THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Monday, 21 November 2005
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
? Bird import ban may worsen flu epidemic - UN official (Reuters)
? U.N. to set up bird flu early warning system (Reuters)
? World organizations to develop avian flu early warning system (Xinhua)
? Experts developing avian flu warning system, UN says (Associated Press)
? ONU anuncia sistema de alerta para prevenir gripe aviaria (AFP)
? Experts Call for Avian Flu Early Warning System (Voice of America)
? Avian flu early warning system established (Vietnam News Agency) ? Bird flu warning-system plans (News 24) ? L'Onu va créer un système d'alerte contre la grippe aviaire (L'Express) ? Bird migration tracker to help fight avian flu (The Daily Telegraph) ? Agency to give early warning on bird flu (The Standard) ? China, U.N. sign agreement on environmental policies for 2008 Olympics (AP) ? China, UN to jointly protect environment in 2008 Olympics (Xinhua) ? China and UN sign agreement on environmental policies (The Daily Times)
? Centre Stage for Environment at 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics (Asian
? Kemboi and Chemtai take Loroupe race prizes (The Daily Nation)
? Donors to assess environmental impact (The Dawn)
? Pakistan verspricht Sorgsamkeit (DPA)
? Moves on to Ban Use of Lindane (The Hindu)
? Martin blasts Bush on trade and climate (The Toronto Star)
? Agency makes rules for use of plastic bags (The Daily Nation)
? Chemicals 'pose threat' (Gulf Daily News)
? "Das Auto hat in der Stadt nichts zu suchen" (Der Spiegel)
Other Environment News
? How a pledge on greenhouse gases made Blair go nuclear (The Times)
? ?Le nucléaire n'a un avenir que si le sort des déchets radioactifs peut être réglé? (Le
? France Wants to Raise EU Limits on Biofuel Use (Reuters)
? The Grandeur of Evolution in a New Exhibition Called 'Darwin' (The New York Times)
? Vatican official refutes intelligent design (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
? UN Daily News of 18 November 2005
? S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 18 November 2005
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
Reuters:Bird import ban may worsen flu epidemic - UN official
[also on CBS, FOX network, The Daily Mail (UK), The Scotsman, Malaysia Star, and around
150 other worldwide news outlets]
Countries that ban the import of wild birds to stave off deadly avian flu may drive the trade underground and make it more difficult to detect the spread of the virus, a senior UN scientist warned yesterday.
World leaders are trying to control a growing outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza, which has infected many poultry flocks in Asia and also spread to Europe. It has killed 67 people since late 2003.
A number of countries, including European Union members, have slapped a ban on the import of live birds and feathers in a desperate attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
"As long as there is a demand, there will be a trade and you can't stamp out illegal trade by banning the legal trade," David Morgan, head of the Scientific Support Unit of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
"You just send it further underground, where it becomes more difficult to detect, and you only need one specimen to get through the net to spread the disease."
Around 1,5-million live wild birds are traded internationally, most of which are parrots and finches originating mainly in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia and being traded to consumers mainly in European Union.
"CITES is opposed to a general unfocused ban on trade," Morgan told journalists. "There are international norms and quarantine standards both at the import and export end and we would like to see these rigorously enforced."
CITES is a convention concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (ENEP) and brings together 169 countries who regulate trade in 30 000 species of wild animals and plants, including 1 500 species of birds.
Last week, the EU extended a ban on imports of live birds from outside the bloc for a further two months. The ban, which covered live birds other than poultry imported for commercial purposes, was imposed in late October.
"I think it is appropriate that we have just extended the ban," a British environment minister, Jim Knight, told journalists.
"I would agree that it could (worsen the bird flu controls) but I don't necessarily say that it does. We need to investigate the disease more and then we can make a decision on where we want to go in respect of the permanency of the ban."
Reuters: U.N. to set up bird flu early warning system
[ also on Radio New Zeland, ABC Australia, ...]
By Nita Bhalla
NAIROBI, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The United Nations is to set up a bird flu early warning system to alert countries of incoming migratory birds which could be carrying the deadly virus, a U.N. official said on Friday.
The system, which will take one to two years to become operational, will provide precise details of the types of wild birds, arrival times and destinations -- giving countries enough time to prepare.
"Migrations don't all occur on the same day or even at the same time as they are sometimes affected by either local or seasonal variations in climate," said Robert Hepworth, a U.N. official who heads the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
"So we would need to have a system whereby there was sufficient warning."
World leaders are trying to control a growing outbreak of the HSN1 avian influenza, which has spread to poultry in several Asian and European countries, killing 67 people since late 2003. In a Reuters interview, Hepworth said scientists, governments and experts across the world had information about migratory birds, but it was inaccessible and not shared.
He said all the information would be collected and centralised in a global computerised system which would constantly update and monitor bird migration patterns, warning countries of any potential threat.
"I think what you'll get is a system whereby there are several stages of alert and warning where we'll be able to provide generic information about particular species which will be arriving at this particular time and may be carrying the virus," Hepworth said.
"We would like to be able to give countries as much warning as possible -- it could be weeks, it could be months."
The system is being set up by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and CMS, a treaty concluded under the aegis of UNEP.
The project will gather a team of experts to collect information, maps and charts from national governments, conservation and wildlife bodies.
Hepworth said the main beneficiaries of the system would be developing countries, many of which do not have enough resources to take countrywide preventative action.
"The problem we have in Africa and other developing countries is that the kind of measures that may be appropriate in Europe such as locking up poultry and separating them from wild birds are not practical in these countries," he said.
"The early warning system will actually pinpoint where the higher risk areas might be, so developing country officials can target those specific areas," he said, adding this would be more cost-effective a more general countrywide approach.
The cost of setting up the bird flu early warning system is expected range between $200,000-$300,000, which UNEP and CMS officials say is a small amount compared to the budgets being spent on containing the virus.
They add the challenge is not in the financial resources required but in the commitment from stakeholders to devote the time and energy in providing the required information. _____________________________________________________________________________ Xinhua: World organizations to develop avian flu early warning system
NAIROBI, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- An avian flu early warning system, capable of alerting countries and communities on the arrival of potentially infected wild birds, is to be developed by an alliance of organizations led by the United Nations, experts and officials announc ed Sunday in Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The system, designed to alert authorities on different continents that migratory water birds are on their way, will be established within two years by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) with support and funding from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), they said at a press conference.
Experts from other leading organizations such as Wetlands International, Birdlife International and the International Wildlife and Game Federation are also expected to be part of the scheme.
"We will, with UNEP and other partners, be treating the development of this early warning system as a matter of priority. To fully realize it may take two years. But we know that it is needed and we know that the issue of avian flu and similar infections is likely to be a long term one. So such a system should be useful not only over the short but over the long term too," said Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of CMS.
"We hope it will be particularly useful in developing countries which are under particular pressure to make the best use of limited resources," he added.
According to the initial plan, special maps are to be developedfor individual countries pinpointing the precise locations such aslakes, marshes and other wetland areas where the birds are likely to go.
Armed with such information, local health and environment bodies on continents such as Africa, Asia and South America will be better able to prioritize their planning and response.
"Precise information on the places where migratory birds go including their resting sites and final destinations is currently scattered across a myriad of organizations, bodies and groups. It is absolutely vital that this is brought together in a way that isuseful to those dealing with the threat of this pandemic backed upby high quality, precision, mapping" said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP.
The early warning system was given the green light as hundreds of delegates have gathered in Nairobi for the eighth conference to the parties to the CMS, which runs until November 25.
On Sunday, delegates attended an informal event to hear presentations on migratory species from many of the CMS convention's partners including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Union.
Two special sessions also took place over the weekend on relationships between climate change, animal diseases and migratory species.
Migratory species, creatures that travel across frontiers and territorial waters, face an increasing range of existing and emerging threats to their survival including poaching, habitat loss and pollution up to climate change and animal diseases.
The conference will consider several species for new protection measures and conservation listings including three species of African bats, the basking shark and gorillas.
The CMS is a UNEP-linked convention located in Bonn, Germany, with a current
membership of over 90 countries.
Associated Press: Experts developing avian flu warning system, UN says
By RODRIQUE NGOWI
[appears in Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, The Globe and Mail (Canada), ABC, CBS,
and around 150 other US and worldwide news outlets]
Nairobi, Kenya — Experts are developing a bird flu warning system that maps migratory routes to help alert countries at risk of receiving infected species, U.N. officials said Sunday.
China, meanwhile, reported two more bird flu outbreaks despite a nationwide effort to vaccinate
its 14 billion farm birds.
Outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu have devastated poultry flocks across Asia
since 2003 and jumped to humans, killing at least 67 people. Scientists say migrating birds have
spread the virus to other parts of the world.
A pilot project of the warning system is expected to be operational in six months, while the final
plan should be running in two years, said Marco Barbieri of the U.N. Convention on the
Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
Some details of the warning system were announced at an international wildlife conference in
Kenya's capital, Nairobi.
The system will help experts recommend that farmers move poultry away from key wetlands
and offer hygiene advice, said Britain's Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight.
Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said there were ―important gaps‖ in knowledge about migratory routes for some species.
―We need to urgently bridge that gap,‖ he said. ―In doing so, I believe this initiative can make a
valuable contribution to the worldwide effort to deal with this threatened pandemic.‖
Most people who have contracted bird flu have had contact with sick birds, but international
health experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible between people
and spark a global pandemic.
China, which has reported 17 outbreaks in poultry, has confirmed two cases in humans —
including one death — and a suspected case in a 12-year-old girl who died. The country has imposed increasingly strict measures to contain the virus, killing millions of
birds, closing live poultry markets and ordering inspections of bird shipments nationwide.
More than 3,600 birds died in outbreaks that started last week in China's northern region of
Inner Mongolia and the central Hubei province, and another 7,000 were destroyed in an effort to
contain the virus, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The report came a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao said he and visiting President Bush
agreed to co-operate on flu prevention and treatment efforts.
In Indonesia, local tests showed a 35-year-old man died of bird flu, but the results must still be confirmed by a World Health Organization-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong, said I Nyoman Kandun, a senior Health Ministry official.
Seven people have been confirmed to have died of bird flu in Indonesia since July ____________________________________________________________________________
Agence France Presse: ONU anuncia sistema de alerta para prevenir gripe aviaria [appears in La Nacion (Paraguay), Peninsula Online (Qatar), ABC Color (Paraguay)...]
Este sistema apunta a registrar las rutas tomadas por las aves e identificar con precisión las regiones o poblaciones que corren el mayor riesgo de contagio por parte de las especies ya contaminadas por el virus de la enfermedad.
"El sistema tiene como objetivo alertar a las autoridades acerca de los distintos continentes sobre los cuales las aves migratorias realizan sus vuelos", explicó la ONU en un comunicado dado a conocer en Nairobi, donde tiene su sede el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA).
Una vez en funcionamiento, el sistema permitiría a los países reducir la amenaza de gripe aviaria, que causó la muerte de más de 60 personas en Asia y que millones de aves fueran sacrificadas en todo el mundo.
El secretario ejecutivo de la Convención de la ONU para las especies migratorias, Robert Hepworth, estimó que la puesta en marcha completa de este sistema podría necesitar hasta dos años.
Además, el proyecto -cuyo costo total no fue dado a conocer- todavía no tiene asegurado su financiación completa. Por el momento el PNUMA solo tiene un donante confirmado, con un aporte de 30.000 dólares.
EEUU no está preparado para una pandemia de gripe, al carecer de la capacidad necesaria para fabricar 300 millones de dosis de vacunas para los tres o cinco próximos años, dijo hoy el secretario de Salud, Mike Leavitt.
"La lección que todos aprendimos durante (el paso del huracán) 'Katrina' es que a veces tenemos que pensar de forma muy clara sobre lo impensable", dijo hoy Leavitt en declaraciones a la cadena de televisión NBC.
El secretario indicó que EEUU no está "tan preparado como debería" y no tiene vacunas para todo el mundo.
La cepa H5N1 del virus de la gripe aviar se ha cobrado 67 víctimas en Asia y ha despertado el temor a un posible brote gripal a escala global que podría cobrarse millones de vidas. Los responsables estadounidenses reconocen que la cepa podría alcanzar EEUU mediante una de las periódicas migraciones de aves.
Los expertos mantienen que si el actual virus de la gripe sufre una mutación y empieza a contagiarse fácilmente entre humanos podría producirse una pandemia mundial, aunque puntualizan que las posibilidades de que eso ocurra siguen siendo bajas.
EEUU, donde todavía no se ha registrado ningún caso de gripe aviar, tiene vacunas para 4,3 millones de personas.
Leavitt destacó que los reducidos suministros forzarían a los representantes estatales y locales a tomar difíciles decisiones sobre cómo distribuir las vacunas en caso de que se produzca un brote gripal.
Voice of America: Experts Call for Avian Flu Early Warning System
By Josiah Obat
20 November 2005
A meeting on the Convention on Migratory Species has opened in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with a call for the establishment of an avian flu early warning system.
Experts are in Nairobi this week to discuss creating an early warning system to alert authorities across continents about bird migration patterns.
They say such warnings could help prevent the spread of diseases, such as a deadly strain of avian flu, which has claimed the lives of millions of birds and at least 60 people in Asia. The virus has been found recently in Turkey, Russia and Romania, and experts believe migratory birds are carrying the virus and infecting local poultry populations.
Marco Barbieri, scientific and technical officer with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and Wild Animals, outlines the benefits of creating such a system. "The system basically aims at knowing in detail, in advance, the migratory path of the species that might be involved," he said. "This is what would allow sufficiently accurate risk assessment. It would even be more helpful in case of an outbreak."
Mr. Barbieri says the early warning system would involve compiling information, including detailed maps of the migration patterns of individual species of birds. He says there is considerable information available, but it is scattered in different institutions and research centers.
The initiative comes in the wake of the outbreak of the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus in Southeast Asia, where millions of birds have been killed to prevent the spread of the virus. But experts say killing birds is not the solution to stopping the spread of the virus. "We are opposed to any notion of culling of wild birds in response to this. That's not a realistic way of dealing with the risk," said Jim Knight, the British biodiversity minister. "It's about separation of infected wild birds, if that is the transmission route from poultry." The experts say, although avian flu has not come to Africa, it would be more difficult to contain, because bird populations there are more scattered.
"The situation in Africa is a bit different from the other continents like, for example, Asia, where you have big concentrations of poultry. We dont have it in Africa," noted Bert Lenten, executive secretary for the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds. "That makes it much more complicated in Africa, because, if the outbreak takes place in smaller groups of poultry, it's much more difficult to control it." The participants, drawn from Wetlands International, Birdlife International, the U.N. Enviornmental Protection Agency and International Wildlife, among others, will spend the week discussing the details of implementing an early warning pilot program, initially funded by the United Nations.
_____________________________________________________________________________ Vietnam News Agency: Avian flu early warning system established
20.11.2005 New York (VNA) - The UN has announced the establishment of an early warning system that
will track the flight patterns of migratory birds to better assess the global threat of avian flu. The creation of the system was announced at a United Nations environmental conference, now underway in Nairobi, Kenya. The early warning system will enable individual countries to minimize the threat of the H5N1 strain of bird flu.
However, according to the Executive Secretary of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Robert Hepworth, the full implementation of the system may take up to two years.
_____________________________________________________________________________ News 24 (South Africa): Bird flu warning-system plans
20.11.2005 Johannesburg - The United Nations is to lead environmental organisations in developing a bird flu early warning system to alert continental authorities to the influx of migratory water birds. "Armed with such information, local health and environment bodies on continents like Africa, Asia and in Latin America will be better able to prioritise their planning and response," the UN said in Nairobi on Sunday.
"Special maps are to be developed for individual countries pin-pointing the precise locations such as lakes, marshes and other wetland areas where the birds are likely to go." This information was presently held by a variety of groups, said UN environmental programme executive director Klaus Toepfer.
Other advice could include recommendations that farmers move poultry away from key wetlands to minimise cross-transmission with migratory birds, and suggestions on hygiene for hunters handling harvested birds.
"The exact workings of the system have yet to be ironed out," the UN said. However, it was to be effective, it would have to include observations throughout the world on migrations and relay this information to the countries likely to receive the water-bird populations, it added.
L'Express:L'Onu va créer un système d'alerte contre la grippe aviaire
[also in Le Nouvel Observaeur, La Tribune, ...]
Les Nations unies vont mettre en place un système d'alerte contre la grippe aviaire qui permettra de prévenir les pays de l'arrivée d'oiseaux migrateurs potentiellement porteurs du virus, annonce un responsable.
Le système, qui ne sera pas opérationnel avant un ou deux ans, fournira des informations précises sur le type d'oiseaux, leur arrivée prévue et leurs destinations pour permettre aux pays de se préparer.
"Les migrations ne se passent pas toujours le même jour de l'année, ou même à la même époque, et elles sont parfois influencées par les variations de climat locales ou saisonnières", a déclaré Robert Hepworth, directeur de la Convention sur les espèces migratrices (CMS) de l'Onu. "Nous avons donc besoin d'un système fournissant des avertissements suffisants", a-t-il ajouté dans un entretien accordé à Reuters.
La communauté internationale lutte contre une épidémie de grippe aviaire, dont le virus, dans sa version hautement pathogène pour l'homme (H5N1), a fait 67 morts depuis fin 2003 en Asie. Hepworth a expliqué à Reuters que les scientifiques, les gouvernements et les experts du monde entier disposaient d'informations sur les oiseaux migrateurs, vecteurs numéro un de la maladie, mais qu'il était difficile de les partager.
LES PAYS PAUVRES PRINCIPAUX BÉNÉFICIAIRES
Le nouveau système permettra justement de collecter et de centraliser ces données qui seraient constamment mises à jour.
"Je pense que nous obtiendrons un système qui établira plusieurs niveaux d'alerte et permettra de fournir des informations génériques sur des espèces particulières susceptibles de porter le virus", a poursuivi Hepworth.
"Nous aimerions pouvoir donner aux pays le plus d'alertes possibles."
Le système serait créé et géré par le Programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (Pnue) et la CMS, chargés de collecter des informations et des cartes auprès des gouvernements et des organisations de défense de la nature.
D'après Hepworth, les principaux bénéficiaires de ce système seront les pays en voie de développement, qui n'ont pour la plupart pas suffisamment d'argent pour prendre des mesures de prévention.
"Le problème que nous rencontrons en Afrique et dans les autres pays en voie de développement est que les mesures préconisées en Europe - comme le confinement des volailles - ne sont pas possibles dans ces pays."
"Le système de prévention localisera les zones à risques afin que les autorités des pays en voie de développement puissent agir sur ces zones spécifiques", a dit Hepworth.
Le coût de ce système est évalué à entre 200.000 et 300.000 dollars, une bouchée de pain selon les responsables du Pnue et de la CMS par rapport aux budgets déjà dépensés pour lutter contre l'expansion de la maladie.
The Daily Telegraph (UK): Bird migration tracker to help fight avian flu
By Mike Pflanz
A bird flu early warning system which will track migration routes of potentially infected birds and alert countries where they are heading was announced yesterday.
The system will gather data currently scattered across the world's universities, conservation bodies and wildlife groups into one central computer.
The data base, which is expected to take two years to become operational, will be constantly monitored and updated by global experts studying migratory species.
Special maps will be drawn up to show potential bird flu hot spots, both in countries where birds have been nesting and those to which they are migrating.
While many species vary the times of their migration, most head to the same lake, marshes or wetlands each year.
These locations will be identified by the new alert system which could give otherwise ill-prepared countries in the developing world a crucial warning that danger is on its way. While measures in place in developed countries may effectively contain any outbreak, there are grave concerns for poorer countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America may not be properly prepared.
"We will know in advance, in detail, the migratory paths of bird species," said Marco Barbieri,
scientific officer of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMF), which will run the system.
"This will allow specialised and more effective risk assessment in case of any outbreaks. "There are important gaps in our scientific knowledge about 'fly-ways' and migratory routes for some species," said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, which funds CMS.
"We need urgently to bridge that gap. In doing so I believe this initiative can make a valuable contribution to the worldwide effort to deal with this threatened pandemic." World leaders are trying to control a growing outbreak of the HSN1 avian influenza, which has spread to poultry in several Asian and European countries, killing 67 people since late 2003. ____________________________________________________________________________ The Standard (Nairobi): Agency to give early warning on bird flu
By Elizabeth Mwai
An early warning system will be established to alert countries where potentially infected wild birds are likely to land.
Mr Bert Lenten, the executive secretary of the Agreement on the Conservation of African Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, said the UNited Nations Environment Programme (Unep) had given Sh2.25 million ($30,000) for the avian flu early warning system.