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Message on International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May

The rich variety of life on Earth is essential for the welfare and prosperity of people today and for generations to come.

That is why, 25 years ago, the world’s nations agreed on the Convention for Biological Diversity.

The Convention has three goals: the global conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use and the equitable sharing of its benefits. Achieving these objectives is integral to meet our goals for sustainable development. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services are necessary for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands are needed for mitigating climate change. And protecting the biodiversity of forests and watersheds supports clean and plentiful water supplies.

These are just some of the benefits of biodiversity. Yet, despite this understanding, biodiversity loss continues around the globe. The answer is to intensify efforts and build on successes.

This year, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used for the benefit of all people.

The entire world needs to join this effort.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to act to protect the nature that sustains us.

Our collective future depends on it.

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UN forum to coordinate global efforts to address worsening water shortages

With extreme weather costing hundreds of billions a year and fears that by 2050, one in four people will be living in a country affected by severe water shortages, a global conference got underway on Monday convened by the United Nations meteorological agency to manage the precious resource more sustainably.

The problem has been further complicated by a lack of comprehensive water supply data and monitoring systems which is making it harder to respond to the growing crisis.

We cannot manage what we do not measure,” said Harry Lins, the President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Hydrology.

“And yet the systems and data collection which underpin these vital services to society are under real pressure,” he added, underscoring that informed decision-making must be based on comprehensive facts and figures.

This sums up the key challenge underlying the agency’s HydroConference, taking place in Geneva from 7-9 May, is seeking to address.

It brings together the full gamut of so-called “water stakeholders” – decision makers, meteorological and hydrological services; the private and academic sector; non-governmental organizations, and UN entities – around the same table to coordinate efforts as well as leverage individual knowledge and collective expertise to maximum effect.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said it was important for all actors to cope with the scale of the challenges that lie ahead, citing the two extremes of droughts and floods.

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[ read the full story on UN News ]

 


 Water Facts:

World Water Decade Logo Horizontal

 

The General Assembly resolution 71/222 states that the objectives of the Decade should be a greater focus on:

  • the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources for achievement of social, economic and environmental objectives;
  • the implementation and promotion of related programmes and projects; and
  • the furtherance of cooperation and partnerships at all levels to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan: Water Action Decade 2018-2028

WAD 1 safe drinking water EN    WAD 3 water conservation EN    WAD 4 water rivers seas pollution EN
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Fifth meeting of the Caribbean Development Roundtable - climate resilience and sustainable economic growth

Under the general theme “Promoting climate resilience and sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean”, the Roundtable, through panel presentations and dialogue among policy makers, academics, the private sector and other stakeholders, will invite consideration of the  ECLAC debt for climate adaptation swap initiative, related opportunities for investment in green industries to promote economic diversification, and efforts to promote fiscal responsibility through the use of Public Expenditure Reviews in the Caribbean. The meeting will address the continuing challenge of de-risking and ongoing difficulties being experienced by the offshore financial sector in several member States. 

The meeting will focus on four interrelated topics as follows:

  • Understanding the ECLAC debt for climate adaptation swap initiative.
  • Advancing green investment and green industry for structural economic transformation the Caribbean.
  • Promoting fiscal responsibility and management in the Caribbean. The need for public expenditure reviews (PERs).
  • Addressing the vulnerability of the Caribbean caused by de-risking and challenges to the offshore financial sector.

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UN Chronicle - highlights global quest for water

“The Quest for Water” focuses on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water for all. The articles explore important issues such as ecosystems in the global water cycle, the threat that climate change poses to water availability, and the role of gender and social inclusion in achieving the water-related goals and targets. This issue of the digital magazine of the UN system “buoys” the launch of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028.

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Climate change “is still moving much faster than we are,” UN Chief warns

Climate change “is still moving much faster than we are,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Thursday, calling for the political will, innovation and financing to cut global emissions by at least 25 per cent over the next two years.

“Scientists are now worried that unless accelerated action is taken by 2020, the Paris goal may become unattainable,” the UN chief told reporters at the world body’s New York Headquarters.
The Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by world leaders in December 2015, aims to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursues efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees.
“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that 2017 had been filled with climate chaos and 2018 has already brought more of the same.
“Climate change is still moving much faster than we are,” he warned, calling the phenomenon the greatest threat facing humankind. 
Recent information from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency shows the relentless pace of climate change.
For instance, the UN chief said, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes.
Moreover, weather-related disasters caused some $320 billion in economic damage, making 2017 the costliest year ever for such losses.
In social as well as economic terms, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was devastating, washing away decades of development in an instant.
In South Asia, major monsoon floods affected 41 million people.
In Africa, severe drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes.
Wildfires caused destruction across the world. Arctic sea ice cover in winter is at its lowest level, and the oceans are warmer and more acidic than at any time in recorded history.
“This tsunami of data should create a storm of concern,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that next year he will convene a climate summit in New York aimed at boosting global ambition to meet the level of the climate challenge.
“The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones. It ended because there were better alternatives. The same applies today to fossil fuels,” he said, stressing the need for a further cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 per cent by 2020.

 

Read the full story at UN News: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1006271

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Accelerate climate action and raise ambition, urges UN chief

As the impact of climate change worsens around the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on the global community to redouble efforts to help countries respond to climate shocks, especially the most vulnerable.

“I am encouraged to see climate action taking hold, at all scales, at all levels, involving an ever-wider coalition of actors and institutions,” said the Secretary-General, at a press stakeout at the UN Headquarters, in New York.
“But we need to do more,” he underlined.

In his remarks, the UN chief said that he will be travelling to Bonn to participate in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), where, he will urge efforts to accelerate climate action as well as to raise ambition to do more.
At the UN Climate Change Conference this year (COP23, from 6 to 17 November) nations of the world will meet to advance the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement and achieve progress on its implementation guidelines.

The conference, officially referred as COP 23/ CMP 13/ CMA 1-2, will take place in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and presided over by Fiji. The UNFCCC secretariat and the Government of Fiji are closely working with the Government of Germany, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Bonn to ensure a dynamic and successful Conference.

Resources : 

cop23link

 

Go to the COP 23 website

 

 

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UN Secretary-General to visit storm-ravaged islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica this weekend

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today that he will be visiting hurricane hit islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica this weekend to survey the damage caused by multiple storms and what more the UN can do help people recover.

Speaking to journalists at a press stakeout at UN Headquarters, in New York, Guterres recognized that some of the most important speeches during the general debate of the General Assembly came from the leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes. He recalled the how Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless and the Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Mr. Guterres said he was struck by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries, who said "we urgently need support today" but even in the wake of utter devastation, urged the world to act for tomorrow.

The Secretary-General highlighted the growing impact of climate change and said that over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters nearly tripled, causing great economic losses.

The Secretary-General said “we should not link any single weather event with climate change. But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world.”

Scientists, he said “are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather” and are concluding that “a warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes. Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean.”

Guterres said “we know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change, but we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, and sustainable energy future” and urged countries “to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.”

The Secretary-General said it was “very important to allow Dominica to have access to innovative forms of finance in concessional conditions,” as “it's very difficult for these countries to rebuild just by having access to normal capital markets.”

He also called for donor support that is “linked both to the humanitarian response and to the plans that, that based on the assessment will be made by the Government, in order to make Dominica an even more resilient country in relation to future storms of this nature.”

Quoting his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, Guterres said he believes “the US commitments to Paris will be met independently of the government decisions by the efforts that he is witnessing in the US economy, in the US society.”


Following are the initial remarks by the Secretary/General at the press encounter. A full transcript can be found at the bottom of the page. 


THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
--
PRESS ENCOUNTER
New York, 4 October 2017

 
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your presence and it is indeed good to see you again.
 
As you know, we are coming off a jam-packed High-level week and opening of the General Assembly.
 
Some of the most important speeches during that period came from the leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless.

The Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Today I am announcing that I will travel on Saturday to Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica to survey the damage and to assess what more the United Nations can do to help people recover, visiting of course also the operations that are taking place there.

When I met them last month, I was struck most of all by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries.

Yes, they said, we urgently need support today.  

But even in the wake of utter devastation, they urged the world to act for tomorrow.
 
As I said in my address to the General Assembly, we should not link any single weather event with climate change.
 
But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world.

I would like to share some relevant data about what we are seeing.

First, some facts about this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Irma, which devastated Barbuda, was a Category 5 hurricane for three consecutive days – this is the longest on satellite record.

Irma’s winds reached 300 kilometres per hour for 37 hours -- the longest on record at that intensity.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time that two Category 4 storms made landfall in the United States in the same year.

And, of course, they were followed by Hurricane Maria, which decimated Dominica and had severe impacts across Puerto Rico.

It is rare to see so many storms of such strength so early in the season.

Second, some facts about the changes in major climate systems.

Sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870.

Over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters has nearly tripled, and economic losses have quintupled.

Scientists are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather.

Climate change is warming the seas.  This, in turn, means more water vapor in the atmosphere.  When storms come, they bring more rain.

A warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes.  Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean.

The melting of glaciers, and the thermal expansion of the seas, means bigger storm surges.  With more and more people living on coastlines, the damage is, and will be that much greater.

Scientific models have long predicted an increase in the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.  This is precisely what is happening – and even sooner than expected.

To date, the United Nations and its partners have provided a variety of humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean region by air and by sea: 18 tons of food; 3 million water purification tablets; 3,000 water tanks; 2,500 tents; 2,000 mosquito nets and school kits; 500 debit cards for cash assistance; and much else.

We have launched appeals for $113.9 million to cover humanitarian needs for the immediate period ahead.
 
I commend those countries that are showing solidarity with the Caribbean countries at this time of dire need, including those doing so through South-South cooperation.

But on the whole, I regret to report, the response has been poor.  I urge donors to respond  more generously in the weeks to come.

The United Nations will continue to help countries in the Caribbean to strengthen disaster preparedness, working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

We are strongly committed to helping small island states and, indeed, all countries to adapt to inevitable climate impacts, to increase the pace of recovery and to strengthen resilience overall.

Innovative financing mechanisms will be crucial in enabling countries, like the Caribbean ones, to cope with external shocks of such significant magnitude.

We know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change, but we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, sustainable energy future.

Once again, I urge countries to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.

That is why I will convene a Climate Summit in 2019, as you know.

But today and every day, I am determined to ensure that the United Nations works to protect our common future and to seize the opportunities of climate action.

Thank you very much.
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Tourism, a key sector in the world

World Tourism Day, observed on 27 September, provides an opportunity to highlight the importance this economic activity has in the world. Over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.2 billion in 2015. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.

It is estimated that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3.3% annually until 2030. This growth over the second half of the 20th century and the 21st is due to the fact that access to tourism has progressively expanded thanks to the recognition of the right to holidays in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the improved adoption of labour rights in many countries and the growing middle class worldwide. Furthermore, in recent decades the emergence of new technologies applied to tourism and the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, have led to an increase in international travel. Noteworthy is the resilience shown by the sector in recent years, which despite challenges such as the global economic crisis, natural disasters and pandemics, has experienced almost uninterrupted growth.

Like any activity, tourism has powerful effects on the economy, society and environment in generating countries and especially in the receiving countries. In addition to the socioeconomic impact of tourism, the sector, if managed sustainably, can be a factor for environmental preservation, cultural appreciation and understanding among peoples.



"Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development"

In 2017, the celebration of this World Day focuses on how sustainable tourism can contribute to development and it is held in Doha (Qatar). 
Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. It should thus make optimal use of environmental resources, respect host communities and ensure viable, long-term economic operations so that benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.


It is a positive instrument towards the eradication of poverty, the protection of the environment and the improvement of quality of life, especially in developing countries. Well-designed and well-managed tourism can make a significant contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development —economic, social and environmental—, has close linkages to other sectors and can create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities.

It is therefore essential for all actors, including companies operating in the sector, to be aware of opportunities and responsibilities alike, and to act accordingly so that their actions leave a positive mark on the society in which they operate and ensure the sustainability of the destination and their businesses.



International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

Recognizing the importance of international tourism in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, hereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This year provides a unique opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and move forward to ensure the positive impact of well-managed tourism on inclusive and equitable growth, sustainable development and peace.




Read more about the World Tourism Day at the UN Official website:

http://www.un.org/en/events/tourismday/index.shtml

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Historic participation of Caribbean countries at the UN General Assembly

Caribbean countries made one of their most memorable participations in history during the latest General Debate of the UN General Assembly last week.

Emotional pleas to mitigate climate change and to support the costly measures necessary to adapt to its effects, as well as to “build back better” after the devastating effects of extreme weather were expressed by the region’s delegates. On the top of everyone’s mind were the catastrophic effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria as the latter was still making its destructive way across the Caribbean.

Even on the wake of the catastrophic hurricanes, preparedness, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction were not the only issues raised by the region.  Delegates also made compelling statements about the importance of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, and highlighted many of the vulnerabilities shared by Small Island Developing States. These included social and economic challenges, that range from debt to single sector economic dependency, human trafficking, migration and others.

Click on the links below to watch videos on demand of the Caribbean participation, or to read summaries and transcripts of the statements at the General Assembly.

 

H.E. Mr. Gaston Alphonso Browne,
Prime Minister
Antigua and Barbuda


Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/ag_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/antigua-and-barbuda

 

H.E. Mr. Darren Allen Henfield,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Bahamas

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/bs_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/bahamas

 

H.E. Ms. Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean,
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Barbados


Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript   https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/bb_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/barbados

 

H.E. Mr. Wilfred Elrington, 
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Belize

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/bz_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/belize

 


H.E. Mr. Roosevelt Skerrit,
Prime Minister
Dominica

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/dm_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/dominica

 


H.E. Mr. Elvin Nimrod,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Grenada

Video of speech  http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/gd_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/grenada

 


H.E. Mr.  David Arthur Granger,
President
Guyana

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/gy_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/guyana

 


H.E. Mrs. Kamina Johnson Smith,
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Jamaica

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/jm_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/jamaica

 

H.E. Mr. Mark Anthony Brantley,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Saint Kitts and Nevis

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/kn_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/saint-kitts-and-nevis

 


H.E. Mr. Allen Michael Chastanet,
Prime Minister
Saint Lucia

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/lc_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/saint-lucia

 


H.E. Mr. Louis Straker,
Deputy Prime Minister
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/vc_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/saint-vincent-and-grenadines

 

H.E. Mrs. Yldiz Pollack-Beighle,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Suriname

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/sr_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/suriname

 

H.E. Mr. Dennis Moses,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Trinidad and Tobago

Video of speech http://webtv.un.org/
Transcript  https://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/72/tt_en.pdf
News story https://gadebate.un.org/en/72/trinidad-and-tobago

 

 

 

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‘To deny climate change is to deny a truth we have just lived’ says Prime Minister of storm-hit Dominica

Pleading with all countries in the United Nations General Assembly – large and small, rich and poor – to come together to save our planet, the Prime Minister of Dominica, where the landscape, ravaged by back-to-back hurricanes “resembles a warzone,” said his and other islands in the Caribbean need help now to build their homelands back better.

“I come to you straight from the front line of the war on climate change,” Roosevelt Skerrit said in an emotional address to the General Assembly’s annual general debate. He said he made the difficult journey from his storm-battered country “because these are the moments for which the United Nations exists!”

Mr. Skerrit said that warmer air and sea temperatures have permanently altered the climate between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Heat is the fuel that takes ordinary storms – “storms we could normally master in our sleep – and supercharges them into a devastating force.

The most unfortunate reality, he said, is that there is little time left to reverse damages and rectify this trajectory. “We need action and we need it now,” he said.

“The stars have fallen, Eden is broken. The nation of Dominica has come to declare an international humanitarian emergency.”

He concluded by urging ownership and responsibility for perpetuating harm that desperately begs attention: “Let it spark a thousand points of light, not shame.”


Full story: http://bit.ly/2htfD1R
Video of full statement: http://bit.ly/2jZQSPi

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