THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Friday, 30 March, 2012
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News ; Guardian (UK): Interpol demands crackdown on 'serious and organised' eco crime ; Manilla Bulletin (Phillipines): Report: Keeping world‘s seas, coasts healthy ; SciDev: Arab countries need green economies rooted in science ; All Africa.com: Africa: Seed Symposium Stresses Need to Support Grassroots Entrepreneurs in Green Economy ; Jamaica observer (Jamaica): Battle lionfish heats up
; Caribbean PR (Barbados): Green Economy Scoping Study Findings Launched
; Market Watch (US); Wikifamilies Becomes Major Sponsor of Kids4Trees and the
Association Pour la Terre
; Sudan Bulletin (Sudan): Sudan Strategy on Climate Change to be Presented to the UN in
; Soompi.com (South Korea): Hallyu Stars and Toyota Living Green
; Other Environment News
; Reuters: Japan to lift entry ban on some Fukushima cities
; Reuters: Signs of trouble at leaking Total gas rig month before
; Livescience (US): Van Gogh's Sunflowers Are Mutants
; Livescience: Engineering Humans: A New Solution to Climate Change? ; AFP: Earth Hour dilemma: When the "like" button harms the planet ; New York Times (US): Scientists Call for Practical Steps to Smooth Humanity‘s
; Epoch Times (US): Scientists Warn of Global Humanitarian Crisis Ahead of Rio
; Brisbane Times (Australia): Conservationists uncertain at new environment push ; Montreal Gazette (Canada): Environmental groups cry foul
; Ottawa Citizen (Canada): A muddled budget for a mythical economy ; Bloomberg (UK): U.K. shale exploration should resume: environment agency
Selected Blog posts
; New York Times: Time Is Nigh for Global Action, Manifesto Warns
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
; ROA (None)
; ROAP (None)
; ROWA (None)
Other UN News
; Environment News from the UN Daily News of 30 March 2012
; Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 29 March
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Guardian (UK): Interpol demands crackdown on 'serious and organised' eco crime
29 March 2012
Environmental crime such as ivory poaching and illegal logging has become "a form of serious, organised and often transnational crime", Interpol's executive director of police services told an international law enforcement summit on Thursday.
Bernd Rossbach told the Unep- and Interpol-hosted event in Lyon, attended by representatives of 80 countries, that there was increasing evidence that environmental crime was connected to other forms of serious and organised crime.
Interpol is now carrying out the largest anti-elephant ivory poaching operation ever mounted. Wildlife agents in 14 African countries have been raiding outlets and pursuing traders, in a crackdown on the multimillion pound industry. Through its Operation Worthy, as it is being called, Interpol aims to stifle the increasing demand in illegal elephant ivory, mostly from Asian countries such as China.
Melanie Virtue, Treaties Officer for UNEP's Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), said that, in Cameroon, more than 400 elephants had been slaughtered in the past two months.
Police and enforcement officers highlighted other examples of rampant wildlife crime. John Scanlon,executive secretary of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) said that, though more than 500 rhinos had been killed over the past 18 months in South Africa, fewer than 50 rhinoceros horns had been recovered. "Ounce for ounce, rhinoceros horn is now more valuable than gold," he told delegates.
Significant losses are occurring among the chimpanzee population of Guinea, with 69 chimpanzees illegally exported to China in 2010 alone, and at least 130 in the past three years. Also mentioned was the recent arrest of traffickers in Kazakhstan with 4,704 horns from the endangered saiga antelope, destined for China.
The meeting stressed the need for stronger enforcement and intelligence-led pursuit of high-level wildlife traffickers. The environmental crime summit also discussed the problem of illegal wildlife trade over the internet, and called for more action to be taken to ban internet trading in endangered species.
A report presented by UNEP to the meeting pointed out that illegal logging accounted for 15-30% of timber globally. Deforestation, largely of tropical rainforests, is responsible for an estimated 17% of all man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, and 50% more than that from ships, aviation and land-transport combined. Today, only 10% of primary forest cover remains.
Masa Nagai, speaking on behalf of UNEP, co-host of the meeting, said: "Countries around the world and the international community as a whole have made important progress in establishing national and international environmental policies. But the implementation of
environmental commitments and the enforcement of environmental laws remain a tremendous challenge for many countries."
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Jamaica observer (Jamaica): Battle lionfish heats up
30 March 2012
Jamaican waters, intensifies, more than 2,000 fisherfolk have already been trained in the management of the fish, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has said.
Novelette Douglas, speaking on behalf of NEPA‘s chief executive officer, Peter Knight, made the announcement at a function last week marking Scotiabank Jamaica officially joining the fight against the fish that threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of fisherfolk in the island. She also emphasised the invasive nature of the species, noting that more than 100 species of fish and crustaceans are sometimes found in the stomach of the lionfish, including shrimp, crab, parrot fish and snapper.
The training is part of the National Lionfish Project, part of a larger Regional Project —
Mitigating the Threat of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean (MTIASIC) —
funded by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It seeks to strengthen partnerships among government and nongovernmental agencies in Jamaica, as well as to promote regional cooperation. Here in Jamaica, the project is led by NEPA and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Discovery Bay Marine Lab.
However, the success of the programme depends, in large part, on turning the predator into tiger-striped ‗gold‘ for the dinner table by increasing awareness of its commercial
value among the country‘s fishers.
The UWI Centre for Marine Sciences (UWI-CMS) — Marine Invasive Species Research
Programme, headed by marine biologist Dr Dayne Buddo, has designed a two-day training programme for community groups covering all aspects of lionfish management. These aspects include characteristics of the fish, the problems they cause, best hunting practices by spearfishers, safe handling, preparation for cooking, as well as treatment of injuries from the lionfish.
An important aspect of the training is the change in mindset against the consumption of the fish.
―We have so far found that most persons are afraid of the fish, and this stems from the fact they are not aware of how to avoid being stung, as well as the misconception that the flesh is filled with poison. Lionfish is consumed in Jamaica and The Bahamas, as well as other neighbouring countries, in an effort to control and reduce the population, and right now this is one of the most effective ways of controlling the population,‖ Dr Buddo said.
At the launch of its new Eat Them to Beat Them pilot project, Scotiabank last week donated a 2012 Toyota Landcruiser Prado valued at $4 million to the UWI-CMS to help advance the effectiveness of this lionfish research programme.
The vehicle will be used to transport specialist equipment and other tools, such as boats, required by the team for their fieldwork, which includes research and training across Jamaica.
―We are pleased to provide this grant as part of the Scotiabank Go Green initiative, which
is our programme of protecting and revitalising the environment by supporting and implementing programmes which educate about, and help mitigate against environmental threats,‖ said Monique Todd, Scotiabank's vice president of marketing, corporate affairs
and public relations.
At the function to hand over the vehicle at the UWI Port Royal Marine Laboratory, guests were treated to samples of the lionfish cooked in a number of ways by top Jamaican caterers From Thought to Finish, operated by Jacqui Tyson. Guests were also provided with recipes on how to prepare the fish.
Brian Jardim, CEO of Rainforest Seafoods, which is distributing the prepared lionfish commercially, described it as ―a mild white fish fillet, which is very easy to work with,
grouper-like in flavour, and which ―could be incorporated into fish sandwiches and fish and chip meals‖ in the future.
He said sightings of the fish throughout the Caribbean were ―getting increasingly worrying‖ for the seafood business.
According to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the lionfish is a member of the Scorpionfish family and is originally from the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea. It was first discovered in the Caribbean in the 1990s and grows to up to fwo feet in length. Usually, lionfish are not aggressive towards humans, but they have venomous spines, the stings from which can be very painful. Lionfish are voracious predators and one lionfish may eat more than 30,000 juvenile fish per year.
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SciDev: Arab countries need green economies rooted in science
28 March 2012
Reforms in the Arab region should focus on transitioning to a green economy, argues award-winning environmental advocate Najib Saab.
Uprisings in Arab countries have been at the centre of global news coverage for more than a year. Although it is still too early to speculate on the final outcome, the hope is that the Arab Spring will eventually steer a new direction for economic and environmental sustainability.
At the moment the prospects are not good. But if reforms can be made to clamp down on administrative corruption and the mismanagement of natural resources, Arab states could make huge economic gains.
Better governance will have spillover effects on environmental governance as people whose lives are most impacted by environmental concerns have more say in political decisions.
To move towards a truly sustainable future, the green economy — a focus of the UN
Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 — should be at the
centre of reforms.
Desperate for change
Arab economies remain undiversified. They largely rely on oil and products such as alumina, cement, fertilisers and phosphates that generate growth in GDP but fail to create enough jobs.
Unemployment in the Arab region is 10 per cent. But for young people it is 25 per cent, double the world average, and reaches 40 per cent in some countries. Young people account for more than 70 per cent of the unemployed in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen.
Demographic transitions add to the challenge of securing jobs and protecting the environment. The region's population increased from 100 million in 1962 to about 400 million in 2012.
One major demand that drove people to the streets was the need for decent jobs. Some 60 million new jobs need to be created by 2020 while protecting natural resources.
A main finding of a report published last year by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED)  is that transitioning to a green economy will help generate decent and lasting job opportunities.
It estimates that Arab countries will need to invest an additional 1.5 per cent of their GDP every year in infrastructure for water systems, efficiency and recycling technologies.
Shifting to sustainable agricultural practices could, collectively, save Arab countries up to 6 per cent of GDP through more efficient use of water while protecting environmental resources. The savings could reach US$114 billion annually and create millions of jobs in rural areas where three quarters of the poor live.
The report also estimates that reducing each person's consumption of electricity through energy efficiency measures would save up to US$73 billion per year. All Arab countries currently subsidise the cost of fuel and electricity at different levels, for all sectors; cutting the subsidy by a quarter would release more than US$100 billion over a three year period, which could then be invested in green energy technologies.
Spending US$100 billion in greening just one fifth of the existing building stock in Arab states over the next 10 years is expected to create 4 million jobs. And if Arab governments
commit to greening the construction sector, additional investments will create ten per cent more jobs, according to AFED estimates.
Forging a future
But building a green economy requires transforming the prevailing 'virtual economy' —
primarily based on sales of raw extractive products and speculation in real estate — to a
'real economy' that focuses on sustainable production, protecting natural capital and generating long-term employment opportunities.
It is crucial that science and education form the basis of a successful transition to the green economy; both are currently lacking in Arab countries. Although higher education institutions are proliferating, the quality of education they offer is below average.
And the rate of expenditure on scientific research as a percentage of GDP is around 0.2 per cent, compared to a world average of 1.2 per cent. The Arab world's contribution to research (measured in published papers) is low, and negligible in patents. These disparities should be addressed as part of the path to the green economy.
While in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2012 as a panelist for the Global Ministerial Environment Forum at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters, I was surprised to discover resentment among some developing countries to the idea of transitioning to the green economy.
Some countries have legitimate fears that the green economy could be used to impose trade barriers — for example by enforcing standards that require a large initial investment, especially in green technologies.
But Arab ministers participating in the meeting endorsed the transition to a green economy after they were persuaded it would bring net profits to the region. Rather than resorting to isolationism, they accepted the need to establish a strong knowledge platform for green growth, advanced by UNEP, and support technology transfer to allow fair competition and market access.
Let's not repeat the mistakes made in climate negotiations by using a host of pretexts to delay real action. By building a strong base of scientific knowledge and skilled workers, together Arab countries can make a smooth transition to a sustainable future.
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All Africa.com: Africa: Seed Symposium Stresses Need to Support
Grassroots Entrepreneurs in Green Economy
29 March 2012
Supporting small-scale environmental entrepreneurs can help tackle energy, agriculture and food security challenges and support the transition to a green economy.
This was the message delivered at the SEED Symposium held in Pretoria, South Africa, today, which celebrated outstanding grassroots social and environmental businesses in Africa and other regions.
Participants in the symposium included SEED Awards winners, United Nations representatives, and representatives from the government of South Africa the private sector, civil society and academia.
With the growing interest in looking beyond traditional business models towards those that incorporate social, environmental and economic benefits, the focus has been placed largely on bigger businesses and corporations. Due to their sheer size and global reach, these organizations can undoubtedly be major players in shifting towards a Green Economy.
However, in many of the world's developed and developing regions, it is small, medium and micro enterprises that constitute the economic engine. Social and environmental enterprises can make considerable contributions to their local economy and local communities.
Their innovation, concern about pollution, food security, energy and greenhouse gases, and interest in improving conditions at the local level potentially make them influential actors in mitigating carbon emissions, facilitating adaptation to climate change and moving towards sustainable business models.
The SEED symposium was opened by Mapula Tshangela from South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs who said: "South Africa's approach is to ensure that green economy action in the context of sustainable development builds on existing best processes, programmes, initiatives and indigenous knowledge in key sectors for a just transition towards a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path; and that government alone cannot manage and fund a just transition to a green economy and that the private sector and civil society must play a fundamental role."
"The world is beset by challenges from climate change and food insecurity to high youth unemployment and poverty," said Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), at the symposium.
"Yet equally, the world is alight with opportunities many of which are illuminated by the fresh thinking, determination, vision and courage of the social enterprises involved in the SEED initiative", he added.
The role of the green economy in sustainable development and poverty alleviation, which is one of the central themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in Brazil in June 2012, was underlined by UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in South Africa, Agostinho Zacarias:
"The United Nations continues to offer support to countries that want to strengthen national green economy efforts and to support them align these with poverty eradication efforts and other national priorities. The key strategic and policy issues that UN pursues in regard to this endeavor are: shaping the shift to a global pro-poor green economy paradigm; measuring success of a pro-poor green economy with macro indicators; supporting countries to shift to a green economy; supporting implementation through aid
coordination and improved development effectiveness and strengthening the interface between research and policy making".
The symposium provided a platform to explore how to further the contribution that small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) can make to the green economy.
It also showcased the 2011 SEED Award Winners - businesses that have played their part in delivering sustainable goods and services especially in Africa and, in many cases, against all odds.
From over 400 applications from 76 countries, 35 outstanding grassroots social and environmental businesses, mainly from Africa, were selected for their innovation, their potential to scale up and for helping to meet sustainable development challenges in a developing or emerging economy.
With the help of the European Union, who largely supported SEED's focus on Africa, the winners included:
A company in The Gambia that transforms groundnut shells into fuel briquettes, an enterprise in Burkina Faso that has developed solar ovens and a business in Sri Lanka where women produce aloe-based skin care products.
Other winners were an initiative in Ghana that with its business partners produces biomass-fuelled cooking stoves made from scrap metals, a partnership in Rwanda that pioneers the local production of mushroom spores through a laboratory run by a cooperative for HIV infected women and widows and a community based public private partnership that in South Africa aims to augment rural income by manufacturing and marketing products from indigenous trees such as Marula nut oil.
Lucy Morassutti, National Sales Director for Hisense, South Africa, which is the SEED Awards' corporate sponsor on this occasion said: "Hisense has a deep appreciation for small businesses and especially their development, having itself started off as a small radio factory in 1969. Now we are a multibillion dollar global conglomerate. But we have always remembered where we started."
"Hisense has welcomed the opportunities provided by the South African government to enhance the lives of the unemployed and under- privileged, ultimately developing the otherwise lost sectors of society. It's a privilege to be part of these SEED Winners' growth and development and to see them already giving back to their communities and the environment," she added.
Each SEED winne receives a package of individually-tailored support for their business that includes access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, building their networks, helping with developing business plans and identifying sources of finance.
But these positive examples nevertheless disguise the fact, as the discussions at the symposium revealed, that many smaller enterprises struggle to access expertise, financial opportunities and networks. Many start-up enterprises especially in developing countries have no national support networks to fall back on and struggle with non-conducive policy
environments. All of this hinders them in becoming more effective, visible and recognised green economy drivers and in realizing their potential.
It is particularly difficult for female entrepreneurs who not only face barriers in setting up their business but also social and cultural barriers in gaining access to networks and social acceptance. As Nomcebo Manzini, Regional Programme Director of UN Women, which sponsored the 2011 SEED Gender Equality Award, noted: "This award is testimony to women's creative potential even in the midst of seeming insurmountable barriers. It remains extremely important that rural poor men and women are empowered to create such opportunities and manage them effectively."
The Symposium also marked the establishment of SEED South Africa, which is hosted by the Independent Development Trust (IDT). The IDT CEO, Thembi Nwedamutswu, pointed out that: "Growing and nurturing SMMEs, including supporting co-operatives, is key to implementing intergenerational strategies for wealth creation. Grassroots-based entrepreneurship anchored on social and environmental consciousness provides a means to redressing inequality and fostering shared prosperity in South Africa. Indigenous knowledge, untapped solutions and creativity is at the heart of these ventures".
SEED South Africa will be officially launched in October 2012, during South Africa's premier development knowledge sharing platform, the Development Week, which is hosted by the IDT.
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Caribbean PR (Barbados): Green Economy Scoping Study Findings
29 March 2012
Barbados has created history by becoming the first country in Latin America to undertake and complete a Green Economy Scoping Study (GESS).
The findings of that study were officially handed over to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, today, during the Caribbean Green Economy Forum at the Almond Beach Village.
Speaking during the official ceremony, Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, said the completion of the study was not the end of the journey, but another step along the way.
He added the study unearthed many useful opportunities for future collaboration which would be discussed during the two-day forum, hosted by Government and the University of the West Indies in association with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
"I eagerly look forward to the next phases of our work on the green economy," Dr. Lowe said, giving the assurance that his ministry would apply the same level of enthusiasm and dedication to further work to be done in the area as efforts are made to move Barbados closer to a green economy.