Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Future of humanity hinges on Copenhagen climate conference, Ban says

plenary at COP 158 December 2009 – The outcome of the historic United Nations climate change conference under way in Copenhagen will have reverberations for the future of humanity and the planet, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“We’ve come a long way in just two years’ time, but what we do now over the next two weeks [in Copenhagen] will determine how we fare,” Mr. Ban told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

Over 100 heads of State and government, such as United States President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, as well as more than 15,000 participants, are set to take part in the event in the Danish capital, where nations are expected to wrap up agreement on an ambitious new climate change deal.

The Secretary-General today expressed optimism that an immediately effective “robust” agreement – which will include specific recommendations on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology – will be reached.

“Copenhagen can and must be a turning point in the world’s efforts to prevent runaway climate change,” he underscored.

Unprecedented momentum has been drummed up towards clinching a new deal, Mr. Ban said. “Never have so many different nations of all size and economic status made so many pledges together.”

The Secretary-General will travel to Copenhagen next week to open the high-level segment of the gathering, which wraps up on 18 December.

The start of the conference yesterday was “very positive and encouraging,” with clear calls made for urgent action on climate change, said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

A real difference will be made in Copenhagen only if it impels significant and concrete action after the conference ends, he stressed at a press conference today.

Negotiators, Mr. de Boer noted, must hammer out solid proposals on the issues of adaptation, mitigation, finance and technology to underpin an outcome.

He stressed that negotiators must make optimum use of this first week to prepare the groundwork on the issues of adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology, capacity-building and forests. This involves hammering out solid proposals that can constitute the foundations of an agreed outcome in Copenhagen.

The official also voiced confidence that the Copenhagen gathering will end with additional funds provided for developing countries to take action against climate change, with there being growing consensus for swift funding of at least $10 billion annually from now until 2012.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050.

The year 2009 will likely be among the 10 warmest since climate records started being taken in 1850 and the 2000-2009 decade is also probably the warmest on record, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced today.

Above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the Earth’s continents, with large swathes of Southern Asia and Central Africa on track to have their warmest ever years in 2009. Also recorded in many parts of the world this year were climate extremes, including devastating floods, severe droughts and snowstorms.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has unveiled a new $60 million programme to encourage sustainable low-emission agriculture in developing countries.

Agriculture is responsible for 14 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, but the sector also has the potential to slash output by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to FAO.

The five-year scheme will bring many countries, organizations and donors, and the agency announced today in Copenhagen that Finland has provided an initial contribution of nearly $4 million.

“The overall challenge we are facing is to transform the technical mitigation potential of agriculture into reality,” said FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller.

Technologies and practices to sequester carbon in smallholder agriculture already exist, he pointed out. These include conservation, organic agriculture, no or low tillage and use of compost or mulch, and account for almost 90 per cent of agriculture’s potential to curb or remove emissions from the atmosphere.

“However, barriers to adoption of these technologies and practices is a key challenge that needs to be overcome,” Mr. Müller stressed. “The programme aims to unlock the enormous mitigation potential of agriculture.”

The new project seeks to set up a global database on both current and projected gas emissions in land and agriculture for key commodities, countries and region. Currently, no data exists on emissions from individual commodities by country or by region.

 

UN News Centre

Marking the Human rights day in Brussels at BOZAR cinema: Avant-Premiere of "The Choir", Documentary by Michael Davie, Thursday 10 December 2009

Poster for the film The Choir at Bozar in BrusselsTo mark Human rights day 2009, 10 December, the European Union and the United Nations are delighted to introduce the first in a series of joint communication and information projects to mark certain International days.

On 10 December, in collaboration with the Bozar Cinema and the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, we are welcoming the public to the Belgian premiere of the internationally acclaimed documentary film: The Choir, by Michael Davie.


The screening will be followed by a Questions and Answers (in English) with the audience and our panel of guests: Louis Joinet, Stéphane Hessel, Karel Kovanda, Heidi Hautala, Bianca Jagger (special guest), and moderated by Reed Brody.

Australia, 2007, 82 min, color, English subtitled in French

“The Choir” was the selected winner of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH)



 

Landmark UN climate change conference kicks off in Copenhagen

Cop15, Bella Center in Copenhagen7 December 2009 – The highly-anticipated United Nations climate change conference kicked off in Copenhagen, Denmark, today with countries issuing urgent calls for action to curb global warming.

Over 15,000 people, including government officials and representatives from the private sector, environmental organizations and research institutions, as well as 110 heads of State and government are expected to take part in the two-week summit, making it the largest gathering on climate change ever.

“The costs of responding to climate change will become progressively higher as time goes on,” Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said at the conference’s opening. “Therefore, we must take action now.”

According to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there is unprecedented political momentum for a new deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“World leaders are calling for an agreement that offers serious emission limitation goals and that captures the provision of significant financial and technological support to developing countries,” he said.

“At the same time, Copenhagen will only be a success if it delivers significant and immediate action that begins the day the conference ends.”

The IPCC has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050.

 

UN News Centre

Ban reports ‘solid’ progress in UN-backed Cyprus talks, urges parties to forge ahead

3 December 2009 – The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides are making headway in the United Nations-backed talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reports, urging the parties to do their utmost to ensure a successful outcome.

“The parties are making solid progress, and I am cautiously optimistic that a solution can be achieved,” Mr. Ban writes in a report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus which is led by his Special Adviser, Alexander Downer.

“On the basis of what has been accomplished so far, the international community expects the talks to continue to make substantial progress in a timely fashion,” he adds. am encouraged by the commitment, courage and determination shown by the two leaders despite the considerable challenges posed by the negotiations

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat committed themselves last year to working towards “a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.”

That partnership would comprise a Federal Government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which would be of equal status.

Mr. Ban notes that the gaps between the sides have narrowed on a number of important issues, but differences remain, and it is clear that more work needs to be done to achieve full convergence.

“Implementing in practice the agreed objective of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality in a united Cyprus in which the concerns of both parties are taken into account and that is, at the same time, functional and stable, is a considerable challenge.

“It is ambitious, but it is achievable,” he states.

As part of the ongoing negotiations, Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat have held more than 50 meetings, including one today in Nicosia during which they discussed issues of citizenship, aliens, immigration and asylum. They are expected to meet again on 9 December.

“I am encouraged by the commitment, courage and determination shown by the two leaders despite the considerable challenges posed by the negotiations and the ongoing domestic criticism in the north and the south directed at the leaders and the process,” says Mr. Ban.

He urges the parties to make greater efforts to carry out the nearly two dozen confidence-building measures that have been agreed to in order to strengthen inter-communal relations and to build greater public support within the communities for the process.

“The coming weeks and months will be decisive, as important decisions will have to be made,” states the Secretary-General. “Given that the leaders of the two communities are committed to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, this is a unique opportunity that must be seized by both sides. It is incumbent upon both leaders to meet the hopes and expectations of their people for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem within a reasonable time frame.”

In a separate report released yesterday, Mr. Ban called for a six-month extension of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force, known as UNFICYP, which has been in place on the island since 1964, following the outbreak of inter-communal violence.

 

UN News Centre



He also noted that although considerable progress has been made in the talks, “the two sides have not yet considered in depth the role with the United Nations would be expected to play in support of a settlement.”

In spite of this, UNFICYP has already started preparatory activities based on a range of possible outcomes.

Empowering people with disabilities vital for achieving development targets – Ban

Disabled3 December 2009 – Efforts to achieve global development targets must include improving living standards and quality of life for everyone, including the world’s 800 million people with disabilities, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“Persons with disabilities encounter many disadvantages,” he said in a message for the Day, noting that they are often among society’s poorest and most excluded.

“Yet they routinely show tremendous resilience, and achieve great heights in all spheres of human endeavour,” he added.

The theme of this year’s Day is “making the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) disability-inclusive,” referring to the set of global targets to halve poverty, hunger and other social ills by 2015. Mr. Ban pointed out that when persons with disabilities take part and lead development processes, their involvement generates opportunities for all.

“The message for the MDGs is clear: putting persons with disabilities and their communities at the heart of our efforts is a proven way to advance the development agenda,” he said, while drawing attention to a summit to be held on the Goals next September.

The Secretary-General also called for the implementation and universality of the landmark UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He characterized the pact, which entered into force last year, as “one of our most important tools to advance this cause.”

For her part, the top United Nations human rights official underscored that people with disabilities continue to face massive challenges in their efforts to live a meaningful life.

“Disability is not specifically mentioned in any of the eight MDGs, in the 18 targets set out to achieve these goals, nor the 48 indicators for monitoring their progress,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement commemorating the Day.

She hailed the Convention, which has been ratified by 75 States with dozens of others having signed on, for filling “a major gap in international human rights law” by addressing, among others, the rights to education and freedom from exploitation.

“If the terms of the Convention are rapidly reflected in national laws and policies, the ability of persons with disabilities to act on their own behalf to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and marginalization can and should be greatly enhanced,” Ms. Pillay stressed.

The International Day, according to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, “provides an opportunity to reflect on the work of the [Convention] to date, while also highlighting the progress that remains to be made.”

The group pointed to the right to equal recognition before the law as one of the areas in which further progress must be made.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today welcomed strides made for persons with disabilities in the region, but cautioned that governments and donors continue to neglect to include the issue of disability when dealing with the MDGs.

“If we are serious about addressing poverty then persons with disabilities must be included on MDGs reporting as they are more likely to be poor than other groups,” said Alastair Wilkinson of ESCAP.

Also today, United States singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder will officially be designated as a UN Messenger of Peace to advocate for the Organization’s work, with the artist – blind since birth – championing people with disabilities.

Other events to commemorate the Day will include a panel discussion and a film festival at UN Headquarters in New York, as well as a series of activities to sensitize and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities – including a children’s painting competition – by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal).

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