back into production as soon as possible.

Eileen Lloyd, of the Bellevue Chopin Farmers Group in Dominica, is one of the beneficiaries. She described the support provided by UN Women as a blessing: “After Maria, it was very difficult to get seeds, and then we were promised some seeds and tools from UN Women and we appreciate them handing them over to us,” she said.

The organisation also worked closely with the UN Population Fund to provide displaced Barbudan women and girls with sanitary items not easily found in relief packages. They distributed “dignity kits”, containing basic health and hygiene products such as soap and sanitary towels.

One year on, the most vulnerable people affected – those with no income or insurance, single people and those with disabilities – risk getting lost in the system. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), has focused on helping the most at-risk communities.

IOM has helped hundreds in Dominica by reconstructing their homes. Wyzell Philogene, a single mother, spent almost a month sharing a space at a friend’s house, along with around 15 others. Her roof was ripped off, and she lost nearly all her belongings. Wyzelle qualified for IOM humanitarian assistance and, a week later, a brand-new roof was erected at no cost to her. She is now able to focus on making a living, through a landscaping job made available through the National Employment Programme, and she is making sure that she is prepared for the next hurricane season.

Wyzell is not alone in thinking about how to survive in the future: the UN’s longer-term planning and development teams have been working closely with emergency humanitarian workers from the very beginning of the crisis.

In part 2 of this special report, we will look more closely at the efforts underway to make the region more resilient, in the face of climate change and the likelihood of more frequent, and more extreme, natural disasters.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018372

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Runaway climate change still “a real possibility”: UN Secretary-General

The document, published by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate – a project comprising several UN bodies, and other institutions – finds that the benefits of smarter and clearer growth are significantly under-estimated, and that bold climate action could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030.

Other benefits of switching to a clean economy include the creation of over 65 million new low-carbon jobs, and 700,000 fewer air pollution-related deaths.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Co-Chair of the Global Commission, said that “policy makers should take their feet off the brakes, send a clear signal that the new growth story is here and that it comes with exciting economic and market opportunities. $26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer if we act decisively now.”

Speaking at the launch, Secretary-General Guterres said that momentum for climate action is growing every day, with over 130 of the world’s most influential companies now committed to using only renewable energy, fossil fuel-dependent countries looking to diversify, and over 250 investors with $28 trillion in managed assets signing on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative.

Shifting to a sustainable growth path has many other benefits. Climate resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year, restoring degraded lands means better lives for farmers, and clean air has vast benefits for public health.

Mr. Guterres that clean energy systems help developing countries, where over 1 billion people still do not have access to electricity,” adding that “it can help deliver access to energy to the one billion people who currently lack electricity. For example, Bangladesh has installed more than four million solar home systems. This has created more than 115,000 jobs and saved rural households over $400 million dollars in polluting fuels.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, Economics and Government Professor at the London School of Economics, who also Co-Chairs the Global Commission, said “we know we are grossly underestimating the benefits of this new growth story. And further, it becomes ever more clear that the risks of the damage from climate change are immense, and tipping points, irreversibilities, getting ever closer.”

Underlining the risks faced by the world, the UN chief said that climate change is “running faster than we are”, and that women, the poorest and the most vulnerable are hit first and worst by storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas.

Mr. Guterres reminded those present that the last 19 years included 18 of the warmest on record, that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise, and that there is still a significant gap between national commitments to lower emissions, and actual reductions.

The Secretary-General told those present that climate change will be high on the agenda of the 2018 opening session of the General Assembly, as part of efforts to galvanise action ahead of the milestone 2020 meeting of parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/09/1018501

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Act now to save children from rise in climate-driven extreme weather – UNICEF

The devastating floods in southern India, wildfires ravaging the western United States and the record-breaking heatwaves baking countries across much of the northern hemisphere, are putting children in immediate danger while also jeopardizing their future, the agency said in a press release issued on Friday.

 “In any crisis, children are among the most vulnerable, and the extreme weather events we are seeing around the world are no exception,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Director of Programmes.

“Over the past few months, we have seen a stark vision of the world we are creating for future generations. As more extreme weather events increase the number of emergencies and humanitarian crises, it is children who will pay the highest price.”

These extreme weather events during June and July, causing injury, death, environmental damage and other losses.

UNICEF stated that although individual weather events cannot specifically be attributed to climate change, their increasing frequency and severity correspond with predictions of how human activities are affecting the global climate.

These conditions have numerous impacts on children. For example, they contribute to the increased spread of “childhood killers” such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea, UNICEF explained.

Heatwaves put children at risk, with infants and younger children more likely to die or suffer from heatstroke, while floods threaten their survival and development through causing injuries or death by drowning, or compromising water supply and damaging sanitation facilities. Meanwhile, poor families are particularly affected by drought, which can lead to crop failure, livestock deaths and loss of income.

“As the world experiences a steady rise in climate-driven extreme weather events, it is children’s lives and futures that will be the most disrupted,” Mr. Chaiban continued. “Therefore, it’s vital that Governments and the international community take concrete steps to safeguard children’s future and their rights. The worst impacts of climate change are not inevitable, but the time for action is now.”

UNICEF has proposed an “agenda for action on climate change.” It calls for strengthening health systems to respond to a changing climate and more extreme weather events.

Other measures include increasing investment in climate resilient agricultural, water and sanitation services; educating children and young people about the issue of climate change, and reflecting their needs in national strategies and action plans.

 

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/08/1018132

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