Current News - International - United Nations
On 29th August, NITI Aayog and UNDP India solidified their shared commitment to expedite progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
This MoU establishes a framework for cooperation on various fronts, including SDG localization, data-driven monitoring, Aspirational Districts and Blocks, and more.
- Shared Vision: NITI Aayog CEO expressed optimism about the partnership's potential to drive data-driven policy interventions and programmatic actions.
- UNDP's Commitment: UNDP also pledged to assist NITI Aayog's efforts related to women's livelihoods, innovation, and Mission LiFE.
- Duration: The MoU spans a period of five years. NITI Aayog leads the coordination of SDG adoption and monitoring at the national and sub-national levels, while UNDP takes on the role of integrating efforts to accelerate SDG progress within the UN system.
Recently, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has advised including Venice, the beloved tourist destination in Italy, in its 'heritage danger list' due to the adverse effects of climate change.
- Issues Threatening Venice's Integrity: The draft resolution emphasizes the lack of significant progress in addressing issues related to mass tourism, development projects, and climate change.
- These problems lead to deterioration and damage to building structures, urban areas, and the cultural and social identity of the city, jeopardizing its environmental and landscape attributes and values.
- Climate Change Impact on Venice: The major problems facing Venice include climate change and its consequences, and the organization calls for increased efforts to safeguard the city and its cultural heritage.
- Over-Tourism as a Concern: Over-tourism has also become a significant issue for Venice, affecting its cultural and environmental integrity.
- UNESCO acknowledges efforts to combat over-tourism, such as banning large ships from entering certain areas like the San Marco Basin – Giudecca Canal.
- Threat to Venice's Outstanding Universal Value: Despite some measures, Venice still faces challenges due to human intervention, continuing development, climate change, and mass tourism.
From May 8-12, 2023, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF18) held its eighteenth session in New York, addressing the crucial topic of integrated policies on sustainable forest management (SFM) and energy to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.
- Aim: To explore the nexus between sustainable forest management, energy, livelihoods, and the achievement of SDGs, fostering global collaboration and knowledge-sharing in these crucial areas.
Key Points of the Discussion
- Importance of SFM: The executive director of the International Tropical Timber Organization, emphasized the organization's commitment to practicing SFM in tropical regions.
- Sustainable sourcing of tropical timber was highlighted as a crucial aspect of SFM.
- Role of Forests in Energy and Livelihoods: The forestry director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlighted that forest ecosystems provide 55 percent of renewable energy requirements, benefiting over five billion people globally. Additionally, 33 million individuals are directly employed in the forestry sector, and industrially harvested trees contribute significantly to bioenergy.
- Forests' Contribution to Reducing Emissions: Head of UNEP's Nature for Climate branch, cited the Emissions Gap Report, which states that forests have the potential to reduce five gigatonnes of emissions.
- It was noted that demand determines carbon market prices rather than the supply of forest goods.
- India’s country-led Initiative:India presented a UNFF country-led initiative on long-term SFM, addressing concerns about wildfires and current forest certification schemes.
- Most Forested and Carbon-Negative Country: Suriname, claiming to be the most forested and carbon-negative country, shared its experiences with economic pressure impacting green cover and environmental policies. They committed to significant renewable energy targets.
- Preventing Forest Fires:Saudi Arabia emphasized the need to prevent forest fires and urban expansion encroaching on forests.
- Balancing Forest Conservation and Livelihoods: Congo and the Dominican Republic called for strategies to reduce pressures on natural forests while improving livelihoods, given their heavy dependency on fuelwood.
- Conservation Measures: Various forest conservation measures such as SFM, REDD+, forest planning, and certification were highlighted. (Note: REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the "+" refers to the role of conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks).
- Innovative Approaches: Suggestions were made to replace plastic sticks with compacted bamboo or sawdust residues for producing briquettes and pellets.
- China’s Achievement:China shared its achievement of generating 41.32 gigawatts of power through wood biomass, contributing to its goal of carbon neutrality before 2030 and also emphasized the need for financially feasible wood residue markets.
- Transitioning Towards Agroforestry: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressed the importance of integrated and innovative approaches to transition towards agro-food and agroforestry.
The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), held in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
- At this event, Abidjan Declaration on achieving Gender Equality for Successful Land Restoration was issued.
- It recognized that securing women’s access to land and control over land, and access to finance for land-based economic activities are central components of women’s economic empowerment and women’s rights, generating opportunities for economic prosperity and autonomy.
Finer Points of the Declaration
- Identify and Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination: Promote all necessary measures to identify and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in the context of fighting against desertification/land degradation, and drought (DLDD), in relation to land tenure security and access to, ownership of, and control over land and natural resources, and other forms of property and inheritance, with particular attention on the rights of older women, widows, women with disabilities and young women.
- Ensuring Participation: Foster measures to ensure the full, equal, meaningful and effective participation of women at all levels in land and natural resource governance at the regional, national and landscape levels through the inclusive national-level coordination and promotion of women’s leadership in planning and implementation activities.
- Strengthen Legal Framework: Enforce legal frameworks for women’s access to land and control over land, including common lands, and equal land rights both under customary and statutory law, and continue efforts on advocacy for women’s land rights.
- Give Women Access to Technology, Services, and Resources: Facilitate access to technology, services, and resources for women and groups in vulnerable situations for their effective participation in land restoration efforts, including through gender-transformative land use planning and management that addresses the root causes of gender inequality.
- Work on Evidence-based Interventions: Actively work to close the gender gap to move towards evidence-based interventions and responses, collecting, analyzing and disseminating data disaggregated by sex, age, disability, race/ethnicity, class, livelihood source and migrant status and other relevant factors to support the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of land-related interventions and policies.
- Lift Barriers of Funding: Appeal to development agencies, multilateral development banks, national banks and other financial institutions and mechanisms to lift structural barriers and increase funding that specifically target women’s rights organizations and movements, women entrepreneurs, women cooperatives and enterprises led by women and indigenous groups, and civil society organizations that design and implement programmes contributing to DLDD initiatives.
- Consider Inclusion of Gender Equality Criteria: Commit to working towards the inclusion of gender equality criteria in the development – and granting – of finance for sustainable land management, land restoration and drought preparedness and resilience at the regional, national, subnational and local levels.
- Policy Measure: Call upon the COP of the UNCCD to incorporate these commitments into their deliberations around the gendered aspects of DLDD, and into their policy decisions accordingly.
Recently, India voted against a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) linking climate to security. The resolution was sponsored by Ireland and Nigeria.
- Niger (the UNSC presidency for December) organised a debate on 9th December, 2021, titled ‘Maintenance of international peace and security: security in the context of terrorism and climate change.’
- One of the aims of the debate was to examine how terrorism and security risks could be linked to climate change.
- The draft resolution sought to enable the United Nations Security Council to take up routine discussions on climate change from the perspective of its impact on peace and conflicts worldwide.
- While China abstained, India and Russia were the only countries that opposed the draft resolution.
- Currently, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) discusses all matters on climate change.
- India opined that it was an attempt to shift climate talks from the UNFCCC to the Security Council and a step backward for collective action on the issue. This will give a few states the free hand to decide an all climate related issues.
- It was emphasised that the draft resolution would undermine progress made at Glasgow, where the latest round of talks under the UNFCCC, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), concluded in November.
On 3rd September, 2019, the World Resources Institute (WRI) with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation published a report - Reducing Food Loss and Waste: Setting a Global Action Agenda, highlighting the current scenario of food loss and waste across the globe.
Major Highlights of the Report
- One-third of all food produced across the globe goes uneaten.
- One in every nine person in the world is undernourished.
- 50% of world's population now lives in a country that has set an explicit, public target aligned with SDG 12.3
- The wastage of food also accounts for eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. These gases cause the greenhouse effect which is when radiation from the earth's atmosphere warms the planet's surface. The emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) has been identified as a major cause of climate change.
- It put forward a Global Action Agenda that calls on governments, companies, farmers and consumers to collectively overcome “the world’s food loss and waste problem.
- Most of the food loss happens “near the farm” predominantly in lower-income countries and most of the food waste happens “near the plate” predominantly in higher-income countries.
Difference between Food Loss and Food Waste
- Food loss typically occurs at the production, storage, processing and distribution stages of the food value chain, and is the unintended result of agricultural processes or technical limitations in storage, infrastructure, packaging, and/or marketing.
- Food waste refers to food that is of good quality and fit for human consumption but that does not get consumed because it is discarded—either before or after it spoils. It typically occurs at the retail and consumption stages in the food value chain and is the result of negligence or a conscious decision to throw food away.
Causes of Food Loss and Waste
- Poor infrastructure
- Inadequate equipment
- Suboptimal packaging
- Inadequate food management practices, skills or knowledge
- Inflexible procurement practices
- Poor Demand and Supply forecasting and planning
- Marketing Strategies
- Lack of Awareness
- Poor Policies and Regulations
- Economy: Nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year goes uneaten, costing the global economy over $940 billion.
- Environment: The uneaten food is responsible for emitting about 8 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
- Food Security: More than 1 billion metric tons of food per year is never consumed in a world where one in nine people are still undernourished.
- Water Resources: Food loss and waste are associated with approximately 173 billion cubic meters of water consumption per year, which represents 24 percent of all water used for agriculture.
Measures to Reduce Food Loss and Waste
- The report identifies three measures that can be considered for reducing loss and waste-
- Target-Measure-Act: Set food loss and waste reduction targets, measure to identify hotspots of food loss and waste and to monitor progress over time, and take action on the hotspots.
- To-do List:Pursue a short to-do list, identify per player in the food supply chain as “no regret” first steps toward taking action.
- 10 Scaling Interventions:Collaborate in 10 areas to ramp up deployment of Target-Measure-At and to do list.
10 Scaling Interventions
Possible Approaches for Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Benefits of Reducing Food loss and Waste
- Availability of More Food:It would close the gap between food needed in 2050 and food available in 2010 by more than 20 percent.
- Availability of More Land: It would avoid the need to convert an area the size of Argentina into agricultural land.
- Huge Economy Saving:Not only has it been proven that national and city governments can save money through reducing food loss and waste, but also yield positive returns on investments in food loss and waste reduction efforts.
- Less Pollution: It will further help lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2050, an amount more than the current energy- and industry related emissions of Japan
- More Jobs: It could play a modest role in job creation across the supply chain, ranging from smallholder processing facilities close to the farm to technology start-up companies that help redistribute food that would otherwise be wasted.
- Boost to SDGs:In terms of the Sustainable Development Goals( SDGs), reducing food loss and waste can help meet various globally agreed aspirations, including SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production), and SDG 13 (climate action).
- Reducing food loss and waste can help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, contribute to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and sustainably feed the planet by 2050.
- It requires action by a wide range of actors―households, companies, farmers, policymakers, and more. It also requires changes in technology, practices, behavior, and policy. It is evident that no single individual or group can sufficiently tackle this problem alone; collaboration is needed. Improved strategies for tackling consumption waste will need to be a priority forresearch and innovation for the global community dedicated to reducing food loss and waste.
- Further, tackling the issue of food loss and waste can generate a “triple win.” Reductions can save money for farmers, companies, and households. Wasting less food means we can feed more people. And reductions can alleviate pressure on climate, as well as on water and land.