#UNEP; #UntedStates; #ScienceAdvances; #PlasticPollution; #ClimateChange; #PlasticPollution
Washington, Oct 31 (Canadian-Media): A study published today in the journal Science Advances has revealed that the United States ranks as high as third among countries contributing to coastal plastic pollution when taking into account its scrap plastic exports as well as the latest figures on illegal dumping and littering in the country, UNEP reports said.
Image: A beach in Panama covered in litter. Credit: Ocean Conservancy
The new research challenges the once-held assumption that the United States is adequately "managing"—that is, collecting and properly landfilling, recycling or otherwise containing—its plastic waste. A previous study using 2010 data that did not account for plastic scrap exports had ranked the United States 20th, globally, in its contribution to ocean plastic pollution from mismanaged waste.
Using plastic waste generation data from 2016—the latest available global numbers—scientists from Sea Education Association, DSM Environmental Services, University of Georgia, and Ocean Conservancy calculated that more than half of all plastics collected for recycling (1.99 million metric tons of 3.91 million metric tons collected) in the United States were shipped abroad. Of this, 88% of exports went to countries struggling to effectively manage, recycle, or dispose of plastics; and between 15-25% was low-value or contaminated, meaning it was effectively unrecyclable. Taking these factors into account, the researchers estimated that up to 1 million metric tons of U.S.-generated plastic waste ended up polluting the environment beyond its own borders.
"For years, so much of the plastic we have put into the blue bin has been exported for recycling to countries that struggle to manage their own waste, let alone the vast amounts delivered from the United States," said lead author Dr. Kara Lavender Law, research professor of oceanography at Sea Education Association. "And when you consider how much of our plastic waste isn't actually recyclable because it is low-value, contaminated or difficult to process, it's not surprising that a lot of it ends up polluting the environment."
Schematic diagram illustrating the major quantitative results of the analysis of plastic waste generation in the United States in 2016 and the estimated mass of plastic waste that was mismanaged domestically by littering and illegal dumping and also abroad during processing of material collected for recycling in the United States that was exported to countries with greater than 20% inadequately managed waste. Credit: Law et al., Sci. Adv. 2020
Using 2016 data, the paper also estimated that 2-3% of all plastic waste generated in the U.S. - between 0.91 and 1.25 million metric tons—was either littered or illegally dumped into the environment domestically. Combined with waste exports, this means the United States contributed up to 2.25 million metric tons of plastics into the environment. Of this, up to 1.5 million metric tons of plastics ended up in coastal environments (within 50 km of a coastline), where proximity to the shore increases the likelihood of plastics entering the ocean by wind or through waterways. This ranks the United States as high as third globally in contributing to coastal plastic pollution.
"The United States generates the most plastic waste of any other country in the world, but rather than looking the problem in the eye, we have outsourced it to developing countries and become a top contributor to the ocean plastics crisis," said Nick Mallos, senior director of Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program and a co-author of the study. "The solution has to start at home. We need to create less, by cutting out unnecessary single-use plastics; we need to create better, by developing innovative new ways to package and deliver goods; and where plastics are inevitable, we need to drastically improve our recycling rates."
The study noted that although the United States accounted for just 4% of the global population in 2016, it generated 17% of all plastic waste. On average, Americans generated nearly twice as much plastic waste per capita as residents of the EU.
Shredded rigid plastic drying in the sun on a street in Southeast Asia. Credit: Jenna Jambeck"Previous research has provided global values for plastic input into the environment and coastal areas, but detailed analyses like this one are important for individual countries to further assess their contributions," said Dr. Jenna Jambeck, Distinguished Professor at the University of Georgia's College of Engineering and a co-author of the study. "In the case of the United States, it is critically important that we examine our own backyard and take responsibility for our global plastic footprint."
"For some time, it has been cheaper for the United States to ship its recyclables abroad rather than handle them here at home, but that has come at great cost to our environment," said Natalie Starr, principal at DSM Environmental Services and a co-author of the study. "We need to change the math by investing in recycling technologies and collection programs, as well as accelerating research and development to improve the performance and drive down the costs of more sustainable plastics and packaging alternatives to address the current challenge."
Species that go extinct daily, are to me as precious as any life on another planet, says Yuri Sanada
#NatureConservation; #EnvironmentalBalance; #CasaOrganica; #IMAX; #Ecosystem #AmazonAdventure3; #HenryWalterBates; #CharlesDarvin; #EvolutionTheory;
Canada, Oct 25 (Canadian-Media) : Several conservation-centred projects, as well as self-designed film studio and home, “Casa Orgânica”, sustainably built with recycled materials like old tires and PET bottles, were developed by Brazilian film producer and environmentalist, Yuri Sandra.
Image: Yuri Sanada. Image credit: Screenshot
Yuri Sanada. Image credit: Screenshot
Collaborating with the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Canada, including the first Brazilian IMAX educational film, Amazon Adventure 3D, the studio produced a suite of environmental films.
His latest project was a TV series titled Phoenicians Before the Columbus Expedition, in which a replica of a 600 BC Phoenician ship is sailed from Tunisia to the USA, measuring the number of micro-particles of plastic in the water along the way. Sanada is currently developing his latest film, Amazon River: from Ice to Sea Expedition, and will travel the entire length of the most powerful river on Earth.
Yuri Sanada talks about his projects in the following video:
Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media brings you the excerpts:
To Sanada: Tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on.
Most of our projects and series productions were based on nature, travel, ecotourism, social inclusion, history, and adventure with an important message to preserve the world we live in. Our series about wildlife were produced in different ecosystems, urban families experiencing nature, indigenous tribes, scuba diving destinations, and more. Our co-production with Canada and the UK called Amazon Adventure 3D, the first Brazilian IMAX film, our biggest production is about a young Englishman Henry Walter Bates, who spent 11 years in the forest capturing species, cataloging and sending them to museums and private collections in England. Apart from cataloging 14 thousand species, 8 thousand of which were new to science, and his discovery of the concept of mimicry, he also authenticated Charles Darwin’s unproven theory of evolution by showing the evolution of one species of the butterfly into another.
Amazon Adventure 3D. Image credit: Facebook page
To Sanada: Why do you think it was important to tell the story of Henry Bates?
With his life dedicated to science, Henry Bates felt that filming the story of exhibits in museums around the world would encourage the young to be curious, and would set the stage for future education, research, conservation, and discovery.
He stressed the importance of the Amazon Forest, the single most biodiverse place on the planet for keeping a balanced atmosphere and regulating the climate for the whole South American continent. Treasures hidden deep in the Amazon needs to be researched.
Henry Bates. Image credit: Screenshot
To Sanada: What was the experience of making the film like?
Although being adventurous with actors and not a classic documentary, our film was shot on-site in the Amazon forest to stay as true as possible to the scientific aspects of the story adhering to the demands of the museums for a high level of veracity. We got advice from top scientists from many countries and were permitted by the Natural History Museum in London to use some insects Bates captured in Amazon, to bring them back to Brazil for the filming. Hundreds of people from different countries were involved in the production of the film in Brazil and in England in the forest with no roads. We had to use rivers to transport personnel and equipment with special animal handlers to our locations. My personal favorite experience was traveling for 2 hours on a van with the huge powerful jaguar we used on the film sitting by my side like a kitten.
To Sanada: What other environmental topics have you explored in your projects? What challenges did you face?
In our recently developed project on an archaeological expedition aboard a replica of a 600 BC Phoenician ship with an international crew, we sailed from Tunisia in the North of Africa across the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean until we reached the Caribbean and later Florida in the USA. During the 5-month period of the journey, partnering with the UN Environment Clean Seas Campaign, we promoted the need to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The effect of the plastic we ingest along with seafood is still unknown.
Environmental Clean Seas. Image credit: UNEP
The difficulties we faced while we shot with our utmost efforts for lower carbon footprint productions, were encountering the natural conditions we were subjected to.
To Sanada: What is your message to the people about the Amazon?
The most important thing we need to understand is the dependency of the forest and the river on each other during their formation by different ecosystems and that the disappearance of the Amazon will affect the whole planet. We are developing a series to show, Amazon River: from Ice to Sea, to reveal how Amazon is formed by different ecosystems. Amazon river’s long journey starts in the ice-covered mountains of Peru and travels for almost 7 thousand kilometers until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean during which everything is in balance.
Amazon River. Image credit: Unsplash
We should learn not to disturb or destroy nature to ensure environmental balance. We plan to give for free the solar and pedal-powered boats we are developing for this project to the river communities to promote an affordable alternative to the gasoline outboard engines used on their boats. Fossil fuel not only pollutes their environment but can cost twice as much as the price in urban centers.
To Sanada: What is your advice to those interested in supporting efforts to conserve Amazon?
They need to understand that to prevent the devastating effect on the world by destroying the Amazon, they should get involved with organizations that contribute to the preservation of the Amazon and all of the ecosystems. We can start by acting locally, reducing consumption, producing less garbage, saving water, and denouncing wildlife illegal trade. Instead of concentrating our efforts on trying to find life in the cosmos, we should devote to the preservation of the real wonderful life we already have here. If we don’t learn to respect and protect all animal life on Earth, how can we expect to do better if we find life out there?
#Nairobi; #UNEP; #Africans; #TideTurnersPlasticChallenge; #PlasticPollution
Nairobi/UNEP, Oct 19 (Canadian-Media): More than 400 young Africans were today honoured for their leadership in addressing plastic pollution in their communities as part of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge. At a high-level event, political leaders, senior UN officials and Grammy-nominated Ghanaian musician Rocky Dawuni lauded the leadership shown by young people in global efforts to fight plastic pollution.
Image credit: Twitter handle
The African Youth Summit – Tide Turners Plastic Challenge acknowledged the role of more than 400 champions who have completed all three levels of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge. Participants in the Challenge have shown leadership by raising awareness through social media, championing plastic waste collection campaigns and demonstrating sustainability in their own lives, among other things.
Funded by the United Kingdom for the past two years, the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge has been completed by more than 225,000 young people in over 25 countries, including 50,000 in Africa. The challenge takes the participants on a learning journey consisting of three different levels: entry, leader, and champion.
More than 1,500 young people attended the Summit, organised by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the World Organization of the Scout Movement and Junior Achievement Africa.
"As a former Girl Guide, I am very proud of Tide Turners and all the inspiring young people who are part of it; so far, more than 50,000 young people in 18 countries across Africa have joined this important programme. Let's continue this momentum, adding seven more countries to reach youth in nearly half of all African countries,” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.
The Summit which took place alongside the Scouts during their annual Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet event (JOTA-JOTI) to share lessons from the actions young people have taken to fight plastic pollution and become environmental leaders in their communities. Six young changemakers shared their stories about how they went about provoking change and inspiring their peers to join them in taking action on plastic pollution.
“The Tide Turners Plastic Challenge gave me a great platform to pass on the message against plastic waste and share my solutions,” said Fyona Seesurrun, a 22-year old student from Mauritius, one of the champions who was honoured at the summit.
“100,000 mammals and one million birds die every year from eating or getting tangled in plastic in the ocean. If we do nothing, the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to treble by 2025. We must take collective action now. The Tide Turners are a force to be reckoned with, inspiring a whole new generation of leaders to tackle plastic pollution within their communities. That’s why the UK is supporting the UNEP to extend the work of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge to a further 20 countries around the world”, said Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment.
Grammy-nominated Ghanaian musician Rocky Dawuni – a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador – also addressed the young people at the Summit and serenaded guests with hits including “Rock Your Soul”.
The Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge is the first ever Scout and Girl Guide Badge made from recycled plastic; the Challenge has been integrated into a new digital platform for World Scouting’s new environmental education initiative: Earth Tribe, which unites 54 million Scouts in a global youth movement for the environment, and offers young people the opportunity to learn and act on key environmental issues that are affecting their communities.
In 2021, organisers will be adding a new element to the badge which will focus on influencing policy and practice change.
Each year, more than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries, and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. World production of plastic materials in 2018 was estimated at 359 million tonnes and by 2040, the amount of plastic going into our oceans could triple.
#Geneva; #UNEP; #IPCC; #GHG; #2025TargetSettingProtocol
Geneva, UNEP, Oct 13 (Canadian-Media): Thirty of the world’s largest investors with $5 trillion assets under management have collectively agreed on concrete portfolio decarbonization targets that follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 °C scenario for the next five years.
UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance members will implement deep greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in the 16% to 29% range by 2025 from 2019, amid likely rising global emissions in the same period.
Published for public consultation, the 2025 Target Setting Protocol lays out plans for this substantial decoupling of asset owners’ portfolio GHG emissions from the global economy. The Protocol is integral to coherent and comprehensive plans to reduce emissions, increase investment in the net-zero emissions transition and enhance influence on markets and government policies.
With this Protocol, Alliance members are sounding a very loud signal to the thousands of companies they own that deep emissions cuts are required. They will work with those willing to adjust their business models, and do not wish to engage in a divestment exercise. In order for their efforts to be met with success, substantial government action is required.
In the first quarter of 2021, individual Alliance members will set their own portfolio targets from different starting points with respect to the level of carbon emissions currently contained within their portfolios. Several Alliance members will set large reduction targets, while others have already made substantial progress in their journey to net-zero, therefore the reductions required for their portfolios will be at the lower end of the range, while for some a lower 2025 target may reflect geographic or policy constraint that require them to decarbonize more slowly in early years.
The Protocol was constructed to allow Alliance members to employ the combination of approaches that best supports their unique decarbonisation and engagement strategies and acknowledges their different carbon levels as of today. Each member is unique and as such may identify unique levers that exist within their institutions for accelerating decarbonisation. They also have different investment scopes, strategies, internal governance structures and levels of exposure to certain high-emitting sectors
In this way the Alliance members aim to have “transparent, and unique” targets, which suit individual institutions, but which can also be aggregated such that progress for individual members and for the Alliance as a whole can be tracked and reported transparently.
The first steps towards Alliance commitments are twofold: transitioning investment portfolios to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050; and achieving this through advocating for, and engaging on corporate action, as well as public policies, for the low-carbon transition of economic sectors in line with science and under consideration of social impacts. Defining net-zero pathways must take both goals into account, while also considering implications for a just transition.
Engagement with portfolio companies is a core component to assure that not only the Alliance members’ portfolios transition to net-zero, but that the Alliance members also have an impact on the real economy. Although decarbonization of portfolios could be easily achieved by selling carbon intensive investments, it is highly questionable if such actions alone would have a positive impact on the real economy. Additionally, it might undermine Alliance members ability to engage with these corporate to effect reductions in the real economy.
“Alliance members start out by changing themselves and then reach out to various companies to work on the change of their businesses” said Günther Thallinger, Alliance Chair and Member of the Board of Management, Allianz SE.
“Reaching net-zero is not simply reducing emissions and carrying on with the business models of today. There are profound changes and opportunities that will come from the net-zero economy, we see new business opportunities and strong wins for those who are ready to lead,” he adds.
Eric Usher, Head of UNEP FI, said: “According to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, every year of postponed emissions peak means that deeper and faster cuts will be required. The Target-Setting Protocol represents world-leading progress on the required emissions reductions from some of the biggest investors in the world.”
“Establishing firm interim portfolio decarbonization targets is key to meeting the Paris climate commitments. From a membership of 12 asset owners at launch over a year ago, to 30 and counting, means the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, a joint initiative of the PRI and UNEP FI, can have a huge impact on the way companies manage the carbon footprint of their operations” said Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
New UNEP report lights the way for financial institutions to shift to more sustainable circular economies
#Geneva; #UN; #EnvionmentReport; #UNEPFI; #CircularEconomy; #UNEP
Geneva, 13 Oct (Canadian-Media): Financiers can and must make the shift to circularity, ensuring the consumption and production patterns of the businesses they invest in make more efficient use of resources and minimize waste, pollution and carbon emissions, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).
Image credit: Pixabay / 13 Oct 2020
The move to circular economies could generate USD 4.5 trillion in annual economic output by 2030 while helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, protect the health of our ecosystems and enable sustainable recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks, insurers and investors can play a critical role by providing businesses with financial products that contribute to the circular economy, conserve natural resources and avoid or reduce waste. Financial institutions currently lack awareness of circularity as well as the expertise, products and services to harness business opportunities.
“The economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to stimulate the urgent transition to more sustainable consumption and production. We need both the private and public sectors to transform our economies to address climate change, reduce pollution and improve resource efficiency. Collective action is critical to delivering on the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “The financial sector and policymakers in particular have a central role to play in the shift from linear, wasteful growth to embedding circularity in finance and our economies.”
The growth of circular business models will require structural and technological change, including innovation in the design and manufacturing of products and services; reducing inputs to agriculture; cutting food waste and using digital technologies to increase transparency and sustainability in supply chains. The financial institutions surveyed for the report recognized that there are opportunities to boost circularity in the buildings and construction, food and agriculture, chemicals and electronics sectors in particular. The report explores transitions already underway in these sectors, as well as in manufacturing, apparel and fashion, mining and energy and cross-cutting innovation in areas such as digital technology.
It outlines a number of recommendations for financial institutions to boost circularity:
Swedish Insurance Fintech Omocon has developed a microinsurance product for the sharing economy, involving shareable goods rented out on a platform. The product protects the owner of a shareable good or asset that needs protection against damage. Omocom collects data on the sharing platform to look into the usage statistics of sharing transactions to calculate risk and price insurance. This has changed the underwriting process and claims processes.
The report also identifies the need for governments to provide the financial sector with incentives and an enabling policy and legislative framework to accelerate the integration of circularity into financial products and services. Recommendations for policymakers, financial industry regulators and supervisors to address barriers and stimulate opportunities include: integrating measures to catalyze a just transition to a circular economy into climate policies, rules and regulations, implementing COVID-19 recovery strategies that embed circularity in economic growth and focus on a resilient and inclusive recovery, and implementing policies, laws and related instruments to address systemic barriers to circularity and create incentives.
#UN; #ClimateChange; #Covid19Pandemic; #DecarbonizingGlobalEconomy;
UN, Oct 13 (Canadian-Media): With nations striving to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts, efforts must focus on decarbonizing the global economy and building a more inclusive and resilient future, the UN Secretary-General said on Monday.
In Bhutan, farmers are working hard to adapt to climate change. Image credit: UNDP Bhutan
Addressing the fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, via a video message, Secretary-General António Guterres urged greater leadership and vision.
“Your recovery plans will determine the course of the next 30 years”, he said.
“We need speed, scale, and decisive leadership. I count on this coalition to rise to the challenge.”
The meeting brought together top officials from around the world to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fiscal policies related to climate change.
‘Advocates for green recovery’
The Secretary-General called on the ministers to serve as models and advocates for a green recovery, noting the need for governments to align COVID recovery and stimulus plans with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
We need speed, scale, and decisive leadership. I count on this coalition to rise to the challenge - UN chief Guterres
“That means investing in green and decent jobs. Do not bail out polluting industries. End fossil-fuel subsidies. And take climate risks into account in all financial and policy decisions”, said Mr. Guterres, welcoming steps to embed climate goals into macroeconomic policies and recovery measures.
Alongside, the UN chief also called for sharp and permanent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Coal should not be part of any recovery plans”, he stressed.
Carbon neutrality before 2050
Coal mines outside Samaca, Colombia., by World BankMr. Guterres also called on finance ministers to commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and to submit more ambitious nationally determined contributions before the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), to be held in Glasgow in November 2021, after being postponed this year due to the pandemic.
“We need all of you, through your NDCs and Net Zero plans, to send a clear and unambiguous signal to markets that the decarbonization of the global economy is inevitable”, he added, referring to the Nationally Determined Contributions – what each country will do to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Mr. Guterres also called on the ministers, together with central banks and financial regulators to ensure that every financial decision takes climate risks and opportunities into account.
This includes improving the quality and quantity of climate-related financial disclosures, ensuring that the financial sector can measure and manage climate-related financial risks and creating approaches and frameworks for measuring portfolio alignment with the transition to net zero, he explained.
Use your voice and vote
In his address, the Secretary-General also underlined the importance of international cooperation and solidarity in recovery efforts.
Noting their important role in national, regional and multilateral development finance institutions as well as in shaping their strategic direction, Mr. Guterres called on the finance ministers to use their “voice and voting power” to ensure that by COP26, these institutions agree to align their policies, portfolios and pipelines with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement.
“This will mean an end to new coal power plants and a phasing out of fossil fuel investments; more ambitious climate finance goals and targets; increased support for adaptation and resilience for the most vulnerable; and rapidly scaled up investments in renewable energy,” underlined Mr. Guterres.
#UN; #EnvironmentChange; #ClimateChange; #ClimateServices
UN, Oct 13 (Canadian-Media): Extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, intensity and severity as a result of climate change, hitting vulnerable communities disproportionately hard, a new UN report has revealed, calling for greater investment in effective early warning systems.
The State of Climate Services 2020 Report: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action, released on Tuesday by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), underscored the need to switch to impact-based forecasting – an evolution from “what the weather will be” to “what the weather will do” so that people and businesses can act early, based on the warnings.
Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods – WMO Secretary-General
“Early warning systems constitute a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere,” Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of WMO, said in a foreword to the report.
He also highlighted that while it could take years to recover from the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come.
“Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” added Mr. Taalas.
Challenges in small islands, developing countries Globally over the past 50 years, some 11,000 disasters, attributed to weather, climate and water-related hazards, claimed over 2 million lives and cost the world economy $3.6 trillion, according to WMO.
In 2018 alone, storms, floods, droughts and wildfires left some 108 million people in need of international humanitarian assistance. By 2030, this number could increase by almost 50 per cent at a cost of around $20 billion a year.
In spite of the alarming figures, one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems, with communities in Africa, least developed countries and small island developing States most affected, the UN agency added, citing challenges such as weak dissemination of early warning, inadequate observing networks, and insufficient capacity to translate early warning into early action.
Children and adults make their way, on foot and in rafts, through flooded streets to higher ground at a highway median, in eastern Jakarta, Indonesia. (January 2013) UNICEF/Estey
Making early warning systems more effective The report outlines six key recommendations to improve the implementation and effectiveness of early warning systems, globally:
#UN; #ClimateChange; #Covid19
UN, Oct 12 (Canadian-Media): The first 20 years of this century have seen a “staggering” rise in climate disasters, UN researchers said on Monday, while also maintaining that “almost all nations” have failed to prevent a “wave of death and illness” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extreme weather events are devastating many countries, including Fiji which was hit by a cyclone in 2016.iMAGE CREDIT: OCHA/Danielle Parry
In an urgent call for countries to prepare better for all catastrophic events – from earthquakes and tsunamis to biological threats such as the new coronavirus – data from the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) indicates that wealthy nations have done little to tackle the harmful emissions that are linked to climate threats which make up the bulk of disasters today.
Short odds “Disaster management agencies have succeeded in saving many lives through improved preparedness and the dedication of staff and volunteers. But the odds continue to be stacked against them, in particular by industrial nations that are failing miserably on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mami Mizutori, UNDRR chief, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
According to the UNDRR report - produced with Belgium’s Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCLouvain - there were 7,348 recorded disaster events worldwide, during the last two decades.
Approximately 1.23 million people died – approximately 60,000 per year – with more than four billion affected in total; many more than once.
These two decades of disaster also caused $2.97 trillion in losses to the global economy, with data also indicating that poorer nations experienced deaths rates more than four times higher than richer nations.
By comparison, the previous 20-year period (1980 to 1999) saw 4,212 reported disasters from natural hazards, with 1.19 million deaths, more than three billion people affected and economic losses totalling $ 1.63 trillion.
Climate danger spike Although better recording and reporting of disasters may help explain some of the increase in the last two decades, researchers insisted that the significant rise in climate-related emergencies was the main reason for the spike, with floods accounting for more than 40 per cent of disasters – affecting 1.65 billion people - storms 28 per cent, earthquakes (eight per cent) and extreme temperatures (six per cent).
“This is clear evidence that in a world where the global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, the impacts are being felt in the increased frequency of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires,” UNDRR reported .
Despite the pledge made by the international community in Paris in 2015 to reduce global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Ms. Mizutori added that it was “baffling” that nations were continuing knowingly “to sow the seeds of our own destruction, despite the science and evidence that we are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people”.
COVID-19 exposure Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has “laid bare many shortcomings in disaster risk management (despite) repeated warnings”, the UNDRR report recommended urgent action from Governments to better manage such overlapping disasters.
These hazards included known “risk drivers”, such as poverty, climate change, air pollution, population growth in dangerous locations, uncontrolled urbanization and the loss of biodiversity.
Chronic needs By way of an example of chronic weather risks which should be the focus of better national preparedness measures, the agency pointed that shifting rainfall patterns pose a risk to the 70 per cent of global agriculture that relies on rain and the 1.3 billion people dependent on degrading agricultural land.
Despite the fact that extreme weather events have become so regular in last 20 years, only 93 countries have implemented disaster risk strategies at a national level ahead of the end-of-year deadline, Ms. Mizutori said.
“Disaster risk governance depends on political leadership above all, and delivery on the promises made when the Paris agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction were adopted,” she said. “But the sad fact is that we are wilfully destructive. And that is the conclusion of this report; COVID-19 is but the latest proof that politicians and business leaders have yet to tune into the world around them.”
She added: “It really is all about governance if we want to deliver this planet from the scourge of poverty, further loss of species and biodiversity, the explosion of urban risk and the worst consequences of global warming”, in a joint statement with UCLouvain’s Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir.
Although the UNDRR report indicates that there has been some success in protecting vulnerable communities from isolated hazards, thanks to more effective early warning systems, disaster preparedness and response, projected global temperature rises could make these improvements “obsolete in many countries”, the agency warned.
Currently, the world is on course for a temperature increase of 3.2 degrees Celsius or more, unless industrialised nations can deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 7.2 per cent annually over the next 10 years in order to achieve the 1.5 degree target agreed in Paris.
#Nairobi; #Chicago; #UNEP; #WorldReligions; #EarthWebsite; #ProtectingEarth
Nairobi/Chicago/UNEP, Oct 8 (Canadian-Media): The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Parliament of the World’s Religions today released a new book, "Faith for Earth — A Call for Action", which gives readers a wide-ranging look at the history and diversity of faith teachings and their advocacy for the protection of the environment.
The online book and its print edition were launched today during the Faith for Nature Global Conference, (5th - 8th October) in Skálhol, Iceland.
The book provides a comprehensive overview of the faith traditions and scientific findings that underpin the understandings and reflections of world religions concerning environmental sustainability. It includes clear statements from sacred scripts and faith leaders.
It underlines that protecting the Earth, restoring ecosystems, preventing pollution, and leaving behind a healthy environment for the next generations is an ethical, moral and spiritual responsibility. With more than one hundred million houses of worship around the globe, adapting green building principles is a massive demonstration of commitment to sustainability.
“Our challenge is not that we don’t know what to do—it’s how quickly we can do it. We’re in a race against time that will require political will, innovation, inclusion, tolerance, values and ethics, financing, and partnerships,” Iyad Abumoghli, Director of UNEP’s Faith for Earth Initiative.
“We’re calling on everyone – countries, cities, the private sector, individuals, and faith-based organizations to become part of the flourishing global interfaith movement that is increasingly bringing people together to protect and sustain life on Earth”, he added. “We hope the book will give people information and inspiration to learn more about our planet and become part of the flourishing global interfaith movement that is increasingly bringing people together to protect and sustain life on Earth.”
“A majority of people today remain unfamiliar with religious teachings about valuing and caring for the natural world, especially teachings of traditions other than their own,” said Kusumita P. Pedersen, the book’s faith section author. “Faith for Earth can serve as a tool for increasing awareness, communication, and advocacy in both formal and informal ways.”
David Hales, Chair of Climate Action at the Parliament and author of the book’s environmental section, considers that the decades ahead are a “crucible of moral choices.”
“For half a century, we’ve known that the choices we make will have serious consequences for the world of the future and for our children and grandchildren,” he said.
“We are the first generation in human history that has the opportunity to achieve sustainable and just societies,” he added. “To realize our opportunity, we have to choose responsibility — not just say we choose it — but commit to developing the capacity — at every level — to understand the material, physical, and moral consequences of the choices we make. Our choices will determine the future of the planet.”
Faith for Earth was written and edited in consultation with dozens of faith leaders and religious scholars, and with scientific review from UNEP program directors, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication.
The online edition of Faith for Earth is available as a free download at UNEP’s Faith for Earth website and through the Parliament’s Climate Action website, and includes links to scores of interactive features, resources, and real-time information about global environmental trends.
Funding for Faith for Earth was provided by UNEP, the Thomas Berry Foundation, and Sikh Gurdwara San Jose, with additional support from individual donors.
Sudan launches first-ever State of the Environment and Outlook report to help guide peace and sustainable development
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Khartoum/UN, Oct 11 (Canadian-Media): The Government of Sudan and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today jointly launched the first-ever State of the Environment and Outlook Report for the Republic of Sudan under the theme of Environment for Peace and Sustainable Development.
This report’s launch comes as Sudan works to improve its political and economic systems to further economic and social progress following the country’s historical revolution and the 3 October 2020 signing of a peace agreement. Sudan’s efforts to rebuild present a fresh opportunity to ensure that environmental concerns are factored into the country's transition to freedom, justice, peace and growth.
"The theme of this report – Environment for Peace and Sustainable Development – is aptly chosen not only because it highlights the intricate nature of the nexus between environment, peace and sustainable development, but also because it comes at a time when the new Sudan seeks peaceful rebuilding of the nation, the establishment of a vibrant economy, and a politically stable future under the emblem of the December 2019 Revolution: Freedom, Peace, and Justice," said Prime Minister of Sudan Abdalla Hamdok. “Sudan aspires to utilise its rich natural resources for the welfare of its current and future generations.”
The State of the Environment and Outlook Report comprises ten comprehensive chapters with facts and figures on the state and trend of the environment of Sudan from 2011 to 2020. The report also contains an outlook section which provides an environmental vision to which the country can aspire in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The report highlights the following needs:
The report looks at Sudan’s specific environmental challenges in detail, covering a multitude of issues from deforestation and land degradation to waste management to food security. It provides detailed facts and figures collected from a broad spectrum of institutions, officials, experts and stakeholders.
For instance, the report warns that an almost 30% population increase by the year 2030, will lead to a substantial rise in the number of people migrating from rural areas to cities in search of food, water, housing, and other services. This could add more pressure on Sudan’s natural resources, causing significant environmental consequences.
The final chapter of the report explores policy options for a sustainable and peaceful future for Sudan. Two possible future scenarios depicted in the report – Business as Usual and Bending the Curve – demonstrate the differences between a future following the country’s current development path without intervention, and one following more sustainable environment conservation and better natural resources management.
Some of the report’s policy options include: