‘Invest in the future, not the past;’ green business key to winning war on climate change – UN chief
12 December 2017 Those who fail to bet on a green economy will be living in a grey future, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Tuesday, calling for greater ambition by governments, civil society, the private sector and finance partners to help tackle the global climate challenge.
“Green business is good business,” the UN chief said, speaking at the opening of the One Planet Summit, in Paris, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and Jim Yong Kim, the President of World Bank.
“Renewables are now cheaper than coal-powered energy in dozens of developed and developing countries […] we need to invest in the future, not the past,” he added.
The Summit, taking place on 12 December, the anniversary of the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement, is providing an opportunity to fast-forward action on climate change.
In his remarks, Mr. Guterres pointed to the large under-utilized global financial resources and called for ensuing that financing – which by its nature if forward-looking – is used future of people and the planet in addition to being used for profit.
“It is a fact that fossil fuels remain heavily subsidized – meaning we are investing in our own doom,” he emphasized, noting cities, regions, states and territories across the globe along with thousands of private enterprises – including major oil and gas companies – are already taking climate action, resulting in new industries and markets as well as in healthier environments and more jobs.
“I have heard it said that the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones. We don’t have to wait to run out of coal and oil to end the age of fossil fuels,” he stated, adding: “The message is simple: those who fail to bet on a green economy will be living in a grey future.”
The UN chief stressed that it is not funds but trust that is lacking. “We need to fix it. This means, first and foremost, ensuring that rich countries honor their commitment and provide $100 billion a year through 2020 for developing countries.”
It also means that the Green Climate Fund must become an effective and flexible instrument, especially for the most vulnerable countries such as small island States and least developed countries. “These two conditions are essential for trust between developed and developing countries,” he emphasized.
“We need to build trust and reduce risk, make the best use of available resources, and find innovative ways of financing, such as green bonds whose viability and success are already realities,” the Secretary-General said.
Also at the summit, Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank Group, announced that the Group will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019 and that it would be mobilizing finance for climate change impact mitigation and resilience.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) a subsidiary of the World Bank Group will invest up to $325 million in the Green Cornerstone Bond Fund, a partnership with the asset management company, Amundi, to create the largest ever green-bond fund dedicated to emerging markets.
“This is a $2 billion initiative aiming to deepen local capital markets, and expand and unlock private funding for climate-related projects. The fund is already subscribed at over $1 billion,” read the announcement.
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On International Day, UN agency urges greater investment for sustainable agriculture in mountains
11 December 2017 On International Mountain Day, the United Nations food security agency has called for greater focus on sustainable agriculture in highland regions around the globe to better respond to climate change impacts and migration challenges.
“Investing in sustainable agriculture in mountain regions is central to the response to climate and migration challenges as it promotes the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change and reduces other root causes of migration such as rural poverty and food insecurity,” said Maria Helena Semedo, the Deputy Director-General at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a news release marking the International Day.
Across the world, some one billion mountain people – about 13 percent of the global population – are increasingly being impacted by the effects of climate change and climate-induced disasters. Furthermore, living in often geographically isolates areas and on the political and economic margins of their countries, they are more prone to hunger and poverty.
As mountain people become more vulnerable, migration to urban areas and abroad increases. Those who remain are often women, left to manage the farms but with little access to credit, training and land tenure rights, added FAO in the release.
In the release, the UN agency further noted that in an effort to address these challenges, some 60 countries and over 200 civil society organizations today pledged to strengthen mountain people’s and their environments’ resilience to climate change, hunger and migration as well as to bolster the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The commitments include reviews and updates by Governments to their development policies, integrating strategies and international development cooperation policies for sustainable mountain development and mountain ecosystem conservation.
The pledge, made by members of the Mountain Partnership – an alliance founded in 2002 by Italy, Switzerland, FAO, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and over 300 members from other Governments, and intergovernmental, civil society and private sector organizations – also includes a focus on raising awareness on the importance of sustainable mountain development and mountain ecosystem conservation in all relevant international forums.
Recognizing the importance of mountain watersheds
Also in the news release, FAO announced the launch of its publication, Watershed Management in Action, which recognizes the role of well managed mountain watersheds in supplying freshwater to humankind and reducing the risk of natural disasters for downstream communities.
The publication presents lessons learned and recommendations based on a comparative review of 12 FAO-supported projects testing new watershed management approaches over the past decade in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, the Gambia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Tanzania and Zambia.
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UN designates 2021-2030 ‘Decade of Ocean Science’
6 December 2017 The United Nations today designated the years 2021 to 2030 as the ‘Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’ to boost international coordination and cooperation in research and scientific programmes for better management of ocean and coastal zone resources and reducing maritime risks.
The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be leading the campaign.
“The ocean is a new frontier – it covers 71 per cent of the globe [but] we have explored less than 5 per cent. The Decade will ensure greater coordination of research,” said Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, urging all stakeholders to join the endevour.
“[We are] proud to be at the forefront of this effort,” she added.
Across the world, close to three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity to meet their needs.
Oceans – critical for survival of all people across the planet – absorbs around a third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by humans and reduces the impact of climate change.
The importance of oceans was also underscored at a major conference this June at the UN Headquarters, in New York.
However, the cumulative effects of human activities on this vital important, including the impact of pollution, warming and acidification are yet to be fully evaluated scientifically and surveying the ocean requires costly ships and equipment, satellite imaging, underwater robots and remotely controlled vehicles.
It also requires thousands of scientists collecting and analysing the data, either in laboratories or in marine environments.
“One of the priorities of the Decade will be to strengthen and diversify financial sources, particularly for small island developing States and least developed countries,” said UNESCO.
“This Decade, will provide a framework for international coordination and partnership to reinforce research capacities in marine sciences and the transfer of technology,” it added.
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