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Meet the Climate Heroes Coming to Davos

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This year’s World Economic Forum 2020 Annual Meeting will be more action-oriented than ever. Or, in the words of Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, a “Do shop, not a talk shop.” Helping bring about systemic change to return our planet to a sustainable path will be an unprecedented number of leaders from across civil society making progress at the community, national and global level, including:

Teenage changemakers

Fionn Ferreira (Netherlands): as a young scientist, Fionn has created a project extracting micro plastics from water and aims to prevent them from reaching oceans.

Ayakha Melithafa (South Africa): this 17 year-old South African advocates for low-carbon footprint in her community and advocates for the inclusion of diverse voices in climate activism.

Autumn Peltier (Canada): Autumn has been advocating for water conservation since the age of 8 and is Anishinabek’s Chief Water Commissioner, representing over 40 First Nations in Canada.

Greta Thunberg (Sweden): Greta is an International climate activist and leader of the school strike for climate movement

Melati Wijsen (Indonesia): with her initiative Bye Bye Plastics that she founded with her sister, she has banned plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam on Bali since 2019.

Civil Society and Academia

Gary Bencheghib (Indonesia): Gary’s film-making has brought home the impact of environmental degradation to millions of people. For example in a film he made navigating the world’s most polluted river in Java in a kayak made of plastic bottles

Kerstin Forsberg (Peru): Kerstin has lead dozens of community-based environmental projects in Peru, engaging hundreds of citizen scientists and over 50 schools in marine education.

Salvador Gómez-Colón (Puerto Rico): after Huricanne Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Salvador developed project ‘Light and Hope’ which supported over 3000 families with solar lamps and manual washing machines.

Jane Goodall (USA): A world-renowned primatologist, Jane’s work has paved redefined the relationship between humans and animals

Krithi Karanth (India): As Chief Conservation Scientist and Director of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Kirithi’s work focuses on human-animal conflict and land use change

Wanjuhi Njoroge (Kenya): A Global Shaper, Wanjuhi founded #SaveOurForestsKE a campaign that raised awareness about the decimation of forests and led to a nine-month ban on national forest logging in the country.

Carlos Afonso Nobre (Brazil): Carlos dedicated his career to the Amazon region and developed pioneer research on the climate impacts of deforestation.

Johan Rockström (Germany): Johan’s work developing the planetary boundaries framework that facilitates human development while defending the planet’s boundaries is regarded as seminal.

Lord Nicholas Stern (UK): Lord Stern’s seminal 2006 study on the economics of climate change was the first of its kind to quantify the cost of climate change.

Holly Syrett (Netherlands): Holly led a grassroots approach in 40 cities for citizens to re-use, re-purpose, buy less, buy second-hand and use their purchasing-power to support items that respect people and planet.

Neel Tamhane (Bangladesh): Neel’s citizen-led tree-planting drive has already planted 9 billion trees in 27 cities in South Asia.

Asha de Vos (Sri Lanka): Asha founded the Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project in 2008, the first long term study on blue whales within the northern Indian Ocean

The World Economic Forum is also showcasing a series of installations, including Partnering with Nature, developed in collaboration with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the Algae Platform by Atelier Luma and Department of Seaweed by Julia Lohmann, two projects exploring the potential of algae as an alternative to conventional materials such as plastic; and Totomoxtle by designer Fernando Laposse which aims to reintroduce native varieties and restore indigenous farming practices in Mexico.

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Muscovites Apply for 700 Trees to be Planted in Honor of Their Newborn Children

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moscow plant trees

The Our Tree project launched two years ago by Moscow’s Department of Information Technology and Department of Nature Management and Environmental Protection has quickly become very popular among Muscovites. Thanks to this annual campaign, city residents can now celebrate the happiest event in their family life – the birth of a child – by giving their baby a unique gift – their own personal tree.

Any parent who is permanently resident in Moscow can apply for a tree within three years of the birth of their child. To do so, they need only have an account on the mos.ru website. On average, 700 Muscovites apply for a tree to be planted in honor of their newborn child each month.

In two months, young parents have submitted more than 1,500 online applications to participate in the Our Tree project and plant seedlings in honor of their newborn kids in the autumn. That’s twice as many as during the same period in spring. Acceptance of applications began on January 16 and will continue until June 15.

Last autumn, more than 5,000 trees were planted as part of the project, with linden, Norway maple, pine, white willow and rowan trees being the most popular choices. Spring planting of personal saplings will soon begin.

Eduard Lysenko, Minister of the Moscow Government and Head of the Department of Information Technology, noted that interest in the Our Tree project among young parents is growing every year: in 2019, more than 2,300 trees were applied for and planted, while in 2020 the number increased to 5,000. More than 4,500 saplings will appear in Moscow’s parks this spring thanks to the project participants.

“A set of online services has been created for families with children on the mos.ru portal. The Our Tree project is another opportunity for young parents to celebrate the important milestone of the birth of their child and to contribute to the city’s ecology. Taking part in the project is very simple – just submit an online application on the portal. Some information is filled in automatically from users’ personal accounts, which makes everything even more convenient. On average, Muscovites order more than 700 seedlings to plant as family trees in their favorite park each month,” said Lysenko.

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Norwegian scientists finally find good news from Norilsk Nickel

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The state of the environment in the border areas is the main topic of the «Pasvikseminaret 2021», organized by the public administrator in Troms county and Finnmark in cooperation with the municipality of Sør-Varanger municipality.

The purpose of the annual Pasvik seminar is to provide the local population and local politicians all information about the environmental situation in the border area Norway – Russia. Program focused on pollution from the Nickel Plant and monitoring of the environment in the border area.

The activities of Norilsk Nickel have been the main focus of the workshop for many years.

For the first time in many years, Norwegian scientists have found only positive news from Russia.

Tore Flatlandsmo Berglen, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Atmospheric Research (NILU), noted a significant improvement in air quality in the border area. Berglen remembered the 70-80s of the last century, when one of the divisions of Norilsk Nickel “Pechenganikel” annually emitted 400 thousand tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, in the 90s this figure dropped to 100 thousand tons. After the closure plant in Nikel in December 2020, the content of sulfur dioxide and heavy metals in the atmosphere at the border between Norway and the Murmansk region meets all international requirements.

“And I know that these emissions from the Kola MMC will continue to decline. Compared to 2015, this figure will be 85 percent. This is very positive news. Air quality issues are being addressed in the right direction. We have been talking about this for many years and finally the problem has been resolved, emissions significantly reduced. This is the most excellent presentation I have ever make! ” – said Tore Berglen.

Earlier it was reported that Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, closed its smelter in the city of Nickel in northern Russia at the end of 2020. Kola is a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel on the Kola Peninsula with mines, processing plants and pellets in Zapolyarny, as well as metallurgical plants in Monchegorsk and a plant in Nikel, which closed at the end of December 2020.

The Norwegian environmentalists who participated in the workshop also noticed positive changes.

“The smelter is closed and Norilsk Nickel is working hard to become a ‘green’ metallurgical company – it reduces emissions, uses advanced technology and cooperates with Pasvik nature reserve which is our good partner in Russia. Today, a lot of interesting things are happening in the border areas. We have many common interests and there is a certain key to ensuring that everything works out for us – this is good coordination, cooperation, a large knowledge base,” said the representative of the environmental center NIBIO Svanhovd.

Other studies examining water resources, fish, berries, also prove that nature in the border area is recovering. All this testifies to the work of ecologists who care about the environment.

“We see examples of what has already been done. And this allows us to plan with confidence our future joint work, projects,” says senior adviser representative Anne Fløgstad Smeland at the county governor in Finnmark.

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New project to help 30 developing countries tackle marine litter scourge

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Litter is removed from a beach in Watamu in Kenya. UNEP/Duncan Moore

A UN-backed initiative aims to turn the tide on marine litter, in line with the global development goal on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. 

The GloLitter Partnerships Project will support  30 developing countries in preventing and reducing marine litter from the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, which includes plastic litter such as lost or discarded fishing gear. 

The project was launched on Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with initial funding from Norway. 

Protecting oceans and livelihoods 

“Plastic litter has a devastating impact on marine life and human health”, said Manuel Barange, FAO’s Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture.  “This initiative is an important step in tackling the issue and will help protect the ocean ecosystem as well as the livelihoods of those who depend on it.” 

Protecting the marine environment is the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 14, part of the 2030 Agenda to create a more just and equitable future for all people and the planet. 

The GloLitter project will help countries apply best practices for the prevention and reduction of marine plastic litter, in an effort to safeguard the world’s coastal and marine resources. 

Actions will include encouraging fishing gear to be marked so that it can be traced if lost or discarded at sea. Another focus will be on the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities and their connection to national waste management systems.  

“Marine litter is a scourge on the oceans and on the planet”, said Jose Matheickal, Head of the IMO’s Department for Partnerships and Projects. “I am delighted that we have more than 30 countries committed to this initiative and working with IMO and FAO to address this issue.” 

Five regions represented 

The nations taking part in the GloLitter project are in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. 

They will also receive technical assistance and training, as well as guidance documents and other tools to help enforce existing regulations. 

The project will promote compliance with relevant international instruments, including the Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which contains regulations against discharging plastics into the sea.

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