#UNIDO; #Brussels; #APNU; #ClimateChange; #Energy; #Industrialization
Brussels/Canadian-Media: The Brussels Liaison Office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with the United Nations Association (APNU) in Belgium, organized a webinar on industry facing the challenge of the energy and climate transition.
Image credit: UNIDO
The participants reaffirmed the importance of the role of industry in supporting the energy transition and tackling climate challenges in Belgium, in Europe, and in developing countries.
The webinar brought together a variety of stakeholders including advisors to the European Commission, policymakers, scientists, and industrial experts.
The different contributions from speakers, as well as the exchanges with the audience, representing the private sector, civil society organizations, Belgian authorities, universities, and various research centers, underlined the importance of collaboration and effective partnerships between institutions and countries in the fight against the climate crisis.
These discussions also provided an opportunity to explore some of UNIDO’s concrete actions, like the technical assistance provided to develop mini-grids and the creation of Sustainable Energy Centers, as well as recent policy initiatives from the European Union, such as the Green Deal, in the elaboration of innovative solutions to face current energy and climate challenges.
#Berlin; #ClimateChange; #Covid19Pandemic; #FAO; #AgriFoodSystems; #Bioeconomy
Berlin/Rome/Canadian-Media: FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today addressed the Agriculture Ministers' Conference in Berlin underscoring the importance, in the wake of COVID-19, of continued global cooperation to find new ways to strengthen the sustainability of agri-food systems, and outlined FAO and its partners' role in this.
Qu reinforced FAO's readiness to support the world in a "new path", particularly through FAO's COVID-19 Response and Recovery Program, Hand-in-Hand Initiative and its Geospatial Platform, and the One Health approach. Concerning the latter, FAO launched a new report on the opportunities for innovation in livestock systems this week at the conference, formally called the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA).
The week-long GFFA brought together over 90 ministers from all over the world, together with high-level representatives of international organizations. The final communique adopted on Friday calls for the impetus for climate action, response to COVID-19, and preventing future pandemics - the overarching theme of this year's forum.
The FAO Director-General, speaking in a session chaired by the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, highlighted the key conclusions of the FAO high-level panel during GFFA on ‘How innovation can help strengthen the sustainability of food systems and prevent future pandemics'.
"The key point that emerged from our discussion was that the pandemic gave impetus to innovation: we should work together to keep up this momentum," Qu noted.
He mentioned several examples for innovation in practice, as presented in the panel, related to policy measures, multi-partner initiatives, digital tools, as well as new business models, including agricultural information systems and e-commerce developed to improve digital infrastructure in rural areas.
Referring to the request made to FAO at the previous GFFA, Qu updated the ministers on FAO's work on the establishment of the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture which has already been approved by FAO's governing Council.
Qu's words resonated with the message of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the conference, who called for "bold action" to improve global agri-food systems, and invited all countries to join the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit to inspire action towards the vision of a healthy planet and healthy diets.
Also speaking during the session was Janusz Wojciechowski, the Commissioner for Agriculture of the European Commission; and David Beasley, Executive Director of World Food Programme of the UN. Director-General Qu, Minister Klöckner, Commissioner Wojciechowski were later joined by Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the GFFA closing press conference.
The final communiqué - a call for action
Today, agriculture ministers in a record number signed up for a common political vision through the unanimous adoption of the communiqué whose messages are expected to feed into further international agricultural policy discussions.
The document calls upon countries and development organizations to take action in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing further pandemics, and on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Recognizing the essential role of the food and agricultural sector, ministers pledged support to farmers, particularly smallholders, for sustaining their activities and livelihoods during the pandemic, and to assist their recovery afterwards and help enhance their resilience.
The communiqué reaffirmed commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2 to end hunger, as well as to implement FAO's voluntary guidelines supporting the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.
Ministers pointed at the critical need for innovation in the sustainable increase of production, and encouraged sustainable solutions that include new technologies and innovative practices, in line with the principles of the FAO framework for sustainable bioeconomy.
Echoing the FAO Director-General's earlier messages at the GFFA, the manifesto supports the improvement and broadening of current international collaboration under the One Health approach, in particular the FAO-OIE-WHO information systems for early warning, transparent reporting, and investigation of animal and zoonotic disease outbreaks.
UN Ozone Secretariat launches ‘Reset Earth’: Animation film & mobile game bring Gen Z into protecting ozone layer
#UNEP; #ResetEarth; #OzoneLayer; #ProtectPlanet; #GenZ
Nairobi/Canadian-Media: ‘Reset Earth’, an innovative educational platform for adolescents about the fundamental role of the ozone layer in protecting the planet, launches on World Education Day (January 24th) an original animation film that explores options for collective positive action, UNEP reports said.
Knox, Sagan and Terran race against time and travel through it while learning about the importance of the ozone layer and the impact of working together towards a common human cause. Image credit: UNEP
The film’s plot continues in a challenging mobile game for Android and IOS (February 10th). The platform is initiated by United Nations Ozone Secretariat to sustain the protection of the ozone layer through the sensitization and engagement of Gen Z.
Ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) like CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs have been widely used throughout the 20th century, mostly for refrigeration, in air conditioners and aerosol sprays. ODSs threaten the earth’s upper atmosphere, drive up temperatures and account for close to 11 per cent of total warming emissions to date. Since the 1980s, the international community has acted to protect the ozone layer by banning or strictly restricting the use and production of such super greenhouse effect gases. Consequently, the Antarctic ozone is expected to close by the 2060s (without action, it might have been 40 per cent larger by now) and other regions will return to 1980s values even earlier.
Meg Seki, Acting Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat, said, “The protection of the ozone layer cannot be considered a done deal. It must be a continuous effort by us and by future generations. If our children learn about the grim consequences of a ruined ozone layer, they will act to keep it only as part of a fantasy game.”
Reset Earth begins a year-long education initiative by the Secretariat to raise awareness and inspire action among adolescents and parents about global ozone protection. Immersive, educational and thought-provoking, Reset Earth conveys a positive message around what can be achieved through collective action and cultivates a sense of environmental responsibility and ownership amongst the youth.
The Reset Earth animation film is set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world in 2084, where the ozone layer has been completely ruined and human life is under threat from an unstoppable virus called “The Grow”. It is the story of three teenagers who team up in an epic time-travel adventure to save the planet and what’s left of human life. Their mission is to find out what caused the “The Grow”. They travel back to critical historical moments in the story of the mysterious ‘ozone layer”, essential to stopping the virus, and learning as they go about the fundamental role it plays in protecting the health wellbeing of the planet. To save the ozone layer, they must jump back in time to ensure the signing of the Montreal Protocol agreement.
The Reset Earth mobile game is a single player platform game, combining a retro graphics style and hand-drawn artwork and aligned with the film’s storyline. Players - whether adolescent gamers or their parents - switch between characters and utilize their unique abilities throughout four levels of the game. Through unlocking puzzles, players learn about environmental history and the science of protecting the planet.
#Canada; #Alberta; #US; #KeystoneXLpipeline; #LossOfJobs; #LossOfBillionsOfDollars
Alberta/Canadian-Media: In his repeated calls for for economic retaliation for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline by U.S. President Joe Biden -- a clear violation of the investor-protection provisions of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, demanded some compensation for TC Energy and the province for the loss of billions of dollars.
Keystone XL pipeline Project. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Biden's revoking of the permit was part of a series of executive orders aimed at tackling climate change including re-entering the Paris climate accord.
In a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Kenney accuses Justin Trudeau of failing to advocate for the project and urged Justin Trudeau to seek "proportional economic consequences" for the decision.
Trudeau said on Friday morning he would raise the issue during his phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden scheduled for later in the day.
After repeatedly making clear to to the new U.S. administration Canada's support for the project both the Prime Minister and Canada's ambassador to the U.S. have agreed to respect the decision and move on.
"Obviously the decision on Keystone XL is a very difficult one for workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan who've had many difficult hits," he said.
"Over the past years we have been there for them and we will continue to be there for them and I will express my concern for jobs and livelihoods in Canada, particularly in the west, directly in my conversation with president Biden."
The letter arrives jus a day after a First Ministers meeting where Ontario's Doug Ford, Saskatchewan's Scott Moe and Quebec's François Legault all pushed Trudeau to take action, details of which were first reported by Global News and confirmed by CBC News.
Keystone XL pipeline, 1,897-kilometre long would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oil sands in Alberta to Nebraska and then have connected with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
Only last year after Alberta government's agreement, and investing $1.5 billion as equity in the project, plus billions more in loan guarantees, construction of the project carried on for several months with about 1,000 workers in southeast Alberta.
TC Energy said on Thursday that it would be laying off those 1,000 workers.
Great Green Wall receives over $14 billion to regreen the Sahel – France, World Bank listed among donors
#UNCCD; #Desertification; #GreatGreenWallAcceleratorInitiative; #PandemicRecovery; #SDGs
Bonn/Paris/Canadian-Media: The ambitious Great Green Wall for the Sahel and Sahara Initiative (GGW) has received at least 14.326 billion US dollars in new funding. The funding will fast track efforts to restore degrading land, save biological diversity as well as create green jobs and build resilience of the Sahelian people.
Land and Biodiversity. Image credit: unccd.int
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, made the announcement at the just concluded One Planet Summit for Biodiversity co-organized by France, the United Nations and World Bank.
The GGW snakes along the southern margin of Africa’s Sahara Desert running from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea. The Great Green Wall Accelerator makes up 30 per cent of 33 billion United States Dollars needed to achieve the Great Green Wall’s ambitions for the year 2030.
Mohamed Cheikh El-Ghazouani, President of Mauritania and current chair of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, welcomed the Accelerator program on behalf of the region.
"We welcome the announcement of the Great Green Wall Accelerator Initiative, whose objective is to release an initial contribution over the period 2021-2025, to give effect to the commitments of the financial partners in a coordinated framework," said Ghazouani.
"The mobilization of this additional funding through an innovative approach will certainly contribute to the achievement of the Great Green Wall goals, which aim by 2030, at the restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land and the creation of 10 million green jobs.... This initiative will certainly facilitate the alignment of our partners’ interventions, in response to the concerns raised by our Ministers of Environment at the last Great Green Wall Conference," said Ghazouani.
Ghazouani stressed that it would “enable our countries, in accessing the necessary funds, to increase local investments within the framework of the five pillars adopted and to strengthen the capacities of the national agencies of the Great Green Wall. In this context, I would like to suggest the establishment, in each of our countries, of a biodiversity Fund into which we will contribute a portion of the resources resulting from the cancellation of our debts. Cancellation that we call for with all our hearts."
“Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course. With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience. Innovations in energy and transport can steer a sustainable recovery and an economic and social transformation. Nature-based solutions – such as Africa’s Great Green Wall – are especially promising,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary General.
Since its inception in 2007, the Great Green Wall (GGW) has partnered with stakeholders to regreen the region and create an 8,000 km long world wonder involving at least 11 countries and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The GGW Initiative, now well into its second decade, is an African-led flagship program demonstrating how to harness the power of nature to provide policy solutions to multiple and complex environmental threats, such as land degradation, desertification, drought, climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and food insecurity, simultaneously.
The GGW has inspired many African countries which are now associated with it and its work is contributing to the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. GGW is among the iconic global campaigns targeted for completion during the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration ending in 2030.
The virtual 'One Planet Summit' for biodiversity held on January 11, 2021 in Paris was an opportunity to raise the level of ambition of the international community in protecting nature, while responding to the new questions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic as we collectively mobilize resources to build back better and improve livelihoods in the Sahel through the Great Green Wall Initiative.
The summit is mobilizing resources, heads of government and partners as well as leaders of international organizations, financial institutions, the business sector and NGOs to make commitments for concrete action to preserve and restore biodiversity, to make strong new announcements and to launch transformational initiatives for nature.
#FAO; #AfricaGreatGreenWall; #Biodiversity; #Deforestation; #SDG; #Ecosystem; #UNCCD; #UNEP; #WaterProductivity
Paris/Canadian-Media: The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, QU Dongyu, today appealed for an urgent scale-up of Africa's Great Green Wall initiative to restore degraded land, create jobs and address climate change, FAO reports said.
Great Green Wall initiative. Image credit: UNCCD
The Director-General spoke in a virtual address to the Great Green Wall investment forum held at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity 2021 hosted by French President, Emmanuel Macron. The Prince of Wales and the President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, also addressed the summit.
Qu emphasized FAO's commitment to the Great Green Wall Initiative stating that the UN organization had worked with local communities in the Sahel region on a comprehensive approach towards land restoration by providing plant science and mechanization of traditional agricultural methods to transform agri-food systems and landscapes.
"Over the last five years, we applied this approach in over 400 communities, thereby helping to restore over 50,000 hectares of degraded lands to the benefit of close to one million people," Qu noted.
Endorsed by the African Union in 2007, the Great Green Wall is Africa's flagship initiative to combat climate change and desertification and address food insecurity and poverty with the goal of restoring 100 million hectares by 2030. FAO has played a leading role implementing projects linked to the initiative.
The Director-General said FAO currently has a project portfolio of $238 million directly supporting the 5 Pillars of the Great Green Wall Accelerator and a total project portfolio of over $1.15 billion supporting 11 Great Green Wall countries.
FAO's activities include technical assistance on the restoration of degraded lands across the Sahel from Mauritania and Senegal in the west to Djibouti and Eritrea in the east of the continent.
The Director-General emphasized that greater collaboration is needed between international organizations, national authorities, the private sector and local communities to promote innovation in policy, technology and business models that would support projects on the ground.
Qu indicated that FAO was working with United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Environment Program to support the Great Green Wall initiative, noting that this concerted effort would serve as a "flagship" for the SDG Decade of Action and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, which FAO leads with UNEP. FAO would also use its Hand-in-Hand platform to implement related projects, he added.
"The Great Green Wall Initiative is a historic opportunity to conserve biodiversity, address climate change and enhance food security simultaneously," he stated.
In his address to the forum, President Macron acknowledged FAO's contribution to the initiative and appealed for more action to support projects that would build security and stability. The Prince of Wales, suggested that the Great Green Wall could be a model for other regions around the world like the Amazon region, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of UNCCD, noted that the Great Green Wall could create a new scenario for development, while Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, indicated that the private sector could play a greater role in providing investment and know-how.
Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Brian Moynihan, the Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, Yannick Glemarec, the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, and Abdoulaye Dia, Executive Secretary, Pan African Agency for the Great Green Wall, also spoke at the event.
Through its projects, FAO intends to mobilize and strengthen its network of trained experts working on the ground to support capacity development and restoration action. To assist farmers and pastoralists, FAO also offers digital real-time information through the WaPOR portal that monitors Water Productivity through Open access of remotely sensed derived data.
Resource mobilization is key to the success of the implementing the Great Green Wall Initiative by 2030. The Initiative aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, create 10 million green jobs and sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon-equivalent.
#UN; #ClimateChange; #InternationalDecadeforOceanScience; #HealthyPlanet; #SDG #HealthyOcean; #WMO
UN/Canadian-Media: The health of the ocean will ultimately determine the survival of humankind on Earth, according to the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson. Marking the opening of the International Decade for Ocean Science, the former top Fijian diplomat and General Assembly president, told UN News that a healthy planet is inextricably linked to a healthy ocean.
At the moment, only around 10 per cent of the ocean’s make-up is understood by science. In the years ahead, we will have some very important decisions to take on our relationship with this planet and we will need to make them on the basis of solid science. With the ocean covering 70 per cent of the planet, full scientific knowledge of its properties is clearly required. It is for this reason that the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development assumes such great importance for us all.
Throughout the Decade, the ocean science community will be called upon to play a central role in global efforts towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 14 which focuses on conserving and sustainably using the ocean’s resources.
How crucial is the ocean to our future?
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming tells us that once global temperatures increase beyond 2˚C above pre-industrial levels, we will lose the great majority of the planet’s living coral reefs.
Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns us that on our current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of 3˚ to 5˚C by the end of this century. Coral reefs are home to around 30 per cent of the ocean’s biodiversity; thus their loss would be catastrophic for the ocean’s ecosystem.
The ocean plays a fundamental planetary role in mitigating the effects of climate change through its absorption of heat and carbon. This service alone makes the healthy functioning of the ocean’s ecosystems critical to all humans. This is true whether you live thousands of miles inland or are part of coastal communities that rely on the ocean for livelihoods. In short, the health of life on land is inextricably linked to the ocean’s health.
Which scientific developments are you excited about over the next ten years?
Ocean science is a very broad field and a huge amount will be happening in the field in the next decade. For example, it’s expected that a global effort to map the entire ocean floor will be completed by 2030.
The plan for the UN Decade has recently been approved and I’m excited by all it offers. This includes a clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and reduced or removed; a healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are understood, protected, restored and managed; and a safe ocean where life and livelihoods are protected from ocean-related hazards.
Over the next ten years, from a comprehensive scientific understanding of the ocean and the genetic properties of life in the deep sea, I’m confident we’ll find the medicines we require for human security. I’m also convinced that when we get to know more about the ocean, we’ll be able to source new sustainable forms of seafood, rather than concentrating on our hunt for ever-diminishing wild stocks of finned fish.
In terms of energy, we can get ten times our energy requirements from offshore wind alone.
This is why it is crucial for us to fully understand the ocean ecosystem if we are to develop these elements of a sustainable blue economy. All of these developments will require adequate finance and the people making those funding decisions will want to see sound evidence of sustainable ocean planning before allocating funds. Such plans will have to be based upon reliable science, so the UN Decade of Ocean Science could not be more timely.
How is the scientific community getting involved with the Decade?
I come from Fiji, where I’ve been working with the Pacific’s regional institutions to ensure the Decade is a movement in which the Pacific Islands are fully involved. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC), the UN body responsible for supporting global ocean science, has made it clear that a core objective of the Decade will be to improve the scientific knowledge base through capacity development to regions and groups that are presently limited in capacity and capability, especially Small Island Developing States and the Least Developed Countries.
The Decade will be a time of partnership, for philanthropists, universities and NGOs, for international organizations, governments and the private sector. I see it as a time to embed the partnership model that the UN has long been espousing through an inclusive, multilateral approach.
Given the growing importance of the Sustainable Blue Economy and the need for it to be governed with sustainability and science as its hallmarks, I’ve been encouraging young people around the world to consider ocean science as a worthy career-path. To have the science we need for the ocean we want, we will need dedicated communities of ocean scientists around the world.
What will happen to the ocean if no action is taken?
The ocean is becoming more acidic and its oxygen levels are declining, largely because of our burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions. Over time this makes living conditions for many marine species increasingly difficult. Meanwhile the ocean is warming, causing marine life to move away from traditional habitats, adding to coral’s existential challenges, and leading to the rising sea levels that threaten to inundate atoll countries, low-lying coasts and river deltas around the world.
These threats are very real and I think the urgency of the message is finally getting through. As I’ve said, good science is required to give us the information we need to make the right decisions for our future security.
Life Below Water and the UN
#UNEP; #NewClimateReality; #Adaptation; #GreenClimateFund; #NaturebasedSolutions
UNEP/Canadian-Media: As temperatures rise and climate change impacts intensify, nations must urgently step up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses, a new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report finds.
Climate Reality project. Image credit: Facebook page
Adaptation – reducing countries’ and communities’ vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to absorb impacts – is a key pillar of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The agreement requires its signatories to implement adaptation measures through national plans, climate information systems, early warning, protective measures and investments in a green future.
The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 finds that while nations have advanced in planning, huge gaps remain in finance for developing countries and bringing adaptation projects to the stage where they bring real protection against climate impacts such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise.
Public and private finance for adaptation must be stepped up urgently, along with faster implementation. Nature-based solutions – locally appropriate actions that address societal challenges, such as climate change, and provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring natural or modified ecosystems – must also become a priority.
“The hard truth is that climate change is upon us,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “Its impacts will intensify and hit vulnerable countries and communities the hardest – even if we meet the Paris Agreement goals of holding global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.”
“As the UN Secretary-General has said, we need a global commitment to put half of all global climate finance towards adaptation in the next year,” she added. “This will allow a huge step up in adaptation – in everything from early warning systems to resilient water resources to nature-based solutions.”
Adaptation planning is growing, but funding and follow-up lagging
The most encouraging finding of the report is that 72 per cent of countries have adopted at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument. Most developing countries are preparing National Adaptation Plans. However, the finance needed to implement these plans is not growing fast enough.
The pace of adaptation financing is indeed rising, but it continues to be outpaced by rapidly increasing adaptation costs. Annual adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at USD 70 billion. This figure is expected to reach USD 140-300 billion in 2030 and USD 280-500 billion in 2050.
There are some encouraging developments.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has allocated 40 per cent of its total portfolio to adaptation and is increasingly crowding-in private sector investment. Another important development is increasing momentum to ensure a sustainable financial system. However, increased public and private adaptation finance is needed. New tools such as sustainability investment criteria, climate-related disclosure principles and mainstreaming of climate risks into investment decisions can stimulate investments in climate resilience.
Implementation of adaptation actions is also growing. Since 2006, close to 400 adaptation projects financed by multilateral funds serving the Paris Agreement have taken place in developing countries. While earlier projects rarely exceeded USD 10 million, 21 new projects since 2017 reached a value of over USD 25 million. However, of over 1,700 adaptation initiatives surveyed, only 3 per cent had already reported real reductions to climate risks posed to the communities where the projects were being implemented.
Nature-based solutions for adaptation can make a huge contribution
The report places a special focus on nature-based solutions as low-cost options that reduce climate risks, restore and protect biodiversity and bring benefits for communities and economies.
An analysis of four major climate and development funds – the Global Environment Facility, the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Fund and the International Climate Initiative – suggested that support for green initiatives with some element of nature-based solutions has risen over the last two decades. Cumulative investment for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects under the four funds stood at USD 94 billion. However, only USD 12 billion was spent on nature-based solutions – a tiny fraction of total adaptation and conservation finance.
Stepping up action
According to the report, cutting greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the impacts and costs associated with climate change. Achieving the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement could limit losses in annual growth to up to 1.6 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent for the 3°C trajectory.
All nations must pursue the efforts outlined in UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2020, which called for a green pandemic recovery and updated Nationally Determined Contributions that include new net-zero commitments. However, the world must also plan for, finance and implement climate change adaptation to support those nations least responsible for climate change but most at risk.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to hit the ability of countries to adapt to climate change, investing in adaptation is a sound economic decision.
#UN; #Covid19Pandemic; #ClimateChange; #2020oneOfWarmestOnRecord; #WMO; #ParisAgreement
UN/Canadian-Media: The COVID-19 pandemic was not the only long-term crisis the world will remember from 2020. In terms of climate change, the year was also one of the three warmest on record, and rivalled 2016 for the top spot, the UN weather agency said on Wednesday.
2020 was the warmest decade on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Image credit: Unsplash/John Towner
“The confirmation by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record is yet another stark reminder of the relentless pace of climate change, which is destroying lives and livelihoods across our planet”, said Secretary-General António Guterres.
He pointed out that at 1.2 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, the world is already witnessing unprecedented weather extremes in every region and on every continent.
“We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century”, he warned. “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority for everyone, everywhere.”
Powerful force La Niña, which began in late last year, is expected to continue into the early-middle part of 2021.
“The exceptional heat of 2020 is despite a La Niña event, which has a temporary cooling effect”, said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
La Niña and El Niño effects on average global temperatures are typically strongest in the second year of the event.
“It is remarkable that temperatures in 2020 were virtually on a par with 2016, when we saw one of the strongest El Niño warming events on record”, he added. “This is a clear indication that the global signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature”.
The extent to which the continued cooling effects of La Niña this year may temporarily diminish the overall long-term warming trend remains to be seen.
Following atypical patterns
WMO pointed to sustained heat and wildfires in Siberia, diminishing Arctic sea ice and record-breaking hurricanes in the Atlantic as being among the climate events that most stood out in 2020.
The UN weather agency also reminded that temperature is just one climate change indicator. Greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content, global mean sea level, sea ice extent and extreme events are also factors.
Backed by science WMO’s consolidated global temperature update incorporates information from five leading international sets of data.
It also uses datasets that combine millions of meteorological and marine observations, including from satellites, with models to produce a complete reanalysis of the atmosphere.
“The combination of observations with models makes it possible to estimate temperatures at any time and in any place across the globe, even in data-sparse areas such as the polar regions”, according to WMO.
Looking to the future
The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels.
However, the global average temperature in 2020 had already approached the lower limit of the temperature increase that the Agreement seeks to avert.
Moreover, there is at least a one-in-five chance that the average global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 °C by 2024, according to WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, led by the United Kingdom’s Met Office.
The 2021 Met Office annual global temperature forecast also suggests that next year will again be one of the earth’s hottest years.
Updating its provisional December report, WMO will issue its final publication in March, which will incorporate temperature figures, information on all leading climate indicators and selected climate impacts.
#Rome; #FAO; #OneHealthForAll; #biodiversity; #Agriculture; #EnvironmentalSustainability
Rome/Canadian-Media - Speaking at the One Planet Summit, held on 11 January 2021, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, highlighted FAO's track records leading the work on biodiversity across agriculture and food sectors, recognizing the importance of environmental sustainability as a key determinant of a long term "One Health for All."
Women at a community-based natural reserve at Kholy-Alpha, Senegal - one among FAO's Great Green Wall projects. Image credit: FAO
The Summit, hosted by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, was the fourth in a series that started as follow-up to the Paris Agreement on combating climate change, aimed to raise the level of ambition of the international community on the protection of nature, while responding to the new questions raised by the COVID-19 crisis.
The focus of the Summit this year was on biodiversity. 2021 is considered a big year on biodiversity for the international community. FAO has been on the forefront of the international efforts preserving biodiversity and protecting our planet.
Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy-Director General, explains FAO's work on biodiversity, and on protecting our planet, including combating climate change.
Why biodiversity? And why 2021 is considered important for biodiversity?
Biodiversity is experiencing dramatic losses at the hands of humans. Unsustainable farming practices, agri-food systems and uncurbed urbanization are all taking a terrible toll on our natural resources. If left unchecked, the alarming pace of biodiversity losses will have devastating consequences for humankind and our capacity to feed the world.
For example: around three out four emerging infectious diseases in people originate from domestic or wild animals, and there is growing evidence that the key drivers are landscape changes and biodiversity loss. We have seen how COVID-19, a zoonotic disease that spreads from animals to humans, has jeopardized human health and upturned the global economy, putting lives, livelihoods and general well-being and security at risk the world over.
The One Planet Summit comes at a crucial moment, kicking off a series of key events throughout 2021 - notably the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, the UN Food Systems Summit, the UN Ocean Conference, and the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference - where all players must come together and commit to firmly placing both climate and nature at the core of global recovery actions. The UN Biodiversity Conference is expected to adopt a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework for the coming years to ensure that biodiversity contributes to the nutrition, food security, and livelihoods of people, especially for the most vulnerable.
Dealing with a growing climate emergency and diminishing biodiversity, we need to see a bold paradigm shift. Climate and environmental factors must be an integral part of economic models and plans. But political commitment alone is not enough. We must build partnerships, alliances and coalitions for low-carbon and green solutions. These must go hand-in-hand with employment, innovation, and socio-economic opportunities for everyone. These efforts are also crucial for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
What are FAO's priorities on these?
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted areas of inequalities across agri-food systems. Business cannot continue as usual. This means we need to rethink our relationship with nature, allowing us to tackle diseases wherever they emerge in humans, animals, plants or the environment.
With an overall mandate of ending hunger and alleviating poverty - underpinned by the aspirational vision of better production, better consumption, better environment and better lives - FAO promotes the transformation to resilient, sustainable agri-food systems that foster healthy ecosystems and inclusive socio-economic models.
FAO supports countries to both adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food and agriculture through in-country development of national climate plans and research-based programmes and projects. The focus is on adapting and improving smallholder production sustainably, to ensure that the livelihoods of rural populations are more resilient.
FAO also promotes Nature-based Solutions, Energy-Smart Food Systems and Climate-Smart Agriculture to transform and reorient agriculture towards climate resilience and sustainability.
FAO views biodiversity as the basis of food security and promotes its sustainable use for food security, human well-being and development worldwide. It hosts the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Both aim to reach international consensus on policies for the sustainable use and conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture.
So, this important summit was a unique opportunity for leadership to align both towards a healthy and sustainable future and a sharp focus on how to demonstrate commitment and change on the ground. The current crisis and the necessity to transform agri-food systems represent a unique opportunity for Leaving No One Behind in our efforts for building back better. Transforming our agri-food systems can transform our future.
What concrete actions does FAO promote?
We know that landscape changes - both permanent due to deforestation, land-use change or urbanization, or temporary due to flooding or drought. These are major drivers of the (re-)emergence of a number of zoonotic diseases like malaria, dengue fever, Ebola, and Lyme disease.
Furthermore, the degradation of land and marine ecosystems undermines the well-being of over three billion people and costs about 10 per cent of the annual global gross product in loss of species and ecosystems services. Key ecosystems that deliver numerous services essential to food and agriculture, including supply of freshwater, protection against hazards and provision of habitat for species such as fish and pollinators, are declining at a sharp rate, as revealed in FAO's State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture report in 2019.
To reverse the situation, we need to restore our forests, farmland, pastures, wetlands and marine environments - not only to halt the erosion of biodiversity but also to fight climate change. So, FAO's work on biodiversity aims at supporting countries in balancing the need to guarantee food security, improve nutrition and safeguard the livelihoods of the poor, especially in rural areas, while at the same time preventing the degradation, contamination and loss of natural resources.
The ‘UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration' (2021-2031), led by FAO and the UN Environment Programme, is a global call to massively scale up to protect and revive ecosystems all around the world, from mountain forests to lakes to coastal areas. Research shows that more than two billion hectares of the world's deforested and degraded landscapes offer potential for restoration. By restoring degraded ecosystems, we not only restore productivity and enhance biodiversity, we also create jobs and livelihoods, increase food security, and mitigate and adapt to climate change.
FAO has been working with countries for decades to scale up climate and biodiversity investment for the agricultural sectors, leveraging partnerships including with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and more recently the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to build climate-resilient development pathways.
The FAO-GEF portfolio, worth over $250 million in 2020, cuts across FAO's broad range of work and acts as a vehicle for cross-sectoral efforts to unlock the potential of food supply chains through the sustainable use of natural resources and climate-smart practices. To date, projects have benefitted nearly five million people, created 350,000 jobs in rural communities, safeguarded biodiversity in close to 200 vulnerable marine ecosystems, and saved some 1000 crop varieties, animal species and breeds from extinction.
As an accredited entity to the GCF, the world's largest dedicated fund for climate action, FAO uses its vast technical expertise and knowledge to mobilize large flows of climate finance to help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. With projects amounting to $796.2 million last year, FAO works around the world, from combatting deforestation in Argentina to rangeland restoration in the Sudan, to support the transition towards low-emission, sustainable food systems through climate-smart approaches, practices and techniques that preserve the environment and biodiversity, and at the same time, help build the resilience of millions of poor family farmers.
You mentioned the link between biodiversity loss and the emergence of new diseases. What can we do?
We need to better understand the root causes of zoonotic diseases, in order to prevent future outbreaks and support a green recovery. A single spillover from animal to human can trigger a global pandemic. This means that we need to work on multiple fronts to reduce the likelihood of spillovers of potential pandemic agents at every crossroad.
Integrating ecosystem health with human, livestock and wild animal health is essential. This is the sure path to mitigating future pandemics. We must promote an ecosystem approach that preserves biodiversity, builds resilience and leads to sustainable food systems. Yet, connecting all these pieces is very challenging and calls for great collaboration and coordination at all levels.
The need for integrated surveillance in human, wildlife and farmed animal populations is an emerging priority to assess and manage the risks. Greater foresight of where, when and how spillovers occur will enable greater targeting of prevention efforts in communities likely to be first affected. And we must support indigenous peoples to secure and exercise their territorial rights to sustainably manage the wild resources they depend on for food, income and cultural identity.
In this way, FAO is working on the frontline to address and tackle emerging infectious diseases at the animal-human-environment interface, including assessing and responding to its potential impacts on people's lives and livelihoods, veterinary public health and occupational safety, global food trade, markets, food supply chains and animal health.
The Director-General and many leaders spoke at the Summit of the "One Health" approach. What is it and why?
We really need to adopt, accelerate and scale-up "One Health", an integrated approach that recognizes the fundamental and interconnected relationship between the health of people, animals, plants and the environment. It ensures that specialists in multiple sectors work together to tackle associated health threats, while protecting biodiversity.
The One Health approach should be a cornerstone strategy to prevent other zoonotic pandemics while providing the long-term resilience, sustainable agri-food systems, healthy environments we need to better re-orient, reshape and rebuild our future.
FAO, collaborating closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), promotes One Health in work on food security, sustainable agriculture, food safety, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), nutrition, animal and plant health, fisheries, and livelihoods. Ensuring a One Health approach is essential for progress to anticipate, prevent, detect and control diseases that spread between animals and humans, tackle antimicrobial resistance, ensure food safety, prevent environment-related human and animal health threats, as well as combatting many other challenges.