UN-backed marine expedition highlights impact of climate change in oceans
A United Nations-backed scientific expedition which has been travelling the world’s oceans for almost three years is in New York seeking to raise public awareness of the impact of climate change in oceans.
The mission, known as Tara Oceans, has travelled 70,000 miles across the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian oceans investigating the effects of global warming on biodiversity and marine life, particularly focusing on marine plankton, and aims to bridge the knowledge gap between the scientific community and the public by regularly sharing its findings and data and allowing visitors into the Tara vessel wherever it docks.
“The Tara expedition represents an extraordinary human endeavour by focusing on the key major gaps in our knowledge on plankton,” said Andrew Hudson, the Coordinator of UN Oceans, adding that it is facilitating communication not only between scientists and the public but also with policy-makers so they know how the ocean works and how human activity impacts this vital ecosystem.
Mr. Hudson also spotlighted the importance of this initiative in raising awareness before the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) in June, where Tara researchers will be sharing their message as they try to rally support for new initiatives, reforms and financing needed for ocean sustainability.
Philippe Kridelka, Director of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) office in New York, echoed Mr. Hudson’s remarks and emphasized the importance of the mission in bringing the topic of oceans into the development agenda.
The vessel has also had artists and journalists on board to help promote the mission, including French fashion designer agnès b., who is also one of the main sponsors of Tara.
The designer, along with other members of the Tara crew, met Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier today and talked to him about the activities of the mission.
The mission is carried out under the auspices of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and in partnership with UNESCO’s International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.Back to Top
UN-backed report warns of dangers of increasing electronic waste in West Africa
West Africa is facing a significant increase in waste generated by electronic equipment which poses mounting health and environmental risks, according to a United Nations report released today.
About 85 per cent of the waste produced in the region comes from domestic consumption, the report reveals. However, the problem is further exacerbated by industrialized countries importing used equipment which often proves to be unsuitable for re-use and end up being discarded.
“Effective management of the growing amount of e-waste generated in Africa and other parts of the world is an important part of the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy”, said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report assessed the situation over two years in five countries – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria – and found that they produce between 650,000 and 1,000,000 tons of domestic e-waste each year, which can have a negative impact in the environment and increase the risk of health issues.
As for waste coming from other countries, the report notes that the United Kingdom is the dominant exporting country to Africa for both new and used electrical and electronic equipment, followed by France and Germany.
According to UNEP, although the use of electrical and electronic equipment is still low in Africa compared to other regions, it is growing at a staggering pace as more people start using mobile phones and personal computers.
The report, which was prepared by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and partners, also documents the economic and environmental potential of building a resource recovery and waste management system for electronic waste, along with the risks of continuing on the present course.
“We can grow Africa’s economies, generate decent employment and safeguard the environment by supporting sustainable e-waste management and recovering the valuable metals and other resources locked inside products that end up as e-waste,” Mr. Steiner said, adding that the report provides various strategies to limit damages and provide economic opportunities, something that is crucial for long-term sustainability.
“E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream world-wide and a key waste stream under the Basel Convention,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention. The convention’s secretariat is administered by UNEP.
“Dealing with electronic and electrical equipment properly presents a serious environmental and health challenge for many countries, yet also offers a potentially significant opportunity to create green businesses and green jobs.”Back to Top