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UN report shows climate change causing ‘dramatic rise’ in economic losses

  • 11 October 2018 |

Climate-related and geophysical disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis have killed 1.3 million people over the last 20 years and left a further 4.4 billion injured, homeless or in need of emergency assistance, UN experts said on Wednesday.

 

The findings, published by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), also show that people in low- and middle-income countries are seven times more likely to die from natural disasters than those in developed nations.

“This puts a big emphasis on the need to…make sure that we curb greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ricardo Mena, UNISDR chief, in charge of implementing the Sendai Framework.

Failing to do this, risks letting climate-related hazards get out of control, he told journalists in Geneva, before calling for greater investment in disaster risk-reduction measures, “so that we do not allow for countries to create new risk”.

In terms of the impact of disasters on the global economy between 1998 and 2017, affected countries reported direct losses of $2.908 trillion. That’s more than twice what was lost in the previous two decades.

Illustrating the growing threat from climate change, extreme weather events now account for 77 per cent of total economic losses, $2.245 trillion, the report notes.

This represents a “dramatic rise” of 151 per cent compared with losses reported between 1978 and 1997, which amounted to $895 billion.

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Global warming report, an 'ear-splitting wake-up call' warns UN chief

  • 09 October 2018 |

A special report on limiting global warming released on Monday by a UN scientific panel, should be heard around the world as an "ear-splitting wake-up call" said UN chief António Guterres. He said the long-awaited findings show that "climate change is running faster than we are - and we are running out of time."

The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued the report from Incheon, Republic of Korea, where for the past week, hundreds of scientists and government representatives have been poring over thousands of inputs to paint a picture of what could happen to the planet and its population with global warming of 1.5°C (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Limiting global warming will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes” to human behaviour, according to the panel. "We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of one of the IPCC Working Groups.

The landmark Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

"it is not impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C, according to the report. "But it will require unprecedented and collective climate action in all areas. There is no time to waste."
   -- UN Secretary-General António Guterres

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 Get the report and summaries .

logo for IPCC global report 2018

Qiuck Facts:

  • Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate
  • Climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present, but lower than at 2°C
  • Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C

  

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UN stands ready to support Haiti after quake on 6 October

  • 07 October 2018 |

In the wake of the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck north-west Haiti overnight, Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday extended condolence to the island nations’ people and Government, and said the United Nations stands ready to help with the response.

“The Secretary-General is saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and injuries caused by the earthquake in north-west Haiti on 6 October,” said a statement issued by Mr. Guterres’ spokesperson.

The quake, which, according to press reports, struck overnight Saturday near Port-de-Paix, off Haiti's northern coast, has left at least 11 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

Tremors were reportedly felt in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in neighboring Dominican Republic and in eastern Cuba.

In today’s statement, the UN chief extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Haiti.

“The United Nations stands ready to support the Government of Haiti in the response efforts,” the statement concluded.

This is the strongest earthquake to hit Haiti since 2010, when the tiny island nation was devastated by a 7.3 magnitude temblor, which affected some three million people overall.


 pie chart Addiitional informaton from Relief Web

- a service of UN Office for the Coordiantion of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA)

image credit: Relief Web

  • A 5.9 magnitude (11 km depth) earthquake struck off the Northwestern coast of Haiti on 7 October at 00:11 UTC. The epicentre of the earthquake was located about 19 km Northwest of the city of Port-de-Paix. The earthquake was felt across the country. There was no tsunami warning in effect.
  • According to the Haitian Civil Protection Agency, 10 people have been killed and at least 135 people injured. The Agency also reports that some houses and buildings have been destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island.
  • Haiti’s Prime Minister informed that a crisis cabinet has been created to coordinate the emergency response to the earthquake.
  • DG ECHO’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closely monitoring the situation and liaising with DG ECHO offices in the region. A DG ECHO technical expert from the Haiti office is being deployed to the affected areas and a second technical expert form DG ECHO Bogota is ready to be deployed for further support.

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At UN, Jamaica urges partnerships to tackle climate impacts, economic fragility in small islands

  • 27 September 2018 |

Galvanizing an effective global fundraising campaign to address climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth is key for small island developing States, Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, told world leaders at the seventy-third United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

Mr. Holness expressed concerns over his country’s vulnerability to a raft of social, economic, environmental, financial and trade-related hazards.

“Together with persistent challenges linked to climate change and more frequent intense weather events; these all impact the pace of our development,” he told world leaders gathered in New York for the Assembly’s annual general debate.

As a small island developing state, Jamaica is pursuing policies to secure its economic independence, Mr. Holness said, also stressing the importance for his country to foster traditional partnerships and build new ones.

He went on to add that Jamaica’s representation for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at outreach sessions this year demonstrated “extremely influential groupings of countries.”

“Jamaica believes that groupings like these, have a unique opportunity, working alongside the international development partners, to address the problems that face weaker economies across the globe,” said Mr. Holness.

Spotlighting that many SIDS are extremely indebted and vulnerable, he highly commended the work of UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to tackle the gap for middle-income countries.

Prime Minister Holness further reiterated his call for collaborative partnerships with international financial institutions, UN member states and the private sector to mobilize funding for Jamaica’s sustainable development.

On commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr. Holness said Jamaica has been the first country to incorporate human rights into their foreign policy strategy, which is a principle that they guard fiercely.

 

18UNGA sm  More about the Caribbean at the UN General Assembly


 play  Video - Jamaica PM addresses the UNGA 

 

 

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Youth2030: UN chief launches bold new strategy for young people ‘to lead’

  • 25 September 2018 |

The United Nations Secretary-General launched a new partnership strategy with the world’s 1.8 billion young people on Monday, to help put “their ideas into action”. Noting that it was “a rare treat” to see so many young faces at the UN, to launch the new “Youth2030” strategy, UN chief António Guterres highlighted a list of challenges “the largest young generation in history” faces today.

He noted that “globalization, new technologies, displacement, shrinking civic space, changing labour markets and climate impacts,” were putting huge pressure on youth everywhere, adding that more than one-fifth of young people are not in employment, education or training; a quarter are affected by violence or armed conflict; and young people remain excluded from development programmes, ignored in peace negotiations and denied a voice in most international decision-making.

At the same time, he pointed out that young people were “a vast source of innovation, ideas and solutions,” who push for the needed changes in technology, climate action, inclusivity and societal justice.

“Empowering young people, supporting them, and making sure they can fulfil their potential are important ends in themselves, We want this for all people, everywhere.”

   --- UN Secretary General

Moreover, to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for a more peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world, “we need young people to lead,” he added.

In presenting Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy, he called it “the UN’s strategy to engage with, but especially to empower young people.”

Saying that the Organization has for decades worked for youth, he expressed hope that the new strategy would make the UN “a leader” in working with them, “in understanding their needs, in helping to put their ideas into action, in ensuring their views inform our processes.”

“And as we change, we will work with our partners to do likewise” and spur new partnerships, the UN chief said, identifying five key areas:

  • Opening new routes to involve young people and amplify their voices.
  • Strengthening the UN’s focus on their accessing education and health services. 
  • Placing their economic empowerment at the fore of development strategies, with a focus on training and jobs. 
  • Working to ensure their rights, and civic and political engagement.

Prioritizing support for young people in conflict and in humanitarian crises, including their participation in peace processes.

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Peace is at risk and violated in many places, but ‘we will not give up,’ says UN chief Guterres

  • 21 September 2018 |
On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres cited the strong correlation between the International Day of Peace and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a basis for peace.

According to the UN chief, the Declaration, which turns 70 this year, provides a reminder that peace takes root when people are free from hunger, poverty and oppression and can thrive and prosper.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by UN Member States in 2015, also aim to serve this purpose by building a peaceful world through economic and social development for all with guaranteed human rights.

And yet, “when we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we know that human rights are violated in so many parts of the world, we even know that the human rights agenda is losing ground,” he said at the ceremonial ringing of the Peace Bell to commemorate Peace Day.

“But we don’t give up because respect for human rights and human dignity is a basic condition for peace,” Mr. Guterres stressed. “We are here because we are determined, and we do not give up.” 

“Peace is at risk. Peace is violated in so many places. But we will not give up,” he underscored.

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 What is Peace and Security?

 

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In a complex world, ‘we need to take the right road’: outgoing General Assembly President

  • 17 September 2018 |
The outgoing UN General Assembly President, Miroslav Lajčák, called on the global community on Monday to remain steadfast in support of multilateralism, reiterating that it is the only way to address the complex and growing challenges facing the world.

“The stakes are high, we need to take the right road,” said Mr. Lajčák, in his final address to the 193-member General Assembly.

Mr. Lajčák spoke of “six major trends”, which he observed during his year as the General Assembly President, expressing hope that his observations will be useful as the new high-level debate gets underway.

On the first trend – peace – he noted the shift of the global discourse from a reactive approach to one of “sustaining peace.”

“But we have a lot of work ahead. Sustaining Peace cannot be, just, a concept – or an aspiration. Rather, it should be seen more like an Operations Manual. Something that guides the real work we do on the ground, every day,” he said.

Mr. Lajčák also highlighted the challenges posed by climate change and called for more leadership and funding to ensure sufficient resources are on hand to honour the Paris Agreement on climate change as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dialogue leads to results. It is why, last February, we watched a joint Korean team playing in the Winter Olympics. It is why peace has returned to Colombia, after five decades of war 

           – Assembly President Lajčák

The President of the 72nd regular session of the General Assembly also underlined the need for the world body to adapt to major global shifts, highlighting the work still to be done on the Global Compact for Migration, expected to be adopted in Morocco this December.

With its universal membership and its flexible agenda, the General Assembly has “enormous legitimacy” and can play the role of a “global thought-leader,” he said, noting also the need for Organizational reforms and the steps initiated by Secretary-General António Guterres towards that end.

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Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan laid to rest in Ghana; Guterres hails ‘exceptional global leader’

  • 14 September 2018 |
Like few today, former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, could “bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal”, said the current UN chief, António Guterres on Thursday, speaking at his predecessor’s funeral in Ghana.

“Since the shock of Kofi’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special,” Mr. Guterres told those assembled, saying he was “both one-of-a-kind and one of us.” 

The only UN chief to have emerged from the ranks of its staff, passed away after a short illness on 18 August.  He was 80.

Speaking of Mr. Annan’s time at the helm of the Organization, Secretary-General Guterres cited “a remarkable record of achievement,” in which he pioneered new ideas and initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals – precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and landmark reforms in his report, “In Larger Freedom.”

Mr. Guterres called his predecessor an “exceptional global leader” who saw the UN as “a force for good.”

“He opened the doors of the United Nations, bringing the Organization closer to the world’s people and engaging new partners in protecting the environment, defending human rights and combating HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases,”

... Antonio Guterres

“Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him,” Mr. Guterres asserted.

On a personal note, the UN chief called Mr. Annan “my good friend,” saying they “marched through life together in many ways.”

They had come together in supporting the birth of a new nation, Timor-Leste, and then, as the UN Refugee Agency chief, the former Secretary-General had provided him with “unwavering support”, he said.

“Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continually inspired by his integrity, dynamism and dedication,” Mr. Guterres said.

[ full story on UN News ]


 play   Video - Antonio Guterres speech at Kofi Annan's Funeral

 

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Get off the path of ‘suicidal emissions’, UN chief Guterres to urge in key climate change speech

  • 10 September 2018 |
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is to use a landmark speech later on Monday to urge greater involvement and leadership on the part of everybody, to protect the planet and its people, from the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change.

“Climate change is undeniable” he will say at UN Headquarters in New York, and “the science is beyond doubt,” posted the UN chief in a tweet, previewing his speech about an issue which he says poses an existential threat to humankind.

“It is time to get off the path of suicidal emissions,” he reiterated in the tweet.

Mr. Guterres is going to call on governments, businesses, scientists and consumers – “to make changes” and to “be the change” that will put the planet on a path to a better future. 

In his speech – scheduled for 3 PM, Eastern Standard Time [watch live here] – Secretary-General Guterres will also outline his vision for a new Climate Summit in 2019, which he will be convening to rally the international community, to step up action in key areas inclusive sustainable energy production, economic growth, green investment and better stewardship of natural resources.

The call for greater ambition on climate action comes amid record temperature rises and extreme weather events across the globe. The last few months alone saw devastating floods in southern India, wildfires in the United States and extreme heatwaves in Japan.

When world leaders signed the historic Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and as close to 1.5 degrees, as possible. But scientists and a major UN study, indicate that the target is already well off-track. 

The UN chief’s message also comes ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit, to be held on the west coast of the United States, in San Francisco, from 12-14 September. National, regional and municipal leaders will gather with business people and philanthropic communities to underscore their commitment to climate action.

We will have more on this story, soon.


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UN hails ‘ground-breaking’ Supreme Court ruling to decriminalize gay sex in India

  • 06 September 2018 |
A landmark ruling in India that decriminalizes gay sex has been welcomed as a “ground-breaking decision” by the UN agency leading the fight against HIV/AIDS.

India’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a key section of a colonial-era law which made specific sexual acts between adults illegal.

“Today is a day of gay pride, a day of celebration, a day when respect and dignity was finally restored in India for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people,” 

“I hope this decision sets the trend and is followed by similar decisions in other countries that remove unjust laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

...Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also welcomed the decision by India’s highest court, applauding the verdict of the Chief Justice, who said that discrimination and prejudice are always “irrational, indefensible, and arbitrary.”

The UN system in India expressed hope that it will boost efforts to stamp out stigma and discrimination against LGBTI people, which violates their human rights.

The UN office in Delhi issued a statementwhich stressed that “focus must now be on ensuring access to justice, including remedy; effective investigations of acts of violence and discrimination; and effective access to economic, social and cultural rights.”

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