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UN-backed disaster preparedness package launched in Indonesia

The United Nations and the Government of Indonesia today launched a package of disaster preparedness initiatives to further strengthen the country’s response capacity.

The new set of initiatives, launched in Jakarta by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, and government officials, complements the existing National Disaster Management Plan 2010–2014.

“Indonesia is also one of the world’s better prepared countries, winning global recognition for its efforts to respond to, manage, and prepare for natural disasters,” said Ms. Amos, who also serves as the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. “This package will further enhance the country’s preparedness capacity.”

Indonesia is prone to natural disasters, including floods, landslides, whirlwinds, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis – all exacting high human, environmental and economic losses. Led by the Government, the humanitarian community in Indonesia has maintained a strategic focus on preparedness since 2007.

The UN’s humanitarian chief encouraged other countries and donors to invest in preparedness as a way of minimizing loss of life and livelihoods.

“Preparedness is simply being ready to protect human life and dignity, and that is the spirit of this package, which aims to strengthen the capacity of the humanitarian community to collectively prepare for and respond to disasters in a timely and effective manner,” Ms. Amos said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41613&Cr=indonesia&Cr1=

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UN experts call for including human rights standards in development goals

A group of independent United Nations experts today urged States to include universally agreed international human rights norms and standards, as well as accountability mechanisms, in the goals that will emerge from a UN sustainable development forum in June.

“Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,” said the 22 human rights experts in an open letter to governments, as the first round of informal negotiations ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) opened in New York.

“A real risk exists that commitments made in Rio [de Janeiro] will remain empty promises without effective monitoring and accountability.”

The Rio+20 conference, to be held from 20 to 22 June in Brazil, is expected to lay the foundation for a set of global sustainable development goals to complement and strengthen the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the anti-poverty and social development targets that have an achievement deadline of 2015.

“Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said.

Two decades after the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and 10 years after the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, the mounting effects of climate change and environmental degradation have raised the stakes, they said. Both the goals to be elaborated in Rio and the means of reviewing progress must be based on human rights, they added.

“Human rights have guided 60-plus years of progress by providing a legal baseline for political actions. Human rights must now be the glue in Rio: they must bind countries to the commitments they make. States have an opportunity in Rio to create the transformative changes needed or else fare no better than in previous global attempts in this regard.”

They suggested that Rio+20 establish an international accountability mechanism similar to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, which subjects each country’s human rights record to a State-led peer review on the basis of information submitted by the country concerned, UN entities, civil society and other stakeholders.

At the national level, governments should establish their own national accountability mechanisms, including independent monitoring and civil society participation, in order to evaluate progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals.

“Science tells us that we are reaching a set of environmental tipping points. We must therefore make Rio+20 the political tipping point.

“Our futures and planet are at stake, and we have three months to shape the ideas and political consensus that this huge task requires,” said the experts dealing with, among other issues, water and sanitation; indigenous peoples; internally displaced persons; toxic waste; health; minority issues; adequate housing; and extreme poverty.

As negotiations on the Rio+20 outcome document resumed at UN Headquarters, countries submitted additional comments since the initial round of talks in January. The “zero draft” of the document, entitled ‘The Future We Want,’ was based on more than 6,000 pages of submissions from UN Member States, civil society groups and businesses, among other actors.

“The reason we are gathering here now is because at Rio+20 we must agree on solutions to major global challenges for the sake of everyone, with an eye towards tomorrow’s generations,” said Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Rio+20 conference.

“Rio+20 can be the moment when we say we determined the future we want. I urge everyone to realize the opportunities afforded at Rio+20 and to seize them now.”

In addition to the submissions by States, the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability has made 56 recommendations, including a proposal to move towards a “new political economy” that would change the way the world measures economic progress to include social and environmental consequences.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41574&Cr=Sustainable+Development&Cr1=

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Ban urges integrating environmental, social and economic aspects of development

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged governments to consider setting up a new global arrangement that integrates environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development, stressing the need to mobilize public support for an approach that guarantees the well-being of humanity while preserving the planet for future generations.

Presenting the report prepared by his High-level Panel on Global Sustainability to an informal plenary of the General Assembly, Mr. Ban said the team’s recommendations address three main topics – empowering people to make sustainable choices; working towards a sustainable economy; and strengthening institutional governance.

“The Panel’s vision is to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, to make growth inclusive and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries,” Mr. Ban told the Assembly.

The 22-member panel, established by Mr. Ban in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity, was co-chaired by former Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma.

The group’s final report, ‘Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing,’ which was formally launched in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 30 January, contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to make it a part of mainstream economic policy as quickly as possible.

The Secretary-General highlighted the “nexus approach” of the report that underlines the fact that food, water and energy security are inextricably linked and must be pursued together.

He stressed that the recommendations that can be acted on immediately should be included in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil in June.

Mr. Ban also noted that some of the recommendations relate to initiatives that he has already set in motion, including the Sustainable Energy for All initiative and a sustainable development strategy for the UN system. Others will be included in a new sustainable development index or set of indicators for sustainable development goals, he added.

“I also see the value of a periodic global sustainable development outlook report, and I will explore the modalities, including the availability of resources, for such an important and ambitious undertaking,” he said.

He promised to strengthen ties between the global scientific community and the UN so that science occupies the central place in policy-making.

“We need everyone to work together to create a future worth choosing, the future we want,” he added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=41556&Cr=sustainable&Cr1=development

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