UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Ozone, soot pollution rising over Asia (SciDev.Net)
YEARENDER: Another year of extreme weather, but is it global warming? (DPA)
ENVIRONMENT: Oceans Warming and Rising (Inter Press Service)
A new strain of activism seems to have infected Canada's ski team (Macleans (Canada)
Lebanese coastal clean-up to cost 150 million dollars (Agence France-Presse)
Déchets toxiques en Côte d'Ivoire : le PNUE lance un nouvel appel à une aide d'urgence
CÔTE D'IVOIRE (Jeune Afrique)
Giftmülls an der Elfenbeinküste: UNO fordert internationale Hilfe (Der Standard (Austria)
Climate Change vs Mother Nature: Scientists reveal that bears have stopped hibernating
Outsize Profits, and Questions, in Effort to Cut Warming Gases (New York Times)
Mercedes to pay 1.2 mln dlrs for US emissions violations (Agence France Presse)
Plant A Tree And Save The Earth? (Science Daily)
First Drought, Now Floods Plague Kenya's Nomads (Reuters)
Parthenon sculptures removed due to pollution (Agence France Presse)
South-east SA hopes to be home to nation's first 'Geopark' (ABC News)
Santa goes green (St Albans Observer)
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
UN Daily News of 21 December 2006
Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.unep.org
22 December 2006
[YOGYAKARTA] Air pollution from ozone and soot over Asia is twice the global average and is especially strong over tropical regions, a scientist told government representatives of 20
Asian countries at a meeting last week.
India is emerging as a 'hotspot for ozone pollution', and in China pollution is rising, said Surabi
Menon of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, United States.
Her warnings echoed other reports of deteriorating air quality in Asia at the Urban Air Quality in Asia workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
The meeting ended with a pledge — albeit non-binding — that the 20 nations would improve their air quality control programmes.
According to Menon, emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in China and Korea will exceed World Health Organization (WHO) air quality standards by 2020.
Industry, transport and incomplete fossil fuel combustion are the main culprits. The gases cause acid rain, are toxic to health, and contribute to the formation of ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere.
Ozone is a paradox. In the upper atmosphere — the stratosphere — it is known as 'good' ozone, as it protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet light from the sun.
But in the lower layer — known as the troposphere — which extends up to two kilometres above sea level, ozone from car exhausts and industry is 'bad' as it damages human health and vegetation.
Computer simulations show that the yearly increase in ozone levels in India, currently at 12 parts per billion, could exceed 25-30 parts per billion, said Menon.
Soot emissions from China continue to be large, at 2.3 terragrams annually, compared to 0.053 terragrams in Japan.
'The health and air quality issues will become increasingly important for Asia,' Menon told
Soot and other polluting particles released by industries and biofuels have important climate effects, especially over Asia, she said.
In 2002, Menon and colleagues showed that soot heats the air, affecting rainfall patterns over
China (see 'Asian soot fuels global warming' ).
Other scientists at the meeting also warned of the poor air quality in most Asian cities. Michal
Kryazanoski, a senior official at the WHO, said that air pollution exceeding WHO guidelines causes more than 500,000 premature deaths in Asia annually.
Most Asian cities do not have adequate air quality monitoring stations and emissions inventories are either lacking, incomplete or contradictory, according to a report by the
Stockholm Environment Institute.
The Asian Development Bank showed that a major cause for deteriorating air quality is rise in road traffic. It warned that even with the most optimistic estimates for managing the rise in vehicle use in Asia, emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to treble over the next 25 years.
The conference was organised by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities, the Indonesian
Ministry of Environment, the UN Centre for Regional Development and the
By Heather Lima, dpa
Source: Dpa English Date: December 19, 2006
Geneva_(dpa) _ Flooding in the Horn of Africa, typhoons in Asia, drought in Australia, and the latest prediction that Arctic ice may melt completely in the summer months as soon as 2040.
Extreme weather appears to be happening in every corner of the globe and signs of global warming seem more glaring but no one is certain how far the two are related.
Scientists predict the Earth will warm by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Though climate change is nothing new, what is different is the possible impact of man in releasing carbon dioxide gases, that most scientists believe contribute to heating the atmosphere artificially, by burning fossil fuel and other activities.
The year 2006 was the sixth warmest year on record, according to the latest report on the global climate published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The warmest year so far was 1998, followed by 2005.
However, the warming up of the planet is erratic. The sharpest rise in the 20th century was from
1976, with the 90s proving the warmest decade.
Extreme temperatures were recorded around the world in 2006. Many European countries experienced the hottest autumn since records began in the 17th century.
Parts of the United States saw flooding and others heatwaves.
The Horn of Africa, hit by severe drought in 2005, became a humanitarian disaster zone in
October and November 2006, this time due to severe floods following heavy rainfall in
Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
Typhoons wreaked record damage in South-East Asia. For China it was the worst typhoon season in a decade causing 1,000 deaths and 10 billion dollars of damage.
Typhoon Durian affected some 1.5 million people in the Philippines at the end of November, with more than 500 dead and hundreds more still missing.
However, the experts are reluctant to draw firm conclusions. "It is always difficult to talk about trends," WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud said.
Jarraud declined to say if he believed freak weather was occurring more frequently.
Certainly the pattern of ferocious Atlantic hurricane seasons, which peaked in 2005, was broken in 2006. Despite predictions to the contrary by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, NOAA, 2006 saw near normal seasonal activity.
Dr Gerry Bell, a forecaster at NOAA, said, "El Nino developed quickly and the atmosphere responded rapidly, reducing hurricane activity during an otherwise active era that began in
El Nino is a periodic warming of the ocean waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific which influences weather around the world.
Predicting the weather remains an imprecise science, but assessing the aftermath is more certain.
Natural disasters, including weather phenomena such as hurricanes Katrina and Stan, cost 160 billion dollars in 2005, according to the World Disasters Report published by the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in December. The amount was more than double the decade's annual average.
Meanwhile in October a report spelt out the gloomiest prediction so far of the impact of global warming on the world economy.
Former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said failure to tackle climate change would risk economic and social upheaval comparable to the great depression of the 1930s.
It could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent, equivalent to an estimated 6.95 trillion dollars by 2050. "Without action, droughts, floods and rising sea levels would mean that up to
200 million people could be displaced and become refugees," Stern said.
He called for 1 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) to be spent immediately on tackling climate change.
Global warming throws up almost daily news headlines. In mid December, a report co-authored by Cecilia Blitz of the University of Washington claimed if greenhouse emissions continue at the present rate, large areas of the Arctic would be totally ice free in the summer months by
Her colleague, Peter Rhines, said, "The emerging global-warming signal seems to be more and more potent, more and more believable, and more and more certain."
Professor Martin Beniston of the University of Geneva said, "Global warming is underway, and the general scientific consensus is that human influence on the climate system has emerged as a key element of the observed warming since probably the 1960s. It is a long-term problem that cannot be rapidly reversed."
The WMO is not prepared at this time to say how far severe weather is caused by global warming.
"The last report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) looked into possible links between climate warming and drought, rainfall and heatwaves, but we are still in a phase of doing more research to find the answer," WMO Secretary General Jarraud said. "It is something they will have more on in their next report."
Fortunately the IPCC, set up in 1988 by the WMO and
Programme to follow global climate change, is due to report next in 2007.
The hefty number of reports on global warming are seemingly only outweighed by incidents of severe weather.
Whether human action causes global warming and the resulting catastrophic weather is not clear.
If it does, then a consensus on remedial action can be reached, although this remains a distant possibility.
If it is not manmade, then there is little we can do about global warming apart from preparing policies to mitigate the very worst consequences.
Either way the forecast is a bleak one.
Using data from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Stefan
Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at the University of Potsdam near Berlin estimates that sea level could rise 140 cm by 2100.
Rahmstorf, member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, is considered a leading
European researcher on global warming and its effect on oceans.
"The semi-empirical model we used to process NASA data showed a proportional constant sea level rise of 3.4 mm per year per degree Celsius," Rahmstorf told IPS. "Then we applied this constant proportionality to future earth surface warming scenarios of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), and came to estimate that by the year 2100, sea level could rise between 50 and 140 cm above the level measured in 1990."
Through the 20th century, global warming led to an average 20cm rise in sea level. But most computer models of climate change used at present significantly underestimate sea level rise,
Rahmstorf said. "Future projections of sea level based on these climate models are therefore unreliable."
Currently, sea level is rising at three cm per decade, faster than projected in the scenarios of the
IPCC Third Assessment Report, Rahmstorf added.
The IPCC, an intergovernmental team of scientists carrying out a wide range of research related to climate change, was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the
United Nations Environmental Programme. The IPCC aims to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for understanding of climate change, its potential impact, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
Scientific research has found that industrial activities have produced greenhouse gas emissions considerably higher than levels observed before the industrial revolution.
Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most potent of greenhouse gases, has risen from about 280 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere in the year 1750 to about 380 ppm today.
This rise is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels, and to a lesser extent, deforestation.
Scientists estimate that if the present emissions trend continues, the atmosphere could heat up by about five 5 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Studies by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research suggest that this would roughly be the temperature difference between an ice age and a warm stage. But while the rise of average temperatures by some five degrees between the last great ice age and today took 5,000 years, the new global warming would need only 100 years.
Rahmstorf acknowledged that forecasts of global warming and its effects on sea levels continue to be marked by uncertainty. "The fact that we get such different estimates using different methods shows how uncertain our sea level forecasts still are," Rahmstorf told IPS.
A major reason for the uncertainty is the behaviour of the large ice sheets in Greenland and
A likely consequence of a massive melting of the ice masses on the North Pole could be the breakdown of the North Atlantic Current (NAC). The NAC is the northern extension of the Gulf
Stream, and constitutes a warm water current flowing between Britain and Iceland. This has considerable impact in moderating the North European and Scandinavian climate.
"One critical factor for the continuation of this current is the amount of fresh water that enters the Northern Atlantic region in the future," Rahmstorf said. "This will depend in large part on the speed at which Greenland's ice sheet melts."
Rahmstorf, who earlier this year co-authored a research paper titled 'The Future Oceans --
Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour' said that reliable prediction on the risk of a total stoppage of deepwater formation in the Northern Atlantic is not possible given present knowledge.
But he pointed out that experts have evaluated that risk at more than 50 percent if global warming is between three and five degrees.
Rahmstorf said greenhouse gases emissions are also increasing the acidity of oceans. "In the atmosphere carbon dioxide does not react with other gases, but in the ocean it dissolves, contributing to the acidification of seawater," Rahmstorf said. This acidity is a serious threat to marine biodiversity.
"There is a good chance to avoid such dangerous climate change if global warming caused by human activities is limited to two degrees in the coming decades," Rahmstorf said.
Are Canada's winter athletes about to emerge as a powerful left-leaning force in Canadian politics? Probably not. But Canadian skiers - of the alpine, cross-country and female jumping persuasions - have been in the news at least twice this month. Considering how hard they normally have to work just to get into Canada's sports sections, conspiracy theorists might well take note.
First, on December 8, CBC Newsworld went live with a news conference featuring the husband-and-wife team of Thomas Grandi (World Cup alpine skier) and Sara Renner (World
Cup cross-country skier) alongside none other than noted nature lover David Suzuki. Running in the background were ominous images of unspecified ski hills sorely lacking in the skier's most precious commodity - snow.
Grandi first announced he would donate half his 2007 World Cup prize money to the David
Suzuki Foundation. But the big news was that he and Renner were going "carbon neutral" and would try to get as many fellow athletes as they could to follow suit.
The theory of carbon neutrality is that for every carbon dioxide-emitting activity you undertake, one should purchase a certain value of "carbon offset" credits to fund initiatives that will result in less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Myclimate.org's "flight carbon calculator," for instance, suggests that someone flying round trip from Vancouver to London in economy class should offset the ensuing carbon emissions by sending $45.91 (it would be $68.88 in business class and $110.20 in first class) to
NativeEnergy , which "supports the development of wind turbines on native lands." All this can be done with a few clicks of a mouse.
The Suzuki Foundation helped Grandi determine that he owed $535 for a year of travel associated with the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. It's understandable why Grandi would consider it a worthwhile investment: While a snow drought cripples European resorts,
is predicting the entire ski industry could collapse by 2030.
If that issue has some broader resonance, Canada's skiiers also find themselves at the centre of a somewhat more obscure political debate.
On Wednesday, perhaps hard up for good fodder this time of year, Jack Layton's New
Democrats weighed in on the issue of women's ski-jumping.
"NDP leader Jack Layton today denounced the decision made by the International Olympic
Committee to deny women the right to participate in ski jumping in the 2010 Olympic Games in
Vancouver," the NDP announced the same day it was reported that four young female ski jumpers will take the issue before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
"I couldn't believe it," Layton fumed to
The Globe and Mail
on the subject of the IOC's decision
(which was made nearly a month ago). "It was like something out of a past century, or worse."
This unprecedented NDP-ski jumper alliance has resulted in nothing less than a cross-partisan outpouring of support.
"The clearest statement I can make is that we are very disappointed with the IOC decision,"
Minister of Sport Peter Van Loan said. "I want to commend these ski jumpers for taking the incredible effort to change the minds of the IOC and I encourage these efforts - it's quite heartening."
Some Liberals went further, appearing to question whether the government should continue its half-billion dollar commitment to the Olympics. "It's appropriate for federal funding to go to sports, to the facility, to young people, but if they're going to exclude women, I'd object to money being spent," Toronto MP Maria Minna said.
Ski jumping is, as the NDP points out, the only winter Olympic sport in which women do not participate (although female bobsledders do not yet compete in the four-person event). The IOC concluded in November that "there are not enough athletes and not enough countries" to justify the sport's inclusion in the 2010 Olympics, but supporters note that the Fédération Internationale de Ski ranks well over 100 female jumpers.
It is unclear what effect, if any, a Human Rights Commission ruling in the ski jumpers' favour would have on the IOC. But support for their cause is apparently on the rise. And if nothing else, ski-jumpgate is further demonstrating that Canada's snow-based athletes are increasingly comfortable in the political arena.
If our ski jumpers declare themselves carbon neutral, we'll know something really is afoot.
Source: Agence France-Presse English Wire Date: December 20, 2006
ALGIERS, Dec 20, 2006 (AFP) - Clearing Lebanon's coastline of the pollution caused by Israeli bombings in the July-August war will cost some 150 million dollars (115 million euros), a top
Lebanese official said Wednesday.
"Eliminating the oil spill alone will cost up to 150 million dollars, simply for the clean-up, not to mention the indirect economic harm," Berj Hapjian, the director of the country's environment ministry told reporters.
The official, who was in the Algerian capital attending a conference of Arab environment ministers, said the clean-up campaign was to be financed by the
United Nations Environment
Israeli bombing of the Jiyeh power plant south of the Lebanese capital during the July-August war spilled 15,000 tonnes of fuel into the sea, polluting 150 kilometres (90 miles) of shoreline, he said.
21 décembre 2006 – XINHUA
Le Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement (PNUE) a lancé mercredi un nouvel appel pour une aide internationale d'urgence pour aider la Côte d'Ivoire à décontaminer ses sols pollués par les déchets toxiques déversés en août par un affréteur européen.
Le gouvernement ivoirien estime qu'il aura des difficultés pour rassembler 15 sur 30 millions destinés à financer les opérations de nettoyage et de réhabilitation des sols contaminés, a expliqué le PNUE dans un communiqué publié à Nairobi.
Les fonds serviront à payer une société privée chargée d'envoyer les déchets toxiques sur le sol français pour une opération de décontamination, a expliqué le PNUE, qui a envoyé une délégation en Côte d'Ivoire pour une mission d'évaluation.
Fin novembre, le PNUE avait lancé un appel à la communauté internationale pour qu'elle prenne en charge, au plus vite, les frais liés au nettoyage des sols pollués en Côte d'Ivoire.
Un affréteur venu d'Europe avait déversé dans la nuit du 19 au 20 août des déchets toxiques aux alentours du port d'Abidjan. Disséminés dans des décharges à l'air libre, les déchets avaient causé la mort de 10 personnes et l'hospitalisation de 69 autres.
Les autorités ivoiriennes estiment que les frais de nettoyage et de réhabilitation s'élèvent à 30 millions d'euros. Il s'agit de collecter 9.200 tonnes de sols contaminés qui seront envoyés en
France pour être traités.
Paris - Nach dem Giftmüllskandal in der Elfenbeinküste haben die Vereinten Nationen die internationale Gemeinschaft zu Hilfe aufgerufen. Die ursprünglich auf 6.000 Tonnen geschätzte
Abfallmenge, die zur Entsorgung nach Frankreich gebracht wurde, belief sich auf rund 7.500
Tonnen. Hinzu kommt die verunreinigte Erde, die ebenfalls in Frankreich entsorgt wird.
Das von der niederländischen Firma Trafigura gecharterte, unter griechischer Flagge fahrende
Schiff "Probo Koala" hatte im August in der Millionenstadt Abidjan 528 Tonnen Giftmüll abgelagert. In der Folge starben zehn Menschen, 69 Menschen wurden in Krankenhäusern behandelt. Mehr als 100.000 Anrainer suchten Ärzte auf.
Bisher seien nach ivorischen Angaben 9.200 Tonnen verunreinigte Erde abgetragen worden, teilte UNEP mit. Weitere 3.200 Tonnen müssten vermutlich noch entfernt werden. Insgesamt koste die Reinigungsaktion etwa 30 Millionen Euro, von denen die ivorische Regierung erst die
Hälfte habe zusammenbringen können. (APA)
Other Environment News
Bears have stopped hibernating in the mountains of northern Spain, scientists revealed yesterday, in what may be one of the strongest signals yet of how much climate change is affecting the natural world.
In a December in which bumblebees, butterflies and even swallows have been on the wing in
Britain, European brown bears have been lumbering through the forests of Spain's Cantabrian mountains, when normally they would already be in their long, annual sleep.
Bears are supposed to slumber throughout the winter, slowing their body rhythms to a minimum and drawing on stored resources, because frozen weather makes food too scarce to find. The barely breathing creatures can lose up to 40 per cent of their body weight before warmer springtime weather rouses them back to life.
But many of the 130 bears in Spain's northern cordillera - which have a slightly different genetic identity from bear populations elsewhere in the world - have remained active throughout recent winters, naturalists from Spain's Brown Bear Foundation (La Fundación Oso Pardo - FOP) said yesterday.
The change is affecting female bears with young cubs, which now find there are enough nuts, acorns, chestnuts and berries on thebleak mountainsides to make winter food-gathering sorties
"energetically worthwhile", scientists at the foundation, based in Santander, the Cantabrian capital, told El Pais newspaper.
"If the winter is mild, the female bears find it is energetically worthwhile to make the effort to stay awake and hunt for food," said Guillermo Palomero, the FOP's president and the coordinator of a national plan for bear conservation. This changed behaviour, he said, was probably a result of milder winters. "The high Cantabrian peaks freeze all winter, but our teams of observers have been able to follow the perfect outlines of tracks from a group of bears," he said.
The FOP is financed by Spain's Environment Ministry and the autonomous regions of
Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia and Castilla-Leon, where the bears roam in search of mates.
Indications of winter bear activity have been detected for some time, but only in the past three years have such signs been observed "with absolute certainty", according to the scientists.
"Mother bears with cubs make the effort to seek out nuts and berries if these have been plentiful, and snow is scarce," Mr Palomero said, adding that even for those bears - mostly mature males - who do close down for the winter, "their hibernation period gets shorter every year".
The behaviour change suggests that global warming is responsible for this revolution in ursine behaviour, says Juan Carlos García Cordón, a professor of geography at Santander's Cantabria
University, and a climatology specialist.
"Meteorological data in the high mountains is scarce, but it seems that the warming is more noticeable in the valleys where cold air accumulates," Dr García Cordón said. "There is a
decline in snowfall, and in the time snow remains on the ground, which makes access to food easier. As autumn comes later, and spring comes earlier, bears have an extra month to forage for food.
"We cannot prove that non-hibernation is caused by global warming, but everything points in that direction."
Spanish meteorologists predict that this year is likely to be the warmest year on record in Spain, just as it is likely to be the warmest year recorded in Britain (where temperature records go back to 1659). Globally, 2006 is likely to be the sixth warmest year in a record going back the mid-
Mark Wright, the science adviser to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the UK, said that bears giving up hibernation was "what we would expect" with climate change.
"It does not in itself prove global warming, but it is certainly consistent with predictions of it," he said. "What is particularly interesting about this is that hitherto the warming has seemed to be happening fastest at the poles and at high latitudes, and now we're getting examples of it happening further south, and heading towards the equator.
"I think it's an indication of what's to come. It shows climate change is not a natural phenomenon but something that is affecting not only on the weather, but impacting on the natural world in ways we're only now beginning to understand."
The European brown bear, with its characteristic pelt that ranges from dark brown through shades of grey to pale gold, has black paws and a tawny face. It has poor vision, although it sees in colour and at night, and if threatened rears on its hind legs to get a better view. It can live for up to 30 years. It has acute hearing, and an especially fine sense of smell that enables it to detect food from a long distance. It is carnivorous, but has a multifunctional dental system with powerful canines and grinding molars perfectly adapted to an omnivorous diet.
The animals would normally begin hibernation between October and December, and resume activity between March and May.
The Cantabrian version of the brown bear, a protected species, was once as endangered as the
Iberian lynx or the imperial eagle still are in Spain, but is now recovering in numbers. Between
70 and 90 bears roamed Spain's northern mountains in the early 1990s; now 130 live there.
* The osprey found in the lochs and glens of the Scottish Highlands in the summer months, usually migrate to west Africa to avoid the freeze. This winter, osprey have been spotted in
Suffolk and Devon. Swallows, which also normally migrate to Africa for the winter have been also seen across England this winter.
* The red admiral butterfly, below, which hibernates in winter, has been spotted in gardens this month, as has the common darter dragonfly, usually seen between mid-June and October, which has been seen in Cheshire, Norfolk and Hampshire.
* The smew, a diving duck, flies west to the UK for winter from Russia and Scandinavia. This year, though, they have been mainly absent from the lakes and reservoirs between The Wash and the Severn.
* Evergreen ivy and ox-eye daisies are still blooming and some oak trees, which are usually bare by November, were still in leaf on Christmas Day last year.
* The buff-tailed bumblebee is usually first seen in spring. Worker bees die out by the first frost, while fertilised queen bees survive underground between March and September. This
December, bees have been seen in Nottingham and York.
* Primroses and daffodils are already flowering at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, in
Carmarthenshire. 'Early Sensation' daffodils usually flower from January until February.
Horticulturalists put it down to the warm weather.
* Scientists in the Netherlands reported more than 240 wild plants flowering in the first 15 days of December, along with more than 200 cultivated species. Examples included cow parsley and sweet violets. Just two per cent of these plants normally flower in winter, while 27 per cent end their main flowering period in autumn and 56 per cent before October.
By KEITH BRADSHER
QUZHOU, China — Foreign businesses have embraced an obscure United Nations -backed program as a favored approach to limiting global warming . But the early efforts have revealed some hidden problems.
Under the program, businesses in wealthier nations of Europe and in Japan help pay to reduce pollution in poorer ones as a way of staying within government limits for emitting climatechanging gases like carbon dioxide, as part of the Kyoto Protocol.
Among their targets is a large rusting chemical factory here in southeastern China. Its emissions of just one waste gas contribute as much to global warming each year as the emissions from a million American cars, each driven 12,000 miles.
Cleaning up this factory will require an incinerator that costs $5 million — far less than the cost of cleaning up so many cars, or other sources of pollution in Europe and Japan.
Yet the foreign companies will pay roughly $500 million for the incinerator — 100 times what it cost. The high price is set in a European-based market in carbon dioxide emissions. Because the waste gas has a far more powerful effect on global warming than carbon dioxide emissions, the foreign businesses must pay a premium far beyond the cost of the actual cleanup.
The huge profits from that will be divided by the chemical factory’s owners, a Chinese government energy fund, and the consultants and bankers who put together the deal from a mansion in the wealthy Mayfair district of London.
Arrangements like this still make sense to the foreign companies financing them because they are a lot less expensive, despite the large profit for others, than cleaning up their own operations.
Such efforts are being watched in the United States as an alternative more politically attractive than imposing taxes on fossil fuels like coal and oil that emit global-warming gases when burned.
But critics of the fast-growing program, through which European and Japanese companies are paying roughly $3 billion for credits this year, complain that it mostly enriches a few bankers, consultants and factory owners.
With so much money flowing to a few particularly lucrative cleanup deals, the danger is that they will distract attention from the broader effort to curb global warming gases, and that the lure of quick profit will encourage short-term fixes at the expense of fundamental, long-run solutions, including developing renewable energy sources like solar power.
As word of deals like this has spread, everyone involved in the nascent business is searching for other such potential jackpots in developing countries.
As for more modest deals, like small wind farms, “if you don’t have a humongous margin, it’s not worth it,” said Pedro Moura Costa, chief operating officer of EcoSecurities, an emissionstrading company in Oxford, England.
The financing of the chemical factory’s incinerator here and other deals like it are now drawing unfavorable attention. Canada’s environment minister, Rona Ambrose, announced in October that her government would withdraw from the trading program.
“There is a lot of evidence now about the lack of accountability around these kinds of projects,” she said.
Another concern is that the program can have unintended results. The waste gas to be incinerated here is emitted during the production of a refrigerant that will soon be banned in the
United States and other industrial nations because it depletes the ozone layer that protects the earth from ultraviolet rays.
Handsome payments to clean up the waste gas have helped chemical companies to expand existing factories that make the old refrigerant and even build new factories, said Michael Wara, a carbon-trading lawyer at Holland & Knight in San Francisco.
Moreover, air-conditioners using this Freon-like refrigerant are much less efficient users of electricity than newer models. The expansion of large middle classes in India and China has led to soaring sales of cheap, inefficient air-conditioners, along with the building of coal-fired plants to power them, further contributing to global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer.
The program is at the forefront of efforts to address the most intractable problem in climate change: how to limit soaring emissions from the largest developing countries. Sometime in
2009, China’s total emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important global warming gas, are expected to surpass those from the United States, according to the International Energy Agency.
While the challenge of addressing global warming is daunting, so are the consequences of inaction. Scientists warn that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases could result in more severe storms, wide crop failures, the spread of tropical diseases and rising sea levels endangering some coastal cities.
Programs like the one the United Nations supports are increasingly common in Europe. In general, they allow companies to buy rights on the market to exceed their limits on global warming gases from other companies prepared to reduce emissions elsewhere at a lower cost.
Many economists consider emissions-trading systems, which are driving participants to the cheapest cleanups with the biggest impact, as the most efficient way to address pollution.
But a study commissioned by the world organization has found that the profits are enormous in destroying trifluoromethane, or HFC-23, a very potent greenhouse gas that is produced at the factory here and several dozen other plants in developing countries. The study calculated that industrial nations could pay $800 million a year to buy credits, even though the cost of building and operating incinerators will be only $31 million a year.
The situation has set in motion a diplomatic struggle pitting China, the biggest beneficiary from payments, against advanced industrial nations, particularly in Europe. At a global climate conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in November, European delegates suggested that in the case of
Freon factories now under construction in developing countries, any payments for the incineration of the waste gas should go only into an international fund to help factories retool for the production of more modern refrigerants that do not deplete the ozone layer.
But the Chinese government blocked the initiative, insisting that money for Chinese factories go into the government’s own clean energy fund. Negotiators ended up setting up a group to study the issue.
Even as hundreds of millions of dollars from the program are devoted to the refrigerant industry, countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which were originally envisioned as big beneficiaries of emissions trading, are receiving almost nothing. Just four nations — China, India, Brazil and
South Korea — are collecting four-fifths of the payments under the program, with China alone collecting almost half.
Two-thirds of the payments are going to projects to eliminate HFC-23.
Those payments also illustrate conflicting goals under Kyoto and the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 agreement that requires the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances. The problem is that the trading program backed by the United Nations, known as the Clean Development Mechanism, is helping support an industry that another international organization is trying to phase out.
And while ozone depletion is a separate problem from global warming, some gases, like HFC-
23, make both worse. The separate secretariats under the protocols have little legal authority to resolve this quandary.
“It’s tricky in that we don’t have a mechanism other than the Security Council, and who cares there about HFC’s?” said Janos Pasztor, the acting coordinator of the organization that oversees the program.
In the end, officials say, there should be more projects aimed at providing renewable energy and sustainable economic development for the world’s poorest people.
“If people only do HFC-23 projects, then they miss the whole idea,” Mr. Pasztor said.
Richard Rosenzweig, chief operating officer of Natsource, a company in Washington arranging emissions deals between poor and rich countries, said it was not fair to look only at incineration costs and compare them with the size of payments from industrial nations. The administrative costs of the program are high, he said, and at least disposal of the waste gas is taking place.
If the world tried to reduce emissions through an outright ban or regulation alone, as many environmentalists recommend, it might not happen at all, he said. The United Nations-favored program may have flaws, he added, but “it’s a pilot phase — this is a 100-year problem.”
Environmental groups say that governments in developing countries should either require factories to incinerate the waste gas as a cost of doing business, or receive aid from wealthier countries to cover the relatively modest cost of incinerators.
“Couldn’t we pay for the cost, or even twice the cost, of abatement and spend the rest of the money in better ways?” Mr. Wara asked.
DuPont produces HFC-23 as part of its output of Teflon, but has routinely burned the colorless, odorless waste gas without compensation for many years, even though it is not required by law to do so, a DuPont spokeswoman said.
The secretariat of the Clean Development Mechanism estimates that a ton of HFC-23 in the atmosphere has the same effect as 11,700 tons of carbon dioxide. James Cameron, the vice chairman of Climate Change Capital, which organized the chemical factory deal here, said there were considerable costs and risks in setting up plans that required elaborate certification by consultants, acceptance by developing-country governments and approval by a United Nations secretariat.
For small projects involving less than $250,000 worth of credits, fees for deal makers, consultants and lawyers can far exceed the cost of installing equipment to clean up emissions.
Even the Chinese government, the main seller of carbon credits and a defender of the program, is expressing some misgivings.
“We do not encourage more HFC projects,” a statement by Lu Xuedu, deputy director of the
Office of Global Environment Affairs at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said. “We would prefer to have more energy efficiency and renewable-energy projects that could help alleviate poverty in the countryside.”
But for now, the projects involving industrial gases like HFC-23 are where most of the action is.
“You can do those quickly,” Mr. Rosenzweig of Natsource said, “and it’s worth the investment.”
Thu Dec 21, 1:53 PM ET
DaimlerChrysler AG and its Mercedes-Benz unit are to pay 1.2 million dollars to settle charges that numerous Mercedes models breached US air regulations, authorities said.
The companies are accused of violating the Clean Air Act by failing to promptly notify the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about defects in air pollution controls installed on several 1998-2006 Mercedes cars.
The Justice Department and the EPA said the vehicles had faulty catalytic converters or air pumps that created an extra 500 tonnes of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.
"Reliable and effective automobile pollution control systems are essential to protect human health and the environment from harmful automobile emissions," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department.
"Mercedes' failure to alert EPA to a number of defects in emission-related components over a multi-year period is a serious violation because it deprived EPA of the opportunity to promptly determine whether emission standards would be exceeded and whether to order a recall of any of these vehicles," she said.
After the EPA began an investigation, Mercedes-Benz USA began voluntary recalls for two of the defects and extended warranty coverage to address a third defect, at an estimated total cost of about 59 million dollars.
21 December, 2006
Science Daily —
Can planting a tree stop the sea level from rising, the ice caps from melting and hurricanes from intensifying?
A new study says that it depends on where the trees are planted. It cautions that new forests in mid- to high-latitude locations could actually create a net warming. It also confirms the notion that planting more trees in tropical rainforests could help slow global warming worldwide.
In the first study to investigate the combined climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale deforestation in a fully interactive three-dimensional climate-carbon model, scientists from
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Carnegie Institution and Université Montpellier II found that global forests actually produce a net warming of the planet.
The study provides a holistic view of the deforestation issue. “This is the first comprehensive assessment of the deforestation problem,” said Govindasamy Bala, lead author of the research that will be presented on Dec. 15 at the American Geophysical Society annual meeting in San
The models calculated the carbon/climate interactions and took into account the physical climate effect and the partitioning of the carbon dioxide release from deforestation among land, atmosphere and ocean.
Forests affect climate in three different ways: they absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help to keep the planet cool; they evaporate water to the atmosphere and increase cloudiness, which also helps keep the planet cool; and they are dark and absorb a lot of sunlight, warming the Earth. Climate change mitigation strategies that promote planting trees have taken only the first effect into account.
“Our study shows that tropical forests are very beneficial to the climate because they take up carbon and increase cloudiness, which in turn helps cool the planet,” Bala said.
But the study concludes that by the year 2100, forests in mid and high latitudes will make some places up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than would have occurred if the forests did not exist.
“The darkening of the surface by new forest canopies in the high latitude Boreal regions allows absorption of more sunlight that helps to warm the surface. In fact, planting more trees in high latitudes could be counterproductive from a climate perspective,” Bala said.
The study finds little or no climate benefit when trees are planted in temperate regions.
“Our integrated systems approach allowed us for the first time to estimate the total effects of land cover change in different regions of the world,” Bala said.
Afforestation has been promoted heavily in mid-latitudes as a means of mitigating climate change. However, the combined carbon/climate modeling study shows that it doesn't work. The albedo effect (the process by which less sunlight is reflected and more is absorbed by forest canopies, heating the surface) cancels out the positive effects from the trees taking in carbon.
“Our study shows that preserving and restoring forests is likely to be climatically ineffective as an approach to slow global warming,” said Ken Caldeira, a co-author of the study from the
Carnegie Institution. “To prevent climate change, we need to transform our energy system. It is only by transforming our energy system and preserving natural habitat, such as forests, that we can maintain a healthy environment. To prevent climate change, we must focus on effective strategies and not just ‘feel-good’ strategies.”
December 21, 2006 — By Wangui Kanina, Reuters
MANDERA, Kenya — After all her goats died in a drought that swept east Africa last year,
Habiba Abdi Gedi decided to settle a few kilometres from the Darwa river along the Kenya-
But then this year abnormally heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands caused flash floods, bursting the river's banks, and flooding her home.
"Water came into the house very fast. Before I knew it, it was up to my bed, then my utensils and chicken coop were swept away," said the 45-year-old Kenyan.
Already weakened by the drought that annihilated their precious livestock, nomads in Kenya's arid northeast are now grappling with devastating floods, which have killed over 100 people and displaced more than one million across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Covering her nose and mouth with a colourful traditional shawl, Gedi points to a large pool of water next to her hut of sticks, grass and plastic sheeting.
Flies swarm on bloated camel stomachs and other rubbish washed from slaughter houses along the river and swept down to Gedi's home by the floodwaters.
"The toilets have collapsed, the water has brought this stinking mess, and there are even snakes here," she said.
Gedi and her neighbours are too poor to shift their houses and wait for the water to recede before moving back.
Along the riverbanks, hundreds of small-scale farms have been ruined by floodwaters, and officials fear already critical food shortages will become worse.
"The farms along the river form the bread basket of the district, all the food is either from here
or relief," said Raphael Lemaletian, Mandera district officer.
"Now that the crops have been swept away, we anticipate a severe food shortage for about
100,000 people who are not included in the list of beneficiaries for relief food," he told a team from UK-based aid agency Save the Children.
"AGAIN, I'M LEFT WITH NOTHING"
All his life, 55-year-old Jammah Ali Isack says he has followed the path of his pastoralist ancestors, traversing the arid, harsh terrain of Kenya's northeastern province with his livestock in search of water and pasture.
But after losing over 100 goats in the drought, Isack decided to try his hand at farming, an alien concept to his people's way of life.
"Our people are not farmers," Isack said. "But I have no animals and nine children and three wives to feed, so I had planted some maize and vegetables. Now it's gone, again I'm left with nothing," he said, shaking his head and pulling at his brightly-dyed beard.
Aid agencies say nomadic people are the most vulnerable in the region because their entire livelihood depends on the climate. But persistent drought and lack of rain have forced many nomads to change their lifestyle, and some have settled into farming or moved to cities in search of jobs.
Hundreds of people and tens of thousands of livestock died of hunger during last year's drought.
Isack said the floodwater swept through the middle of his farm but he would try and replant his crops and would pray for the rain to stop.
Forecasts suggest the rains could continue through December and spread into other countries in central and southern Africa.
"TICKING TIME BOMB"
In neighbouring Wajir district, aid agencies and public health officials are bracing themselves for a surge in malaria cases. They fear other diseases such as cholera might break out from a lack of proper latrines and water hygiene.
"In Wajir town, people use buckets instead of latrines so when the floods came, the latrines overflowed, and contaminated the drinking water," Nur Kato Abdiadir, Wajir public health officer, told Reuters.
"We are sitting on a ticking time bomb," he added.
In the district hospital, the paediatric ward is already straining with an influx of children suffering from diarrhoea and malaria. The suffering is compounded by malnutrition.
Poor access to transportation is also hampering aid efforts.
"The roads have been cut off by the floods ... it has been nearly a month since the roads were
accessible," a nursing officer said.
Thu Dec 21, 3:00 PM ET
Seven sculptures on the Parthenon will be removed to protect them from the ravages of pollution and replaced by facsimiles, a Greek restoration expert said.
The metopes, carved into the Doric friezes which extend in a band below the roof and above the structure's columns, are among the temple's few remaining original sculptures.
Once removed, the metopes will be exhibited in the new Acropolis Museum, said Maria
Ioannidou, director of the Acropolis restoration services.
Greek archeologists decided to remove the sculptures to "save the metopes, threatened by acid rain caused by atmospheric pollution and natural erosion," she said.
The operation should be completed in 2008, she said.
Many of the temple's better known sculptures such as the caryatids -- support columns carved in the shape of maidens -- have long since been removed and replaced by replicas.
Given the cost and technical complexity of the operation, not all of the remaining metopes are to be taken down.
Besides suffering depredations caused by weather and pollution, the sculptures were also defaced by Christians during the period when the Parthenon was converted into a church.
South-east South Australia could be home to Australia's first United Nations-recognised
'Geopark' by next year.
An application for recognition of more than 26,000 square kilometres of volcanic structures across the south-east and into south-west Victoria has been lodged.
Geoparks are international areas of economic and environmental significance.
Joanne McKnight from the Volcanoes Discovery Trail says after years of bringing the project to this stage, it is now up to the UN to decide.
"Paris will receive it at UNESCO headquarters and it will be assessed - it is possible that we may have to host an assessment team from overseas, or it could be that they will run on the assessment that was done December last year - that is up to UNESCO to decide," she said.
A GREEN Father Christmas promoted an environmental message in St Albans city centre this week.
Simon Grover of St Albans Green Party said on Monday: "We have enlisted the help of Santa to hand out Christmas cards containing information on how to recycle your Christmas tree, paper, cards, bottles and even unwanted gifts."
The sight of our Santa dressed in Green might have raised a few eyebrows, but in fact the idea of a red Santa is a relatively modern one.
Traditionally this jolly figure bearing gifts for children would more often have been wearing green.
Coca Cola promoted a red-and-white Santa in the 20th century, as it fitted their corporate colours, and the company now proudly states that "the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on our advertising".
ROAP Media Update
22 December 2006
Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 22 December 2006
While new electronic devices continue to flood the market, the government has no idea where outdated gadgets containing toxic chemicals and heavy metals are ending up.
The State Ministry for the Environment has said there is no hazardous electronic waste -- known as e-waste -- in the country's landfills.
"We will work with local administrations to determine exactly where this electronic waste is going. To the best of my knowledge, no big companies have been issued licenses to recycle ewaste," said Emma Rachmawaty, the deputy assistant to the state minister for the management of hazardous substances.
The statement was made during a workshop on electrical and electronic waste management in
Jakarta on Wednesday. No electronic goods producers attended the workshop.
She said the workshop was aimed at boosting the awareness of all stakeholders -- including local administrations, the business community and the public -- of the dangers of electronic waste.
Toxic chemicals in broken electronic devices -- such as lead, arsenic, mercury or zinc -- can seep into the land over time or be released into the atmosphere, impacting nearby communities and the environment.
The two-day workshop was funded by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)'s secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and its Disposal.
Indonesia ratified the Basel Convention in 1993.
The convention aims to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects resulting from hazardous waste. It also forbids the export and import of hazardous waste.
However, the government has yet to issue specific regulations on e-waste management, only a ministerial decree that bans the import of secondhand electronic products, such as televisions, refrigerators, computers, washing machines and color printers.
Agus Pramono, the state minister's advisor on international environment issues, said that imported secondhand electronic devices and e-waste had continued to enter the country over the last 10 years, due to the increasing demand for cheaper products.
"Rich nations often dump their electronic waste in developing countries, including Indonesia, through their humanitarian efforts for the families of natural disaster victims or the education sector. They send, for example, computers that are on their last legs."
The UNEP estimates that the world produces up to 50 million tons of e-waste per year, less than
10 percent of which is recycled.
Some of the e-waste is exported to developing countries, such as China, India and Indonesia.
The government has said Indonesia faces massive difficulties in guarding its huge coast against the influx of illegal imports.
Mawardi Badar, the head of the Batam Environment Agency, said the island had been one of the major entry points for electronic waste and secondhand goods that were later sold in neighboring provinces.
He said that many of the secondhand electronic devices with lower prices sold in Batam were from Singapore.
"People are interested in buying the products due to their low prices, but they have no awareness of the e-waste produced by the items," he said.
Secondhand electronic devices have been imported through Pare Pare, South Sulawesi, and
Wakatobi island in Southeast Sulawesi, since 1980.
Agus urged electronic producers to impose a take-back mechanism by collecting old electronic devices to help control e-waste disposal.
He also called on the business community to develop more environmentally friendly products in order to ease its recycling process. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailcity.asp?fileid=20061221.C01&irec=0
Himalayan Times, Thursday, December 20, 2006
KATHMANDU: Nepal is among the leading under-developed countries, which have been doing well in not only giving priority to protect the environment, but also showing promising signs of meeting Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Conversely, nations which have put environment at the heart of their plans are being expected to cut poverty by 2015, according to a report jointly released by the United Nations
Development Programme and the United Nations Environmental Programme. The nations have also promoted ecotourism while protected areas are growing, the report said.
In countries like Nepal and Bhutan, the governments are paying more and more attention to monitoring and reporting progress on the environment front with access to water, waste management and land degradation topping the agenda. Nepal and Bhutan have found a place alongside Albania, Lesotho, Syria, Thailand and Vietnam in the report, Making Progress on
Environmental Sustainability: Lessons and recommendation from a review of over 150 MDG country experiences.
The report, which is part of a wider “toolbox” of services designed by the UNDP to help developing countries prepare national plans to achieve the MDGs, charts the progress made by the countries in considering environment as priority.
It states, “The best progress is made when countries first adopt the principle of environmental sustainability, and then adapt their development plans to their own specific ecosystems.”
However, more ambitious steps are needed, it adds.
It further contends that environmental degradation and environmental sustainability are inextricably linked with trading regimes and economic instruments.
Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP in Nepal, Bijay Singh, said, “The level of commitment to environmental issues has gone up here. But it is also true that the implementation aspect is not strong enough.” Conceding that Nepal has witnessed tremendous
activism on the environment front, Singh, however, lamented the fact that environment was yet to find a place in the heart of the development plans, something which the UNDP and UNEP report reinforced as a surefire way to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
The report also talks about fostering reforms in the environmental sector, which, according to
Singh, are rather too slow in Nepal. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullstory.asp?filename=aFanata0scqzpa4a6Sa1a8a.axamal
Worldwatch Institute, Yun Feng – December 21, 2006
In Dongguan City in China’s southern Guangdong Province, you can buy a computer laptop for
US$100. If you’ve got $200 in your wallet, you can acquire a second large machine, like a copier or fax. Yet even though products “made in China” are known for their low prices, the cheapest high-tech commodities here aren’t locally made. They actually come from the United
States, Europe, and Japan, and are imported electronic waste, or “e-waste.”
Hong Yuan is a notorious e-waste market in Dongguan, with its long alleys of two-story shops frequented by swarms of people, indicating a bustling business. The doorways to many shops are lined with neat rows of television sets, next to which lie piles of discarded electronics components and equipment cases. Inside the store is a work floor, where old TV sets from overseas are taken apart, reassembled with replacement parts, and then readied for sale as “new”
TVs. The price for such a finished set ranges from US$40–60.
Across China, consumers are buying and using computers, copiers, TVs, and fax machines
“produced” here. And e-waste markets are expanding to major cities nationwide, including the country’s capital, Beijing. China has clearly become the biggest dumping site in the world for global e-waste.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, a total of 20–50 million tons of electrical and electronics equipment waste is generated annually worldwide, and this is growing at a rate of 3 to 5 percent each year. Technical innovations have shortened the life span and accelerated the replacement of such equipment, leading to the incremental accumulation of electronic waste.
The current annual production of e-waste is 1.8 million tons in Germany, 1.5 million tons in
France, and roughly 6 million tons in Europe. Japan discards 18 million home electronic appliances annually, amounting to 600,000 tons of e-waste, including 100,000 tons of various metal works. Each year in China, around 15 million large home appliances such as TVs and air conditioners become obsolete, and millions of cell phones are discarded.
A 2002 report from the Basel Action Network and the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimated that 80 percent of the world’s high-tech trash is exported to Asia, and 90 percent of this flows into China. Research also reveals that about 40 percent of e-waste from Britain is processed overseas, and the major processors are China and India.
E-waste has taken a serious toll on people’s health. Shantou University in Guangdong Province conducted research at an electronics dismantling site in Guiyu Town and found that all 165
children surveyed between the ages of 1 and 6 years had high lead content in their blood, while
135 of them suffered from lead poisoning, contributing to varying degrees of brain damage.
In an effort to control e-waste pollution, in February 2006 the Chinese government enacted a new “Administration on the Control of Pollution Caused by Electronic Information Products.”
Effective on March 1 of next year, the law, the equivalent of the Restriction of Hazardous
Substances (RoHS) directive in the European Union, will increase production costs for Chinese electronic manufacturers by an estimated 10 percent. The potential financial loss to these enterprises could pose a major challenge to the law’s enforcement. Meanwhile, Chinese supervision of e-waste imports has been chronically weak, and the illegal trade in electronic garbage remains rampant. These two factors render China the world’s No. 1 e-waste dumping site. Yun Feng is a freelance writer based in Beijing. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4810
Thursday, 21 December 2006, 10:17 am
Press Release: United Nations
Côte D’ivoire: UN Appeals For Funds To Help Clean Up Toxic Waste Dumped From Abroad
New York, Dec 20 2006 1:00PM
Côte d’Ivoire is facing a funding shortfall of at least 15 million euros for the
56&l=en">clean-up and rehabilitation of sites contaminated by hundreds of tonnes of deadly foreign toxic waste that was criminally dumped around Abidjan, its largest city with a population of 5 million, according to a United Nations update issued today.
“To date the world has watched the tragedy of Côte d’Ivoire unfold but has so far failed to assist with the financial support the authorities there so urgently need,” UN Environment Programme
(UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said of a mission by UNEP and UN agencies that has just returned from the West African country.
Mr. Steiner said it was time for international donors including countries in Europe and North
America to demonstrate solidarity and compassion with the Ivorian people. UNEP has set up a trust fund for the purpose for cleaning up the waste which arrived on a ship from Europe in
August, killing at least 12 people and leading well over 100,000 others to seek medical care.
A private company is shipping the waste and polluted soil to France for decontamination.
Ivorian authorities estimate that 9,200 tonnes have so far been collected, costing 30 million euros to retrieve, ship and treat, but the Government has only been able to secure half that cost.
A further 3,200 tonnes remain to be handled.
The crisis began on 21 August when the ship unloaded of 500 tonnes of petrochemical waste, containing a mixture of petroleum distillates, hydrogen sulphide, mercaptans, phenolic compounds and sodium hydroxide, into trucks which then dumped it in at least 15 sites around
Abidjan. UNEP has determined that the dumping is clearly a crime.
Under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which UNEP administers, any nation exporting hazardous waste must obtain prior written permission from the importing country as well as a permit detailing the contents and destination of the waste.
UNEP argues that irrespective of who will or who will not be held liable for this incident, people of one of the world’s poorest countries, who have already paid dearly for this irresponsible act of hazardous waste dumping, are now also being forced to pay the bill for removal and clean-up operations. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0612/S00383.htm
INDIA: December 22, 2006 - NEW DELHI - A new law giving rights to millions of poor Indian forest dwellers has provoked debate among conservationists who disagree over whether it will help save or further threaten the nation's dwindling tiger numbers.
The Recognition of Forest Rights Bill 2006 -- approved by lawmakers on Monday -- granted some of India's most impoverished and marginalised communities the right to own and live off resource-rich forest areas for the first time.
But while some wildlife groups say it will help efforts to save endangered tigers by making forest dwellers more accountable, others fear it will lead to more big cat poaching.
"Entire forest village communities will actually now ensure that no one in their community is involved in poaching and other illegal activities as they could all face penalties," Nitin Sethi of the Centre of Science and Environment think-tank said on Thursday.
Allowing forest dwellers to legally use and sell minor non-timber produce such as bamboo, honey, wax, fish and medicinal plants and herbs, would also help, he said.
But others argued the law would give rights to "encroachers" recently settled in forests and not just to those living there for at least three generations as the bill specified.
"How do you prove your family was there for generations?" said Tito Joseph of the Wildlife
Protection Society of India.
"Lots of people will take advantage of this and our fear is that more people will mean more poaching and more destruction of the natural habitat of wildlife such as tigers," he added.
India is home to half the world's surviving tigers, but experts say it is losing the battle to save the big cats, citing poaching by some of the 300,000 people living in the country's 28 tiger reserves as one of the main causes.
Most eke out a meagre living by cutting down trees to sell for firewood, collecting honey, picking fruit and simple farming. But some are also paid by criminal gangs to lay traps, poison water sources and electrocute tigers.
Environmentalists say poor forest dwellers are paid an average of US$5 for each tiger killed, while a single skin is sold on the international market for up to US$20,000.
There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago, but decades of poaching and depletion of their natural habitat have cut their numbers to 3,700. Some wildlife experts say the total could be as low as 1,200.
Story by Nita Bhalla http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39596/story.htm
INDIA: December 22, 2006 - NEW DELHI - Efforts to cut air pollution in the Indian capital through the use of cleaner fuel in public transport are being undone by the growing number of vehicles on the roads, an environmental think-tank said on Thursday.
A study by the Washington-based Resources for the Future (RFF) found that sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide levels -- which cause respiratory and heart problems -- have dropped by about 80 percent and 70 percent, respectively, since 1997.
But nitrogen dioxide levels have increased by about 30 percent to 100 micrograms per cubic metre since then, well above the permissible limit of 60, the study's co-author said.
"Delhi's CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) programme has made a huge difference to air quality and contributed significantly to a drop in sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide levels," Urvashi
Narain, who is also a fellow at RFF, told a news conference.
"But these gains will be lost if the number of cars on the roads continue to increase as this is increasing nitrogen dioxide levels, which is an emerging threat," she said, adding that New
Delhi's three coal-based power plants were also to blame.
Excessive inhalation of nitrogen dioxide above permissible levels can lead to respiratory problems and increase the pace of disease progression.
Narain said the levels of suspended particulate matter -- which causes chronic bronchitis and asthma -- had remained stable from 1997 to 2005, but the sharp increase in diesel-driven or petrol-driven vehicles were negating the benefits of the CNG in buses, auto-rickshaws and many taxis.
The number of vehicles on New Delhi's roads has increased from about 1.5 million in 1997 to an estimated 2.7 million in 2005, the RFF study said.
In 2000, the local government introduced its CNG programme, making it compulsory for autorickshaws and buses to use the fuel.
Vehicle emissions contribute to about 70 percent of air pollution and industrial emissions made up 20 percent. The remaining emissions are from the domestic sector such as burning of firewood, leaves and garbage.
Environmentalists say an estimated 2,000 metric tonnes of air pollutants are released into the atmosphere every day in New Delhi, one of Asia's most polluted cities.
Narain said it was important for authorities to expand CNG-fuelled public transport to counter the impact of far more petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles -- bought by a huge and increasingly prosperous middle class -- on the road.
"Making CNG compulsory for all vehicles is not realistic. Instead, the government must focus on promoting public transport." Story by Nita Bhalla http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39598/story.htm
PHILIPPINES: December 21, 2006 - MANILA - A volcano south of the Philippine capital spewed ash over wide areas on Wednesday after its 15th explosion this year, bringing a risk of mudslides.
The country's top vulcanologist said Mount Bulusan, located around 400 km (250 miles) south of Manila, was not a violent volcano but warned that a big explosion was still possible after it belched ash over a 15 km (9 mile) area.
"The most important thing is for the people not to venture into the 4-km (2.5-mile) radius permanent danger zone around the volcano," Renato Solidum, director of the government volcanology agency, said in a radio interview.
"If there are heavy rains, residents should stay away from rivers around the volcano because the new deposits of ashfall may be swept by the waters and cause lahar (a volcanic debris flow)."
Solidum later told Reuters the ash explosion was accompanied by rumbling sounds and lightning flashes. But he said the volcanology agency was not recommending evacuations and it was maintaining the lowest alert level, 1, over the mountain.
Natural disasters are a constant threat in the Philippines, which sits on the Ring of Fire, a seismically active stretch of the Pacific Ocean. The country, which has 22 volcanoes, is also buffeted by typhoons from May to December.
Over 1,000 people were feared killed in neighbouring Albay province last month after flash floods and high winds from Typhoon Durian poured tonnes of debris from Mount Mayon, the country's most active volcano, onto villages encircling it. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39589/story.htm
MALAYSIA: December 22, 2006 - KUALA LUMPUR - Around 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate their flooded homes in southern Malaysia as the region suffered its heaviest rainfall in a century, news reports said on Thursday.
The rains, blamed on Typhoon Utor, triggered large-scale flooding, cut off several towns in the southern state of Johor, shut down power and water supplies and disrupted train services.
One passenger bus fell into a ravine early on Thursday in the southern town of Kota Tinggi but none of the six people on board were injured, the online edition of the Star newspaper said.
Official news agency Bernama put the total number of evacuees in Johor and three neighbouring states at 50,000, up sharply from 30,000 a day earlier.
The Meteorological Services Department said more rains were forecast in Johor and the northeastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu over the next 24 hours.
Science Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis blamed the downpours on strong winds from the western
"The phenomenon is due to the effects of Typhoon Utor near the Philippines," he said. The typhoon killed 27 people in the Philippines last week.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was in Johor on Thursday to visit flood victims, many of them taking shelter in schools and community halls.
Johor is one of Malaysia's biggest producers of rubber and palm oil. There was no immediate word on the impact on crops in the state, but palm oil prices have risen on fears of supply disruption. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39603/story.htm
JAPAN: December 21, 2006 - TOKYO - Japan's population is expected to shrink by 30 percent to slightly below 90 million by 2055, a health ministry report said on Wednesday.
At the same time, the government said it would increase spending to make it easier to raise children.
The report, which revises down a population forecast made in 2002, also said the proportion of
Japanese aged over 65 would double to 40.5 percent.
Japan, which already has the world's highest proportion of elderly people and the lowest proportion of young people, has seen its population shrink since peaking in 2004. It now stands at around 127 million.
The declining population has raised concern over the country's longer-term economic growth potential and the government's ability to fund its ballooning pension requirements.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought to allay fears over future pension payouts but expressed concern over the current demographic trend.
"It's not as if the pension system will collapse," Abe told reporters.
"We need to do whatever we can to implement measures to resolve the falling birthrate to prevent the rate from going any lower," he told reporters.
Japan unveiled a draft budget on Wednesday that boosted spending on childcare support and day-care centres. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39591/story.htm
ROA Media Update
22 December 2006
General Environment News
Africa: FAO Encourages Early Withdrawal of Highly Toxic Pesticides
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Rome): Danish chemicals company
Cheminova has submitted plans for phasing out highly toxic forms of pesticides in developing countries to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in line with the International
Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. FAO welcomed the move as "a step in the right direction" in an ongoing process involving the Danish Government, civil society, the press and Cheminova itself in seeking to reduce the risks stemming from hazardous pesticides.
Cheminova Managing Director BjÃrn Albinus yesterday submitted what he called a "realistic scenario" for phasing out the World Health Organization Class I pesticides, including methyl parathion and monocrotophos, from developing countries between next year and 2010. But Mr.
Albinus said that the process could be accelerated as circumstances allowed. FAO's Director of
Plant Production and Protection, Shivaji Pandey, noted that in line with the provisions of the
International Code of Conduct the phase-out should take place as soon as possible and "the sooner the better". "There is no way to ensure the chemicals involved would be used within acceptable margins of risk in developing countries," he added. Use of the pesticides has been prohibited or severely restricted in OECD countries and FAO would like to see them banned at the earliest date in developing countries, where farm workers often lack adequate personal protection. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Kenya: Firm Faces Closure Over Pollution
The East African Standard (Nairobi): A leading power alcohol manufacturing plant in Nyanza has been put on notice for failing to observe health and environmental requirements. The
Nyando based Agro Chemicals and Food Company faces eminent closure by the Government for failing to comply with the environmental and water Acts. Water and Irrigation PS, Mr.
Mohammed Mahboob, directed the Lake Victoria Water Services Board to take immediate action to ensure no lives are put at risk by the toxic waste from the company. "I have instructed the CEO to take the necessary action against Agro Chemicals in line with the set penalties in the
Water Act," said the PS who was a companied by Kisumu DC Mr. Jamleck Baruga. The PS was reacting to complaints raised by Nyando MP Mr. Eric Nyamunga and officials of the Lake
Victoria South Water Management Board during a workshop on water in Kisumu on
Wednesday. Nyamunga had expressed concern that the company had failed to comply with the
Water Act or observe environmental protection requirements. "The company discharges its highly poisonous chemicals directly into River Nyando. The river is extremely polluted such that someone cannot wade through it barefooted," lamented the MP. "All the fish have died and even animals cannot drink the water," added the MP. The PS further said experts from relevant departments were consulting on how to eradicate the water hyacinth on Lake Victoria. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Kenya: Oldest National Park Confronts Industry And Urban Sprawl
Inter Press Service (Johannesburg): For people who arrive at the international airport in Nairobi,
Kenya's fabled wildlife can be glimpsed almost immediately, in the Nairobi National Park which borders the airport. Driving out of this facility en route to the city, there's a chance of sighting black rhino, zebras and giraffe: just some of the many species that inhabit the park. The reserve is Kenya's oldest, and located within the boundaries of the capital. However, its location is also the source of what some see as a grave threat to it: the proposed construction of a dam.
Earlier this month, a proposal to build a dam in Nairobi National Park was rejected by the
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), managers of the reserve. This came after the agency studied the findings of an environmental impact assessment of the project, and decided that the dam -- under discussion for several years -- would have negative and irreversible effects on the park. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Kenya: Alarm As Noxious Weed Returns to Lake Victoria
The Nation Newspaper (Nairobi): Anxiety has gripped the lakeside communities of Nyanza and
Western Kenya following the return of the water hyacinth. The weed has spread to an estimated
150 acres along the beaches of Kisumu and Homa Bay districts, and is present on Rusinga
Island and Uyoma. The lake's surface is partially covered by the pest, spreading misery to the fishing community and local homes. Many of them will miss their favourite dish and water for domestic and industrial use. The weed started creeping back to the lake in August. Now transporters, fishermen and domestic water users are alarmed. The lake might live to its infamous reference: the world's largest pool of dead water. Seven years ago, fishing boats were abandoned as local communities’ stared starvation and penury in the face. Some people even contemplated moving out. They thought the area had been hit by a calamity beyond redemption.
The islands, too, were cut off the mainland. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612211005.html
Kenya: Nema Orders Five Firms Shut
The Nation Newspaper (Nairobi): A regulator has ordered the closure of five companies over environmental concerns. The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) cited increased pollution through emission of substances as among reasons behind the decision. The companies include Platinum Scraps and Associates, Kabegi Foundkey Works, General Recycle
Enterprises, Mumbai Shopping Complex and Ilsan Enterprises Limited. Owners of Platinum
Scraps and Associates in Nairobi's Industrial Area and Kabegi Foundkey Works in Kariobangi estate were ordered to dismantle their machines and relocate to another site. Gas company BOC
Kenya Limited was given 21 days to improve its operations or face the same fate. The move follows temporary closure of another company, Kikuyu Steel Mills, in Kiambu District last week. The agency's deputy director for compliance and enforcement, Mr. Benjamin Langwen,
said the two industries ordered to relocate deal in used batteries containing lead, a chemical being phased out of products worldwide. Nema further revoked a letter issued to General
Recycle Enterprises allowing it to export used batteries. In a statement, the regulator said
Platinum Scraps and Associates company did not provide staff with protective gear. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612211005.html
Uganda: Govt to Take Over Fisheries
The Monitor (Kampala): The government is in the final stages of centralising the appointment and posting of district fisheries officers. The state Minister for fisheries, Fred Mukisa said this is in a bid to streamline their operations and improve service delivery. Mr. Mukisa said the U-turn is following failure of the districts to facilitate district fisheries and veterinary officers, which has affected work of the fisheries department in protecting the aquatic animals from over fishing. "Districts have totally failed to adequately facilitate DFOs and veterinary officers and it is time we take powers back to the centre," Mr. Mukisa said. "You should allow us to do this because we want to ensure that they are well facilitated and are able to offer services". This was during the closing of a two-day sensitisation workshop on better methods of fishing held in
Buliisa District last week. However, the district officers are against the move calling it a ploy by the government to usurp their powers which the constitution had given them and the Local governments Act of 1997. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Uganda: Missing the Land Point
The Monitor (Kampala): There have been two basic sides in the debate on the giving away of
Uganda's forestland: the President who argues for more land to be used for industrialisation in order to move into the modern era, and then the environmentalists who argue that the continuing destruction of Uganda's major forests is going to leave the country vulnerable to the vagaries of extreme weather conditions. Both arguments are essentially correct, but neither tackles the root cause of the conflict. Why should industrialisation projects be placed in forest areas? And why have environmentalists made the impending destruction of forests a key part of their campaigns? The answer seems to lie in the connection between the presence of forests and sufficient rainfall. Rainfall is a necessary factor in increasing agricultural output which will then lead to increased in economic activity hence industrialisation. What does not seem to enter the equation is that reducing the area under forest cover impacts severely on the future potential for maintaining the environment. It is unfortunate that environmentalists have not really drawn this parallel. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Namibia: Crocs And Hippos Shot After Attacks
The Namibian (Windhoek): Officials of the
Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) have shot six crocodiles and two hippos believed to be responsible for the death of eight people in the Okavango and Caprivi Regions over the past ten weeks. Minister Konjore issued a stern warning to communities living along the
Okavango and Zambezi Rivers to be very careful when carrying out activities along river banks and in rivers. He said the six crocodile attacks were mainly on children swimming or bathing in the two rivers, while two people lost their lives through hippo attacks while fishing. "The situation is worrisome and raises many concerns," the Minister said at a media briefing yesterday. "I would like to caution all communities living along the rivers in the north-eastern regions and the general public not to take risks that may result in further loss of human lives,"
Konjore urged. Parents and community leaders should warn all people living along the rivers to be careful when approaching the water. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Ghana: Forestry C'ssion Takes Tough Stand
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra): The controversy surrounding the illegal felling of teak from a state forest reserve near Offinso in the Ashanti Region continues to deepen. Already, the Forestry
Commission (FC) has registered its discomfort with aspects of comments made by two top officials of two key ministries over the smoggy development carried in the media last week. The
FC, the institution mandated by the Constitution of the Republic to protect, manage, regulate and develop the forest resources of the nation has rejected certain claims attributed to Messrs H.
A. L. Imbeah and E. H. Cobbina, Chief Director of the Ministry of National Security and Head of the Non-tax Revenue Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning respectively, which, in the opinion of the Commission, sought to justify certain illegal timber deal that was exposed by The Chronicle on December 12, this year. The two top public officials were reported in the media commenting on, among others, benefits gained by the State through the establishment of the One Stop Collecting Point (OSCP), a body set up by the National Security
Ministry in collaboration with other revenue agencies to help avert illegal timber deals especially in the teak sector, and the arrest of people connected to Mr. Richard Asante Bediako, a Member of the OSCP. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
Côte d'Ivoire: UN Appeals for Funds to Help Clean Up Toxic Waste Dumped From
UN News Service (New York): Côte d'Ivoire is facing a funding shortfall of at least 15 million euros for the clean-up and rehabilitation of sites contaminated by hundreds of tonnes of deadly foreign toxic waste that was criminally dumped around Abidjan, its largest city with a population of 5 million, according to a United Nations update issued today. "To date the world has watched the tragedy of Côte d'Ivoire unfold but has so far failed to assist with the financial support the authorities there so urgently need," UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive
Director Achim Steiner said of a mission by UNEP and UN agencies that has just returned from the West African country. Mr. Steiner said it was time for international donors including countries in Europe and North America to demonstrate solidarity and compassion with the
Ivorian people. UNEP has set up a trust fund for the purpose for cleaning up the waste which arrived on a ship from Europe in August, killing at least 12 people and leading well over
100,000 others to seek medical care. A private company is shipping the waste and polluted soil to France for decontamination. Ivorian authorities estimate that 9,200 tonnes have so far been collected, costing 30 million euros to retrieve, ship and treat, but the Government has only been able to secure half that cost. A further 3,200 tonnes remain to be handled. http://allafrica.com/stories/200612200874.html
21 December, 2006
CôTE D’IVOIRE: SECURITY COUNCIL SAYS ALL PARTIES MUST COOPERATE WITH
The United Nations Security Council today voiced its backing for the Prime
Minister of Côte d’Ivoire in his efforts to foster good governance, and said all parties should cooperate with him towards this end.
In a statement read out by its president, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of
Qatar, the Council reiterated its support for the UN-authorized
International Working Group (IWG) mandated to monitor progress in the
Ivorian peace process and stressed that all parties must adhere to the timeline in the IWG ‘road map’ peace plan.
The statement came just one day after Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced his concern about the stalled peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, which has been divided between the Government-held south and the rebel-controlled north since 2002.
In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Annan called on President
Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny to “initiate a sustained political dialogue, with the participation of all Ivorian political leaders” to revive the peace process.
Today, the Council voiced “grave concern” at delays in implementing the political transition and urges all Ivorian parties “to cooperate fully with the Prime Minister.”
The Council reiterated its full support for Mr. Banny. “It strongly encourages him to continue his endeavours, in consultation with President
Laurent Gbagbo, including his efforts to fight impunity and promote good governance,” the statement said, adding that elections must be held by the end of next October “at the latest.”
The Council reaffirmed that the Prime Minister “must exercise his powers without hindrance, including his authority over the Defence and Security
Forces,” and called on all Ivorian parties to support his efforts.
The Council also said the neutrality and impartiality of the public media are essential to the peace process, and called for a reinstatement of dismissed officials of Radio Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) and Fraternité
“Obstacles to the freedom of movement of the impartial forces, in
particular those put up by the Republican Guard, are unacceptable,” the
Council President said.
The UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has more than 9,000 military or police personnel in place to maintain peace.
* * *
ANNAN’S ENVOY HAS ‘GOOD’ TALKS WITH SUDANESE PRESIDENT ON WAY
FORWARD IN DARFUR
A senior United Nations envoy had a “good” meeting today with Sudanese
President Omar el-Bashir, handing him letter from Secretary-General Kofi
Annan detailing ways to move forward on a proposed UN-African Union (AU) hybrid mission to end the devastating conflict in the country’s Darfur region.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, whom Mr. Annan sent to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, also met with Foreign Minister Lam Akol.
“The meetings he had with the president were good but we’re obviously waiting for a written response from President Bashir and he has told us that response will be coming shortly,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a news briefing in New York.
At a High-Level meeting on Darfur in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month the
UN, the AU and Sudan agreed that the UN would provide extra support to the current AU peacekeeping mission (AMIS) as part of a three-phase process culminating in AMIS becoming a hybrid UN-AU mission. The hybrid force is expected to have 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers, compared to the current AMIS strength of 7,000.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 over million others uprooted since fighting first erupted between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups seeking greater autonomy and development. The UN estimates that 4 million people now depend on humanitarian aid as a result of the Darfur conflict, which officials have called the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis.
* * *
GENDER EQUALITY AND DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS TO BE
HIGHLIGHTED: ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
The United Nations General Assembly will next year discuss gender equality as a key element of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of time-bound targets aimed at slashing poverty and other global ills, as well as holding a separate debate on relations between peoples of different
beliefs, the body’s president said today.
Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the main part of the
Assembly’s 61st session, President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said it had been a “busy and productive period,” and she had worked with Member
States and Secretary-General Kofi Annan to “build bridges and trust,” something she would follow with his successor.
“I will continue to do so, when Secretary-General Designate Ban Ki-Moon takes office in the New Year… We have made progress on many areas of our common agenda; we had important debates on Security Council reform and
General Assembly revitalization; and, we adopted two important international conventions,” she said.
“…Likewise, when we are united in partnership we can achieve much more for each other. For example, at the informal thematic debate on development, the Islamic Development Bank announced the creation of a $10 billion poverty eradication fund, to which even the poorest developing countries will contribute,” she added.
Turning to some of the key issues for next year, Sheikha Haya said there would be two more thematic debates, this time focused on gender equality and “dialogue among civilizations,” and she called on the press to play its role in supporting tolerance among peoples of different cultures and religious beliefs.
“Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women is an integral aspect of achieving the MDGs. In March next year, the General Assembly will hold its second informal thematic debate, on the ‘promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women’,” she said, referring to the goals agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.
“I also intend to hold a third informal thematic debate, on ‘dialogue among civilizations’. On this issue, I believe that the press have a particular responsibility in the way that they represent other peoples and cultures.
You can also play an important role in supporting tolerance and mutual respect.”
In a related development and continuing the Assembly’s work yesterday, the
192-member body adopted a resolution stressing the importance of cooperative efforts by all countries to promote economic development for all, as expressed in the Millennium Declaration.
Adopting a text entitled “Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence,” the
Assembly reaffirmed the need for the UN to play a fundamental role in promoting international cooperation for development, while resolving to strengthen coordination within the Organization in order to facilitate growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.
This text was among more than 40 development-related resolutions adopted after being put forward by the Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and
* * *
AS UN WINDS UP BURUNDI PEACEKEEPING OPERATION, COUNCIL URGES
As the United Nations prepares to withdraw peacekeepers from Burundi following the successful completion of their tasks, the Security Council today called for continued efforts to shore up stability in the country as it consolidates peace.
In a statement to the press read by its president, Nassir Abdulaziz
Al-Nasser of Qatar, the Council commended the UN Operation in Burundi
(ONUB) and stressed the critical role that the incoming UN Integrated
Office (BINUB) will play in fostering long-term peace and stability.
At the same time, the statement noted that despite the progress achieved,
“many challenges remain for Burundi” and called on the authorities and all political actors in the country to persevere in their dialogue on achieving stability and national reconciliation.
The parties were urged to promote social harmony, the rule of law and respect for human rights in their country. Council members called on the
Burundian authorities “to investigate thoroughly human rights violations and ensure those responsible for such violations are brought to justice.”
The Council reiterated the need for the parties to the 7 September
Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, in particular the Palipehutu-FNL, to carry it out “without further delay.”
Donors and Burundi’s international partners were encouraged to “continue to work with the Burundian authorities to help them address the challenges of peace consolidation in the country.”
The statement followed a closed-door briefing by the Secretary-General’s acting Special Representative, Nureldin Satti.
Like neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi had been ravaged by an ethnic conflict between its Hutu and Tutsi population. Since gaining independence in 1962, the small Central African country had been the victim of violent coups and political instability. The death of some 300,000 people after the first free elections took place in 1993 led to increased international involvement and the establishment of the first UN mission in Burundi three years later.
Initially comprised of some 5,600 uniformed men and women as well as
several hundred civilian staff and 120 police officers, ONUB helped disarm and demobilize nearly 22,000 ex-combatants, including more than 3,000 children and about 500 women. Close to 30,000 militia members and an additional 3,000 handicapped army officers have also been disarmed and assisted.
* * *
GLOBALIZATION MUST BE ‘MORE INCLUSIVE’ TO BENEFIT WORLD’S POOR – UN
Warning of growing inequalities both within and between countries at a time of widespread economic growth, a senior United Nations official today said the process of globalization must be made more inclusive in order to benefit the world’s poor.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Kemal Dervis, the Administrator of the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said economies are expanding at a virtually unprecedented rate.
“At the same time, we can characterize our age as one of exploding inequalities,” he said, arguing that the poorest are not benefiting from globalization.
Ever increasing inequalities bring “tensions, social problems, frustrations, alienations,” he pointed out, stressing that the process of economic integration must be made more inclusive.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a set of timebound targets for tackling global ills – are a “tremendously powerful mobilizing force” to address these concerns, he said.
While emphasizing that the international community must do its part, he said responsibility ultimately lands at the national level. “It is, of course, the countries at the end of the day that have to achieve” the MDGs, he said.
For its part, the UN system would work to improve its development activities, he said. Toward this end, it would carry out the recommendations of a High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence, which reached a number of vital recommendations aimed at reducing inefficiency and optimizing resources.
Following his presentation, Mr. Dervis was asked about funding of a UNDP disarmament programme in Karamojong, Uganda. Some 13 women and nine children were reported killed there in November, sparking an appeal from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for restraint. UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights Louise Arbour urged the Government to review its forced disarmament strategy of the Karamojong and end violence and abuses against
civilians in the area.
“The situation in Uganda is a tough one and concerns us a lot,” replied Mr.
Dervis. “In terms of what we were doing there, there has never been any
UNDP funding or involvement with UPDF [Uganda Peoples Defence Force] disarmament activities.”
He added that UNDP appreciates attention to all such issues. “We really welcome any type of question of this sort because we want to be totally transparent as to our activities at the country level.”
* * *
LESSONS FROM ASIA TSUNAMI RECOVERY EFFORT MUST BE PASSED ON, UN
ENVOY CLINTON SAYS
United Nations agencies, aid partners and governments must pass on the lessons learned from dealing with the deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed over 230,000 people and affected more than 12 countries, the
UN’s special envoy for the disaster, former United States President Bill
Clinton, says in a report highlighting 10 key measures to build upon.
In his introduction to the report, Mr. Clinton, the Secretary-General’s
Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, says the two-year recovery effort has shown both “examples of great new approaches, as well as decisions and programmes based on flawed assumptions that have caused us to lose time and beneficiaries to suffer.”
“It is critical that we pass on such lessons to actors in future recovery processes,” he writes in the 24-page Key Propositions for Building Back
Better, which recommends measures ranging from increased involvement by local communities in reconstruction to ensuring fairness in recovery efforts.
Mr. Clinton acknowledges “major achievements” have been made across the
Indian Ocean region affected by the tsunami, including for example some
150,000 houses built, adequate transitional shelters provided for those who continue to be displaced and the speedy enrolment of children back to schools after the disaster.
However he also acknowledges that this recovery effort needs to continue for the foreseeable future, although Mr. Clinton’s two-year term as Special
Envoy will end this month.
“As we have learned in other parts of the world in the wake of massive disasters – from Kobe to New Orleans, Tangshan to Bam – rebuilding the physical, social, and human capital of shattered communities takes years,” he writes.
The 10 key lessons learned from the recovery effort and contained in the report are as follows:
Governments, donor and aid agencies must recognize that families and communities drive their own recovery
Recovery “must promote fairness and equity
Governments must be better prepared for future disasters
Local governments must be empowered to manage recovery efforts, and donors must devote greater resources to strengthening government recovery institutions
Good information is key to recovery planning and effective coordination
The UN, World Bank and other multilateral agencies must “clarify their roles and relationships”
The expanding role of relief agencies must be accompanied by increased quality of recovery efforts
Governments and aid agencies must encourage entrepreneurs to flourish
Agency partnerships must efficiently deliver to those in need without
“rivalry and unhealthy competition”
Good recovery must reduce risks and build resilience in communities.
Speaking at a press conference in New York to launch the report, the
Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, Eric
Schwartz, stressed the importance of these lessons as he acknowledged that while progress has been made in the recovery process, much more still needs to be done.
“There’s much to celebrate about the recovery process so far, from the extraordinary work of thousands of first-responders to the work of thousands involved in recovery today… children are back in school, economic growth has accelerated throughout the region in key sectors from tourism to fisheries to construction,” he told reporters.
But “daunting” challenges remain, he said. “We hope that the observations in this report… help to enhance the quality of ongoing responses in the tsunami-affected region as well as to promote more effective recovery in future operations.”
In a related development, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released its report on the two-year tsunami recovery effort yesterday. Entitled Much
Done, More to Do, it details the work that started after the tsunami struck on 26 December 2004 and warns there’s still much more to do.
“Since the beginning of the tsunami response, UNICEF has been able to reach an estimated 4.8 million children and women in eight countries,” the reports says. “Nearly two years on, much has been accomplished but much remains to be done.”
* * *
ANNAN EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO TURKMENISTAN’S PEOPLE AFTER DEATH
OF PRESIDENT NIYAZOV
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today extended condolences to the people of Turkmenistan on the death of President Saparmurat Niyazov and paid tribute to his contribution to UN peace efforts in Tajikistan and
“The Secretary-General has learned of the sudden death of Turkmen President
Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov. President Niyazov made important contributions to United Nations peace processes in Tajikistan and
Afghanistan,” Mr. Annan said in a statement issued by his spokesman.
“The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the family of the late
President and people of Turkmenistan.”
The Central Asian state of Turkmenistan, which borders Afghanistan, has also played a role in UN humanitarian assistance efforts to its strife-torn neighbour.
* * *
UN GEARS UP TO HOST GLOBAL FORUM ON GOVERNMENT REFORM IN VIENNA
The United Nations has opened registration for a conference to be held at its Vienna headquarters next June, the first time the world organization has hosted the event that will bring together national leaders, business executives and civil society representatives to discuss strategies for building trust in government.
Several thousand senior government officials, civil society organizations and private sector representatives are expected to attend the four-day The
7th Global Forum on Reinventing Government, previously hosted by the
Governments of the United States, Brazil, Italy, Morocco, Mexico, and the
Republic of Korea.
“Building trust in government is at the heart of the world’s quest for peace and well-being,” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stressed, adding that governments must earn that trust by strengthening popular participation in the policy process, by promoting cohesion between communities and practicing transparent, accountable and effective governance.
The Global Forum introduces innovations and strategies to improve governance and public administration, while providing public officials to discuss their experiences in government reinvention with experts and international colleagues.
The conference, organized in cooperation with the Government of Austria, will offer plenary sessions, workshops and meetings designed to contribute directly to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by strengthening state capacity, improving the quality of governance, and invigorating public confidence.
The MDGs, adopted at the UN Millennium Summit of 2000, seek to slash a host of social ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty, infant and maternal mortality and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.
“Improvements in governance and public administration have become increasingly recognized by the international community as central pillars to the successful implementation of the UN development agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals,” Under-Secretary General for Economic and
Social Affairs José Antonio Ocampo said.
“Globalization, market liberalization, information and communication technologies and democratization have impacted expectations, the role of the state and interactions between governments, the private sector and civil society. No longer can our communities act in isolation from the outside world; everyone is affected by the acts of others, even if indirectly,” he added.
* * *
TOAST THE SEASON WITH AN ARMANI MUG – AND RAISE FUNDS FOR THE UN
Legendary Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani is toasting a better future for refugees this festive season with a limited edition of a sleek mug sporting the Chinese character for hope, which he has created to help support the work of the United Nations refugee agency.
For every Armani mug sold, part of the income will go towards the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) global work to aid more than 20 million refugees and other people of concern around the world.
The mug, inspired by a trip to Shanghai by Mr. Armani, a UNHCR Goodwill
Ambassador, is available this month in stores around the United Kingdom and
Italy as well as through online vendors, and will soon be available in the
United States and Australia.
“UNHCR is extremely grateful that Giorgio Armani and our other steadfast
Goodwill Ambassadors are keeping the needs of refugees in mind,” the agency’s director of external relations Nick Van Praag said.
“UNHCR is almost entirely dependent upon voluntary contributions to provide vital support to millions of refugees under our care, so every donation, such as through the purchase of these beautiful mugs, will help refugees,” he added.
Mr. Armani has worked with the UN refugee agency on a number of activities since becoming a goodwill ambassador in 2004. He and his acclaimed fashion company have made significant contributions to UNHCR’s public awareness and fund-raising efforts for refugees, particularly during emergencies.
* * *
INTRA-PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE IN GAZA ENDANGERS UN HUMANITARIAN
Armed clashes between rival Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip are endangering United Nations humanitarian operations “and taking a population that has been living in abject misery for the entire year to breaking point,” the UN agency that tends to Palestinian refugees has warned.
“We need an immediate end to this mayhem before more innocent people are killed or injured,” UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Director of
Operations John Ging said, noting that a 13-year-old schoolgirl and an
UNRWA teacher were injured in crossfire near agency schools on Tuesday while an UNRWA driver on duty narrowly escaped injury when his vehicle was hit by gunfire in Beach Camp, north of Gaza City.
UNRWA, created in 1949 to care for Palestinian refugees after the foundation of Israel, now provides education, health and humanitarian aid to over 4 million people in the Middle East.
UNRWA schools have been closed in those areas of the Gaza Strip where the violence has affected the safety of children and teaching staff. In total, the agency operates 194 schools in the Gaza Strip, educating 197,000 students.
* * *
TURN GUNS INTO GUITARS, UN TELLS COLOMBIA IN CAMPAIGN AGAINST
VIOLENCE, ARMS TRAFFICKING
In biblical days the injunction was to beat swords into ploughshares. Now the United Nations crime-fighting agency is calling on Colombia, with one of the highest homicide rates in the world, to do more to crack down on organized crime and arms trafficking, citing one initiative that turns guns into guitars.
The perception that the country is plagued by a culture of indiscriminate violence is incorrect as the use of firearms is highly controlled and regulated by different actors, including criminal gangs, rebel groups and the Government, according to a just-released report by the UN Office on
Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which calls for stiffer penalties for illegal arms carrying and trafficking.
The fact that carrying weapons illegally does not necessarily entail a prison sentence has extremely serious consequences since this is often the only evidence authorities can use to prosecute suspects for serious offences such as drug and arms trafficking, and crimes against humanity, it notes.
“Preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit manufacture and trafficking in firearms is not an impossible dream,” UNODC Executive
Director Antonio Maria Costa writes in a forward to the report – Violence,
Crime and Illegal Arms Trafficking in Colombia.
“Whereas in the past people have talked about the importance of beating swords into ploughshares, some inspired Colombians are showing the world that you can turn guns into guitars,” he says, citing musician and peace activist Cesar Lopez who has built several ‘escopetarras’– part rifle
(escopeta) and part guitar (guitarra).
“With more activists like Mr. Lopez, greater domestic gun control and greater regional and global cooperation, Colombia and the rest of the world will have less guns and more guitars,” he adds.
The report notes that although illegal arms are relatively 'controlled,' they are used very efficiently “to generate levels of lethal violence unlike those in the rest of the world,” and the Government faces a major challenge to disarm these groups. Regional cooperation and improved border controls are essential to cut the links between drug trafficking, organized crime and insurgency.
The report shows that the flow of illegal weapons into the country is limited, but weapons are constantly recycled, making it all the more important to control the flow of ammunition. “This could potentially become even more critical than the illegal trafficking of arms,” it says.
It notes that demobilization and reintegration programmes for rebel groups have had marginal effect in reducing violence, which is mainly carried out by criminal groups.
It praises Colombia for regional and international efforts to regulate small arms and light weapons but cites weaknesses, including lack of institutional capacity, insufficient international cooperation especially on the part of neighbouring countries, control of arms in the hands of private security companies, and data processing.
“With respect to illicit trafficking in arms, preventive intelligence is practically non-existent,” the report says, noting that law enforcement agencies lack operational capacity and autonomy, with a significant gap between intelligence and operations.
* * *
UN AIDS PROGRAMME CALLS ON LIBYA TO REVIEW DEATH SENTENCES ON
FOREIGN HEALTH WORKERS
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has called on
Libyan courts to review the death sentence imposed on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor for the alleged intentional transmission of HIV to hundreds of children in light of evidence showing that the virus circulated before the health workers’ arrival.
“UNAIDS is concerned that certain scientific evidence appears to have not been taken into consideration and that this raises serious doubts regarding the conclusion reached by the court,” UNAIDS said in a news release.
“As published in the scientific journal Nature, an analysis of HIV and hepatitis virus samples taken from some of the children concluded that the
HIV viral strains were circulating in the hospital where the children were treated before the nurses and doctor arrived in March 1998,” it added.
“UNAIDS urges that the present decision be reviewed, and that due weight be given to this evidence and all other available scientific evidence related to the case.”
The six health care professionals, imprisoned since 1999, are accused of deliberately infecting 426 children with HIV whilst working at a hospital in Benghaz. Since 1999, 52 of the children found to be infected have died.
UNAIDS expressed “its deep concern and empathy” for the children and their families and urged the Libyan Government and international partners to ensure that treatment, care and support are provided.
“By ensuring that the relevant scientific evidence is fully considered in the judicial process, by providing due process for the accused, and by providing treatment, care and support to the children and their families, the Government of Libya will ensure that the human rights of all are respected,” UNAIDS said.
* * *
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane
Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon. I don’t have much for you today, but what I do have, I will share with you.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the senior UN official sent by the Secretary-General to
Khartoum, met today with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir to discuss the way forward on
Darfur. He delivered a letter from the Secretary-General, which has now been distributed to all the members of the Security Council. Also today, Ould-Abdallah met with the Sudanese
Foreign Minister, Mr. Lam Akol.
**Security Council Today
Meanwhile, back here this morning, the Security Council met with the troopcontributing countries to the UN Operation in Burundi, and in closed consultations, heard a briefing by Nureldin Satti, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi.
Following that, Council members will hold an open meeting on general issues relating to sanctions . And I’m told Mr. Satti will stop at the stakeout on the way out for those of you who didn’t get a chance to talk to him yesterday, or if you have further questions.
**Security Council Yesterday
Yesterday, the Council adopted a presidential statement following a meeting on the
Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, in which it welcomed the Directorate’s renewed focus on the implementation of the UN’s global counter-terrorism strategy and related
Security Council resolutions.
In the afternoon, the Council renewed its arms and travel embargoes on Liberia for one year, unanimously adopting a resolution to that effect. Later, the Council held another open meeting on the Great Lakes region of Africa and adopted a presidential statement congratulating the Great Lakes region leaders on the signing of the security pact, which took place in Nairobi earlier this month.
They wrapped up their work yesterday with closed consultations on the issue of Iran.
**Drugs and Crime in Colombia
According to a new report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Colombia needs to do more to crack down on organized crime and illicit trafficking in firearms and ammunition. At the same time, however, the perception that Colombia is plagued by a culture of indiscriminate violence is incorrect, according to the report by UNODC. And we have that report upstairs.
**Press Conferences Today
And just this afternoon, at 1 o’clock, Kemal
Dervis , Chair of the UN Development
Group and the Administrator of UNDP, will be here to talk to you about progress towards the
Millennium Development Goals, trends in official development assistance and the need for inclusive economic growth.
And then, at 3 o’clock, Eric Schwartz, who is the Deputy Special Envoy for
Recovery , will be here to launch a report about the lessons learned from the tsunami recovery process.
And that’s it for me.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Is Mr. Abdallah going to wait for a written answer?
Spokesman: Yes. The meetings he had with the President were good but we’re obviously waiting for a written response from President Bashir, and he has told us that response will be coming shortly.
Question: No time?
Spokesman: No, we expect it in the next two days but -- I’m always a little loath to give you a hard time -- Mr. Abdallah will wait for the response in Khartoum.
Question: Regarding the United Nations global counter-terrorism effort, I’m a bit puzzled. The United Nations hasn’t yet come up with a definition for terrorism, so what is the definition of counter-terrorism and what is the United Nations trying to achieve?
Spokesman: The General Assembly adopted a counter-terrorism strategy a short while back, which I would refer you to. There are obviously a lot of issues dealing with the effects of terrorism and preventing terrorism that can be worked on without an actual definition. A lot of the work of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee is also based on strengthening the capacity of the members of the Security Council in their fight against terrorism.
Question: But, what are these organizations on counter-terrorism ready to address?
Because this is part of the substance of the matter: what do we define as terrorism?
Spokesman: I understand. As you know, the General Assembly has been struggling with that definition but it has not stopped the Member States or the Organization to fight the effects of terrorism and to try to prevent it from happening.
Question: Yesterday, the [European Union] EU confirmed that it will oversee policing of the judiciary in Kosovo after the Ahtisaari announcement, and the quote was, “the international community does not want to remain doing this. Has Ahtisaari said anything to predict this?” Is that the way it’s going?
Spokesman: I can’t and I would not want to prejudge the conclusions of Mr. Ahtisaari’s report. There are obviously a lot of comments being made left, right and centre but we have to wait for Mr. Ahtisaari’s report.
Question: In Nepal, there were earlier reports that everything was going smoothly and now the Maoists have called for a general strike. Has Ian Martin or anybody said anything? Is that a threat to the process?
Spokesman: Obviously we would very much hope that all the parties in Nepal who signed on to the peace process follow the procedures that have been agreed to.
Question: Does the Secretary-General have any comment about the passing of the leader of Turkmenistan?
Spokesman: Yes, as a matter of fact, as you were asking me questions, I was given a statement. It says the Secretary-General has learned of the sudden death of Turkmen President
Atayevich Niyazov. President Niyazov made important contributions to United Nations peace processes in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the family of the late President and to the people of Turkmenistan.
Question: I want to thank [Department of Public Information] DPI and Gary Fowlie’s office and others for getting us a sound system on the six-way talks on Iran. What I fail to understand though, is why there can’t be cameras there too because looking at an empty
Security Council stakeout mike when the news is negotiations on Iran -- not this moment because everybody’s in the Council -- but most times, when the Council has a meeting and they have a meeting, or this afternoon at 3 p.m., I haven’t quite understood why the cameras have to
look at an empty mike. And the cameramen are sitting there reading a book and they would much rather be active.
Spokesman: We’ll talk to United Nations TV and try to sort this out.
Question: Secondly, have you figured out why the resolution on the official outlook and announcements by your Office, the Iran negotiations are called “non-proliferation” and the word
“ Iran” does not appear, although it’s in every other line in the resolution itself?
Spokesman: It goes under the heading in the agenda of the Security Council.
Spokesman: I think you’d have to ask the Security Council why they use that.
Question: It’s so nineteenth century.
Spokesman: We’re struggling to be a twentieth century Organization in the twenty-first century, so give us that much.
Correspondent: We know that but people reading the outlook don’t.
Spokesman: I understand. We’ll take that up again with them.
Question: Yesterday, I asked a question about Israel’s nuclear arsenal and if Mr. Annan is going to answer the Iranian Ambassador’s letter.
Spokesman: We will advise you when, and if there is an answer. The letter is being studied. I will advise you what the next step is.
Question: I think earlier it was said that [Office of Internal Oversight Services] OIOS would give us a briefing, maybe before the end of this year. Is that going to take place?
Spokesman: OIOS told me they would be willing to give a briefing as soon as the resolution regarding OIOS has been passed in the General Assembly. Gail isn’t here. I will check with her. When that happens, we’ll go back to OIOS.
Question: If it’s passed Friday, they wouldn’t hold the briefing then.
Spokesman: I would think early in the year. The idea is not to bury the briefing.
Question: No, and also, not to say this is being buried, but the anti-revolving door policy? Will it be announced tomorrow, before noon or after noon?
Spokesman: We are determined to get it done before the end of the year. It is being finalized. I would be very happy to announce it for you tomorrow.
Question: And Ibrahima Fall, first we learned that there are two of them yesterday. name.
Spokesman: Each person is their own person. They just happen to share the same last
Question: And first name. That’s what’s confusing. But the Great Lakes Ibrahima Fall, is he continuing on with his Great Lakes mandate?
Spokesman: I think the mandate is continuing. Who is the other Ibrahima Fall?
Q The UNICEF Ibrahima Fall, who went to [ Central African Republic] CAR?
Spokesman: That’s two different people.
Question: What is the coordination between the United Nations and the Arab League regarding the initiative on Lebanon?
Spokesman: Amr Moussa’s initiative in Lebanon is being actively supported by the
United Nations but it is, we are being kept apprised of it but the Secretary-General’s had a number of conversations with Mr. Moussa. Our folks on the ground are in touch with him, but it is Mr. Moussa’s initiative and he’s in the lead on it.
Question: Do you expect any outcome?
Spokesman: It’s hard to say when. We very much hope for a positive outcome but we don’t know when.
Question: On that same subject, Mr. Moussa, Mr. Mubarak, since Sudan considers a
United Nations force part of a Western-Zionist plot, has there been any pressure from the Arab
League for them to accept? Or from the leading countries in the Arab League?
Spokesman: The Secretary-General has been very clear from the start that the countries in the region, including the members of the Arab League, have a role to play in helping to move
Question: Have they been pressuring Khartoum?
Spokesman: They have and I think we’re eagerly awaiting the response from President
Bashir. Thank you.