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South Africa’s carbon footprint during World Cup year lower than projected

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10 October 2012 – South Africa’s carbon footprint for 2010, the year it hosted the football World Cup, was lower than previously expected, says a new United Nations report, which highlights the successes and lessons that other countries must learn to ensure the sustainability of major international sporting events.

The report, produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), shows that South Africa’s 2010 carbon footprint was 1.65 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, just 60 per cent of the figure that had been initially projected. This was partly due to fewer visitors than expected, carpooling and park and ride schemes, cutting energy use by 30 per cent, and using solar-powered technology and renewable energy.

The South African Government and UNEP also worked on a project to promote initiatives that would cut the tournament’s carbon footprint such as reducing waste and water use and enhancing biodiversity. In a news release, UNEP said such initiatives must be advanced in Brazil, which will be the host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Other successful measures taken during the 2010 World Cup highlighted in the report, which was released on Tuesday, include the improvement of South Africa’s transportation system, which included a rapid bus network, cycling paths, and walkways in major sites, the reuse of demolition waste, energy efficient lighting and reducing water waste in various stadiums.

While there were successful initiatives, UNEP said that there were many lessons learned in terms of implementing sustainability measures.

“The report points to many great initiatives, but perhaps the most important finding is that South Africa could have achieved more if sustainability measures had been brought in sooner rather than later,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Indeed, it underlines that achieving the full potential of greening such tournaments is likely if sustainability is factored into the planning, design and construction from the word go.”

Earlier this week, UNEP officials met with representatives from the Brazilian Government, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Olympic Committee to consider concrete steps to green the two major sporting events.

In its report, UNEP calls on FIFA to help raise awareness of the World Cup’s environmental impact by offsetting its own carbon footprint and encouraging its partners to do the same. UNEP has also signed an agreement with the Brazilian Government to help green both the World Cup and the Summer Olympics, carrying on an advisory role with the Olympic Games that began in 2004.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43251&Cr=sport&Cr1=

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New protections sought for polar bear, elephants, manta rays and other species under UN-backed treaty

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5 October 2012 – Several dozen species – ranging from elephants, polar bears, sharks and manta rays to medicinal plants and rare trees – will receive additional protection under a United Nations-backed treaty for the conservation of endangered species if new proposals are adopted at a world wildlife meeting next March.

More than 50 countries submitted 67 proposals for consideration under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by the 4 October midnight deadline, and these will now be discussed at a meeting of treaty parties in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March, coinciding with its 40th anniversary.

“CITES is where the rubber ‘hits the road’ and the outcome of our world wildlife conference in 2013 will be of great significance to the future of many species of plants and animals,” said John E. Scanlon, the Secretary-General of the Convention, the secretariat of which is administered by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) in Geneva.

With 176 Member States, CITES is one of the world’s most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation, regulating international trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment.

The new proposals would grant additional protection to some species, grant initial protection to others and, in some cases, lessen protection for yet others.

For example, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Togo are calling for an extension of the ban on the trade in elephant ivory, while Tanzania wants elephant hunting to be legalized within its borders for non-commercial purposes saying its elephant population was no longer endangered.

The United States is seeking to have the polar bear transferred from CITES Appendix Two – under which trade in species not necessarily threatened with extinction must be controlled to avoid uses incompatible with their survival – to Appendix One, under which trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

The US is seeking similar action on Burmese star tortoises, big-headed turtles and Roti Island snake-necked turtles, while Vietnam wants a similar transfer for the Indochinese box turtle and Annam leaf turtle. Ecuador wants to include the manta ray and the Machalilla poison dart frog in Appendix Two, and transfer its vicuña from Appendix One to Appendix Two.

Madagascar, Kenya and Mexico, meanwhile, are seeking to include various trees, medicinal and ornamental plants in Appendix Two, while News Zealand wants similar protection for the New Zealand green gecko. Brazil, Comoros, Egypt and the European Union are seeking to include the porbeagle shark in Appendix Two.

On the other hand, New Zealand wants to delete the white-faced owl from Appendix Two, and Australia is seeking to delete the dusky flying-fox from Appendix Two while removing the buff-nosed rat-kangaroo and the pig-footed bandicoot from Appendix One.

At the March meeting, Member States will also consider how CITES can further enhance efforts to combat overall illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn as well Asian big cats and great apes.

They are also expected to discuss the potential impact of CITES measures on the livelihoods of the rural poor who are often on the frontlines of using and managing wildlife.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43222&Cr=environment&Cr1=

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Achieving sustainable, inclusive cities requires better planning

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1 October 2012 – Top United Nations officials have underscored the need to better plan the world’s urban areas, where half of the global population currently resides, to turn the ideal of sustainable and inclusive cities into reality.

“In little more than a generation, two thirds of the global population will be urban. As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment grows, so too does the need to strengthen the urban focus of our efforts to reduce global poverty and promote sustainable development,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In his message for World Habitat Day, observed annually on the first Monday of October, Mr. Ban noted that better planned and better functioning cities can help ensure that everyone who lives there has adequate shelter, water, sanitation, health and other basic services.

They can also promote good education and job prospects, energy-efficient buildings and public transport systems, and a feeling of inclusiveness for their inhabitants, he said.

“Good practices of managing urban development exist in all regions – and we can learn from the examples they provide,” said Mr. Ban. “But we are a long way from turning the ideal of sustainable, inclusive cities into reality.”

According to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the main challenges confronting cities and towns all over the world today include unemployment, especially among youth; social and economic inequalities; and unsustainable energy consumption patterns.

Urban areas are also responsible for most of the world’s waste and pollution, and many are particularly vulnerable to disasters, including the growing risks associated with climate change.

In addition, while the Millennium Development Goal (MDG ) target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers has been achieved 10 years in advance of the 2020 deadline, absolute numbers continue to grow. Nearly a quarter of urban residents – more than 850 million people – live in slums or informal settlements.

“We should create a new type of city – the city of the 21st century – a smart, people-centred city, one that is capable of integrating the tangible and more intangible aspects of prosperity; a city able to rid itself of the inefficient, unsustainable urban habits of the previous century,” said Joan Clos, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, in his message for the Day.

“It is time for changing our cities and for building new opportunities,” he stated.

“Opportunities for whom?” asked the UN Special Rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, noting that the current model of housing policies worldwide increasingly focuses on housing finance – to the detriment of realizing the right to adequate housing for the poor.

“Credit for housing ownership is not a ‘one-size-fit-all’ solution,” she warned in a news release issued on the occasion of the Day. “The ongoing worldwide housing crisis, in which millions of vacant houses and apartments coincide with an alarming rise in foreclosures and homelessness, is the starkest evidence of the failure of housing finance to address the housing needs of all segments of society.”

She called for a shift from housing policies based on the “financialization” of housing to a human rights-based approach to housing policies, which can foster real opportunities for all.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43167&Cr=urban&Cr1=

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