#UN; #UNGA; #Covid19Pandemic; #UNSDGs; #SDGs; #Bodiversity; #Gender
UN, Sep 6 (Canadian-Media): The 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA) session, begins on 15 September and this year, due to the ongoing global pandemic, it will be unlike any other in the organization’s three quarters of a century of existence.
A cleaning crew member operates a mopping vehicle inside the General Assembly Hall. Image credit: N Photo/Manuel Elias
his month, there will be no bumping into presidents or the occasional global celebrity in hectic and sometimes crushed corridors at UN Headquarters in New York.
There will be no marvelling at seemingly endless presidential motorcades on First Avenue and no “standing-room only” moments in the gilded General Assembly Hall, as the Organization’s busiest time of the year is reimagined in the time of COVID-19.
Most leaders will not be appearing in person and meetings are going virtual, but that’s not to say that the wheels of global diplomacy and sustainable development will not be turning at the usual speed.
Here are five things to look out for at UNGA 75.
1) Presidents and Heads of State calling in speeches
The centrepiece of any new General Assembly (often shortened to GA) session, is undoubtedly the General Debate, which starts on 22 September, a week after the official opening.
It’s a globally unique occasion at which presidents and heads of state (or sometimes their deputies or foreign ministers) take to the dais, and address a world audience on an issue of their choosing. This year, because of the pandemic, world leaders will be staying away and have been invited to send in pre-recorded videos of their speeches which will be broadcast “as live”.
Speeches are expected to be introduced by a New York-based representative of each state, who will be physically present.
However, any world leader has the right to turn up in person, to deliver his or her keynote address, an opportunity that at least one president seeking re-election this year, is reported to be mulling over.
Read more here about the first virtual GA.
2) Celebrating 75 years
The United Nations was established in 1945 and has been marking its 75th anniversary with what the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called an extended “people’s debate” which “promises to be the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation ever on building the future we want.”
An event at UN headquarters on 21 September to celebrate the milestone (which will also take place online and remotely) will aim to “generate renewed support for multilateralism”; an issue many believe has become ever more urgent as the world faces up to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s expected that the Secretary-General will address, in person, the High-Level event to mark the 75th anniversary in the GA Hall.
Read more here about the role of youth leaders in fashioning a UN fit for their future.
3) ‘Transforming the world’ through Sustainable Development
The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs - the 17 internationally agreed targets to reduce poverty and maintain peace, whilst protecting the planet - have remained at the top of the UN’s agenda during 2020, with many arguing, including the UN Deputy Secretary-General, that the pandemic has only underlined more forcefully why they are so important.
At the 75th GA session, the SDGs will be put under the spotlight in what is being described as a “first of its kind 30-minute global broadcast”, created by writer and director, and SDG advocate, Richard Curtis, which will take audiences across the world “on a dynamic exploration of the times we live in, the multiple tipping points our planet faces, and the interventions that could transform our world” up to 2030, when, it’s hoped, the SDG targets will be met.
Meanwhile, the SDG Action Zone, which, in past years, has provided a focal point and meeting place at UN Headquarters to promote the global sustainable development agenda, is moving online with appearances from “inspirational leaders” promised on the bill. And the UN will also be partnering with the Al Jazeera English flagship social media show, The Stream, in a series of discussions around the SDGs.
4) Facing up to ‘unprecedented loss’ of global biodiversity
Earth’s biodiversity, its rich variety of life, is declining at what the UN has warned “an unprecedented rate.” Over one million species are at risk of extinction, two billion hectares of land are currently degraded and 66 per cent of oceans, 50 per cent of coral reefs and 85 per cent of wetlands have been significantly and negatively altered by human activity.
A major international summit to discuss how to reverse the accelerating deterioration of the natural environment and how it is harmfully impacting people’s lives was due to be held this year in Kunming, China, but it has now been postponed until May 2021.
In the meantime, a day of virtual meetings will be taking place under the auspices of the General Assembly on September 30. Meanwhile, look out for the 2020 Biodiversity Outlook published on 15 September.
5) Gender: 25 years after Beijing
Progress on gender equality and women’s rights has been severely impacted by COVID-19, as women and girls suffer a disproportionate social and economic fallout according to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
On 1 October, this and other issues relating to gender equality and empowerment are due to be discussed at the UN in the context of the 25th anniversary of the internationally agreed Beijing Platform for Action which is widely acknowledged as the most comprehensive and forward-looking plan for advancing the rights of women and girls.
Look out for the first ever International Equal Pay Day on 18 September which focuses on aligning pay between men and women.
And one more…happy New Yorkers
Not strictly part of the General Assembly, but inextricably linked; many New Yorkers dread the opening of the new GA session every September which brings the closing of streets, presidential-motorcade-induced traffic jams on First Avenue and the surrounding Midtown area, and enervating disruptions to general life.
This year, while world leaders stay away, New Yorkers, despite the severe, ongoing challenges of the pandemic, which include billions of dollars in lost revenue from visitors and tourists, will no doubt enjoy a respite from the week or ten days when a small part of their global city is given over to presidents and heads of State.
#UN; #Asia; #Pacific; #ChronicUnderNourishment; #FoodSecurity; #FAO
UN, Sep 6 (Canadian-Media): Transforming food systems in Asia and the Pacific to make them more sustainable, resilient and productive, is vital for countries to rebound from the impact of COVID-19 and address chronic undernourishment, a UN regional forum on food security has heard.
Gathered virtually at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s thirty-fifth Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, governments, civil society organizations and the private sector highlighted the importance of innovation, solidarity, coherence and partnerships among and within countries.
A tea grower walks through a tea garden in Viet Nam where sustainable farming techniques are used to prevent land degradation.
Image credit: UNEP/Lisa Murray
Big data, digital economy and mobile technology will help producers achieve such transformations, Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General said on Friday, the Conference’s final day.
For instance, a smartphone in the hands of a smallholder farmer is a “new farming tool”, he added.
“Leveraging data, innovation and technology has shown that, here in Asia and the Pacific, we have brilliant minds, scientists and an entrepreneurial spirit that will lead us through the challenges presented by COVID-19 and help us conquer malnutrition and poverty,” said Mr. Qu.
Agricultural innovation can also reduce back-breaking drudgery, and regional food chains can benefit from innovations such as drones, satellite imagery, big data and block chains, the Conference heard.
The Regional Conferences, held every two years, are a platform for ministers of agriculture and senior officials, NGOs, private sector and other stakeholders in the field to explore joint and coherent solutions to shared challenges confronting food security and agriculture. The 2020 Regional Conference was held from 1 to 4 September.
COVID upended efforts to fight hunger According to FAO, the Asia-Pacific region – the planet’s most populous – is also home to over half of the world’s undernourished people, and the number is feared to rise, with the impact of COVID-19. In southern Asia alone, the figure could rise by a third, to some 330 million in the next decade.
Conference Chair Yeshey Penjor, Minister for Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan, reiterated the need to strengthen collaboration to deal with the challenges.
“We must prepare for higher risks ahead of us and make sure that there is sustainability in the food supply chain,” he said.
Working ‘Hand in Hand’
New solutions, such as the FAO’s Hand in Hand Initiative, which “matches” stakeholders, bringing the right partners together at the right time, can help.
According to FAO, some 44 countries with limited capacity or hit by crisis have been invited to join the Initiative as beneficiaries, 80 as contributors, and some 20 have expressed interest to join as both.
The rollout of the Initiative coincided with the onset of COVID-19 and the urgent need to deal with its complex impacts on agri-food systems, said FAO, adding that the Initiative is helping support evidence-based efforts to prevent breakdown of and address emerging threats to food systems.
“The HIH approach to analysis and partnership-building has proven to be a useful model for coordinating integrated rapid response to COVID-19 impacts on food systems, particularly at the local or territorial level,” it added.
FAO Director-General Qu also said that while the COVID-19 has hit countries and societies, innovations are bringing people closer together.
“So while we are separated by some 11 time zones, we have still managed to come together, have thought-provoking discussions and reach consensus on a number of important issues,” he concluded.
#UN; #FoodSystem; #Africa; #SDGs; #UNSDGs; #EndHunger; #farming
UN, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): Agnes Kalibata, the former Rwandan Minister for Agriculture, has been tasked with leading the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit. In an interview with UN News, she outlined her vision for a transformed international system that is more resilient, fairer, and less harmful to the planet.
Food systems involve all the stages that lead up to the point when we consume food, including the way it is produced, transported, and sold. Launching a policy brief on food security in June, UN chief António Guterres warned of an “impending food emergency”, unless immediate action is taken.
Ms. Kalibata told UN News that her commitment to improving food systems is closely linked to her early life as the daughter of refugees.
“I was born in a refugee camp in Uganda, because my Rwandan parents were forced to leave their home around the time of colonial independence in the early 60s.
Thanks to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), were given land, which allowed my parents to farm, buy a few cows, and make enough money to send me and my siblings to school. This allowed me to experience, first-hand, how agriculture, in a functioning food system, can provide huge opportunities for smallholder communities.
I took this appreciation with me when I eventually returned to Rwanda, as Minister for Agriculture, working with smallholders and seeing them grab every opportunity to turn their lives around against all odds. This was probably the most fulfilling period in my life.
But, I have also seen what can happen when threats like climate change, conflict and even more recently, a pandemic like Covid 19, hit the world's farmers, especially those who are smallholders, like my parents were.
As a daughter of farmers, I understand how much people can suffer, because of systems that are breaking down. I often reflect that I, and other children of farmers my age that made it through school, were the lucky ones because climate change hits small farmers the hardest, destroying their capacities to cope.
My experience has shown me that, when food systems function well, agriculture can provide huge opportunities for smallholder communities. I am a product of functional food systems, and I am fully convinced of the power of food systems to transform lives of smallholder households and communities, and bring about changes to entire economies.
I’m extremely passionate about ending hunger in our lifetime: I believe it’s a solvable problem. I don’t understand why 690 million people are still going to bed hungry, amidst so much plenty in our world, and with all the knowledge , technology and resources.
I have made it my mission to understand why this is the case, and how we can overcome the challenges we see along the way. That is why I gladly accepted the offer by the UN Secretary General to be his Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit.
Why food systems need to change
Today’s food systems do not respond to what we need as people. The cause of death for one in three people around the world is related to what they eat. Two billion people are obese, one trillion dollars’ worth of food is wasted every year, yet many millions still go hungry.
Food systems have an impact on the climate. They are responsible for around one third of harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, which is interfering massively in our ability to produce food, upending farmers’ lives, and making the seasons harder to predict.
We have built up a lot of knowledge around the things that we’re doing wrong, and we have the technology to allow us to do things differently, and better. This isn’t rocket science: it’s mostly a question of mobilizing energy, and securing political commitment for change.
Galvanise and engage
The main impetus behind the Food Summit is the fact that the we are off track with all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that relate to food systems, principally ending poverty and hunger, and action on the climate and environment.
We want to use the Summit to galvanise and engage people, raising awareness about the elements that are broken, and what we need to change; to recognize that we’re way off track with the SDGs, and raise our ambitions; and to secure firm commitments to actions that will transform our current food systems for the better.
Pulling together the UN System
The UN system is already doing a lot of work in this area, and we’ve pulled together several agencies and bodies to support the Summit.
We have formed a UN Task Force to channel the existing research, so that nothing falls through the cracks, which will work closely with a core group of experts we have assembled, which is looking at scientific data pooled from institutions all around the world. At the same time, we are examining national food systems, to see what is and isn’t working.
We are going to pool all the information, evidence and ideas we receive, and create a vision for a future food system that benefits all."
At a briefing on the Food Systems Summit held on Friday, Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, noted that a transition to more sustainable systems is already underway, with countries beginning to “take action and change behaviours in support of a new vision of how food arrives on our plate.”
UN Member States, she continued, are increasingly aware that food systems are “one of the most powerful links between humans and the planet”, and bringing about a world that "enhances inclusive economic growth and opportunity, while also safeguarding biodiversity and the global ecosystems that sustain life. "
The Summit objectives
#UN; #ClimateDevelopment; #SDGs; #YoungPeople
UN, Sep 2 (Canadian-Media): Without harnessing the energy, tech savvy and optimism of young people, the world has no hope of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Paris Agreement on climate change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday.
Students use laptop computers provided by UNICEF at a secondary school in Sana’a Governorate, Yemen. © UNICEF/Hani Alansi
Addressing leaders from Government, business and multilateral agencies during a high-level event on Generation Unlimited - a global partnership to help 10 to 24 year-olds access education, training and job opportunities – the UN chief said COVID-19 has exposed inequalities that have been allowed to persist for far too long.
‘Crisis within a crisis’
“The situation of children and young people is a crisis within a crisis,” he said. “My generation has failed to respond properly to the global challenges we face.”
Held online, under the theme, “Connecting Half the World to Opportunities”, participants pledged to reach 3.5 billion children and young people with quality education - including world-class digital solutions, distance learning and skilling, by 2030.
Noting that before the pandemic, one-fifth of young people were not in employment, education or training, Mr. Guterres said that one-third of them now lack access to remote learning. Children from the poorest households and those in rural areas are the most likely to miss out.
A call for education, digital tech investments
Education and digital technology are two of the most important investments that can be made as countries respond to COVID-19 and lay the foundations for a strong recovery.
The UN chief said investing in digital learning and training for young people is essential for building social cohesion and reducing the inequities that block human development.
These investments cannot be top-down, he assured. “Those days are over.” Young people themselves must be at the forefront, making decisions and bringing their problem-solving skills to bear on the world’s most serious problems.
“I particularly encourage young women to speak and look forward to hearing from you”, he emphasized.
He said Generation Unlimited was building resources and networks to help young people realize their dreams. Its goal: to help every young person - regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, sex or ability – access the Internet and opportunities for education, training and entrepreneurship
UN agencies and partners in the public, private and civil society sectors are already working with young people to scale up innovations. “We have made a strong start,” he said. “Today’s meeting is about exploring ways to take this work to the next level.
10-year countdown begins
With 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, he called for strengthening links across sectors and rallying investment over the next year.
Large-scale financial and political resources must be marshalled by advanced and emerging economies, as well as international agencies. The private sector can step in to invest in shared-value partnerships, and foundations to provide catalytic funding.
The groundwork for these ambitious efforts must be laid at the country level – with young people and national partners in the lead. “I urge everyone here to play their full part, through technology, know-how, leadership or finance”, he said.
#UN; #UNICEF; #ChildWellBeing; #Covid19
UN, Sep 2 (Canadian-Media): Children in the world’s richest countries are grappling with mental health concerns, obesity and poor social and academic skills, according to a new study published on Thursday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
On the afternoon of Friday, 3 April 2020 in Madrid, Spain, Ruben, 4, and his little sister play while their mother, Daniela, gets in a little work.
Image credit: © UNICEF/Sergio Robles
The report by UNICEF’s Office of Research Innocenti, urges governments to improve and protect child well-being in the face of the economic, social and educational fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of the world’s richest countries – which have the resources they need to provide good childhoods for all – are failing children”, said Gunilla Olsson, Director of the research office, which is located in Florence, Italy.
“Unless governments take rapid and decisive action to protect child well-being as part of their pandemic responses, we can continue to expect soaring child poverty rates, deteriorating mental and physical health, and a deepening skill divide among children.”
Annual report card
The study is the latest in UNICEF’s Report Card Series, now in its 20th year, which ranks countries in the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) on childhood.
Worlds of Influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries uses pre-pandemic data from 41 nations on children’s mental health, physical health, and academic and social skills.
The report suggests that among these countries, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are the best places to be a child.
Researchers also ranked countries based on their policies that support child well-being and other factors including the economy, society and environment, with Norway, Iceland and Finland topping the list.
Unhappy young lives
Key findings from the report include that in most countries, less than four-fifths of children, report being satisfied with their lives. Turkey posted the lowest rate of satisfaction, followed by Japan and the United Kingdom.
Significantly poorer” mental health rates were found among children from less supportive families or those who are being bullied.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among people aged 15-19 years in rich countries, with Lithuania, New Zealand and Estonia recording the highest rate of young people who take their own lives.
Obesity on the rise
Overweight and obesity rates have risen in recent years, according to the report. Roughly one in three children in the EU and OECD nations are either obese or overweight, with rates in Southern Europe sharply increasing.
Researchers further found that on average, 40 per cent of children do not have basic reading and maths skills by age 15. Children in Bulgaria, Romania and Chile were deemed the least proficient.
Additionally, at least one in five children lack confidence in their social skills to make new friends, with children in Chile, Japan and Iceland listed as the least confident in this area.
The pandemic threat
Despite also highlighting progress in child well-being, such as the 95 per cent enrollment rate for pre-school aged learners, the authors fear COVID-19 could rollback these “important gains”.
Due to the pandemic, most children were kept out of school for more than 100 days, and young lives were impacted by stressors such as loss of family members and friends, poor access to healthcare, and lack of support, combined with economic loss.
With GDP expected to fall in practically all of the countries studied, UNICEF warned that child poverty rates will rise unless governments take immediate remedial action.
“As the economic, educational and social fallout of the pandemic continues to take hold, without concerted effort, there will be a worsening, devastating impact on the well-being of today’s children, their families and the societies they live in,” said Ms. Olsson. “But these risks do not have to become the reality, if governments take decisive action now to protect children’s well-being.”
Support families, invest in children
That decisive action includes reducing income inequality and poverty so that all children will have access to the resources they need.
“In times of crisis and calm, families need supportive governments and workplaces in order to raise the next generation of happy and healthy citizens”, said Fayaz King, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF. “An investment in children is a direct investment in our future.”
The UNICEF researchers also called for addressing the “serious gap” in mental health services for children and youth, and expanding family-friendly policies, especially access to quality childcare that is flexible and affordable.
Another recommendation is to ensure budgets that support child well-being are protected from austerity measures.
The wisdom and knowledge of indigenous people in Guatemala is central to the realization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, targets agreed by countries around the world to end poverty, maintain peace and preserve the health of the planet, UN reports said.
Families from Cotzal Quiché weave typical costumes as part of a project supported by UN Guatemala. Image credit: UN Guatemala/Hector Delgado
The UN Resident Coordinator in Guatemala Rebeca Arias Flores explains how sustainable development is not new, but simply a new name that draws on ancient wisdom that is renewed with each generation of indigenous people.
The UN Resident Coordinator, sometimes called the RC, is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level.
“Now more than ever, we must heed the wisdom of indigenous peoples. This wisdom calls upon us to care for the earth so that not only our generation may enjoy it, but that future generations may as well."
This wisdom is passed down to us through stories and spirits. Consider the example of Nawal, a supernatural spirit of harvests that can take on animal forms, according to Mesoamerican beliefs. On certain days in the indigenous calendar, people call on Nawal for a good harvest. It is a fine thing to have one good harvest. It is even better for the earth to yield its bounty again and again. To enjoy such repeated success, farmers in the area know they must respect the seasons, to plant, to sow, to let the land lay fallow for a time.
This wisdom was also articulated in a declaration from 2012, on an auspicious date in the Mayan calendar. It was Oxlajuj B’aktun or a “change of era,” the end of a cycle that lasts more than 5,000 years. On that date, the three UN entities working with indigenous peoples came together in Guatemala, their first joint meeting outside the UN’s New York headquarters.
Together, they issued a declaration pleading with humanity to respect human rights, promote harmony with nature, and pursue development that respects ancestral wisdom. These three bodies included the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, the Mechanism of Experts on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This wisdom found its way into “K’atun: Our Guatemala 2032”, the national plan which has guided sustainable development of three successive administrations. It serves as the compass for the country’s UN Cooperation Framework for Sustainable Development 2020-2024, created in collaboration with the Government of Guatemala.
Indigenous Guatemalans hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic
To pursue K’atun, we must look at the status of indigenous peoples. In Guatemala, they are amongst the most vulnerable people because they are constantly displaced from their ancestral lands. Data from recent years show that the poverty rate among indigenous people was 79 per cent, almost 30 points above the national average. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic eight out of every 10 indigenous girls, boys and adolescents, live in poverty. Only six finish primary school, only two go to secondary school, and one goes to university. Six in 10 indigenous children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition.
COVID-19 is devastating for all of Guatemala. Many people are sick, some are dying, and countless others are losing their livelihoods because of the disease itself and because the quarantine prevents them from working and earning money.
However hard the pandemic hits Guatemala, it will hit the indigenous peoples even harder. They were already the furthest left behind, and now they will be set back even more. The situation of indigenous women, who are often the main providers for their families, is even more worrisome.
Indigenous people hold key to collective survival
And yet, indigenous people are seeking their own solutions, drawing on their own ingenuity. They are using traditional knowledge and practices to contain the disease.
We all must concern ourselves with the wellbeing of indigenous peoples, for their sake. We must respect their wisdom, for their sake. We must protect their human rights, for their sake. We must include them in decision-making, for their sake. It is only right.
But we must also do this for the sake of all Guatemalans. All of Guatemala, indeed, the whole world, has much to learn from indigenous peoples. It is a painful irony that they have been so exploited and oppressed, and yet they may hold a key to our collective survival. It is a painful irony, too, that indigenous people are among those most affected by climate change, and yet they contribute the least to it.
Without indigenous people, neither Guatemala nor the rest of the world will achieve sustainable development. Without indigenous people we cannot enjoy the gifts of the earth and maintain them for all those who will come after us. This is and must be the work of all governments and all people.
75 years ago, the signatories of the United Nations Charter reaffirmed “the dignity and worth of the human person.”
Now, let us reaffirm that belief once more. And let us ensure that indigenous people are included in it.”
#UN; #EnvironmentalProgram; #YoungInnovators
Geneva/UN, Jul 21 (Canadian-Media): Thirty-five young people with innovative ideas for tackling challenges such as protecting indigenous Amazonian land through adventure travel, converting harmful emissions into valuable commodities in the United States, and generating electricity from water in Nigeria, have been named as regional finalists for one of the UN’s most prestigious environmental awards.
Anna-Luisa Beserra from Brazil is a previous winner of the Young Champions of the Earth prize. She created Aqualuz, a low-cost filter that uses solar radiation to disinfect rainwater captured in cisterns (file photo). Image credit: UN Environment Programme/Todd Brown
Representing five regions of the world, they will compete for the Young Champions of the Earth prize, the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced on Monday.
Pandemic no deterrent
“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cutting-edge solutions presented by this year’s Young Champions finalists, are truly remarkable. It is clear that this pandemic did not shut down the fight for a better world. Instead, it has reminded us of what’s at stake in our battle for the planet, and highlights how building back better will help address the climate crisis and preserve human and planetary health”, said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
The Young Champions of the Earth prize is the UN’s highest environmental honour for youth.
The global competition celebrates outstanding individuals aged between 18 and 30 who have big ideas to protect or restore the environment.
The 35 finalists were selected from 845 applicants who presented groundbreaking and scalable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. More information about them can be found here.
A global jury will choose the seven overall winners: one from each region, and two from Asia-Pacific. Their names will be announced in December.
Bringing ideas to life
Each Young Champion will receive $10,000 in seed funding and tailored support to bring their ideas to life, as well as access to powerful networks and mentors.
“Young people all around the world are raising awareness about the wrong choices we have made and the impact of environmental destruction on their future”, said Ms. Andersen.
“We are committed to providing young changemakers a voice, a platform and the opportunity to make their journey a success, while inspiring millions more around the world.”
The UN environment chief will serve on the jury to choose this year’s winners. Other members will include the UN Secretary General's Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake; UNEP’s Supporter for Creative Economy, Roberta Annan, and Chief Executive Officer of the UN Foundation, Elizabeth Cousens.
The prize is sponsored by Covestro, described as the world’s leader in polymer solutions. The company manufactures products used in many areas of daily life, serving the automotive, construction and wood processing industries, among others.
#UN; #Deforestation; #FAO; #SustainabilityAtRisk; #conservation
Geneva/UN, Jul 21 (Canadian-Media): Although some 178 million hectares of forest has been lost worldwide over the past three decades, the rate of loss has declined substantially during this period, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.
Papua New Guinea's rare cloud forests are a high elevation rainforest characterised by low-level cloud cover. (14 June 2011). Image credit: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
The finding comes in its latest Global Forest Resources Assessment report (FRA 2020), which aims to turn the tide on deforestation, or the conversion of forest to other uses such as agriculture.
"The wealth of information on the world's forests is a valuable public good for the global community to help facilitate evidence-based policy formulation, decision-making and sound investments in the forest sector," said Maria Helena Semedo, the FAO Deputy Director-General.
Forest area decreasing
The global total forest area stands at some 4.06 billion hectares but continues to decrease, according to the report.
FAO estimates that deforestation has robbed the world of roughly 420 million hectares since 1990, mainly in Africa and South America.
The top countries for average annual net losses of forest area over the last 10 years, are Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Angola, Tanzania, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bolivia and Mozambique.
Sustainability at risk
However, there is good news as the rate of forest loss has declined substantially over the past three decades. The annual rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares between 2015-2020, compared with 12 million during 2010-2015.
The area of forest under protection has also reached roughly 726 million hectares: nearly 200 million more than in 1990.
Still, there is cause for great concern, according to FAO.
Senior Forestry Officer Anssi Pekkarinen, the report’s Coordinator, warned that global targets related to sustainable forest management are at risk.
“We need to step up efforts to halt deforestation in order to unlock the full potential of forests in contributing to sustainable food production, poverty alleviation, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change while sustaining the production of all the other goods and services they provide”, he said.
Forests: for people and the planet
The FRA report has been published every five years since 1990. For the first time ever, it contains an online interactive platform with detailed regional and global analyses for nearly 240 countries and territories.
"These newly released tools will enable us to better respond to deforestation and forest degradation, prevent biodiversity loss and improve sustainable forest management,” said Ms. Semedo, the FAO deputy chief.
The UN agency believes forests are at the heart of global efforts to achieve sustainable development that benefits both people and the planet.
Protecting forests is critical as millions worldwide depend on them for their livelihoods or for food.
Forests also contain thousands of different tree, mammal and bird species, among other life forms, and they help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Therefore, information about forests, such as the report, play a vital role in conservation.
#UN; #Hunger; #GlobalCovidImpact; #WFP; #FAO; #Nigeria; #Africa; #WorldPoorest
Geneva/UN, Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): Hunger threatens to soar to devastating levels in 25 countries in the coming months due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are warning.
Women in Nigeria collect food vouchers as part of a programme to support families struggling under the COVID-19 lockdown.. Image credit: WFP/Damilola Onafuwa
The greatest concentration of need is in Africa, but countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia – including middle-income nations – are also being ravaged by crippling levels of food insecurity.
The two Rome-based UN agencies sounded the alarm in a joint report published Friday as the WFP announced that it is scaling up food assistance to an unprecedented 138 million people who face desperate levels of hunger as COVID-19 tightens its grip on some the world’s most fragile countries.
The cost of the WFP’s response is estimated at $4.9 billion – representing nearly half the updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, launched this week - with an additional $500 million special provision to prevent famine in countries most at risk.
“Three months ago at the UN Security Council, I told world leaders that we ran the risk of a famine of biblical proportions”, said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
“Today, our latest data tell us that, since then, millions of the world’s very poorest families have been forced even closer to the abyss”, Mr. Beasley said.
“Livelihoods are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate and now their lives are in imminent danger from starvation”, he said.
“Make no mistake – if we do not act now to end this pandemic of human suffering, many people will die.”
25 mostly African ‘hotspots’
Most of the 25 “hotspots” named in the report stretch from West Africa and across the Sahel to East Africa, including the Sahel, as well Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
It also identifies, in the Middle East, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen; in Asia, Bangladesh; and in Latin America and the Caribbean, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Citing some examples, it says that COVID-19 is compounding a raft of existing problems in South Sudan, making the prospect of famine loom ever larger in areas where intercommunal fighting makes humanitarian access tough or impossible.
Middle East, Latin America
In the Middle East, the pandemic is exacerbating Lebanon’s worst-ever economic crisis, where food insecurity is growing fast not only among citizens, but also 1.5 million Syrians and other refugees.
Hardest hit in Latin America are more than five million Venezuelan migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in neighbouring countries, the report says, adding that worsening economic conditions in host countries could well make matters worse.
According to WFP estimates, the number of people living in acute food insecurity in countries affected by conflict, disasters or economic crises could jump from 149 million before the pandemic took hold to 270 million by year’s end if assistance is not provided urgently.
#UN; #Somalia; #AccessToWater; #UNDP
Somalia/UN, Jul 18 (Canadian-Media): One hundred thousand households in Somaliland in northwest Somalia have better access to water, protecting them not just from the ravages of climate change but also against the spread of COVID-19, thanks to a project supported by the UN Development Programme.
Northwest Somalia has suffered from recurrent droughts over decades.
Image credit: UNDP Somalia
Some 70 per cent of Somalis live from agriculture and pastoralism but changing weather patterns have meant many cannot access the water to sustain these traditional activities.
Many younger people have left for cities and towns to live in slum settlements where access to facilities is limited, but now a number of dams, dykes and storage tanks built in Somaliland by UNDP and its partners are encouraging people to carry on with their traditional livelihoods by providing stability in the form of a reliable and consistent supply of water.
And as the virus which causes COVID-19 continues to spread across Africa, the new water sources are also key to slowing the spread of the disease by making it easier for people to wash hands and clean household items.
Read more here about how Somalis are living on the frontlines of resilience