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MEDIA REPORTS

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2004

 

Sustainable Development Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2003; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2004

 

PANEL ON THREATS, CHALLENGES AND CHANGE ADDRESSES POVERTY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION ISSUES

On 1 December 2004, the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change presented their report entitled “A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility.” Containing 101 recommendations, the report addresses a range of issues identified by the Panel as being the greatest threats to worldwide security in the twenty-first century, including: continued poverty and environmental degradation, terrorism, civil war, conflict between States, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and organized crime. The report also makes recommendations regarding the reform of the United Nations.

 

The Panel dedicated a section of its report to the security implications of continued poverty and environmental degradation, focusing on the MDGs, finance, climate change and renewable energy, trade, and HIV/AIDS. Among its proposals, the Panel recommended that States should provide incentives for the further development of renewable energy sources and begin to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies, especially for fossil fuel use and development. On climate change, the Panel urges UN member States to reflect on the gap between the promise of the Kyoto Protocol and its performance, re-engage on the problem of global warming and begin new negotiations to produce a new long-term strategy for reducing global warming beyond the period covered by the Protocol. Regarding disasters and vulnerability, the Panel identified the need for the UN and the international financial institutions to do more to assist those States most vulnerable to severe natural disasters. It also recommends that UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank work in a more integrated fashion and in partnership with governments and research institutions, improve vulnerability assessments, and collaborate with the most affected governments to strengthen their adaptive capacity.

 

“Alarmed by the inflammatory role” of natural resources in wars in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Panel’s report also touches on the relationship between environmental degradation and conflict, identifying a new challenge for the UN as providing support to weak States, especially those recovering from war, in the management of their natural resources to avoid future conflicts. In this regard, the Panel recommended more legal mechanisms in the area of natural resource management, and that the UN work with national authorities, international financial institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector to develop norms governing the management of natural resources for countries emerging from or at risk of conflict.

 

Other recommendations regarding poverty, infectious disease and environmental degradation, include:

  • all States must recommit themselves to the goals of eradicating poverty, achieving sustained economic growth and promoting sustainable development;

  • the many donor countries that currently fall short of the UN 0.7 per cent gross national product target for official development assistance should establish a timetable for reaching it;

  • World Trade Organization members should strive to conclude the Doha development round of multilateral trade negotiations at the latest in 2006;

  • lender governments and the international financial institutions should provide highly indebted poor countries with greater debt relief, longer rescheduling and improved access to global markets; and

  • international donors, in partnership with national authorities and local civil society organizations, should undertake a major new global initiative to rebuild local and national public health systems throughout the developing world.

The report will be transmitted to the General Assembly for review, and for a possible decision at its 60th session in 2005.

 

Links to further information

A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility

Press Conference by High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, Change,

High-level panel named by Annan proposes far-reaching changes to bolster UN  

Annan endorses panel’s recommendations for a more secure world, strengthened UN, 2 December 2004

Panel to release plan to address 21st century threats, make the world more secure and strengthen the United Nations, 30 November

Secretary-General welcomes recommendations on a more secure world and strengthened, 2 December

 

NOVEMBER 2004

 

WORLD BANK ACCEPTING PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE 2005
The World Bank’s Development Marketplace (DM) is awarding $3 million to innovative bottom-up development projects that address environmental challenges.

With the theme of “
Innovations for Livelihoods in a Sustainable Environment,” the 2005 DM will seek to engage the development community in productive environmental initiatives and inventive partnerships that address poverty reduction, economic development and environmental sustainability. DM2005 is open to all, including NGOs, multilateral and bilateral development agencies, private foundations, universities and schools, private sector groups, individuals and local and municipal governments.

Proposals must reflect the DM2005 theme and focus on any of the following areas: renewable energy and energy efficiency at the community level; innovative application of clean technologies in small enterprises; biodiversity conservation; environmental education and awareness; environmental health protection; and sustainable use of natural resources. Deadline for proposals is
21 January 2005.
 

Links to further information

World Bank Development Marketplace website

 

TOURISM BODY DEVELOPS NEW DEFINITION ON SUSTAINABILITY

The World Tourism Organization has revised its definition of sustainable tourism to better reflect the outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. The new definition, which was developed by the organization’s Committee on Sustainable Development of Tourism, notes that “sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.” The new definition also includes statements on making optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity; and respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities. In addition, it refers to cultural heritage and traditional values, long-term viability, informed participation from all relevant stakeholders, monitoring impacts, and poverty alleviation. The original definition was published in Agenda 21 for Travel and Tourism in 1995.

 

Links to further information

The new definition and additional information
Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry

 

DIGITAL SOLIDARITY FUND TO BE INAUGURATED ON 17 NOVEMBER

The Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) will be inaugurated on 17 November 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland. Initiated by Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade at the Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society, held in Lyon, France, in December 2003, the DSF is an independent initiative that seeks to reduce the global digital divide and promote access of all citizens to the knowledge society. In addition to President Wade, the Heads of State of Nigeria, South Africa, and the African Union Commission are scheduled to attend the inauguration.

 

Links to further information

Digital Solidarity Fund website

 

UN LEADERS MARK INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PREVENTING THE EXPLOITATION OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN WAR AND ARMED CONFLICTS

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan highlighted a number of legal provisions protecting the environment during wartime in a statement to mark the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflicts, which was celebrated on 6 November 2004. These include the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (1976), the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993), and the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines (1997). He also called for recognition that “no war or conflict is remote enough not to affect our environment, wherever we live.”

 

Klaus Töpfer, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, called attention to a report on the Southern Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which was recently produced by UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). He highlighted the study’s conclusions that “environmental degradation can undermine local and international security by reinforcing and increasing grievances within and between societies” and “a decrepit and declining environment can also ‘weaken states’ by depressing economic activity and diminishing the authority of the government in the eyes of its citizens.” He also underscored the study’s suggestion that “joint projects to clean up sites, agreements and treaties to better share resources such as rivers and forests, and strengthening cooperation between the different countries ministries and institutions may hold the key to building trust, understanding and more stable relations.”

 

Links to further information

No Conflict is too Remote to Affect Local Environment, Secretary-General Says in Message to Mark International Day to Prevent Exploitation

Statement by Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, on the Occasion of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflicts

 

OCTOBER 2004

 

KENYAN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST AWARDED NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Kenyan Environmentalist and Deputy Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Wangari Maathai has been honored the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, lasting world peace depends on a secure living environment and Maathai “stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically-viable social, economic and cultural development … taking a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights.” Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, where among other things she has mobilized poor women to plant over 25 million trees across Africa since 1977. This is the first time the prize has been bestowed to an African woman and to an environmentalist since the prize was established in 1901.

 

Maathai’s award has not been without controversy. While many have applauded the Nobel Committee’s recognition of the links between environment and conflict, others have accused the Committee of betraying the original focus on peace. Others also express concern that while the move could contribute to expanding the concept of security, it could also result in the dilution of the prize’s prestige.

 

Links to further information

Nobel Peace Prize 2004 website

UNEP Statement regarding the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Wangari Maathai

Green Belt Movement website

Environmental Activist Maathai of Kenya Wins Peace Prize, ENS, 8 October 2004

In Wartime, Critics Question Peace Prize for Environmentalism, New York Times, 10 October 2004

Nobel Prize for green activist expands award range, Reuters, 11 October 2004

 

ACTION DAY UPDATE: WORLD OBSERVES DISASTER REDUCTION DAY AND INTERNATIONAL POVERTY ERADICATION DAY

“Learning from today’s disasters for tomorrow’s hazards” was the theme of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, observed on 13 October. Education, learning and awareness on disaster reduction was the focus of the action day as several UN and international agencies officially launched “Riskland” a game that seeks to educate children on disaster risk reduction. International deliberations on disaster reduction strategies will culminate in the World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in January 2005 in Kobe, Japan, where decision makers will take stock of experiences with disasters and risk reduction over the past decade and provide a strategic vision to reduce risk and vulnerability to natural and technological hazards and build the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.

 

Recent events around the globe also marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a day for all to consider how they can contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty. UN headquarters in New York held a press conference and panel discussion on the effects of poverty on families, and UNESCO organized a series of seminars to raise awareness of the linkages between poverty eradication and human rights. Declared by the General Assembly in 1992, this action day has been officially celebrated on 17 October since 1993, though it was first observed in 1987 at the Human Rights Plaza in Paris.

 

Links to further information

ISDR’s International Day for Disaster Reduction website

DESA’s International Day for Eradication of Poverty website

World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty site

 

NEW IISD AND IUCN TRADE, AID AND SECURITY INITIATIVE EXAMINES LINKAGES BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT AND CONFLICT

A group of international experts in trade in natural resources, aid policy and security issues met in Geneva recently to establish the operating guidelines for a new IISD and IUCN-World Conservation Union project examining the linkages between environment and conflict. The project will assess policy tools and develop a number of focused case studies and rigorous thematic papers to investigate the linkages between trade, aid, security and the environment. The conclusions of the project will be launched in a book and a conference towards the end of 2005.

 

Links to further information

IISD media announcement, 8 October 2004

 

FAO CAMPAIGN COMBATS LOCUSTS IN WEST AFRICA

The FAO announced on 13 October 2004 that six additional aircraft would be joining the four already operating in the West African region to deploy pesticides to combat locust swarms, and that four helicopters would follow shortly. Mauritania, Mali, Senegal and Niger have been worst affected by the locusts, whose numbers have swelled due to good rainfall, which enhances breeding conditions. FAO estimates that more than 40% of Mauritania’s crops have been wiped out in some areas. FAO first warned of the crisis in October 2003. In February 2004, it appealed for $9 million. By August, it said the effort required $100 million. But the funds have only just begun arriving. As of 12 October, almost $20 million had been received. FAO has added $6 million of its own funds to this effort, and has received signed agreements for $38 million more.

 

Links to further information

Locust swarms on the move across the Sahel - Control campaign entering critical phase, FAO news release, 13 October 2004

Hunger in their wake: inside the battle against the desert locust, FAO news release, 13 October 2004

FAO Desert Locust Information Service

 

UN REPORT SPOTLIGHTS A RIGHT-TO-FOOD APPROACH TO FISHERIES

The shift towards industrialization, privatization and export orientation of the fishing industry should consider the rights and resources of subsistence fishing communities, according to an interim report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. The report examines the critical importance of fish and fishery resources for access to food and livelihoods in many Asian, African and Latin American countries, and expresses concerns regarding the ongoing restructuring of the fish trade and fishing industry, noting potential negative impacts on the livelihoods and food security of artisanal and subsistence fisherfolk. According to the report, there are approximately 842 million people suffering from under nourishment in a world that produces more than sufficient food to feel the world’s population, and hunger levels have been increasing every year since 1996 when governments pledged to combat hunger at the World Food Summit. In addition to its focus on the linkages between fisheries and the right to food, the report also provides an overview of the current situation of world hunger, and highlights situations of special concern, including in Sudan, North Korea, Cuba and the Occupied Palestine Territories, urging respective governments to respect the human right to food. An Intergovernmental Working Group convened under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is currently drafting “voluntary guidelines” that seek to assist governments in their efforts to implementation the right to food through a rights-based approach to food security.

 

Links to further information

Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the right to food

 

AUGUST 2004

 

NEW FAO-UAE COLLABORATION TO BENEFIT MIDDLE EAST FARMERS

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced in August a five-year plan through which the Internet-based resources of the UAE’s Agriculture Information Centre (UAE-AGRICENT) will expand, in coordination with the FAO’s World Agriculture Information Centre (WAICENT), to become a resource for the entire Middle East region. This collaboration seeks to increase access to agriculture information to boost economic development and improve food security. Information on animal quarantine practices is included in the partner’s plans for new content development. UAE-AGRICENT currently provides information in Arabic and English on farming, fisheries, forestry and food security, and issues early warning reports on emergencies like water shortages and plant or animal disease outbreaks. The collaboration with WAICENT will allow these services to have a wider relevance to farmers throughout the Middle East.

 

Links to further information

UAE-AGRICENT website

WAICENT website

SciDev news story

 

ASEAN AND UNU AGREE TO COOPERATE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and United Nations University (UNU) signed, on 24 August 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their cooperation on sustainable development activities and projects. ASEAN and the UNU have been collaborating since 1998 on a variety of activities and projects aimed at strengthening sustainable development, including those on synergy and coordination in the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, biosafety (particularly the safety of genetically modified organisms), urban environmental governance, and better management of protected areas. Through the new MoU, the signatories will explore new areas of collaboration including training in ASEAN Member Countries, an ASEAN-UNU lecture series at the ASEAN Secretariat and in ASEAN Member Countries, and fellowships for ASEAN scholars to conduct advanced research at UNU Institute of Advanced Studies.

 

Links to further information

UNU Press Release, 30 August 2004

 

AFRICAN SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE THREATENED BY HIV/AIDS

The HIV/AIDS epidemic threatens subsistence agriculture in countries across southern and eastern Africa, with long-term consequences for food security, says an FAO study on subsistence agriculture in Mozambique.

 

The study indicated that 45% of disease-affected households in the country had reduced areas under cultivation, while 60% had reduced the number of crops grown. Researcher Anne Waterhouse said the results showed that HIV/AIDS may have a “highly negative” impact on local knowledge regarding seeds, as it affects the passing of knowledge about traditional crops from generation to generation. Traditional crop varieties act as an insurance against hunger, because they are adapted to local conditions and can resist Africa’s droughts.

 

Commissioned by the FAO LinKS project, which explores the linkages between local knowledge, gender and biodiversity, the study was conducted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.

 

Links to further information

FAO Press Release, 23 August 2004

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/49917/index.html

 

EC SEEKS STAKEHOLDER INPUT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

The European Commission has initiated a 12-week stakeholder consultation process inviting input for the mid-term review of its sustainability agenda. Adopted at the Gothenburg European Council in June 2001, the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy contains cross cutting proposals aimed at ensuring greater coherence and cost effectiveness of policymaking, as well as promoting technological innovation and enhancing civil society and business involvement in policy formation. Key priorities identified in the strategy include: limiting climate change and increasing clean energy use; addressing threats to public health; managing natural resources more responsibly; and improving transport system and land use management. The consultation seeks to gather views on the strategy, its achievements to date, and possible future directions. The deadline for submission of input is 31 October 2004.

 

Links to further information

EU Strategy for Sustainable Development Public Consultation 2004

http://europa.eu.int/comm/sustainable/pages/consult_en.htm

EU Strategy for Sustainable Development

http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/eussd/  

 

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND CAPABILITY ASSOCIATION TO BE LAUNCHED

The Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA) will officially be launched 6 September 2004. The association seeks to promote high quality research in the interconnected areas of human development and capability, focusing on areas where the human development and capability approaches have made and can make significant contributions, including quality of life, poverty, justice, gender, development and environment. The Association will, among other activities, hold annual or biannual conferences, maintain a listserv, support training activities, and provide a forum for fostering collaborative research. Amartya Sen will be the HDCA’s first president and Martha Nussbaum will be its president-elect.

 

Links to further information

Human Development and Capability Association website

http://www.hd-ca.org  

 

JULY 2004

 

CALL FOR MAJOR GROUPS’ INPUT TO CSD-13

The CSD Secretariat has requested input from major groups in the preparation of the Secretary-General’s reports for the 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13). Information submitted by major groups will be collected, analyzed and considered in the preparation of official published reports. CSD-12, which took place in April 2004, reviewed the state of implementation of water/sanitation/human settlements goals and targets provided for in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The outcome of CSD-12 was a Chair’s Summary, which identified constraints and obstacles to, and continuing challenges for, the implementation of water/sanitation/human settlements goals and targets. This Chair’s Summary provides the substantive basis for the preparation of Secretary-General’s reports, which will focus on policy options and possible actions to overcome the constraints and obstacles and meet the challenges identified by CSD-12. Major groups wishing to contribute to these reports should submit their inputs by 17 September 2004. For more information visit:
http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/mgroups/csd_13/input_sgreports.htm

 

UN SEATING ORDER SELECTED

Following established practice, the UN Secretary-General drew lots on 20 July 2004 to determine which Member State would occupy the first desk on the General Assembly floor. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was drawn and will therefore sit at the first desk to the right of the President, with other countries following in the English alphabetical order. The same order will be observed in the Main Committees.

 

SACHS STRESSES NEED FOR GREATER COOPERATION TO ACHIEVE MDGS

Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, briefed the UN Economic and Social Council on “The Emerging Recommendations of the Millennium Project: A Global Business Plan to Achieve the MDGs” on 21 July 2004. Sachs said greater cooperation between rich and poor states will be necessary if the MDGs are to be met. He urged rich states to take steps including scaling up development aid, reducing or canceling debt, removing protectionist barriers for agricultural goods and increasing access to western markets. He called on poor states to draft national poverty reduction strategy papers that clearly outline how money will be invested, how spending will be monitored and how to ensure that women will reap the same benefits as men.

 

Links to further information

UN wire story, 23 July 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040723/449_26150.asp

allAfrica.com news story, 22 July 2004

http://allafrica.com/stories/200407220865.html

Inter Press Service News Agency news story, 22 July 2004

http://ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=24746

 

BIOSCIENCES FACILITY FOR EASTERN AND CENTRAL AFRICA SLATED TO BEGIN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES IN NOVEMBER

A biosciences facility for eastern and central Africa is expected to begin its research activities on 1 November 2004. The facility is one of four projected centers of excellence being established in Africa by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The biosciences facility will be located in Nairobi, Kenya, and will focus on agricultural production issues as identified by national governments and regional organizations. Researchers at the facility are expected to develop nutrient-rich plants that are resistant to stress and disease and vaccines against livestock diseases, and reach out to farmers to share their research findings.

 

Links to further information

NEPAD news report, 20 July 2004

http://www.nepad.org/news_10.html

SciDev.Net news story, 16 July 2004

http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?
fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=4&item=News&itemid=1495&language=1

 

BIOTECH STAKEHOLDERS SHOW SUPPORT FOR FAO REPORT

Over 30 civil society stakeholders involved in agricultural issues have sent an open letter in support of FAO’s recently released report on “Agricultural Biotechnology: Meeting the needs of the poor?” The letter applauds FAO “for moving the discussion about agricultural biotechnology away from polarizing political rhetoric and either/or debates toward how best to utilize and apply agricultural biotechnology to the needs of the world’s poor and undernourished. It commends FAO for “weighing in on this important yet still contentious area and offering reasoned optimism about the role that agricultural biotechnology should play in meeting the needs of the poor and humanity of the 21st century.”

 

This letter, which is signed primarily by free market institutions and biotech stakeholder NGOs, comes a month after another open letter that was signed by 650 civil society organizations and 800 individuals that criticized the FAO report for supporting the biotechnology industry and being biased against the poor, the environment and food production.

 

Links to further information

CheckBioTech.org, 16 July 2004

http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?
fuseaction=search&search=fao&doc_id=8197&start=1&fullsearch=0

Open NGO letter to FAO, 16 June 2004

http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=180

 

ATHENS OLYMPICS LOSES CHANCE AT ENVIRONMENTAL MEDAL

The Athens 2004 Olympics environmental performance has fallen short of deserving any medals, according to a recent WWF report entitled “Environmental Assessment of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.” Aimed at contributing to the assessment of the environmental footprint of the Athens Olympics, the report gave the green component of the upcoming Games a low score of 0.77 on a scale of 0-4, based on the Sydney 2000 Games benchmark for “green” games. The lowest marks were given to areas such as environmental planning and evaluation, protection of fragile natural and cultural areas, waste management and water conservation, and the use of environmentally-friendly construction technologies. The highest scores were awarded to the areas of public transport, improvement of existing infrastructure, and promotion of environmental awareness. The report urges the International Olympic Committee to ensure that future host cities abide by official environmental rules and regulations, and to take seriously into consideration the environmental lessons of the Athens Games.

 

Links to further information

Environmental Assessment of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games

http://www.panda.org/downloads/general/olympicsscorecardenglish.doc

WWF press release, 16 July 2004

http://www.wwf.fi/english/kvtiedotteet/no_gold.html

 

UNEP OPENS OFFICE TO FOCUS ON CARPATHIAN MOUNTAIN RANGE

UNEP has opened a new office in Vienna to focus on protecting the Carpathian mountain range and promoting environmental cooperation in Central and Southeastern Europe. The Carpathian mountain range spans the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine. Among the new office’s duties will be to serve as the interim Secretariat of the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which was adopted and signed in May 2003. The Carpathian mountain range has a unique ecosystem and hosts endangered species including the brown bear, wolf and lynx, and close to 4,000 partly endangered plant species.

 

Links to further information

UN press release, 15 July 2004

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=11357&Cr=environment&Cr1=

 

UNEP ANNOUNCES RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT INITIATIVE

UNEP recently announced that it will work with major institutional investors to develop a set of globally recognized principles for responsible investment by September 2005. Launched on 15 July, the “Responsible Investment Initiative” follows a June meeting of over 40 investors and fund managers in Paris at which participants proposed a global alliance of investors to guide responsible investment best practice. The initiative was launched in response to this proposal and to a UNEP study, “The Materiality of Social, Environmental and Corporate Governance Issues to Equity Pricing,” in which UNEP worked with a group of fund managers and brokerage houses to explore the impact of environmental, social and governance issues on share prices.

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 15 July2004

The Materiality of Social, Environmental and Corporate Governance Issues to Equity Pricing

 

JUNE 2004

 

OPEN LETTER TO FAO CHIEF CRITICIZES FAO REPORT AS BIASED TOWARDS BIOTECH BUSINESS

More than 650 civil society organizations and 800 individuals from over 80 countries drafted and signed an open letter delivered on 16 June 2004 to Jacques Diouf, Director General of UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), criticizing the FAO report “Agricultural biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor?” in the 2003-04 issue of The State of Food and Agriculture. The report was publicly presented on 17 May 2004. The open letter expresses concern that the report is biased against the poor, the environment and food production in general, and states that “It promotes the genetic engineering of seeds and the further skewing of research funding towards this technology and away from ecologically sound methods developed by farmers.”

 

In response, Diouf wrote to NGOs, asking readers “to consider that while this report emphasizes biotechnology, it is not meant to represent all components of FAO’s broad mandate and commitment to promote agricultural development and alleviate hunger.” He goes on to note that the need to feed an increasing world population with decreasing opportunities to expand arable land requires “intensified cultivation, higher yields and greater productivity” and, as a result, “we will have to use the scientific tools of molecular biology, in particular the identification of molecular markers, genetic mapping and gene transfer for more effective plant enhancement, going beyond the phenotype-based methods.”

 

Links to further information

Biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor? FAO story, 17 May 2004

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/focus/2004/41655/index.html

Open NGO letter to FAO

http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=180

Director General Diouf’s reply

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/46429/index.html

The State of Food and Agriculture 2003-04

http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/Y5160E/Y5160E00.HTM

FAO’s Web site on biotechnology in food and agriculture

http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp?lang=en

 

AFRICAN AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION ENTERS NEW PHASE

14 June 2004 marked the official opening of the Nairobi-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF). The establishment of the organization also saw Mpoko Bokanga assuming the position of AATF’s Executive Director, and replacing Eugene Terry, the Foundation’s Implementing Director, who was responsible for the organization’s start-up and activities since July 2002. AATF seeks to facilitate and promote partnerships with public and private sector entities to remove barriers that prevent smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa from gaining access to existing agricultural technologies that could help improve food security and reduce poverty. It does so by facilitating royalty free transfers of proprietary technologies, entering into contractual agreements to manage the deployment of the technologies, and ensuring that constraints that develop after access is secured are addressed.

 

Links to further information

AATF website

http://www.aftechfound.org/index.php

SciDev.net, 18 June 2004

http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=
readNews&itemid=1435&language=1

 

UNU LAUNCHES INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN SECURITY

The United Nations University recently opened its Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) with the aim of enhancing the capacity of governments to respond to disasters. Officially launched in December 2003, the Bonn-based UNU-EHS opened on 15 June 2004 with the aim of addressing and finding ways to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities resulting from environmental hazards. The Institute plans to focus on vulnerability assessment of flood plains, deltas and urban agglomerations in 2004-05, and will expand its work to consider drought and its impact on rural communities from 2006.

 

Its strategic directions involve: fostering a better understanding of forces and processes of environmental degradations and their influence on hazard magnitude and frequency and subsequent disasters; exploring links between different hazard events as well as creeping processes such as climate change and their impact on the inherent risk and vulnerability; contributing to development, testing and verification of vulnerability indicators, and investigating relationships between vulnerability and coping capacity; strengthening research and training capacities in developing countries through networking, joint research and other activities; and supporting decision makers at different levels through information dissemination and policy dialogues.

 

UNU-EHS is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

 

Links to further information

UNU-EHS website

http://www.ehs.unu.edu/

 

G8 LEADERS URGED TO FOCUS ON MDGS; G8 SUMMIT SPOTLIGHTS SITUATION IN IRAQ, TAKES ACTION AGAINST PROLIFERATION OF WMDs
Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations were urged by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and by NGOs of their countries ahead of the G8 Summit held recently in Sea Island, Georgia, US, to prioritize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UN Secretary-General Annan appealed in a letter to G8 leaders to incorporate the MDGs as an explicit priority in the programmes and policies of their countries. Annan also underscored the critical importance of MDG-8 on developing a global partnership for development for achieving the other seven goals.

 

In a similar vein, over 1,500 groups of humanitarian and development NGOs from the G8 nations joined together in a call to their nation’s leaders to focus on poverty eradication and recommit to achieving the MDGs. The joint statement, released ahead of this year’s G8 Summit, reminds G8 leaders that as they “debate the geostrategies for enhancing global stability” that many of them have made “convincing public cases in support of effective, accountable development.” The statement calls on G8 leaders to: formally place eradication of extreme poverty as the central agenda item of all G8 meetings; recommit their governments, by specifying concrete strategies and plans, to the achievement of all the MDGs; and use and tailor all tools necessary for meeting the MDGs, including development assistance, trade policies, debt relief, technology transfer and private investment.

 

While discussions focused on Iraq and combating terrorism, the Sea Island Summit 2004, which took place from 8-10 June, produced a number of environment and sustainable development-related outcomes. These include agreements on: an action plan to “apply the power of entrepreneurship and the private sector” toward poverty alleviation; taking all necessary steps to eradicate polio by the end of 2005; an initiative to help prevent famine by improving worldwide emergency assessment and response systems, raising agricultural productivity, and helping 5 million chronically food insecure people in Ethiopia attain food security by 2009; and taking new action against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative, strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency, and refraining from new transfers of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology.

 

G8 leaders also said agreed to launch in 2005 the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Initiative,” a plan aimed at cutting down on waste, promoting recycling, reducing barriers to trade in goods and materials for recycled and remanufactured products, and promoting science and technology on relevant technologies. This initiative is expected to be launched in early 2005 at a ministerial meeting hosted by the Government of Japan. The Summit also saw commitment to increasing action to promote global economic growth and directing trade ministers to successfully conclude the WTO’s Doha global trade negotiations.

 

Next year’s G8 Summit will be held in the United Kingdom.

 

Links to further information

G8 Sea Island Summit website

http://www.g8usa.gov/home.html

ENS, 11 June 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2004/2004-06-11-02.asp

UN news centre, 7 June 2004

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=10986&Cr=g8&Cr1=

The G8 NGO statement to G8 leaders, 25 May 2004

http://www.un-ngls.org/MDG-G8%20Statement%203.29.04.doc

 

WORLD PUBLIC OPINION POLL STATES THE “WORLD IS NOT GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION”

Sixty percent of respondents to a poll of people from 19 countries between November 2003 and February 2004 said the world is not going in the right direction, and views of the US were the most powerful predictor of this assessment. Those seeing as the US having a negative influence in the world were more than twice as likely to have negative views of how the world is going. Overall, 37% of those polled believed that the US has a positive influence in the world, while 55% disagreed. Forty-nine percent said Europe has a positive influence in the world, while 40% disagreed.

 

This poll of 18,797 people was conducted by the polling firm GlobeScan and analyzed in conjunction with the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland. Additional questions touched on globalization, trust of the United Nations, and international trade and assistance. Fifty-five percent of those polled stated that globalization is positive for them and their family, while 25% said it is negative and 20% were unsure. A slightly higher percentage (59%) said they trust the United Nations to “operate in the best interests” of their society. Non-governmental organizations “such as environmental and social advocacy groups” were trusted by 65%, while national governments (53%), large domestic companies (52%), press and media (50%), trade and labor unions (48%), and global companies (42%) were trusted at lower levels. Eighty-four percent believed that rich countries have a moral responsibility to help poor countries develop, with 74% of the respondents stating that it is in rich countries’ economic self-interest to actively help poor countries develop.

 

Links to further information

Globescan media release, 4 June 2004

http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Global_Issues/globescan_press_06_04.pdf

Globescan questionnaire and results

http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Global_Issues/globescan_qnnre_06_04.pdf

 

ATHENS OLYMPICS SIGNS ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT

The Athens Olympics Organizing Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme recently committing to a number of initiatives to green this summer’s Olympic Games. Through the MoU, the Organizing Committee has pledged to provide a compilation of “Environmental Challenges and Achievements” outlining the environmental perspective of all aspects of the Games. Both organizations have agreed to develop and implement public awareness and education campaigns on anti-littering, waste management and water conservation, and distribute brochures promoting an environmentally-friendly “Code of Conduct.” It was also agreed that scoreboards will carry environmental messages.

 

Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, noted that security concerns had overridden some of the organizer’s initial plans to green the Athens Olympics. “It should also be made clear that these 2004 Summer Olympic Games are being organized in one of the most difficult atmospheres of recent times with heightened concerns about security … The organizers have taken this issue seriously to ensure a safe and secure Olympics. But this has probably come at a price and other considerations, including parts of their environmental programme, may alas have fallen short of their initial aspirations,” Töpfer said.

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 2 June 2004

 

TOKYO DEVELOPMENT LEARNING CENTER LAUNCHED

A regional knowledge and training center was launched recently by the Japanese Government and the World Bank. Part of the Bank-initiated Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), the Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) aims to promote human resource development and build administrative and institutional capacity in developing countries, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. The center would enable Japan to further finance regional development and share development practices and expertise.

 

During the launching ceremony, Sadakazu Tanigaki, Japan’s Minister of Finance, said “I would like to call upon our friends in the region to inject their ideas into TDLC programmes, so that together we can ensure the TDLC serves the region as effectively as possible. We would be delighted if Japan’s experience and knowledge of development could used to enrich intellectual exchange amongst our partners in the region.”

 

With over 60 centers worldwide, the GDLN uses state-of-the-art information and communications technology, including videoconferencing facilities and high-speed internet connection, to enable knowledge sharing and collaboration across geographic distances.

 

Links to further information

GDLN and World Bank news, 1 June 2004

http://www.gdln.org/news/article-JUN01-04.htm

Tokyo Development Learning Center website

http://www.jointokyo.org/en/index.jsp

 

UN INVITES FOUNDATIONS IN EFFORTS TO PROMOTE MDGs

Foundations can play a key role in promoting the Millennium Development Goals, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said recently in a speech to the European Foundation Centre’s annual Assembly. Fréchette noted that the United Nations and charitable foundations share similar objectives of working for “human dignity, freedom and solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility,” and invited charitable foundations to work with the international community in promoting the MDGs. Fréchette also highlighted the work of the UN Office for International Partnerships, which has inspired other foundations and philanthropists “to work with the UN in areas ranging from education to maternal health to biodiversity.”

 

Links to further information

UN news centre, 1 June 2004

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=10923&Cr=millennium&Cr1=goals

 

ENVIRONMENTAL VULNERABILITY INDEX LAUNCHED
An Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) aimed at enabling small island developing States (SIDS) to better understand their vulnerability and progress toward more sustainable development was launched recently. Developed over the past five years by the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) in partnership with UNEP, New Zealand, Norway, Italy, Ireland, AOSIS and others, the EVI was elaborated in response to a call made in the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS to develop a composite vulnerability index integrating both ecological fragility and economic vulnerability.

 

The EVI is based on 50 indicators covering natural hazards, coping characteristics of the environment and pressures from human activities, which together characterize the vulnerability of natural systems at the regional, country, province or island level. In addition to providing feedback to those interested in determining changes in environmental quality resulting from policy decisions, the index also aims to meet a number of requirements for global and national level environmental management processes. Potential applications include use as a tool for adaptive management and monitoring sustainable development, and as a means of identifying issues that would benefits from external assistance.

 

Links to further information

SOPAC press release, 15 April 2004

http://www.sopac.int/Data/Press/Detail.html?PRID=179

SOPAC’s EVI website

http://www.sopac.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=
Environmental+Vulnerability+Index+EVI+Project

 

MAY 2004

 

EASTERN CARIBBEAN STATES RECEIVE GRANTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) recently received a US$3.7 million GEF grant to fund a five-year environmental protection strategy initiative launched by the GEF and the World Bank. Entitled “Protected Areas and Associates Livelihoods,” the initiative aims to curb environmental degradation by enhancing the application of environmental safeguards and strengthening management capacity. The region has experienced adverse environmental trends, such as reefs degradation, deforestation, fish stocks depletion, which threaten livelihoods in the agriculture, fishing and tourism sectors.

 

The safeguards to be implemented under the grant include the creation of six new Protected Areas (Pas) and the initiation of numerous sub-projects within and in the vicinity of the PAs to reduce environmental pressure on the protected zones. The sub-projects also aims to increase and diversify PA-related income to local communities through initiatives such as tourism development, organic farming ventures, training in biodiversity conservation, and increasing environmental awareness. The six participating OECS countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Links to further information

World Bank press release, 21 May 2004

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20204840
~menuPK:34463~pagePK:64003015~piPK:64003012~theSitePK:4607,00.html

 

NGOs CHALLENGE GOVERNMENTS OVER COMPLIANCE WITH AARHUS CONVENTION

NGOs have recently submitted several claims to the Aarhus Convention’s compliance mechanism alleging that certain Parties to the Convention are failing to comply with treaty obligations. Five communications have been put forwarded thus far with allegations against Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, Hungary, and Turkmenistan on issues ranging from the failure to provide information on the economic justification for a proposal to import nuclear waste to the failure to ensure adequate public participation in the permitting process regarding the construction of a navigation canal through an important wetland area.

 

The Aarhus Convention requires Parties to guarantee the rights of the public to participate in decision making and to have access to information and justice in environment matters. Unprecedented among multilateral environment agreements, the compliance mechanism was put into place during the first Meeting of the Parties to the Convention and is overseen by a Compliance Committee, which will begin investigating the claims through a process of dialogue with the Parties involved. The Meeting of the Parties is the final arbiter on whether or not there is a case of non-compliance.

 

Links to further information

Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee website

http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance.htm

UNECE press release, 14 May 2004

http://www.unece.org/press/pr2004/04env_p08e.htm

 

EU ENLARGEMENT EMBRACES ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

Fifteen years following the fall of the communist regimes, eight Central and Eastern European countries and two other states join the European Union, increasing its number of member states to 25 and its population by 75 million. This expansion brings with it economic and environmental challenges as well as opportunities.

 

With regards to the environment, the accession process has fostered the adoption, implementation and enforcement of EU environmental framework legislation, MEAs, product standards and regulatory provisions and achieved gains in environmental quality in the Central and Eastern Europe states. An analysis published recently in ENS highlights the following mixed signals being sent on sustainable development: while the EU notes its commitment to sustainable development, the urge to “Europeanize” and adopt western consumption patterns has resulted in embracing a disposable lifestyle and increasing the amount of solid waste generated; while the new member states represent a large proportion of Europe’s biodiversity, the EU’s plans to connect East and West via an expanded highway system will bring roads to environmentally sensitive areas and jeopardize the regions natural wealth; and while EU policies require investment in emissions reductions, they also promote investments in transportation infrastructure at the expense of public transport and air quality. The IUCN has also prepared an assessment of what enlargement will mean for biodiversity in Europe.

 

In agricultural terms, four million farmers will be added to the existing 7 million and 38 million hectares of utilized arable land to the existing 130 million. According to the FAO, five percent of Europeans are affected by food insecurity and the region’s poverty based on living on less than $2 per day stands at 21 percent. The UN wire recently noted predictions that it will take nearly 60 years before Lithuania attains the living standards of France today.

 

Links to further information

EU Enlargement website

http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/index_en.html

IUCN media brief

http://www.iucn.org/info_and_news/press/mediakiteu.pdf

Analysis: CEE countries join a greener Europe, ENS, 30 April 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2004/2004-04-30-04.asp

“Ten Countries Join EU Amid Economic Concerns,” UN wire, 3 May 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040503/449_23385.asp

 

APRIL 2004

 

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES BALANCE IN DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES AND INTERNATIONAL AGENDA
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed the need for a balanced international agenda along with balanced development priorities during his address to the High-Level segment of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. He said the war in Iraq and focus on terrorism have detracted attention from sustainable development, and cautioned that the international community should lose no more time in its struggle for human well-being. He noted that an integrated approach toward the issues on the CSD’s agenda – water, sanitation and human settlements – could generate a cascade of progress and called on the Commission to be a watchdog, “alert to threats and fearless in sounding alarms, continuing to give voice to all stakeholders, not just governments.” He added that the international community must “listen to what science was saying about the planet, and to what ordinary people – the billions without water or sanitation, or living in slums – were saying about their lives.”

 

In a similar vein, World Bank President James Wolfenson has also expressed concern over the “drying up” of development aid. At the recent Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics in Europe he said “what discourages me is to see that the focus on development has decreased. It is my greatest concern. Because, contrary to what happens in war time, you don’t see the people die ... Since September 11, development aid is no longer on the top of the rich countries’ list. Today, the world is distracted by immediate crises.”

 

Links to further information

UN press releases, 28-30 April 2004

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/envdev775.doc.htm http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/envdev777.doc.htm http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/envdev779.doc.htm  

World Bank press reviews, 12 May 2004

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,date:05-12
2004~menuPK:278083~pagePK:34392~piPK:34427~theSitePK:4607,00.html

 

G-77 TURNS 40

As the Group of 77 (G-77), a coalition of developing countries that now includes 135 countries, marked its 40th anniversary, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for fairer access to development. During a celebratory event on 29 April 2004, Annan noted key contributions the coalition has made in advancing the global development agenda and highlighted issues yet to be addressed adequately, including private capital flows, unsustainable levels of external debt in many developing countries, lack of access to markets of developed countries, and restrictions on the movement of people from developing countries.

 

A Special Ministerial Meeting, to be held on 11-12 June 2004 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in conjunction with UNCTAD XI, will mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the G-77. The Ministerial aims to, inter alia, review the evolution of the G-77, assess the achievements of the Group over the last 40 years, and analyze the challenges facing developing countries. The meeting is expected to adopt the new strategy of action of developing countries through “a solemn declaration.” The Chairs and Coordinators of the G-77 Chapters recently adopted a communiqué highlighting the group’s commitments and concerns.

 

Links to further information

G-77 press release, 30 April 2004

http://www.g77.org/news/pr043004.htm  

UN press release, 30 April 2004

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=10576&Cr=G-77&Cr1=.

Final Communiqué adopted at the 36th Meeting of the Chairmen/Coordinators of the Chapters of the G-77, 11 March 2004

http://www.g77.org/news/pr031104.htm

 

FAO ANNOUNCES SARD PROGRAMME FOR MOUNTAIN REGIONS

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has announced a new four-year initiative to address the threat of hunger for mountain people through sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) programmes. This plan will promote the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices and development policies at local and national levels in developing, transition and developed countries. It follows from an international conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions in Adelboden, Switzerland, in June 2002, the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002, and other recent international meetings.

 

Links to further information

FAO press release, 28 April 2004

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/40987/index.html

Earth Negotiations Bulletin Report on the Adelboden meeting

http://www.iisd.ca/crs/mountains/sard

 

AWARDS, AWARDS, AWARDS

The month of April saw the announcement of several key international environment and sustainable development awards. The 2003 Habitat Scroll of Honour Award – the highest UN system award for people who have made substantial contributions in human settlements development – recognized Nasreen Mustafa Sideek Berwari, Minister for Municipalities and Public Works on Iraq’s Governing Council, and Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of the Global Water Partnership during the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Berwari was awarded for her commitment to the welfare of displaced and vulnerable persons in northern Iraq and Catley-Carlson was recognized for her contribution to placing water and sanitation on the global political agenda.

 

The 2004 UN Population Award – recognizing outstanding work in population activities and in the improvement of health and welfare of individuals – was bestowed on John Caldwell, Australian National University in Canberra, for his work in the field of demography, and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital for its pioneering treatment of childbirth injuries.

 

The prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize honored seven “environmental heroes” representing six geographic regions for their grassroots activities. East Timor’s Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho was recognized for his work in promoting sustainable development and environmental protection in his country. India’s Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla were honored for their efforts to seek justice for survivors of environmental disasters, such as the 1984 Bhopal disaster. Colombia’s Libia Grueso was awarded for her leadership in a campaign that secured over 5.9 million acres in territorial rights for the country’s black rural communities. The United States’ Margie Eugene-Richard was bestowed the prize for her efforts to hold Shell Chemicals company accountable for health problems of people living near one of its plants in Norco, Louisiana. Georgia’s Manana Kochladze was honored for her “fearlessness and tenacity in the face of widespread government corruption and industry interests” in her country. Ghana’s Rudolf Amenga-Etego, founder of the National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water, gained recognition for his successful campaign to suspend a major World Bank-funded privatization project in his country.

 

Links to further information

UN-HABITAT press release, 26 April 2004

http://www.unhabitat.org/csd2.asp

UNFPA press release, 26 April 2004

http://www.unfpa.org/news/news.cfm?ID=446

Goldman Environmental Prize website

http://www.goldmanprize.org/

 

UNEP OPENS REGIONAL OFFICE IN BRAZIL
UNEP has opened a new regional office in Brasilia, Brazil to focus on the promotion of renewable energies and efficient energy technologies, and development of emergency response and early warning systems. The office will also support the identification and development of projects to respond to national priorities in areas such as climate change, biodiversity, land degradation, and transboundary water and chemical management. The establishment of the office reflects UNEP’s efforts to enhance the delivery of the organization’s initiatives at the regional and subregional levels, respond more effectively to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and implement the Millennium Development Goals.

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 16 April 2004

 

MARCH 2004

 

NUCLEAR EXPERTS ESTABLISH NEW INTERNATIONAL SAFETY GROUP

An International Nuclear Safety Group, comprising experts from many countries, was recently formed with the aim of providing authoritative advice and guidance on safety approaches, policies and principles at nuclear power plants and facilities. Assisting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will serve as the Group’s secretariat, the Group will focus on key safety concerns, and current and emerging issues relevant to the safety of nuclear power plants, research reactors and other nuclear fuel cycle facilities. Formed at the request of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, the Group met for the first time last October. It intends to meet twice a year with the next meeting scheduled for November in Vienna. This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the UN General Assembly resolution calling for international cooperation in developing the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

 

Links to further information

ENS, 31 March 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2004/2004-03-31-03.asp

 

BIG TRASH PROBLEMS FOR SMALL ISLANDS

Waste should be added to the issues of rising sea levels, overfishing, water shortages and inadequate sanitation services as a key problem for small island states, suggests a recent UNEP report released during the recent Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Jeju, Korea.

 

“Handling solid wastes from industry, households and tourism is emerging as another issue with which they need advice and help. Such wastes are not only unsightly and a threat to wildlife, they can also contaminate rivers and ground waters as they slowly degrade,” said Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director at the meeting.

 

Many small island developing states (SIDS) depend on income from tourists, who may not return or recommend visits if the landscape is littered with rubbish. UNEP, together with other UN agencies and waste institutions, is assisting SIDS to prepare waste minimization plans, develop directories of environmentally sound waste management technologies and promote cleaner production techniques. The UNEP reports on SIDS will be formally presented to ministers at the upcoming International Meeting on the sustainable development of SIDS to be held in Mauritius in August.

 

Links to further information

UNEP News Release, 30 March 2004

 

AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING INVITES ENTRIES

The 2004 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting is inviting entries. Organized annually by the Reuters Foundation and IUCN since 1994, the worldwide contest aims to increase awareness of environmental and sustainable development issues by fostering excellence in environmental reporting. One winner from each of six geographic regions will be invited to attend the Global Awards Ceremony, which will take place in November 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand. The global winner will receive US$5,000.

 

Journalists are invited to submit one entry – published between 1 January 2003 and 15 August 2004 – by 31 August 2004. Entries submitted in a language other than English, French or Spanish should be supplemented with a translation.

 

Links to further information

Reuters Foundation news, 22 March 2004

http://www.foundation.reuters.com/newsarchive/news.asp?newsid=141

 

SISTER CITIES RECEIVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

Sister Cities International has awarded nine sister city partnerships with $45,000 in grants to further sustainable development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. A citizen diplomacy network, Sister Cities International creates and fosters partnerships between cities in the United States and abroad. The recipients, each of whom will be awarded $5,000 in seed grants, are: Arvada, CO - Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan; Bloomington-Normal, IL - Vladimir, Russia; Cambridge, MA - Yerevan, Armenia; Eugene, OR - Irkutsk, Russia; Blount County, TN - Zheleznogorsk, Russia; Fox Cities, WI - Kurgan/Shchuchye, Russia; La Crosse, WI - Dubna, Russia; Livermore, CA - Snezhinsk, Russia; and Los Alamos, NM - Sarov, Russia. The grants will go toward projects that address a range of issues, including micro-financing, economic development, environmental management, tourism, education, and healthcare.

 

Links to further information

PNN online, 24 March 2004

http://pnnonline.org/print.php?sid=5089

 

OUTGOING UN LEGAL COUNSEL CALLS ATTENTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS

UN Legal Counsel Hans Corell has called for more attention to be focused on protecting the environment and averting environmental crises. During a pre-retirement press briefing, Corell reflected on environmental conventions that have been ratified and entered into force during his 10 years at the UN and said conventions that have entered into force since 1994 have improved environmental protection. He particularly called attention to the Law of the Sea, calling it “The Constitution of the Seas,” and said its entry into force is one of the impressive achievements of recent times. Corell plans to retire after 1 July following 42 years in public service. In the meantime, he will return to being an ambassador in the Swedish Foreign Service, a position he has held since 1984.

 

Links to further information

Press briefing by UN Legal Counsel, 4 March 2004

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2004/CorellBriefing.doc.htm

UN news release, 4 March 2004

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=9975&Cr=environment&Cr1=

 

ECOTOURISM AGITATES ANIMALS

Animals in areas that promote ecotourism have changed behavior, heart rates and stress hormone levels, according to a recent report in New Scientist magazine. Examples include bottleneck dolphins in New Zealand, who become frenetic when tourist boats arrive, and yellow-eyed penguins in areas visited by ecotourists, who are producing smaller chicks. In response, conservationists have called for research on the impact of ecotourism on animals and for studies to be conducted before ecotourism projects are initiated.

 

Links to further information

New Scientist, 4 March 2004

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994733

 

FEBRUARY 2004

 

BARCELONA TO HOST 2004 WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

Barcelona, Spain will host this year’s World Environment Day, which will be observed on 5 June during the Universal Forum of Cultures that is being hosted by the Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Autonomous Government and the Spanish Government. The theme for 2004 World Environment Day is “Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?”

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 24 February 2004

 

BRENDE SOUNDS ALARM ON WATER TARGETS

In the lead up to the 12th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in April 2004, CSD-12 Chair Børge Brende, Norway’s Minister of the Environment, cautioned that efforts to bring safe drinking water to 600 million people worldwide by 2015 are running behind schedule. Governments agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002 to adopt by 2005 national plans for halving the proportion of people without access to fresh water by 2015. Brende told a news conference that “these plans will not be in place in all countries by 2005,” while the plans are necessary to reach the 2015 goal.

 

Links to further information

UN Wire, 18 February 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040218/449_13197.asp

Environmental News Network, 18 February 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-02-18/s_13207.asp

 

ANNAN ADVOCATES SCIENCE FOR ALL NATIONS TO ADVANCE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

No nation that wants to shape informed policies and take effective action on issues such as terrorism, health and the environment can afford to be without its own independent capacity building in science and technology (S&T), said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an opinion piece to Science magazine recently.

 

In this article, Annan emphasizes the need for true partnership between developed and developing countries that includes cooperation among the scientific and technological communities of different countries and regions. He notes that if every country gains full access to the collective reservoir of S&T knowledge and expertise and has the opportunity to develop its own independent science capability, its citizens would be better positioned to discuss and make informed decisions about the benefits and risks of new technologies, such as genetic engineering and nanotechnology.

 

Highlighting a recently released report by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) that proposes new initiatives to foster global S&T cooperation and enhance national scientific capabilities around the world, Annan noted several of the report’s recommendations, including that every country develop an S&T strategy that reflects local priorities. He also noted a suggestion that developing countries commit at least 1-1.5% of their gross domestic product to S&T capacity building. A second report is scheduled to be released this year that will provide recommendations for using S&T to improve agricultural productivity in Africa.

 

Links to further information

Kofi Annan’s opinion piece to Science Magazine, 13 February 2004

http://www.un.org/News/ossg/sg/stories/sg-13feb2004.htm

IAC Report - Inventing a Better Future - A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology

http://www.interacademycouncil.net/report.asp?id=6258

 

UNEP AND EU PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION IN ASIA

With more middle to high income consumers in Asia and the Pacific than in Western Europe and North America combined, rising consumerism in Asia might lead to an ecological disaster if consumption levels in the east reach those seen in the west. In efforts to stem the tide of this potential catastrophe, the European Union is funding a US$500,000 project called Sustainable Consumption Asia or SC.Asia that aims to identify existing best practices for promoting sustainable consumption in Europe and Asia, and build knowledge and capacity in government agencies for their implementation.

 

Some Asian countries are beginning to address unsustainable consumption in response to its adverse effects, such as natural resource depletion, waste generation, traffic congestion and freshwater and power supply shortages, but according to SC.Asia Project Manager Niclas Svenningsen, most governments are focused primarily on economic growth. Svenningsen suggests a sustainable model for many Asian countries as one that would entail increasing consumption to address poverty and ensure basic needs are met, and modifying patterns and levels of consumption in the more affluent sectors.

 

“As in many western countries, Asian shopping malls and brand boutiques are being driven by a mentality of shop ‘til you drop, spend ‘til you bend, and buy ‘til you die. Consuming is being touted as happiness and little attention is being paid to the life behind the product,” Svenningsen states. “There are opportunities for countries to “leap-frog” some of the phases and mistakes of western countries by adopting practices such as recycling programmes, product testing, product labeling and information, public awareness campaigns based on social research, ‘leading by example’ and accountability by government and the private sector, and ‘environmentally-friendly’ laws and economic incentives,” Svenningsen added.

 

Links to further information

UN Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific press release, 9 February 2004

http://www.roap.unep.org/html/nr/nr04-01.htm

 

JANUARY 2004

 

ALCAN INC. ANNOUNCES PRIZE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

The aluminum and packaging multinational company Alcan Inc. has established a US$1 million annual prize to recognize non-profit civil society NGOs that have made and continue to make outstanding contributions toward sustainable development. The Prize aims to increase the awareness of such organizations and foster a legacy of sustainability by supporting the work of Prize recipients and enhancing their ability to build capacity to have a greater impact in the future. Launched at the recent 2004 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Alcan Prize is created in association with the International Business Leaders Forum. José-Maria Figueres, World Economic Forum Co-CEO and former president of Costa Rica, will chair the 2004 adjudication panel. The closing date for entries is 31 March 2004.

 

Links to further information

Alcan Prize for Sustainability

http://www.alcanprizeforsustainability.com

Le Prix Alcan pour la durabilité

http://www.prixalcanpourladurabilite.com

 

UNDP AND MICROSOFT LAUNCH INITIATIVE ON TECHNOLOGY TRAINING

The UN Development Programme and Microsoft Corporation launched a joint initiative to advance technology training in developing countries, with the goal of helping them attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Under the agreement announced by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the two organizations will provide technology-enabled training to youth and adults in community-education centers in developing nations.

 

Links to further information

UN Wire, 26 January 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040126/449_12439.asp

 

NEW “SEED” AWARD TO HONOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS

UNEP, UNDP, IUCN–The World Conservation Union and Stakeholder Forum have founded the Seed Awards – “Supporting Entrepreneurs in Environment and Development.” This initiative, which will be presented every two years, will award innovative partnership proposals aimed at sustainable development. Award winning partners – whether they are community groups, businesses, workers organizations or local authorities – will receive support in developing business plans, seeking funding and setting up partnerships. The awards will debut at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development meeting scheduled for April 2005.

 

Links to further information

Seed Awards website

UNEP press release, 21 January 2004

UN Wire, 21 January 2004

 

UNEP FORESEES STUDY OF LINKS BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT, CONFLICTS AND POVERTY
Environment ministers at the March 2004 UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum are likely to approve a new drive to widen UN understanding of the environment and links to conflicts and poverty, according to Stephen Lonergan, Director of UNEP�s Division of Early Warnings and Assessment. Lonergan also highlighted a new UNEP survey indicating that the two main gaps in environmental understanding around the world are the relationship between the environment and conflict and between the environment and poverty. He added that UNEP might set up a new secretariat on environmental peace and conflict.

 

Links to further information

UN Wire, 14 January 2004

http://www.unwire.org/UNWire/20040114/449_12036.asp

Reuters, 14 January 2004

http://www.planetark.com/avantgo/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=23429

ENN news story, 14 January 2004

http://www.enn.com/news/2004-01-14/s_12024.asp

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