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Bird-watching can help boost ecotourism industry, says UN environment agency

Bird-watching, a popular hobby around the world, can present significant economic opportunities for countries through sustainable tourism, the United Nations environment agency said today, stressing that States should increase efforts to support this growing industry.

“Birding plays a significant and growing part in the tourism industry, and creates direct and indirect economic benefits for many countries and communities, also amongst developing countries,” said the Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, in a news release ahead of World Migratory Bird Day, which is observed on 12-13 May.

Initiated in 2006, the Day is an annual campaign organized by CMS and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) – two intergovernmental wildlife treaties administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which also backs the campaign – and devoted to celebrating migratory birds and promoting their conservation worldwide.

In a news release, UNEP highlighted that global spending on all areas of ecotourism is increasing by about six times the industry-wide rate of growth, and underlined the potential economic benefits of bird-watching in particular.

In the United States, for example, a survey by authorities puts the economic value generated every year by bird and other wildlife watchers at around $32 billion in that country alone. This amount corresponds to the gross domestic product of Costa Rica, which is also a popular destination for US birdwatchers.

In Scotland, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that last year, between $8-12 million is spent annually by tourists wishing to see White-tailed Eagles on the Isle of Mull alone, and that four per cent of jobs in Scotland are associated with wildlife tourism.

World Migratory Bird Day seeks to spotlight these benefits while also raising awareness of the importance of protecting birds, which face a series of challenges each year in their journeys.

“Conserving migratory birds is highly challenging because their annual migration often spans several countries, each governed by its own jurisdiction and national conservation strategies,” Ms. Mrema said.

Events to mark the Day are due to take place in 70 countries, including bird festivals, education programmes, presentations, film screenings and bird watching trips, run by hundreds of volunteers and organizations.

The Day will be followed by an AEWA intergovernmental conference on migratory waterbirds, which will take place on 14-18 May in La Rochelle, France, and will focus on the role that wetlands play as a vital habitat for migratory birds and people and as a source of livelihoods for communities, particularly in Africa.

“It is absolutely critical that governments use the forthcoming meeting, to continue to do all they can to work together to try to safeguard, retain and where feasible restore high quality habitats – and to begin to link the conservation of migratory birds to human development and livelihoods on a flyway scale,” said the Acting Executive Secretary of AEWA, Marco Barbieri.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41970&Cr=tourism&Cr1=

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Small island nations commit to new steps at UN forum to reduce fossil fuel use

Twenty small island developing nations have announced new actions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and end poverty, as they wrapped up a sustainable energy conference organized by the United Nations and the Government of Barbados.

The “Barbados Declaration” calls for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting the environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth, according to a news release issued by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The declaration – adopted ahead of next month’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) – includes an annex with voluntary commitments of 20 small island developing States (SIDS) to take actions toward providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

It emphasizes that there are commercially feasible options in many SIDS for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.

“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities,” stated the declaration. “In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS.”

The host country announced its plan to increase the share of renewable energy in Barbados to 29 per cent of all electricity consumption by 2029. Among other commitments, the Maldives plans to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by year 2020, while Seychelles will seek to produce 15 per cent of its energy supply from renewable energy by 2030.

The declaration also recognized the importance of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last September, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

The two-day conference, which ended yesterday, brought together more than 100 Heads of State, ministers, leading development experts, civil society activists, business executives and UN officials from 39 SIDS.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41957&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=

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Ban urges progress in Rio+20 negotiations, names post-2015 High-level Panel co-chairs

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged countries to make progress in their negotiations of the outcome document for the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) next month.

“We are at a crucial stage,” Mr. Ban told the members of the General Assembly in New York this afternoon. “We have about 40 days – and 40 nights – to Rio. We must use every moment.”

He added that although he was encouraged by the level of participation shown by countries so far, making progress on issues will largely depend on the ambition of the outcome document endorsed at the conference.

Last Saturday, representatives from governments negotiating the outcome document agreed to add five more days of deliberations to bridge differences that have kept them from making further progress in negotiations.

The UN chief appealed to all countries to show flexibility to reach an agreement on substantive issues and finalize the document ahead of the conference in Rio de Janeiro.

“Quite simply, we need a negotiated outcome document before Rio to ensure the high-level participation that we have worked so hard to generate,” he said.

Mr. Ban emphasized that the outcome of the deliberations over the next few weeks would help shape actions on the main issues to be addressed at Rio+20, such as the management and protection of oceans, ensuring universal access to sustainable energy and water, and improving life in the world’s cities, among others.

The Secretary-General also underlined that there should be an agreement to establish Sustainable Development Goals that build on the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the anti-poverty and social development targets that have an achievement deadline of 2015.

“We must harness the power of partnership to shift the world onto a more sustainable trajectory of growth and development. Rio should be a concrete step forward in this regard,” he said.

In his remarks to the General Assembly, Mr. Ban also announced the co-chairs of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons to advise on planning for post-2015.

“I am pleased to announce that the following leaders have accepted my invitation to serve as co-chairs of this High Level Panel: His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia; Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; and His Excellency Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom,” Mr. Ban told the Assembly. “I am grateful to these three leaders for their commitment.”

He added that he intends to conduct further consultations regarding the composition of the High-level Panel, “mindful of the appropriate balance across geography, gender, generations, and constituencies” and plans to announce the full panel following the Rio+20 Summit Meeting.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41961&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=

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