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Developing nations to benefit from new UN website on climate change funding
With developing countries slated to require as much as $100 billion a year for adaptation to climate change and $175 million for mitigation by 2030, the United Nations today launched a website to help them make sense of the multiple funds available to finance their needs.
The Climate Finance Options (CFO) web platform, envisioned as the go-to site for information on climate finance, will help them identify critical sources of funding to combat climate change.
"Developing countries need access to information on potential sources of finance, inspiring best practice examples, research results and tools for better investment decision making," World Bank Environment Department Director Warren Evans said at the launch at the UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico. "The Climate Finance Options Platform provides a window to such information."
The World Bank Group and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) jointly developed the web-based knowledge platform in close cooperation with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat.
"For climate assistance to be most effective, it is critical for countries to access, sequence, and effectively integrate climate finance sources at the national level," UNDP Environment and Energy Group Director Veerle Vandeweerd said.
"UNDP is therefore pleased to be working in partnership to provide the CFO platform and assist countries to navigate the complex sources of finance through a one-stop shop."
The CFO analyzes the types of funds available, how much is available for what, the criteria for accessing them, and how they are administered. It also provides examples of successful cases in which different funds were blended to get maximum impact and will lead to greater efficiency in climate finance transactions, faster deployment of mitigation and adaptation projects, and better coordination between the UN system, development banks and the private sector.
Seminario a Distancia: Prevención de Riesgos de Desastres, Desarrollo, Diversidad Social y Equidad de Género
El Centro de Investigación y Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Igualdad Social AC Invitan al Seminario a distancia sobre la Prevención de Riesgos de Desastres, Desarrollo, Diversidad Social y Equidad de Género Programa de tres teleconferencias el viernes 26 de noviembre, viernes 3 y 10 de diciembre del 2010 Transmisión en vivo a través de las Teleaulas del ILCE así como por internet 11:00 am -13:00 pm
A partir del martes siguiente a la teleconferencia, estará alojado en la página del Indesol.
Ahead of UN climate change talks, investors warn of economic risks of inaction
UN News Centre
The world risks economic crises larger than the recent global financial disruption unless governments, policy-makers and delegates to the forthcoming United Nations conference on climate change take action to combat global warming, major investors warned today.
Nearly 260 investors from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America, who collectively have assets valued at $15 trillion, said in joint statement that the potential climate-related gross domestic product (GDP) losses could soar up to 20 per cent by 2050 as a result of climate change.
Citing the economic benefits of shifting to low-carbon and resource-efficient economies, they called for national and international policies that will spur private investment into green technology.
"We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change," said Barbara Krumsiek, Chair of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative and Chief Executive Officer of the United States-based Calvert Investments. "Calvert is deeply concerned about the devastating impacts climate change – if left unaddressed – will have on the global economy," she said.
The statement was released ahead of the climate change conference in Cancún, Mexico, which will open on 29 November with the world trying to agree on a new international climate change regime to succeed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under which industrialized countries committed themselves to a reduction of greenhouse gases.
While low-carbon global investment is increasing, especially in Asia, the investors said more private capital would be available for renewable energy, energy efficiency and other low-carbon technologies, if stronger policies were adopted.
They said that global clean energy investment is expected to rise to $200 billion this year, which is far less than the roughly $500 billion that Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the World Economic Forum says is needed per year by 2020 to restrict global warming to below 2 degrees.
North America lags well behind Europe and Asia in clean energy investment, having committed $20.7 billion in renewable energy projects in 2009, compared to $43.7 billion for Europe and $40.8 billion for Asia, according to a recent UNEP report.
"A basic lesson to be learned from past experience in renewable energy is that, almost without exception, private sector investment in climate solutions has been driven by consistent and sustained government policy," said Ole Beier Sørensen, chairman of the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change and chief of Research and Strategy at the Danish pension fund ATP.
"Experiences from countries such as Spain, Germany and China show how structured policies can bolster investor confidence and help drive renewable energy investments," he added.
Time for action on climate change, says Barbados PM
From Caribbean News Now
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is calling for a coordinated approach among governments to scale back the negative impact of climate change on their respective economies.
He issued this challenge on Wednesday, while addressing a joint British and Australian High Commissions conference under the theme Climate Change in the Caribbean: Equipping Policy Makers to Combat the Threat.
In giving an insight into the negative impact of climate change, the prime minister revealed that some countries stood to lose six per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually from wind, storm surge and inland flooding, based on the findings of a study carried out by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.
Stuart added that the researchers further warned that in a worst case scenario, climate change had the potential to increase these expected losses by a further one to three per cent of GDP, by 2030.
Of equal importance, the prime minister added, was a paper written by officials in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, entitled The Impact of Climate Change on the Barbadian Economy and the Consequences of Doing Nothing, in which the authors contended: "If tourist arrivals in Barbados fell by two, five or ten per cent due to the effects of climate change, then decreases in real GDP of 0.8, 2.1, and 4.2 per cent, respectively, would result if no mitigation or adaptation actions were taken."
In light of these pronouncements, Stuart urged policy makers to incorporate climate change in their planning agendas. "As policy makers, we are faced with a number of challenges, an important one of which is that of mainstreaming, by integrating climate change considerations into development planning, programme budgeting, with a view to reducing the negative impacts associated with this phenomenon."
He further stated: "This coordinated, integrated approach is very important if we are going to deal with the scale and urgency of the problem."
During the mainstreaming phase, the prime minister advised technocrats, to provide accurate information for sound decision making; to ensure that there are reliable institutions to manage national strategies that are consistent with existing policy criteria; and to involve a broad range of stakeholders in the climate change policy process.
The conference, held in conjunction with the Australian Government and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
New UN report outlines measures to prevent losses caused by natural hazards
UN News Centre
Losses caused by natural disasters across the world could triple to $185 billion annually by the end of this century, even without taking into account the impact of climate change, according to the findings of a joint study by the United Nations and the World Bank unveiled today.
The consequences of climate change could lead to more losses with tropical cyclones alone causing damages worth between $28 billion and $68 billion, says the report, Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention, which was released in Washington.
The number of people exposed to storms and earthquakes in large cities could double to 1.5 billion by 2050, according to the report, which was prepared by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Bank.
The 250-page report outlines a number of simple measures to prevent death and destruction from natural hazards, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding.
Governments can, for example, make information about hazards and risks easily accessible, while providing land titles reduces the possibility of eviction or demolition, and encourages individuals to invest in safer structures.
Removing rent controls can restore incentives for landlords to maintain buildings, the report says, adding that refocusing existing public spending to prioritize day-to-day operations and maintenance, including repairing roads, painting steel bridges and keeping drains clear, would prevent damage.
"This report presents necessary evidence and a compelling case for our client countries to reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards so that they can develop in a sustainable and cost-effective way," said the World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick. "We, and our partners in the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), stand ready to scale up efforts to assist disaster-prone developing countries in addressing this threat to the safety and livelihoods of poor people."
The report stresses that it is the vulnerable, not the rich, who bear the brunt of natural hazards, whose effects are often compounded by distorted policies. It notes that there were 3.3 million deaths from natural hazards in the 40 years to 2010. Almost one million people died in Africa's droughts alone.
"This timely report arrives when so many disasters have already happened this year and affected millions of people in Haiti, Pakistan, China, Viet Nam, Indonesia and elsewhere," said Margareta Wahlström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
"We hope that the report will help governments better understand the added value of disaster risk reduction policies so that they can invest more in prevention and protect more people and their assets in the future," she added.
Damage caused by natural hazards is particularly high in middle-income countries, the report notes. Poor and middle-income countries suffered the most, but the report emphasizes that "geography is not destiny" and calls for more spending on early warning systems, particularly weather forecasting.
"Warning people of impending hazards saves lives and livelihoods," said Michel Jarraud, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General. "The report clearly shows that more can be done to take full advantage of many technological advances in predicting weather through investing in hydro-meteorological services.
"The most vulnerable countries in particular require strengthening of their observing networks and infrastructure to establish effective early warning systems to warn their populations against disasters," he added.
Haiti: UN helping to prepare for impending hurricane
UN News Centre
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti is preparing to help up to half a million people in the impoverished Caribbean nation who could potentially be affected by Hurricane Tomas.
Over the last 24 hours, the mission, known as MINUSTAH, along with the Haitian Government and relief partners, have joined forces to initiate contingency plans, mobilize stocks and identify gaps as the hurricane approaches, on top of managing the continuing response to the cholera epidemic and the devastating January earthquake.
"This storm could not have come at a more difficult time," said Nigel Fisher, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti. "Although we have made some extensive preparations and prepositioned stocks across the country, some crucial supplies have been badly depleted by ongoing needs, particularly the response to the ongoing cholera epidemic."
As of last week, the Haitian health ministry has confirmed 4,649 hospitalizations and 305 deaths due to cholera, with cases having been confirmed in three of the country's 10 departments.
Mr. Fisher said that the UN is scaling up distributions in camps and sending truckloads of supplies down to Haiti's southern coast, "but we must now race to mobilize everything else we need."
Priority needs include 150,000 tarpaulins, 90,000 cases of soap and hygiene kits, 20,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts to treat cholera and 200 field tents, as well as logistics support.
Mr. Fisher underlined the need for as many supplies as possible to be in place as possible before Hurricane Tomas hits. "With our Haitian counterparts, we are appealing to donors, to organizations in the region and to humanitarian partners to help us get what we need in time."
Preparations for the hurricane's arrival began over the weekend, with tarpaulins being moved from Panama and all-terrain trucks with enough fuel to be self-sufficient for 7 days in anticipation of roads being cut off were dispatched to key hubs along the southern coastline.
There is a shortage of some stocks, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as a result of the cholera epidemic and shelter needs.
In the capital, Port-au-Prince, where people in camps are very vulnerable to both wind and rain, all rope and tarpaulin stocks have been mobilized to help residents tie down their property, while information campaigns have been scaled up to raise awareness of the need to prepare for the hurricane.
"This storm is approaching at a time when aid agencies in Haiti are already stretched to the limit," Mr. Fisher stressed.
"As well as preparing for a large-scale hurricane response, we must continue to do all we can to help people across the country protect themselves against cholera – an of course to continue responding to the ongoing needs of earthquake survivors," he said, adding that the humanitarian challenges involved in the three simultaneous operations – responding to the earthquake, cholera outbreak and impending hurricane – are among the worst he has seen in his entire career.
Secretary General's report on the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
UNISDR News Archive
Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and China have provided stark reminders of the increasing disaster risk in urban areas. Smaller and more frequent disasters in communities around the world attest to rising vulnerability and insufficient capacity to cope with disaster risk at the local level.
The Mid-Term Review of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 is well under way and will be concluded by early 2011. Preliminary findings suggest that the Hyogo Framework for Action has proved useful in guiding the global effort towards disaster risk reduction. However, as also indicated in the 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, it also reveals that risk reduction is still not hardwired into the "business processes" of the development sectors, planning ministries and financial institutions. Strengthened political resolve is needed if the goals of the Hyogo Framework are to be reached by 2015. The coincidence with the review of the Millennium Development Goals in 2010 provides an opportunity to strengthen the linkages between these two agendas.
The present report provides an overview of progress in the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, in response to General Assembly resolutions 63/215, 63/217 and 64/200. It also considers trends in disasters and disaster risks, and coordination and guidance through the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Details of the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action and international cooperation to reduce the impact of the El Niño phenomenon are contained in the annexes.
Implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction - Report of the Secretary-General (english)
Aplicación de la Estrategia Internacional para la Reducción de los Desastres - Informe del Secretario General (español)
Mise en œuvre de la Stratégie internationale de prévention des catastrophes - Rapport du Secrétaire général (français)
2011 Sasakawa award call for nominations now open
UNISDR News Archive
Nominations are now open for the 2011 Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction. The candidate can be an individual or an institution that has carried out outstanding and internationally recognized action that contributes to the strategic goals and priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.
Candidates should be able to demonstrate how their achievements are linked to the newest international disaster risk reduction campaign, "Making Cities Resilient – My City is Getting Ready," drawing on as many of the Ten Essentials as possible for addressing issues of local governance and urban risk.
Candidates should send the completed cover form to the UNISDR Secretariat by 28 February 2011, together with the requested detailed information in support of their nomination. Candidates are requested to provide a Power Point presentation in English with details of their work and contribution to reducing risk and vulnerability to natural hazards. Late nominations will not be considered.
Conflictos y desastres afectan más a mujeres y niños, afirma UNFPA
Centro de Noticias ONU
Los conflictos armados y los desastres causan traumas físicos y psicológicos que afectan en particular a las mujeres y los niños, afirmó hoy el Fondo de Población de la ONU (UNFPA).
En el informe Estado de la Población Mundial 2010, el UNFPA analiza situaciones concretas en Bosnia Herzegovina, Liberia, Uganda, Timor Leste, los territorios palestinos ocupados y Jordania y Haití.
El documento expone historias humanas desgarradoras, pero también experiencias exitosas de superación, señala Noemí Espinosa, experta del Fondo.
"El informe contiene algunos casos que dan esperanzas, por ejemplo en el caso de Haití, de organizaciones de mujeres que ya venían trabajando en la equidad de género y que cuando se vieron en medio de la crisis humanitaria ya tenían los elementos para organizarse. Y eso facilita que el proceso sea más fluido para que las mujeres puedan salir adelante más rápido", dijo Espinosa.
La publicación del informe coincide con el décimo aniversario de una resolución del Consejo de Seguridad que instó a las partes de los conflictos armados a adoptar medidas para proteger a las mujeres y niñas contra la violencia por razones de género.
Sostiene que es necesario destruir las barreras artificiales entre crisis, recuperación y desarrollo.
Después de las guerras o desastres naturales, la respuesta humanitaria debe incluir acciones que preparen el terreno para el desarrollo a largo plazo, afirma el Fondo.
Concluye que es preciso reemplazar un ciclo vicioso de crisis y subdesarrollo por un círculo virtuoso de progreso social, económico y de potenciación.
PNUMA identifica países de mayor concentración de carbono
Centro de Noticias ONU
Ecuador y Honduras son algunos de los países del mundo donde la inversión para conservar los bosques y combatir el cambio climático podría dar grandes beneficios a las comunidades locales y al planeta.
Así lo estima un informe del Programa de la ONU para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) presentado hoy en Japón, en el marco de la Convención sobre Biodiversidad.
El estudio identifica en qué países coinciden las mayores reservas de dióxido de carbono, con la densidad de vida silvestre, y la importancia económica para las comunidades.
En el caso de Ecuador, esas reservas se encuentran en las selvas de la Amazonía y al pie de los Andes.
El PNUMA indicó que durante los próximos siete años, la iniciativa "Socio de los bosques del Ecuador" busca conservar más de tres millones de hectáreas de bosques nativos y otras vegetaciones en áreas seleccionadas por la riqueza de su biodiversidad.
El programa ecuatoriano beneficiará a más de un millón y medio de personas.
En Honduras, las áreas protegidas cubren 18% del territorio que contiene casi el 30% de las reservas de dióxido de carbono del país.
El objetivo del informe del PNUMA es asistir a los gobiernos a establecer prioridades a la hora de invertir en este campo.
October 13th, International Day for Disaster Reduction.
This year's theme: My City is Getting Ready!
To mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the UNISDR secretariat is calling on its partners to play a more active role to protect cities against disasters. Many cities have been disrupted this year by disasters: earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and New Zealand; floods and heavy rainfalls in Pakistan, Eastern Europe, Mozambique and other parts of Africa; forest fires in Russia; and volcanic eruptions in Indonesia and Iceland. All have caused huge human suffering and economic damage. Cities have never been so at risk
Parliamentarians urged to take action on disaster reduction
UNISDR News Archive
The UN's agency for disaster risk reduction is calling on international lawmakers to take action on disaster risk reduction as a means to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and adapt to climate change.
UNISDR director Salvano Briceño presented an advocacy kit on disaster risk reduction to parliamentarians at the 123rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which recently met from 4 to 6 October in Geneva. The aim of the kit is to spread awareness about disaster reduction in their countries.
"The MDGs cannot be achieved and climate change impacts can not be minimized if we do not reduce risk to natural hazards," Briceno told the IPU's Governing Council. "Parliamentarians play an essential role in implementing disaster risk reduction policies as they can influence their country's spending laws."
Following the presentation of the kit to parliamentarians, Hon. Ms. Saumura Tioulong, a member of Cambodia's Permanent Committee of the National Assembly, said storms and earthquakes were natural occurrences, but added that what is not natural is lack of preparedness.
"Prevention costs only a small portion of any budget," she said, adding that in Pakistan, "millions spent on prevention would have avoided the billions spent on the cost in repair."
Recent studies show that $1 invested in reducing disaster risk could produce as much as $37 in savings, although the ratio of investment to savings varies widely depending on the country and cause of disaster.
According to UNISDR, the cost of disaster-related damage had risen 13 times from $75.5 billion in the 1960s to roughly $1 trillion in the past decade. Damage includes the collapse of schools during disasters, which makes achieving the MGD on universal education a challenge. About 95% of schools in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, were destroyed in the January earthquake.
The health sector faces similar problems during times of disaster. The 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami, for example, destroyed 61% of health facilities in Indonesia's Aceh province, killing many healthcare workers and causing an overall public health crisis. This year, in flood-affected Pakistan, half a million women were expected to give birth in the next six months, raising grave questions about healthcare delivery.
Briceño said the devastating floods in Pakistan are also a stark reminder that disaster risk reduction is a "must" to protect development gains and to help reach the MDG of halving poverty by 2015.
"Natural hazards, such as floods, earthquakes and cyclones, often derail communities that are ill prepared, becoming full-blown disasters because of poverty and unsafe development practices," he warned. "Ecosystem degradation, combined with the impacts of climate change and increasing urban density, also adds to the risk of disaster."
Responding to the threats, the IPU passed a resolution, which calls on parliaments to urge their governments to provide adequate and accessible resources to UN agencies involved in providing disaster assistance. The resolution also calls on the international community to support the UN in developing a parliamentary programme on disaster risk reduction that focuses on mitigation, prevention and preparedness. In particular, parliaments should urge their governments to develop risk reduction strategies under the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI), a joint initiative of OCHA, UNDP and UNISDR.
Latin America needs to improve disaster risk management, bank says
Governments in Latin America and the Caribbean need to do more to reduce the adverse economic and social impacts of natural disasters and allocate more funding to better cope with and respond to catastrophes, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Unless governments focus more on disaster risk reduction, the region faces potentially crippling economic and social costs from natural disasters, including an expected increase in climate change-related disasters, according to the latest index on disaster risk management published by the IDB this week.
The IDB's index, first developed in 2005, aims to help Latin American governments better identify, gauge and reduce the risk caused by natural disasters.
Despite efforts to improve disaster risk management in the region as a whole, countries continue to lag, the bank said. Every country analyzed in the index showed unsatisfactory levels of disaster risk management, said Sergio Lacambra, a senior specialist in natural disasters and disaster risk management for Latin America and the Caribbean at the IDB.
"Governments, mayors and municipalities need to focus on risk identification," Lacambra told AlertNet in a phone interview from Washington. That includes identifying which communities face risks, better assessing the level of risk in each of those communities and finding out more about volcanic activity and earthquakes in regions at risk, he said.
COST OF NATURAL DISASTERS
Economic losses following natural disasters have increased in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent decades.
From 2000 to 2009, earthquakes, floods and tropical storms caused $34 billion in economic losses in the region, according to the IDB.
The IDB risk index shows that if Peru were hit today by a high-magnitude earthquake - similar to the one that hit Chile earlier this year - it could suffer economic losses of up to $15.8 billion, depending on the location of the quake's epicenter. A similar event could cause losses of up to $5.2 billion in Mexico and $3.8 billion in Colombia.
The IDB report singles out Central America and the Caribbean, in particular Honduras and Nicaragua, as the places in the region least equipped to cope with the impact of natural disasters and facing potentially the highest economic losses.
The countries are particularly susceptible both because they lie at the edge of the Caribbean hurricane belt and because they are among the poorest and least-developed nations in the region, which leaves them with fewer resources to deal with disasters.
Among the factors exacerbating the growing disaster risk in the region are climate change - which can bring more extreme weather - as well as population growth, unchecked rapid urbanization, poor land use, and deforestation.
Local governments need to play a more important role in urban planning in order to order to reduce the growing risk, the report said.
Municipal authorities need to enforce building regulations and make sure private companies respect them, in particular ensuring buildings are quake-resistant, Lacambra said.
With the exception of Haiti, most governments in the region have made progress in planning for emergencies caused by natural disasters, including setting up early warning systems and devising evacuation routes.
But much more needs to be done to reduce the risk posed by natural disasters, the report said. Instead of waiting for a disaster to take place, government authorities need to be asking what can be done now to minimize risk, Lacambra said.
LACK OF GOOD DATA
Planning for disasters brought on by more extreme weather events associated with climate change is a particular problem, he said, because knowledge about the potential impacts of such disasters at a community level is lacking.
Latin American governments are struggling to understand just how severe climate-related impacts will be, and how many people may be affected in the future, he said.
One problem is that climate change scenarios now available are too general to suggest specific impacts at community level. Further investment is required to translate climate change models and scenarios to the appropriate level of resolution for decision-making at the local community level, Lacambra said.
Scaling up and improving disaster risk management practices - including building protective walls along rivers, improving urban planning, building cyclone shelters, resettling communities living in flood-prone areas, protecting forests and coastal areas, and planting trees to prevent mudslides - are all initiatives governments can undertake to reduce the impact of natural disasters while mitigating the effects of climate change.
But getting governments to invest in such measures is often not easy.
"Politicians follow short-term instincts," Lacambra said, and getting them to pay to prevent disasters likely to occur after their term of office is difficult, he said.
The IDB is urging Latin American governments to set up emergency funds and take out disaster insurance plans to soften the economic impact of natural catastrophes rather than rely on expensive loans after a disaster.
Celebrado en La Habana el Taller Nacional sobre Centros de Gestión de Riesgo
Noticias PNUD Cuba
Durante los días 28 y 29 del pasado mes de septiembre, sesionó en La Habana el Taller Nacional de los Centros de Gestión para la Reducción de Riesgos (CGRR), auspiciado por la Iniciativa para el Manejo de Riesgos del Caribe (CRMI), el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo PNUD y el Estado Mayor Nacional de la Defensa Civil.
Este Taller tuvo como objetivo fundamental intercambiar lecciones aprendidas entre los Centros de Gestión de Riesgo a nivel local. Contaron para ello con la presencia de representantes de los centros existentes a nivel nacional. Este encuentro permitió documentar la experiencia cubana sobre los Centros para su posible replicación en los países del Caribe.
Durante el encuentro se abordaron temas específicos como el funcionamiento de los CGRR y los puntos de alerta temprana (PAT), los grupos multidisciplinarios y los estudios realizados sobre peligro, vulnerabilidad y riesgo. El Sistema de Información geográfica, la organización y empleo de los medios de comunicación y la sensibilización y preparación de la comunidad fueron también temas importantes en la agenda.
El Taller contó con la presencia del General de División y Jefe del Estado Mayor Nacional de la Defensa Civil, Ramón Pardo Guerra. Participaron también personalidades del Estado Mayor Nacional, del PNUD, del CRMI y el MINCEX. Con el apoyo del PNUD se han creado en el país 38 CGRR, 116 PAT y se han realizado 35 estudios sobre los principales riesgos que existen en cada territorio.
UN climate change chief urges nations to step up search for common ground
UN News Centre
With less than two months remaining before the next United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, a senior world body official called on nations to accelerate efforts to find common ground to reach a concrete outcome at the Mexico meeting.
"Governments have restored their own trust in the process, but they must ensure that the rest of the world believes in a future of ever-increasing government commitment to combat climate change," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Some 3,000 participants from more than 170 countries are in Tianjin, China, for a negotiating session which began today ahead of the next conference of parties in Cancún kicking off on 29 November.
"Governments need to agree on what is doable in Cancún and how it will be achievable in a politically-balanced manner," Ms. Figueres stressed.
She noted there is a growing convergence in the negotiations that the event in the Mexican city could lead to a package of decisions defining action to address climate change.
This could include a new global framework to help countries adapt to climatic changes, launching a new mechanism to speed up the transfer of technology to developing nations, and setting up a new fund to oversee money raised for specific needs of poorer countries related to climate change.
"The agreements that can be reached in Cancún may not be exhaustive in their details, but as a balanced package, they must be comprehensive in their scope and they can deliver strong results in the short-term as well as set the stage for long-term commitments to address climate change in an effective and fair manner," the UNFCCC chief said.
She acknowledged that there are areas where nations disagree, mainly over how and when to agree on a fair share of responsibilities on present and future action, but underlined that they are not insurmountable.
"Governments seem ready to discuss difficult issues," Ms. Figueres said. "Now they must bridge differences in order to reach a tangible outcome in Cancún."
For example, she said, they can formalize the many pledges they have made to cut and limit emissions.
The recent floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and mudslides in China have spotlighted the dangers of extreme climate events, the official pointed out.
"The bottom line is that it is in no one's interest to delay action," she said. "Quite on the contrary, it is in everyone's ultimate interest to accelerate action in order to minimize negative impacts on all."
Call for Papers - 5th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management
CDEMA announces the staging of the 5th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management to be convened at Montego Bay, Jamaica during December 6‐10, 2010. This Conference is the Caribbean's annual signature disaster management forum for reflection, dialoguing and measuring progress in the region within the context of the Enhanced Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Programming Framework 2007‐2012.
The theme for this year's conference is: "Comprehensive Disaster Management: Strengthening Partnerships for Resilience". Abstracts' submissions are being accepted according to Conference guidelines.
Deadline for abstracts is October 1st
Biodiversity loss is bankrupting the natural economy – Ban
UN News Centre
A rescue package similar to that introduced after the global financial crisis is urgently needed to halt the worldwide loss of biodiversity, which is resulting in a heavy human cost, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today.
"We are bankrupting our natural economy," he told a high-level General Assembly event on biodiversity, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ecosystems – and the biodiversity that underpins them – generate services worth trillions of dollars, supporting livelihoods around the world.
Characterizing ecosystems as "our natural capital," Mr. Ban stressed that a loss of biodiversity can lead to the failure of crops, a drop in profits, a deepening of poverty and economic decline.
"Allowing [our natural infrastructure] to decline is like throwing money out of the window," he said.
According to the UN, the world will not meet the 2010 target to slow the decline in biodiversity, part of the eight globally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Nearly 17,000 plant and animal species are currently at risk of extinction, while the number of species under threat of being wiped out is also growing by the day.
Although investment to reverse biodiversity decline has increased, the main causes of the decline – high consumption rates, habitat loss, pollution and climate change – are not adequately being tackled.
The Secretary-General called on world leaders to commit to reducing biodiversity loss. "This will be your legacy – your gift for generations to come."
Shifting to a green economy can hasten development, says new UN report
UN News Centre
Intensifying investments in clean energy can accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets to slash poverty by 2015, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says in a new publication.
A "green economy" is one that "not only improves human well-being and lessens inequality but also reduces environmental risks and ecological scarcities," the brief says, underscoring its importance in realizing the MDGs.
In 2008 amidst the global financial crisis, UNEP launched its Green Economy Initiative, which seeks to demonstrate how to revive economies and create lasting jobs while simultaneously addressing environmental challenges.
The new publication, entitled Brief for Policymakers on the Green Economy and the Millennium Development Goals (PDF), also emphasizes the interconnected nature of the eight MDGs.
For example, it says, sustainable agriculture and the provision of safe water are targets of the seventh MDG, but meeting that objective would also help to curb poverty, lower infant mortality rates and enhance maternal – each of which are separate Goals.
"There is rapidly-growing evidence that accelerating a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, employment generating Green Economy may not only be the key to meeting sustainability challenges of the 21st century, but also provide a considerable contribution to meeting the other MDGs," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
The publication was launched on the same day as the start of a three-day gathering at the UN, drawing scores of world leaders, seeking to assess progress made so far in achieving the MDGs.
Mr. Steiner said that on current trends, it is likely that not all of the Goals will be achieved by 2015.
This is "in part because the responses so far have been embedded in a 20th-century approach to a new century's challenges," he said, underlining the benefits derived from investing in modern clean-technology energy systems.
Millennium goals can help ease crises - if pursued in the right way
The more developed a country the better it tends to cope with natural disasters and conflicts. But it does not necessarily follow that if a nation cuts poverty and improves education, as set out in eight U.N. development goals, it will be better able to mitigate crises, experts say.
Making the connection is vital because failure to act on a disaster or a violent dispute can in turn wipe out hard-won gains on health and hunger targets.
To create this "virtuous circle" as one U.N. expert put it, governments and aid agencies must pursue the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as part of broader development policies, towards the rule of law and fairer distribution of wealth for example, and in coordination with more technical measures against crises.
"Achieving progress on development - and the MDGs are a sort of an indicator, not very satisfactory sometimes but an indicator - is necessary but not sufficient for achieving progress on disaster risk reduction," said Philip White, a development researcher at the University of East Anglia.
"It's quite possible to have quite good progress on the MDGs and still be very vulnerable to disasters."
And sometimes efforts of MDG and disaster communities can even be in conflict with each other.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOXES
For example poverty, injustice and a lack of natural resources such as water can all be a cause of violence. During disasters the poor are also much less resilient.
Cultivating high-yielding crops at the expense of traditional varieties can reduce hunger and poverty, as called for in the first MDG, but it can also make farmers more vulnerable during droughts because such prolific crops are less able to survive water shortages than their humbler peers.
Likewise, mangrove stands protect coasts from tidal storm surges but these have been destroyed to make way for shrimp farming in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Research by Britain's Overseas Development Institute has found that educated people cope better during conflicts as they can find creative ways to make a living and interact with authorities more easily by, for instance, writing letters.
A literate population - including girls and women whose needs during disasters can be different from men's - is better able to partner with experts in designing ways of protecting communities. Educated people respond better to warnings and other public announcements, the U.N. Development Programme said in a report.
Schools can also run drills on how to stay safe if a natural disaster hits.
However, putting up more schools in an earthquake-prone area to reach the second MDG of universal primary education could lead to more deaths during a quake because a large number of children stays in a single building.
Therefore, when working towards that MDG, the government should ensure schools are designed to hold up in natural disasters and that builders actually implement such design features instead of cutting corners as happened in badly-governed Haiti.
The same goes for other public buildings, for example hospitals in relation to health MDGs.
"Disaster risk reduction needs to be built into the way that you work on the MDGs for them to be sustainable," White said, echoing many others.
Targeted measures to avert humanitarian crises range from simple to sophisticated.
People in disaster-prone areas can be taught to have their vital belongings ready in carrier bags, big bowls, buried in the ground or tucked away high up in their houses in case they need to flee flooding or an earthquake, and to ensure the most vulnerable, such as children and the sick, are evacuated first.
On the other end of the scale, governments and aid groups can provide so-called social protection for the poorest, including pensions and child support or seasonal grants when the times are hardest as is the case in Africa during the "lean season" - the period between harvests when food stocks are low, even after good rains.
In this way, not only will the impact of disasters be reduced but a descent into deeper long-term poverty will also be prevented. Often, because of a drought, poor farmers sell livestock or tools to buy food and that puts them in a worse position when the weather improves.
As for broader, cross-cutting measures necessary to mitigate crises, such as boosting the rule of law, many developing countries could start by investing into something not spelled out in the MDGs: a professional, well-trained and honest police force, said MDG critic Dan Smith of peace-building group International Alert.
So disasters, the MDGs and wider human development are all sides of the same coin. Progress on all of them, as two academics explain in a paper, "can only be accomplished if they are undertaken in an integrated manner".
Global efforts halt depletion of life-preserving ozone layer, UN reports
UN News Centre
International efforts to protect the ozone layer shielding life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays have stopped additional ozone losses, potentially averting scores of millions of cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts, according to a new United Nations report released today.
At the same time they have helped to mitigate the global warming greenhouse effect.
"Today's report underlines that action to protect the ozone layer has not only been a success, but continues to deliver multiple benefits to economies including on efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said, referring to the ambitious targets that seek to slash a host of social ills by 2015.
Global ozone is no longer decreasing, due to the phase-out of nearly 100 depleting substances once used in products like refrigerators and spray cans, but is not yet increasing. The ozone layer outside the polar regions is projected to recover to pre-1980 levels before the middle of the century, although the annual springtime ozone hole over the Antarctic is expected to take much longer, the study reported in one of its key findings.
The report, published jointly by UNEP and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and released today on the UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, is the first comprehensive update in four years on the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol phasing out chemicals which accelerate both ozone layer damage and climate change.
"It (the Protocol) has protected the stratospheric ozone layer from much higher levels of depletion by phasing out production and consumption of ozone depleting substances," said the report, written and reviewed by some 300 scientists and launched on the UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
Given that many substances that deplete the ozone layer are also potent greenhouse gases, the Montreal Protocol "provided substantial co-benefits by reducing climate change," it added.
In 2010, reductions of ozone depleting substances as a result of the Protocol, expressed in carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions (about 10 gigatons per year), were five times larger than those targeted by the first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse emissions reduction treaty.
"Without the Montreal Protocol and its associated Vienna Convention atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050," Mr. Steiner said. "This in turn could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts, not to speak of damage to human immune systems, wildlife and agriculture."
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the ozone-hole issue showed the importance of long-term atmospheric monitoring and research, "without which ozone destruction would have continued unabated and might not have been detected until more serious damage was evident."
In a message for the International Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited the Montreal Protocol, which last year achieved universal ratification, as "an excellent example" of setting a broad framework, clear targets and a gradual approach to implementation as governments gain confidence and build on initial steps, setting more ambitious goals.
"When the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, governments did not originally envision the phase-out of any ozone-depleting substance," he said. "Yet, as a result of strong national and global compliance, parties to the Montreal Protocol have cut production and consumption of these harmful chemicals by more than 98 per cent."
Programa Prevención de Desastres deja innumerables avances en comunidades del país
Tomado de El Nuevo Diario
SANTO DOMINGO, RD,- El Programa de Prevención de Desastres (PPD) auspiciado por la Unión Europea, fue clausurado este martes con logros concretos donde se destaca la formación de comités que se han creado en zonas vulnerables ante fenómenos naturales como las comunidades de El Bajo Yuna, Nagua y las provincias Hermanas Mirabal y Duarte. El coordinador del Programa de Prevención de Desastres (PPD), Marc Van Wynsbergh, destacó los aportes que se lograron en tres años, en donde se capacitaron, dotaron de materiales y equipos a las personas para la intervención y mitigación de desastres naturales.
También citó como logros concretos la excelente relación del Programa de Prevención de Desastres con otras agencias y organismos que trabajan la problemática de la prevención y mitigación, entre la que mencionó laa Defensa Civil, Cruz Roja Dominicana, y los Ministerios de Medio Ambiente y de Salud, entre otras.
La Coordinadora Residente del Sistema de las Naciones Unidas en el país, Valerie Julliand, manifestó que el PPD ha fomentado una conciencia responsable en relación a estos fenómenos y la necesidad de que toda la comunidad se integre en la creación de mecanismos que puedan dar una respuesta organizada ante la ocurrencia de un desastre natural.
El director de la Defensa Civil, mayor general Luis Antonio Luna Paulino, al referirse al impacto del Programa de Prevención y mitigación a Desastres en el Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgo en el país, resaltó el empeño puesto por la institución bajo su dirección para aunar criterios y coordinar esfuerzos de forma tal que los aportes del PPD sean cada vez mayores y dejen los mejores resultados en la población.
Mientras que el Ordenador Nacional para los Fondos Europeos de Desarrollo, Domingo Jiménez, dijo que el PPD es la reducción de las vulnerabilidades en el país.
Enfatizó que desde su designación por parte del presidente Leonel Fernández, al frente de la Defensa Civil, valoró como sumamente positivo esta iniciativa debido a la ubicación geográfica del país y al registro histórico de vaguadas, tormentas, ciclones, huracanes y otros fenómenos naturales.
El responsable del manejo del financiamiento no reembolsable aportado por la Unión Europea al país, fue enfático al decir que cree deben preservarse los aportes que en sus tres años ha hecho el PPD a la población dominicana, particularmente en sus componentes de despertar una conciencia sobre estos fenómenos y la de construir almacenes debidamente equipados en zonas de una alta vulnerabilidad frente a estos fenómenos de la naturaleza.
Durante el acto, fue difundido el documental titulado: Más capacidad menos vulnerabilidad y se escucharon diferentes testimonios y experiencias narrados por personas o actores vinculados a dicho programa que llega a su fin, justamente en medio de la actual temporada.
Climate change may add to disaster death tolls
Natural disasters are tending to kill fewer people but climate change may add to the toll by unleashing more extreme weather and causing after-effects such as disease and malnutrition, experts say.
Better warnings of cyclones or heat waves and an easing of poverty in developing nations in the past few decades have made many nations better prepared for weather extremes, helping to curb death tolls.
"In terms of actually saving lives we are doing well," said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a senior expert at the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO).
"But that's no guarantee for the future as we see the hazard increasing, particularly things like heat stress where we may not be very well prepared," he told Reuters.
Rising temperatures can aggravate the aftermath of disasters, as well as causing creeping changes from higher temperatures such as disruptions to food production.
"Climate change just adds another reason why we should be getting on with controlling malaria, diarrhoea and dealing with the problem of malnutrition," said Campbell-Lendrum. "Those are the big challenges.
U.N. studies project global warming will cause more droughts, wildfires, heat waves, floods, mudslides and rising sea levels -- all threats for an increasing human population set to reach 9 billion by 2050 from 6.8 billion now.
And it is often the after-effects of natural disasters that are the worst, in terms of extra deaths.
Deaths from extreme weather this year such as in Pakistan's floods "are a warning that we need to renew efforts to bring climate change under control," said Andrew Haines, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"There is an increased death rate from indirect causes -- people become impoverished, so child death rates that are not normally counted rise," Haines said.
"There might be a substantial under-estimate in the deaths," he said. Climate change would add to the damaging after-effects of natural disasters.
BIGGER RISK FROM DISEASE
More than 1,750 people have died in Pakistan's floods but millions more are at risk of disease. At least 54 people died from wildfires in Russia in July and August that drove up world grain prices -- threatening malnutrition for the poor.
The WHO will issue a report next year updating an initial 2003 study that estimated an extra 150,000 people were dying every year from global warming -- mainly from malnutrition, diarrhoea and malaria.
It projected that the toll was set to double by 2030. Campbell-Lendrum declined to predict the new numbers.
"The short-term response is disaster preparedness" to help save lives, said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, pointing to successes in Bangladesh and Cuba in limiting deaths from storms in recent decades.
In Bangladesh, for instance, advance warning and shelters have helped. Cyclone Bhola killed 300,000 people in 1970, while a 1991 cyclone killed 139,000, according to the EM-DAT disaster database. In 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed 3,500 people.
Alongside investments in flood defences in Pakistan, or better information about how to cope with heat waves, Steiner said, the long-term solution had to be cuts in greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels. "Ultimately it is addressing the fundamental drivers of environmental change which will either lead the world to have increasingly to invest in disaster management or development," he told Reuters. "That is the choice of this generation."
Campbell-Lendrum said the WHO's 2003 study may have under-estimated the impact of inland flooding, such as in Pakistan, and of heat waves such as in Russia. Up to 70,000 people died in Europe in 2003 from a heat wave.
He said climate change was an argument to bolster basic health services in poor nations, where 830 million people suffer malnutrition and are most at risk.
A changing climate also has both bad and good effects -- more people are under threat from heat waves, for instance, but some elderly people also survive better with milder winters.
Other studies have linked warming to the spread of ticks, bearing encephalitis, in northern Europe. One hinted at a higher rate of suicides among Australian farmers during droughts, according to the U.N. panel of climate scientists.
The EM-DAT database shows deaths from natural disasters have fallen from about 500,000 a year a century ago to below 50,000 most recent years. The numbers include disasters unrelated to climate change such as tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. The worst recent year was 2004, with the Indian Ocean tsunami.
U.N. Climate Body Urged to Take Lead in Gender Focus
Two weeks before the 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) review summit at the United Nations, concerns are being raised that gender equality is still largely divorced from efforts to address climate change, even though women have a critical role to play in solving - and are often most affected by – the problem.
Rebecca Pearl, a senior policy advisor for Climate Change at Oxfam America, told IPS that the two MDGs "are often seen in isolation and there is little overlap with the streams of implementation to ensure that environmental initiatives include a gender approach".
Many organisations and scientific bodies that deal with climate change still lack a gendered approach to their research and ignore the different ways in which the sexes may be affected by natural disasters, she said.
"It is important to continue building awareness that responses to climate change must address women's and men's different responsibilities and needs," Pearl said. "A gender-sensitive approach is prerequisite to the success of any climate intervention, and many efforts fail because the women are left out."
Although women are more adversely affected by natural disasters, because of their already disadvantaged position within many societies and because of their reliance on the environment, they have also proven more adept at mobilising communities in responding to disasters or motivating them in adapting to climate change.
There are a number of NGOs working on gender and climate change, many of which collaborate under the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) which was launched at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007 and now includes 25 institutions, both United Nations and civil society organisations.
Pearl told IPS that when the GGCA was launched it set out to accomplish a number of goals.
One is to establish a global policy on gender and climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
"The UNFCC is one of only three major multilateral environmental agreements that does not have a strong gender approach," Pearl noted.
The other multilateral agreements with no or little reference to gender are the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which is legally binding, together with a number of ECOSOC resolutions should influence the UNFCCC to take action, Pearl told IPS.
However the UNFCCC has so far ignored these mandates, preferring to utilise the globally agreed language of the Hyogo Framework for Action, which deals with disaster risk reduction.
An advocacy group led by Women's Environment and Development Organisation and ENERGIA, an international network on gender and sustainable energy, has worked to put gender on the climate and energy agenda. The two organisations succeeded in making governments include more than 30 references to gender in the text of the UNFCCC in 2009.
The network of NGOs "hopes to build awareness of the gender dimensions of climate change". The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in collaboration with other NGOs and U.N. agencies, for example, created the first training manual on gender and climate change.
The manual contains a large amount of information for civil society, UNFCCC, NGOs and U.N. agencies on how to conduct global and regional trainings.
Lorena Aguilar, senior gender advisor for IUCN, told IPS that "the IUCN has been dealing with major environmental conventions for years but decided to adopt a more structured strategy with the UNFCCC, to underline the importance of linking gender and climate change."
The manual describes a number of case studies on small-scale projects which aim to promote environmental sustainability and simultaneously empower women.
One such case is that of the Mama Watoto Group, which has been running an afforestation programme in the Kakamenga region in western Kenya since 1994.
The project, comprised of 28 women and their families, started when, due to soil erosion and infertility, women were forced to collect firewood illegally from the neighbouring National Forest reserve. By doing so, they exposed themselves to the risk of fines while also damaging the surrounding area and contributing to the general degradation of the land.
The goals of the project were initially only to reduce overexploitation of forest resources and find an alternative source of income for the communities.
However, while succeeding in achieving these aims, the project has also empowered women by putting them in charge of the afforestation programme, in which women plant fast- growing trees on their own land.
By having a diverse source of income, women are also less at risk of being the worst affected by future threats of climate change, such as floods, drought and landslides.
This is an example of how, by educating women in climate and environmental matters, considerable benefits can be achieved both in improving the lives and social status of the women themselves and in mitigating the consequences of climate and environmental change.
"The programmes are very well received and applauded at community level, both by women's and men's groups," Aguilar told IPS, adding that "the biggest opposition comes from institutions and decision makers, experts on the environment who however do not understand the social dimension of climate change."
"Often," Pearl said, "women are not included in local decision making bodies even though they may know the most about the local seed varieties, water sources, and the resource needs of their families and communities."
"However, any intervention, whether in the realm of development in general or climate change specifically, has the potential to simultaneously promote women's leadership," she added.
Insurers call for more action to adapt developing world to climate change
UNEP News Centre
Four initiatives representing more than 100 leading international insurance companies are today calling on governments worldwide to harness risk management techniques and insurance expertise to help the developing world adapt to climate change.
The initiatives will present a statement aimed at world leaders and negotiators of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a press conference to be held in Lloyd's of London.
The statement will highlight how governments can unlock significant potential to increase the protection and reduce the vulnerability of developing world populations and economies from natural disasters through better risk management and by enabling insurance-type approaches.
The four groups launching the statement today, on the eve of an international, low-carbon investment conference convened by the UK government, are ClimateWise, The Geneva Association, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).
The recent floods in Pakistan, China and Niger are a timely reminder that the world must adapt to become more resilient to the long-lasting and significant changes in climatic conditions being experienced across the world. These changes are likely to have the most damaging impacts on the developing world, where even small economic losses can have long-term effects on development, and where human health is generally less robust.
In the past three decades, direct global economic losses for all types of natural catastrophes have averaged US$90 billion per year, with 78% of those natural catastrophes being weather-related. Meanwhile, 85% of deaths associated with all natural catastrophes over that timescale have occurred in developing countries (Munich Re, 2010).
There is enormous potential to be derived from a partnership-based approach to tackling the climatic risks faced by people and governments around the world. Indeed, several communities affected by climate change are already benefiting from projects that improve risk management and feature insurance elements.
Programa de Prevención y Preparación ante Desastres de la República Dominicana presentará sus memorias
El Programa de Prevención y Preparación ante Desastres de la República Dominicana (PPD) realizará la entrega oficial del documento + Capacidad – Vulnerabilidad: Memorias del Programa de Prevención y Preparación a Desastres (PPD), en un acto programado para el día 14 de septiembre de 2010. Este documento contiente las memorias del trabajo realizado por el programa durante los años 2006 a 2010, así como las herramientas desarrolladas presentadas en formato CD interactivo.
El acto contará con la presencia, entre otras autoridades, del General Luis A. Luna Paulino, Presidente de la Comision Nacional de Emergencia; el Dr. Domingo Jimenez, Secretario de Estado, Ordenador Nacional de los Fondos Europeos; la Emb. Irene Horejs, Jefa de Delegación de la Unión Europea y la Sra. Valerie Julliand, Coordinadora Residente del Sistema de Naciones Unidas.
El PPD es un programa del gobierno Dominicano financiado por la Union Europea y ejecutado a traves del PNUD, para reducir la vulnerabilidad a desastres en Republica Dominicana, en una alianza estrategica con la Defensa Civil, los ministerios de Medio Ambiente y Salud Publica, y la Cruz Roja Dominicana. El Programa ha concentrado sus acciones de campo en la region Nordeste del pais.
Para mayor información y reservación del documento contactar Jose M. Vicente, PNUD, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
World cannot afford worsening disasters, warns UN climate change chief
UN News Centre
The world cannot afford escalating disasters of the kind recently witnessed in Pakistan and Russia, the top United Nations climate change official said today, underscoring the need for governments to take swift action to lead the world towards a low-carbon future.
Flooding in Pakistan and wildfires in Russia were "so dramatic" that many other major weather disasters in other parts of the world "were relegated as secondary news," Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters today in Geneva.
"Science will show whether and how these events are related to the climate change that is caused by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions," she added.
Ms. Figueres stressed that only governments can prepare societies for climate change and that they must continue to make progress through UN negotiations, "every time taking bigger, bolder steps to keep us ahead of the storm."
The next UNFCCC negotiating session will be held in Tianjin, China, in October, before countries are set to meet at the next conference of parties in Cancun, Mexico, in November.
"There is a growing sense of urgency amongst governments that they need to take this next step in Cancun," the UNFCCC chief reporters today on the margins of an informal dialogue on financing for climate change attended by some 40 ministers.
"They are closer to the shape of an agreement, but remain divided on what it should contain."
Governments have made many pledges to cut or curb the growth of their emissions, she said, but in the Mexican city countries must decide how and when to capture such pledges in an accountable and binding manner.
"At Cancun, they can take clear decisions to construct a set of better, bigger ways and means for countries to work together to take global action at the frontline," Ms. Figueres said.
Industrialized nations have promised to provide $30 billion in fast-track financing for developing countries to adapt and mitigate climate change through 2012, with the provision of these funds viewed as these countries' commitment to climate negotiations by poorer nations, she noted.
Pledges have also been made to raise $100 billion annually by 2020 by wealthier countries, and Ms. Figueres underscored that "concrete proposals on how to do this are now required."
Disaster risk reduction forum held, against backdrop of Shanghai Expo
UNISDR News archive
150 participants from local governments around the world, national representatives, academia, civil society and private sector exhibitors met in the “Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction”, held in Shanghai from 28-31 July 2010. The Forum was held within the context of the global campaign “Making Cities Resilient - My city is getting ready!” and the Shanghai EXPO 2010 “Better city - better life”. An exciting program, with plenary presentations, working groups and visit to the Shanghai EXPO 2010 permitted participants to learn, exchange experience and design ways forward to improve disaster resilience in urban areas. For more information on the specific outcomes of the forum and the recommendations emerging from the working groups, please refer to the Forum Summary.
UN-backed climate body says independent review will strengthen its work
UN News Centre
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations-backed panel tasked with preparing scientific reports on the impact of climate change today welcomed the findings of an independent review which called for major changes in management and procedures to enable the group to strengthen the quality of its assessments.
In March Mr. Ban and Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), requested the review amid intense public debate about the science of climate change, as well as questions over the accuracy of the panel's reports.
"The report we are releasing today identifies and recommends fundamental reforms to IPCC's management structure," Robbert Dijkgraaf, co-chair of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) and head of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science, told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
"The IPCC needs to strengthen its procedures to handle ever-larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as the more intense public scrutiny coming from a world grappling with how best to respond to climate change," he added.
In 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning IPCC issued its landmark Fourth Assessment Report, which found the warming of the climate is outpacing natural variability, driven largely by human activity. The panel's credibility came into question after revelations that the report contained some mistakes, including over the rate of Himalayan glacier melt.
The IAC, a scientific organization bringing together experts from around the world, makes a number of recommendations to strengthen the IPCC's management structure, including establishing an executive committee to act on the panel's behalf and ensure that an ongoing decision-making capability is maintained.
To enhance its credibility and independence, the executive committee should include individuals from outside the IPCC or even outside the climate science community. The IPCC should also appoint an executive director to lead the Secretariat, handle day-to-day operations, and speak on behalf of the panel, the IAC stated.
In addition, it recommended that the IPCC chair and the proposed executive director be limited to the term of one assessment, and that a rigorous conflict-of-interest policy be applied to senior IPCC leadership and all authors, review editors, and staff responsible for report content.
"We hope that today's report will help the IPCC move forward in a stronger, more transparent manner as it carries out future climate change assessments, which are so critical in helping the world understand and prepare for and respond to climate change," said Mr. Dijkgraaf.
Mr. Ban welcomed the review, and urged the 194 member governments of the IPCC to study it carefully and take appropriate action as soon as possible.
"Given the gravity of the climate challenge, the Secretary-General believes it is vital that the world receives the best possible climate assessments through an IPCC that operates at the highest levels of professionalism, objectivity, responsiveness and transparency," his spokesperson said in a statement.
"The Secretary-General firmly maintains that the fundamental science on climate change remains sound. He continues to support the conclusions of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, which have been repeatedly upheld and endorsed by numerous professional review boards across the globe," the statement added.
Mr. Pachauri called the recommendations "forward-looking" and said that IPCC members will carefully review them at the panel's plenary meeting, which will be held in October in Busan, Republic of Korea.
"We already have the highest confidence in the science behind our assessments. We're now pleased to receive recommendations on how to further strengthen our own policies and procedures."
The head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which along with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) co-hosts the IPCC, said today's report reaffirms the integrity, importance and validity of the panel's work while recognizing areas for improvement.
"These recommendations underscore that the IPCC remains the premier body for undertaking the risk assessment needed in such a complex field where knowledge – especially in respect to likely regional impacts – remains imperfect and where new knowledge is constantly being generated," Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.
He added that with the fundamental science underpinning the IPCC's assessment reports not in doubt, and clear recommendations on how to move forward with regard to the panel's administration, the international community must move beyond the current "paralysis" in developing an effective response to climate change.
The IPCC is currently preparing to start work on the Fifth Assessment Report, scheduled to be finalized in 2014.
Hurricane Earl strengthens in Caribbean
Hurricane Earl strengthened as it began buffeting the Northern Leeward islands in the Caribbean on Monday and was seen becoming a powerful storm within the next 24 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Earl carried sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (169 kph) and was a Category 2 hurricane in the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity.
"Hurricane conditions are now spreading into the Northern Leeward Islands and will spread westward into the Virgin Islands later today," the hurricane center said in its 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) advisory.
"Earl is expected to become a major hurricane by tonight or early Tuesday," it added.
The storm's center was 50 miles (80 km) east-northeast of the French overseas island of St. Martin and moving north-northwest.
Hurricane warnings were in effect through the Caribbean, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and the British overseas territories of Montserrat and Anguilla.
Tropical storm conditions were expected to spread over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Monday, with hurricane conditions possible by evening.
The hurricane center warned of a storm surge, dangerous waves and heavy rains that could cause flash flooding and mudslides in areas of higher elevation.
Caribbean airline LIAT canceled 41 flights to several destinations in the eastern Caribbean and shut down its reservation service because of Earl's approach, according to a company statement.
Forecasters said Earl could affect the U.S. East Coast later this week.
"It looks like the storm will be east of the Bahamas on Wednesday, east of Cape Hatteras on Thursday and then probably east of or near Cape Cod and Long Island on Friday," Miami's WFOR-TV forecaster Jeff Berardelli said on CBS radio.
In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Danielle, a major Category 4 storm last week, was barely a hurricane on Monday morning as its sustained winds fell to 75 mph (121 kph). The storm was expected to lose its tropical characteristics later in the day.
It was about 440 miles (708 km) south of Newfoundland.
Caribbean Storm Damage Costs May Increase by 50% Along With Global Warming
From Bloomberg News
Climate change may add 50 percent to the storm damage costs incurred by some Caribbean nations over the next two decades, said Swiss Reinsurance Co., the world's second-largest re-insurer.
Wind, storm surges and inland flooding already cost some Caribbean nations up to 6 percent of their economic output each year, the Zurich-based company said today in a statement on its website. Global warming could add costs amounting to another 1 to 3 percent of output by 2030, it said.
Insurers are being hit with more claims as damages from natural catastrophes rise. Costs to clean up after storms and other natural disasters reached a record $180 billion in 2005, of which insurers covered about half, according to Munich Re, the biggest re-insurer.
"As a global re-insurer. we are already exposed to the effects of climate change," said David Bresch, Swiss Re's head of sustainability. "Projected climate patterns are likely to heighten the risks."
More than 190 nations have been trying since 2007 to craft a treaty to rein in climate change and channel aid from rich to poor nations to help them adapt to its effects. At the latest round of talks earlier this month, island nations said that loopholes in the existing treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, could wipe out emissions reduction pledges for 2020.
Greenhouse gas emissions reductions pledged so far by nations would lead to total warming of 3 degrees to 3.9 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit), the Pew Center on Global Climate Change said. That's more than the 2-degree maximum sought by the U.S. and European Union and the 1.5 degrees proposed by an alliance of 43 low-lying and island nations.
The strongest Atlantic hurricanes may almost double in frequency by the end of the century as the planet warms, according to a paper in the journal Science in January. Occurrence of the most destructive hurricanes may rise 81 percent over 80 years, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-led team wrote.
The 2010 Atlantic storm season may be the most active since 2005, the worst on record, Moody's Investors Service said in June. The season began in June and ends in November.
Swiss Re said territories have a range of options open to them to reduce the risk of damage. The Cayman Islands could "cost-effectively avoid up to 90 percent of expected losses" by building sea walls and enforcing construction codes, the re- insurer.said, citing the study. In Dominica, just 2 percent of the possible damage could be avoided cost-effectively using such measures, it said.
Swiss Re was an adviser on the study on the economics of climate change in the Caribbean, which was released by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, a risk-pooling fund of which 16 Caribbean governments are members. The research, which began in February, covers Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica and St. Lucia, according to Swiss Re.
Concluye exitosamente el Programa de Prevención y Preparación de Desastres en República Dominicana
El Programa de Prevencion y Preparación de Desastres del PNUD en Republica Dominicana esta concluyendo en septiembre 2010 tras un trabajo multidisciplinario de fortalecimiento institucional de 4 anos en apoyo al gobierno.
Un legado importante del programa es la coordinacion de un ejercicio de diagnostico de la situacion de reduccion de riesgos en republica Dominicana (descargar documento), liderado por la EIRD. El documento, primer documento de este tipo realizado por expertos de America Latina de alto nivel de 9 agencias internacionales, fue entregado formalmente al Gobierno por Margareta Wahlstrom, ASG/EIRD el 9 de julio 2010. La Unidad de Desarrollo de Capacidades del PNUD/Panama ha apoyado el equipo del Programa en agosto 2010 a un ejercicio de Lecciones Aprendidas y Mejores Practicas en reduccion de desastres, que sirve de base a la realizacion de un documento de sistematizacion de las Herramientas desarrolladas por el Programa, el cual se dara a conocer en un acto publico el 15 de septiembre en Santo Domingo
UN assesses disaster risk reduction efforts by Dominican Republic
UN News Centre
The United Nations has completed a first-of-its-kind assessment of disaster risk reduction efforts in the Dominican Republic, recommending that the Caribbean nation strengthen building codes as part of its efforts to mitigate the impact of hurricanes and other hazards.
The assessment, carried out in May by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and its partners, examined the country's efforts in implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action, a 10-year plan to make the world safer from disasters triggered by natural hazards, which was adopted by governments in 2005.
That plan provides national authorities with a blueprint to assess and reduce risks through planning, training and better public education. Ensuring that key facilities such as hospitals, schools and other public infrastructure meet certain safety standards is among the ways this can be done.
This was the first time a country asked the UN to conduct an independent assessment of its own disaster risk reduction efforts.
"This exercise demonstrates the Government's goodwill and commitment in fulfilling its obligations to people of the Dominican Republic," said Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, as she presented the report today in the capital, Santo Domingo.
"Because the report represents the shared view of many experts within and outside the United Nations, it can also be used by the Government to rally political support," she noted.
In addition to strengthening building codes, the report also recommended incorporating "vulnerability reduction" targets in projects funded by both the public and private sector, and tightening norms for designing public infrastructure, including procedures used in determining where structures are physically located.
It also suggested that the Government review – and where needed, develop – by-laws and norms for construction, whether national or local, to include considerations of risk. Public and private investment projects should also incorporate aspects of vulnerability reduction, it added.
In addition, the report recommended that the Dominican Republic – which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti – adopt an "island approach" to disaster assessment, and consider joint intervention for disaster mitigation.
"The two countries share areas that can be affected by the same kinds of hazards, which they should approach in bilateral fashion," said Ricardo Mena, Chief of the UNISDR regional office for the Americas, based in Panama City. "In terms of hurricane alert systems, they can exchange information on when a hurricane will hit border areas."
While in Santo Domingo, Ms. Wahlström also spoke about the Making Cities Resilient campaign, which began in May and is spearheaded by UNISDR and other partners. So far, 59 cities have joined the campaign, including 12 from the Americas.
Business leaders increasingly worried about biodiversity loss, UN-backed report finds
UN News Centre
One in four corporate titans worldwide view biodiversity loss as a threat to their business growth, according to a new United Nations-backed study released today.
It found that more than half of chief executive officers surveyed in Latin America and 45 per cent of their counterparts in Africa see biodiversity decline as detrimental to profits, compared to less than 20 per cent in Western Europe.
The publication also found that business leaders who do not include the sustainable management of 'natural capital' as part of their strategies may be at a disadvantage in the global market.
Compiled by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a body hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the study said that 80 per cent of consumers would stop purchasing products from companies that disregard ethical considerations in their sourcing practices.
"Through the work of the TEEB and others, the economic importance of biodiversity and ecosystems is emerging from the invisible into the visible spectrum," said Pavan Sukhdev, TEEB Study Leader and head of UNEP's Green Economy initiative.
The new report points to multinational mining giant Rio Tinto as one company that has committed itself to having a so-called "Net Positive Impact" on biodiversity, developing new methods of assessing the biodiversity values of its landholdings. It has also started to apply biodiversity compensation in Madagascar, Australia and other countries.
Coca Cola, Walmart and BC Hydro are among corporations with similar commitments on softening biodiversity loss.
"We are entering an era where the multi-trillion dollar losses of natural and nature-based resources are starting to shape markets and consumer concerns," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"How companies respond to these risks, realities and opportunities will increasingly define their profitability; corporate profile in the market-place and the overall development paradigm of the coming decades on a planet of 6 billion, going to over 9 billion people by 2050," he added.
Enhancing urban resilience against disasters can spur development
UN News Centre
Dozens of cities have signed on to a United Nations initiative to boost their resilience against natural hazards, which, according to a senior official with the world body, can accelerate progress towards achieving development targets.
So far, 58 cities have joined the campaign, entitled Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready, which was launched in May and calls on leaders and local governments to commit to a 10-point checklist.
Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, told reporters in New York today that the scheme is "extremely important" in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.
Reducing the risks to cities – now home to more than half of the world's population – posed by disasters can help the world reach these Goals, she said.
For example, achieving the second MDG – ensuring that all children complete primary schooling – means that more than 100 million additional children will attend school. Because more schools will have to be erected to accommodate these young people, "why not build them safer?" Ms. Wahlström asked.
Resilience, she said, includes cities having a budget for risk reduction and ensuring that their critical infrastructure – sanitation, hospitals and others – are able to withstand disasters. It also entails urban areas having early warning systems in place for emergencies, as well as systems ready for any recovery effort.
The campaign, coordinated by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), seeks to give cities a forum to share their experiences and expertise, especially given that risks are on the upswing due to increases in weather-related disasters.
The official voiced optimism that cities around the world will be successful in shoring up their readiness for hazards, citing Makati City, in the Philippines, as an example of an urban area that has enhanced its resilience.
UN agency unveils report on lessons from earthquake response in China
UN News Centre
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today released a report on lessons learned while working with the Chinese Government to address the environmental impact of the devastating earthquake that hit the country's Sichuan province in May of 2008.
In the report, entitled UNEP in China: Building Back Better, the agency details its main interventions on the ground, including raising awareness on environmental and ecological considerations within the overall State planning processes for post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction.
The 8.0-magnitude quake affected 70 million people, destroyed some 6.5 million homes, and caused 15 million people to be evacuated. The release of the publication coincided with UNEP's "Nature of Cities" exhibition in the UN Pavilion at Expo 2010 in the Chinese city of Shanghai.
With regard to capacity-building in the aftermath of the earthquake, UNEP was able to bring together the best international experts to share practical knowledge with Chinese civil servants on a wide range of environmental issues linked to disaster recovery and reconstruction.
UNEP also strengthened its office in Beijing by hosting international experts and technical staff from across the agency to assist China's Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) to address the environmental challenges of the post-earthquake period.
In addition to lending support for the drafting of inputs to national recovery plans and appeals, as well as numerous reports and project proposals, UNEP worked closely with the MEP and local governments to help "green" the reconstruction, while addressing environmental improvements across sectors such as industry, education and agriculture.
UNEP deployed experts on the ground to assess the situation and advise national and provincial authorities engaged in reconstruction, providing specific guidance on the approaches that should be adopted for rehabilitation and restoration.
According to the report, the Chinese Government appreciated UNEP's ability to be flexible and respond quickly to changing needs and circumstances.
Cooperation with the Government resulted in better quality of support and technical assistance relating to environmental health and safety, prevention of secondary damage by industries, monitoring of water quality for drinking, and the prevention of contamination of water resources during the rescue phase of the earthquake.
In particular, UNEP was recognized for its environmental expertise in debris and waste management and for helping to "green" the recovery work.
Climate already helping disease spread north - study
Rising global temperatures might already be helping infectious diseases to creep north, according to a report by European scientists.
The report links warmer temperatures to the spread of dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria and even human plague in Europe.
"Fundamental influences of climate change on infectious disease can already be discerned and it is likely that new vectors and pathogens will emerge and become established in Europe within the next few years", says the report by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC).
The independent group is formed of 26 national science academies from across the European Union.
United Nations climate experts recommend cutting carbon emissions to prevent the rise of global temperatures beyond 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
But the prospects of success look poor, with international climate negotiations making slow progress.
When temperatures rise, the insects that spread disease mature faster and produce more offspring, the report says.
Though the report is cautious about making a causal link between global warming and the spread of disease, EASAC's chairman said the risk was undeniable and called for more research.
"To me, it doesn't make a difference how we call it, but that we have had a higher temperature over the last 20, 30 years, which is documented," said Dr Volker ter Meulen, EASAC chairman.
"These higher temperatures provide for the vectors and the viruses to grow faster and produce more," he added. "More vectors, more virus, and this will cause more disease."
For example, rising temperatures in Europe would provide new habitats for a mosquito that transmits yellow fever, West Nile virus, dengue fever and encephalitis, ter Meulen said.
The same mosquito has been linked to over 200 European cases of chikungunya, a virus that causes fever and destruction of the joints.
The European Commission supports additional research, said Peteris Zilgalvis, head of the Commission's research unit on infectious diseases.
"Impact is inevitable," he said. "Concerted action is needed at the EU and the national levels, because infectious diseases do not stop at borders."
Poor want 2010 climate pact; others see long haul
Many developing nations insisted at U.N. climate talks on Wednesday that a full U.N. treaty should be agreed in 2010 even though others are resigned to a far longer haul to tackle global warming.
"This is about our survival", said Collin Beck of the Solomon Islands who is vice-chair of the Alliance of Small Island States which fear a creeping rise in world sea levels caused by global warming.
He told a news conference his group insisted a treaty should be agreed at the next annual meeting of environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov. 29-Dec. 10.
Many rich nations and some major emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil at Bonn talks among senior negotiators from May 31-June 11 reckon that a legally binding deal may have to wait, perhaps until a next meeting in 2011 in South Africa.
"If we can't deliver in Cancun and we are shown the road to Cape Town or any other cities, it will be unfortunate, it will be tragic, it will be a Holocaust," said Quamrul Islam Chowdhury of Bangladesh, main negotiator for the Group of 77 poor nations.
Poor nations such as Bangladesh and Pacific island states say they are most vulnerable to climate change and that food production for millions of people will be hit by desertification, floods, heatwaves and rising seas
But many other delegates believe that a treaty is impossible in 2010 and that a more practical approach may be to focus on issues such as green technology, ensuring aid to the poor and protecting forests rather than an elusive new treaty.
But any agreements in Cancun demand unanimity. The vote of each developing nation counts for as much as those of China or the United States, the top emitters.
The U.N.'s incoming top climate official said that her focus for Cancun was for delivery on promises already made such as $30 billion in aid from 2010-12 or measures to protect forests.
"It's too simplistic to focus on 'do we have a legally binding agreement and if so by when?', said Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, who will take over from Dutchman Yvo de Boer from July 1.
"It's not that black and white...I don't believe we will ever have a final agreement on climate, certainly not in my lifetime," said Figueres, who is aged 53. She said that advances in understanding climate science would always mean a need for adjustments.
The U.N.'s Copenhagen summit fell short of a legally binding deal in December. At the summit, most nations signed up for an accord meant to limit a rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). But it did not spell out how.
"Ideally we could have a legally binding document in Cancun, but we in Brazil and I personally don't think it will be possible," said Sergio Serra, Brazil's climate change ambassador.
And China said the goal now was to get negotiations back on track. "The first priority for all of us is to rebuild confidence and trust," China's climate ambassador Yu Qingtai said.
Trade, human rights seen aiding UN climate deal
A planned U.N. climate deal might adapt systems for monitoring trade or human rights as models to check up on poor nations' curbs on greenhouse gases, Mexico's climate chief said on Tuesday.
Luis Alfonso de Alba, whose country will host this year's main climate talks in Cancun from Nov. 29-Dec. 10, said a review system could help the world towards a U.N. climate treaty after the 2009 Copenhagen summit fell short of a binding deal.
"We are starting to look into a system of what we call 'peer review'" for developing nations' climate plans, he told a news conference on the sidelines of talks among climate negotiators from 185 nations in Bonn, Germany.
"Such systems have proven to be quite successful, whether it's trade or human rights, to mention some examples," he said. De Alba is Mexico's special representative for climate change and a former president of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Rich and poor nations have long disagreed about how to monitor plans by developing nations to curb their rising greenhouse gas emissions as part of a world drive to avert more heatwaves, floods, desertification and rising seas.
De Alba said the proposed "peer review" would satisfy rich nations' demands for better oversight while ensuring the poor do not feel it is interference in their domestic affairs.
Peer review "is not a police exercise, more a learning process. It forces you to make an additional effort," de Alba told Reuters. He said there would be no international sanctions involved for those not in compliance.
In U.N. monitoring of human rights, for instance, countries have to present reports about their performance. These are reviewed by three countries picked at random and debated publicly by all other nations.
And the World Trade Organisation reviews its members' policies for trade in goods and services under a 1989 deal.
"It's an effort in transparency," he said of such reviews. Many developing nations have only vague domestic plans so far for tackling climate change.
Developed nations, bound by the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gas emissions until 2012, already face tougher international inspections of their commitments. Their pledges to cut emissions underpin carbon prices.
And developing nations receiving international funds will also face tougher monitoring. But there is a gap for checking programmes funded by developing nations themselves, for instance to save fuel through an efficiency drive at industrial plants.
De Alba said that expectations had been too high before December's Copenhagen summit, which agreed a non-binding deal to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times. It did not say how.
De Alba said he wanted to be both ambitious and realistic for Cancun. He said Mexico was hoping for a full legally binding deal "but being aware that not necessarily everything is going to be solved in Cancun."
Most experts believe that a deal is out of reach for 2010.
Restoring damaged ecosystems can generate wealth and employment – UN report
UN News Centre
Repairing forests, lakes and other types of nature reserves that have been damaged or depleted can generate wealth, create jobs and become a vital means of alleviating poverty, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), says in a report released today.
The report identifies thousands of ecosystem restoration projects worldwide and showcases over 30 initiatives that are transforming the lives of communities and countries across the globe.
Entitled Dead Planet, Living Planet: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development, the report underlines that far from being a cost on growth and development, many environmental investments in degraded, nature-based assets can generate substantial and multiple returns.
"The ecological infrastructure of the planet is generating services to humanity worth by some estimates over $70 trillion a year, perhaps substantially more," said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.
"This report is aimed at bringing two fundamental messages to governments, communities and citizens on World Environment Day (WED) and in 2010 – the UN's International Year of Biodiversity. Namely, that mismanagement of natural and nature-based assets is undercutting development on a scale that dwarfs the recent economic crisis," Mr. Steiner said.
"Well-planned investments and re-investments in the restoration of these vast, natural and nature-based utilities not only has a high rate of return, but will be central, if not fundamental, to sustainability in a world of rising aspirations, populations, incomes and demands on the Earth's natural resources," said Mr. Steiner from Kigali, Rwanda, the main host for this year's global WED events. The Day will be officially marked on Saturday.
Nature restoration activities include rehabilitating water flows to rivers and lakes, improving soil stability and fertility for agriculture and combating climate change by sequestering and storing carbon from the atmosphere.
The report underlines that maintaining and managing intact ecosystems must be the key priority. However, given that more than 60 per cent of the ecosystems, ranging from marshes and coral reefs to tropical forests and soils, are already degraded, restoration must now be an equal priority.
Rehabilitating ecosystems also generates jobs in a world where currently 1.3 billion are unemployed or underemployed, while supporting international goals to substantially reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity, a key theme this year.
The report cites evidence that well-planned, science-based, community-supported programmes can recover between 25 and 44 per cent of the original services alongside the animals, plants and other biodiversity of the former intact system.
As an example, it points to a study on restoring degraded grasslands and lands around river systems in South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains. It estimates that the project will bring back winter river flows to communities amounting to close to 4 million cubic metres of water, cut sediment losses and store carbon.
In Peru, the theme of ecosystem restoration underpins the Projeto Agua Limpa or Clean Water Project co-launched by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen and her father in 2008 in her hometown of Horizontina.
The project is aimed at restoring the health of water supplies while boosting biodiversity by restoring forests and rehabilitating river banks and riverside vegetation in river basins.
"UNEP's report on ecosystem restoration spotlights the enormous opportunities for communities to invest in their future development," said Ms. Bündchen after the report was released.
"Restoring degraded environments is among the best gifts we can give and hand on to current and future generations – we need to bring to the attention of everyone the central link between forests, wetlands and other natural systems and our survival and prosperity in this extraordinary world," she added.
The report makes several recommendations, including urging overseas development agencies, international finance agencies and regional development banks to factor ecosystem restoration and long-term management assistance into development support, food security initiatives, job creation and poverty alleviation funding.
It also recommends that one per cent of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) be set aside annually for conservation, management and restoration of the environment and natural resources, with the precise figure linked to national circumstances.
Ecosystem restoration should be guided by experiences learned to date to avoid unintended consequences such as the introduction of alien invasive species and pests, the report suggests. It also posits that infrastructure projects that damage an ecosystem have funds set aside to restore a similarly degraded ecosystem elsewhere in a country or community.
Speaking in Kigali, Mr. Steiner urged the world to move towards a "common goal of a healthy, productive and well-managed planet that can give everyone the opportunity to flourish under the theme of 'Many Species, One Planet, One Future'."
Agriculture, energy sectors to shape sustainability of future development – UN
UN News Centre
How the world contends with the agriculture and energy sectors will serve as a bellwether for development in the 21st century, largely determining whether growth will be sustainable for billions of people, according to a new United Nations-backed report.
With current production and consumption of fossil fuels and food draining freshwater supplies, triggering losses of forests and other ecosystems and raising pollution levels, the study concludes that dramatically reforming, rethinking and redesigning how the planet's people are fed and fueled could spur environmental, social and economic returns.
It stresses that reaching sustainability goals should start in the home, through dramatically changing heating and cooling systems, gadgets, appliances and the way people travel.
Perhaps controversially, the report – by the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management – also calls for a shift away from animal-based protein diets to more vegetable-based foods to ease pressure on the environment.
"Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation," said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which hosts the Panel.
"Thus setting priorities would seem prudent and sensible in order to fast-track a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy," he stated.
Launched today in Brussels, the publication notes that more intelligent fiscal policies and creative policy-making are among the tools that can be used to combat unsustainable patterns.
"Some tough choices are signaled in this report, but it may prove even more challenging for everyone if the current paths continue into the coming decades," Mr. Steiner said.
Latest round of UN climate change talks kicks off
UN News Centre
Representatives from 182 governments have gathered in Bonn, Germany, today for a fresh round of United Nations talks on climate change, aiming to pick up on issues left unresolved after December's gathering in Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen Accord – which dozens of countries have now signed – was the final document from the conference in the Danish capital, where progress to agree on a binding treaty faltered.
"The Copenhagen meeting may have postponed an outcome for at least a year, but it did not postpone the impacts of climate change," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
"The deadline to agree an effective international response to climate change at Copenhagen was set because governments, when launching negotiations in Bali in 2007, recognized the scientific warning on climate for what it was: a siren call to act now, or face the worst," he noted.
The next gathering of the conference of the parties to the UNFCCC will be held later this year in the Mexican city of Cancun.
"Climate negotiations over the next two weeks will be on track if they keep focused on a common way forward towards a concrete and realistic goal in Cancun," Mr. de Boer said. "There is a growing consensus on what that the goal for Cancun can be – namely, a full, operational architecture to implement effective, collective climate action."
Two working groups will meet during the Bonn gathering, with one focusing on a new negotiating text and the other concentrating on emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialized countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012.
"I encourage governments to now develop greater clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, since this issue cannot be left unattended until Cancun," the UNFCCC head said.
He also called on industrialized nations to fulfill the pledge they made in Copenhagen to deploy $30 billion from now to 2012 to jump-start climate action in developing countries. "Cancun can deliver if promises of help are kept and if promises to compromise are honoured in the negotiations."
Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica will replace Mr. de Boer as head of the UNFCCC when he steps down this summer to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on climate change in the private sector and academia.
NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season
From NOAA News
An "active to extremely active" hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued today by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service. As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place.
Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:
- 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
- 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
- 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."
The outlook ranges exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Expected factors supporting this outlook are:
- Upper atmospheric winds conducive for storms. Wind shear, which can tear apart storms, will be weaker since El Niño in the eastern Pacific has dissipated. Strong wind shear helped suppress storm development during the 2009 hurricane season.
- Warm Atlantic Ocean water. Sea surface temperatures are expected to remain above average where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic. Record warm temperatures – up to four degrees Fahrenheit above average – are now present in this region.
- High activity era continues. Since 1995, the tropical multi-decadal signal has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions in sync, leading to more active hurricane seasons. Eight of the last 15 seasons rank in the top ten for the most named storms with 2005 in first place with 28 named storms.
"The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Niña develops this summer," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop."
UN unveils campaign to make cities more resistant to disasters
UN News Centre
With the recent wave of natural hazards – from the devastating January earthquake in Haiti to volcanic eruptions in Iceland wreaking havoc with air travel in Europe – exposing the need for cities to implement disaster reduction plans, the United Nations is launching a campaign to boost the resiliency of urban areas.
The two-year scheme, called Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready, calls on leaders and local governments to commit to a 10-point checklist.
"A resilient city and its citizens can benefit greatly from the opportunities presented by urban risk reduction actions," said Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Reduction.
"When successfully mobilized, resilient cities may benefit from growth and employment, business opportunities, balanced ecosystems, better health and improved education," she added.
The campaign, to be launched in Bonn, Germany, on Sunday, seeks to bring more than 1,000 local government leaders around the world to step up their investment in urban planning; infrastructure and building safety; reinforcing drainage systems to reduce flooding; and installing early warning systems, among other measures.
The mayors of five cities – Bonn; Mexico City, Mexico; Saint Louis, Senegal; Karlstad, Sweden; Larreynaga-Malpaisillo, Nicaragua; and Albay, Philippines – will be the first to commit to at least one of the checklist's 10 points.
"It is fundamental that we as local leaders are conscious about the risks," said Enrique Gomez Toruño, Mayor of Larreynaga-Malpaisillo. "We learned a lot during the recent influenza epidemics and before that from Hurricane Mitch, floods and landslides. We learned we have to invest more time, more capacities to reduce our risks."
The new campaign also urges community groups, planners, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to join efforts to enhance the resiliency of cities.
"Urban risk reduction is an opportunity that cities and their populations cannot afford to miss," Ms. Wahlström said.
The Secretariat of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is coordinating the initiative, with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) also playing a key role.
Emergency warning systems to be installed at critical facilities in BVI
From Caribbean Net News
TORTOLA, BVI -- Engineers from viaRadio Corporation are in the British Virgin islands to commence the installation of warning devices within a number of critical facilities including schools, police stations, clinics, national parks posts and fire stations.
The new components will offer an alerting system which provides almost instantaneous messaging to persons who are indoors and are unable to hear the outdoor sirens located throughout the Territory.
The engineers will be working with staff at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and will provide training for maintaining and operating the units.
Tracy Moffett of viaRadio said, "We are pleased to be expanding ENVOY emergency warning systems in the Caribbean by installing the viaRadio system in the Virgin Islands. This viaRadio system will give the DDM the ability to immediately warn schools, first responders and other emergency personnel in the event of natural or manmade disasters. We hope ENVOY prevents the loss of lives, injuries and emergency situations that may occur."
Moffett is accompanied by William Marriott, who will be undertaking the installation and ensuring the functionality of all units. .
At a press conference held on February 16, Minister for Education and Culture Andrew Fahie announced the installation of the radio units in all primary and secondary schools, both public and private throughout the Territory. Minister Fahie said he was pleased that a project of this importance was being implemented in the Territory and thanked the DDM for pursing efforts to ensure the safety of residents.
On January 26, 2010 the DDM signed an agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to access funding in the amount of approximately US$17,000.00 to purchase the major components of the viaRadio system as well as to secure 45 units to be installed at selected sites throughout the Territory.
During this week, secure servers will be installed at radio stations ZKING and ZROD and will serve as the main hub for transmitting signals to the various units at the critical facilities. The units will be able to provide a warning tone accompanied by a message. The message will provide specific instructions to key personnel of actions they should take in the event of a natural and technological hazard impact or for informational purposes. The message can also be transmitted in English or Spanish.
The viaRadio units will allow for mass notification and can also be further linked to mobile telephones and e-mail systems for simultaneous alerting, options which are under consideration for future use.
Central America coffee land to shrink as globe warms
By Sarah Grainger - SAN LUCAS TOLIMAN, Guatemala, May 19 - Mexico and Central America could lose around a third of land suitable to grow coffee as global warming hurts conditions for the best quality beans, a study of regional farms shows.
Specialty arabica coffee, the pride of countries like Guatemala, grows inside a very narrow band of altitude and temperature making it particularly sensitive to small changes in the climate.
At the current rate temperatures are rising, there could be at least a 30 percent net loss in land suitable to farm coffee in Mexico and Central America by 2050 forcing many farmers to turn to different crops, said Peter Laderach, a lead researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
Laderach, whose organization is based in Colombia, is leading a team of scientists who started studying 7,000 small farms in Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Nicaragua in 2009 and has based his estimate on data collected so far.
The researchers map the farms with satellite positioning devices to collect data on altitude and crop production. That information is then cross-referenced with climate change models to track how different areas will be affected by hotter weather and changes in rainfall.
In San Lucas Toliman, a village nestled between two volcanoes in western Guatemala, 140 farmers from the Granja Juan Ana cooperative submitted mapping data to the project.
"We want to know what will happen to be more aware. We hope to pass the information to everyone so we can be prepared," grower Julio Morales said, whose family has farmed coffee in the area for more than two decades.
Greenhouse gas emissions could heat the earth's surface by between 2 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit (1-6 degrees Celsius) over the next 100 years, according to the United Nations, forcing farmers of all kinds of crops to change habits.
TRYING TO ADAPT
Unpredictable rainfall patterns, excessive droughts, and hurricanes caused by climate change are already affecting coffee farmers from Kenya to Vietnam. Mexico and Guatemala are among the world's top ten coffee producers by volume, according to the International Coffee Organization and shrinking coffee land will eventually affect the global market.
"We'll have much less coffee available and for those who can still produce, the price could go up," Laderach said.
Laderach's research has shown the changing weather will mean growers farming coffee at low altitudes will lose crops.
Higher altitudes, which now are too cold to grow coffee, will become farmland but higher up, land is scarce. Poor farmers in Central America, where most of the property is concentrated in the hands of a small number of owners, have trouble acquiring new land.
Many farmers between the low and high extremes will need to adapt their farming methods to continue producing coffee.
The scientists are using the data to give farmers advice on how to change practices. Some can plant shade trees to lower the temperatures over their trees, others can change to drought resistant varieties of coffee or install irrigation systems.
"If there's a whole portion of the coffee supply chain that 20 or 30 years from now can't grow as much, can't grow the same quality or perhaps can't grow coffee ... (we) want to know that now," said Michael Dupee, vice president of the U.S.-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc
UN names Costa Rican as new climate change chief
UN News Centre
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica to lead United Nations efforts to combat climate change.
She will take the reins of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from Yvo de Boer, who announced that he was stepping down to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on the issue in the private sector and academia.
"Ms. Figueres is an international leader on strategies to address global climate change and brings to this position a passion for the issue, deep knowledge of the stakeholders and valuable hands-on experience with the public sector, non-profit sector and private sector," Mr. Ban's spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, said in announcing the decision.
Her appointment as Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC comes five months after the Copenhagen Accord was reached at last December's UN conference in the Danish capital.
That non-binding pact aims to jump-start immediate action on climate change and guide negotiations on long-term action, pledging to raise $100 billion annually by 2020. It also includes an agreement to working towards curbing global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and efforts to reduce or limit emissions.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050.
The next round of high-level global talks on climate change will be held later this year in Cancun, Mexico.
When announcing his resignation earlier this year, Mr. de Boer said, "I have always maintained that while governments provide the necessary policy framework, the real solutions must come from business."
Countries did not reach a clear legal agreement in Copenhagen, but, he noted, "the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming. This calls for new partnerships with the business sector and I now have the chance to help make this happen."
With 194 Parties, UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 190 of the UNFCCC parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.
Call for applications - Certificate of Advanced Studies in Disaster Risk Reduction
This 2x2 week programme aims to train professionals in both Southern and Northern countries in the field of natural disaster prevention, especially related to climate change. This course proposes an integrated and interdisciplinary approach and focuses on populations at risk, reduction of vulnerabilities and the strengthening of capabilities.
The programe will be held 6-17 September 2010 at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, and 8-19 November 2010 at IISc, Bangalore, India.
The course is based on the North-South scientific partnership. It gives participants an opportunity to improve their knowledge in the field of risk reduction directly linked to reality and actual experience. India is one of the countries most affected by natural disaster, but also with vast scientific expertise and local know-how. The training provides a chance to share the different standpoints and experiences of Europe and Asia in this domain. The programme combines theoretical courses, workshops, case studies and field visits. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree and good English. Full and/or partial grants may be offered to participants coming from developing or emerging countries that are not able to meet the total costs involved.
For full information and application procedure see http://cooperation.epfl.ch/Jahia/site/cooperation/op/edit/pid/72010
Deadline for Applications: 30 May 2010
Protecting people's water from climate change
EarthSky, a U.S.-based science news organization, spoke with water expert Mark Smith about the coming pressures on water, people and ecosystems as a result of climate change. Smith is head of water programmes for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world's oldest and largest network of environmental scientists and agencies.
Mark Smith: When we think of climate change impacts ... mostly what people are talking about is drought and floods and storms, and sea level rise, and melting glaciers. And all those things have to do with water.
According to a 2009 study, published in the proceedings of National Academies of Sciences, human-caused climate change is linked to the rapid melting of Kilimanjaro's glaciers, and the mountain's snow cap could disappear entirely in just a few decades. More than 2 million people depend on water from the Kilmanjaro's glaciers. Smith spoke about an IUCN project to help people in northern Tanzania better manage their water.
Mark Smith: This is in the Pangani River Basin, which has Mount Kilamanjaro at its headwaters. So this is a very iconic place for climate change. But it's also a very typical place for Africa, where people are struggling with water security. The big problem in the Pangani is that water is running out. And climate change is making this worse.
Smith said that the IUCN project works with the Tanzanian government and grass-roots leaders of farmers and fishers to figure out how to allocate shrinking water supplies - for the small-scale farmers who need irrigation water up to supplies of hydropower for the capital city Dar es Salaam.
Mark Smith: Part of the solutions that IUCN have been working on with the government there, with other partners locally, is to first figure out how much water we actually have, and then ways of allocating it. When we work on allocating water between uses, remember, ecosystems need water too. And that's important to remember because ecosystems provide those services that people rely on for their livelihoods, for insuring that they can withstand impacts of climate change, like wetlands and groundwater recharge. So if we don't allocate water within that allocation system, then we lose those services.
Smith spoke about the importance of 'resilience,' in dealing with climate change impacts such as disruption to water supplies.
Mark Smith: 'Resilience' is a nice, friendly, English word that means we're better at coping with problems. It also means we're more adaptive, and work in systems that are more adaptive. Resilience comes from not just being reactive - there's going to be a problem with drought, therefore let's build a dam - but building around that some of the actions we need, such as making sure we have diversity in economy, in livelihood. So that when problems happen, we have alternatives. We have infrastructure that's sustainable, dams that work well and don't cause so many problems downstream, for example, so that we can ensure that downstream ecosystems can be protected from the people who depend on those.
Pequeños estados insulares hacen desesperado pedido de auxilio
Tomado de IPS
PARÍS, 7 may (IPS) - Presionados por el aumento del nivel del mar, la muerte de los arrecifes de coral y la disminución de las existencias de peces, los pequeños estados insulares en desarrollo volvieron a exigir a las naciones ricas que hagan más por su supervivencia.
"Estamos viendo la amenaza del colapso de la pesca, del turismo y de la pérdida de biodiversidad", dijo Rolph Payet, asesor especial de la Presidencia de Seychelles.
"Algunas personas creen que es cuestión de hacer caso omiso y seguir como siempre" emitiendo gases de efecto invernadero, pero "la información muestra que debemos estar preocupados, y que debemos actuar", señaló. "De hecho, deberíamos haber actuado ayer".
El experto hizo estos comentarios al participar de la 5 Conferencia Mundial sobre Océanos, Costas e Islas, que se realiza hasta este viernes en la sede en París de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (Unesco). El encuentro atrae desde el lunes a 823 delegados de 80 países.
Cuando los participantes discutieron vías para preservar la biodiversidad marina y mejorar la administración de los océanos, las pequeñas islas reiteraron sus llamados hechos el año pasado en la 15 Conferencia de las Partes de la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático para reducir las emisiones de carbono.
Esos recortes son necesarios para disminuir o estabilizar las temperaturas y detener la acidificación de los océanos, que científicos señalan afecta la vida marina.
Según estadísticas de la organización ambientalista Greenpeace, los océanos han absorbido alrededor de 70 por ciento de "la sobrecarga de carbono creada por los seres humanos" hasta la fecha, alterando el equilibrio químico del agua marina y haciéndola menos alcalina.
"La situación me provoca escalofríos, porque no muchas personas conocen las consecuencias de la acidificación de los océanos", dijo Payet. "Afectará a los hijos de nuestros hijos".
El experto indicó que Seychelles, un archipiélago de más de 100 islas, estaba siendo afectado por el recalentamiento de los océanos y el aumento en los niveles del mar, que causará el desplazamiento de personas y otros problemas sociales. Los países pobres no están equipados para poder afrontar estas dificultades, señaló.
La Alianza de Pequeños Estados Insulares (AOSIS, por sus silgas en inglés), conformada por 42 miembros y observadores, es responsable de apenas 0,3 por ciento de las emisiones de gases invernadero, pero sufre el mayor impacto del cambio climático.
"Necesitamos una acción de mitigación agresiva", dijo Leon Charles, representante de Granada y jefe negociador de AOSIS. "Necesitamos redoblar las campañas y usar el poder de la opinión pública", añadió.
Aun considerando las actuales promesas de reducir las emisiones, la ciencia "no puede descartar" un aumento de dos metros en el nivel del mar en el próximo siglo, afirmó William Hare, del Instituto para Investigación del Impacto del Cambio Climático, con sede en la occidental ciudad alemana Potsdam.
El instituto ha predicho incrementos en la intensidad de los ciclones tropicales, una "propagada mortalidad" de los arrecifes de coral y la acidificación de los océanos por concentración de dióxido de carbono, todas malas noticias para los estados insulares.
"Las preocupaciones y las perspectivas de las islas deben ser tomadas más en consideración", dijo a IPS Donna Spencer, portavoz del proyecto Integrando la Gestión de Cuencas Hidrográficas y Áreas Costeras en Pequeños Estados Insulares en Desarrollo, financiado por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.
"Somos muy vulnerables al cambio climático, y todo lo que afecte a los océanos nos afecta a nosotros", afirmó.
Otro de las amenazas es la creciente escasez de agua dulce.
Desde fines del año pasado, varios países caribeños han sufrido severas sequías, lo que ha afectado el saneamiento, la agricultura y el turismo, detalló Spencer. Los abastecimientos de agua subterránea se acaban, mientras los acuíferos están siendo invadidos por agua salada.
Es por esto que varios expertos exigieron que el problema del agua dulce fuera también tratado en la reunión de París.
"Había realmente una división entre la gente dedicada al agua dulce y la especializada en agua salada, pero ahora necesitamos unir fuerzas", dijo a IPS la secretaria ejecutiva de la intergubernamental Sociedad Global del Agua, Ania Grobicki.
La experta afirmó que alrededor de 1.000 millones de personas sufren escasez de agua potable, y las pequeños estados insulares pasarán a estar entre los más afectados.
No obstante, "las personas tienen una asombrosa capacidad de adaptación, y puedes lograr maravillas si obtienes voluntad política", dijo esperanzada Grobicki.
Two national presidents among this year’s winners of top UN environment award
UN News Centre
The Presidents of Guyana and Maldives are among six winners from government, science, business and entertainment to be awarded this year's United Nations Champions of the Earth prize today for their leadership in environmental conservation.
The winners, announced by Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, include President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana, who is a passionate forestry and ecosystem infrastructure proponent, and Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, an international climate change campaigner.
Afghanistan's Director General of the National Environmental Protection Agency and sustainability advocate, Prince Mostapha Zaher, and Japanese earth scientist and pioneer of research into how the oceans cycle carbon, Taro Takahashi, are also on the winners' list.
Chinese actress Zhou Xun received the award for her reputation as a green lifestyle guru. Through her "tips for green living" initiative, Ms. Xun encourages people to reduce their carbon print through simple changes in lifestyle.
United States venture capitalist and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla was recognized for his efforts as a green energy entrepreneur. In September 2009, Mr. Khosla's venture capital firm announced it had raised $1.1 billion for a "green fund" that would be used to spur development of renewable energy and other clean technologies.
The trophies were presented at a gala event in Seoul to mark International Mother Earth Day, in conjunction with the Business for the Environment Global Summit in the capital of the Republic of Korea, which is being attended by more than 1,000 representatives from business, government, and civil society.
"The six winners represent some of the key pillars upon which society can build green growth and a development path to unite rather than divide six billion people," said Mr. Steiner.
The Champions of the Earth, an international environment award established in 2004, recognizes achievements in areas of entrepreneurial vision, policy and leadership, science and innovation, inspiration and action. The year's awards had a special category for biodiversity and ecosystems management. To date, the award has recognized 34 outstanding environmental leaders.
Safeguarding Earth crucial to development, human well-being, Ban stresses
UN News Centre
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to respect and care for the Earth, noting that safeguarding the environment will impact efforts to achieve development goals and ensuring the health and well-being of its inhabitants.
Environmental sustainability – the wise management of the Earth's bounty – is one of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that world leaders have pledged to try to achieve by 2015, along with other ambitious targets to halve poverty, hunger and disease.
Mr. Ban noted that protecting the Earth must be an integral component of the strategy to achieve the MDGs.
"Without a sustainable environmental base, we will have little hope of attaining our objectives for reducing poverty and hunger and improving health and human well-being," he stated in a message on International Mother Earth Day, observed on 22 April.
The Secretary-General stressed that the Earth is under pressure. "We are making progressively unreasonable demands on her, and she is showing the strain.
"For all of human history we have depended on nature's bounty for sustenance, well-being and development. Too often we have drawn on nature's capital without putting back. We are now beginning to see the consequences of failing to safeguard our investment."
Climate change and the depleted ozone layer are among the starkest examples, said Mr. Ban, noting that biological diversity is in rapid decline, freshwater and marine resources are increasingly polluted, and soils and fisheries are growing barren.
"The impact of our neglectful stewardship is being felt most by the world's most vulnerable people," who, if they are to break out of the poverty trap, need at the very minimum fertile land, clean water and adequate sanitation, he noted.
"I call on all governments, businesses and citizens of the world to give our Mother Earth the respect and care she deserves," stated Mr. Ban.
The General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution last year proclaiming 22 April as International Mother Earth Day, expressing its conviction that, to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, "it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth."
While noting that Earth Day is observed each year on 22 April in many countries, the 192-member body invited all Member States, the entire UN system, regional and sub-regional bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to observe and raise awareness of International Mother Earth Day.
Cuban scientist wins U.S.-based environmental prize
By Jeff Franks - HAVANA, April 19 (Reuters) - A singing scientist who says the key to Cuba's agricultural future lies in its agrarian past has become the first Cuban to win a U.S.-based Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's biggest award for grassroots environmentalism.
Humberto Rios, 46, was announced as a prize winner on Monday in San Francisco along with five other activists from around the world. They will each receive $150,000, a huge sum in Cuba where the average annual salary is equivalent to $240.
Rios said the award initially was met with suspicion by his government because it came from the United States, Cuba's longtime ideological foe. But Cuban officials eventually embraced it and he hopes it contributes to improving U.S.-Cuba relations.
"I think there's a new vision, which is to cool a little bit the hostile environment," he said. "I think we have common problems -- maybe different solutions, but also common solutions," he told Reuters recently.
He will use his prize money for such things as house repairs, but some will go toward funding his work, Rios said.
The prize was begun in 1990 by philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman to encourage environmental protection.
Rios won for his work promoting a return to more traditional farming techniques focusing on seed diversity, crop rotation and the use of organic pest control and fertilizers to both increase crops and improve the communist-led island's environment.
Rios is also a musician and has found music to be a useful tool in spreading his message. At local events, he sings folk and salsa songs that promote biodiversity and good environmental practices -- "Recycle, papi, recycle" is one -- and get the farmers dancing in the fields.
Traditional farming methods fell out of favor in Cuba as agriculture, dominated by sugar production, became industrialized in the last half of the 20th century, particularly after the Soviet Union took the island under its wing following Cuba's 1959 revolution.
Flooded with pesticides and fertilizers from the Soviet bloc nations, Cuba in the 1980s became the highest-per-capita user of agrochemicals in Latin America.
At the same time, farmers, dependent on the government for seeds and supplies, had little choice in what they could grow.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba was stuck with an agricultural system dependent on agrochemicals it could no longer get and an environment damaged by their heavy use.
Rios, then a doctoral student in agricultural sciences, began to see positive results as farmers, out of necessity, turned to traditional ways. In the late 1990s he launched a program to encourage their broader use.
His biggest emphasis, he told Reuters in a recent interview, was to simply give farmers more seed choices and to let them, not distant bureaucrats and scientists, decide which ones to use.
He began organizing "seed fairs" in farming communities where farmers could choose from a broad selection of seeds. They were encouraged to share information on the results so that each farm became a micro-experimental station.
The key was that farmers chose seeds suited to their specific conditions, he said, instead of everyone getting the same ones.
In different regions of the island, "the criteria for seed selection are completely different," Rios said.
He said yields began doubling and tripling, and soil damaged by years of overuse and chemicals began to recuperate as crops were rotated and agrochemicals abandoned.
"When you use a diversified system, over the years it increases the amount of protein per area, the amount of vitamins per area, it diminishes the amount of work per area and above all, it increases the smiles of the people," he said.
He says 50,000 farmers are involved in his Program for Local Agricultural Innovation, which is backed by the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, but much work remains.
Most land and agriculture is under state control in Cuba, but the island has 250,000 small farmers and 1,100 private cooperatives who, together, produce 70 percent of agricultural output on less than a third of the available land.
Cuba is dependent on imports for most of its basic foods, which drains its fragile economy and has forced President Raul Castro to put more land in private hands and -- as Rios advocates -- decentralize decision-making to local levels. (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Instalan en Cuba moderno sistema de alerta temprana hidrológica
Tomado de Prensa Latina
Camagüey, Cuba, 13 Abr (PL) La instalación y puesta en marcha hoy aquí de un moderno sistema digital de alerta temprana y prevención hidrológica permitirá mitigar en Cuba los efectos de las inundaciones, sobre todo en zonas de riesgos.
Especialistas de la Empresa de Automatización Integral (CEDAI) de la isla ejecutaron el proyecto de integración, financiado por el programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD).
Este sistema se aplica por primera vez en la cuenca San Pedro de esta ciudad oriental cubana, atravesada por afluentes ríos y arroyos.
Los especialistas de la CEDAI local, de conjunto con el grupo Empresarial de Aprovechamiento de Recursos Hidráulicos de Camagüey, trabajan en el montaje de los equipos de información automatizada de última generación en los puntos geográficos seleccionados para las mediciones.
La información de alerta temprana en tiempo real influirá en la reducción de riesgos por inundaciones provocadas por intensas lluvias o ciclones, mediante la oportuna toma de decisiones para proteger a la población, sus bienes y los del Estado.
El ingeniero Carlos Alberto Sacasas informó a Prensa Latina que el sofisticado sistema se sustenta en la medición de la lluvia con pluviómetros y de las alteraciones de los niveles de los ríos por medio de sensores con radares, lo cual permitirá mantener las 24 horas del día una base de datos actualizados.
Explicó que la comunicación es mediante tecnología celular, y que el proyecto cuenta entre sus partes con un servidor digital, un programa supervisor y una página web por Intranet.
Dijo que el método de alimentación automatizado, concebido por paneles solares y baterías recargables, garantiza el funcionamiento del sistema en condiciones de catástrofe. En la ciudad de Camagüey, aguas debajo de los ríos Tínima, Hatibonico y del arroyo Juan del Toro residen más de 170 mil personas en zonas de riesgos de inundación, con grandes afectaciones durante el ciclón Flora (1963) y el Ike (2008), entre otros eventos climatológicos.
El proyecto de alerta temprana y prevención hidrológica del CEDAI de Cuba posteriormente se aplicará también en otras cuencas hidrográficas del extremo oriental del archipiélago como son la del Guaso, en la provincia de Guantánamo; el Cauto, en la provincia de Granma; y Sagua de Tánamo, en la provincia de Holguín.
Experts at UN meeting consider green economy’s impact on society and environment
UN News Centre
Experts from 75 countries gathered in Geneva today for a United Nations-backed meeting to discuss the social and environmental impact of transitioning to a more environmentally-friendly economy.
More than 600 delegates to 30th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will look at the five sectors that have been identified as key green investment opportunities – agriculture, industry, tourism, cities and transportation.
"When they met in Bali [Indonesia] two months ago, the world's environment ministers emphasized that the full impacts of green economy policies should be assessed, including environmental, social and economic aspects," said Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
"Professionals involved in impact assessments thus have an important role to play in delivering more intelligent and sustainable choices to their customers and clients including governments, business, local authorities and civil society: choices that can direct investments to fit local, national and regional needs while addressing the broad agenda of low carbon, resource efficient development, poverty eradication and higher levels of decent employment," he added.
One of the key goals of the conference – hosted for the first time by a UN agency – is to present the tools and methods that will help countries to assess and identify which green investments to make.
Nick Taylor, President of the IAIA, said delegates at the six-day meeting would share their ideas and insights on how impact assessment can address a complex range of global issues.
"A growing field of expertise, impact assessment can evaluate the linkages between investments and the environment, health, job creation, economic diversification and poverty reduction. This forum comes at a time when there's heightened interest in the potential of impact assessments, so it's vital experts exchange information and contribute to a growing body of knowledge," Mr. Taylor said.
UNEP's flagship Green Economy Report, to be released later in the year, will present in-depth assessments of 10 sectors based on economic analysis and modelling. Three of the report's chapter authors will be present to share some of the report's preliminary analysis.
IAIA is a global network for best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision-making regarding policies, programmes, plans and projects. It brings together researchers, practitioners, and users of various types of impact assessment from around the world.
UN agency takes aim at two birds with one stone – poverty and global warming
UN News Centre
In a novel track in the battle against global warming, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has given 800 poor families in Tajikistan thousands of seedlings to plant not only to provide fruit, but to offset the carbon footprint of vehicles used in the agency's food aid work.
Some 63,000 fruit, nut and pine trees are currently taking root in the Central Asian country thanks to $100,000 provided by WFP's vehicle-leasing department in Dubai, as part of what the agency calls "unique climate-change project."
In a series of villages in the west along the border with Uzbekistan, WFP has given 800 vulnerable families 40 trees apiece – apricot, pomegranate, cherry, mulberry, almond, pistachio and pine.
The families will also get WFP food while they receive training in looking after the trees. In three years, when the trees become productive, the families will have ample supplies of fruit for the first time in their lives with enough left over to sell at the market. At the same time the trees will help to absorb the equivalent amount of carbon emissions from WFP vehicles.
In the eastern Rasht Valley, WFP is partnering with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 50 secondary schools in a learning and environmental awareness programme. Some 10,000 secondary students have been given one tree each – apricot, apple or poplar – which is marked with a plaque bearing their name. They are responsible for making the tree grow, and in doing so, learn about the role of trees in preventing soil erosion.
Tajikistan's Forestry Agency is collaborating in the project, designating staff to train the beneficiaries, providing technical assistance from maps and reports going back 50 years, assigning a forest ranger to patrol the pistachio seedlings on horseback, and signing a 20-year land lease with the new tree-owners for just $1 a year.
One beneficiary, Ilmira Jaffarov, sees the project is a dream come true. To buy one fruit tree at the market would cost her family several weeks' savings. Now they have 43 saplings growing in their small garden, even if they have to wait three to four years for the trees to give fruit.
"These trees are our future" Ms. Jaffarov, 50, says. "Even if they don't give us fruit now, they will remain here even for our children to enjoy."
Senior government officials discuss strengthening of Sub Regional Coordination for disaster response
Senior government officials of the Sub-Regional Focal Points (SRFP) under the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) system will meet in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 to discuss the strengthening of coordination for disaster response in the eighteen Participating States.
This consultation is being undertaken as part of a broader initiative of the ACP-EU funded Disaster Risks Management Sub-Regional Programme which seeks to build resilience of nations and communities in the Caribbean to hazard impacts. The European Commission (EC) and ACP Secretariat through its joint Natural Disaster Facility are providing CDEMA with €1.8 million over a two year period to aid in building more resilient communities. This meeting will bring together National Disaster Coordinators and Permanent Secretaries from the four Sub-Regional Focal Points. Discussions will focus on the lessons learnt from the Haiti response, a review of the role and responsibilities of the SRFP and coordination arrangements for the upcoming 2010 Hurricane Season.
The Sub-Regional Focal Points, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are CDEMA’s frontline response to member states after a disaster event. Jamaica spearheaded the regional response to Haiti within 24 hours after the January 12 catastrophic earthquake.
Build resilience to climate uncertainties through diversity, researchers urge
By Laurie Goering. MONTPELLIER, France (AlertNet) - Farmers in the developing world have long struggled with the vagaries of weather, battling droughts, floods, storms and pest invasions brought on by changing conditions.
In many ways, "climate change to us is nothing new," says Peter Hartmann, head of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, based in Ibadan, Nigeria.
But what terrifies the longtime Nigerian researcher is how fast the changes are now coming. As the planet warms, he said, bands of heat, plant diseases and pests are moving much more rapidly than before, presenting a huge challenge to researchers trying to help farmers adapt.
"Preparing for the changes in those belts scares the heck out of me," he admitted at an international conference in France this week on reforming agricultural research to spur development.
Helping farmers survive and perhaps even prosper in coming years, experts said at the conference, will require helping them build greater resilience to uncertainty. That may mean putting pioneering crop insurance programs in place in one area, introducing more resilient crops in others and in some places persuading farmers to switch staple crops altogether.
Climate models suggest that rain-fed maize - the staple in southern Africa - may no longer be a viable crop there by mid-century, as droughts in the region worsen. But in other regions, the models are still unclear about whether warming conditions will bring more or less rainfall, wet-weather viruses or drought-driven pests.
Deciding what to prepare for on a national basis requires "downscaling" climate models, which can magnify modeling errors, particularly in areas where the results are less certain, researchers said.
India's monsoon, for example, is becoming more irregular as a result of climate pressures, but no one is entirely sure whether it will ultimately bring more or less rain to any one area of India. And while models agree that both northern and southern Africa will become dryer in years ahead, there is great uncertainty about what will happen in the central part of the continent, or in places like the Amazon.
"People say, 'What should we do in Rwanda?' We don't know what to do. We don't know if it's going to get wetter or dryer," said Sir Gordon Conway, an agricultural ecologist and former president of the UK Royal Geographic Society.
Preparing for the worsening extreme weather events that climate change is likely to bring will be another challenge, he said.
"You can breed (crops) for hotter, dryer, wetter or rising sea levels," Conway said. "But for a lot of the world, that isn't what's happening. It's more extreme events - more sudden floods, more sea surges, more drought."
One of the biggest coping strategies for farmers in the years ahead, researcher said, will be diversifying crop varieties - planting a field with a mix of flood-resistant rice and regular high-yield rice, for instance, to ensure at least one species survives and that harvests are as large as possible.
Another will be strengthening ties to urban areas, where family members can turn for jobs and support in times of hardship on the farm, or for help in selling their produce and getting a better price for it in good years.
"The biggest resilience strategy is diversity," Conway said. The good news is "poor people have developed resilience strategies anyway. ... They have had years of living in difficult situations," he said.
The question now is whether those strategies - and new ones being prepared by agricultural researchers and others - will be sufficient to deal with the coming pressures, said K.P. Singh, president of the National Institute for Agriculture in India, and a regional head of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers.
"If we do not figure out answers to these (climate) challenges, then only God knows how global food security can be ensured," he said.
New Program Aims to Mitigate Climate Threats to Food Security
From the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)
A new multimillion dollar research program by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research aims to alleviate climate-related threats to the food security, livelihoods and environment of people living in the developing world. One of the key intellectual forces behind this initiative has been the International Research Institute for Climate and Society's Jim Hansen. He'll be leading efforts within the program to look at how managing current climate risks will help farming communities adapt to longer term climate change.
The CGIAR-- a network of agricultural research centers that supports thousands of scientists in more than 100 countries-- considers climate change an "immediate and unprecedented threat" to the food security of hundreds of millions of people who depend on small-scale agriculture and natural resource management. To address this threat, it has created a ten-year Challenge Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) [pronounced SEE-cafs] to explore new ways of helping vulnerable communities adjust to global changes in climate as they relate to food security. The program's annual budget is expected to ramp up to $25 million by its fifth year.
Hansen, an expert on climate risk management for agriculture, sees the new program as a way to foster collaboration between people concerned with climate change adapatation and those concerned with development.
"Climate-related risk is a major contributor to poverty and food insecurity, and an impediment to agricultural development efforts, particularly in rain-fed farming systems in the dryer tropics," he says. "Well-designed, well-targeted research, in the context of an international development strategy, can have a huge impact." And with CCAFS, he will have an opportunity to shape a program of high-impact research.
He is leading a research theme called Adaptation pathways based on managing current climate risk, one of six themes under CCAFS. Three of the themes seek to understand the ways in which climate change threatens food security; the other three, including Hansen's, will try to develop ways to address these threats.
The theme leaders come from a number of influential global centers of research, such as the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
"CCAFS is about tackling two of the major global problems humanity faces at the moment," says the program's director, Bruce Campbell. "One is food security and the other is climate change." This involves bringing together two very different communities of researchers under a common set of goals, Campbell says.
"The climate science community has tended to focus on what's going to happen in 2050 or 2100, but with respect to food security issues, that [time scale] is almost useless," he says. "We really have to focus on the near term, and that's why IRI was part of the equation in terms of putting CCAFS together. It's one of the few places where there's a focus on near-term prediction."
Hansen's high-level role within CCAFS represents a milestone for IRI, says Walter Baethgen, who runs IRI's Latin America and Caribbean program. "In the agriculture world, the Consultative Group is the actor, and having the IRI engaged at this level is a dream come true. Our science now has the potential to inform millions of people," says Baethgen, who also served on the CGIAR's Science Council created to provide guidance to the group's overall strategy.
Hansen expects to build on the kind of research IRI has already undertaken. "For example, we've worked for years to connect climate information services and products to rural communities in places such as India, Kenya and Zambia." he says. "We've learned much about the challenges to using information to manage agriculture better, as well as the opportunities to overcome those challenges."
This new role for Hansen builds on a 14-year career that has focused on issues important to the rural poor. During his first year in college, he developed a passion for trying to reduce suffering from poverty and hunger in rural areas. This continues to be the underlying motivation for his work.
As do many in his field, Hansen points to Norman Borlaug as a key source of inspiration. Borlaug, who died last September, is known as the "father" of the Green Revolution.
"He was a superhero in our profession, attributed with saving more lives than any other individual in history. People credit him with saving a billion lives by catalyzing the Green Revolution, which tripled global food production in a period when the planet's population roughly doubled," he says. The CGIAR was a significant driver of the Green Revolution.
While the Green Revolution had a huge impact in the irrigated areas of Latin America and Asia, Hansen points out that it has been less effective in the more marginal, rainfed areas, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia. "I think this is where the exciting targets are for intervention now. A lot of people see food security, especially in Africa and elsewhere in the tropics as the challenge of climate change in the coming decades."
To this end, the CCAFS program will target three regions for initial research South Asia's Indo-Gangetic Plains, Eastern Africa and Western Africa but the aim is to find solutions that go beyond specific locations. "The strategy is to address knowledge gaps and to develop international public goods that can be implemented and applied elsewhere in world," Hansen says.
UN launches global greenhouse gas emissions calculator
UN News Service
The United Nations launched today the first common system of calculating the amount of greenhouse gases produced in a given city and by specific sector or time, allowing cities to compare their performances and analyse differences.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and the World Bank jointly launched the Global Greenhouse Gas Standard for cities at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro.
While measurement should not delay action, a critical requirement to support policy and access to finance is the establishment of an open, global and harmonized protocol for quantifying the GHG emissions attributable to cities and local regions, UNEP, UN-HABITAT and the World Bank said in a jointly issued press release.
The Greenhouse Gas Standard calculates emissions on a per capita basis. For example, greenhouse gas emissions are 4.20 tons of carbon dioxide per capita in Barcelona, Spain, 10.6 in Bangkok, Thailand, and 17.8 in Calgary, Canada.
The new common standard also takes into account cities' primary energy sources, climate, means of transportation and urban form. As a result, a high-density city like New York produces 10.4 tons per capita, while another United States city, Denver, emits 21.3 tons per capita.
The new common standard also allows cities to compare their emissions over time, across cities and in specific sectors such as energy, transportation or waste.
At today's launch, the organizers stressed that city mayors and other urban leaders, business and civil society recognize the need to act to reduce climate change in cities.
"In reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cities are part of the solution: city officials are discovering new ways to get people out of cars and into rapid transit buses; to harness the methane released by landfills and turn it into energy; to support compact urban development and not urban sprawl," said Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT.
Officials also stressed that cities can be the key catalyst towards the international aim of keeping a global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
"The Copenhagen Accord, for which 110 countries representing over 80 per cent of global emissions have expressed support, remains a work in progress. There remains an ambition gap between where we are and where we need to be in 2020 – bigger cuts by cities may be one route towards bridging this divide," said Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will continue to spearhead international negotiations on climate change ahead of the Cancun summit in November, where participants will be aiming to reach a global, binding deal on climate change.
Centroamérica: estrechan cooperación ante desastres
UN News Service
Responsables de las agencias nacionales de manejo de riesgos, instituciones meteorológicas e hidrográficas de países centroamericanos y caribeños se reúnen esta semana en Costa Rica en un taller para reforzar la cooperación en ese campo.
El objetivo del evento es aumentar la capacidad de los sistemas de alerta temprana en la región para reducir riesgos y salvar vidas, además de evaluar las últimas novedades tecnológicas para los pronósticos del tiempo.
Países como China, Cuba, Francia, Italia y Estados Unidos compartirán sus buenas prácticas con los participantes en el evento, que es organizado por las autoridades costarricenses, con el apoyo de la ONU, La Cruz Roja y el Banco Mundial.
En la última década, en América Central y el Caribe, el 91% de los desastres naturales, el 70% de las víctimas y el 91% de las pérdidas económicas fueron atribuidos a eventos meteorológicos, hidrológicos y climáticos.
Build well to save lives in disasters, experts urge
From Reuters AlertNet
Poor construction in Haiti was a major reason why so many people -- up to 300,000 according to the president -- died when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the impoverished nation in January, architects and disaster specialists said.
And in quake-prone Chile where an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami killed about 500 people in February, the government is investigating to what extent rules on fortifying buildings against seismic shocks were followed.
"You don't need to be helpless, you can build safer, you can build better to reduce both the financial cost but of course also the life (cost)," Margareta Wahlstrom, U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction told Reuters by telephone.
"It's not the earthquake that kills people, it's the buildings that collapse in the earthquake."
While some countries put great emphasis on erecting buildings that can survive tropical storms, floods or earthquakes, many others lag far behind, she said.
Safe construction is not part of international development policies either, Wahlstrom said, adding that she hopes it will now be included after Haiti and Chile.
A step in that direction is a new handbook for rebuilding after natural disasters released by the World Bank last week.
Building well matters also because in the months and years after a disaster, reconstruction is where the biggest sums of international aid money go once emergency needs -- for tents, medicines and so on -- have been dealt with.
Safer buildings alone will not always prevent deaths. Houses should be located away from hazardous areas, where possible, and combined with an early warning system, evacuation plans and public education on what to do when a disaster strikes.
But as part of an overall strategy to minimise deaths and destruction, intelligent building design is one of the most straightforward solutions.
For example, shutters on windows will prevent wind from blowing through the building and lifting it off the ground. Tying the roof to the walls will stop it from being blown off.
To protect new buildings against earthquakes, walls can be reinforced with criss-crossing diagonal steel beams or concrete columns. Such -- often life-saving -- features add less than 10 percent on average to building costs, experts say.
Designs should take account of what resources are affordable and available locally. For example, in areas where water is short, building concrete houses is not viable as making concrete requires a lot of water.
EASIER DRAWN THAN DONE
While there is no shortage of clever ideas, implementation can be complicated, especially in developing countries.
For a start, most people in poor nations live in houses that they have built themselves, mostly without an understanding of structural engineering or knowledge of ways to make them safer.
Rolling out a nationwide campaign for safer construction of homes may have the greatest impact in the long term, experts from engineering firm Arup say.
However, organisations involved in post-disaster reconstruction can help by building houses that can be easily replicated by local people. Those willing to build their own homes can be trained how to build with disasters in mind.
Training in how to build safely is one of the services that a new consulting centre in Haiti's capital will provide.
Architecture for Humanity, a non-profit design and building group, is planning to open the centre in April for three years.
In countries where corruption is rife, all building work should be monitored closely to ensure no money or materials go astray and construction standards are respected.
Those leading rebuilding efforts after a disaster, should involve local people in the design and construction as much as possible, experts say.
"The one thing you can do in a disaster is use the reconstruction as a mechanism to create jobs," Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, told Reuters.
"Within about a year, after being in those tents so long, the community's number one issue is not housing but jobs," he said in a telephone interview.
Once survivors of a disaster occupy a new home, they may want to change it by knocking down a wall or adding on, both of which could weaken the carefully designed building.
"Organisations should allow for this in their housing designs, and provide training so that people know how to adapt or extend their homes safely," Arup architects say.
House designs should suit also suit tastes and culture.
Otherwise, as aid group Oxfam put it in a blog, "the charitable gesture by the giver becomes the hat you wouldn't wear in a million years or, in the case of disaster survivors, the house that drives you crazy".
Sequía centra la atención de CARICOM
Tomado de Prensa Latina
Rosseau, 11 mar (PL) Los efectos de la sequía en la región centran hoy la atención de los estados miembros de la Comunidad Caribeña (CARICOM) que debatirán aquí medidas para contrarrestar la escasez de agua en el área.
La continua falta de lluvias y el apoyo a Haití tras el devastador terremoto sufrido en enero último, figuran entre los temas principales del XXI Encuentro Intersesional de Jefes de Gobiernos de CARICOM que comienza en horas de la mañana en el Hotel Young Fort de esta capital.
El evento de dos días prevé analizar los daños por ese fenómeno natural acrecentado por los cambios climáticos, el mal manejo de los ecosistemas, entre ellos, la agricultura no sostenible, y el fenómeno de El Niño, proceso meteorológico que provoca el calentamiento de la temperatura de las aguas suramericanas.
CARICOM clama por un amplio proceso coordinado y participativo que involucre a la comunidad internacional para ayudar a mitigar los efectos de la sequía que amenaza gran parte de especies de la flora y la fauna, además de incrementar la deforestación y la contaminación ambiental.
El deterioro de cuencas hidrográficas daña en gran escala las condiciones de vida de la población, amenazando sus posibilidades de supervivencia y generando el proceso de desertificación.
De acuerdo con el Instituto Caribeño de Meteorología e Hidrología, las condiciones de sequía y los preponderantes vientos en esta época del año, aumentan la probabilidad de incendios forestales al sur de la región.
Países como Barbados, Trinidad y Tobago, Santa Lucía, Jamaica, Guyana, San Vicente y Granadinas, Grenada y Dominica, los cuales figuran entre los mas afectados por la escasez de lluvias, han establecido planes y medidas para la conservación de ese recurso natural.
Para estas naciones se ha tornado difícil mantener una agricultura estable así como el turismo, sectores de gran importancia para el desarrollo económico de estos países.
Por su parte, Roosevelt Skerrit, primer ministro de Dominica y presidente pro tempore de CARICOM, adelantó que la sequía y la situación de Haití son temas cruciales de esta cita, sin excluir el análisis de seguridad regional, índices de criminalidad y la crisis económica mundial.
También se incluye la evaluación de la situación del Mercado Común de la Comunidad del Caribe (CSME, por su sigla en inglés).
ICT plays an important role in disaster recovery in the region
From Caribbean Net News
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (SKNIS) -- The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a catalyst for the recovery of the earthquake devastated Haiti and its adoption for other disasters were explored at a recent meeting in Grenada.
This was one of the many topics at the 4th Meeting of the Regional ICT Steering Committee held on March 3 and 4. The Committee was created in May 2007 to be a think tank and advise the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) /CARIFORUM on issues related to creating an information society and other ICT developments. It is made up of representatives from CARICOM member and associated states, Caribbean regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and other groups.
Wesley Wharton, Director of Technology in St Kitts told SKNIS that the work of the Steering Committee is almost complete as it has reviewed the Draft ICT Strategy for the Region which will be presented to Heads of Government for approval in the near future.
He noted that the comprehensive document addresses Human Resource Development, Connectivity, Internet Governance, Communication and Content as well as Policy and Regulation.
Wharton added that he was particularly pleased to learn how the practical application of ICT tools such as satellite phones, the internet and text messaging assisted with the recovery efforts in Haiti in the initial stages of the earthquake.
This was based on presentations by the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other agencies.
Wharton said the ongoing installation of a fiber optic line should considerably boost the use of ICT in the ongoing recovery and subsequent development of Haiti.
Meanwhile, CARICOM Youth Ambassador (CYA) Ian Richards also of St Kitts and Nevis highlighted the need to transform the curricula of primary - tertiary level educational institutions to incorporate more ICT related tools.
While presenting on related matters highlighted in the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) Report, Richards cited how ICT can positively impact Education, Labour and Employment, Youth Culture and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
He also mentioned the need to establish a regional accreditation agency so that young people involved in graphics design and other industries can be recognized for their skills and take advantage of job-opportunities for advancement in their chosen fields. CYA Kerry Frank of Grenada supported Richards during the presentation.
Ban announces independent review of UN-backed climate body
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the United Nations-backed panel tasked with preparing regular scientific reports on the impact of climate change today announced that the body, which is facing growing attacks from global warming sceptics, will undergo an independent and comprehensive review.
In 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its Fourth Assessment Report, which found the warming of the climate is outpacing natural variability, driven largely by human activity.
But its credibility has come into question after revelations that the landmark publication contained some mistakes, including over the rate of Himalayan glacier melt.
Although there were "a very small number of errors" in the 3,000-page Fourth Assessment Report, "I have seen no credible evidence that challenges the main conclusions" of the publication, Secretary-General Ki-moon underscored to reporters today.
"Let me be clear: the threat posed by climate change is real," he said. "Nothing that has been alleged or revealed in the media recently alters the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change. Nor does it diminish the unique importance of the IPCC's work."
In fact, Mr. Ban said, the science underpinning climate change continues to be strong, with evidence collected since 2007 showing that it is picking up pace. "The need for action is all the more urgent." To this end, he stressed the necessity of transparency, accuracy and objectivity, as well as the importance of curtailing the possibility of any errors in the future.
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, at same press encounter, acknowledged criticism of the Fourth Assessment Report, but he said that the publication's findings remain "robust" and that its "major conclusions of that report are really beyond any reasonable doubt."
The IPCC is currently preparing to start work on the Fifth Assessment Report, scheduled to be finalized in 2014.
The InterAcademy Council (IAC), a scientific organization bringing together experts from around the world, has been tasked with reviewing the IPCC's processes and procedures to strengthen the quality of its reports.
The review will be led by IAC co-chairs Robbert Dijkgraaf, who heads the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science, and Lu Yongxiang, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"It will be conducted completely independently of the United Nations," Mr. Ban emphasized today.
Mr. Dijkgraaf said today that the IAC seeks to "assure nations that they will receive sound, scientific advice" so that "governments and citizens alike can make informed decisions."
Scientists will be selected to serve on a voluntary and unpaid basis to prepare a draft report on their findings, which will then undergo an intensive peer review by other scientists. "Only when the IAC board is satisfied" will the final report be issued, he said.
Characterizing the task as "forward-looking," Mr. Dijkgraaf said that there are "no preconceived conclusions."
The IAC, he said, has been asked to look into issues such as data quality assurance and control; procedures for correcting errors; and analyzing the IPCC's communications strategies.
The UN will fund the endeavour, and it seeks to submit its final report to Mr. Ban and the IPCC. It will also be transmitted to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which set up the IPCC in 1988.
Ties of Regional Cooperation in Disaster Management Strengthened in Martinique
From UNDP Barbados and the OECS
From 8-11 February 2010, the UNDP Disaster Risk Reduction team and the disaster managers in the Dutch and UK overseas countries and territories (OCTs) focused on sharing knowledge, tools and experiences to enhance disaster management capacity in the OCTs. This event formed part of the learning and work planning processes of the EC-funded Regional Risk Reduction Initiative (R3I) for 2010.
Hosted by the Martinique General Council, the participants learned about the expertise developed over the last 18 years under the leadership of President Claude Lise in areas such as landslide rehabilitation, seismic monitoring and paraseismic construction, GIS, 3D modelling, and monitoring and warning systems. The OCTs also shared from their own experiences in developing hazard mapping and vulnerability modelling, public warning systems, and piloting and expanding use of a web-based information sharing and emergency response coordination system.
OMM aprueba nueva estrategia global sobre información climática
Más de 150 participantes en el encuentro de la Comisión sobre Climatología, auspiciado por la Organización Meteorológica Mundial (OMM), aprobaron hoy una nueva estrategia global que mejorará la información relacionada con la atmósfera y el cambio climático.
La Comisión apoyará el desarrollo y la implementación de mecanismos institucionales que generen y diseminen información climática de alta calidad a nivel global, regional y nacional.
De esta manera, los servicios meteorológicos dispondrán de datos y conocimientos a través del acceso y el uso de productos proporcionados por el Marco Mundial para los Servicios Climáticos (GFCS).
La OMM destacó la importancia de que las autoridades de los países dispongan de información fehaciente para planificar operaciones de prevención contra fenómenos atmosféricos destructivos, así como de adaptación al cambio climático.
Changement climatique : Ban appelle à rejeter les thèses des sceptiques
A l'ouverture du Forum ministériel mondial sur l'environnement à Bali mercredi, le Secrétaire général des Nations unies, Ban Ki Moon, a fermement rejeté les thèses développées par ceux qui expriment leur scepticisme sur le réchauffement climatique et leurs tentatives pour faire dérailler les négociations sur le climat.
En réponse à la polémique suscitée par le quatrième rapport du Groupe intergouvernemental d'experts sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC), Ban Ki-moon a exhorté dans un message à l'adresse des participants de ce forum à ignorer les thèses de ceux qui doutent des dangers du changement climatique.
Le GIEC a été accusé de catastrophisme et de sensationnalisme, après notamment avoir reconnu avoir considérablement surestimé la vitesse à laquelle les glaciers de l'Himalaya disparaissent.
"Dites au monde que vous considérez unanimement que le changement climatique est un danger évident et actuel, et que vous travaillez pour mettre en œuvre les accords déjà faits et que vous continuez les négociations", a dit M. Ban aux ministres et experts de l'environnement présents à Bali pour ce forum organisé par le Programme des nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE).
La fenêtre d'opportunité pour préserver la faune et la flore de la Terre diminue rapidement, a déploré le Secrétaire général, en soulignant la nécessité d'améliorer la gouvernance internationale pour combler l'écart entre les résultats atteints et les objectifs fixés.
M. Ban a suggéré aux gouvernements de s'inspirer de la réussite de la Convention de Vienne et du Protocole de Montréal sur la protection de la couche d'ozone. Le succès de ces traités internationaux repose sur la coexistence d'une volonté politique, sur la création d'outils juridiques et sur l'implication d'acteurs publics et privés, a pointé M. Ban.
Les problèmes liés à l'environnement ne pourront être réglés sans la mise en place d'un partenariat global solide, a-t-il souligné, invitant les participants " à être audacieux et créatifs pour amener de nouvelles idées ".
De nouvelles négociations internationales sur le changement climatique se dérouleront du 9 au 11 avril 2010 à Bonn, en Allemagne, sous l'égide de la Convention-cadre des Nations unies sur le changement climatique (CCNUCC). Deux autres sessions de négociations sur le climat sont également prévues cette année. L'une du 31 mai au 11 juin et l'autre du 29 novembre au 10 décembre à Cancun, au Mexique.
Greater efforts needed to curb global warming – UN report
Nations must make more aggressive pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions to avoid global temperatures rising by 2 degrees Celsius and prevent the worst possible effects of climate change, warned the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in a report released today.
The study, based on expert estimates from nine leading research centres, suggests that annual greenhouse gas emissions around the world should not exceed 40 to 48.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 and should peak sometime between 2015 and 2021.
In addition to remaining within that range, the report also states that global emissions need to be cut by between 48 and 72 per cent between 2020 and 2050 to even have a 50/50 chance of meeting the target of keeping global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.
However, the estimated amount of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for 2020 ranges between 48.8 to 51.2 gigatons – depending on whether countries fulfill the high or low end of their reduction commitments – which amounts to an average shortfall of 4.7 gigatons, according to the report.
"There are clearly a great deal of assumptions underlying these figures, but they do provide an indication of where countries are and perhaps more importantly where they need to aim," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"There clearly is a 'gigaton gap' which may be a significant one according to some of the modelers," added Mr. Steiner on the eve of the three-day UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Bali, Indonesia, which kicks off on Wednesday.
"This needs to be bridged and bridged quickly if the international community is to proactively manage emissions down in a way that makes economic sense," he said.
Mr. Steiner underscored the many reasons for making a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient 'green economy' with climate change a key factor, but spotlighted energy security, cuts in air pollution and diversifying energy sources as other significant incentives.
This week's gathering in Bali is expected to "shine a light on opportunities ranging from accelerating clean technology and renewable energy enterprises to the climate, social and economic benefits of investing in terrestrial and marine ecosystem," said Mr. Steiner.
In a related development, UNEP announced that the next round of formal negotiations, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is slated to take place in Bonn, Germany, from 9 to 11 April.
Weather and Society* Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) Caribbean Workshop call for applications
The National Center for Atmospheric Research Societal Impacts Program announces the call for applications for the first WAS*IS Caribbean workshop to be held June 6-11, 2010, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Please visit: http://www.sip.ucar.edu/wasis/caribbean/apply.jsp to learn the application details and to read more about WAS*IS!
WAS*IS is a grassroots movement to fully integrate social science into meteorological research and practice. WAS*IS is doing this by:
- building an interdisciplinary community of practitioners, researchers, and stakeholders who arededicated to the integration of meteorology and social science; and
- providing this community with opportunities to learn about ideas, methods, and examplesrelated to integrated weather-society work.
Building on the WAS*IS model, we will facilitate and implement the WAS*IS Caribbean workshop that will bring together diverse stakeholders from the Caribbean region including forecasters, broadcasters, emergency managers, academics, health care professionals, and other public and private sector individuals. The workshop will involve capacity building activities among a small group of moderators/ facilitators, a set of expert topic presenters, and 20 - 30 workshop participants.
We will address a variety of general topics that typically are covered in the traditional WAS*IS workshops. Concerns specific to the Caribbean region will also be addressed including hurricanes and tropical storms, both general and flash flooding, storm surges, tsunamis, and the special concerns of disadvantaged Caribbean population groups.
- Applicants are limited to those currently living (or doing substantial work) in the Caribbean region.
- The National Center for Atmospheric Research will cover reasonable costs of travel, lodging, and meals for all participants who are NOT US Government Federal Employees.
- The workshop will be conducted in English. Applicants must have a working knowledge of English.
- Individuals will be responsible for meeting their own passport/visa requirements and costs associated with those requirements. See http://www.state.gov/travel/ for more information on passports and visas.
If you have questions about the WAS*IS Caribbean workshop, please contact:
Dr. Thomas Behler
National Center for Atmospheric Research
PO Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado 80307-3000
email@example.com (303) 497-8492
Application deadline extended to: Monday, March 8th, 2010.Application and workshop info
Climate Risks in Haiti
From the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)
Francesco Fiondella - 10.02.2010
As Haitians struggle to rebuild their country after January's devastating earthquake, they face added risks, related to climate. Currently, about 1.2 million Haitians are without proper shelter, and an additional 470,000 have been displaced from their homes, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This leaves them vulnerable to storms and extreme weather events in coming months, as well as landslides from slopes lubricated by rains and weakened by quake shocks. Here, scientists from the Earth Institute's International Research Institute for Climate and Society discuss some of the risks.
Q: What is Haiti's climate like?
Tony Barnston : Haiti is a tropical island with daily temperatures that range, on average, from 19°C to 28°C (67°-83°F) in winter, to 23°C to 33°C (73°-92°F) in summer, in lowland areas. Average annual rainfall varies, from almost none in some areas to more than 127 centimeters (50 inches) in Port-au-Prince. The two rainy seasons that Port-au-Prince experiences are from April to June and from August to mid-November. The dry season runs from December to April. The country is subject to periodic droughts and floods, which are made worse by deforestation. Hurricanes also periodically threaten the country.
Q: We're currently in an El Niño period. Is this expected to change the climate outlook for Haitians?
Tony Barnston : Haiti's rainy season is long. As I mentioned above, it actually has two peaks, with a brief period in July that has relatively lower rainfall. We expect the current El Niño to persist through at least March, and possibly through May. During times of El Niño, the region around Port-au-Prince tends to get above-normal rainfall from late winter to around May. But we can't be sure the El Niño will still exist in May. We'll have a better idea in the coming months.
Alessandra Giannini : Let's remember that we are talking about the impact of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in its weakening phase, which is different from that in its growing phase. Right now, El Niño's impact on Haiti is mostly indirect, resulting from warming in the tropical North Atlantic over the past six months. That's why we also need to consider North Atlantic atmospheric circulation, captured in something called the North Atlantic Oscillation. The NAO was in its negative phase in December 2009, meaning that trade winds were weakened. This situation contributed to ocean warming, because there was less evaporation happening on the surface waters. So if the NAO lasts in its negative state from December to March, it will favor the continuation of these warm conditions, which are the basis for the above-normal rainfall predictions that Tony mentioned above.
Q: And what about the second half of the rainy season-- after July?
Tony Barnston : The rainfall expectation for the second half of Haiti's rainy season will depend in part on the direction of the ENSO state this summer-- will it be toward another El Niño, La Niña or neutral? At this time of year we currently have poor predictability for ENSO beyond about May or June. An unfavorable scenario for Haiti would be for the development of La Niña during the summer. It would not only imply a wet second half of its rainy season, but also the chances for a tropical hurricane in the vicinity, or even a hurricane hit. As these maps show, La Niña conditions tend to not only increase the total number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, but also increase the number that cut across the Caribbean. In 2008, Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike pounded Haiti, leaving widespread destruction and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
Q: So climate conditions could give Haitians more problems in a few months, but it's still too early to tell?
Tony Barnston : That's right, we'll have better information in forecasts we issue over the next few months.
Q: How will having this information ahead of time help reduce Haiti's climate risks?
Walter Baethgen : Information and forecasts are most useful when they can be added to existing practices or methods. Information may not help if there isn't a mechanism in place that can use it to improve preparedness and response, or if it reaches a population that is extremely vulnerable, as in Haiti's case. Haiti is an example where much work is needed in vulnerability reduction at many levels. Unless these vulnerabilities are reduced, climate information isn't going to do much good.
Before we get too far, it's very important we define what we mean by "risk". Simply put, risk has two components: hazards and vulnerability. Hazards are the things that threaten: hurricanes, heavy rains, earthquakes, etc. Vulnerability is how susceptible a society is to damage, loss of life, epidemics and other possible consequences of those hazards. Poor building codes, widespread malnutrition, poor sanitation, are all elements that can make a society more vulnerable. We can think of risk then as the likelihood that a society will suffer damages from hazards based on its overall vulnerability.
Q: How do you reduce risks then?
Walter Baethgen : Reducing risks could be achieved by reducing the hazards, but in the case of climate this usually isn't possible--one can't reduce the chances of having El Niño or a hurricane. Another way is work on reducing the vulnerability, for example, reducing the number of people who live on steep slopes, in flood plains and other areas sensitive to storms. We can also reduce vulnerability by having structures like early-warning and early-response systems and institutions that are well prepared and react fast in the event of a disaster.
Molly Hellmuth : The other thing about risks is that they vary by hazard, which means the way to reduce vulnerability of the population at risk also varies. An effective risk reduction strategy for Haiti must consider all the multiple hazards, stressors and risks that threaten the country.
Q. What do you mean by 'stressors'?
Molly Hellmuth : Stressors such as endemic poverty, ineffective governance and institutions, limited access to capital, ecosystem degradation and conflicts. They all combine to exacerbate vulnerability to hazards. IRI's next Climate and Society publication will be about disaster risk management and how we can better inform disaster preparedness and response through improved understanding of climate information across time scales.
Q: IRI and other institutions will be putting out forecasts and other types of information relevant to Haiti in the coming months. What are some of the most effective ways for this information to be used in the short term, given that restoration and rebuilding efforts will be far from complete in 2010?
Walter Baethgen : Well, the information needs to be useful across time scales. For rebuilding, there's a need to consider the multiple hazards and risks that Molly mentioned. In the immediate future, the information should feed into the emergency and early warning/response systems that are available now in Haiti. It will be useful to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other humanitarian organizations, for example. They need to be aware that as desperate as the conditions are right now, new hazards and socioeconomic damage are possibilities in the near future due to adverse weather and climate conditions that may affect food production, health conditions and water supplies. Going back to the concept of risk that we discussed before, any new hazard in the near future will find Haiti in a situation that is even more vulnerable than usual, given the devastating effects of the earthquake, and therefore the risks are huge.
Tony Barnston is IRI's lead forecaster and an expert on ENSO variability.
Alessandra Giannini has researched the impact of ENSO on tropical Atlantic variability, working on regions particularly vulnerable to climate variability, including the Caribbean islands.
Walter Baethgen is the director of IRI's Latin America and the Caribbean Program.
Molly Hellmuth is the director of the Climate and Society Publication Secretariat.
UN seeks to restore Haiti’s weather services to prevent further disasters
With the rainy season and its flood risks due in April and hurricanes shortly after, Haiti urgently needs operational meteorological services to forestall further disasters after last month’s devastating earthquake, the United Nations weather agency reported today.
"In order to prevent potential disasters related to the natural hazards, which the country is prone to, the capacity of Haiti to produce and disseminate weather information and warnings needs to be developed without delay," the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said, noting that the national weather office in Port-au-Prince, the capital, was severely cracked by the quake and is no longer safe.
"Weather forecasts and early warnings from the Haiti National Meteorological Centre are essential for national authorities, humanitarian and development agencies and the people for emergency contingency planning and recovery," it added.
WMO is now working to ensure that the national meteorological service is equipped with basic capacities and expertise for translation and dissemination of information currently being provided by neighbouring regions for risk managers, humanitarian aid bodies, decision-makers and the general public during the upcoming rainy and hurricane seasons, which begin in early April and early June respectively.
Restoration of basic operational meteorological services within the next six to 12 months is a key objective in the UN revised flash appeal, to be launched later this month, and various bilateral support programmes. At an estimated cost of $1 million the project includes basic capacities such as an operational office space, computers and printer, communication systems, restoration of automated weather stations, back up generators, and hands-on training of staff.
Even before the 12 January quake, which killed up to 200,000 people, injured many others and left 2 million in need of aid, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, faced pressing needs for disaster risk reduction and early warning capabilities, with WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud visiting in November to assess investment requirements.
More than 90 per cent of disasters in the country are linked to frequently occurring climate-related hazards, such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, flash floods, drought, thunderstorms or lightning, landslides or mudslides, which have been further exacerbated by massive deforestation and environmental changes.
Haiti annually experiences two rainy seasons, from April to June and from October to November, as well as a hurricane season from early June until the end of November. It suffered significant losses in 2008 from four hurricanes, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike, that occurred in quick succession. In 2004 tropical storm Jeanne's heavy rains caused massive flooding and landslides.
Convocatoria Premio Mary Fran Myers "Género y Desastres" 2010
La Red Género y Desastres y el Centro de Amenazas Naturales les invita a enviar nominaciones de aquellas personas que deban ser reconocidas por sus esfuerzos en el avance de políticas, prácticas e investigación sensibles a la igualdad de género en las áreas de la reducción de los riesgos de desastres.
El Premio Mary Fran Myers, establecido en 2002, reconoce que la vulnerabilidad ante los desastres y las emergencias colectivas están influenciadas por las estructuras sociales, culturales y económicas que marginan a las mujeres y niñas, y que también exponen a los daños a niños y hombres.
El premio fue nombrado así para reconocer los esfuerzos que Mary Fran Myers realizó como Co-Directora del Centro de Amenazas Naturales, para crear una red mundial de promoción de oportunidades para las mujeres en las profesiones relacionadas con los desastres y para apoyar la investigación en asuntos vinculados con la igualdad de género, desastres, manejo de emergencias y la educación superior.
La intención del Premio Mary Fran Myers Género y Desastres es reconocer a las mujeres y hombres cuya defensa, investigación y/o esfuerzos para promover la gestión de riesgos de desastres han tenido un impacto duradero y positivo en la reducción de la vulnerabilidad de hombres y mujeres ante los desastres. Son elegibles todas y todos aquellos cuyo trabajo ha influido en el campo de conocimiento sobre género y desastres, que hayan sido importantes para la práctica y la teoría de género, o bien hayan impulsado oportunidades para las mujeres en este campo del conocimiento.
El Comité de Selección de este premio esta especialmente interesado en recibir nominaciones de fuera de los Estados Unidos de América. También se invita a re-nominar a candidatos de años anteriores que aún no han sido beneficiados con el premio, en reconocimiento a su trabajo de excelencia.
El premio no aporta fondos para viajes o alguna otra compensación material, sin embargo, la persona receptora del premio será reconocida “virtualmente” en el mes de julio 2010 en el marco del Taller Anual de Amenazas Naturales de la Universidad de Colorado, además de darse a conocer en el Cartel Anual de la Red de Género y Desastres 2010.
La persona seleccionada será invitada a participar como miembro de la Comisión de Selección del Premio Mary Fran Myers Género y Desastres para el siguiente año 2011 y se le incitará a servir como Presidente de la Comisión de Selección para segundo año, en el 2012.
Tres son los pasos para hacer una nominación:
- Enviar el nombre completo y la información de contacto de la persona que presenta la nominación, así como del o la candidata (dirección postal, correo electrónico, teléfono y fax)
- Añadir el curriculum vitae completo del o la nominada y un resumen de una cuartilla.
- Escribir una carta de nominación donde se detalle específicamente cómo el trabajo del o la candidata se ajusta a los criterios de adjudicación del premio, de acuerdo a lo descrito anteriormente.
- Opcional: enviar una carta adicional de apoyo a la candidatura, por otra persona y/o organización.
Favor de enviar los materiales solicitados antes del 16 de abril de 2010 a Kristinne Sanz de la Red de Género y Desastres al siguiente correo electrónico: firstname.lastname@example.org
La documentación completa de la propuesta será remitida a la Presidencia del Comité de Selección 2010, que facilitará el proceso de revisión y hará el anuncio del o la ganadora.
Nuestro agradecimiento adelantado por difundir este aviso entre las personas cuyo trabajo sobre la igualdad de género en la reducción de los riesgos de desastes deba ser reconocido en diversos sectores, regiones, redes y contextos.
LA FECHA LÍMITE PARA RECIBIR NOMINACIONES ES EL 16 DE ABRIL DE 2010.Pagina web del Premio Mary Fran Myers
Earthquakes caused the deadliest disasters in the past decade
UNISDR News Archive - 28.01.2010
Geneva - In the past decade, nearly 60 per cent of the people killed by disasters died because of earthquakes, the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) revealed today in a joint press conference with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
"Earthquakes are the deadliest natural hazard of the past ten years and remain a serious threat for millions of people worldwide as eight out of the ten most populous cities in the world are on earthquake fault-lines," said Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
"Disaster risk reduction is an indispensable investment for each earthquake-prone city and each community. Seismic risk is a permanent risk and cannot be ignored. Earthquakes can happen anywhere at any time. Risk reduction will be a main priority in the Haiti reconstruction process, and we will be working with our partners to ensure that it is central in the reconstruction" continued Wahlström.
According to the figures released today by CRED in Geneva, 3,852 disasters killed more than 780,000 people over the past ten years, affected more than two billion others and cost a minimum of 960 billion US$.
In terms of human losses, Asia is the continent that has been struck again and again by disasters during the last decade, accounting for 85 per cent of all fatalities.
After earthquakes, storms (22%) and extreme temperatures (11%) were the most deadly disasters between 2000 and 2009.
The most deadly disasters of the 2000 decade were the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which hit several countries in Asia (2004) leaving 226,408 dead; Cyclone Nargis, which killed 138,366 people in Myanmar (2008); and the Sichuan earthquake in China (2008), causing the deaths of 87,476 people. 73,338 people were also killed in the earthquake in Pakistan (2005) and 72,210 in heat waves in Europe (2003).
"The number of catastrophic events has more than doubled since the 1980-1989 decade. In contrast, the numbers of affected people have increased at a slower rate. This may be due to better community preparedness and prevention," said Professor Guha-Sapir, Director of CRED.
Of the two billion affected people, 44 per cent were affected by floods and 30 per cent by droughts, while earthquakes accounted for 4 per cent.
The annual average death toll for the 2000 decade was 78,000, which is considerably higher than the 43,000 of the previous decade (1990s). But in the 1980s, the annual average of persons killed was almost as high with 75,000 owing to two major droughts and famines in Ethiopia and Sudan. The average number of natural hazard events per annum in 2000-2009 was 385 compared to the annual average of 258 for the decade 1990-1999 and 165 for the decade 1980-1989.
The annual average of 96 billion US$ is more than twice as high as the respective figure for the 1980s (39 billion US$), but remains slightly below the 99 billion US$ annual average of the decade 1990-99.
In 2009, the total number of people killed and affected by disasters was lower than in 2008, as no major disaster occurred: 327 events killed 10,416 people, affected nearly 113 million others and caused a total of 34.9 billion US$ economic damages.
The 2009 figures remain also well below the 2000-2008 annual averages, which were 85,535 (deaths), 229,792,397 (total affected) and 102.7 billion US$ (economic damages).
The disaster with the highest death toll was the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia on 30 September, which killed over 1100. Furthermore, typhoons Morakot, Ketsana and Parma and floods caused many deaths in Asia, rendering the continent once again the most affected one. Six of the top 10 countries with the highest number of disaster-related deaths were in Asia.
"By far the majority of the people affected have been by climate-related events such as floods and storms," said Professor Guha-Sapir. "Although these events are climate events, their impact on home settlements can be determined by non-climate factors such as urbanization, urban planning and deforestation." CRED argues that these factors can be managed to reduce the impact of those events.Full article and more facts and figures at UNISDR
Major environmental issues arising for Haiti recovery
UNEP News Centre - 28.01.2010
Two weeks after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January, a massive humanitarian operation is underway and aid is beginning to reach those who desperately need it in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. The most urgent priorities remain water, health care, shelter and food.
Thanks to a team of senior experts on the ground, UNEP continues to provide technical assistance and support on environmental matters to the Humanitarian Country Team and to the local government, including through emergency environmental assessments of affected sites and active participation in the humanitarian cluster system.
Field-based rapid assessments since 13 January have identified a number of major environmental issues for the short and medium term, including:
Medical waste: Emergency response operations are currently generating a very significant amount of medical waste, which is piling up in hospitals and medical treatment centers. No systems or equipment are yet in place to dispose of these potentially hazardous materials. UNEP is working with the Haitian Government and WHO to establish an appropriate containment space and handling procedures for this waste in the Port-au-Prince area.
Rubble and demolition material: In the epicenter and highly affected areas, the percentage of destruction or severe damage to buildings and other structures is 60-80%. The volume of demolition waste potentially generated by recovery and reconstruction operations has yet to be technically estimated, but will be in tens of millions of tons. Recycling efforts are already being observed, but debris is also being dumped in large quantities on the roadsides. Unless this issue is managed properly, additional environmental impacts will arise. UNEP is working with number of other partners to develop a Debris Management Strategy for Port-au-Prince and environs.
Secondary spills and hazardous chemicals: Recovery and reconstruction operations will in time work over a large number of badly damaged small industry and storage sites. This implies a risk of oil and chemical spills. The extent and impact of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) from sources like damaged electric transformers also need to be assessed.
Landslides: Multiple small landslides visible on all hillsides in the impacted area. Little movement has been noted so far, mainly due to the coral sand geology and dry conditions. However, many more landslides are anticipated after the first heavy rains.
Geological and flood risks for rebuilt camps: Many damaged accommodation areas will be further degraded by the earthquake as it has destabilized slopes and blocked drainage lines with debris. There is a high potential for building back better and disaster risk reduction through improved hydrology, slope stabilization by revegetation, and geological engineering work.
Environmental impact of massive population displacements: The massive ongoing displacement of population represents an immediate pressure on local resources. It has been reported that over 1,000,000 people have moved to less affected rural and urban areas in the western part of the southern peninsula, central and northern part of the country. In the short term, these population's energy and livelihood needs will create additional pressure on Haiti's already exhausted natural resources.
Green food and cash for work schemes: Several million people have been economically affected by the quake, which has destroyed the Port-au-Prince regional economy for the medium term at least. It is anticipated that the most vulnerable will be assisted with large-scale food and cash for work schemes. Opportunities exist to direct these schemes to sustainable "green" and disaster risk reduction activities such as clean-up, urban catchment rehabilitation and reforestation.
UNEP will continue to support the people of Haiti and the international community throughout the emergency and early recovery phases, through targeted interventions aimed at mitigating further environmental risk, "building back better," and ensuring long-term sustainable recovery.
A Flash Appeal for USD 575 million, covering a period of six months, was launched by the UN and international partners on Friday 15 January. The Appeal includes USD 1 million for environmental interventions during the early recovery phase of operations.
In addition to post-disaster interventions, UNEP will continue to develop the Haiti Regeneration Initiative, a long-term programme to be implemented by a wide range of partners, aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability to natural hazards through the restoration of ecosystems and sustainable natural resource management. Well planned, concerted action will be required over the next 20 years and beyond to halt the ongoing degradation and to gradually restore the Haitian environment and related livelihoods.
For More Information Please Contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, Email: email@example.com, or Silja Halle, UNEP Communications Advisor, Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, on Tel: +41 22 917 8441, or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Haitian leadership vital to post-quake response – UN relief officials
Haitians must have leadership of the post-earthquake recovery process, top United Nations humanitarian officials stressed today as they reported that aid agencies are making important progress in reaching people affected by the disaster.
Significant steps forward are being made in the areas of water and food distribution, among others, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told reporters in New York.
But he added that "we are conscious it's a very long way to go to get to all the people in need with basic items."
The World Food Programme (WFP) said that it has reached almost 450,000 people with nearly 10 million meals since the 12 January earthquake, with more food set to arrive.
Mr. Holmes, who also serves as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, pointed out that the availability of medical supplies remains a problem, even as emergency health operations are starting to slow down. "There is an issue of where people are going to go to recover from their injuries," especially given the large number of amputees.
Shelter remains a major priority, he stressed. Haitian President René Préval has estimated that 200,000 family-sized tents may be needed to shelter those made homeless from the quake, and the UN official stressed today that talks are under way today to determine what kinds of camps should be set up where.
Currently, there are 40,000 tents already in Haiti , but many more are needed, with some 800,000 to 1 million people already having organized themselves into temporary shelters.
The $575 million UN flash appeal for Haiti launched on 15 January, three days after the quake, is only 49 per cent funded, Mr. Holmes announced, expressing concern that certain crucial sectors – including early recovery – remain underfunded.
Senior UN officials and foreign ministers from over one dozen nations converged in Montreal yesterday for a "Friends of Haiti" meeting to discuss Haiti's future.
There was wide agreement among the participants "on the kind of process we now need to start" before a donors' conference slated to be held in March at UN Headquarters in New York , said Mr. Holmes, who attended yesterday's meeting.
Those taking part underscored the importance of Haitian ownership of the recovery process, as well as the need to plan ahead for the post-recovery stage of rebuilding the impoverished country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Also identified as vital at the Montreal summit is "the restoration of national authority after the disruption by the earthquake," as well as "getting people back to work as quickly as possible," Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said today.
The agency has launched a cash-for-work programme to provide Haitians with an independent source of income – $5 a day – in return for such work as rubble removal, street repairs and aid distribution.
By the end of this week, UNDP hopes that 10,000 people will be involved the scheme, ultimately being scaled up to include 220,000 people, indirectly benefiting 1 million others.
The scheme "builds security" as well as "a sense of hope," Mr. Ryan underscored.
Prior to the catastrophic earthquake, Haiti was making tremendous strides and now the country has the opportunity to "build back better" and push ahead with the democratic renewal that was already under way prior to the tremors, he said.
Lessons learned from the international response to previous disasters have been applied in Haiti, the UNDP official said, adding that "there is the sense that we have an opportunity to be ruthless in terms of rooting out duplication by having a much more coordinated effort" on the ground.
Edmond Mulet, the Secretary-General's acting Special Representative to Haiti, proposed a new way to coordinate relief efforts in Haiti to ensure that aid reaches those who need it at yesterday's Montreal gathering.
The plan seeks to coordinate and integrate the political, humanitarian and military facets of the international response to the quake – which has killed more than 100,000 people and severely affected an estimated 3 million others – and the Joint Operation and Tasking Centre started operating today, bringing together the UN, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the US Army and the Canadian Army.
"There is a lot of talk about coordination, but the fact that there's a need for it and a lot of talk for it doesn't make it easy to accomplish on the ground," Anthony Banbury, acting Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for MINUSTAH, told reporters in New York via videolink from the capital, Port-au-Prince, yesterday.
Coordination is complicated by the number of people working on the ground, many new to the country, who have different backgrounds, priorities and perspectives, he said.
"While I think everyone wants to do what's best for the Haitian people and the Haitian Government, really being committed to coordination and being willing to all move in the same direction, that's a true challenge," Mr. Banbury stressed.
Majority of disaster deaths in 2009 climate-related, says UN
More than three quarters of those people who died in disasters this year lost their lives to extreme weather events, which caused nearly $15 billion in damages worldwide, the top United Nations official on disaster risk reduction announced today.
Preliminary figures for the period from January to the end of November 2009 show that 224 of the 245 disasters were weather-related, and accounted for 55 million out of 58 million people affected.
Data shows that the number of people killed in disasters is falling because countries are better prepared and have better early warning systems, Margareta Wahlström, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the historic UN summit on climate change is under way.
"But the cost of disasters are equally, steadily going up very dramatically from the 1980s into this decade, and that increase is continuing year by year," she stressed.
For poorer nations, they have seen costs jump from $10 billion to $15 billion annually, Ms. Wahlström pointed out, while wealthier countries have experienced a cost surge from $20 billion per year to well over $70 billion.
She noted that droughts – the most "complicated" of disasters to capture in statistics are not well-represented in the results announced today.
"It is a major hazard, and it's a slow-moving one that kills people through bad health, malnutrition, disease and undermines livelihoods," the official said.
For example, in Africa, droughts accounts for les than 20 per cent of reported disasters, but represents 80 per cent of all people affected.
Addressing the same press conference, Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that while natural hazards cannot be prevented, "we can provide the right information to prevent these extreme events [from turning into] disasters."
With climate change being one of the complicating factors in hazards, "we know with great likelihood that a number of these disasters are likely or very likely to become more intense or more frequent," he added.
He underscored that while climate information is crucial for analyzing hazard patterns, the past is no longer a good indicator to plan for the future given changing patterns, such as sea level rise, triggered by climate change.
For his part, Olav Kjorven, Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), stressed that climate-related natural disasters are not humanitarian catastrophes, but seriously jeopardize development gains.
"There is no doubt that they threaten the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], the time-bound targets that we have set for ourselves," but they also could result in setbacks to affect generations to come, he said.
El Caribe por 1,5 grados centígrados como límite en Copenhague
Tomado de Prensa Latina / 09.12.2009
Puerto España, 8 dic (PL) Envueltos en una campaña pública, los países del CARICOM llegan a Copenhague con demandas expeditas, entre ellas un techo de 1,5 grados centígrados para el aumento de la temperatura mundial.
En la actual conferencia de la ONU sobre Cambio Climático COP-15 de la capital danesa la región salió hoy a la palestra entre las más golpeadas por el casi desmesurado auge de los fenómenos naturales debido al calentamiento global.
La campaña, cuyo lema es "1,5° C para sobrevivir", persigue apoyar y "dramatizar" una estrategia regional común para mitigar los efectos del cambio climático en el área, declaró recientemente el secretario general de la Comunidad del Caribe (CARICOM), Edwin Carrington.
Se trata de un programa que incluye una exposición digital sobre los efectos perjudiciales de los gases invernadero en los pequeños estados insulares y varias presentaciones en video acerca de las consecuencias del cambio climático para los seres humanos, la fauna y la flora del Caribe.
Los gases de carbono o efecto invernadero son los causantes del recalentamiento planetario, conocido como cambio climático.
El último informe del Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático (IPCC, por sus siglas en inglés), el pronóstico apuntó en 2007 que en el escenario más benigno habrá un incremento de la temperatura media anual de entre dos y 2,5 grados para 2050.
De ser así, el mar subirá varios centímetros, pronostican científicos de diversas latitudes.
El primer ministro de Granada, Tillman Thomas, encabezará la representación de la Asociación de los Pequeños Estados Insulares ((AOSIS por su sigla en inglés), al decir de muchos expertos unos de los que corren mayor peligro por la evolución del clima en el orbe.
Thomas adelantó que su país buscará además apoyo para proyectos nacionales y señaló en particular la protección y reforestación de la línea costera de la isla, una necesidad extendida a la generalidad de los países ribereños del mar Caribe.
La situación global "es muy seria y Copenhague es un problema de derechos humanos a nivel mundial", precisaron fuentes del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) en América Latina y el Caribe.
Además, se prevé una mayor frecuencia de eventos climáticos extremos como lluvias, sequía e inundaciones, "que significarían que 332 millones de personas fueran desplazadas de las zonas costeras", según economistas del PNUD, especializados en recursos hídricos y calentamiento global.Artículo en la web de Prensa Latina
Climate change concern
From The Barbados Advocate / 02.12.2009
APPARENT disinterest in climate change issues by civil society groups and others in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (EC) ahead of this month's big climate change conference in Europe is worrying the United Nations' (UN) lead official in Barbados and the EC.
However, UN Resident Co-ordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative for Barba-dos and the Eastern Caribbean Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, was concerned about the prevailing silence on these matters.
"No other time in world history has humankind been called on to consider the plight of each other and to create a more humane environment circumscribed and imbued with the values of community. Our future is in the balance, and I wonder why there is not more clamouring by civil society and other groups about climate change," she said.
The official was speaking at UN House last week during the presentation of the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) annual report to the media and partners and presentation of cheques of grantees.
"In general, there appears to be an apparent contentment in the Caribbean, which masks complex meta-problems like climate change. There is an eerie silence broken by the occasional intervention from technocrats, donors and Government representatives. This silence is especially notable among civil society organisations, who we see as metres of our actions and progress; and no matter the reason for this silence, it is felt," she added.
Gyles-McDonnough said the eyes of the world was turning to Copen-hagen "with expectation, optimism, and pessimism, depending on whom you talk with."
"For us in Small Islands Developing States, we are hoping that the successor to the Kyoto Protocol will create an international environment that is more considerate of our strengths and limitations, and that will not reduce our islands from tiny land masses on a world map to unliveable rocks in the oceans of the world," she said.
The UN spokesperson wondered what had become of "the vibrant and caring community spirit which was pervasive in the first half of the twentieth-century in the Caribbean." She called for a "more active and vibrant civil society" in Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
"We ask you to make more use of the grant funds that are available and to contact us here at UNDP for assistance as needed. We are here to serve you and to assist whenever we can. What is certain for us, is that the challenges of modern day society requires a development paradigm which is based on greater participation of people and a re-sensitisation of people to the value of community and responsibility for each other's fate. The realities of Climate Change demand such an approach," she stated.
Gyles-McDonnough said despite these challenges and concerns UNDP and its GEF SGP "are still optimistic of the quality and sustained role that civil society can play in sustainable development." "We will therefore continue along our current trajectory of developing a service oriented programme which nurtures the community instinct to address environmental issues," she said.Story at The Barbados Advocate
Commonwealth leaders agree to $10 billion climate funding for vulnerable countries
Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), 1 December 2009 - Commonwealth leaders representing a third of the world's population have stressed their "conviction that urgent and substantial action to reduce global emissions is needed" after a meeting in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago.
The 49 countries at the summit - including 34 represented by their heads of state or government - approved 'fast track funding' focused on the most vulnerable countries in a meeting that was dominated by climate change just a week before the key UN climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Copenhagen Launch Fund would start in 2010 and build up to US$10 billion per year by 2012, including 10 per cent dedicated to small island states. The fund would support climate adaptation, clean technology and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
"Science, and our own experience, tells us that we only have a few short years to address the threat [of climate change]," the Commonwealth leaders' declaration reads. "The average global temperature has risen because of the increase in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. We must act now."
"We pledge our continued support to the leaders-driven process guided by the Danish Prime Minister and his efforts to deliver a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally binding outcome no later than 2010," it adds.
The Copenhagen meeting on 7-18 December, which will be attended by 80 world leaders, will see governments from around the world look at possible greenhouse gas emission limits after the Kyoto Protocol runs out at the end of 2012.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told leaders at the meeting that "we face a simple reality - if we delay for perfection, we risk ending up with nothing - no agreement at all".
He added that momentum for a deal in Copenhagen is strong and continues to grow: "The world has never before witnessed this level of political engagement on climate," he emphasized. "We will not get a better chance any time soon."
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown added: "If a third of the world can agree at the Commonwealth conference, then perhaps the whole of the world can agree at Copenhagen."Full release at UNEP Website
22 Participantes del Caribe hispanoparlante participaron en el taller de "Sensibilización y capacitación en el enfoque de género en la gestión de riesgos de desastres"
La Iniciativa para el Manejo de Riesgo en el Caribe (CRMI) invitó a 22 técnicos, directores de proyectos, investigadores, coordinadores en el área de desastres y legisladores de la República Dominicana y Cuba para participar en un taller de tres días sobre la integración de la perspectiva de género en la reducción de riesgos de desastres. Por parte de Cuba, el taller tuvo la participación de representantes de la Federación de Mujeres Cubanas (FMC), de la Defensa Civil, de los Centros de Gestión para la reducción de riesgo y de las Universidades de Holguín y Bayamo. La delegación de la República Dominicana incluyó a miembros de la Secretaría de Estado de Economía, Planificación y Desarrollo, la Secretaría de Estado de la Mujer, la Secretaría de Estado de Educación, y del Comité Técnico de Prevención y Mitigación de Riesgos.
Este es el segundo taller organizado por la CRMI que se dedica a dicho tema; el primero tuvo lugar en Barbados en diciembre del 2008 y estuvo dirigido a la comunidad angloparlante. El ímpetu de esta serie de talleres se origina en un estudio que se realizó en seis países del Caribe para analizar la transversalización de género en el manejo de riesgo. Los resultados indicaron que hay poca integración de la perspectiva de género en el manejo de riesgo. Así mismo, este taller tuvo el propósito de ilustrar la importancia del género, las necesidades diferenciadas entre mujeres y hombres, y cómo incorporar la perspectiva de género en proyectos de reducción de riesgo y sistemas de manejo de riesgo.
Los participantes pasaron un día analizando las necesidades de mujeres y hombres en relación con las cinco fases de la Gestión integral de Riesgo de Desastres (identificación y análisis de riesgo, prevención y reducción de riesgo, preparación al desastre, respuesta a la emergencia, y rehabilitación / recuperación) y el tipo de modificación que es necesaria en la gestión tradicional de riesgo para un mejor entendimiento de género. El grupo preparó un listado de indicadores para medir la perspectiva de género en el diseño e implementación de un proyecto. El taller ofreció la oportunidad de participar, discutir y enriquecerse mutuamente sobre los diferentes niveles de acción en estos dos países.
El taller fue impartido por Cecilia Castro García, de la UNAM-X, una especialista reconocida en la región por su trabajo en este campo. La Iniciativa para el Manejo de Riesgo en el Caribe (CRMI) fue lanzada en el 2004 por el Buró para la Prevención y Recuperación de Crisis y esta apoyada por gobiernos e instituciones regionales. El taller se realizó gracias al apoyo del Fondo Fiduciario España – PNUD.
UN report points to central role women play in efforts to fight climate change
18 November 2009 – Climate change strikes it fiercest blow against the poorest, most vulnerable people around the world, according to a United Nations report released today, urging policymakers to heed the role of women – who make up the majority of the poor – in combating climate change.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report warned that the poor depend more on agriculture for their livelihoods, risking hunger and loss of income when droughts strike, rains become unpredictable and hurricanes move with unprecedented force.
The poor also tend to live in marginal areas, vulnerable to floods, rising seas and storms, noted The State of World Population 2009 UNFPA report, stressing that women bear the disproportionate burden of climate change as they make up the majority of the world's 1.5 billion people living on less than $1 a day.
"Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, even though they contributed the least to it," said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.
"With the possibility of a climate catastrophe on the horizon, we cannot afford to relegate the world's 3.4 billion women and girls to the role of victim," said Ms. Obaid. "Wouldn't it make more sense to have 3.4 billion agents for change?"
The report contended that the international community's fight against climate change would be more successful if policies, programmes and treaties consider the needs, rights and potential of women.
It spotlighted studies showing women are more likely than men to die in natural disasters, with the gender mortality gap most pronounced where incomes are low and status differences between men and women are high.The UNFPA report also demonstrated that investment in women and girls – particularly in education and health – boosts economic development, reduces poverty and benefits the environment. It said that girls with more education tend to have smaller and healthier families as adults because access to reproductive health services – including family planning – results in lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.
Ban urges countries to press ahead on political deal at climate summit
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged countries to seize the opportunity presented by next month's climate change conference in Copenhagen to clinch a political agreement that will help chart the way forward on a new legally binding pact to combat global warming.
"Opportunity is knocking. It is up to you to open the door," Mr. Ban told a two-day meeting that began today in the Danish capital, ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference.
The conference, set to begin on 7 December, aims to reach accord on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 pact which has strong, legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
In a message delivered by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Mr. Ban stated that Copenhagen will mark a milestone in international efforts to build a more sustainable relationship with the planet.
"We must seize this opportunity to create a safer and more prosperous future for all, to reduce the emissions that are causing climate change, and to help the most vulnerable adapt to impacts that are already under way," he said, adding that "the technical details can be resolved at a later stage."
While applauding the progress made in the negotiations to date, the Secretary-General noted that core political issues remain unresolved.
A comprehensive outcome, he pointed out, should ensure enhanced action to help the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt; ambitious emission reduction targets for industrialized countries; nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support; significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources; and an equitable governance structure.
"These are the essential elements of a Copenhagen deal – a deal that can safeguard our common future while ushering in powerful new opportunities today for economic growth, enhanced security, and sustainable, climate-resilient development."
He added that the engagement of world leaders is critical, noting that the support of the ministers gathered in Copenhagen today and tomorrow is vital for ensuring that a global climate change deal stays at the forefront of their agendas.
Last week Mr. Ban strongly encouraged all heads of State and government to accept the invitation issued by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen to attend the closing days of the 7 to 18 December conference.
"The Secretary-General believes it is essential to maintain political momentum at the highest level and from all sectors of society, and is optimistic than an ambitious, fair and effective climate deal can be reached at Copenhagen," read a statement issued by his spokesperson.
UN examines disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation link
A United Nations-backed gathering of experts kicked off today in Panama to initiate for the first time an assessment of the effect climate change has on the future threat of natural disasters and how nations can better manage an expected rise in severe weather patterns.
The first global scientific effort examining the linkages between disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change will be undertaken by over 90 experts attending the four-day meeting in Panama City, which was convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The call for the investigation – consisting of an extensive survey of scientific and technical data available in 2010 – comes in response to a IPCC report in 2007 which predicts that more frequent and severe extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, storms, heat waves were likely in the future warmer world.
"The IPCC Special Report is a collective effort that will shine a spotlight on the working policies and tools that people have been using for years to manage and adapt to natural variations of the climate," said Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
"It will inform governments about what works best to reduce disaster risks and manage extreme events, and how to cut down on future losses of lives and assets," added Ms. Wahlström.
The assessment, Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, will be delivered in a report, slated for release in 2011 following worldwide technical and governmental review.
The experts will assess measures that governments and people can take to build resilience to weather and climate hazards and examine practices, strategies and approaches that communities can use to adapt to climate change.
The IPCC team of experts combines the forces of economists, sociologists, risk analysts, hydrologists, agricultural experts, health researchers, and risk reduction practitioners alongside climate scientists from a diverse range of developing and developed countries.
El sitio web del CRMI tiene como propósito ser el punto de referencia regional en reducción de riesgo de desastres y adaptación al cambio climático.
La Iniciativa Caribeña para el Manejo de Riesgos (CRMI) anuncia el lanzamiento de su nuevo sitio web accesible en www.undp.org.cu/crmi. El portal rediseñado, disponible en tres idiomas, tiene como objetivo posicionarse en la región del Caribe como punto de referencia y plataforma de conocimientos en temas relacionados con la reducción de riesgo de desastres y la adaptación al cambio climático. El sitio web posee una variedad de recursos tales como documentos, artículos, información técnica, estudios de caso y herramientas de toda la región, dirigidos a profesionales, legisladores, y especialistas. El nuevo sitio web parte con trece nuevos documentos de buenas practicas sobre temas diversos como sistemas de defensa civil, recuperación temprana, gestión integral de riesgo, evaluación de riesgos y adaptación a la sequia en diferentes países como Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, República Dominicana, las Islas Vírgenes Británicas, Surinam y Granada. Así mismo se encuentran disponibles noticias, eventos, y anuncios destinados a estimular el dialogo y la reflexión entre la comunidad científica de cambio climático y los especialistas de gestión de riesgo.
¡Ayúdenos a fortalecer la biblioteca de documentos! CRMI apoya a las instituciones con la diseminación de información y conocimientos en tres idiomas a través de publicaciones impresas y de su presentación en el sitio web. Con éste fin, CRMI acepta el envio de material apropiado para su consideración, traducción y diseminación en la región.
La presencia en Internet de CRMI refuerza su meta de crear capacidad e incrementar la colaboración en los temas de riesgos climáticos en el Caribe. La Iniciativa Caribeña para el Manejo de Riesgos fue lanzada en el 2004 por el Buró para la Prevención y Recuperación de Crisis (BCPR) y esta respaldada por instituciones gubernamentales y organizaciones internacionales en la región.
Enhancing Pacific/Caribbean SIDS Collaboration
Representatives from key regional organizations leading climate change and disaster risk reduction strategies in the Caribbean region recently attended the Pacific Platform meeting in Fiji, with the objective of establishing south-south collaboration among small island developing states (SIDS). SIDS countries share particularly high vulnerabilities, given their tiny size, limited economic base, majority of the population living along the coastline, and social trends such as the constant emigration of qualified professionals and youth. An example of the latter is that while Fiji provides tropical cyclone monitoring services to 10 Pacific island countries, it struggles to retain the full staff of 14 meteorologists needed to adequately provide these services, as trained meteorologists continuously leave to take up higher salaried positions in New Zealand and Australia.
Among the topics chosen for an initial exchange of experiences was catastrophe risk insurance schemes for regions composed mainly of small islands developing states (SIDS), which use various insurance instruments to pool risks and provide a buffer for governments of small countries which can often be overwhelmed by the widespread and sudden hardships caused by large scale disasters. A representative from the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) spoke on that region’s experience to date with the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), in operation since 2005. To date this scheme has issued payouts to Dominica, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos, which experienced extensive destruction due to earthquakes and wind damage from hurricanes. Given the lessons learned from the Caribbean experience with the catastrophe risk insurance scheme, CDERA and the University of the West Indies outlined some issues that the Pacific should address, as it considers whether it should adopt a similar scheme. One key concern is that such schemes usually do not cover damages from flooding due to excessive rains or seawater flooding, which are the most recurring types of disasters hitting the Pacific countries. Another aspect relates to understanding technically how the parametric triggers for payouts work, as Pacific governments are not familiar with such systems.
The Caribbean and Pacific regional organizations agreed to pursue broader and more sustained collaboration on the disaster risk reduction and climate change issues affecting SIDS, for transfer of expertise, technology and lessons learned. Areas chosen for particular attention include methodologies for generating climate information, and strategies for integrating disaster risk reduction into sectors such as agriculture, tourism, water and sanitation, health and others. For the Pacific region, this collaboration will be led by the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), which has the mandate to lead implementation of the Hyogo Framework of Action for the Pacific, in coordination with UNDP Pacific Centre.