UN Environment and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet
UN Environment and Google announced today a global partnership that promises to change the way we see our planet. Combining environmental science, big data and unprecedented accessibility, this joint effort aims to expand what the world knows about the impacts of human activity on global ecosystems.
When completed, the platform will leverage Google’s cloud computing and earth observation public catalogs and for the first time enable governments, NGO’s and the public to track specific environment-related development targets with a user-friendly Google front-end.
“We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.”
Too often, when a country seeks to implement real-time environmental action, they find their efforts halted by gaps in critical data needed to direct those actions safely and effectively. Through this partnership, and Google Earth Engine’s analysis and visualization tools, the world can finally begin to fill those gaps, enabling decision makers to better invest in environmental services.
“This partnership announcement builds on a common shared vision between our organizations,” said Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Earth Outreach. “We are excited to enable all countries with equal access to the latest technology and information in support of global climate action and sustainable development.”
Long term, the partnership hopes to establish a platform for open-source data and analysis of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As an entry point to development, the partnership launches today with an initial focus on fresh-water ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
These areas account for 0.01% of the world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of the world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss freshwater biodiversity.
Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel cloud computing technology. Satellite imagery and statistics will be generated to assess the extent of change occurring to waterbodies, and made freely accessible to ensure nations have the opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.
Other areas of collaboration include advocacy and capacity building activities as well as the development of partnerships with organizations like the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The partnership was launched during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in at UN Headquarters in New York, where world leaders are gathering to review of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a set of clear, measurable goals for global development – as well as best practices and progress towards implementation.
Seize Opportunities to Create Long-Term System Value with Creative Industries
Coldplay, everyone’s favorite band, is presently shocking with their world tour “Music of the Sphere,” anticipated to be the most sustainable music event after a four-year break.
Chris Martin, the lead vocalist of Coldplay, said in a 2019 BBC interview that the band would not be doing any more concerts on the road until they could provide greener forms of entertainment. After enticing 5.4 million spectators with exhilaration throughout the 122-city tour of A Head Full of Dreams 2016–2017, Coldplay’s choice drew the media’s and fans’ attention. This reflects a 2015 UK study that found five prominent musicians’ concerts emit more than 19 metric tons of CO2. Meanwhile, the Green Touring Network predicts that one live performance in the United Kingdom could release 405,000 metric tons of GHG emissions annually. Approximately fifty percent of all emissions may be traced back to either the venue or the travels of the crowd. Some responses criticized their announcement as only a publicity stunt to promote the release of their “Everyday Life” album, which was not as successful as their previous record, and ticket prices were rising.
Regardless of gimmick or otherwise, Coldplay has shown its commitment to staging a worldwide tour dubbed “Music of the Sphere” in 2022, which conveys the notion of sustainability. According to the Coldplay website, this British rock band adopts three principles: reduce, reinvent, and restore. They strive to reduce carbon emissions by 50%, as well as to reinvent new green technology and ultra-low carbon methods, and actively restore the environment by funding different green initiatives that aid in CO2 reduction throughout the trip.
The band Coldplay developed a strategy to make their performances environmentally friendly, even carbon neutral. In his interviews, Chris Martin believes that there will always be other enterprises or organizations capable of addressing the issue of climate change. “But then you realize there is no such thing as them; they are you.” This message then becomes a reflection and notion of opportunities for collaboration to promote sustainable initiatives to the public with the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
Creating Sustainable System Value in the Creative Industry
Coldplay collaborates with various environmentally conscious businesses and non-governmental organizations on a 12-point strategy to reduce their carbon footprint in logistics, travel, stage performances, electricity, water, waste management, food, fans, and project finance. Some green project highlights include an LED wristband, kinetic energy floors & static bicycles to generate power, Portable Recycled Battery, Sustainable and Ethically Sourced Merchandise, Food Bank Partnership, and Sustainable Aviation Fuel-Based Flights. They also work with SAP to create mobile apps that use a gamification model and provide incentives for discounts on merchandise to audiences who are dedicated to choosing environmentally responsible travel alternatives.
Not only does Coldplay care about the environment, but they also ensure that their performances are inclusive and accessible to everyone. They provide local sign language interpreters, sensory packs for fans with autism, and touch tours for guests who have low vision or blindness.
The bold and brave endeavor raised the bar for other bands and performers to include ESG elements in their operations. It turns out that the creative sector company may also evolve, concentrating on earning money from tours and utilizing revenues for a more significant cause because the business’s mission has evolved beyond shared values of profit, the environment, and social responsibility. However, transitioning to a more ethical, long-term value system is underway. Whereas the creative industry is part of the social sector, both are part of the broader environmental context. As a result, everything the business undertakes will result in exponential development in economic, social, and environmental systemic value creation.
Fans Create a Green Culture of Change
As UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Jack Johnson said, “Fans have a powerful voice to promote environmental issues such as climate action, plastic waste reduction, and food security.”
Having a solid sustainability campaign message is a goal that everybody can accomplish. Campaign messages advocating to protect the environment have been widely disseminated through movies, posters, and essays issued by governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, it is a different story to inspire others to pay attention, take it in, and put it to use.
Despite the rise of inflation and increasing costs, the green concert effort was favorably greeted by spectators, environmental activists, and scholars. As of June 2, 2023, Coldplay has stated that they can reduce direct carbon emissions (show production, freight, band, and crew travel) by 47% from the previous tour, plant more than 5 million trees in 17 countries, deploy one solar powered River Interceptor to reduce plastic waste in the sea, produce an average of 15kWh of energy per concert, distribute 3,770 meals, and donate 73 kg of toiletries and financial support to several environmental organizations.
This development is a direct outcome of the previous years’ worth of traveling around Europe and Latin America, which drew over 3.8 million spectators and grossed over $407 million. More than 7 million people are expected to attend the Asia and Oceania concert tour until it finishes. Therefore, the economic, social, and environmental effects will be amplified.
It’s worth recognizing that there is a sizable fanbase for each given artist, band, or public figure and that it exists entirely on the merits of the fans’ will. Excitement and extreme or obsessive fanaticism influence people’s willingness to take on various actions. The influence of this passionate attitude tends to make individuals less concerned with themselves, illogical, and closed-minded. Aside from the negative consequences, this fanatical fan phenomenon can create a culture of change.
Collaborations of Multiple Stakeholders
Coldplay’s projects have captured more than just the media’s and fans’ attention. The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, even requested this UK rock band to visit and play at COP30, which will be held in Brazil in 2025 after discussions on the environment, hunger, and sustainability. Not only Coldplay, before there was BTS-a Korean idol group who worked with the UN to promote the SDGs. It can be seen that music has also been shown to be capable of revitalizing a strict regime’s political realm.
The creative sector, particularly music, is a universal language that may impact people’s feelings and ideas regardless of their background. This business has a unique chance to inspire and share how we may live better lives. Movements promoting sustainability via multistakeholder collaboration may draw on the collective power of diverse people and groups, including artists, designers, entrepreneurs, activists, and government agencies. The action is led by visionary artists and designers, with global firms and public sector agencies providing their experience, finance, and logistical assistance to increase the effect of the cause. Other enterprises, NGOs, governments, or even regions can leverage multistakeholder collaboration to draw the attention of individuals, win their hearts, gradually introduce green messages, and transform perceptions into public behavior. The path is not easy, but that does not imply it cannot be nurtured. Thus, this engagement will make the public more concerned and eager to change.
Global Warming: Can Human Nature Be Changed?
It was an extreme heat wave in 2022 that brought the hottest temperatures since 1901 to the Indian Subcontinent. Heavy rains followed during the rainy season … as the source of the moisture, the nearby ocean, was warmer. As could have been expected, floods followed impacting millions in India and Bangladesh. Floods in Venezuela also in April of the same year affected more than 85,000 people. It should come as no surprise when scientists reliably inform us that such catastrophic weather events are becoming more frequent across the world.
Venezuela has not been spared in 2023 either as heavy rains triggered landslides and floods in February causing widespread damage in the state of Sao Paulo.
Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Mawar is active in the Pacific. Unusual both for bringing an early start to the hurricane season and for its intensity — over 200 km/hr gusts — it is barreling northwest towards the Philippines and Japan.
Is all this a harbinger of a warming planet and more unsettled weather? One swallow does not make a summer they say, perhaps not even two or three. So the scientists remain cautious in their predictions, troubled though they may be.
Then there is the upper atmosphere which is much less dense. The CO2 escaping to it has very few molecules to bump up against so it continues on into deep space. Moreover, the blanket of CO2 causing our global warming also prevents the normal escape of heat to warm the upper atmosphere. It is consequently cooling and shrinking, thus allowing more of the sun’s rays to penetrate through and worsen global warming.
It leaves one with a sense of foreboding and uneasiness relieved only by the thought that it might take a century plus before the earth becomes a living hell. There is in addition the fervent hope that human nature would change under greater adversity.
Look at us now. Greed is good. It drives the economy. If people stop buying goods and services, we enter a recession. Yet all of this activity consumes energy and releases CO2, its by-product.
We love convenience and the easy way. That too drives our economy. Our demands for convenience can lead to mostly empty trains during off-peak hours. We prefer to drive rather than walk distances shorter than a mile. The median distance to the nearest food store in the US is 0.9 miles according to the USDA. We can walk that distance easily yet how many actually do.
Humans are also in competition with each other. To the winners the laurels, yes, but for each winner, there are usually many more losers … who also have to survive. Thus the need for cooperation, for working together and helping each other.
Perhaps, the broadly defined cooperative purpose underlying our actions could be one of nurturing earth. In work, play or any mundane activity, the methods chosen could reflect this guiding principle.
Its importance, of course, cannot be overstated if we are to push back against climate change and leave behind a planet that is as good or better for succeeding generations.
Climate Smart Agriculture Can Help Balochistan bounce back
Climate change brings disaster to the province Balochistan, which is an arid region located in west of Pakistan. The drought-stricken region struggling to increase its agricultural productivity, faced a backlash due to catastrophic floods. The predominantly agriculture-based territory reached the dead zone as farmers had stopped farming, shepherds kept their animal numbers low, which put people’s lives on stake, as it increased food insecurity. This highlighted the need to start a policy debate for climate smart agriculture.
Climate smart agriculture is an approach that is making the planet prosperous again. It is an ambition to increase the integration of food security with enhance resilience in productivity. It is a sustainable agriculture practice that promotes soil health, water management, and biodiversity conservation with economic benefits. Its practices like, cover/tunnel farming, drip irrigation, crop livestock systems can help Balochistan to go green and integrated again. These practices can sequester carbon in soil and can fight the impacts of climate change more efficiently.
Climate change is affecting the province in various ways. The region of Balochistan is characterized by extreme aridity, with annual precipitation levels below average, causing severe droughts, which is leading to a catastrophic impact on the province’s agriculture and livestock.
Flash floods in Balochistan becomes the new common during the monsoon season as a result of heavy rainfall, with the most significant in 2022. These floods have a detrimental impact on the environment, causing soil erosion, depletion, and the loss of fertile topsoil. The soil is already deficient in minerals and cannot endure further depletion, requiring several hundred years to recover and cannot support agricultural growth.
In an interview with wealthPk, Dr. Hanif-ur-Rehman AP from university of Turbat said, that high efficiency irrigation system (HEIS) can play an efficient role in climate effected regions like Turbat, Makran, Kech where farmers had traditionally cultivated the crops for source of income. The use of drip, rain guns, Centre pivot, and sprinkler have the ability to bring back the lush green pastures that have turned barren.
Climate smart agriculture could not only fetch the lost agriculture but also increase the productivity rate by making the rest of the region green. Balochistan accounts for only 6% of cultivable land for agriculture which not only failed to meet food security needs but also added little in Pakistan’s 25% agriculture GDP.
Balochistan people despite having less literacy are very conducive to cultivating lands with new cultivation techniques. In late 1990s and 2000s when the entire western part of the province was severely hit by droughts, people brought the techniques of less resilient tunnel farming to moist the soil. They grow crops beneath protective plastic tunnels. This technique helps them cope with their immediate needs but it fails to produce yield on a massive scale. Cultivation in proper climate resilient tunnels usually requires 10 to 20 acres of area or economically 3 acres feasible, and the tunnels are created by using steel pipes, or aluminum pipes that support plantations that are usually 3 to 12 feet in height and 5-10 feet wide.
The drip irrigation technique also has enormous potential for minimizing production costs by moderating the input use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. Drip irrigation keeps the field capacity constant by enabling the crops to easily take in water and nutrients, which result in uniform growth of plants and enhances the quality that produces well. Drip irrigation distributes water through a network of valves, pipes, emitters, and tubing that can save 50-70% of irrigation water which can not only resolve the water scarcity issue of Balochistan, it also can produce efficient, extensive production of crops such as apples, cherries, tomatoes, and citrus.
The province also needs to move towards an integrated crop-livestock system (ICLS), which is sustainable, productive, and climate resilient compared to intensive specialized systems. ICLS have increased over time in arid regions but still, Balochistan lags behind due to lack of skills by producers, lack of investment, lack of sustainable awareness and market competition. Livestock production is the largest sector of the province’s economy. It is nearly impossible to have a dream of economic development for the rural masses without prior attention to Livestock and crop management.
After floods, the crops fields are destroyed due to which livestock become the main source of food for many rural households that make the rural farming through livestock less practicable. It can only be enhanced by administration policies through capital funding, educational services and markets to subsistence farmers.
CSA is a method that includes several elements entrenched in local settings rather than a collection of practices that can be used everywhere. CSA requires the adoption of technologies and policies, and it refers to behaviors both on and off the farm.
According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nation 2023 report, Local farmers are the foremost holders of knowledge about their environment, agro-ecosystems, crops, livestock, and climatic patterns. Therefore, the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture should be aligned with the local farmers’ knowledge, needs, and priorities. . Farmers of Balochistan have shown a keen interest in drip irrigation, tunnel farming technique but the high cost of imported pipes, emitters, plantation of aluminum tunnels from china has become their hindrance.
Mainstreaming CSA in Balochistan requires critical stocktaking and promising practices by financial and institutional enablers that can create an initial baseline for discussion and investment from the globe. If the government of Balochistan supports the farmers through public funding or by joint ventures with farmers for covering the startup costs, the techniques can be very useful not for food security but also for economic benefits on a constant level. According to a report on Climate smart practices, the CS techniques could not only help to save water up to 50-70%, reduce the fertilizer use by 45%, increase yield up to 100-150%, reduce the production cost by 35%, but could also mature the crops with better quality for uneven topography.
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