#Nairobi;#UNEP; #ClimateChange; #mangroveRestoration; #WesternIndianOcean
Nairobi, UNEP Jul 24 (Canadian-Media): For many coastal communities, including those in the Western Indian Ocean region, mangroves are critical to economic and food security. A new set of guidelines on mangrove restoration for the region aims to support the restoration of its degraded mangrove ecosystems and support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Mangrove forests are among the most powerful nature-based solutions to climate change, but with 67 percent of mangroves lost or degraded to date, and an additional 1.0 percent being lost each year, they are at a risk of being destroyed altogether. Without mangroves, 39 percent more people would be flooded annually and flood damage would increase by more than 16 percent and US $82 billion. They protect shorelines from eroding and shield communities from floods, hurricanes, and storms, a more important service than ever as sea levels continue to rise. Mangroves also provide nursery areas for marine life and support many threatened and endangered species. Restoring mangroves can make communities more resilient to environmental changes and the economic shocks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While governments acknowledge the importance of mangroves, the success of restoration efforts has been limited. The new Guidelines on Mangrove Ecosystem Restoration for the Western Indian Ocean Region analyze risks and challenges to restoration projects and point to potential solutions.
Coastal residents in the Western Indian Ocean region – which includes Comoros, Kenya, France (Reunion), Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania – eat or sell the fish that live around the mangroves; harvest honey from the bees that the forests support, and use their wood as building material and fuel for subsistence or sell it for income. Because the livelihoods of coastal communities depend on mangroves, restoring them can contribute to “building back better” through green recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mangrove forests can also drive eco-tourism and create jobs.
“Mangroves really are essential life support system for coastal communities in the Western Indian Ocean region,” said James Kairo, Chief Scientist at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and lead author of the guidelines. “If degradation continues, communities will be without resources for shelter or fuel, food, or a means to make a living.”
The guidelines were developed by the member states of Nairobi Convention with support from UNEP–Nairobi Convention, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association and the Western Indian Ocean Mangrove Network. They can be used by governments; resource managers; scientists; civil society, and communities at large as they embark on mangrove conservation and management initiatives.
“These Guidelines are really the first for the Western Indian Ocean region to address past mangrove restoration failures head-on and assess the reasons why,” said Jared Bosire, UNEP–Nairobi Convention Project Manager. “Of critical importance is that they provide a step-by-step guide on how to build successful restoration projects which avoid several of the pitfalls that we have kept witnessing.”
The Guidelines also feature case studies from around the Western Indian Ocean region, highlighting best practices and lessons learned. They can be used to guide action on mangroves as part of the upcoming UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) and support progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14.2 on protecting and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems. Mangroves also capture and store significantly higher rates of carbon dioxide per unit area than terrestrial forests, so mangrove restoration can be incorporated into countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.
“It’s hard to overstate just how important mangroves can be to both the environment and economy,” said Kerstin Stendahl, Head of UNEP’s Ecosystems Integration Branch. “They are truly a super solution —without them, we’d have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, fewer fish and less food, and more damage from cyclones and other storms.”
#UN; #WMO; #ClimateChange; #ArcticFires; #SeaIceMelt
Geneva/UN, Jul 26 (Canadian-Media): “Exceptional and prolonged” temperatures in Siberia, have left parts of the Arctic warmer than sub-tropical Florida, and fuelled “devastating” wildfires for a second consecutive year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday, while warning also of rapidly decreasing sea ice along the Russian polar coast.
According to the UN agency, temperatures in Siberia have been more than 5C above average from January to June, and in June up to 10C above average.
“Some parts of Siberia this week have again topped 30 degrees Celsius – so it’s been warmer in Siberia than…many parts of Florida”, said WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis at a press conference in Geneva.
“We’ve had exceptional and prolonged heat for months now and this has fuelled devastating Arctic fires; and at the same time we’re seeing rapidly decreasing sea coverage along the Arctic coast”, she continued, noting that their estimated total carbon emissions since January are the highest in 18 years, when the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service of wildfires began.
The development follows an astonishing reading of 38°C in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on 20 June.
This has been confirmed by the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorological and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet); WMO is in the process of establishing a committee to assess that decision.
Jet stream swing
The cause of the prolonged furnace-like conditions, is the “blocking” action of a vast weather front over the Arctic, along with a “persistent northward swing of the jet stream” which has been sending warm air into the region, journalists heard.
“The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions”, Ms. Nullis said, adding that such extreme heat would have been almost impossible without the influence of human-induced climate change.
Worrying footage of the forest fires close to the ocean have underscored the need for urgent climate action by nations and greater commitment to achieving the pledges made in the Paris Climate Agreement, the WMO spokesperson insisted, including efforts to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Data from Wednesday showed 188 probable points of fire in Siberia, according to Roshydromet, with blazes particularly intense in Russia’s Sakha Republic and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, in the far northeast of Siberia.
Both areas have experienced much warmer conditions than usual in past months. Russian authorities have also declared that there is an extreme fire hazard throughout the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra which is in western Siberia, WMO reported.
Wildfire smoke contains pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds and solid aerosol particles, the UN agency said in a statement, which noted that Arctic wildfires emitted the equivalent of 56 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in June, compared to 53 megatonnes in June 2019.
“We’re seeing, you know, dramatic satellite images, which show the extent of the burns surface; the fire front of the northern-most currently active Arctic wildfire is less than eight kilometres from the Arctic ocean – this should not be happening,” Ms. Nullis said.
Polar bear extinction accelerating
Highlighting new climate research published in the journal Nature Climate Change pointing to irreversible threats to the Arctic ecosystem, the WMO spokesperson said that “polar bears - which as we all know is a symbol of climate change - could be nearly extinct by the end of the century”, if sea ice continues to shrink at current rates.
Accelerating ice retreat along the Arctic Russian coast in the spring, has accelerated since late June, leading to very low sea ice extent in the Laptev and Barents Seas, WMO also warned.
“The Northern Sea route appears to be nearly open”. it added.
Changes to weather at the poles will likely affect other more distant and populated places too, Ms. Nullis cautioned, thanks to a phenomenon known as “teleconnections”.
These are observed in weather events including El Nino, where cold and dry air reaches places that are more used to seeing warmer, wetter conditions.
“In general, the Arctic is heating more than twice the global average”, Ms. Nullis said. “It’s having a big impact on local populations and ecosystems, but we always say that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic, it does affect our weather in different parts of the world where hundreds of millions of people live.”
#UN; #UNEP; #SDGs; #ParisClimateChangeAgreement; #Covid19; #GGKP; #SMEs
Geneva/UNEP, Jul 22 (Canadian-Media): Every year the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meets to advance the UN System’s agenda on sustainable development. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) led the discussion on urgent environmental issues through five side-events. This article is part of the coverage of the forum’s 2020 edition.
Image credit: Twitter handle
While the coronavirus pandemic presents enormous health and economic challenges, there are also opportunities to jumpstart economies and rebuild societies through green recovery plans that are aligned with the 2030 Agenda. This was the main takeaway of a dialogue that took place at Recovering better: Global opportunities for jumpstarting the real economy #GO4SDGs, a side event at the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2020).
Leaders at the event agreed that the only way countries will recover from COVID-19 in a way that ensures prosperity for all and builds resilience is if the international community remains committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris climate change agreement.
“The 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement are our roadmaps for building back better,” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. “They set the social floors and upper boundaries of the planet’s life support functions. But we must keep our focus on real economy actors, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).”
Lewis Akenji, Executive Director of SEED, warned, however, that local actors are at risk of being overlooked in COVID-19 recovery. Governments, he said, must recognize the role SMEs have played in meeting social and environmental goals, providing jobs, and creating economic and gender equity. SMEs, he added, must be centred in policy and financial mechanisms and provided the resources they need to thrive.
Stephan Contius, Germany’s Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, emphasized his country’s faith that the SDGs are a “collective compass for the way out of this COVID-19 crisis” and that the priority now was to make sure the capital is available.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), added that for working people, the SDGs and Paris Agreement could be the foundation of a new social contract, one that departed from austerity and moved toward equity and resilience.
The event also served as an introduction to the “Menu of Services” of the Global Opportunities for SDGs (GO4SDGs) initiative – a set of real-world tools and services that governments, SMEs, youth networks, and schools and universities can use to sustainably jumpstart their economies and job creation.
GO4SDGs was launched in September 2019 to accelerate the shift to more inclusive green economies and sustainable production and consumption patterns, by facilitating regional dialogue and exchange among practitioners on best practices for replicating and upscaling.
Recovering Better was organized by UNEP and SEED with support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety of Germany and the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP).
British Columbia, Jul 19 (Canadian-Media): Canada’s Parks Day is a great time to celebrate the pride and passion British Columbians have for the province’s parks system and the role parks play in people’s health, the environment and economy.
B.C. Parks. Image credit: Facebook page
“It’s important to take time to appreciate all the wonderful benefits that parks offer us. Being closer to nature improves our health and well-being,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Parks and other protected areas provide critical habitat for a variety of species and help maintain ecological health. We will continue to increase opportunities for people to connect with nature in our beautiful BC Parks, so they can continue to bring families, friends and communities together.”
As B.C. residents spend Parks Day enjoying nature with their family or close friends, they may notice improvements to some provincial parks and campgrounds. As part of the ongoing campsite expansion program, BC Parks has started construction of a new campground in Manning Park that will provide more than 90 recreational-vehicle sites, targeted for completion in the fall. The project is the first of its kind for BC Parks since it will be fully serviced, offering water, sewer, electrical sites and a heated shower building.
The Province has also added 180 new campsites to two BC Parks and six recreation sites for the 2020 season. These include 39 backcountry sites at Circlet Lake, for a total of 60 tent pads, and seven new sites at Mount Fernie Provincial Park. Located in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island, the Circlet Lake backcountry campground also has several new amenities for campers that will also reduce the environmental impact on the lake and surrounding area.
Parks Day also marks the launch of the Discover Parks Ambassador Pilot Program – a new partnership between the BC Parks Foundation and BC Parks. The nine ambassadors are post-secondary students and volunteers from the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Canadian Conservation Corps, who will be out in parks engaging visitors with activities, education, citizen science and more. Visitors will find the ambassadors circulating between parks in the Kamloops, Rock Creek, Parksville and Fort St. John areas.
Parks Day was first held in 1990 to celebrate parks in Canada and inspire people to enjoy and support these spaces. It is held on the third Saturday of July and provides Canadians with an opportunity to participate in fun, educational and family-oriented events at parks and historic sites across the country. Due to COVID-19, BC Parks is not having any events this year, but people are still encouraged to spend the day in a park and enjoy nature.
World off track in meeting 2030 Agenda, UN deputy chief warns, calls for solidarity in COVID-19 recovery
#UN; #UNClimateChange; #SDGs; #ClimateChage
Geneva/UN, Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): The world was off track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, even before the COVID-19 crisis erupted, but can get back on course by increasing investment in public services, showing solidarity on financing, and “reshaping” how people work, learn, live and consume.
“We can turn this around, if we stay true to the 2030 Agenda”, said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, as she closed the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) - an annual stock-take of the world’s progress in reaching the SDGs, but “the road ahead is now even steeper”, she added.
After eight days of discussions, she said the message is clear on the need for solidarity and foresight on financing, and greater investments in social protections, health systems, education, water, sanitation and digital connectivity.
Staying true to the 2030 Agenda also means reimagining the way people work, learn, live and consume, and listening to young people, who are demanding justice and equality. And it means investing in an inclusive, networked multilateralism, with the United Nations at the centre.
“If we do all of this - consciously, concertedly, cooperatively - we can build a better world, our shared destination,” she assured. All efforts must be made to step-up implementation of the 2030 Agenda. “As an international community, we must rise to the test of this pivotal moment.”
In the lead up to 2020 High-level Political Forum, SDG Acceleration Actions have seen a 35 per cent increase in submissions and a 21 per cent increase in published actions, just within the last two months, featuring a total of 182 bold commitments in concrete terms to advance the goals that have been made by national Governments and other stakeholders.
The Forum heard 47 countries present their Voluntary National Reviews (or VNRs), along with 150 speakers in the thematic sessions, including one Prime Minister and 31 ministerial officials, contributing online, representing all regions.
COVID-19 a rare opportunity to ‘shape a new normal’
“The 2030 Agenda remains our shared roadmap to achieve the future we want”, said Mona Juul, President of the Economic and Social Council, which hosted the two-week Forum.
Stressing that COVID-19 should not change the commitment to “realizing the future we want”, she outlined areas for accelerated progress - first and foremost to advance human wellbeing. Discussions centred on greater educational access for girls, which in turn, will reduce infant and maternal mortality.
She highlighted the importance of creating integrated food systems to drive inclusive growth, agriculture, sustainability, and achieve zero hunger.
Recovering better also means protecting the planet, she said, by addressing climate change and the “alarming” rate of biodiversity loss, land and forest degradation.
'New world of opportunities'
Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy will be crucial to offering a “new world of opportunities” for billions of people, she said.
In the area of urban development, she underscored the essential role of local governments in transforming global intentions into community action. “All of our discussions have underlined that the recovery from COVID-19 represents a rare opportunity to shape a new normal”, she said.
#UN; #Fuel; #ClimateChange; #Emissions; #UNEP; #Covid19; KigaliAmendment; #OzoneLayer; #IEA; #EnvironmentalLaw
Geneva, Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): A wholesale switch to efficient, “climate-friendly” appliances could make a huge dent in environmentally harmful emissions, says a new UN report released on Friday.
View of UN headquarters (file). Image credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias
Access to cooling is essential to maintaining healthy communities, helping to keep food fresh, and economies productive. It has added importance during the current pandemic, making lockdown bearable during periods of hot weather.
However, many air-conditioning units emit carbon dioxide, black carbon and Hydrofluorocarbons (which have thousands of times the warming potential of carbon dioxide), and increasing demand for cooling is contributing significantly to climate change.
An efficient solution
The Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report, from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), shows that up to 460 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – roughly the amount produced over an eight-year period – could be cut over the next four decades by making air conditioners twice as efficient as they are now: by 2050, it would be possible to save the amount of electricity produced by all the coal-fired power stations in China and India in 2018, saving up to $2.9 trillion.
This action would make a significant contribution towards getting on track to limiting the overall global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is critical to minimizing the disastrous impacts of climate change, says the study.
Nations should seriously consider the move, as they plan their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Inger Andersen, the Executive-Director of UNEP: “they have an opportunity to use their resources wisely to reduce climate change, protect nature and reduce risks of further pandemics. Efficient, climate-friendly cooling can help to achieve all of these goals”.
Some cool options
The report notes that countries already have several options at their disposal, to make this possible. Signatories to the Kigali amendment to the landmark Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, for example, have agreed to reduce the use of Hydrofluorocarbons. National Cooling Action Plans can accelerate the transition to climate friendly cooling, and identify opportunities to make efficient cooling a way to meet their commitments to the 2015 Paris climate accords.
Other options available include implementing minimum energy performance standards, introducing building codes that ensure homes and offices are well insulated and require less cooling, and making temperature-controlled food supply chains more efficient and sustainable.
The peer-reviewed report was authored by a range of experts under the guidance of a 15-member steering committee co-chaired by Mexican chemist and Nobel laureate Mario Molina, who played a key role in discovering the Antarctic ozone hole, and Durwood Zaelke, an American pioneer of environmental law.
#Rain; #Biodiversity; #SmallOrganisms; #Leaves
New York, Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): The effect of rain was studied by Kim et al. published in Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 117, 13901 (2020) and found that high-speed water drops do not simply bounce off of these nanostructured surfaces.
These raindrops falling at terminal velocity are seen as giant ballistic objects when viewed by a butterfly or felt by a leaf.
So how do smaller organisms survive a rainy day? Many biological surfaces have nanoscale texture and show superhydrophobicity. On impact, each drop spreads, shock-like waves form, and the drop shatters. As the liquid spreads across the “rough” surface, the shock waves nucleate holes in the upper liquid film, the holes coalesce, the liquid rebounds, and contact time is reduced by 70 percent.
This is also a perfect mechanism to send waterborne fungal spores flying. Thus, superhydrophobicity means that an organism out in the rain gets neither wet nor cold and can carry on flying unperturbed, as birds and butterflies do.
Microbumps on insect and leaf surfaces generate tiny shock waves that shatter raindrops and make them rebound, thus reducing wetting.
Image credit: Kim et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 117, 13901 (2020)
#AsianVegetation; #ClimateChange; #CarbonSink
Ottawa, Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): The responses of tropical Asian vegetation under scenarios of future climate change was modeled by a study by Scheiter et al. published in Biol. 10.1111/GCB.15217 (2020).
Higher atmospheric carbon dioxide fertilizes tropical evergreen vegetation, making trees grow taller. Photo credit: www.sciencemag.org
Tropical vegetation plays a key role in the global carbon cycle, and much current research focuses on the extent to which it will continue to act as a carbon sink in the coming decades as the climate continues to warm.
According to the results it was found that owing to the fertilization effect of increasing carbon dioxide, woody biomass in the region is likely to increase and natural evergreen vegetation will get taller a result that is robust under different climate models until the end of this century.
However, the resulting persistence of a carbon sink also depends on effective conservation measures to ensure that the forest vegetation persists too.
The results suggest that large ensembles of climate models and scenarios are required to assess a wide range of potential future trajectories of vegetation change and to develop robust management plans.
It was also highlighted that open ecosystems with low tree cover as most threatened by climate change, which raise conflicts of interest between biodiversity conservation in open ecosystems and active afforestation to enhance carbon sequestration.
#UN; #UNEP; #Peace&Security; #GenderEquality; #Race; #ClimateAction
Geneva, Jul 13 (Canadian-Media): Climate change is a defining threat to peace and security in the 21st century – its impacts felt by everyone, but not equally, UNEP reports said.
Image credit: Twitter handle
Gender norms and power dynamics shape how women and men of different backgrounds experience or contribute to insecurity in a changing climate. Grounded in a series of case studies from research and programming experience, this report offers a comprehensive framework for understanding how gender, climate and security are inextricably linked.
The report assesses entry points for action across existing global agendas and suggests concrete recommendations for how policymakers, development practitioners and donors can advance three inter-related goals: peace and security, climate action and gender equality.
#Nairobi; #UN; #UNEP; #ILRI; WorldZoonosesDay; #COVID19
Nairobi, Jul 6 (Canadian-Media): As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take lives and disrupt economies across the world, a new report UN report warns that further outbreaks will emerge unless governments take active measures to prevent other zoonotic diseases from crossing into the human population, and sets out ten recommendations to prevent future pandemics.
The report, Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission, is a joint effort by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
It identifies seven trends driving the increasing emergence of zoonotic diseases, including increased demand for animal protein; a rise in intense and unsustainable farming; the increased use and exploitation of wildlife; and the climate crisis. The report finds that Africa in particular, which has experienced and responded to a number of zoonotic epidemics including most recently, to Ebola outbreaks, could be a source of important solutions to quell future outbreaks.
“The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen. “Pandemics are devastating to our lives and our economies, and as we have seen over the past months, it is the poorest and the most vulnerable who suffer the most. To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.”
A “zoonotic disease” or “zoonosis” is a disease that has passed into the human population from an animal source. COVID-19, which has already caused more than half a million deaths around the world, most likely originated in bats. But COVID-19 is only the latest in a growing number of diseases – including Ebola, MERS, West Nile fever and Rift Valley fever – whose spread from animal hosts into human populations has been intensified by anthropogenic pressures.
Every year, some two million people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, die from neglected zoonotic diseases. The same outbreaks can cause severe illness, deaths, and productivity losses among livestock populations in the developing world, a major problem that keeps hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers in severe poverty. In the last two decades alone, zoonotic diseases have caused economic losses of more than $100 billion, not including the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to reach $9 trillion over the next few years.
African countries have an opportunity to lead pandemic prevention efforts
Zoonotic diseases are on the rise everywhere on the planet, and African countries – a number of which have successfully managed deadly zoonotic outbreaks – have the potential to leverage this experience to tackle future outbreaks through approaches that incorporate human, animal and environmental health. The continent is home to a large portion of the world’s remaining intact rainforests and other wild lands. Africa is also home to the world’s fastest-growing human population, leading to an increase in encounters between livestock and wildlife and in turn, the risk of zoonotic diseases.
“The situation on the continent today is ripe for intensifying existing zoonotic diseases and facilitating the emergence and spread of new ones,” said ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith. “But with their experiences with Ebola and other emerging diseases, African countries are demonstrating proactive ways to manage disease outbreaks. They are applying, for example, novel risk-based rather than rule-based approaches to disease control, which are best suited to resource-poor settings, and they are joining up human, animal and environment expertise in proactive One Health initiatives.”
The report’s authors identify the One Health approach -- which unites public health, veterinary and environmental expertise -- as the optimal method for preventing as well as responding to zoonotic disease outbreaks and pandemics.
The report identifies ten practical steps that governments can take to prevent future zoonotic outbreaks: