Is climate change beside the point? The case of climate change and UN introduced cholera in Haiti

admin | 04.18.2014 in Earth Changes,Global Health | Comments (0)

On August 7, UNEARTH News published a controversial article that presented evidence by former National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell that climate change factors contributed to the outbreak of cholera in Haiti.

“Climate change and cholera have a complicated link,” Colwell told UNEARTH News in the article exploring the relationship between climate change factors and the cholera epidemic in Haiti. “As far as Haiti is concerned, the disease outbreak was triggered

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by a complicated set of factors. The precipitation and temperatures were above average during 2010 and that, in conjunction with a destroyed water and sanitation infrastructure, can be considered to have contributed to this major disease outbreak.”

One day later, Steve Milloy reported on junkscience.com that Dr. Colwell’s assertions, as found in the UNEARTH News article, had been summarily debunked. “Global warming blamed for Haiti cholera epidemic…Reality: UN workers imported the bacteria,” read the headline on the anti-climate change site.

While the basis for Milloy’s claims of the UN responsibility are not clear on the anti-climate change site, Adam Houston of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti summarizes the argument for UN’s culpability succinctly in a letter refuting Colwell’s claims sent to UNEARTH News.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the strain of cholera found in Haiti was introduced by a Nepalese contingent of UN peacekeepers,” Houston wrote. “There are many factors that have contributed to the ongoing threat posed by cholera in Haiti. Responsibility, however, lies with the UN, without whom cholera would not exist in Haiti in the first place.”

To stress his point Houston gave the following example: “Whether or not climate change heightened the ability of cholera to spread is once again beside the point. Consider a similar scenario where climate change has led to a particularly dry summer, leaving the land especially vulnerable to forest fires. A fire may be more destructive as a result of those conditions, but ultimate responsibility lies with whoever lit the match that started the fire, particularly where the high risk conditions were obvious before the match was lit.”

There seems little doubt that the UN peacekeepers were the fire starter in the case of cholera in Haiti, a fact supported by the UN’s own scientists, a recent report commissioned by Yale University and perhaps even Dr. Colwell’s research, which appears to concede the need for adequate precautions in the article she co-authored published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

“Because cholera outbreaks will continue to occur over time, the most effective means of controlling or preventing the disease is to minimize exposure to pathogenic strains and/or high concentration of cholera bacteria,” the article states.

The UN, which introduced cholera into the water through infected Nepalese workers, appear not to have done enough to minimize exposure to cholera on the earthquake ravaged island. The bacteria, which has been genetically linked to Nepalese strains, made its way into Haitian waters and has sickened 620,000 people and killed over 7,000.

The fact that they are yet to acknowledge any wrong-doing on their part and have taken the unusual measure of declaring themselves legally immune in the matter, only adds to the suspicion that the UN is at fault.

Yet lying the blame at the UN for their sloppy efforts, does not necessarily mean that climate change is not and underlying cause of the outbreak. In fact, the failure of the UN to address the climate change factors may be another indication that more could have been done and must be done in the future prevent the spread of disease, like the cholera outbreak, from occurring again.

In her comments to UNEARTH News linking climate change to the cholera epidemic, Dr. Cowell suggests that the UN did not consider climate change factors at all in relationship to Haiti even after the outbreak occurred.

“The studies from the UN did not look for any environmental connections, particularly hydroclimatic factors and local water infrastructure, to cholera and ignored the fact that cholera bacteria have tendency to grow in variety of suitable environments.”

While it will never be clear, particularly given the UN’s opacity on the matter, what might have happened if the UN had seriously considered environmental factors related to outbreak or what step was missed to avoid the bacteria’s introduction, a new study, published in Science, may help inform future international efforts and help prevent infectious disease spread.

“Future work must continue to anticipate and monitor pathogen biodiversity and disease trends in natural ecosystems and identify opportunities to mitigate the impacts of climate-driven disease emergence,” the study authors conclude after presenting evidence of increased incidence of climate-related infectious diseases worldwide which the study found in plant, animal and human species.

The study also warns that the impact of climate change will make infectious disease much harder to control making the need for preventative measures more acute as the world continues, as per the UN’s own predictions, to warm in the coming century.

“Just how much harder will it be to control disease as the climate warms?” Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies asked, stressing the need to change the focus on the debate on climate change in the future. Instead of asking if climate change is a factor in the spread of disease, Ostfield states that the real concern is the impact of the deadly mix of climate change and pathogens.

The real question for our current times, Ostfield says is “Will it be possible [to control infectious disease] at all in developing countries?”

 

Please view the original piece over at UNEARTH News.


admin | in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

A new scientific study has found that food insecurity and famine have caused nearly 260,000 deaths in southern and central Somalia between 2010-2012, including 133,000 children under age 5.

The United Nations Food and

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Agriculture Organization (FAO), Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), and Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the organizations that funded the study, have called it “the first scientific estimate of the death toll from the food security emergency.”

The global efforts of FEWS NET and FSNAU focus on severe conditions. Jointly, these programs provide early warnings, assessments, and monitor vulnerability in connection to food insecurity, famine, and response planning.

“Agencies that conduct humanitarian and development initiatives are best placed to talk about long-term solutions,” said Erin Martin, communications officer for FEWS NET to UNEARTH News. “That said, we hope this study will foster a forward-looking conversation on understanding what happened in Somalia, using those lessons to inform and improve future policy-making for famine prevention and emergency response.”

La Niña, a meteorological term for cool sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, contributed to severe drought conditions in East Africa during 2010-2011. The southern and

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central regions of Somalia experienced reduced rainfall resulting in the highest proportion of crop failure, surpassing the 1992-1993 famine. The UNFCCC Assessment has indicated weather patterns such as La Niña could become increasing in frequency due to climate change. Prone to drought and famine, the impact of climate change affects the region’s vulnerability.

The study looks at a 28-month time period between April 2010-July 2012, a period of “severe food insecurity and famine,” in the country, which has an estimated population of 9.3 million. However, it also includes regions and time periods that were not officially classified as famine because of their association with extreme food insecurity. Famine and drought, combined with the impact of reduced humanitarian assistance, high prices on staple cereals, civil strife, and disease epidemics, contributed to the high mortality rate.

The study also took into account the 11 refugee camps around Dollo Ado, Ethiopia and Dadaab, Kenya.

The over 200 surveys on nutrition and mortality administered by FAO and FSNAU entailed selecting a sample of households and interviewing occupants about “births, deaths and other changes to the composition of the household.”

Previously, Somalia’s system of birth and death registration had been incomplete. Due to the lack of population data, the study relied on the surveys “as standard methods for estimating mortality in emergencies.” Conducted during the main rainy seasons, May-July, and minor rainy season, November-June, typically these periods would have been highest for food security and crop production.


Israel Partners with Ghana to Combat Climate Change

admin | 04.16.2014 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

During the recent summit of women scientists from the African continent, Israel announced plans to share its knowledge of climate change with the people of Ghana. This collaboration, part of Israel’s continuing efforts to partner with developing nations, aims to help meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on climate change readiness by 2015.

The need for international collaboration to achieve MDGs was stressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a recent talk in Copenhagen.

“We face a looming deadline and a historic opportunity,” the UN chief said, referring to the pledge made by UN member states, including Israel and Ghana, to meet MDGs by 2015. “We have two overarching and complementary objectives-to eradicate extreme poverty and hold global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels.”

As a global concern, the Israeli government has focused its efforts not only on reducing carbon emissions within Israel, but also fighting to bring a positive change in the countries most impacted by climate change ahead of the 2015 deadline through its International Agency for Development Cooperation.

Sharon Bar-li, Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, represented Israel during the West Africa Regional Conference on Climate Change and announced the partnership. During her speech, Bar-li pointed out that countries like Ghana actually contribute far less to climate

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“Climate change present significant threats to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” the ambassador said, adding that nations like Ghana, with pockets of extreme poverty and wide-scale food insecurity, are most at risk of climate change’s ill effects.

Through the partnership, the Israeli government will train leaders from Ghana in Israel and give them the tools to better fight the impact of climate change at home.

“These trainings are offered on yearly basis and are aimed at equipping participants with critical understanding of the ways and means to deal with climate change,” Bar-Li said in her statement announcing the new program. “The trainings also present policies and ideas that ensure environmental sustainability.”


UNICEF: 500 children still trapped in Old City of Homs as evacuations continue

Madeleine Kuhns | 02.11.2014 in Children,Peace | Comments (0)

UNICEF, UN’s children’s agency, reported at least 500 children have been evacuated from the Old City of Homs in Syria since last Friday, Feb. 7. Staff on the ground also confirmed about 20 pregnant women were among the evacuees.

“The children who came out looked frail and emaciated,” said UNICEF’s Tarek Hefnawy, who participated in the operation, in a statement.

Valerie Amos, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, attends the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City on Jan. 15. Amos has repeatedly called for increased humanitarian access for the millions of citizens trapped in the country. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Prior to the evacuation, UNICEF estimated that at over 1,000 children were trapped in the city; 500 more are still in need of rescue.

UN agencies reported more than 1,151 people have been moved out of the city to shelters or relatives in other parts of Homs, with 456 moved on Monday. The World Food Program delivered food supplies for 2,500 people.

Some 250,000 people still remain trapped in besieged or hard to reach areas throughout the country.

According to UNICEF estimates, there are nearly 5 million children in “dire situations” in Syria, and more than 1.2 million are living as refugees in neighboring countries.

On Sunday, it was announced that parties would extend the humanitarian pause for a further three days.

OCHA Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said she hopes the temporary cease-fire “will allow us to evacuate yet more civilians and deliver much needed additional supplies. The protection of civilians caught up in this horrendous conflict in Syria is the greatest priority for UN agencies and humanitarian partners.”

Since Feb. 7, aid groups have been evacuating civilians, mostly women, children younger than 15 years, and the elderly. Most of the evacuees were taken to Al Waer, but as of today many were still being processed.

The situation on the ground remains extremely dangerous with 11 civilians working as part of a humanitarian convoy killed by a sniper and

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other fire.

Amos added that it was “absolutely unacceptable” for aid workers to be fired upon, after reports surfaced of UN and Syrian Red Crescent workers being targeted.

“People seeking refuge and those carrying out humanitarian operations should not be fired on. The international community must press for full accountability of the Syrian Government and Opposition forces and demand that the ceasefire is held so that all who want to leave can do so safely,” said Amos.

At a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, UN Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said the humanitarian pause “can be called a success,” but acknowledged the lack of progress being made at the UN-sponsored talks between the Syrian government and opposition forces.

Brahimi said urged the pace of the talks to quicken, saying it took six months of dialogue to reach this new accord of only a few days.

“We all owe it to the Syrian people, to move a little bit faster than we are doing,” said Brahimi. He said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, will join him for a tri-lateral meeting in Geneva on Friday.

“The people of Syria are thinking: ‘Please, get something going that will stop this nightmare and this injustice that is inflicted on the Syrian people,’” he said.


Advocacy groups call for disability rights to be central in Sustainable Development Goals

China Parmalee | 02.10.2014 in Post-2015,UN Event | Comments (0)

Yannis Vardakastanis,

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Chair of the International Disability Alliance, addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2013. Photo credit: UN Photo/Pablo Filgueiras

There are an estimated 1 billion people, or one seventh of the global population, living with disabilities. Roughly one in five of the world’s poorest are persons with disabilities. Poverty and underdevelopment

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affects this group disproportionately; they are both more likely to be living in poverty, and people in poverty are more likely to have disabilities.

Despite these figures, there is no mention of persons with disabilities or issues of accessibility

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in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In response, disability rights umbrella groups including the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), have called on the Sustainable Development Goal Open Working Group process to recognize the importance of recognizing the rights of persons with disabilities as fundamental in the next iteration of the SDGs.

On Feb. 6, 2014, the IDA, IDDC, the European Union Delegation, and the Permanent Mission of Greece, sponsored a side meeting to the Open Working Group at the UN’s New York Headquarters.

Yannis Vardakastanis, Chair of the IDA, said that he was not pushing for stand-alone goals, but was “promoting the incorporation and mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities in all goals, because all goals are important to persons with disabilities.”

Because disability is an intersectional issue that cuts across every aspect of development, new metrics are needed in order to better understand the exclusion of these people, explained Vardakastanis. Disaggregated data sets and statistics that take into account persons with disabilities must be developed and used.

Head of the EU delegation to the UN, Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, shared some of the work that the EU has been doing to bring the rights of persons with disabilities into the mainstream in developing countries.

Disability and poverty form a vicious cycle, the Ambassador said, wherein persons with disabilities are excluded and denied opportunity, which in turn leads to further poverty and exclusion.

To break this cycle the EU invests in programs to increase the social inclusion persons with disabilities. For example, in Tanzania the EU has partnered with local organizations to create a video as part of an advertising campaign to counteract the stigma of disability and encourage employment.

Another video created by UNICEF highlighted the cost of excluding persons with disabilities in the developing world, and showed a hopeful alternate vision of how persons with disabilities could be among a developing country’s most valuable human resources.

Panelist Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, concluded by saying that until now the Open Working Group process has been very broad, but the real negotiations were now beginning. Although the progress has been good thus far, in order to incorporate disability into a sustainable development agenda, they “still need to and plan to bug missions much more.”


OIF releases first-ever guide on truth and reconciliation commissions

China Parmalee | 02.04.2014 in Peace | Comments (0)

On January 30, 2014 the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF) launched the French-language “Practical Guide to Transition, Justice, Truth And Reconciliation Processes in the Francophone Area” with a panel at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The first document of its kind, the guide surveys 20 truth, justice, and reconciliation bodies. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by Desmond Tutu may be the best known, but there have been similar commissions across the world, including in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of Rwanda,

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the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, and Togo.

A world map showing all the truth and reconciliation commissions in Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Santiago, Chile. Photo credit: Wikipedia/warko

According to OIF, many countries that emerge from dictatorships or periods of extreme human rights violations engage in a period of transitional justice. Communities then uncover and acknowledge past atrocities as well as punish offenders, make reparations to victims, and reform social institutions in order to ensure that similar abuses cannot and do not happen again.

Truth and reconciliation committees are a component of achieving these goals.

The OIF Practical Guide “provides coherent action for countries in crisis or exiting from crises,” said Christophe Guilhou, IOF’s Director for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights.

Guilhou explained that while the document draws upon experiences across the French-speaking world there is no single template to follow, as respect for differences between countries is needed to find national solutions to achieving lasting peace.

Fabrice Hourquebie, law professor and IOF consultant, echoed this point: “no reference model is imposed and no model is elevated.” This allows for traditional systems of justice, which vary greatly by culture, to provide alternate methods of punishing perpetrators and memorializing victims. For example, due to the scale of the 1994 Rwandan genocide it would have taken the national court system over 100 years to try all pending cases. To expedite the process, community-elected “Gacaca” courts were reinstated, with the power to try all but the most serious cases.

At the launch, in addition to IOF representatives, a panel of experts from Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Morocco discussed their experiences with truth and reconciliation bodies and addressed additional problems that are faced in the developing world.

Major problems still faced by these commissions include lack of funding, challenges in finding witnesses willing to come forth, and the

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danger of disrupting judicial procedures in still-fragile countries. Adama Dieng, Under Secretary-General of the UN, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, emphasized that many parties still have the power to re-open violence, it is imperative to make sure that the process does not re-start conflict.

Panelists stressed that sincerity of all the actors is of primary importance in truth and reconciliation mechanisms. Due to the high expectations of victims and civil society in general, the Practical

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Guide concludes that should integrity and diligence not be maintained, “the process becomes more destructive than restorative.”


Climate Summit 2014: a session for solutions, not negotiations

Ariel Hofher | 12.19.2013 in Earth Changes,UN Event | Comments (0)

UNITED NATIONS, MediaGlobal News— On Monday afternoon, Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic

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Planning, briefed UN affiliates on the Climate Summit that will be held on Sept. 23, 2014. Hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he says that this will be meant to foster solutions, not negotiations.

A local woman hoes a field near Timbuktu, Mali. As part of its so-called Quick Impact Project, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has funded fuel for the water pumping stations used to irrigate rice fields. Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Orr said that the date awarded for the Summit is optimal toward mobilizing action and ambition on the global issue of climate change because Heads of State and Government, local, business, finance and civil society leaders will be in town for the 69th annual UN General Assembly. The Assembly begins the following day at its New York headquarters.

“This opportunity of having global leaders together is unique,” Orr tells MediaGlobal News. “The idea that you have Heads of State and government looking at issues that normally are handled by Ministers and technocrats below them means that you need to take a much more political view of these big problems that world leaders can solve and privilege those for the Summit.”

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10 months until the Summit, its current aim is twofold. It is intended to “catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience,” and “mobilize political will for an ambitious global legal agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.”

Orr highlighted seven high-value issue areas that he says are receiving the greatest amount of attention for action. Describing each as a “basket of issues,” the issues range from reducing emissions and strengthening resilience. These include: energy, short-lived climate pollutants, cities and transportation, land use including climate-smart agriculture and forestry issues, adaptation and disaster risk reduction, as well as climate finance and the economic policies that span across climate-related sectors to build a solid foundation prior to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in 2015.

According to Orr, the issue area of disaster risk reduction is “extremely important.”

“I think that rather than looking back at previous disasters and say, “what would have we done differently?’

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kind of have to look forward to what mechanisms are needed to address those kinds of issues,” Orr tells MediaGlobal News. “So a sort of determined looking-forward approach to keep everyone focused on the need for solutions.”

By tackling climate change, Ban says the future will see considerable rewards.

“We can light rural clinics and schools, empower local businesses and invigorate economies. Universal access to clean energy can benefit people’s health and advance gender equality. We can open new markets, create decent jobs, and sustainably design burgeoning urban growth.


World mourns death of Nelson Mandela

Tamar Auber | 12.05.2013 in Peace | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mandela demonstrates the concept of Ubuntu (a Nguni Bantu term for human kindness) to a young girl. Photo Credit: Angelica Italia

The news of Nelson Mandela’s passing on Thursday in South Africa has sent the world into mourning. The former political prisoner who rose up to become South Africa’s first black president and architect of a multi-racial democracy died peacefully surrounded by friends and family at age 95.

“The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come,” Mandela said during his 1994 Presidential acceptance speech.

An advocate of peace and reconciliation, Mandela spent his life building those bridges, first among the people of South Africa and then the world.

“I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people,” Mandela stressed when asked of his life’s work. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”

On the international stage, he called on leaders not to turn their backs on the AIDS crisis and spoke out against the poverty and injustice that was crippling the African continent.

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice,” he insisted. “Like slavery and

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apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

On the night of Mandela’s death in Soweto, Johannesburg fellow South Africans gathered to honor their leader with song, joining in tearful refrains of “Mandela you brought us peace.” It was here where Mandela spent his early years, first witnessing the injustices of poverty and the oppressive force of a racially divided state.

On Vilakazi Street one mourner, draped in flags, said the news of Mandela’s death after a prolonged illness caused him mixed feelings. “I am happy that he is resting,” Molebogeng Ntheledi said, “but I am also sad to see him go.”

Yet while the world may be mourning the loss of a leader and symbol of peace and reconciliation, Mandela, it appears, was rather matter of a fact about his own passing.

“Death is something inevitable,” Mandela told an interviewer in 1994. “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”


Adaptation, loss and damage are “human rights issues”, says Robinson at first Adaptation Forum

Madeleine Kuhns | 11.20.2013 in Energy | Comments (0)

The UN Framework for Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Adaptation Committee held its first Adaptation

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres (far left) moderates a the Adaptation Committee’s first Adaptation Forum on the sidelines of the UN’s 19th session of climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Photo credit: MediaGlobal News/Madeleine Kuhns

Forum on how to best build a climate-resilient future on the sidelines of the UN climate talks on Tuesday.

The forum, held at

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rural economy and agriculture, and human rights activist Bianca Jagger.

UNFCCC head Christiana Figueres, who served as moderator, opened the discussion telling the audience “the way we’ve been doing things in the past is no longer possible.”

Robinson said the problem must be viewed through both a human rights and economic lens. In order to have a “vision of a climate-resilient future” the international community must better fund adaptation projects in vulnerable countries.

“The upside of doing the right thing, of making the right investments, particularly in renewable energies, is we can change the lives of those who have access to clean energy,” Robinson said during the talk.

“I’m in the DRC where 80 percent of people don’t have access to electricity. What a difference it would make if they can have access to solar lights, to clean cook stoves.” said Robinson, who currently serves at the UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa. Energy is “a source of production…we forgot that in the Millennium Development Goals, how important energy was.”

In addition to adaptation, Robinson explained the importance of establishing a loss and damage mechanism at this year’s talks. Such a mechanism would help those countries that have already suffered extreme weather events due to climate change.

Loss and damage “is a human rights issue,” Robinson, tells MediaGlobal News. “We need to go further on it.”

Robinson explains to MediaGlobal News that such a mechanism could benefit places like the Great Lakes, where it is harder to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

When asked if this year’s talks would produce such a mechanism, a position championed by developing and Least Developed Countries, Robinson said it’s too early in the negotiating process to tell.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Robinson says.


DAILY ROUNDUP 11/6

Madeleine Kuhns | 11.06.2013 in UN Event | Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

IN SAHEL, WORLD LEADERS SUPPORT ‘CALL TO ACTION’ FOR WOMEN, GIRLS: During his trip to the Sahel region of Africa, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accompanied by representatives of the African Union, World Bank, European Union, and United States, supported a “call to action” for women’s health and girls’ education by Niger’s President Mahamoudou Issoufou. “This call to action on Women’s Empowerment and Demographics is not simply about numbers. It is about people,” said the Secretary-General at the launch. “When women and girls have the tools to shape their own future, they will advance development for all.” Ban also met with Niger’s Prime Minister and Cabinet at a separate meeting.

 

Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the UN, briefs correspondents following Security Council consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo credit: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

KOBLER, ROBINSON BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON DRC: Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region of Africa, Mary Robinson, briefed the UN Security Council via satellite feed on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the recent surrender by rebel group M23. After the session, Permanent Representative to the UN for France, Gérard Araud, addressed press at the stakeout. M23 has “fully been defeated by the Congolese army,” Araud said, ending the long rebellion. This is a success for MONUSCO, the UN and for the Congolese people, he said. After they have “endured many violations of human rights, civilians on the ground have one less threat to worry about.”

 

ESCALATING VIOLENCE CUTS OFF HUMANITARIAN AID IN YEMEN: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), announced that fighting in Yemeni town of Dammaj has cut off much needed aid access for civilians. The ICRC has reportedly evacuated 23 people, but estimate at least 29,000 people living in the area need assistance. “Although these evacuations were delayed for a long time, this is a positive development,” said the ICRC’s Cedrick Schweizer. “However, there are still more wounded people in need of treatment, and we hope to be able to come back for them.”

BRAHIMI MEETS WITH HUMANITARIAN GROUPS, P5 MEMBERS ON SYRIA: Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Syria, met with several humanitarian groups including the International Committee of the Red Cross and P5 Members of the Security Council to discuss the possibility of holding a Geneva II conference by the end of the year. According to Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, the Secretary-General is “impatient” to begin the conference and will plan on holding a second pledge conference in Kuwait in 2014. Brahimi also met with representatives from Syria’s border countries: Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.

 

WMO: GHG LEVELS IN ATMOSPHERE HIT RECORD HIGH IN 2012: According to the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin by

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