Eight new animated characters on a mission to protect the planet, have been pressed into service by the UN to empower children worldwide and boost the drive towards sustainability by 2030.
The Climate Action Superheroes are the face of a new campaign, to be launched on UN social media platforms this Saturday, aimed at mobilizing children under 12 to recycle and to save water and energy.
“We want children to be aware of the difference they can make through everyday actions”, said Nanette Braun, Director of Campaigns in the UN Department of Global Communications, which is also home to UN News.
“Lifelong behaviours are shaped at an early age and we hope that providing the knowledge and tools to help build a more sustainable future will have lasting impact.”
The rainbow of quirky superheroes is armed with advice on the steps youngsters can take towards meaningful action for themselves, and their families.
They include the Energy Expert, Recycle Ranger, Green Guide and Water Wizard, who will engage children, and parents, in fun missions on topics such as reducing single-use plastic, saving energy and conserving water.
Safe and sustainable style
Take the Fashion Fixer, a seagreen-coloured titan taking on the global textile industry, which is the second biggest polluter of clean water after agriculture, according to the UN campaign.
The character shows how being stylish does not have to be wasteful by donating used clothing and mending items, thus giving them new life.
Since superheroes wear masks, especially in the COVID-19 era, their “mission” includes making your own facemask, preferably from recycled fabric.
Talking truth, telling facts
Related to this is the Truth Talker, who “has the facts about climate change and tells others about it.” The red-coloured character, is also concerned about how best we can all communicate during this unprecedented period of global pandemic.
Truth Talker encourages children to find out the facts and share them with their friends, thus helping to counter misinformation. As an anti-bullying crusader, the superhero encourages children to report online bullies and to speak up against any type of discrimination.
But in order to tell others about the truth, you first need to learn what the truth is, the character advises. Children can take a simple quiz to test their knowledge about climate change, with answers and explanations provided.
Join the squad, change the future
Children and their parents can learn about the superheroes and their many missions through a colourful, animated world on the UN website.
The campaign concept was developed by students at Parsons School of Design, part of The New School, a prestigious university in New York City, home to UN Headquarters.
They are in a global executive master’s programme which has a focus on leading creative change. They worked with the UN to brainstorm new ways of engaging the public on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 17 SDGs provide a blueprint for achieving a better, more sustainable future, through addressing extreme poverty, inequality, climate change, justice, gender equality and other global challenges. Their deadline is 2030.
The students felt a children’s campaign would have the greatest impact towards driving long-term, transformative change.
“With climate change causing ever greater harm to people and the planet, the students were eager to take on this urgent topic”, said Melissa Rancourt, Academic Director for the Global Executive Master of Science in Strategic Design and Management at The New School.
“By engaging children, we target the consumers and decision-makers of the future, who will drive the change the world needs.”
ActNow for a better tomorrow
The Climate Action Superheroes are a component of the UN’s ongoing ActNow campaign, a call for individual action on sustainability, launched in December 2018.
So far, nearly one million climate actions have been logged through the campaign’s chat bot and mobile app, with a growing number of people making climate action an integral part of their daily life.
UNESCO ‘eDNA’ initiative to ‘unlock’ knowledge for biodiversity protection
To understand the richness of biodiversity across World Heritage marine sites, the UN scientific organization launched on Monday a project to protect and preserve biodiversity, based on the study of environmental DNA – cellular material released from living things into their surroundings.
Launching the new programme, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that scientists and local residents would take samples of genetic material from fish waste, mucous membranes or cells, eDNA, to monitor species.
“Marine World Heritage sites play a critical role in protecting marine ecosystems of exceptional universal value and provide opportunities for the public to appreciate and preserve marine environments”, reminded UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone Ramírez.
Species under threat
UNESCO said that the two-year initiative would help measure the vulnerability of marine biodiversity to climate change and its impact on the distribution and migration patterns of marine life across World Heritage sites.
The eDNA project, which involves collecting and analyzing samples from the environment – such as soil, water and air – rather than an individual organism, will also better monitor and protect endangered species included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
“Climate change is affecting the behaviour and distribution of underwater life and we must understand what is happening so we can adapt our conservation efforts to evolving conditions”, explained the UNESCO official.
Beneath the waves
UNESCO’s marine World Heritage sites are recognized for their unique biodiversity, outstanding ecosystems, or for representing major stages in Earth’s history.
In the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), the project was launched to contribute to the understanding of global trends and knowledge to preserve marine ecosystems.
Since 1981, when Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was inscribed at UNESCO’s first marine site, a global network of 50 others are now included as “beacons of hope for healing the ocean”, according to the UN agency.
Guided by expert support, the eDNA project will engage local citizens to gather material, so samples such as particles gathered through water filtering, can be genetically sequenced in specialized laboratories, without having to disturb animals themselves.
Implemented by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and World Heritage Centre, IOC chief Vladimir Ryabinin described the project as “a step toward the Ocean Decade’s vision of unlocking the knowledge we need to create the ocean we want by 2030”.
Breaking new ground
The use of eDNA in ocean monitoring and data collection is still in its infancy and standard protocols for sampling and data management will be streamlined in UNESCO’s groundbreaking eDNA project.
For the first time, it will apply a consistent methodology across multiple marine protected areas simultaneously, helping establish global standards, data monitoring and management practices while making that information available to the public.
All data will be processed and published by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), the world’s largest open-access data system on the distribution and diversity of marine species, maintained and collectively supported by a worldwide network of scientists, data managers and users.
The project works to advance the world’s understanding of life in the ocean, and establish conservation and management policies indicators.
“eDNA sampling can provide an innovative, affordable, and long-awaited capacity to better understand the ocean ecosystems, their composition and behaviour, and to start managing ocean resources more sustainably”, said Mr. Ryabinin.
Act Urgently to Preserve Biodiversity for Sustainable Future — ADB President
The world must act urgently to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity for the sake of a sustainable future and prosperity, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa said at the opening of a global event on biodiversity here today.
“The world is at a critical turning point. If we are to reverse the alarming decline in nature, we must respond with urgency and coordinated action,” Mr. Asakawa said. “These efforts are needed to ensure the survival of our ecosystems, and for the sake of our shared future and prosperity.”
Asia and the Pacific is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world—home to 17 of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots, 7 of the 17 megadiverse countries, and the greatest marine diversity. “If restored and well-managed, these natural capital assets can help to mitigate global climate change and biodiversity loss in a cost-effective and impactful manner,” Mr. Asakawa said in his opening remarks at the Ecological Civilization Forum at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The event is cohosted by the PRC’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Yunnan provincial government, and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Participants include high-level representatives from governments, the private sector, development agencies including ADB, and civil society.
ADB is committed to helping accelerate and increase nature-positive investments in Asia and the Pacific. “Through our ADB Nature-Positive Investment Roadmap, we are working with partners to scale up finance, develop knowledge of natural capital, and generate financially sustainable projects that deliver on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems,” Mr. Asakawa said.
At COP15, ADB is launching a new publication, Greening Development in the People’s Republic of China, which outlines how ADB and the PRC have successfully partnered to promote green development and ecological restoration in a way that complements economic and social priorities.
In partnership with the Chinese Academy of Science and Stanford University, ADB is sharing progress on its new Natural Capital Lab due for launch in 2022. This will be a digital platform for sharing methods for valuing biodiversity and ecosystems, and for building knowledge, capacities, and alliances across the region.
In addition, ADB with partners will be launching the Regional Flyway Initiative that will conserve ecosystem services that support people and critical habitats for more than 50 million migratory waterbirds.
Greenpeace Africa reacts to DRC President’s decision to suspend illegal logging concessions
The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, ordered on Friday, October 15th, the suspension of all dubious logging concessions, including the 6 granted in September 2020. Greenpeace Africa, one of the civil society organizations that denounced these concessions, applauds the decision taken by the Head of State and encourages him to remain vigilant and ensure its effective execution by Deputy Prime Minister Ms. Eve Bazaiba.
Greenpeace Africa reiterates its call for maintaining the moratorium on new industrial logging concessions to prevent a human rights and climate catastrophe. This logging sector, characterized by bad governance, favors corruption and remains out of touch with the socio-economic needs of the Congolese people and the climate crisis we live in.
Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Head of the International Congo Basin Forest Project of Greenpeace: “The decision of H.E. President Tshisekedi against the illegal actions of former Minister Nyamugabo sends an important message to the Congolese people and their government. It is also a red light for the plans of Ms. Ève Bazaiba, current Minister of the Environment, to open a highway to deforestation by multinational logging companies through lifting the moratorium on new industrial concessions.”
The President asks to “Suspend all questionable contracts pending the outcome of an audit and report them to the government at the next cabinet meeting.” Greenpeace Africa maintains that the review of illegalities in the forest sector must be transparent, independent, and open to comments from civil society organizations.
Ms. Wabiwa adds that “Both the protection of the rights of Congolese peoples and the success of COP26 require that the moratorium on granting new forest titles be strengthened. We again call on President Tshisekedi to strengthen the 2005 presidential decree to extend the moratorium.”
Ms. Wabiwa concludes that “instead of allowing new avenues of destruction, the DRC needs a permanent forest protection plan, taking into account the management by the local and indigenous populations who live there and depend on them for their survival.”
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