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Media Advisory - Antigua and Barbuda to host concert on plastic pollution

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa

Media Advisory

PRESS CONFERENCE

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 23 April 2019 – Grammy Award Winning Singer, Ashanti, to help announce concert on plastic pollution.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly will hold a press conference on 30 April 2019 with His Excellency Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, from 12:30-1:00pm, on the upcoming ‘Play it Out’ Concert, to be held in Antigua on 1 June 2019.

Along with Ashanti and Prime Minister Browne, the President will be joined by H.E. Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations and H.E. Walton Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda. Both Governments of Norway and Antigua and Barbuda are major supporters and global advocates of the campaign to tackle plastic pollution.

Full details on the concert and the campaign will be provided, followed by a Q&A.

WHAT Press Conference on the ‘Play it Out’ Concert to Beat Plastic Pollution.

WHEN 30 April, 12:30pm-1:00pm

WHERE Media Briefing Room (S-237), United Nations HQ, New York. The Press conference can also be followed live via UN Webcast: http://webtv.un.org/

Hashtags: #PlayItOut #BeatPlasticPollution

For Media:

ACCESS: for journalists without UN accreditation, please visit www.un.org/malu. Additionally, please contact Carl Mercer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions.

Office of President of the UN General Assembly: Mark Seddon Tel: +1 917 378 1659 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | and Monica Grayley Tel: +1 646 387 1032 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Media Advisory - Grammy Award Winning Singer, Ashanti, to help announce concert on plastic pollution.

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa

Media Advisory

PRESS CONFERENCE

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 23 April 2019 – Grammy Award Winning Singer, Ashanti, to help announce concert on plastic pollution.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly will hold a press conference on 30 April 2019 with His Excellency Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, from 12:30-1:00pm, on the upcoming ‘Play it Out’ Concert, to be held in Antigua on 1 June 2019.

Along with Ashanti and Prime Minister Browne, the President will be joined by H.E. Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations and H.E. Walton Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda. Both Governments of Norway and Antigua and Barbuda are major supporters and global advocates of the campaign to tackle plastic pollution.

Full details on the concert and the campaign will be provided, followed by a Q&A.

WHAT Press Conference on the ‘Play it Out’ Concert to Beat Plastic Pollution.

WHEN 30 April, 12:30pm-1:00pm

WHERE Media Briefing Room (S-237), United Nations HQ, New York. The Press conference can also be followed live via UN Webcast: http://webtv.un.org/

Hashtags: #PlayItOut #BeatPlasticPollution

For Media:

ACCESS: for journalists without UN accreditation, please visit www.un.org/malu. Additionally, please contact Carl Mercer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions.

Office of President of the UN General Assembly: Mark Seddon Tel: +1 917 378 1659 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | and Monica Grayley Tel: +1 646 387 1032 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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‘Do everything in your power to tackle climate change’ UN chief urges on Mother Earth Day

Marking International Mother Earth Day, the UN on Monday debated how best to build “an equitable and sustainable future” for all, through enhanced education and climate action, on the road to a key international summit on the issue due to take place in September.

 Billed officially as an Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature, the UN General Assembly session involved Member States and top officials discussing the need to take urgent action against the pace of global warming, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to keep carbon dioxide emissions to well-below two degrees Celsius.

In a tweet to mark Earth Day, UN chief António Guterres said it was vital “every day” to “commit to taking better care of our planet. Please do everything in your power to tackle climate change – the defining issue of our time”, he said.

“Climate change is one of the largest threats to sustainable development globally,” said the concept note prepared for the General Assembly meeting, “and is just one of many imbalances caused by the unsustainable actions of humankind, with direct implications for future generations.”

Only we can prevent ‘irreparable damage’

President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, said that taking care of nature was, in essence, “taking care of people”. She also noted the importance of respecting life-cycles of the natural world, and contributing to biological diversity so that the world can “continue and prosper”.

“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to the planet and to its inhabitants” she tweeted. “We are at a crossroads; this is the moment in which we decide the path we wish to take, to avoid reaching a point of no return in global warming. We already know the results of inaction.”

Video: UN General Assembly president, addressed an interactive dialogue.

Day honours ‘life and sustenance’ earth provides

The international day recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.

It also provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.

To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September, to meet the climate challenge.

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Secretary-General's Statement on Cyclone Idai

Secretary-General's Statement on Cyclone Idai

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and heart-wrenching images of human suffering we have seen since Cyclone Idai hit Beira, Mozambique on the night of 14 March, and then swept into Malawi and Zimbabwe, resulting in the massive disaster.
 
I have been encouraged by the efforts of national and international search and rescue teams, who have been working around the clock to save thousands of lives under dangerous and challenging conditions.
 
These heroes have not only rescued families off roofs, but are also delivering food, water purification tablets and other life-saving humanitarian assistance to survivors after communities have literally been washed away.
 
The UN and humanitarian partners are scaling up the response with the initial funding from generous donors. The UN has already released US$ 20 million to kick-start the response. However, far greater international support is needed.
 
With crops destroyed in the breadbasket of Mozambique more people are at risk of food insecurity in all three countries. And homes, schools, hospitals and roads lie in ruin.
 
What is needed now are funds to support the response in the days, weeks and months to come.
 
We must all stand in solidarity with the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
 
I would like to make a strong appeal to the international community to step up support.

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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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Shrinking biodiversity poses major risk to the future of global food and agriculture, landmark UN report shows

With the biodiversity of plants cultivated for food shrinking, the global population’s health, livelihoods and environment are under severe threat. This warning from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) comes as the UN agency releases a new report – the first of its kind – on the state of the world’s biodiversity in food and agriculture.

The study, released on 22 February 2019, delivers a stark message: that there is a real risk of the plant and animal species that provide our food, fuel and fibre (as well as the many animals, insects and micro-organisms that make up crucial parts of the food chain) disappearing for good.

The FAO received a large amount of information from 91 countries, provided specifically for the report, and the analysis of the latest global data to compile the report, which was prepared under the guidance of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the only permanent intergovernmental body that specifically addresses biological diversity for food and agriculture.

Plants and livestock under threat

While 6,000 plant species are cultivated for food, just nine of them account for two-thirds of all crop production. When it comes to livestock, around a quarter of breeds are at risk of extinction: just a handful provide the vast majority of meat, milk and eggs. And more than half of fish stocks are at risk of extinction.

Wild food species are also rapidly disappearing, with just under a quarter of known wild food species are decreasing. However, the true proportion is believed to be much higher as more than half of reported wild food species is unknown. In addition, species that contribute to the food ecosystem, such as pollinators, soil organisms and natural enemies of pests, are under sever threat. Examples include bees, butterflies, bats and birds.

FAO chief José Graziano da Silva, quoted in a statement published on Friday, described biodiversity as “critical” for safeguarding global food security, and called for food to be produced in a way that doesn’t harm the environment: “Less biodiversity means that plants and animals are more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Compounded by our reliance on fewer and fewer species to feed ourselves, the increasing loss of biodiversity for food and agriculture puts food security and nutrition at risk.”

How countries are bringing back biodiversity

  • USA: Californian farmers allow rice fields to flood in winter instead of burning them after growing season. This provides 111,000 hectares of wetlands for bird species at risk of extinction, leading to increased numbers,
  • France: about 300,000 hectares of land are managed using agroecological principles.
  • Kiribati, integrated farming of milkfish,
  • sandfish, sea cucumber and seaweed ensures regular food and income despite changing weather conditions.

 Video: FAO- Without biodiversity we wouldn’t have the food we eat today! But it's disappearing before our eyes

full story on UN News ]

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UN announces roadmap to Climate Summit in 2019, a ‘critical year’ for climate action

2019 is a critical year, the “last chance” for the international community to take effective action on climate change, General Assembly President Maria Espinosa said on Thursday, during a briefing to announce the UN’s roadmap to the Climate Summit in September.

Ms. Espinosa was speaking alongside the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on the Climate Summit, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, at UN Headquarters in New York.

Ms. Espinosa said that, with the deadline for achieving the first targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development fast approaching, described by Secretary-General António Guterres as “the UN’s blueprint for peace, justice and prosperity on a healthy planet”, the world stood at a crossroads.

Two-thirds of these targets, she said, depend on climate and environment goals, and a five-fold increase in commitments from their current levels is needed in order to meet the targets set at the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance, due to come into force in 2020.

The General Assembly President walked the representatives of Member States through some of the key events of 2019, leading up to, and following, the Climate Summit. All of the events, she said, share two goals: a doubling of commitments and ambition at a national level, and ensuring the inclusion of diverse groups in the process of climate action. 

March will see the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, which is intended to build on the success of COP24, the 2018 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, which led to the establishment of a “rulebook” for the reporting of emissions and the progress made in cutting them, every year from 2024.

The March meeting will welcome representatives of the private sector, civil society and young people, and look to harness the enthusiasm of the latter group, who, said Ms. Espinosa, will be most affected by a warming world.

On the 30th of June, in the build up to the Climate Summit, a “stocktaking” event will take place in Abu Dhabi, followed by a High Level Political Forum under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council in July, which will see a review of the progress made in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 13 (“urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”).

The Climate Summit will be followed by the first-ever High Level Political Forum on Climate Action, sponsored by the General Assembly on September 24. The year will be rounded off by the 2019 Climate Conference COP25, which will take place in Chile.

[ full story on UN News ]

 

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World in grip of ‘high impact weather’ as US freezes, Australia sizzles, parts of South America deluged

“High impact weather” has gripped much of the world so far this year, the UN weather agency, WMO, reported on Friday, with “dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record high heat and wildfires in Australia, heavy rains in parts of South America, and heavy snow on the Alps and Himalayas.

The WMO assessment of January’s weather, published on Friday, describes it as “a month of extremes”, with large parts of North America gripped by bitterly cold temperatures, caused by the influence of the Polar Vortex.

In southern Minnesota, reports the UN weather agency, the wind chill factor pushed readings down to minus 65°F (-53.9°C) on 30 January.  The national low temperature record was measured at minus 56 °F (-48.9°C).

“Disturbances in the jet stream and the intrusion of warmer mid-latitude air masses can alter the structure and the dynamics of the Polar Vortex, sending Arctic air south into middle latitudes and bringing warmer air into the Arctic. This is not a new phenomenon, although there is increasing research into how it is being impacted by climate change”, the agency said.

But climate sceptics should be careful before equating the frigid conditions, with a rejection of the inexorable rise in global temperatures due to global warming, or rising carbon dioxide emissions: “The cold weather in the eastern United States certainly does not disprove climate change”, said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“In general, and at global level, there has been a decline in new cold temperature records as a result of global warming.  But frigid temperatures and snow will continue to be part of our typical weather patterns in the northern hemisphere winter. We need to distinguish between short-term daily weather and long-term climate’, he added. 

While The eastern US and parts of Canada are seeing record-breaking cold temperatures, Alaska and large parts of the Arctic have been warmer than average.

During January, severe winter storms also hit the eastern Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East, severely affecting vulnerable populations lacking adequate shelter, including refugees.

A cold front in the third week of January that swept south through the Arabian Peninsula, bringing a widespread dust storm from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, also brought heavy rain and precipitation to Pakistan and northwest India, reports WMO.

[ read the full story on UN News ]

 

Video:WMO Year of Polar Prediction

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In 2019, ‘reasons for hope’ in a world still on ‘red alert’: UN chief Guterres

Last year, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued “a red alert” over a range of dangers confronting the world, which “still persist” as 2019 looms: “These are anxious times for many, and our world is undergoing a stress test,” the UN chief said on Saturday in his message for the New Year.

He reiterated one of his clarion calls during 2018 over climate change, saying that it was still “running faster than we are,” and that deepening geo-political divisions are making conflicts more difficult to resolve.

Record numbers of people are moving in search of safety and protection, inequality is growing and “people are questioning a world in which a handful of people hold the same wealth as half of humanity,” he said.

Moreover, he stated that intolerance was on the rise while trust is declining.

‘Reasons for hope’

“But”, Mr. Guterres continued, “there are also reasons for hope”, notably in Yemen where breakthrough talks have created an opportunity at least, for peace.

The Secretary-General also cited the September agreement signed in Riyadh between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which has eased long-running tensions and brought improved prospects to an entire region as cause for optimism. 

Likewise, he pointed to the agreement between warring parties in South Sudan which has revitalized chances for peace, “bringing more progress in the past four months than in the previous four years.”

The UN was also able to bring countries together in Katowice, Poland, to agree on a programme to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

newsicon  [ full story on UN News ]

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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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