Dress the world in wood, UN says in its ‘Forests for Fashion’ initiative
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)-FAO’s (Food and Agriculture Organization) “Forests for Fashion” initiative, links forest-based materials from sustainably managed forests, with the world of fashion.
“Sustainability of a society is both an individual and a collective responsibility,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh, at UN headquarters on Monday.
“The fashion industry is responsible for producing 20 per cent of global waste water and 10 per cent of the global carbon emissions – more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined,” said the star of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
In addition, the textiles industry has recently been identified as a major polluter, with estimates of around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers ending up in the world’s oceans as polyester, nylon or acrylic are washed each year.
“Fashion is often a synonym of dangerous working conditions, unsafe processes and hazardous substances used in production,” she continued, citing the cruel abuses of modern slavery and child labour.
Although the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an ambitious blueprint for governments, Ms. Yeoh stressed that everyone must make a conscious choice to change habits and plan for the future.
“Today we count around 3.2 billion people in the global middle class,” she said. “By 2030, this number will rise to about 5.4 billion with the major part of the growth occurring in Asia. The 2.2 billion people entering the global middle class will aspire to a similar lifestyle as we know it today – which includes a similar consumption pattern with respect to clothing.”
A fashion revolution
Calling fashion “a major development challenge,” Ms. Yeoh sees clothing as “an essential element for the transition towards sustainable societies.”
While acknowledging the need for governments’ involvement in shifting the fashion industry to in the right direction, she put the main onus on individuals to start the fashion “revolution”.
“Many of us would also think that forests are best left untouched, however is often by adding value to their products that we can best protect them, and in many cases restoration efforts can be coupled with productive forests,” she attested.
Moreover, forests can create productive ecosystems, to support local and rural communities. According to the UNDP envoy, ‘forest fibers are already a reality and textile businesses are growing or buying large forest extensions.”
“New fibers are highly sustainable, their carbon and ecological footprints are low, and there are different fast-growing species suitable for different places and climates,” she indicated.
“Let’s face it,” concluded Ms. Yeoh, “changing the production and consumption patterns of the fashion industry will have a domino effect on many aspects of development and provide a visible and meaningful contribution to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.”
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Fragile countries risk being ‘stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster,’ Security Council told
“Climate change is inextricably linked to some of the most pressing security challenges of our time,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed during a debate intended to deepen understanding of climate-related security risks.
“Fragile countries are in danger of becoming stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster. Where resilience is eroded, communities may be displaced and exposed to exploitation,” she added.
Ms. Mohammed is just back from her trip to Africa’s Lake Chad Basin with Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, which chaired today’s Council meeting.
Where resilience is eroded, communities may be displaced and exposed to exploitation – Deputy Secretary-General
The region is “experiencing a crisis brought on by a combination of political, socio-economic, humanitarian and environmental factors,” Ms. Mohammed explained.
She noted that the drastic shrinking of Lake Chad by more than 90 per cent since the 1960s has led to environmental degradation, socio-economic marginalization and insecurity affecting 45 million people.
Exacerbated competition over scant resources and the vicious cycle of risk and vulnerability have decreased the resilience of populations to cope with humanitarian crises. Declining economic activity and agricultural loss have led to a lack of employment opportunities across the region.
The resulting socio-economic marginalization, she said, has exposed populations, in particular the young, to the risk of violent extremism and provided breeding ground for recruitment by groups such as Boko Haram.
The Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, has left over 10 million people displaced and resulted in massive destruction of basic infrastructure, health and educational facilities, commercial buildings, private houses and agricultural assets.
“The multidimensional nature of this crisis underlines the complex relationship between climate change and conflict,” she stressed.
“We must understand climate change as one issue in a web of factors that can lead to conflict. Within this web, climate change acts as a threat multiplier, applying additional stress on prevailing political, social and economic pressure points,” she added.
The Deputy Secretary-General said that over the last 18 months, the Security Council has also recognized the adverse effects of climate change on stability in other geographical areas, including West Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
The UN system is increasing climate-related security risk assessments and management strategies, she noted.
For example, the Secretary General’s forthcoming report on the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel will report on recent developments involving the climate-security nexus in the region. The recalibrated UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel is similarly climate-oriented, she said.
Ms. Mohammed also emphasized the importance of supporting programmes that place women and Youth at the heart of efforts.
“Desertification means women must travel larger distances to fetch water and food, forcing them to miss out on education and economic opportunities in the long term. Youth without jobs will take alternate route to terrorism,” she said.
In conclusion, she warned that climate change is moving faster than responses, urging the Security Council to do its part to help humankind keep pace.
Also addressing the Council was Hassan Janabi, Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources, who said that major river basins in Iraq and the rest of the region are subject to the greatest ever threat, resulting from climate change, as well as competition for shared water resources.
He said the absence of implementable bilateral and multilateral agreements or regional frameworks for the equitable use of shared water is contributing to potential conflicts that could and should be avoided.
Iraq fully supports diplomatic means to solve water scarcity issues, including through “water diplomacy” and similar initiatives intending to maintain the security of the planet with a view to creating an environment of trust and cooperation, he added.
Hindou Ibrahim, International Indigenous People Forum on Climate Change, said that the Security Council must address climate change as a security risk.
She said that in the Sahel, where 90 per cent of the economy relies on agriculture and pastoralism, a heat wave and drought has the potential to immediately hurt the economy and the people.
At the regional level, she added, climate change contributes to reinforcing terrorist groups as they take advantage of poverty to recruit the youngest and most fragile.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom chaired the debate.
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Thai cave boys spared thundershowers, highlighting extreme climate disruption: UN weather agency
Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), was speaking in Geneva amid reports indicating that all 12 boys and their coach had been freed in a daring rescue operation by a team of specialist divers.
“It is the start of the monsoon season in Thailand,” she said. “I’ve been looking at the weather forecast there for Chiang-Rai, for the region, every day for the past week. Every day it has consistently shown the risk of thundershowers; now they haven’t, fortunately, materialized.”
Commenting on several other extreme weather events around the world, Ms. Nullis noted that in Japan, flash floods across the country had claimed at least 150 lives, according to authorities, and that the toll “is likely to rise” in coming days.
The situation is significant given Japan’s high level of preparedness against natural catastrophes, the WMO spokesperson said, noting that around 10,000 houses have been inundated or destroyed by the worst flooding in decades.
“Japan is one of the best prepared countries in the world when it comes to disaster risk reduction, disaster response — they are supremely well prepared,” said Ms. Nullis. “So, the magnitude of the casualties, of the destruction we are seeing now, really is an indication of just how big and how extreme this was and how heavy the rainfall was in such a short period of time.”
Among the areas affected between 28 June and 8 July, West Japan and Hokkaido experienced record rainfall, the WMO spokesperson said, citing the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).
This was caused by huge amount of water vapour from a stationary rainy front, in addition to damp air left over from Typhoon Prapiroon, JMA said.
Elsewhere in Japan, a different weather system, Typhoon Maria, has hit the south-west Ryukyu islands.
The storm has put nearby Taiwan, Province of China, on “lockdown”, the WMO spokesperson said, noting that at its peak in recent days, Maria had developed into a category 5 storm.
Although it has weakened to a category 3 event, Ms. Nullis said that it is still capable of sustained winds of 175 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 250 kilometres per hour.
“Taiwan is basically in lockdown today and Taiwan is expecting really to take the brunt of this. The China Meteorological Administration has issued a red alert and is … mobilizing all its emergency response teams.”
The west coast of the United States is also in the grip of “high-impact weather” systems, Ms. Nullis continued, noting record temperatures in downtown Los Angeles:
“Los Angeles area just set a whole new string of temperature records last week,” she said. “Just for an example, 48.9° (Celsius), which is 120° Fahrenheit, in Chino, which is a suburb of Los Angeles; 47.8° in San Bernardino.”
Turning to Europe, the WMO spokesperson told journalists that the agency’s Regional Climate Centre on Climate Monitoring, located in Germany, had predicted “a continuation of the drought situation and above-normal temperatures” of between 3° and 6° Celsius, above average.
“Almost daily warnings about forest fires” had been issued, Ms. Nullis said, noting that it was “very unusual” for this to happen so early in the year.
No specific event can be associated with climate change but current weather patterns are “consistent” with it, the WMO official said, citing “extreme heat, consistent heat, persistent heat and heavy precipitation”.
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