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UN and Red Cross chiefs appeal for end to use of explosive weapons in cities

INTERNATIONAL, 18 September 2019, Peace and Security - With some 50 million people in urban areas suffering from the impact of armed conflict, war in cities “cannot be back page news”, the UN Secretary-General and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

António Guterres and Peter Maurer have issued a joint appeal which calls on countries and warring parties to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

ICRC
@ICRC

When cities are bombed.
When cities are shelled.
When cities are hit by airstrikes, rockets or artillery fire.

It’s the civilians who suffer.

When wars are fought in cities, an estimated 90% of casualties are civilians.

Heavy explosive weapons shouldn't be used in cities.

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“When cities are bombed and shelled - whether by airstrikes, rockets, artillery or improvised explosive devices - civilians overwhelmingly bear the brunt,” they said.

“In fact, the large majority of casualties – over 90 per cent, according to one estimate – are civilians. The harrowing images from population centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine – to name but a few – show a pattern of grave civilian harm impossible to ignore, yet too often forgotten.”

Armed conflict in cities also damages and destroys hospitals, electric power plants and other infrastructure required for the functioning of basic services, thus adding to the suffering experienced by civilians.

Those who survive find that life becomes unbearable and they are often forced to flee, such as the approximately 100,000 people displaced by heavy bombing and shelling in fighting around Tripoli, Libya, which began in April.

Destruction of development gains

Furthermore, massive destruction also threatens development gains. “For example, after the first four years of the armed conflict in Yemen, human development indicators dropped to their index of 20 years ago. This is a major setback to the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Progress gained over decades can be quickly reversed as once lively and prospering population centres turn into ghost towns”, they said.

The UN and Red Cross chiefs encourage countries to identify and share good practices for mitigating the risk of civilian harm in urban armed conflict, such as restrictions on the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.

Warring parties are urged to employ strategies and tactics that reduce urban fighting while also allowing civilians to leave besieged areas.

The appeal points out that Idlib, in Syria, as well as Tripoli, are currently enduring “untold suffering and destruction from a hail of bombs and shells”, but they are among a long list of other affected cities such as Mosul, Aleppo, Raqqa, Taiz, Donetsk, Fallujah and Sana’a.

“They rarely make the top headlines, but they should,” the two leaders said. "War in cities cannot be back-page news.”

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New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

INTERNATIONAL, 17 September 2019, UN Affairs - The new President of the 74th session of the General Assembly brings to his role “years of United Nations experience”, the UN chief said on Tuesday, as Tijjani Muhammad-Bande banged the gavel to open his year in office.
António Guterres
@antonioguterres

Congratulations @BandeTijjani of Nigeria for assuming the Presidency of the 74th session.

I look forward to working with you on your priority issues as @UN_PGA, including poverty eradication, quality education, and .https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2019-09-17/secretary-generals-remarks-opening-of-the-74th-session-of-the-un-general-assembly-delivered 

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“He also brings valuable insights into some of the pressing peace and security, human rights and sustainable development challenges facing this body, from the spread of violent extremism to the threat of the global climate crisis”, Secretary-General António Guterres said of Nigeria’s former UN Representative.

He commended President Muhammad-Bande on prioritizing peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion, all of which the UN chief called “central to the sustainable development agenda”.

“I also applaud your emphasis on human rights and gender parity”, he spotlighted.

Pointing to the “five critical summits” next week on climate action, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), financing for development, universal health care and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Mr. Guterres underscored that “multi-stakeholder engagement will be essential”.

Noting that in today’s rapidly changing word, “challenges are global and increasingly interlinked”, the Secretary-General noted that the Organization would be celebrating its 75th birthday. And because people have “profound” expectations of the UN, Mr. Guterres, expressed his concern over the “trust deficit between nations”, maintaining that there is a pressing need to convince people that it is “relevant to all and that multilateralism offers real solutions to global challenges”.

“Transparency, dialogue and greater understanding are essential to alleviating mistrust”, he spelled out, calling the Assembly “a unique and indispensable forum” for the world to come together and discuss “sensitive and important issues”.

He stressed the importance of “strong and effective multilateral institutions and architecture”, and international relations that are based on international law. In closing he wished the session success in its work towards achieving “our common goals of peace, prosperity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.”

Collaboration and coordination

In his inaugural address as General Assembly President, or PGA, Mr. Muhammad-Bande said he would “collaborate and coordinate” with the Security Council, and the Secretariat “to ensure that greater attention is paid to prevention rather than reaction to full blown conflict.”

“I will also advocate for effective early detection and warning systems, as well as mediation, negotiation and peaceful settlement of ongoing conflicts”, he promised. “I will work to engender cooperation that will address drivers of conflicts such as poverty, exclusion and illiteracy”.

Segueing into the importance of quality education, the PGA said “the fact that no nation can develop past its educational capacity, particularly that of its teachers, means we must work to ensure that Member States can partner on teacher training, access to free and quality primary and secondary education” and highlighted the urgency in devising “means to attend to the educational needs of all”.

Turning to climate change, which Mr. Muhammad-Bande called “a key issue in development”, he said, “we must tackle its causes and repercussions: “The recent emergencies in the Bahamas, Mozambique, and the Sahel region, among others, reminds us of the urgency of strengthening global action to tackle climate change”, he argued. 

Accentuating inclusion, the PGA flagged the importance of ensuring the rights and empowerment of youth, women and the disabled, as a continuing priority.

Redouble efforts to ‘bridge gaps’

“In line with the far-sighted vision of its founders”, he stated that “as the most representative deliberative body” of the UN, the Assembly needs to “redouble its efforts to bridge gaps and act for the common good of the people we serve, particularly as we prepare for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Organization”.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande said that we must “build trust with one another, deepen partnerships and show empathy” as “the only way to resolve the many challenges that confront us”.

“We will have to strive together, to deliver for all”, concluded the new General Assembly President.

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UN climate summit aims to speed up transition to cleaner, greener future

INTERNATIONAL, 17 September 2019, Climate Change - New measures to speed up the transition to clean energy and green economies are among the initiatives to be unveiled during the UN Climate Change Summit next week.

Heads of State, representatives from the private sector, and the teenage activist Greta Thunberg are expected in New York to tackle what the UN considers the defining issue of our time.

Amina J. Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, outlined some of the expectations during a press conference on Tuesday.

“The Summit will present practical and new measures to, one: speed up the transition from coal to clean energy and to cut the pollution that is harming our health,” she said, and secondly, “protect nature but also unlock the potential of nature to deliver on climate solutions”.

Thirdly, she said it would “create cleaner, greener ways to work and move; speed up transition in key sectors from grey to green economies, safeguard people from the impacts of climate change already being felt right now, and help make sure that we leave no one behind.”

The Climate Summit opens on Monday and is among five major UN events looking at issues such as health and supporting small island developing states.

UN Geneva
@UNGeneva

Marie-Claire Graf, the Swiss Youth Climate Activist, will participate in the historic Youth at the @UN on 21 September.

Today, she spoke at @UNGeneva about the need to galvanize the bottom-up and include young people in the decision-making.

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It will be preceded by a Youth Climate Summit on Saturday, where participants from across the globe will showcase their solutions on how to combat the crisis.

Luis Alfonso de Alba, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, said 100 young people will be travelling on carbon neutral, or “green”, tickets.

“We provided support to 100 youth from different countries and they will be joined by a much bigger number: our expectation is more than 700 on the Saturday, and we will try to accommodate as many as possible in the General Assembly hall on Monday,” he said.

Marie-Claire Graf from Switzerland is among the lucky advocates to receive a green ticket.

“There is really no time to wait because I guess what is the biggest problem that we still think climate change is something which maybe happen in some years, but we are in a huge crisis which is existential…Take young people seriously and include them in decision-making bodies, so we don’t only be like somewhere on the agenda but we want to be seated at the table when decisions are made,” she told UN News in Geneva.

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Afghans entitled to live ‘free from fear, intimidation’, says UN chief, condemning suicide attacks

INTERNATIONAL, 17 September 2019, Peace and Security - All Afghans have the right to live “free from fear, intimidation and violence”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Tuesday strongly condemning two suicide attacks, which left dozens dead.

One of the explosions took place at an election rally for President Ashraf Ghani in Charikar, north of the capital Kabul, killing 26 and wounding 42, according to news reports. The president was reportedly addressing the crowd, ahead of the vote scheduled for 28 September, when a motorcyclist detonated a suicide bomb at a checkpoint leading to the event.

The head of Parwan hospital, Abdul Qasim Sangin, said children were among those killed and the death toll is likely to rise.

UNAMA News@UNAMAnews

Today’s Taliban attack on election rally at showed despicable disregard for civilian life & fundamental human right to participate in democratic process. Such attacks, with scores of civilian casualties, are a violation of international law.

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Hours later, another blast too place in Kabul's Green Zone, where the defense ministry, US embassy and NATO headquarters are located, killing 22, and wounding more than three dozen.

Taliban militants claimed responsibility for both attacks, and a media statement noted that the extremist group had warned Afghan civilians not to attend election rallies. 

The UN chief expressed his “deep sympathies” to the victims’ families, the Government and the people of Afghanistan.

“All Afghan citizens – whether voters, candidates or election-related staff – have the right to be free from fear, intimidation and violence”, underscored Mr. Guterres. “Attacks against civilians are unacceptable and those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable”.

Meanwhile, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted that the Taliban attack “showed despicable disregard for civilian life and fundamental human right to participate in democratic process”.

The tweet added that such attacks, “with scores of civilian casualties, are a violation of international law”.

Security Council renews UN mission mandate

Following on from news of the two attacks, the Security Council met in routine session and renewed UNAMA’s mandate, which expired on Tuesday.

While the updated text retains the mission’s core mandate, it also includes some strengthened language, including a commitment to continued monitoring and reporting on “violations and abuses against children”.

As Member States addressed the Council, all the ambassadors expressed condolences to the Government and its people for the horrific attacks, many highlighting that UNAMA was needed now more than ever.

A full report on the mandate renewal meeting will be available through our Meetings Coverage Section.

 

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Number of migrants now growing faster than world population, new UN figures show

INTERNATIONAL, 17 September 2019, Migrants and Refugees - The growing number of international migrants has now reached 272 million, outpacing the growth rate of the world’s population, according to new data from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), released on Tuesday.

The figures reflect a jump from 2010, when the global number was at 221 million, and currently international migrants – defined as anyone who changes their “country of usual residence” – make up 3.5 per cent of the global population, compared to 2.8 per cent in the year 2000, according to the latest figures.

UN DESA
@UNDESA

?JUST LAUNCHED:

New research finds that there are now 272 million international in the world ??

Learn more about them and find out the latest numbers for your country: http://bit.ly/Migration2019

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Estimates are based on official national statistics of foreign populations gathered from censuses. These numbers reflect any person who is moving or has moved across an international border, regardless of citizenship status or motive - meaning the data encompass people who have moved either intentionally or involuntarily.

Europe hosts the largest number of international migrants, at 82 million; followed by North America, at 59 million; with 51 million in the United States alone - the largest number in a single nation. Finally, North Africa and Western Asia host around 49 million migrants, and along with sub-Saharan Africa, are seeing the most significant influx in foreign populations.

The share of international migrants in the total population varies considerably across regions, the report shows, where foreign-born individuals comprise 21 per cent of the population of the Oceana region (Australia and New Zealand included), and 16 per cent of all people in Northern America.

With forced displacements continuing to increase, refugees and asylum seekers account for close to a quarter of global increases, which have risen by 13 million in number from 2010 to 2017.

Although migration is global, most journeys are taking place within a limited set of countries, with the US, Germany, and Saudi Arabia making up the top three.

The link between migration and development is “very well established,” Director for DESA’s Population Division, John Wilmoth told reporters at the UN, echoing the message from the Department’s Under-Secretary General ahead of the report release.

The data “are critical”, Llu Zhenmin said, “for understanding the important role of migrants and migration in the development of both countries of origin and destination.”

“Facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people will contribute much to achieving the Sustainable development Goals,” he urged.

Mr. Wilmoth said as a general observation, the contribution of migrants both in host countries and countries of origin, includes sending valuable remittances back to countries of origin, and a major social contribution through transmission of ideas.

The United Nations is committed to supporting safe migration, through international agreements to safeguard refugees and people on the move at large. The Global Compact on Refugees, and Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, were adopted in December of last year. DESA’s full 2019 migration data set, available here.

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Five avoidable deaths per minute shows urgent need for action on patient safety

INTERNATIONAL, 17 September 2019, Health - With at least five people dying every minute due to unsafe health care, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging medical professionals, policy makers, caregivers and patients to take urgent action to ensure no one is harmed while receiving treatment.

“Speak up for patient safety!” is the slogan for the first World Patient Safety Day, observed this Tuesday, 17 September.

The objective is to prevent and reduce risks, errors and harm, such as dispensing the wrong medication due to a mix-up over similar packaging.

“No one should be harmed while receiving health care. And yet globally, at least five patients die every minute because of unsafe care,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said ahead of the day. 

World Health Organization (WHO)
@WHO

Today is the first ever .

No one should be harmed in health care.
Yet, every minute, 5 patients die because of unsafe care.
These deaths can be prevented - simple commitment can ensure safe care ?
More ? http://bit.ly/2kBTEvh

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“We need a patient safety culture that promotes partnership with patients, encourages reporting and learning from errors, and creates a blame-free environment where health workers are empowered and trained to reduce errors.”

WHO cites research which shows medication errors are estimated to cost more than $40 billion annually.

Other challenges include health care-associated infections, unsafe surgical care procedures, diagnostic errors, and sepsis, which causes more than five million deaths a year.

WHO has launched a campaign which calls for urgent action as patient safety is fundamental to quality essential health services.

Patients can speak up by being actively involved in their health care through asking informed questions and providing full details about their medical history.

The medical community is being urged to develop a culture of patient safety culture through various means, including reporting and learning from errors and promoting more open communication across all levels.

Health care professionals also can work to reduce errors, for example through training, simplifying and standardizing procedures, and ensuring a safe and clean environment.

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‘Champion for multilateralism’ readies to hand over UN General Assembly gavel

INTERNATIONAL, 16 September 2019, UN Affairs - Through consultation, collaboration and consensus, the UN chief on Monday described outgoing President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa, as “a champion for multilateralism” who had succeeded in making the United Nations “relevant to all”.

In a fast-changing world, Secretary-General António Guterres noted that humanity’s most pressing issues “are increasingly interlinked”.

“From the climate crisis to migration flows and rising inequality, from waves of intolerance to harnessing technology for good, one thing is certain: global issues require global solutions”, he stated at the closing of the 73rd session of the General Assembly.

As “our universal platform to build consensus for the common good”, he said it had been his “privilege” to work with the Assembly under the leadership of Ms. Espinosa, the fourth woman to serve as the body’s President.

See below our photo story on the history of women leaders in the General Assembly:

Guterres commends 'ambitous priorities'

The UN chief commended her “ambitious priorities for this session, which addressed crucial matters of international impact and concern, including gender equality, migration and refugees, decent work for all, environmental protection, the rights of people with disabilities, promoting the voices of young people to advance peace and security, and revitalizing the work of the United Nations”. 

Her commitment to ending plastic pollution “also stands out”, said Mr. Guterres. “I am confident that her successful term will pave the way for increasing the participation of women in the political sphere around the world, and for accelerating progress towards gender equality within and beyond the United Nations”.

Many of the issues debated, raised and accomplished during the 73rd session are “testament to what can be achieved through international cooperation”, he continued, citing the adoption of two Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees as “remarkable examples”. 

The UN chief maintained that comprehensive reforms continued “at an unprecedented pace and scale” over the past year to make the Organization more “nimble, effective and efficient – and to better serve ‘we the peoples’ of the world”.

Looking ahead, to the 75th anniversary of the UN next year, he thanked Ms. Espinosa for “her leadership and partnership”, and said he looked forward to working with President-elect Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, of Nigeria.

“Together, let us continue to advance our mission to build a more peaceful and prosperous world for all on a healthy planet”, concluded the Secretary-General. 

Before passing the gavel

Addressing journalists in her last press conference as the General Assembly chief, Ms. Espinosa presented some highlights of her Presidency.

UN GA President

She maintained that her practice of formally reporting back to Member States every three months, had been “very useful, especially for the smaller Missions” that cannot cover all the agenda items, “so they can refer to the reports I share with them”.

While noting that the 73rd Session, has adopted 341 resolutions, with a few more expected, she has been told this is “the highest number in several years”. 

“Basically, my call to Member States has been: let´s read the resolutions we have adopted again and let´s deliver and implement them using this norm-setting power of the General Assembly”, she said.

Proud to go plastics-free

“We have delivered on all seven priorities”, she told correspondents, highlighting the global campaign against plastic, the Women in Power high-level events, and “our work in advancing the multilateral agenda”.

Ms. Espinosa flagged that “we have managed together to transform the UN Headquarters in an area free from single-use plastics”, owing to the support of Member States, the Secretary-General, UN staff, and journalists, saying: “I feel very proud of what we achieved”.

“Our global communications campaign to beat plastic pollution reached in the region of 400 million people worldwide, and we have sown the seeds for more global action against the modern-day challenge of our seas and rivers”, she stated.

Her office also led preparations for six mandated high-level meetings to be held in the margins of upcoming General Debate and were responsible for organizing the High-Level meetings, including the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit, which will kick off next Tuesday.

“Everywhere I have been, as your President of the General Assembly, I sought to listen to people”, she continued, from women, girls, youth and the elderly, to philanthropists working for a better world.  “That was my condition to visit countries in order to have contact with people on the ground”. 

Everywhere Ms. Espinosa went she also visited UN Country Teams to see firsthand how the on-going reform process was being implemented.

The outgoing General Assembly President closed by saying that continued listening is “key” to creating “a more just, prosperous and sustainable world”.

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One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF

INTERNATIONAL, 16 September 2019, Humanitarian Aid - Such was the extent of devastation caused by two back-to-back cyclones in Mozambique earlier this year, nearly one million people, including 160,000 children under five, are still facing food shortages and a nutrition crisis, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Monday.

UNICEF expects the number of affected children will rise to 200,000 by next February, while nearly 40,000 could become severely malnourished and at risk of death.

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth struck central and northern Mozambique in March and April. The storms caused widespread flooding, destroyed nearly 780,000 hectares of crops, and displaced tens of thousands of families.

“The agricultural devastation wrought by the two cyclones has made what were already high levels of child malnutrition even worse,” said Marcoluigi Corsi, UNICEF Representative in Mozambique.

Before the cyclones, more than 40 per cent of children in Mozambique were chronically malnourished or stunted.

“Many children in disaster-affected areas do not have access to the nutritious food they need for their healthy development,” Mr Corsi said. “Six months on, the prospect of further suffering is very real as we head into the lean season. More resources are urgently needed to support ongoing humanitarian efforts.”

UNICEF and partners are working to reach families. Efforts include providing therapeutic food supplements to nearly 10,000 malnourished children. They also are implementing a voucher programme as well as child grants to address immediate food insecurity.

However, the agency requires nearly $103 million to fund its operations through May 2020. So far, only $34.1 million has been received.

James McQuen-Patterson, UNICEF Chief of Health and Nutrition in the southern African country, said while the impact of the two cyclones was “devastating and unprecedented,” it is only now that the residual effects are truly being felt.

“Reaching malnourished children in greatest need is complex,” he explained. “We will only succeed with a coordinated response across partners to ensure cyclone-affected families do not fall into further distress.”

 
 
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Attack on Saudi facilities risks dragging Yemen into ‘regional conflagration’: UN Envoy

INTERNATIONAL, 16 September 2019, Peace and Security - Attacks against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, claimed by rebel fighters in Yemen, are a sign that the war-torn country could be drawn into even greater conflict, the top United Nations official there told the Security Council on Monday.

Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said there is “no time to waste” in ending four years of fighting between Houthi rebels and the internationally-recognized Government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

The UN humanitarian affairs coordination office, OCHA, estimates roughly 80 per cent of the population—or 24 million people—require humanitarian aid.

“The attack on ARAMCO facilities in Saudi Arabia this past Saturday morning, 14 September, which has caused significant disruption to the Kingdom’s crude oil production, has consequences well beyond the region”, Mr. Griffiths warned ambassadors, speaking via videoconference.

“At a minimum, this kind of action carries the risk of dragging Yemen into a regional conflagration. Because of one thing we can be certain, and that is that this extremely serious incident makes the chances of a regional conflict that much higher, and of a rapprochement that much lower. With Yemen in some way linked. None of that is good for Yemen.”

Despite this grim picture, Mr. Griffiths reported “some limited progress” in talks between the warring parties in Yemen on the implementation of a December 2018 agreement covering the city of Hudaydah, and prisoner exchange, among other points.

They met last week to discuss ceasefire enhancement, disengagement along the frontlines, and the planned redeployment of forces. A mechanism to shore up the ceasefire has been activated and has helped reduce violence in the key Red Sea port, which handles the majority of key aid deliveries.

“I am encouraged by the parties’ willingness to implement further measures,” Mr. Griffiths said. “The sustained reduction in violence…has been one of the major achievements of the Hudaydah Agreement so far. I welcome these concrete steps to reinforce it and to improve access for the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Obstacles to aid delivery worsen: Lowcock 

However, the UN Humanitarian Affairs chief informed the Council that operating conditions perhaps have never been worse.

Mark Lowcock said during June and July, aid agencies reported 300 incidents that hampered their work, mainly restrictions imposed by rebel authorities. Nearly five million people were affected.

“They include obstacles to beneficiary registration, attempts to divert aid, and efforts to control selection of implementing partners. Humanitarian workers have been detained at checkpoints and, in several, cases, arbitrarily arrested. Staff also face intimidation and harassment at Sana’a airport”, he stated.

Despite access issues, Mr. Lowcock said humanitarians can reach people in need provided they have adequate funding.

He welcomed recent funding allocations, including an upcoming transfer of $500 million from Saudi Arabia that was confirmed today.

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Ozone on track to heal completely in our lifetime, UN environment agency declares on World Day

INTERNATIONAL, 16 September 2019, Climate Change - At the current momentum, scientists predict the planet’s protective shield of gas - or ozone layer as we know it - will be completely healed as far as some regions of the planet are concerned, by the 2030’s, the UN’s environmental agency (UNEP) revealed on Monday.

The phaseout of controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances has not only helped replenish the protective layer for future generations but is also helping guard human health by filtering harmful rays from reaching Earth, said UNEP shared in a statement.

The recognition of this success comes on World Ozone Day, marked 16 September. This year celebrates “32 Years and Healing”; a commemoration of the international commitment to protect the ozone later and the climate under the historic Montreal Protocol, which has led to the phase-out of 99 per cent of ozone-depleting chemicals in refrigerators, air-conditioners and other consumer products.

Since 2000, parts of the ozone layer have recovered at a rate of 1-3 per cent every ten years, the latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion estimates. At projected rates the “Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone will heal completely by the 2030’s”, UNEP said, with the Southern Hemisphere repaired by the 2050’s, and Polar Regions in the following decade.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said “we must be careful not to neglect the ozone layer,” as we “rightly focus our energies on tackling climate change”, spotlighting the importance of preventing threats posed by emission of ozone-depleting gases.

Regenerating the ozone has helped curb the effects of climate change - with approximately 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2010 averted by a strong protective shield.

As of late last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported the global concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is still steadily on the rise, with consequential warming effects on the planet and ozone-teardown.

Damaging effects of ozone-depleting substances allow increased ultraviolet (or UV) rays to reach the earth, increasing incidents of skin cancers, eye cataracts, compromised immune systems and harm to agricultural lands and forests.

The Montreal Protocol is, to date, the only UN treaty to be adopted by all Member States, with all parties sharing responsibilities relating to phasing out ozone-depleting substances, controlled trade of such substances, annual data reporting and other matters.

“We can celebrate success,” UNEP said, “but we must all push to keep hold of these gains, in particular by remaining vigilant and tackling any illegal sources of ozone-depleting substances as they arise.”

Looking forward, the agency has called for wholehearted support of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which entered into force on 1 January of this year.

The agreement targets the phasing of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), climate-warming gases, which could avoid up to 0.4 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise by end of the century.

 

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