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UN official calls for policies to address rapid urbanization in developing countries

A United Nations official today called for the development of national urban policies to ensure developing countries are not overwhelmed by urbanization, which he compared to a tsunami for its staggering growth which can surpass cities’ capacities to manage it.

“What we are seeing now is a huge process of urbanization in the south which goes hand in hand with development. You cannot have one without the other. The problem is that the institutional architecture cannot keep pace with urbanization,” said the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Joan Clos at the opening of the 6th World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy.

“If there is no proper anticipation urbanization becomes a mess and if you try to correct the problem afterwards it costs a lot to fix. Countries are overwhelmed by urbanization. It’s like a tsunami. Urbanization goes faster than the capacity to manage it,” Mr. Clos said. “We need to re-design our cities to face these challenges.”

Mr. Clos stressed the importance of urban planning at national, state, and local levels to avoid informal settlements and slums, as well as high concentrations of people in mega capitals.

He stated that planning policies would help countries provide their citizens with jobs and prosperity while still tackling environmental challenges.

The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

Organized jointly by UN-Habitat, the Government of Italy, the Campania Region and the city of Naples, the theme for this year’s meeting, which will be attended by more than 3,000 participants, is The Urban Future.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42795&Cr=urban&Cr1=

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United Nations climate fund inaugurates first meeting

A United Nations fund aimed at mobilizing resources to help developing countries mitigate the impact of global warming has kicked-off its first official meeting, it was announced today.

Established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures.

However, the GCF could not meet officially until it had filled all 24 seats on its Board, which effectively governs and supervises all aspects of the Fund.

According to a press release confirming the inaugural session, the GCF will now set about satisfying its mandate, which includes providing developing countries with simplified and improved access to climate change funding, as well as providing them support to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Board inaugurated its first gathering by electing Mr. Zaheer Fakir of South Africa and Mr. Ewen McDonald of Australia as its Co-Chairs for a one-year term. Mr. Fakir is the Head of International Relations and Governance of the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa, while Mr. McDonald is the Deputy Director General of the Australian Agency for International Development, and both boast numerous years of experience in development and climate change-related issues.

Meanwhile, six countries – Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and Switzerland – are vying to host the Fund.

The GCF’s meeting will conclude on Saturday, 25 August.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42732&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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With drought intensifying worldwide, UN calls for integrated climate policies

More consolidated efforts to combat the threat of climate change and counter its ripple effects on global food security are needed amid an intensifying global drought and increasing temperatures worldwide, the United Nations declared today.

“Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, and energy,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a press release. “We need to move away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach and develop integrated risk-based national drought policies,” he added.

According to the news release, the WMO and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), along with other UN agencies, are intensifying efforts to establish a more coordinated and proactive strategy for managing drought risk to fill existing policy vacuums in countries around the world. As a result, a High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy has been scheduled from 11 to 15 March 2013.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva earlier today, Dr. Mannava Sivakumar, Director of the WMO Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch underlined the severity and reach of the current drought and its potential impact on global food prices.

He noted that one quarter of the United States was experiencing exceptional drought while the entire country was facing its longest 12 month period in a drought since 1895. Dr. Sivakumar also emphasized that the effects of the drought on the United States’ soybean and corn harvests was having “a major impact on food prices.”

Meanwhile, pointing to the situation in India, he told reporters that the Asian country was similarly experiencing very serious droughts with countrywide rainfall 17 per cent below normal. In Punjab, India’s breadbasket, rainfall was 70 per cent below normal, he said.

According to the WMO, severe drought also developed in parts of East Africa in late 2010 and continued through most of 2011 with the most severely affected areas encompassing the semi-arid regions eastern and northern Kenya, western Somalia, and southern border areas of Ethiopia.

“The 2010 drought-induced famine in the Greater Horn of Africa, the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region and the extensive drought in the USA show that developing and developed countries alike are vulnerable,” said Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. “Effective long-term solutions to mitigate the effects of drought, and address desertification and land degradation urgently need to be mainstreamed in national development plans and policies,” he added.

In 2009, international climate experts gathered at the International Workshop on Drought and Extreme Temperatures in Beijing released their climate projections for the 21st century, forecasting an increase in the frequency of severe droughts in the continental USA and Mexico, the Mediterranean Basin, parts of northern China, across southern Africa and Australia and in parts of South America.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42716&Cr=climate&Cr1=drought

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