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New World Bank Project to Bolster Climate Action in South Asia

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The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a $39.5 million project to help South Asia build resilience to climate threats and disasters by sharing regional data and knowledge, developing regional standards and guidelines for infrastructure, and promoting climate-resilient policies and investments.

The Climate Adaptation and Resilience for South Asia (CARE) Project will help develop a public platform to inform climate planning and investments, and fund innovative and disruptive technology to support resilience in South Asia. It will also assess climate impacts in districts across Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan to support agriculture, livestock, water, and transport.

“Climate change and severe weather ignore national borders. Our support will foster greater regional collaboration across South Asia and equip governments with the shared knowledge and technology they need to make their people and economies more resilient to climate threats and disasters,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for South Asia.

South Asia is highly vulnerable to the social and economic impacts of climate-related hazards. Between 1990 and 2019, more than 1,000 climate-induced disasters in South Asia affected 1.7 billion people and caused more than $127 billion in damages. The World Bank estimates that climate change could drive 62 million people in South Asia into extreme poverty; floods alone could cost an estimated $215 billion annually by 2030.

The CARE project will fund a public domain platform, the Regional Resilience Data and Analytics Service, with detailed information about weather hazards, climate variability, and sector-specific data to help policymakers assess climate risks. The risks can be incorporated into budget and spending decisions, and tools such as a regional insurance pool are planned to help governments manage fiscal shocks from extreme weather.

CARE will also help governments mainstream climate resilience within key ministries such as finance, agriculture, water, and transport and develop climate resilience guidelines in those sectors.

The $39.5 million CARE project includes a $36 million grant from the International Development Association, the World Bank concessional fund, and $3.5 million from the Program for Asia Resilience to Climate Change, a trust fund administered by the World Bank and funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. CARE will work with two regional organizations, the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC).

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As the world’s forests continue to shrink, urgent action is needed to safeguard their biodiversity

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Urgent action is needed to safeguard the biodiversity of the world’s forests amid alarming rates of deforestation and degradation, according to the latest edition of The State of the World’s Forests released today.

Published on the International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May), the report shows that the conservation of the world’s biodiversity is utterly dependent on the way in which we interact with and use the world’s forests.

The report was produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership, for the first time, with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and technical input from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).

It highlights that some 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses since 1990, although the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades.

The COVID-19 crisis has thrown into sharp focus the importance of conserving and sustainably using nature, recognizing that people’s health is linked to ecosystem health.

Protecting forests is key to this, as they harbour most of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity. This report shows that forests contain 60,000 different tree species, 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species, and 68 percent of the Earth’s mammal species.

FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, noted in the report, found that despite a slowing of the rate of deforestation in the last decade, some 10 million hectares are still being lost each year through conversion to agriculture and other land uses.

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, and the Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, said in the foreword.

The report presents a comprehensive overview of forest biodiversity, including world maps revealing where forests still hold rich communities of fauna and flora, such as the northern Andes and parts of the Congo Basin, and where they have been lost.

Conservation and sustainable use:

In this report, a special study from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and the US Forest Service found 34.8 million patches of forests in the world, ranging in size from 1 hectare to 680 million hectares. Greater restoration efforts to reconnect forest fragments are urgently needed.

As FAO and UNEP prepare to lead the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration from 2021 and as countries consider a Global Biodiversity Framework for the future, Qu and Andersen both expressed their commitment for increased global cooperation to restore degraded and damaged ecosystems, combat climate change and safeguard biodiversity.

“To turn the tide on deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, we need transformational change in the way in which we produce and consume food,” said QU and Andersen. “We also need to conserve and manage forests and trees within an integrated landscape approach and we need to repair the damage done through forest restoration efforts.”

The report notes that the Aichi Biodiversity Target to protect at least 17 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial areas by 2020 has been achieved for forests, although progress is still required to ensure the representativeness and effectiveness of such protection. 

A study conducted by UNEP-WCMC for this report shows that the largest increase in protected forest areas occurred in broadleaved evergreen forests – such as those typically found in the tropics. Furthermore, over 30 percent of all tropical rainforests, subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests are now located within protected areas.

Jobs and livelihoods:

Millions of people around the world depend on forests for their food security and livelihoods.

Forests provide more than 86 million green jobs. Of those living in extreme poverty, over 90 percent are dependent on forests for wild food, firewood or part of their livelihoods. This number includes eight million extremely poor, forest-dependent people in Latin America alone.

UN Environment

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Virtual Ocean Dialogues to Fast-track Action, Innovation and Resilience

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A healthy and resilient ocean can help tackle climate change while providing sustainable food sources and jobs around the world. Half of the world’s GDP is dependent on nature, according to the World Economic Forum, and more than 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. As countries begin to manage the economic and social impact of COVID-19, the ocean can be part of the solution.

To fast-track the innovations necessary for a healthy ocean, the Friends of Ocean Action, with the World Economic Forum, will convene the first Virtual Ocean Dialogues. From 1-5 June, Heads of State and Government, leaders from business, members of civil society and scientific communities will gather at a virtual summit to share innovation and solutions. It will give participants the opportunity to share and scale projects worldwide, accelerating their benefits. The event will be open to the public. Registration details can be found here.

“We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to achieve action for a healthy ocean, and with the Virtual Ocean Dialogues we are creating the opportunity to involve more people than ever before. No matter where you live and work in the world you can participate in these Dialogues – all you need is an interest in the future of two-thirds of our planet,” said Kristian Teleki, Director of Friends of Ocean Action, World Economic Forum.

Boosting ocean protection, tackling marine pollution, financing a sustainable blue economy and prioritizing data and science to feed billions will feature across the programme. The Dialogues have been designed for communities around the world to connect and exchange ideas.

During the event, finalists will be announced from the UpLink Ocean Solutions Sprint – a competition to unearth great ideas to solve the critical challenges of illegal fishing and plastic pollution. UpLink is a digital platform to crowdsource innovations to accelerate delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is an open platform designed to engage anyone who wants to contribute to the global public good.

“The global community needs ideas and leadership to maintain action for a healthy ocean. I am delighted to support the Virtual Ocean Dialogues and invite anyone with a concern for the ocean to participate in these critical discussions. All of our lives depend on a thriving ocean, and on fast-tracking solutions to rebuild a resilient global community. The health of our ocean underpins the oxygen we breathe, provides food and job security for billions, and is our greatest ally in tackling climate change. We must prioritize the ocean, and that is what this event aims to achieve,” said Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment and Climate for Sweden, and Co-Chair of Friends of Ocean Action.

“The UN Ocean Conference has been postponed, but will be held in Lisbon as soon as conditions allow. To fill the gap in the calendar left by this postponement, the World Economic Forum and the Friends of Ocean Action have organized the Virtual Ocean Dialogues on 1-5 June. I have big expectations as to the quality and outcomes of these high-level, expert dialogues, and in the build-up to the UN Ocean Conference will ensure their findings are made available to all. In support of the implementation of SDG 14, I’m confident the Virtual Ocean Dialogues will play a very constructive role in maintaining the momentum to conserve and sustainably use the ocean’s resources,” said Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, and Co-Chair of Friends of Ocean Action.

“The World Economic Forum is mainstreaming innovations to unlock solutions to key challenges, that in turn will improve the state of the world. The first focus of UpLink is the ocean and the Sustainable Development Goal for life below water, SDG 14. By connecting leaders and innovators across the public and private sectors and beyond, and pooling ideas and resources, we can facilitate significant positive change for the ocean and people,” said Dominic Waughray, Head of the Platform for Global Public Goods and Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

The Friends of Ocean Action is a coalition of 58 ocean leaders who are fast-tracking solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the ocean. Its members come from business, civil society, international organizations, science and technology. It is hosted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the World Resources Institute.

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Restoring ecosystems in the Mediterranean

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The United Nations proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The slogan chosen for the 2020 edition of IBD – “Our solutions are in nature”— emphasizes the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.

As the Mediterranean region grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that to continue working on sealing the pathways through which pathogens can jump from animal hosts to humans. This can be achieved by restoring the health of strained of ecosystems and by halting the relentless encroachment on nature.

Ecosystem integrity can help regulate diseases by supporting a diversity of species so that it is more difficult for one pathogen to spill over, amplify or dominate. But a soon-to-be released UNEP/MAP report on the state of the environment and development in the Mediterranean confirms that ecosystems in our region are in dire straits.

At sea, 78 percent of assessed stocks are currently fished at biologically unsustainable levels. In the Western Mediterranean, 87 percent of stocks are overfished and at risk of being depleted. Mare Nostrum is also one of the most polluted by marine litter, mainly plastic, that is stifling marine creatures and making its way into their organisms through the ingestion of microplastics.

The United Nations proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The slogan chosen for the 2020 edition of IBD – “Our solutions are in nature”— emphasizes the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.

As the Mediterranean region grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that to continue working on sealing the pathways through which pathogens can jump from animal hosts to humans. This can be achieved by restoring the health of strained of ecosystems and by halting the relentless encroachment on nature.

Ecosystem integrity can help regulate diseases by supporting a diversity of species so that it is more difficult for one pathogen to spill over, amplify or dominate. But a soon-to-be released UNEP/MAP report on the state of the environment and development in the Mediterranean confirms that ecosystems in our region are in dire straits.

At sea, 78 percent of assessed stocks are currently fished at biologically unsustainable levels. In the Western Mediterranean, 87 percent of stocks are overfished and at risk of being depleted. Mare Nostrum is also one of the most polluted by marine litter, mainly plastic, that is stifling marine creatures and making its way into their organisms through the ingestion of microplastics.

UN Environment

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