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On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

In a statement marking the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said that everyone needed to recognize the true value of land.

“I would ask you: when you choose what to eat, what to wear or what to drive, think about how your choice impacts the land — for better or for worse,” said Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, in her message for the day, marked on 17 June.

Land-grabbing, unplanned urban sprawl, unsustainable agriculture and over-consumption can yield quick economic gains, but such short-sightedness eventually causes degradation and loss of critical ecosystem services due to unsustainable land use.

As a result, a third of the world’s usable land has already severely degraded over the last 30 years, with 75 billion tons of soil from arable land lost annually, said UNCCD.

However, the UNCCD says everyone can contribute to, and benefit from, investing in sustainable land management — as consumers, producers, corporations or governments. Farmers can invest in smart agriculture with higher yields but reduced pesticides. Policymakers and land managers can invest in sustainable land management while consumers can choose to spend on organic and fair-trade products that avoid ruining the land.

“Let us work together to transform the way we consume, produce, work, and live together without compromising our current or future social, economic or environmental security. Without compromising the land on which it all depends,” said Ms. Barbut.

The UN General Assembly established the World Day in 1994 to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the UNCCD — the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The World Day is observed annually on 17 June, the date the UNCCD was adopted.

This year’s theme for the Day is “Land has true value — invest in it.” The campaign hopes to promote changes in behaviour and adoption of more efficient planning and practices, to ensure there are sufficient land resources for the world’s long-term sustainability and economic prosperity.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1012222

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FROM THE FIELD: Plastic pollution choking world’s oceans

The world must unite to “beat plastic pollution” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day on Tuesday, noting that microplastic particles in the ocean, “now outnumber stars in our galaxy”.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011671

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‘We face a global emergency’ over oceans: UN chief sounds the alarm at G7 Summit event

“The facts are clear.  Our oceans are a mess,” said António Guterres at an outreach event, that was part of the Group of Seven – or G7 – Summit of industrialized nations, taking place over two days, in Charlevoix, Canada.

The G7 group of advanced economies, consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Plastic waste is now found in the most remote areas of the planet.  It kills marine life and is doing major harm to communities that depend on fishing and tourism,” he added.

Pointing out that one mass of plastic in the Pacific is now bigger than France, Mr. Guterres welcomed the G7 Plastics Charter, agreed on Saturday, which is being seen by some observers as a Paris-style watershed moment for cleaning up ocean garbage, referencing the 2015 Agreement on climate change.

“But we all need to do so much more,” Mr. Guterres underscored, “not just on plastic waste but on all ocean issues.”

“Make no mistake, we are in a battle. And we are losing on every front,” he stressed.

The UN chief painted a picture of fish stocks being crippled by overfishing, vast coastal dead zones from pollution and untreated waste being discharged into the sea.

“And, to compound these issues, we have the growing impacts of climate change,” he asserted.

Ocean acidification is disrupting the marine food chain and record-level ocean temperatures are killing coral reefs and creating fiercer, more frequent storms.

Moreover, 40 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometres of a coast – leaving them vulnerable to storms, sea level rise and coastal erosion.

Low-lying island nations and many coastal cities are in jeopardy of inundation, the Secretary-General spelled out.

“Thankfully,” continued Mr. Guterres “we have a battle plan.”

“Our guide is the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], and especially Goal 14 with its 10 targets from addressing marine pollution and acidification, to ending overfishing and protecting ecosystems,” he elaborated.

“Our legal framework is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – the world’s ‘constitution for the oceans,’” he added.

Mr. Guterres noted that while last year’s Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters registered more than 1,300 commitments and partnerships, none of the initiatives and declarations are worth anything “unless we accept that we face a global emergency.”

“And that is why I am here today.  To sound the alarm.  To inject a sense of real urgency in your deliberations and decision-making,” he said.

“Your leadership is needed now, more than ever – on combatting land-based pollution; on creating marine protected areas; on reviving fisheries; on building the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities, and, especially, on climate change,” he added.

He flagged that if our seas and oceans are not protected, and we lose the battle against climate change, all the assumptions on which our policy-making has been based “will be worthless”.

“Take seriously these threats to our global environment and understand that our collective future and security is at stake,” he concluded.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1011811

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