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Paradise found: Saint Lucia preserving beauty through data and policy action

If ever an island justified the label “paradise” that tourist brochures liberally apply to destinations, it is Saint Lucia.

Shaped like a teardrop, this tiny Caribbean nation has everything. Crescent moon beaches of white sand. Jagged volcanic mountains jutting up from the azure waters. Eclectic biodiversity that manifests in a riot of colour, no more so than in the Saint Lucia Amazon, a spectacular parrot found only on the island.

Unfortunately, as is the case in so many places, human activity is endangering this beauty and the benefits it brings to humanity. The threats are many, including extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, forest habitat loss from land-use change and over-exploitation of marine resources.

We can deal with these challenges, as the return of the Saint Lucia Amazon, or Amazona versicolor, shows. In the 1970s, only around 100 of these birds remained. Thanks to a conservation programme, the species is now on an upward trend. While still classed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the last census of the bird, carried out between 2007 and 2009, found a stable and viable population of 2,258 individuals.

The Government of Saint Lucia, with the support of UN Environment, is determined to repeat this success for all the island’s natural resources while ensuring a better future for its estimated 180,000 residents.

“While we pursue on-the-ground initiatives that guarantee our survival, it is equally important to pursue the soft initiatives that will allow us to make sound decisions on the strategic interventions needed,”

Annette Rattigan-Leo
Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer

In August 2018, the island took a big step forward. Working with UN Environment on a Global Environment Facility-funded project, the Saint Lucian government launched its first national environmental information system. Information on the three big treaties is available to ministries, the private sector, academia, multilateral environmental treaty focal points and the public. For each convention, indicators related to broader policy goals and objectives are being integrated to support reporting and translate data into useful and actionable information.

[ read the full story at UN Environment ]

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Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay join Clean Seas campaign during UN Environment Assembly

On 15 March 2019, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Paraguay today joined UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, bringing the number of countries now involved in the world’s largest alliance for combatting marine plastic pollution to 60.

The three nations signed up during the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi where more than 4,700 delegates from 170 countries have been meeting to hammer out new guidelines to enable humanity to prosper without degrading the planet’s already depleted resources.

Launched in 2017, the Clean Seas campaign works with governments, businesses and citizens to eliminate the needless use of disposable plastics and protect our oceans and rivers from a toxic tide of pollution that is endangering livelihoods and killing wildlife. The alliance now covers more than 60 per cent of the world’s coastlines.

Antigua and Barbuda banned single-use plastic bags in 2016, becoming the first country in the region to do so. The island nation is now working to eliminate polystyrene products, which it hopes to achieve over the coming year. It is also looking to expand its recycling capacity and extend a scheme for collecting and recycling plastic bottles.

"Since introducing the region's first ban on single-use plastic bags in 2016, Antigua and Barbuda has been a pioneer in the fight against marine plastic pollution. We are delighted to join the Clean Seas campaign and share our drive and experience with other nations so that together we can take decisive action to turn this toxic tide that threatens livelihoods, wildlife and the survival of our oceans," said Molwyn Joseph, Minister for Health, Wellness and the Environment in Antigua and Barbuda.

"We are witnessing a deadly creep of environmental degradation. We should not bequeath this to the generations of the future. Leaders must now take action. We hope that by joining the Clean Seas campaign, we can galvanize global support for this urgent cause," he added.

Landlocked Paraguay has committed to clean its polluted rivers, starting in the capital Asunción. As a first step, in February more than 1,000 volunteers cleared 43 tonnes of waste from the Mburicaó River. The Ministry of Environment hopes to restore the river to its former glory while also raising awareness among local people of the need to dispose of their waste responsibly.

“Pollution of our planet’s rivers and waterways is a global issue and all countries need to play their part, including landlocked nations,” said Paraguay’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Ariel Oviedo.

“Paraguay, along with three other South American countries, is home to the Guaraní Aquifer, one of the world’s largest freshwater reserves, and we are excited to join the global movement to fight marine plastic pollution. We hope to inspire our citizens and others to fully commit to positive action to ensure the survival of our rivers and oceans,” he added.

Among Trinidad and Tobago’s top priorities is reinforcing its waste management system while also educating the population about the need to separate household waste.

“We are delighted to join this powerful global movement to tackle marine plastic pollution. As a twin-island nation with limited space, we are keen to develop sustainable waste management solutions and expand our recycling capacity. We have seen the devastating effect of plastic pollution on our beaches and we want to be part of the global solution,” said Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis.

Every year, around 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, poisoning fish, birds and other sea creatures. That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck of litter being dumped into the sea every minute. Plastic waste, in the form of microplastics, has also entered the human food chain, and the consequences are not yet fully understood.

Awareness of the need to act decisively against plastic pollution has been growing in Latin America and the Caribbean -- a region that is particularly vulnerable to marine litter and other environmental threats caused by our changing climate, such as increasingly powerful storms.

About CleanSeas  

Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to our seas.

 

 

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UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

A new plan to cover the urgent needs of millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, coordinated by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), was launchedin Geneva on Friday

The plan, the first of its kind in the Americas, is a strategy to deal with an estimate three million people, the largest exodus from a single country in the region, in recent years. The vast majority of them have sought refuge in Latin American and Caribbean countries. The numbers leaving Venezuela have increased dramatically from 2017, and now, an average of 5,500 are crossing the border every day.

In the foreword to the plan, Eduardo Stein, UN Joint Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, describes the challenges faced by Venezuelans he has met during his visits to the region, saying that they spoke of “hunger, lack of access to medical care, insecurity, threats, fear. They are families, women alone, children, young boys and girls, all in conditions of extreme vulnerability. All of them saw no other option than to leave their country – sometimes walking for days – seeking to live in dignity and to build a future.”

The launch of the plan was also an appeal for funding, focusing on four key areas: direct emergency assistance, protection, socio-economic and cultural integration; and strengthening capacities in the receiving countries. $738 million is needed in 2019, targeting 2.7 million people spread across 16 countries.

The UN agencies praised the generosity shown towards the refugees and migrants by regional host countries, described by Filippo GrandiUN High Commissioner for Refugees, as “humbling,” adding that the appeal underscores the urgency of this complex and fast-evolving situation and the need to support the host communities.” The infrastructure of these countries, and their ability to deal with the influx of refugees and migrants, are being stretched beyond capacity:

[This story was originally posted on UN News

 

Extracts from the Plan - related to the Caribbean

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Summary of  Objectives for 2019

DIRECT EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

OBJECTIVE 1

Produce and disseminate information regarding the profile and vulnerability of refugees and migrants from Venezuela as well as affected host community, to relevant stakeholders to improve the response.

OBJECTIVE 2

Ensure refugees and migrants from Venezuela and vulnerable host communities have access to immediate basic needs, services, and assistance including NFI, shelter, food, WASH, health (including sexual and reproductive health as well as GBV related health interventions), and education.

PROTECTION

OBJECTIVE 1

Promote access to territory, alternative legal pathways, and legal aid and justice for refugees and migrants from Venezuela. 

OBJECTIVE 2

Strengthen community-based protection, grassroots refugee and migrant organizations, and two-way information gathering and sharing.

OBJECTIVE 3

Improve access to specialized services for refugees and migrants from Venezuela with specific needs such as GBV survivors, victims of human trafficking, UASC and others.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL INTEGRATION

OBJECTIVE 1

Support income generating interventions to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and vulnerable host communities.

OBJECTIVE 2

Create a welcoming environment for refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and support continued access to existing public services, including education and health.

CAPACITY STRENGTHENING

OBJECTIVE 1

Strengthen host governments’ essential services capacity and delivery, including in education, health, and social protection.

OBJECTIVE 2

Support policy, procedures, and systems development affecting refugees and migrants from Venezuela, including victims of human trafficking, as well as host communities, in compliance with humanitarian principles.

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At global call to action, Antigua and Barbuda PM : "Join us in banning the use of single use plastics"

The President of the UN General Assembly launched a new global call to action on Tuesday, to help end the scourge of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, that her Campaign Against Plastic Pollution – a priority during her year in office -  will hold both consumers and decision-makers accountable, urging the phasing out of single-use plastics such as water bottles, and raising awareness of the impact plastic pollution has on human and environmental health.

“It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Microplastics are now confirmed in table salt, in fresh water, each person on the planet is believed to have plastic in their bodies,” she cited in her statement

“I intend to leverage the capacity of the office of the President of the General Assembly, to support ongoing global campaigns to beat plastic pollution. This will include complementary efforts by UN Environment, Global Citizen and National Geographic, amongst others.”

She announced that in Spring 2019, the initiative to stamp out plastic will be highlighted by events across the globe; including one celebrating innovative progress in New York City, a concert in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, and a photo exhibit at the UN General Assembly to coincide with World Environment Day.

Join us in groundbreaking plastics ban, urges PM

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Gaston Browne, announced that the concert was set for April 27th to coincide with Antigua ‘Sailing Week’.  It will include regional and internationally renowned musicians and artists and will highlight efforts to tackle the problem globally.

He noted that Antigua and Barbuda had been successful in the elimination of single use plastics. "During the past two years, we have introduced a ban, which has worked very well...Antigua and Barbuda is the first country in the Caribbean to do so. We need to protect our oceans and we are calling on all nations to join us in banning the use of single use plastics

newsicon [ Read the full story on UN News ]

 

See other stories on plastics

 

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Message on World AIDS Day

1 December 2018

Thirty years after the first World AIDS Day, the response to HIV stands at a crossroads. Which way we turn may define the course of the epidemic—whether we will end AIDS by 2030, or whether future generations will carry on bearing the burden of this devastating disease.

More than 77 million people have become infected with HIV, and more than 35 million have died of an AIDS-related illness. Huge progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment, and prevention efforts have avoided millions of new contaminations.

Yet the pace of progress is not matching global ambition. New HIV infections are not falling rapidly enough. Some regions are lagging behind, and financial resources are insufficient. Stigma and discrimination are still holding people back, especially key populations— including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgenders, people who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants—and young women and adolescent girls. Moreover, one in four people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus, impeding them from making informed decisions on prevention, treatment and other care and support services.

There is still time -- to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.

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Caribbean to strengthen early warning systems and resilience to climate change

27 November - An initiative to strengthen multi-hazard early warning systems in the Caribbean was launched on November 20 during the dry season Caribbean Climate Forum (CariCOF) meeting in Barbados.

The Caribbean region is highly exposed to high-impact hydrometeorological hazards such as hurricanes and tropical storms, causing floods, landslides and storm surge. In 2017, Hurricane Irma caused massive destruction in Barbuda resulting in the subsequent full evacuation of the island while Hurricane Maria caused devastation Dominica. Barbados suffered from flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Kirk in September 2018.

“It is undeniable that Early Warning Systems are well-recognized as critical life-saving disaster risk reduction tools,” Honorable Edmund Hinkson, Barbados Minister of Home Affairs, told the launch.

The project titled “Strengthening Hydro-Meteorological and Early Warning Services in the Caribbean” will be led by the World Bank together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). At the regional level the led implementers will be the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH).

Hinkson lauded the multifaceted approach being used by this initiative which brings global partners together with regional partners for the first time.  “The Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS) brings comparative advantage of all agencies together,” Hinkson added. This approach intends to build community resilience through a functioning, gender-inclusive, cascading early warning systems for the region.  

[ read the full story on WMO site ]

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Coral reefs can’t wait for world to take action, urges UN, as Biodiversity Conference gets underway

Sounding the alarm about the urgent need to protect coral reefs from extinction within decades, a new coalition of organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was launched on Wednesday in Egypt during the UN Biodiversity Conference, to galvanize global leadership before it is too late.

 “It’s clear to anyone who puts their head below the waves that the fate of the world’s coral reefs is hanging in the balance,”. At the moment these undersea explosions of colour and life face an extremely bleak future.” 

 Erik Solheim, UNEP Chief

Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world, support more than a quarter of all marine life, and protect communities and coastlines from natural disasters — and if urgent action is not taken, they could be lost forever.  

Eight international organisations have joined forces to advocate for decisive action to protect these natural wonders: UNEP, the International Coral Reef Initiative, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Vulcan Inc., the Ocean Agency, and the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“The expectations for this coalition could not be higher. Coral reef protection must become a global priority. Coral reefs need a better deal,” said Mr. Solheim, who unveiled the new partnership in the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Dozens of ministers whose countries are party to the CBD are gathering there, together with experts and representatives of civil society organisations, to start a two-year process to adopt a global framework for protecting biodiversity, including coral reefs, around the world.

 [ full story on UN News ]

 

 

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IOM launches migration governance in the Caribbean 2018 report

IOM, under the PACTA project and funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; launched the Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean. The report aims to help policymakers improve migration management practices in the Caribbean region and is to be used as a starting point for identifying opportunities to develop regional interventions tailored to the realities of each country and to build government capacities. 

Learn more about the methodology of this report, the highlights and main actionable recommendations for the region, which consists of: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago; 

Background

In January of 2016 eight countries, in coordination with the IOM and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) met to discuss establishing a regional consultative process. The countries and territories of Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands identified priority themes to pursue, including:

  • Collection of data, information sharing, and analysis of migration related issues;
  • Systematic consultations on migration issues; and
  • Sharing of good practices in regards to refugees and vulnerable migrants.

In December of 2016, 15 countries and territories met for the first meeting on thematic issues: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Haiti, Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos, and Tinidad and Tobago.

Learn more about the  report and the Caribbean Platform For Migration Governance

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UN Report: Hunger and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean compounded by inequality

For the third consecutive year, the number of those chronically hungry has increased in Latin America and the Caribbean, while 250 million – 60 percent of the regional population - are obese or overweight, representing the biggest  threat to nutritional health, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch of the 2018  Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security report in Santiago, Chile, FAO’s Regional Representative, Julio Berdegue said it was an “appalling” threat to health overall, affecting women and indigenous groups the most.

The Panorama, published annually by FAO, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP), explores strategies to halt the health threats posed by hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to the report, hunger, malnutrition, lack of micronutrients, and obesity largely affect lower income families, women, indigenous communities, Afro-descendants and rural families.

Principle causes of malnutrition amongst the most vulnerable, can be traced back to changes the food systems have experienced in the region, from production to consumption. With a greater strain on the demand for nutrient-rich food like milk and meats, many resort to less costly options which are often higher in fat, sugar and salt.

newsicon  [ full story on UN News ]

 


 

Infographics from the 2018 FAO report:

 

hungerlac18 

obesity facts

 

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UN stands ready to support Haiti after quake on 6 October

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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