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Ebola: Health agency WHO says large-scale vaccine trials under way in Liberia

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) announced Tuesday, February 3 that the Ebola vaccine trials now under way in Liberia would start soon in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the two other most-affected countries in West Africa.

The agency also announced in Geneva today the appointment of Dr. Bruce Aylward as its Special Representative for Ebola Response.

Dr. Aylward will be expected to also work more closely with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and other partners to support the Ebola affected countries to control the epidemic.

Also today, February 3, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told reporters in Geneva that, following the reopening of schools in Guinea on 19 January, Liberia is preparing to reopen its schools on 16 February.

UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said the agency and its partners are assisting in developing relevant safety protocols, for example: equipping every school with hand washing equipment at entrances and in every bathroom; ensuring upon entry to the schools and on a daily basis that the temperature of every child, teacher and employee is normal; and ensuring that every school has enough water, given that only 45 per cent of schools previously had access to water.

The vaccine trials in Liberia are being run by the Liberian Government in partnership with the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) and would involve 30,000 volunteers in clinics and hospitals.

“They plan to test both leading candidate vaccines and compare both with a placebo group,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris, adding that a smaller trial is taking place first that would test the acceptability, tolerability and the immune response in the trial currently taking place.

In Guinea, a so-called ‘ring vaccination trial’ for Ebola would take place based on the approach that was used to eradicate the smallpox virus, she noted.

Ms. Harris explained that when a case of contamination was discovered, the person contaminated and a ‘ring’ of people around them would be vaccinated, to see if that prevented further cases occurring.

In Sierra Leone, a different approach would be taken. Ms. Harris said.

Teams would carry out vaccinations in one area, then a few weeks later, vaccinate in another place. The idea behind the process, she explained, was that there should be fewer cases in the place where the first vaccinations took place, and show whether the vaccine was truly protective or not.

The focus in Sierra Leone would be on health care and front line workers, mainly in the western areas where there were still tremendous levels of transmission, she said.

The WHO spokesperson emphasized that it is important to note that the vaccine is a preventive measure, not a cure or a drug treatment for Ebola, which has affected 22,444 people with 8,959 deaths.

“It would be a tool to prevent outbreaks of Ebola, however, in the future,” Ms. Harris said, adding that everyone involved in the trials was a volunteer and understood they had volunteered to be part of a scientific trial.

“Trials have been carried out with animals, with non-human primates, who have had a very good reaction when exposed to Ebola and did not catch it,” according to Ms. Harris.

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‘2015 is a chance to change history,’ UN Youth Forum is told

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL – This generation of young people – the largest the world has ever seen – has a historic opportunity to end poverty, combat climate change, create jobs and fight injustice, United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon told a Youth Forum at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday morning, February 2 as he called on the participants to get involved in shaping a future sustainable development agenda.

“Some of you may be focused on your studies. Some of you may be thinking about your careers. I am going to be honest. It is rough out there,” Mr. Bansaidat the2015 Time for Global Action Youth Forumorganized by the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Council President, Martin Sajdik, also addressed the meeting, as did the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi.

Today, there are 1.8 billion young people, representing one quarter of the world’s population. Many struggle to find work, and are often hit hardest in conflict. The Secretary-General says that it is time now to see this huge cohort as a force of change that harbours the ingenuity and creativity to help solve the world’s most daunting challenges.

“2015 is not just another year, it is a chance to change the course of history,” Mr. Ban said, as he emphasized that this is the “first generation with the potential to end poverty and the last generation to avoid worst effects of climate change.”

“It may be very hard to see what is happening beyond your borders. There are many people who are hungry, thirsty, and sick, and who cannot go to school. They are your brothers and sisters. This is why the UN is promoting sustainable development,” he added.

This year marks the end of implementation of the landmark UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which world leaders agreed on 15 years ago. There has been significant progress in meeting the targets. For example, global poverty has been halved well ahead of the 2015 deadline; in developing countries, 90 per cent of children now enjoy primary education; the number of people lacking access to improved drinking water has halved, and the fight against malaria and tuberculosis has shown results, according to the UN.

But challenges persist and with the deadline of the MDGs approaching this year, the UN will craft a new set of targets known as the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Today’s Youth Forum is a way to invite young people to get involved on the issues that matter to them, from job security to education. Globally, 73 million young people are looking for work and many more are trapped in exploitative jobs. In recent years, more than two and a half million more children in affluent countries fell into poverty, bringing the total above 76 million.

Children and adolescents bear the brunt of some of the world’s deadliest conflicts. In Nigeria last April, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. In Pakistan in December, terrorists killed 132 children at school and the same day in Yemen, more than a dozen schoolgirls were killed in a car bombing. Children are at risk in Central African Republic, Gaza, Syria, Iraq and South Sudan.

Mr. Sajdik, President of ECOSOC, said that for a child born in 1990, the base year for calculating progress in achieving the MDGs, he/she might be one of the 76 million young people currently unemployed or earn less than $2 per day – like 200 million other young people.

The young person born in 1990 is likely to be part of the 20 per cent of all youth in developing countries not engaged in education, employment or training. The situation is even worse for girls and young women, who face additional disadvantage and gender-based discrimination. Fewer girls and young women complete secondary level education, and young women aged 15-24 have HIV infection rates twice as high as young men for reasons beyond their control.

“The question is no longer if youth engagement is necessary but how to strengthen it,” said Mr. Sajdik, welcoming young people to voice their opinions on development, policy, climate change and education.

“There’s no doubt that young people are facing multiple challenges to meet their potential but they are not giving up,” emphasized Youth Envoy Mr. Alhendawi.

“Everywhere I go, I see how the youth want to be connected to the United Nations; they will not miss any opportunity to volunteer and to advocate. They will participate at the Model UN just to simulate what’s happening in the rooms with delegates. Today we are not simulating. This is the United Nations in action.”

As the UN representative on all things relating to young people, Mr. Alhendawi said that a “sense of ownership” is critical to the success of the future sustainable development agenda. The 1.8 billion young people worldwide are ready to “carry their share” of the post-2015 development.

In a keynote address urging an uptick in investment for children around the world, children’s activist and 2007 International Children’s Peace Prize Winner, Thandiwe Chama, called on delegates to be “on the right side of history” and place “our rights, the rights of children and youth, at the heart of the SDG agenda.”

“We should not only speak about youth engagement but also include children as key stakeholders,” Ms. Chama told those gathered, warning that without careful investment, children face a “wasted future.”

The young activist and co-founder of ‘KidsRights Youngsters’ emphasized that the world’s children continue to face daunting challenges including violence, child labour, abuse, and limited access to education. In addition, she noted, youth leadership, education, health and gender equality remained “key preconditions” for a successful post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

“We cannot achieve the SDGs without ensuring that my rights are the same as those of my brothers,” she continued. “Strengthen, fund and empower us.”

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Civil aviation conference to take up aircraft tracking, conflict zone risks

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has brought together aviation experts and strategic decision makers for a four-day conference that will discuss emerging safety issues such as global tracking of aircraft and risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones.

Some 500 delegates have gathered at ICAO headquarters in Montréal, Canada, for the Second High-level Safety Conferenceto cover three major themes: reviewing the current situation, the future approach to manage aviation safety and facilitating increased regional cooperation.

“The participation of Directors General of Civil Aviation and strategic decision-makers will provide the international civil aviation community the opportunity to build consensus, obtain commitments and formulate recommendations deemed necessary for the effective and efficient progress of key aviation safety activities,” according to ICAO.

“In particular,” ICAO said, “the conference will also be invited to discuss emerging safety issues, including the global tracking of aircraft and risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones.”

Among theside eventsscheduled during the conference include sessions on emerging issues such as the management of Ebola; search and rescue practices; the risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones; and the development of a future Global Distress Safety System to enhance the capability to track aircraft, locate an accident site and retrieve Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder information.

The conference take place following last year’s downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, and the disappearance of another Malaysian Airlines flight upon take off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Also listed among the side events are sessions on current initiatives to assist accident victims and their families and protection of safety information.

This past December, the Secretary-General addressed an Extraordinary Session of ICAO’s Permanent Council to mark the 70th anniversary of theConvention on International Aviation, better known as the Chicago Convention after the city where United States city where it was signed in 1944.

The Convention, which establishedICAO, a specialized UN agency tasked with coordinating and regulating international air travel, sets rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, and undertakes compliance audits, performs studies and analyses.

“It is through these provisions – as well as ICAO’s complementary policy, auditing and capacity-building efforts – that today’s global air transport network is able to operate close to 100,000 daily flights, safely, efficiently and securely in every region of the world,” according to ICAO.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY OBSERVATION:

This conference is also very important for Sint Maarten travellers as the key areas being discussed at the conference also impacts us and all those who travel.  

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21st century ‘hottest’ on record as global warming continues, world weather agency warns

SINT MAARTEN/GLOBAL – Devastating weather patterns and increasing temperatures will last into the foreseeable future as global warming is expected to continue, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed on Monday, February 2 as it explained that 2014’s ranking as the “hottest year on record” is part of a larger climate trend.

“The overall warming trend is more important than the ranking of an individual year,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud clarified today in apress release. “Analysis of the datasets indicates that 2014 was nominally the warmest on record, although there is very little difference between the three hottest years.”

High sea temperatures, the UN agency has said, have contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others. Twelve major Atlantic storms battered the United Kingdom in early months of 2014, while floods devastated much of the Balkans throughout May. The monthly precipitation over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014, meanwhile, was 301 per cent above normal – the highest since area-averaged statistics began in 1946.

At the same time, crippling droughts have struck large swathes of the continental United States while Northeast China and parts of the Yellow River basin did not reach half of the summer average, causing severe drought.

The diverse climate impact which afflicted nations around the planet throughout 2014 were, in fact, consistent with the expectation of a changing climate, Mr. Jarraud continued.

In addition, he warned that 14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century, adding the UN agency’s expectation that global warming would continue “given that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the increasing heat content of the oceans are committing us to a warmer future.”

Around 93 per cent of the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other human activities ends up in the oceans, the WMO press release noted, as it pointed out that global sea-surface temperatures had reached “record levels” in 2014, even in the absence of a “fully developed El Niño” weather pattern. High temperatures in 1998 – the hottest year before the 21st century – occurred during a strong El Niño year.

The WMO has released its latest findings regarding its global temperature analysis in advance of climate change negotiations scheduled to be held in Geneva from 8 to 13 February. These talks are expected to help pave the way towards the December 2015 conference scheduled in Paris, France, where a new universal UN-backed treaty on climate change will be adopted.

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Sint Maarten Tourism Stakeholders attend Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2015 in Puerto Rico

SINT MAARTEN/PUERTO RICO – Approximately 1,100 delegates from 29 countries including destination Sint Maarten participated in the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s (CHATA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2015 in San Juan, Puerto Rico which concluded last Friday.

This meeting has been considered one of the most important for the Caribbean region’s tourism industry.

Puerto Rico tourism authorities indicated that they were very pleased to host and co-sponsor the event which brought tourism stakeholders together to sell vacation packages for the Caribbean.  

According to Ricardo Perez, Executive Board member of St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), participating in the Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2015, is a great networking opportunity for Sint Maarten to meet with other representatives of associations to see what challenges they are encountering and what one could learn from their successes and apply them to the country.

Perez, who is also General Manager at Oyster Bay Beach Resort (OBBR), said it is very important for Sint Maarten to have a presence at the Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2015, as it would allow the destination to stay a step ahead with new trends in the industry.  “We can always learn from what our major competitive markets are doing and help provide input to the Tourist Board accordingly,” Perez noted.

Perez added that being present allows a destination to meet most of the important players in the Caribbean at one event, and if you are not present you lose a major opportunity to touch base with existing suppliers and forge relationships with new ones.

There were 282 suppliers and 106 buyers that also took part in the Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2015.  Among the suppliers, there were approximately 300 hotels.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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At African Union Summit, UN promises support to build back Ebola-hit countries

INTERNATIONAL –Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon today assured African leaders gathered for a summit in Addis Ababa of the support of the United Nations in helping the countries affected by Ebola “build back stronger than ever,” while the head of the UN development agency tasked with leading the Organization's recovery efforts urged the world to stay the course in aiding hard-hit West Africa.

“Ebola must be confronted as both a health crisis and a crisis that has stopped development in its tracks,”saidUN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark at a briefing she hosted in New York Thursday for UN Member States. “It is incumbent on us all to support the three countries make the serious development setbacks as short lived as possible.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General, who had tasked UNDP with leading the initiatives of the UN system on Ebola-related recovery,addresseda roundtable on the Ebola outbreak on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit which opened today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Lauding the AU for being on the frontlines of the Ebola response, Mr. Ban told the participants that: “We are now at a critical stage. Some may even call it a turning point.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the number of new Ebola cases recorded last week in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone fell below 100 for the first time in seven months, as it announced that the battle against the deadly virus has shifted from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic.

The UN chief today reminded the world that “Ebola will not be gone from any country, until is gone from every country,” and that “success in the affected countries will also mean repairing the damage caused by Ebola.”

“Children need to go to school, farmers need to return to their fields, markets and businesses must reopen,” he added.

Saying he was “greatly encouraged by the solidarity shown by Africa – its Governments, businesses and people,” Mr. Ban wished every success in the AU's efforts to defeat Ebola and help the affected countries build back stronger than ever. “I assure you of the United Nations' support,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER)reportedthat the Director of Operations for Humanitarian Affairs, John Ging, visited Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to assess existing emergency coordination structure. There, he met with UNDP and UNMEER colleagues, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other response partners to discuss details of a potential intervention to enhance humanitarian response in the Ebola-hit countries.

UNMEER also said efforts were underway to re-open schools in Liberia next week.

“Preparation of school infection prevention and control kits to facilitate the safe reopening of more than 4,000 schools in Liberia began in advance of their opening scheduled for next week,” according to the Mission.

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UN chief welcomes African Union's decision to combat Boko Haram

INTERNATIONAL – United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon today welcomed the decision of the African Union to join forces to stop the advancement of the “murderous campaigns” waged by Boko Haram, as he stressed the importance of the continent's collaboration with the UN, emphasizing that “many lives depend on preventive-diplomacy and peacekeeping.”

Mr. Ban is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this weekend for the African Union (AU) Summit, a gathering of the continent's 54-nations, to discuss daunting challenges including the growing threat of Boko Haram. At the Summit's closing today, African leaders pledged to join forces to fight the terror group, which has in recent weeks attacked villages in Cameroon, displacing thousands to neighbouring countries and sparking fears that its insurgency was expanding beyond Nigeria.

Speaking to reporters today, the UN chiefsaidhe supported the AU's plan to fight the terror group with the establishment of a Multinational Joint Task Force, which must remain consistent with UN human rights due diligence policies.

“The murderous campaign waged by Boko Haram demands stronger and more coordinated action from us all,” Mr. Ban said.

“Regional and international efforts must focus on protecting communities in northern Nigeria and across borders. More than a million internally displaced people and refugees must be able to return home,” the Secretary-General added, reiterating his call for the immediate release of those who have been abducted, particularly the girls from Chibok.

Collaboration on peace and security is essential to the UN's partnership with the AU in that more than 80 per cent of UN peacekeepers are deployed on the continent. Mr. Ban said that through the UN-AU partnership, progress has been made in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan. More, however, could be done by working “even more closely together”.

Such close partnership has paid off in the fight against the Ebola epidemic, Mr. Ban continued, commending the AU for being on the “front lines” of fighting the deadly virus. Efforts are paying off and while “we are beginning to turn the tide,” Ebola is far from over.

“We must continue to demonstrate the same solidarity until Ebola is gone from every country, and throughout the next phase of recovery,” the UN chief said.

After all, he continued, peace and development go hand-in-hand. Africa has made substantial progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and has the opportunity this year, like the rest of the world, to commit to a new post-2015 development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change.

“African families, communities and economies have much to gain from both these historic agreements,” Mr. Ban continued, urging leaders of the continent to “listen to their people and respect their wishes and aspirations”.

Several African countries will hold elections this year, he said, pledging that the UN and AU will work together to support nations to organize peaceful and credible polls. Mr. Ban also urged leaders to respect constitutional and legal limits on their terms of office.

Mr. Ban also strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in North Sinai, earlier this week which killed dozens of people, including civilians, and injured scores of others.

In his remarks to a meeting on ensuring peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Secretary-General said that despite progress made in “stamping out” the activities of armed groups, scores of civilians have been killed in recent months in the Beni area.

This only underscores the importance of eradicating all illegal armed groups from the region, Mr. Ban told the Fifth Meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and region. Welcoming the use of military force against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or the FDLR, he added, that while “military action will not resolve this issue,” it is vital to eliminate the threat posed by the FDLR once and for all.

The Secretary-General also expressed concern at the slow progress in implementing the Nairobi Declarations. More than a year after those accords were signed, the amnesty and repatriation of eligible former fighters from M23 and other armed groups have not been completed. Governments of the DCR, Rwanda and Uganda must to intensity efforts to complete this process.

Also today in a meeting with Mali's Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Ban deplored the recent incidents in Gao, in the northern part of the embattled country. He reiterated the UN's commitment to work closely with the Malian Government to find out exactly what happened and encouraged the Government to continue to lead the peace process. Meanwhile, the Malian Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, reiterated his Government's support for the UN's peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MINUSMA.

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Haiti: Security Council visit shed important light on situation as elections loom, members say

HAITI - Members of the Security Council heard briefings today, January 29 from the co-leads of a trip taken by the body to Haiti, where they saw first-hand the critical work being done by the United Nations Mission there in support of a better future for the country’s people.

Ambassador Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States, said the visit, which Council members carried out from 23 to 25 January, included meetings with political leaders, civil society and United Nations representatives, and had shed important light on the situation as the country headed towards elections.

“Checks and balances are key,” Ms. Power said, as she described how encouraged she was by President Michel Martelly’s efforts in leading a multi-party Government and noted that Council members had been impressed by the newly-formed provisional electoral council’s commitment to independence.

She said she remained concerned about the loss of the check on presidential power and called on all sides to redouble their efforts for constructive dialogue with an aim to ensure free and fair elections.

Ambassador Cristián Barros Melet, Permanent Representative of Chile, which holds the Council presidency for January, echoed Ms. Powers’ views on the contribution made by the UN stabilization mission (MINUSTAH) through its various projects to the prospect of a brighter future for Haitians.

He said the “fundamental goal” of the Council’s trip was to underscore the importance of an inclusive atmosphere for stability and to promote the prevention of conflict. Council members urged the various actors to work together to hold legislative elections that were free, fair, inclusive, transparent and in the interests of the people of Haiti.

Members also had the chance to assess initiatives undertaken to strengthen the national police of Haiti and to promote more responsibility in the State and national authorities. They had recognised progress achieved while also stressing that it remains one of main areas where challenges remain, with particular significance as elections approach.

The visit to a women’s prison in Pétionville showed Council members how clear the need for progress in guaranteeing the rule of law, including access to justice, was for Haitians, Mr. Barros Melet said, noting that the trip had also given members a chance to evaluate the implementation of resolution 2180 (2014).

Both briefers discussed the visit to the country’s national memorial for all those who lost their lives during the 2010 earthquake, with Ms. Powers noting how moving the tribute – “a large piece of rubble which stands as a stark symbol of all that was destroyed” – was, and Mr. Barros Melet stressing how the Haitian people had shown resilience in the five years since the devastation of the earthquake.

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With recorded Ebola cases reaching new lows, UN health agency targets ending epidemic

INTERNATIONAL – This week, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa has fallen below 100 for the first time in seven months, the World Health Organization reported today, January 29 as it announced that the battle against the deadly virus has shifted from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic.

“To achieve this goal as quickly as possible, efforts have moved from rapidly building infrastructure to ensuring that capacity for case finding, case management, safe burials, and community engagement is used as effectively as possible,” WHO said in itslatest update containing data up to 25 January 2015.

The WHO announcement came as the United Nations focused on recovery aspects of the Ebola epidemic that affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone the most.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Ebola, Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was to participate in a UN-African Union stakeholders meeting in the Ethiopian capital on the reconstruction of the affected countries, as the Executive Boards of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) was meeting today on Ebola Recovery at UN headquarters.

According to WHO, the response to the Ebola epidemic has now moved to a second phase, “as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic.”

The agency in its update, said “for the first time since the week ending 29 June 2014, there have been fewer than 100 new confirmed cases reported in a week in the 3 most-affected countries.”

“A combined total of 99 confirmed cases were reported from the 3 countries in the week to 25 January: 30 in Guinea, 4 in Liberia, and 65 in Sierra Leone,” according to the WHO update.

“Case incidence continues to fall in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” it said, but noted that “Guinea reported 30 confirmed cases in the week to 25 January, up from 20 confirmed cases in the previous week.”

The number of total cases was reported at more than 22,000 with some 8,800 deaths.

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Greater protections needed for ‘inland fisheries’

INTERNATIONAL – The world's network of lakes, rivers and streams that provide fish and fresh drinking water to millions of people must be better managed in order to safeguard their ongoing contribution to healthy diets and the global economy, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urged on January 29.

“Inland fisheries provide a valuable but often overlooked source of nutrition and employment around the world,” Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, explained in apress release.

“But to date, the international effort to effectively integrate inland fisheries into the broader development agenda has fallen short of what is needed.”

Mr. Mathiesen's appeal comes as the UN food agency and international stakeholders – from researchers to indigenous groups – wrapped up the Global Conference on Inland Fisheries, concluding that a dearth of data and sound policies had resulted in development decisions which failed to take into account adverse impacts on inland fisheries.

According to the FAO, lakes and rivers are an “essential source” of protein, micronutrients, vitamins and fats for millions of people, particularly in developing countries, where more than 60 million people rely on them for their livelihood. An estimated 71 low-income countries, in fact, currently produce nearly 7 million tonnes a year, or 80 per cent of so-called global inland captures.

In addition, much of the nutrition garnered from inland fisheries is ultimately critical in supplementing the incomplete diets of many of the world's poor. Some 800,000 children die each year from zinc deficiency; 250 million children worldwide are at risk of vitamin A deficiency; and almost a third of the world's population is iron deficient.

At the same time, the UN agency noted, these bodies of water are frequently impacted by other human needs, including energy creation, tourism and competition for freshwater, which can damage the delicate ecosystems in play.

“We hear a lot about the threats to coral reefs, but freshwater fish are the most threatened group of vertebrates used by humans,” Mr. Mathiesen continued.

“If a country upstream dams a river or drains a wetland, fisheries management downstream is fairly useless,” added FAO Senior Fishery Resource Officer, Devin Bartley.

Currently, less than half of international or shared inland water bodies have international agreements on their management and only 11 per cent have a mandate covering fish, the FAO said.

Experts who attended the Global Conference called on the international community to boost the number of accords aimed at ensuring freshwater resources are used “sustainably and smartly.”

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