THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Wednesday, 4 October 2006
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Sewage and coastal destruction threaten marine life (Reuters)
Green Olympics: a pledge to honor for Beijing (Xinhua)
UN Assesses War Damage to Lebanon's Environment (ENS)
Conflit au Liban et impacts sur l'environnement (Actualites News Environnement)
UN assesses Lebanese conflict damage (In the News)
En reconnaissance de ses efforts dans la lutte contre la désertification (Mapeci)
How Safe Are Crops Grown in Wetlands? (New Vision -Kampala)
UN applauds phase-out of leaded petrol in Indonesia (The Jakarta Post)
Miembros del PNUMA se reúnen en San Sebastián para preparar el el informe 'GEO'
sobre el Medio Ambiente en el mundo. (Terra Actualidad)
Other Environment News
The century of drought (The Independent)
$20bn and 10 years to build - a giant rival for Panama canal (The Guardian)
U.S. Swaps Guatemalan Debt for Forest Conservation(ENS)
Cut emissions now or pay, UK tells climate talks (Reuters)
Claude Allègre, scientifiquement incorrect (Le Monde)
Global Warming on the Forest Floor (New York Times)
Agency Takes Species Off Endangered List (Associated Press)
Maathai writes of prison ordeal (BBC)
Les Français rêvent de voitures propres (TF1)
Big-Bang Detective Work Wins Physics Nobel (National Public Radio)
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
UN Daily News of 3 October 2006
S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 3 October 2006
Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.unep.org
Reuters: Sewage and coastal destruction threaten marine life
By Anna Mudeva
[appears in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The West Australian, The Age, ... (all
Australia), the Scotsman, SwissInfo, ABC News, ...]
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Sewage is a growing threat to oceans and seas, putting at risk marine
life and habitats as the pollution problem escalates, the United Nations Environment Program
(UNEP) said in a report on Wednesday.
The "State of the Marine Environment" report found that substantial progress had been achieved
in reducing oily wastes and organic pollutants such as long-lived industrial chemicals in the past
two decades but other problems had grown worse.
In many developing countries, between 80 and nearly 90 percent of sewage entering the coastal
zones is estimated to be raw and untreated, said the report compiled by the UNEP global
program of action for protection of marine environment (GPA).
"The pollution -- linked with rising coastal populations, inadequate treatment infrastructure and
waste handling facilities -- is putting at risk human health and wildlife as well as livelihoods
from fisheries to tourism," it said.
The report estimated that an additional $56 billion is needed annually to address the global
There is also a rising concern over the increasing damage and destruction of essential and
economically important coastal ecosystems like mangrove forests -- needed for coastal defenses
and fisheries, as well as coral reefs and seagrass beds.
Growing coastal populations and overuse of marine resources are the main source of the
problem, the UNEP said. Close to 40 percent of the world's population live on the coastal
Threatened areas include the North Sea's bed, coral reefs in South East Asia, wetlands in North
America, Southern and Western Africa, mangroves in many Caribbean countries, Ecuador and
Colombia, and fisheries in Latin America.
The report also noted increasing levels of pollutants from sources like agricultural fertilizer,
manure, sewage and fossil fuel burning, with the problem spreading from developed to
developing countries as well.
This has led to doubling of the number of oxygen deficient coastal "dead zones" every decade
since 1960, and degradation of seagrass beds and emergence of toxic algal blooms.
The UNEP highlighted progress made in reducing global oil and chemicals pollution. The world
has cut oil discharges from industry and cities by nearly 90 percent since the mid-1980s.
But concerns of further oil pollution remain as climate change and the loss of ice is opening up
the North East passage across the roof of the world to shipping and oil exploration.
The findings will be given to over 60 member governments of the GPA initiative at a meeting in
Beijing on October 16-20 to encourage a review of their planning and investment strategies to
ensure they are genuinely marine-friendly, the UNEP said.
"An estimated 80 percent of marine pollution originates from the land and this could rise
significantly by 2050 if, as expected, coastal populations double in just over 40 years time and
action to combat pollution is not accelerated, UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said.
Xinhua:Green Olympics: a pledge to honor for Beijing
Buried underneath the National Indoor Stadium were 8,000 tons of waste steel scraps supplied
by the Capital Iron & Steel Group. The heavy material served the float-combating purpose well
and the utilization solved the problem of proper disposal.
In the Olympic Village, another 3,000 tons of steel scraps were used to construct the roadbed.
Manhole covers made of cement glass fiber composite materials were used in the Village to
replace traditional ones made of cast iron, to save the non-renewable iron resources. And solar
energy was exploited to supply hot water for construction workers and also for lighting on the
construction sites and in the offices.
The development of subway and light rail transport has quickened in Beijing not only for
speedy traffic, but also for the reduction of car-related pollution.
At present construction is underway for subway lines No.4, 5 and 10, as well as two special
lines connecting the airport and the "Olympic Green", the official name for the Olympic park.
Their combined mileage reached 115 kilometers.
By 2008 Beijing would have 202 kilometers of subway in operation, hopefully carrying 10% of
the city traffic.
Apart from implementing strict emission standards, Beijing plans to make 90 percent of its
public transport vehicles and 70 percent of local taxis adopt clean energies by the end of 2007.
Regarding the 4,000-plus vehicles to be recruited by the Games for dedicated use, BOCOG said
they were expected to give zero or little emission, with the help of hybrid or fuel cell
BOCOG released the Green Olympics logo on September 24, 2005. Five days later, its
Environmental Management System passed ISO auditing and certification.
In 2005 the "Green Olympics, Green Action" Promotion Team delivered more than 180 lectures
in 15 districts and counties across Beijing. The audience exceeded 70,000 in number.
Green-Olympics-themed contests involving paintings by children and DV shootings by college
students became popular events among the local residents. Some of the works even impressed
the IOC officials.
Pal Schmitt, chairman of IOC's Sport and Environment Commission, was quoted as saying that
Beijing will be able to achieve its goals for "Green Olympics."
BOCOG signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Environment
Program on November 18, 2005. The two sides agreed to effectively cooperate in the gathering
and sharing of environmental information, and promotion and education of environmental
All the green efforts are intended to bring about a successful Olympic Games, through which
the Chinese hope to showcase their wisdom, culture and technological development.
However, "the Green Olympics is not the end of a story, but just the beginning," BOCOG's Yu
Xiaoxuan said. "The effects would be lasting and leave a precious legacy of environmental
protection to China and the world."
There is still much work to do. Before 2008, Beijing needs to construct a second natural gas
pipeline, and further lift its green land coverage to 48 percent, sewage treatment rate to over 90
percent, and use-of-recycled-water rate to 50 percent.
To BOCOG, the Green Olympics is getting closer every day. Included in its list of future work
are the Olympic torch relays, and the Game's opening and closing ceremonies.
"The arrangements will make sure that these events are not going to cause damage to the natural
habitats for animals, to areas for water conservation, and to protected cultural heritage sites such
as the Great Wall," Yu Xiaoxuan said.
All venue construction will be completed around the end of 2007, to be followed by
decorations. BOCOG would make efforts to secure that the materials used for decoration are
also "green", and the job is done with quality, Yu said.
An air quality security program is being developed by the city government. During the Olympic
Games, Beijing will restrict the use of motor vehicles and stop all construction work. The
neighboring areas of the capital city will be invited to "take coordinated action" to reduce
discharge of pollutants and improve waste disposal.
"The greatest difficulty for BOCOG is the lack of experience," Yu Xiaoxuan said, "foreign
successes may not readily be copied. We need to learn first, and then bring our own innovative
thinking into play. We must be successful, otherwise we cannot face the people who have
entrusted this important mission to us."
On October 28, 2005, a sub-station was set up in the Olympic Green to monitor the air quality.
When the Games take place in less than two years, experts say, the environment would
definitely be better, not only because August in Beijing is typically rainy, damp and free of
strong winds, but also the "green efforts" will certainly pay off by that time.
Environment News Service: UN Assesses War Damage to Lebanon's Environment
BEIRUT, Lebanon, October 3, 2006 (ENS) - The United Nations has sent an international team
of experts to Lebanon to assess the environmental damage caused by the recent conflict with
Israel. The team will work with Lebanese authorities to examine several sites around the war-
torn nation, including the massive oil spill that has contaminated some 80 miles of Lebanon's
"There is an urgent need to assess the environmental legacy of the recent conflict and put in
place a comprehensive clean-up of polluted and health-hazardous sites," said Achim Steiner,
executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
The Lebanese government requested the assistance from UNEP, which has carried out similar
work in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Iraq and Liberia
The potential list of sites to be visited and sampled is based on research by UNEP supplemented
by remote-sensing data and recommendations made by Lebanon's environment minister.
Some 10,000 to 30,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil was released into the Mediterranean Sea
when Israeli warplanes bombed the Jiyyeh power plant, some 17 miles south of Beirut, in mid-
The spill has fouled nearly two-thirds of Lebanon's coast, as well as some beaches in Syria, and
is widely considered the worst environmental catastrophe in the small nation's history.
Lebanese authorities say the damage is severe and will take several months to clean up. It could
take a decade for the environment to fully recover.
Norway, Kuwait and Spain have sent boats and equipment to help contain the oil slick, and the
effort is now focusing on the difficult work of cleaning the coastal areas affected by the spill.
The economic impacts could be devastating for Lebanon, which had a vibrant beach-based
tourism industry prior to the conflict. In addition to impacts on human health and tourism, the
spill is having adverse affects on an important marine area that includes critical nesting areas for
endangered green turtles.
"Work is ongoing to deal with the oil spill on the Lebanese coast," Steiner said. "We must now
look at the wider impacts as they relate to issues such as underground and surface water
supplies, coastal contamination and the health and fertility of the land."
The UNEP team will also assess the environmental impacts at the Beirut International Airport,
where fuel tanks were set alight as a result of repeated bombing, and the Maliban glass factory
in the Bekaa Valley destroyed by an air raid in July.
Other sites expected to be assessed by the UNEP-led team and national experts include some of
the estimated 22 country-wide petrol stations that were damaged or destroyed and locations
where there is thought to be unexploded ordnance.
Environmentalists have raised concerns that some Israeli ammunition fired in southern Lebanon
was made with depleted uranium.
The team also plans to assess pollution risks at several hospitals and at damaged drinking water
and sewage treatment plants. In addition, they will investigate damaged power transformers,
collapsed buildings and ruptured oil lines that may have leaked or discharged hazardous
substances and materials- such as asbestos and chlorinated compounds.
Steiner said the team expects to have a comprehensive report on sites and locations in need of
decontamination and clean-up before the end of the year.
"Once the hard facts are known and the hot spots pin pointed, I would urge the international
community to back the findings as part of the reconstruction effort for Lebanon and its people,"
Funding for the assessment is being provided by Norway and Switzerland.
Actualites News Environnement: Conflit au Liban et impacts sur l'environnement
03 octobre 2006 - 09:00 (Par Pierre Melquiot)
Des experts onusiens entament une évaluation post-conflit du Liban vis-à-vis de
l'environnement. Une équipe des Nations Unies entreprend une étude nationale des « points
chauds » au Liban au niveau de l'environnement.
Des experts internationaux entameront dès demain, le 03 octobre 2006, une évaluation des
dégâts sur l'environnement subis par le Liban à la suite des récents conflits. L'équipe, dirigée par
le Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement (PNUE) et travaillant en étroite
collaboration avec les autorités libanaises, visitera des sites considérés dangereux pour la santé
publique, les espèces sauvages et l'environnement en général afin d'y prélever des échantillons.
Parmi les sites retenus figurent : la centrale électrique de Jiyyeh à 28 km au sud de Beyrouth,
d'où 10.000 à 30.000 tonnes de fuel se sont déversés dans la Méditerranée suite au raid aérien de
la mi-juillet ; l'aéroport international de Beyrouth, où des réservoirs d'essence ont pris feu après
des bombardements répétés ; et l'usine de verre de Maliban dans la Vallée de la Bekaa, détruite
le 19 juillet lors d'un raid aérien.
L'équipe internationale menée par le Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement
(PNUE)et les experts nationaux inspecteront également quelques unes des 22 stations de pétrole
réparties à travers le pays qui ont été endommagées ou détruites, ainsi que des sites où l'on
soupçonne la présence d'engins non explosés.
L'équipe prévoit également d'évaluer les risques de pollution au niveau des infrastructures d'eau
et d'assainissement et des installations médicales endommagées par les récents conflits.
L'attention de l'équipe portera également sur des transformateurs électriques abîmés, des
immeubles effondrés et des lignes pétrolières endommagés desquels auraient pu s'échapper des
produits chimiques dangereux comme l'amiante et des composés chlorés.
Achim Steiner, le Sous-secrétaire général des Nations Unies et Directeur exécutif du
Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement (PNUE), a déclaré qu'il « faut évaluer
d'urgence l'impact du récent conflit sur l'environnement et mettre en œuvre un nettoyage
complet des sites pollués ou constituant un danger pour la santé. »
« Le nettoyage de la marée noire au long de la côte libanaise est actuellement en cours. Nous
devons maintenant nous pencher sur les conséquences plus amples qui touchent à
l'approvisionnement en eau, de surface ou souterraine, la contamination du littoral et la santé et
fertilité des sols, » a-t-il ajouté. « L'évaluation post-conflit est mise en œuvre en réponse à une
demande d'assistance du gouvernement libanais en vue de l'élaboration d'un cadre dirigeant les
efforts internationaux de reconstruction, » a expliqué M. Steiner.
« Je dois remercier les gouvernements norvégien et suisse pour l'appui financier donné à cette
évaluation de moins d'un mois. D'ici la fin de l'année, nous auront certainement un rapport
global des sites et lieux nécessitant d'être décontaminés et nettoyés. Une fois les données réelles
connues et les points chauds identifiés, j'incite la communauté internationale à appuyer ses
conclusions et a en tenir compte dans les efforts de reconstruction en faveur du Liban et de son
peuple, » a-t-il conclu.
In the News.co.uk: UN assesses Lebanese conflict damage
An international team of experts has today begun an assessment of the damage caused by the
recent conflict in Lebanon.
Led by the UN Environment Programme (Unep), the team will visit and sample sites to assess
their potential risks to humans, wildlife and the wider environment.
Areas included in the assessment are the Jiyyeh thermal power plant near Beirut which
discharged 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of fuel oil into the Mediterranean after it was bombed in
mid July, Beirut international airport, where fuel tanks were set alight by bombing, and the
Maliban glass factory in the Bekaa Valley destroyed by an air raid in July.
Other damaged buildings, including petrol stations, and oil lines will be examined for pollution
Concerns have been raised that hazardous substances and materials such as asbestos and
chlorinated compounds could have entered the environment in areas damaged by bombings.
Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and Unep executive director, said that there is an
"urgent need" to assess which areas need a clean-up.
"Work is on-going to deal with the oil spill on the Lebanese coast. We must now look at the
wider impacts as they relate to issues such as underground and surface water supplies, coastal
contamination and the health and fertility of the land," he said.
Mapeci (Mauritania): En reconnaissance de ses efforts dans la lutte contre la
désertification : Le PNUE décerne le Prix SASAKAWA à Sidi El Moctar Ould Waled
Notre compatriote Sidi El Moctar Ould Waled est le lauréat du prix Sasakawa du programme
des nations unies pour l‘environnement. Cette distinction est une reconnaissance des efforts
déployés par Sidi El Moctar Ould Waled, à travers son organisation : la coopérative avicole et
Ce prix prestigieux lui sera remis en octobre en reconnaissance de sa contribution significative à
la lutte contre la désertification et la dégradation des sols, problème majeur à l‘échelle locale et
mondiale qui menace la survie des deux milliards d‘habitants des zones arides et désertiques,
indique un communiqué du PNUE publié aujourd‘hui à Nairobi. " Cette récompense met en
exergue le fait que les communautés locales et les populations autochtones (femmes et petits
agriculteurs compris) tiennent entre leurs mains de nombreuses solutions pour répondre à la
menace mondiale qu‘est la désertification ", ajoute le PNUE. Une âpre sélection avait été faite
pour départager les différents prétendants à cette distinction internationale. Les prétendants
étaient outre les deux lauréats dont notre compatriote Ould Waled, plusieurs autres
personnalités du monde de la recherche et du volontariat en faveur de la préservation de
l‘environnement notamment en ce qui concerne les plus régions désertiques. Le prix Sasakawa
du PNUE, décerné chaque année, est d‘une valeur de 200.000 dollars, il récompense la
recherche et les idées novatrices ainsi que des initiatives communautaires exceptionnelles. Ould
Waled recevra sa distinction des mains de Achim Steiner lors d‘une cérémonie au Rose Center
for Earth and Space du musée américain d‘histoire naturelle à New York.
Créée en 1985, la coopérative Tenadi s‘est illustrée ces années durant par de grandes
réalisations et jetée des bases solides pour un développement durable en s‘investissant dans la
résolution de plusieurs problèmes liés à la promiscuité des conditions de vie de ses membres et
à la régénérescence des sols. A son actif plusieurs actions en cours comme le renforcement de la
lutte contre la désertisation, la lutte pour une autosuffisance alimentaire et réduction de la
pauvreté, la rationalisation de l‘eau
The Jakarta Post: UN applauds phase-out of leaded petrol in Indonesia
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Partnership for Clean Fuels and
Vehicles have praised the planned phase-out of leaded petrol in Indonesia.
"I would like to congratulate Indonesia and (state-owned oil company) Pertamina on their
decision to phase out leaded petrol in Indonesia," said Shoa Ehsani, chief of UNEP's urban
Indonesia has joined the vast majority of countries worldwide that have banned the use of
leaded petrol because of the damaging effect it has on public health, the environment and the
The phase-out of leaded petrol started more than three decades ago in the world's developed
countries, when the extent of damage to the nervous system and vital organs of those exposed to
lead became apparent. In children for example, lead acts as a neuro-toxin, hampering the
development of their brains -- studies show a significant reduction of IQ levels in children
living in environments where leaded petrol is used. Health impacts start to occur at very low
levels of lead in the atmosphere.
Today only about 20 countries world-wide still use leaded petrol. However, it is expected that
these will soon stop the use of leaded petrol and that by 2008 the whole world will be free of
Most recently, in January 2006, all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa banned the use of leaded
Nearly all cars imported to Indonesia, new or second-hand, come standard fitted with a catalytic
converter, a device that can remove some 90 percent of harmful emissions from petrol vehicle
exhaust. In order for this device to work, however, the car needs to operate on unleaded petrol.
Lead destroys catalytic converters. The use of the catalytic converter is very important in efforts
to improve the air quality in cities with large volumes of traffic. Lead in petrol also fouls and
damages parts of the engine and vehicle, increasing maintenance costs for owners.
The World Bank estimates that some five to 10 percent of the gross domestic product of a
country is lost through air pollution and its knock-on effects, equating to billions of dollars for a
country like Indonesia. Studies around the world have shown that for every dollar put into the
phase-out of leaded petrol, there at least $10 of benefits, in better public health and productivity.
Lead is removed from petrol without any negative effect on the vehicle's operation, whether it is
old or new. Since the mid-80s, vehicles have been specifically built to use unleaded petrol.
When lead is removed from petrol, the octane level of the fuel goes down. Octane levels in
petrol can be maintained without lead, however, and usually through cheaper and less harmful
methods in than the addition of lead -- the modernization of refineries in particular plays a large
roll in this.
A campaign to phase-out leaded petrol worldwide by 2008 was launched by the Partnership for
Clean Fuels and Vehicles, the leading global initiative to promote cleaner fuels and vehicles.
Terra Actualidad: Miembros del PNUMA se reúnen en San Sebastián para preparar el el
informe 'GEO' sobre el Medio Ambiente en el mundo.
La ciudad de San Sebastián acogerá desde mañana miércoles el encuentro de miembros del
Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA), reunidos con el fin de
preparar el Informe Perspectivas del Medio Ambiente Mundial, conocido por sus siglas en
inglés 'GEO' (Global Environment Outlook).
Este documento recogerá el diagnóstico de la situación medioambiental del mundo, además de
una 'prospección sobre los posibles impactos ambientales que sufrirá el planeta en los próximos
diez a veinte años, si no se actúa desde ahora mismo', aseguran desde el Departamento de
Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio vasco, organizador de un evento que tendrá lugar
hasta el viernes día 6.
El 'GEO', principal referente ambiental a nivel mundial, se publica cada cuatro años. La reunión
de San Sebastián servirá para preparar el próximo informe, cuya publicación está prevista para
septiembre del año que viene.
El proyecto 'GEO' se creó en respuesta a los requisitos del 'Programa 21' para contar con
estudios ambientales y, a su vez, en cumplimiento con la decisión adoptada por el Consejo de
Administración del PNUMA en mayo de 1995, en el que se solicitaba la elaboración de un
amplio informe sobre el estado del medioambiental del planeta.
New Vision (Kampala): How Safe Are Crops Grown in Wetlands?
by John Kasozi
Source: All Africa Global Media Date: October 02, 2006
Kampala, Oct 02, 2006 (New Vision/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --MOST food
crops grown in urban wetlands absorb a number of pollutants. This is especially so with sweet
potatoes and cocoyams.
Recent research undertaken by leading East African scientists under the Lake Victoria Research
Initiative of the Inter-university Council of East Africa raises the need for serious attention to
possible effects of lead and cadmium on human health.
"The sweet potato is a source of carbohydrates for poor urban dwellers in East Africa. If it is
grown in wetlands, there is a possibility for it to take up lead from burning leaded petrol and
flaking leaded house paints," says James Nsumba, an agronomist. According to the research,
cocoyam was found to be three times more resilience than sweet potato, surviving even at 800
particles per million (lead). All sweet potato varieties experimented had succumbed.
Cocoyam is well known for its tolerance to heavy metals and was included in the study for
Nsumba, Finster Grey et al, in their 2003 Field Survey Science Total Environmental journal
reported that metals pose greater risks to children since they absorb between 30 and 75% of the
metal in what they eat, whereas adults absorb only about 11%. Lead, even ingested at low
concentrations, is associated with impaired brain development, balance problems, heightened
risk of tooth decay, hearing loss and shortened stature among children.
In adults it leads to tiredness, loss of appetite, reduced libido in men and the risk of high blood
In December 2003, a story by the Nairobi-based Daily Nation newspaper about high
concentrations of lead in the sukumawiki (kale) sold in Nairobi sparked mixed reactions from
The story from the 2003 United Nations Environment Programme report, stated that the Nairobi
sukumawiki contained 5,000 microgrammes of lead per kilo, which is above the World Health
Organisation recommended standard of 300.
Other Environment News
The Independent (UK): The century of drought
By Michael McCarthy
One third of the planet will be desert by the year 2100, say climate experts in the most dire
warning yet of the effects of global warming
Drought threatening the lives of millions will spread across half the land surface of the Earth in
the coming century because of global warming, according to new predictions from Britain's
leading climate scientists.
Extreme drought, in which agriculture is in effect impossible, will affect about a third of the
planet, according to the study from the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and
It is one of the most dire forecasts so far of the potential effects of rising temperatures around
the world - yet it may be an underestimation, the scientists involved said yesterday.
The findings, released at the Climate Clinic at the Conservative Party conference in
Bournemouth, drew astonished and dismayed reactions from aid agencies and development
specialists, who fear that the poor of developing countries will be worst hit.
"This is genuinely terrifying," said Andrew Pendleton of Christian Aid. "It is a death sentence
for many millions of people. It will mean migration off the land at levels we have not seen
before, and at levels poor countries cannot cope with."
One of Britain's leading experts on the effects of climate change on the developing countries,
Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation, said: "There's almost no aspect of life in
the developing countries that these predictions don't undermine - the ability to grow food, the
ability to have a safe sanitation system, the availability of water. For hundreds of millions of
people for whom getting through the day is already a struggle, this is going to push them over
The findings represent the first time that the threat of increased drought from climate change has
been quantified with a supercomputer climate model such as the one operated by the Hadley
Their impact is likely to even greater because the findings may be an underestimate. The study
did not include potential effects on drought from global-warming-induced changes to the Earth's
In one unpublished Met Office study, when the carbon cycle effects are included, future drought
is even worse.
The results are regarded as most valid at the global level, but the clear implication is that the
parts of the world already stricken by drought, such as Africa, will be the places where the
projected increase will have the most severe effects.
The study, by Eleanor Burke and two Hadley Centre colleagues, models how a measure of
drought known as the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) is likely to increase globally
during the coming century with predicted changes in rainfall and heat around the world because
of climate change. It shows the PDSI figure for moderate drought, currently at 25 per cent of the
Earth's surface, rising to 50 per cent by 2100, the figure for severe drought, currently at about 8
per cent, rising to 40 cent, and the figure for extreme drought, currently 3 per cent, rising to 30
Senior Met Office scientists are sensitive about the study, funded by the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stressing it contains uncertainties: there is only one
climate model involved, one future scenario for emissions of greenhouse gases (a moderate-to-
high one) and one drought index. Nevertheless, the result is "significant", according to Vicky
Pope, the head of the Hadley Centre's climate programme. Further work would now be taking
place to try to assess the potential risk of different levels of drought in different places, she said.
The full study - Modelling the Recent Evolution of Global Drought and Projections for the 21st
Century with the Hadley Centre Climate Model - will be published later this month in The
Journal of Hydrometeorology .
It will be widely publicised by the British Government at the negotiations in Nairobi in
November on a successor to the Kyoto climate treaty. But a preview of it was given by Dr
Burke in a presentation to the Climate Clinic, which was formed by environmental groups, with
The Independent as media partner, to press politicians for tougher action on climate change. The
Climate Clinic has been in operation at all the party conferences.
While the study will be seen as a cause for great concern, it is the figure for the increase in
extreme drought that some observers find most frightening.
"We're talking about 30 per cent of the world's land surface becoming essentially uninhabitable
in terms of agricultural production in the space of a few decades," Mark Lynas, the author of
High Tide, the first major account of the visible effects of global warming around the world,
said. "These are parts of the world where hundreds of millions of people will no longer be able
to feed themselves."
Mr Pendleton said: "This means you're talking about any form of development going straight
out of the window. The vast majority of poor people in the developing world are small-scale
farmers who... rely on rain."
A glimpse of what lies ahead
The sun beats down across northern Kenya's Rift Valley, turning brown what was once green.
Farmers and nomadic herders are waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the "short" rains - a
few weeks of intense rainfall that will ensure their crops grow and their cattle can eat.
The short rains are due in the next month. Last year they never came; large swaths of the Horn
of Africa stayed brown. From Ethiopia and Eritrea, through Somalia and down into Tanzania,
11 million people were at risk of hunger.
This devastating image of a drought-ravaged region offers a glimpse of what lies ahead for large
parts of the planet as global warming takes hold.
In Kenya, the animals died first. The nomadic herders' one source of sustenance and income -
their cattle - perished with nothing to eat and nothing to drink. Bleached skeletons of cows and
goats littered the barren landscape.
The number of food emergencies in Africa each year has almost tripled since the 1980s. Across
sub-Saharan Africa, one in three people is under-nourished. Poor governance has played a part.
Pastoralist communities suffer most, rather than farmers and urban dwellers. Nomadic herders
will walk for weeks to find a water hole or riverbed. As resources dwindle, fighting between
tribes over scarce resources becomes common.
One of the most critical issues is under-investment in pastoralist areas. Here, roads are rare,
schools and hospitals almost non-existent.
Nomadic herders in Turkana, northern Kenya, who saw their cattle die last year, are making
adjustments to their way of life. When charities offerednew cattle, they said no. Instead, they
asked for donkeys and camels - animals more likely to survive hard times.
Pastoralists have little other than their animals to rely on. But projects which provide them with
money to buy food elsewhere have proved effective, in the short term at least.
The Guardian (UK): $20bn and 10 years to build - a giant rival for Panama canal
Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, plans to construct a $20bn rival to the
Panama canal to enable the largest tankers and container ships in the world to pass between the
Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The mega-engineering project is expected to take more than 10 years to build but could redraw
the map of world trade by opening the east coast of North America, Europe and Brazil to large-
scale sea traffic from burgeoning Pacific rim countries including China and South Korea.
The new route would cut 500 miles - or at least a day - off the route between California and
New York, and could considerably shorten and cheapen the journey from China to Europe for
Yesterday's formal announcement of what is known as the Grand Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua
Canal was greeted with trepidation by nearby Panama, which is also planning to widen its canal.
It fears that its main source of income will be seriously affected if Nicaragua builds a rival.
If built, the Nicaraguan canal would allow 250,000-tonne tankers and container ships to pass
through the isthmus that divides the two oceans, compared with the Panama canal's 79,000-
tonne boats. Even if an expected $5bn (£2.6bn) upgrade of the Panama canal goes ahead, it is
expected to only accommodate 120,000-tonne boats.
However, analysts and politicians are divided over whether there is enough traffic for two major
canals in the region, despite a great increase in world trade over the last decade.
The Nicaraguan president, Enrique Bolanos, said at the weekend that there is room for two
major canals. "There's a lot of business to share. We know that for every 100 ships that come to
the Americas, only seven use the Panama canal. If a Nicaraguan canal were built, it would bring
an economic effervescence never seen before in central America," he said.
But a spokesman for the Panama Canal Authority, the semi-independent body that runs the
Panama canal, said there was insufficient ship traffic to support both a widened Panama canal
and a canal through Nicaragua. "If the widening goes forward, [the Nicaraguan project] is not
feasible," he said. "Our analysis shows that if our project is approved, there would not be
enough demand to pay for the two, and they would have to have a cost structure much higher
The project, which has been backed vigorously by Mr Bolanos, has been under active
consideration for at least a decade, but has been held up by financial negotiations. Nicaragua,
whose GDP is only 5% of the expected cost of the venture, is expected to have to link up with
major global companies, including Chinese and Japanese banks which stand to gain the most by
exporting more easily to the west.
In engineering terms the new waterway would be one of the most ambitious attempted
anywhere in the last 20 years. The route is expected to take ships in a series of giant locks 105ft
(32 metres) up to Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua), the second largest lake in Latin America.
In total, the route would be about 170 miles long and would largely follow the San Juan River,
requiring massive cuttings and earthworks. It would also have to negotiate Mt Momotombo, an
active volcano. It is thought that a major new port and tourist developments would be built at
A canal through Nicaragua has been a dream of many countries and entrepreneurs for more than
400 years, since the Spanish conquistadors saw the potential of a sea route to the East Indies.
The idea was raised by businessmen in 1849 during the California gold rush and then again in
1884 when political agreement was reached between the US and Nicaragua. American business
owners invested in land, expecting a canal to be built in the country, and in 1916 the US paid
Nicaragua $3m for an option in perpetuity but the deal was never signed after the Panama canal
Ten years ago, the idea of a rival to the Panama canal surfaced again when a consortium of eight
large European, North American and Japanese construction companies and ports, including the
British firm Wimpey, carried out feasibility studies. It was estimated then that 20,000 workers
would be needed.
The Nicaraguan canal would need to take much of the Panama canal's traffic to be remotely
profitable. The Panama canal currently carries about 5% of world shipping, handling 14,000
transits and shipping over 275m tonnes of cargo in 2005, mainly between Asia and the east
coast of the US. The canal earns Panama 8% of its revenue but is now near its capacity, with
freight traffic sometimes backing up for days or weeks during maintenance.
More recently, attention has turned to a "dry" canal across Nicaragua. This would be a high-
speed railway or a motorway. Considered less ecologically controversial, and far cheaper, they
would however, require time-consuming and expensive loading and unloading of containers.
Yesterday, Nicaraguan environmentalists and grassroots groups played down the plans, saying
there had been a long history of plans for routes between the Pacific and Atlantic but no action.
"A canal, a rail, a road link and a pipeline link have all been proposed, but nothing ever
happens. If this 'wet' canal does ever go ahead we would expect it to provide a few temporary
jobs but little long-term benefit for the ordinary Nicaraguan," said Katherine Hoyt of the
Nicaraguan network in Washington.
"The bankers love the idea. It is using Nicaragua's strategic position to benefit world trade. But
it would be an ecological disaster, destroying large areas of forest. It would also open up the
interior of the most forested country in central America to exploitation," she said.
"There are also security implications. I cannot imagine the US wanting Chinese or foreign
investors having a controlling share in a canal so close to its border."
Others maintain that the proposed deep-water ports would ruin magnificent coral reefs and
fishing grounds, distort sea turtle breeding and migratory patterns, and occasion widespread
poisoning and pollution through oil spills and waste discharge.
Nicaragua, the second poorest country in Latin America, has faced devastating natural
disasters and massive political corruption, but has made great strides to improve health and
education standards. The average annual income is $750 (£398), and although nearly 80% of
its foreign debts were cancelled, its internal debt is more than $6.5bn.
Around 75% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, unemployment is close to 50%, and
income inequality is pronounced. Disasters, such as Hurricane Mitch, and population growth,
have undercut economic gains: according to the EU, more people are living in poverty now
than in 1993. The country must create some 100,000 jobs a year. Next month, Nicaraguans go
to the polls.
Environment News Service: U.S. Swaps Guatemalan Debt for Forest Conservation
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, October 3, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. government on Monday
announced a major debt-for-nature swap that will provide more than $24 million for
conservation efforts in Guatemala. The funds will help conserve Guatemala's high altitude cloud
forests, rain forests, and coastal mangrove swamps, home to hundreds of species of migratory
birds, as well as many rare and endangered species including jaguars, howler monkeys and
The agreements with Guatemala represent the largest amount of debt forgiven by the United
States under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act.
The 1998 law allows debt owed to the United States to be invested in conservation efforts.
Guatemala is the 10th country to forge an agreement under the program, which will generate
more than $125 million over the next 10-25 years to protect tropical forests.
The U.S. government has committed $15 million for the agreement, which also includes $1
million contributions from Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy.
The Guatemalan government will commit these funds over the next 15 years to support grants
to non-governmental organizations and other groups to protect and restore the country's
important tropical forest resources.
"This is how modern conservation works, with partnerships involving all stakeholders to protect
crucial ecosystems that sustain life on Earth," said Peter Seligmann, Conservation International
chairman and CEO. "We are proud to help the Guatemalan people conserve tropical forests
essential to their well-being and the overall health of the planet."
Under the terms of the agreement, signed last month, Guatemala will invest some $24.4 million
in local currency over the next 15 years for conservation work in four designated areas.
The money will go to conservation efforts in the Cuchumatanes region, a critical area for
endangered amphibians, and in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, home to a culturally-significant
forest that is also home to an array of plant and animal species.
The reserve comprises 10 percent of Guatemala's total land area and is a haven for several
endangered species such as the jaguar and the scarlet macaw.
The agreement will also fund programs in the Motagua/Polochic System, considered one of the
country's most biologically important regions, and in the Western Highlands Volcanic Chain, a
critical migratory bird route and home to many plant and animal species unique to Guatemala.
The scope of the deal is astonishing, according to Steve McCormick, president and CEO of The
"The areas protected in this agreement lie in the heart of Mayan civilization, and they are home
to jaguars, scarlet macaws, harpy eagles, and countless other species," McCormick said.
The agreement specifically designates $19.5 million to finance grants for eligible non-
governmental projects over the next 15 years, and the remaining $4.9 million creates a
permanent conservation trust fund that will generate interest income for further grants.
Under the agreement, every $1 contributed by the U.S. Treasury, the Conservancy, and CI
brings $1.4 worth of conservation on the ground in Guatemala.
The Guatemalan government has struggled to protect its tropical forests, which are under threat
from illegal logging, drug trafficking and unsustainable agriculture.
Reuters: Cut emissions now or pay, UK tells climate talks
By Catherine Bremer
Britain told the world's worst polluting nations on Tuesday that acting now to cut emissions of
heat-trapping greenhouse gases would be vastly cheaper in the long run than doing nothing.
British government scientist and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern told a
meeting in northern Mexico that it makes economic as well as environmental sense to pursue
green energy sources.
A long-awaited study by Stern on the economic effects of combating global warming is due in
the coming days.
"He shows that the longer action is delayed, the more expensive it is," British Environment
Secretary David Miliband told reporters.
"What he says is that ... it is imperative we take action to prevent further climate change because
the economic costs -- never mind the human costs and the costs to the environment -- will far
outweigh the costs of mitigation."
The closed-door meeting in Monterrey, Mexico of energy and environment ministers from the
world's 20 top greenhouse gas emitting nations including the United States is aimed at
continuing dialogue on climate change and comes amid a shift in scientific thinking.
Most experts are now convinced global warming is caused by burning fossil fuels, rather than a
natural cyclical phenomenon.
Last year was the warmest year at the Earth's surface since records began in the 1860s,
according to NASA, and new estimates suggest temperatures could rise by 3 degrees Celsius
this century, triggering floods, droughts and famine.
The United States, which has withdrawn from the Kyoto accord aimed at reducing greenhouse
gas emissions, participated in the closed-door sessions but did not brief reporters.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said climate change could spell crisis for the
developing world as people fight over fresh water and crops, noting the conflict in Darfur is
partly rooted in competition for farmland and water.
Experts predict an exodus of millions from low-lying countries like Bangladesh if sea levels rise
by just three feet (a meter).
Beckett, a former environment minister, said putting off action to cut emissions and pursue
green energy sources was "economic nonsense."
Economists are divided over the benefits of preemptively tackling climate change, with some
saying the cost of taking a slower approach would be insignificant. Some predict higher farming
yields in cold countries could offset damage elsewhere.
Many developing countries want industrialized nations to make deeper cuts before they consider
curbing emissions from their own factories, power plants and cars.
Yet emissions from emerging giants like China, India and Russia, all represented in Monterrey,
will soon catch up with the United States, the world's No. 1 polluter. China currently builds a
new coal-fired power plant every few days.
Among proposals being mooted by developing governments are burying greenhouse gases like
carbon dioxide deep underground and taxing consumers who use too much energy.
Le Monde: Claude Allègre, scientifiquement incorrect
Vent debout contre Claude Allègre. Depuis la publication de sa chronique du 21 septembre dans
l'hebdomadaire L'Express, le géophysicien suscite la colère des climatologues français.
Rompant avec le consensus qui prévaut chez les spécialistes de l'évolution du climat, M. Allègre
développait dans son texte l'idée selon laquelle les changements climatiques actuels ne sont pas
le signe d'un réchauffement global de la Terre. Et, surtout, que la cause de ces changements
En réponse, plusieurs climatologues ont adressé, mardi 3 octobre, une courte lettre de
protestation à l'Académie des sciences, à l'Institut national des sciences de l'univers (INSU), au
ministère de la recherche ainsi qu'à L'Express. Parmi les signataires, Jean Jouzel, directeur de
l'Institut Pierre-Simon-Laplace (IPSL), Michel Fily, directeur du Laboratoire de glaciologie et
de géophysique de l'environnement (LGGE) ou encore Thomas Stocker, directeur du laboratoire
de physique du climat et de l'environnement de Berne (Suisse).
Que dit donc l'ancien ministre de l'éducation nationale, de la recherche et de la technologie
(1997-2000), scientifique reconnu ? Sous le titre "Neiges du Kilimandjaro", il écrit : "Dans la
même quinzaine, on a vu les photos spectaculaires de Yann Arthus-Bertrand montrant le
Kilimandjaro déplumé, sans ses neiges, et l'on a immédiatement entendu le refrain sur le
réchauffement de la planète et lu dans la revue Science un important article d'une série
d'éminents glaciologues qui montrent que, en trente ans, le volume des glaces antarctiques n'a
pas varié. Tous les spécialistes sont d'accord : si un réchauffement général du globe a lieu, il
sera beaucoup plus important près des pôles qu'à l'équateur. Or ces auteurs expliquent qu'en
certains endroits du continent antarctique il y a une destruction massive de la banquise, mais
qu'ailleurs il y a épaississement de la glace."
"Alors, y a-t-il ou non réchauffement climatique ?, interroge l'ancien ministre. L'argument du
Kilimandjaro paraît imparable. (...) Mais les choses ne sont pas si simples. La disparition
progressive des neiges du Kilimandjaro est souvent attribuée à des phénomènes locaux, et au
premier chef à la désertification de l'Afrique de l'Est." Puis Claude Allègre convoque une
publication sur la "remontée" géologique du continent africain qui expliquerait cette
désertification. La conclusion du texte est claire : le dossier du réchauffement climatique de la
planète reste ouvert. "La cause de cette modification climatique est inconnue, affirme-t-il. Est-
ce l'homme ? Est-ce la nature ?" Il invite à la "prudence". Et fustige les tenants d'une "écologie
de l'impuissance protestataire devenue un business très lucratif pour quelques-uns".
Dès sa publication, la chronique de M. Allègre provoque un déluge de courriels indignés entre
laboratoires. Tout ce que la France a de climatologues et de glaciologues serre les dents. De
nombreux chercheurs protestent, le font savoir en privé, mais l'émoi demeure confiné aux
centres de recherche.
Certes, Claude Allègre n'est pas climatologue, certes il exprime un point de vue ultraminoritaire,
certes il fait une interprétation erronée des travaux qu'il cite... Mais il est, au moment de la
publication, ministrable en cas de retour de Lionel Jospin à l'Elysée. Prudence, donc. Jusqu'à
l'annonce du retrait de l'ancien premier ministre de la course à l'investiture socialiste pour la
présidentielle de 2007.
La décision de Lionel Jospin, annoncée officiellement le 29 septembre, semble délier les
langues et susciter les initiatives. Le 1er octobre, plus d'une semaine après la publication de la
chronique décriée, le LGGE met en ligne sur son site Internet un texte assassin de Sylvestre
Huet, journaliste scientifique à Libération, qui démonte implacablement et en termes peu
amènes les arguments de M. Allègre.
Les chercheurs signataires du courrier de protestation ne font pas autre chose. Dans un style
plus urbain, ils font valoir que "les modèles climatiques ne prévoient pas une diminution du
volume des glaces de la calotte antarctique en raison de chutes de neige plus importantes et
d'une fusion encore très marginale dans cette région polaire, où les températures sont
globalement très inférieures à 0 o C".
En clair, les travaux mentionnés par M. Allègre dans son texte ne contredisent pas les prévisions
des climatologues et ne remettent nullement en cause le consensus actuel sur le réchauffement.
Une fois le reste de l'argumentaire déconstruit, les auteurs du courrier concluent : "On pourrait
s'attendre qu'un chercheur undefinedundefinedéminent'', ancien ministre de la recherche et
académicien, donne une information d'expert scientifique responsable et non une information
tronquée, presque partisane et fausse, surtout lorsque cela concerne un sujet sociétal." Les
climatologues reprochent à M. Allègre de nier l'évidence du réchauffement et de sa cause
principale - l'homme. Et, de ce fait, de contribuer à instiller le doute sur les travaux du Groupe
intergouvernemental d'experts sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC) - travaux qui légitiment le
Protocole de Kyoto et les maigres efforts de la communauté internationale pour réduire les
émissions de gaz à effet de serre.
"Venant de la part d'une personnalité comme Claude Allègre, on ne pouvait pas laisser passer
cela, relève Dominique Raynaud, ancien directeur du LGGE. Cela équivaut à jeter le discrédit
sur tous les personnels de la recherche qui travaillent, en France, sur ces thèmes." Outre sa
qualité d'ancien ministre, M. Allègre est aussi l'un des scientifiques français les plus titrés. Il est
lauréat du Prix Crafoord et de la médaille Wollaston, médaille d'or du CNRS. Certains
climatologues, comme Michel Fily, n'hésitent pas à lier les prises de position de Claude Allègre
à la faible mobilisation du Parti socialiste sur les questions de changement climatique.
"Ce genre de propos arrive alors qu'on voit s'ouvrir sur Internet de plus en plus de sites et de
listes de diffusion dont l'objectif est de nier la réalité du réchauffement et de ses causes ou de
colporter des informations rassurantes mais scientifiquement infondées sur le phénomène, dit
Valérie Masson-Delmotte, chercheuse au Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de
l'environnement (LSCE). Ces idées commencent à transparaître dans certains enseignements
universitaires dispensés dans le domaine des sciences de la Terre."
Quasi absentes de la communauté des climatologues, les thèses de M. Allègre sont partagées, en
France, par des géophysiciens de l'Institut de physique du globe de Paris (IPGP). Les
communications de Vincent Courtillot, directeur de l'IPGP et proche de M. Allègre, ont
d'ailleurs, récemment, déjà suscité quelques remous à l'Académie des sciences.
Celle-ci doit organiser, fin janvier 2007, un débat autour des thèses de M. Courtillot, selon
lesquelles l'augmentation de la concentration atmosphérique en CO2 pourrait ne pas être la
cause principale du réchauffement. Ce dernier pourrait être attribué à des phénomènes
indépendants des activités humaines (cycles solaires, géomagnétisme).
"Il y a encore quelques personnes qui posent des questions sur la méthodologie du GIEC, sur
les mesures de la température moyenne du globe, etc., explique Edouard Brézin, président de
l'Académie des sciences. Nous allons donc avoir un débat entre les gens qui travaillent dans le
domaine, qui n'ont pas la moindre hésitation et qui sont suivis par 98 % des académiciens, et
quelques personnes qui, n'ayant jamais travaillé spécifiquement sur ces sujets, continuent à
Un climatologue, qui a requis l'anonymat, s'amuse de cette bataille. "On a parfois du mal à
suivre Claude Allègre : pour qui le connaît, il est difficile de faire la part entre ses convictions
scientifiques réelles et ce qui relève dans son discours de la pure provocation ou de la politique,
explique-t-il. A la fin des années 1980, pour faire pièce aux antinucléaires, il n'hésitait pas à
tirer la sonnette d'alarme sur le réchauffement climatique en mettant en garde contre
l'accumulation de CO2 dans l'atmosphère."
Et de citer un livre d'entretiens (12 Clés pour la géologie, éd. Belin/France Culture), dans lequel
Claude Allègre expliquait, en 1987 : "En brûlant des combustibles fossiles, l'homme a augmenté
le taux de gaz carbonique dans l'atmosphère, ce qui fait, par exemple, que depuis un siècle la
température moyenne du globe a augmenté d'un demi-degré."
New York Times: Global Warming on the Forest Floor
By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Along with rising temperatures, global warming is very likely to cause a shift toward more
extreme weather — stronger storms with more rainfall, and longer and more severe droughts.
Those changes are likely to have large-scale, obvious effects on farmlands, grasslands and
forests and on the creatures that inhabit them.
But many smaller, more subtle effects are likely too. Researchers at the University of Kentucky
looked at one: the impact of climate change on the decomposition of leaf litter on the forest
The researchers, Janet R. Lensing and David H. Wise, studied the process of leaf decay in
hardwood forests in central Kentucky. The main instigator in leaf decay is fungi, which get
nutrients from the organic matter. But fungi don‘t exist in a vacuum. They are grazed upon by
springtails, primitive insects of the Collembola order. In turn, springtails are the prey of
The who-eats-whom makes for a complex web, where changes at one level can have cascading
effects. Too much or too little grazing by springtails, for example, can reduce fungal activity
and slow decay.
Environmental changes can have an impact, too, and that‘s what the researchers studied. They
set up forest plots and manipulated precipitation to match anticipated future levels, both wet and
dry. They didn‘t see much change in leaf decomposition under higher-rainfall conditions. But
under drought conditions, they found, decay accelerated significantly. Their findings are
published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
―Our hypothesis is that during drought conditions, the fungi are already drought-stressed, and
the Collembola are overgrazing them, which slows down decay,‖ Dr. Lensing said. Under these
circumstances, by preying on the springtails, the spiders reduce the pressure on the fungi, thus
allowing for more leaf decay. Under wetter conditions the fungi are not so stressed and so easily
overgrazed, so spider predation on springtails has less effect.
It‘s not that the dryness has a direct influence on populations of spiders, say, or springtails.
Instead, Dr. Lensing said, ―it affects how the cascading occurs‖ within the food web. This
indirect impact on leaf decay, she added, ―shows how complex the effect of altered rainfall can
Survival Diet, for Frogs
Here‘s a question that ecologists have wondered about for years: Is there a connection between
how widespread a species is — the size of the territory it covers — and its diet?
One idea is that a species with a restricted range should have a specialized diet, in part because
there is a less diverse selection of foods available in a smaller area. By the same reasoning, a
species with a broad range should have a more varied diet, because there are more menu
Selection might come into play as well. With a species shoehorned into a small space, there is a
greater likelihood that any adaptation — to a single food source, for example — will spread
through the species. This is less likely in a species with a broader range, where there would
always be some mixing among individuals from different environments.
It‘s a nice idea. But a new study shows the opposite is true, at least for rainforest frogs from the
wet tropics area of northeastern Australia.
Yvette M. Williams of James Cook University and colleagues studied the stomach contents of
11 related frog species with ranges from 2,500 square miles to slightly more than 1 square mile
(on a single mountaintop). All of the frogs dined on ants, spiders, beetles and other bugs, but the
species with the smallest ranges had the most diverse diets. Those with the largest ranges ate
mostly ants. The findings were reported in Biology Letters.
The researchers suggest that another hypothesis might explain this. The smaller the range, the
more prone a species is to extinction. A small-range species that depends on one food source,
then, risks being wiped out if that food source dries up. But one that is a generalist eater can
better survive the vagaries of the food supply.
Associated Press: Agency Takes Species Off Endangered List
OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pulled two species be pulled from the
endangered list on Monday and recommended that four be downlisted from endangered to
threatened on Monday, saying there's been much progress toward wildlife recovery in
The valley elderberry longhorn beetles and the island night lizards that live in San Clemente
Island were taken off the list. The Morro shoulderband snail, the Smith's blue butterfly, the least
Bells vireo and the California least stern were recommended for downlisting from endangered
There was no change in status for the other six species reviewed.
The announcement comes at the end of the mandatory reviews that listed species undergo every
The agency also designated more than 150,000 acres in four California counties as critical for
the survival of the threatened Alameda whipsnake, which is in trouble because of heavy
development in the scrubland where it lives.
The slender, fast-moving snake, also known as the Alameda striped racer because of the
distinctive yellow-orange stripes on its black body, has been considered a threatened species in
California since 1971. It was added to the federal list of threatened species in 1997.
The habitat designation does not affect a property's ownership or what private owners can do
with their land, federal officials said.
But it would require federal agencies planning to fund or carry out activities on the identified
acreage to consult with Fish and Wildlife to make sure their projects would not harm the listed
The agency's new rule for the Alameda whipsnake established as critical habitat 74,239 acres in
Alameda County, 76,033 acres in Contra Costa County, 2,625 acres in northeastern Santa Clara
and 1,937 acres in western San Joaquin County.
BBC: Maathai writes of prison ordeal
The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai, has told the BBC she
wrote her autobiography to give hope to others.
She said she was always asked about her upbringing and what inspired her campaign for the
environment, so she decided to share her experiences.
She writes of how her activism led from dark days in prison to world acclaim.
"Even young people, who come from very humble backgrounds like me, can feel they too can
do something," she said.
"You have to use whatever opportunities come your way."
Mrs Maathai said her divorce from her husband was the most painful and deeply personal
experience of her life, but being thrown into prison during President Daniel arap Moi's
government was also very difficult.
"I had small children and I didn't know how they were reacting. They were old enough to
understand that mummy was in jail but were not old enough to understand why," she told the
BBC's Network Africa programme.
Her autobiography Unbowed, published by Knopf, is being launched in Nairobi.
"There I was, dressed to kill with my beads in a cell that was cold, dank, filthy, smelly and
crowded, with no room to sit down, water was all over," she writes.
"Later I was put into a concrete, maximum-security cell with four other women and given a
uniform, a pan to use as a toilet, and a blanket. the women warders also cut off my braids."
In the book, she recalls that in 1989 when she was battling the construction of a building
complex on the only green park in the capital, Nairobi, Members of Parliament interrupted their
house business to discuss her and express their outrage at her position:
"To the cheers of a packed house, one MP said that because I had supposedly repudiated my
husband in public, I could not be taken seriously and that my behaviour had damaged his
respect for all women."
During the debate, her Green Belt Movement, mostly of women who planted trees to combat
the devastating effects of deforestation and desertification, was described as a "bogus
organisation" in which she spent all her time travelling abroad, by another MP.
She said that pain and suffering is not invited but comes because of the path you have chosen to
"Life is a journey - sometimes it is pleasant and sometimes it is painful - but the important thing
is to make the best of it and that is what I tried to do."
The Nobel Peace Prize awarding committee described Mrs Maathai as "a source of inspiration
for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace".
She became an environmental campaigner after planting some trees in her back garden.
This inspired her to set up the Green Belt Movement in 1977.
Her campaign to mobilise poor women to plant some 30 million trees has been copied by other
She was elected to parliament in 2001, and became deputy environment minister in 2003.
TF1: Les Français rêvent de voitures propres
Moins gourmande en essence, moins polluante : un sondage pour MAAF Assurances et Le
Parisien dévoile la voiture du futur telle que la voient les Fr ançais.
Réalisé il y a quelques jours et publié en plein Mondial de l'Automobile, le sondage LH 2 pour
MAAF Assurances et Le Parisien révèle une tendance de fond : plus que jamais, les Français se
sentent concernés par la question de la pollution automobile et convaincus de la nécessité de
changer leurs habitudes... quitte à s'équiper de véhicules non polluants.
Quand on leur demande de décrire la voiture de leurs rêves, les sondés la voient moins
gourmande en essence (60%), moins polluante (59%), et plus sûre (29%). Fait significatif, les
préoccupations environnementales se cumulent avec les préoccupations d'ordre économique,
et se retrouvent aussi bien chez les catégories socioprofessionnelles modestes (70% des
employés insistent sur l'aspect "moindre consommation") que chez les catégories
socioprofessionnelles supérieures, traditionnellement plus sensibles aux problématiques liées à
l'environnement. A noter que les Franciliens apparaissent moins sensibles que le reste des
Français aux questions de consommation d'essence (51 %).
Conséquence : une majorité écrasante des sondés (94%) se disent intéressés par le fait d'avoir
une voiture propre. Et sont favorables à l'idée de politiques incitatives : près d'un sur deux
(46%) pense que l'Etat devrait aider la recherche industrielle en la matière. De même,
36% pensent que l'Etat devrait soutenir les marques qui commercialisent le plus de voitures
propres. Enfin, 77% des sondés trouveraient justifié que les assureurs fassent un effort en faveur
des voitures propres.
National Public Radio (US): Big-Bang Detective Work Wins Physics Nobel
The Nobel Prize in Physics will be awarded to two Americans whose findings lend support to
the big-bang scenario of the universe's origins.
The winners are John Mather, 60, who works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and
George Smoot, 61, who works at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley,
"They have not proven the big-bang theory but they give it very strong support," said Per
Carlson, chairman of the Nobel committee for physics.
The pair led an effort to measure ancient radiation left over from the big bang. Their satellite
experiment, called COBE and launched in 1989, made a very precise measurement of faint
radiation produced after the big bang. When the data was finally shown at a conference,
scientists gave a standing ovation.
COBE's measurements gave strong support for the big bang, which was the only theory that
could explain the precise pattern of radiation. The experiment also showed that the radiation had
small variations in temperature in different directions. Scientists think these small irregularities
explain why matter began to clump in the universe, leading to the formation of galaxies, instead
of spreading out evenly.
Painting the Early Universe's Picture
by Adeline Goss
This year's Nobel Prize in Physics winners helped settle one chapter of an ongoing debate over
the origins of the universe.
In the 1960s, most scientists agreed that the universe was expanding, but they disagreed about
how. One group adhered to the steady-state model, which held that new matter is created as
galaxies move away from one another. The competing big-bang model asserted that the
universe started out in a tremendously dense, hot state, and expanded with a bang into the vast
and much cooler cosmos we inhabit today.
Cosmologists predicted that if the big-bang theory were true, then radiation left over from the
big bang should still pervade the universe. In 1964, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected
this radiation, known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Penzias and Wilson won
the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery.
After 1964, researchers made several independent measurements of the CMB from Earth. But
distortion from Earth's atmosphere prevented precise measurements, so cosmologists dreamed
of putting instruments in space, where they could collect more detailed information.
After more than 15 years of planning, NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer
satellite (COBE) in 1989. Onboard were three major experiments. Today's Nobel winners, John
Mather and George Smoot, were in charge of two.
Mather's instrument measured the spectrum of the CMB, and found it supported big-bang
predictions extraordinarily well.
Smoot's instrument produced a visual map of the CMB, which showed that the amount of
radiation varies, evidence that matter and energy were unevenly distributed when the universe
was still very young. These variations -- called "anisotropy" -- are believed to be responsible for
the "clumpy" distribution of galaxies and galaxy clusters.
Together, these results, announced in 1992, provided the big bang with impressive support.
Two newer satellites are building on COBE's findings. In 2001, NASA launched a probe -- the
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy satellite (WMAP) -- that created an even more detailed map
of cosmic microwave background. WMAP also helped nail down a number of great interest to
cosmologists: It pegged the age of the universe at about 13.7 billion years old.
In 2007, cosmologists plan on launching the Planck Surveyor, which will delve even deeper into
the high-energy physics of the early universe. Results are expected in 2009.
ROAP Media Update 4 October 2006
UN or UNEP in the news
United Nations to Consider Deep Sea Trawling Ban
Planet Ark, INTERNATIONAL: October 4, 2006
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations needs to stop the destruction of deep sea ecosystems
by banning fishermen from trawling nets on the ocean floor, Australia, New Zealand and Palau,
joined by actress Sigourney Weaver, said on Tuesday.
The 192-member United Nations General Assembly is due to begin debating this week an
Australian-led plan to ban deep sea bottom trawling in unmanaged high seas and impose
tougher regulation of other destructive fishing practices.
The White House announced on Tuesday that it would support a ban on deep sea trawling,
while the European Commission -- executive of the 25-member European Union -- declared its
backing for the proposal last week.
UN General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, but they reflect the will of the international
About 64 percent of the world's ocean is in international waters, of which about three-quarters is
unmanaged, according to the Pew Institute for Ocean Science.
"The world's oceans are facing a crisis," Weaver told a news conference, adding that deep sea
bottom trawling was "raping these oceans beyond site and beyond regulation".
"I have come here to join everybody in appealing to all of those involved to do the right thing
for the seas and for future generations, both human and aquatic, who will thrive on the bounty
of the oceans if given half a chance," said Weaver, star of the movies "Alien" and
'TRAGIC AND UNPRECEDENTED LOSS OF LIFE'
As mainstay species like cod and hake become depleted by overfishing, deepwater species with
names such as forkbeard, orange roughy, black scabbardfish and roundnose grenadier are an
attractive catch as trawlers move to new fishing grounds.
A bottom trawl is a cone-shaped net that is towed by one or two boats across the sea floor, as
much as 1400 metres (4,600 feet) below the surface, its pointed end retaining all the fish that are
It can cause damage to extremely slow growing ecosystems, particularly coral reefs, and also
depletes other marine life that is captured by the nets.
"The global picture in relation to conservation of the marine environment is a dismal one,"
Australia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Hill, said.
The organisms that live in the benthic regions -- on the bottom of the sea -- can survive without
light and tolerate low temperatures. The World Conservation Union said between 500,000 and
100 million species are thought to inhabit these areas.
A Greenpeace report in March said that 40 percent of the world's oceans should be placed in
nature reserves. Just 0.6 percent of oceans are protected reserves at present, compared with 12
percent of the world's land, according to UN data.
"We do know very little about the deep sea, but what we do know suggests that it is the largest,
most biologically rich place on this earth," Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute
for Ocean Science said.
"If the United Nations does not take action now, I believe we will see a tragic and
unprecedented loss of life before we even have the chance to see it, to know it, to describe it."
Story by Michelle Nichols
Record amount of ozone lost over Antarctica
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia , 4 October 2006
FRASCATI, Italy: The ozone hole over the South Pole has expanded to a near-record size
despite a 19-year global ban on chlorofluorocarbons, the pollutant identified as being
responsible for ozone depletion, the European Space Agency says.
In a statement issued on Monday by its office in Frascati, the agency said 40 million tonnes of
ozone had been lost over Antarctica this year, exceeding the record 39 million tonne loss
registered in 2000. "The size of this year's ozone hole is 28 million square kilometres, nearly as
large as the record ozone hole extension [recorded] during 2000, and the depth of the ozone hole
is rivalling the record low ozone values of 1998," the statement said.
The agency's Claus Zehner said this year's loss was caused by unusually low temperatures
"Such significant ozone loss requires very low temperatures in the stratosphere, combined with
sunlight," Mr Zehner said. "This year's extreme loss of ozone can be explained by the
temperatures above Antarctica reaching the lowest recorded in the area since 1979."
Ozone is a protective layer found in the atmosphere that acts as a sunlight filter shielding life on
Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. Ozone loss is associated with the increased risk of skin
cancer, cataracts and harm to marine life.
Chlorofluorocarbons, which contain chlorine and bromine, have been blamed for thinning the
ozone layer because they attack ozone molecules, causing them to break apart.
Officially recognised by scientists in 1985, the ozone hole typically occurs during the Antarctic
spring, from September to early December.
In the past decade the level of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere has fallen by about 0.3 per cent,
increasing the risk of skin cancer, cataracts and harm to marine life, the agency added.
The World Meteorological Organisation said last month that the hole was nearing its record size
of 29 million square kilometres set in 2000. The depth of the hole, however, was greater this
year than in 2000, bringing the amount of lost ozone to 40 million tonnes on October 2.
The meteorological organisation and the UN Environment Program said in August the
protective layer is likely to return to pre-1980 levels by 2049 over much of Australia, Europe,
North America, Asia, Latin America and Africa. In Antarctica, they said ozone layer recovery
would likely be delayed until 2065.
Man-made chlorofluorocarbons had still not vanished from the air despite being banned under
the Montreal Protocol of 1987, the agency said.
Plane skids of runway Indonesia amid smoke from forest fires
Jakarta Post - Jakarta, Indonesia, 3 October 2006
JAKARTA (AP): A domestic passenger jet skidded off the runway after landing at an airport
Tuesday in central Indonesia amid poor visibility because of smoke from brush-clearing fires,
The Boeing 737-200 plane came to a stop in swampland around 30 meters (98 feet) off the
runway at Juwata airport in east Kalimantan province, witnesses said. One of its engines was
some 50 meters (164 feet) from the body of the plane, they said.
No was seriously injured.
Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa said a probe had been launched into the accident, focusing
"especially on why the crew insisted on landing amid the thick smoke."
Large areas of Kalimantan and Sumatra islands have been shrouded in haze and ash for several
months due to fires illegally set to clear land for plantations.
The haze, which has occurred most years since the late 1990s, has caused regular flight delays
in recent weeks at Juwata and other airports.
The plane was operated by local carrier Mandala. In September last year, a Boeing 737-200
operated by Mandala crashed shortly after takeoff on Sumatra island, killing 143 people.
Antarctic ozone hole bigger than ever
Cosmos, Australia, Wednesday, 4 October 2006, Agençe France-Presse
GENEVA: The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has beaten the record size logged six
years ago, according to the United Nations' weather agency.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said that data from the U.S. space agency
NASA showed that the hole in the atmospheric layer that guards the world against dangerous
ultraviolet light had grown to 29.5 million square kilometres.
"This is the most serious on record," said Mark Oliver, spokesman for the WMO. "It has been
caused by a particularly cold stratospheric winter."
The hole was recorded by NASA on September 25, he said, and just beat the previous record of
29.4 million square kilometres which was set in September 2000.
There is a growing body of evidence that 2006 will be a bad year for the Antarctic ozone layer,
with scientists agreeing that the hole has reached record proportions. This is largely due to
temperatures above Antarctica reaching the lowest recorded levels since 1979.
The hole measured by NASA was slightly bigger than the 28 million square kilometres
announced by the European Space Agency (ESA) earlier this week.
However, the ESA also discovered other records: a loss of 40 million tonnes of ozone in
October, exceeding the previous high of 39 million tonnes set in 2000.
Ozone loss is calculated by measuring the area and depth of the ozone hole in the stratosphere,
about 25 kilometres above the Earth's surface.
The depth of the hole rivalled a record set in 1990, the ESA said.
Ozone, a molecule of oxygen, filters out dangerous ultraviolet rays from the Sun that damage
vegetation and can cause skin cancer and cataracts.
Scientists say the layer has been badly damaged by man-made chemicals, especially by chlorine
and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are used as aerosol gases and refrigerants.
The chemical reaction that thins ozone reaches its peak with colder high altitude temperatures in
the southern hemisphere winter, normally in late August to October.
CFCs and other ozone enemies were controlled by an international treaty signed 19 years ago.
However large ozone holes are expected to persist for the next couple of decades because of the
amount of pollutants already stored in the atmosphere.
According to officials from the WMO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the ozone
layer over the Antarctic now looks set to be replenished 15 years later than originally predicted,
setting the date back to 2065.
While ozone in the stratosphere is protective, at ground level a chemical reaction with exhaust
fumes and sunlight makes ozone a pollutant that can be dangerous for people with respiratory or
General Environment News
Smoke Haze Hangs Over Singapore as Indonesian Fires Rage
SINGAPORE, 4 October 2006
SINGAPORE - Forest fires in Indonesia have sent Singapore's Pollutants Standards Index (PSI)
to the highest level this year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Tuesday.
South-southwesterly winds have blown smoke from fires in central and south Sumatra to
Singapore, obscuring sunlight and reducing temperatures and visibility, the NEA said on its
Web site (http://app.nea.gov.sg/psi/).
The NEA said the city-state's PSI level reached 73 on Monday, although rain could bring some
relief. A PSI reading between zero and 50 is considered "healthy", 51-100 "moderate" and 101-
Each year, uncontrolled slash-and-burn practices by farmers, plantation owners and loggers on
the Indonesian islands sends a smoky haze to Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand.
"Villagers open land by burning. They consider that after burning, the land will be fertile," said
Parigan Syahrin, head of the mines, energy, and environment office in Banyuasin regency in
The NEA said satellite pictures showed 97 hotspots and dense smoke haze in Sumatra, an
Indonesian island west of Singapore.
"The current dry weather conditions in southern parts of Sumatra are expected to persist until
mid-October," the NEA said.
Purwasto, a senior official in Indonesia's Environment Ministry, told Reuters that the PSI
reading was "more than 100" in the worst-hit parts of the country.
"It is dangerous for human health," said Purwasto, who like many Indonesians uses one name.
Heavy haze in the central Sumatran province of Jambi led to the cancellation of some domestic
flights, an airport official said.
"The visibility is 500 metres," said Olan Simanjuntak, a spokesman for Sultan Thaha airport in
Jambi. "We are very irritated (by the haze). Officials here are using masks."
The haze has also begun to envelop Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, obscuring hills
surrounding the city. But residents said it was nowhere near as bad as last year's choking smog.
The Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah were the worst affected on Tuesday. In one area of
Sarawak, which has been blanketed by heavy smog for weeks, the air-pollution index
approached "very unhealthy" levels at the daily 0300 GMT reading.
Local media said authorities plan to seed clouds over Sarawak in an effort to clear the haze, but
have not said when the operations will begin.
Visions of Green
Times Asia, 2 October 2006, By Bryan Walsh
After decades of rapid economic growth, Asia's environment is at a tipping point. A Special
Report on the scale of the crisis—and how to confront it
If you want a sense of the challenges facing Asia's physical environment, just go to Beijing—
and breathe. The Chinese capital's constant swirl of production, construction and transportation
creates a noxious smog that blankets the city on bad days, cutting both visibility and life
expectancy. At the junior world track-and-field championships in Beijing this August, young
runners choked and sputtered their way to lackluster performances, a bad omen for the 2008
Summer Olympic Games. Asia has a history of holding an Olympics in a city with foul air.
Tokyo, site of the 1964 Summer Games, was so polluted in the '60s and early '70s that citizens
walked the streets in surgical masks, while Japanese cities like Minamata, where thousands
were stricken with severe neurological damage due to industrial mercury poisoning, became
bywords for ecological catastrophe. Fast-industrializing Japan was commonly expected to
become an environmental dystopia. But today, Tokyo is one of the world's cleanest megacities,
with the view often clear all the way to Mount Fuji. Stricter laws, tougher enforcement and a
hard-earned environmental consciousness have made Japan a nation whose record is something
to which other Asians can aspire, rather than a misery to be deplored.
Asia is at a crossroads. The question facing the region today is whether the forces that allowed
Tokyo to clean itself up can kick in quickly enough in Beijing, or Bombay, or Jakarta, or a
thousand other places where environmental damage threatens the quality of life for this
generation—and the next. We can't wait long for the answer. By any measure, the state of Asia's
environment is depressing. In the Philippines, a mountain of trash looms outside the capital. In
Vietnam, the fertile Mekong River is imperiled by upstream damming. In Chongqing, the worst
drought in a century is draining what little drinkable water is left. In Nepal, melting alpine
glaciers are threatening to release devastating floods on the land below. In India, the Bengal
tiger is nearing extinction, and it might just be joined one day by the foreign executive in Hong
Kong, where pollution is driving expatriates to flee to greener cities. As for Bangladesh, you
could churn whole forests listing its environmental troubles, but it might not matter—if global
warming causes sea levels to rise just 1 m over the coming decades, 17% of the country will be
Bringing this litany of disaster to an end will not be easy. For here is Asia's dilemma: the forces
damaging the environment are the same ones that drove the economic miracle that has lifted
more than 270 million Asians out of poverty in the past 15 years. Economic growth means more
production, more jobs, more food on the table, but it also means more smokestacks, more
logging, more chemicals dumped into the water. Asia, however, is running out of room to grow.
A 2005 United Nations report warned that although one-fifth of Asians still exist on less than $1
a day, "the region is already living beyond its environmental carrying capacity." In August,
Zhou Shengxian, director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration, said: "It is
clear the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection is coming to a head."
Economic growth has been responsible for much of Asia's environmental disaster—but it can
also spur its recovery. For as a nation such as South Korea shows, growth can give rise to
environmentalism, as richer citizens demand that government and industry clean up. But Asia
can't wait for the invisible hand to grow a green thumb; its problems are too intractable for that.
Asia's future has to become one of sustainable "green growth," which protects and repairs the
environment without hindering the economic development that remains a matter of life and
death for too many. Improved environmental technology can help developing Asia become as
efficient in cleaning up pollution as it is in creating it, but only if the commitment is made
before we pass the point of no return. "I feel that every day is a race," says Barbara Finamore,
director of the China Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC), a U.S. NGO. "It's a race to the death."
Ask five Asian experts to identify the region's most pressing environmental problems, and you'll
get five different answers. Alex Wang of the NRDC says it's air and water pollution. For Elsie
Cezar of the Philippines' Environmental Management Bureau, it's waste disposal and
deforestation. World Wildlife Fund Cambodia's Teak Seng tags the illegal wildlife trade. All
those problems have something in common: what makes them worse is what's making Asia
richer. Take deforestation in Indonesia, which loses almost 2 million hectares of woodland a
year. As China's economy has surged, so has its demand for timber—the country is now the
destination for half of all tropical trees logged globally. In April, Indonesia announced that
China had placed a $1 billion order for more than 700,000 cu m of a special hardwood tree to be
used in constructing facilities for the Olympics. That lumber, at least, will be legal—a recent
report by Greenpeace named China's booming furniture industry as the engine of worldwide
illegal logging, although the developed countries that eagerly buy China's low-cost chairs and
tables share the blame. At the current rate, Indonesia's lowland rainforests, home to the most
diverse collection of trees on earth, could vanish forever by 2010.
Indonesia is a poor nation that needs the billions China sends its way, just as China needs the
funds its furniture factories bring in. "The mentality is still that development should be put in
front of the environment," says Jayaradha Veerasamy of the Malaysian Nature Society. But the
hidden costs of environmental degradation can be catastrophic—nowhere more so than in
natural disasters that have become increasingly common in Asia. The impact of climate change
on the frequency and intensity of storms is still uncertain; but there's no doubt about other facts
that worsen natural disasters. Deforestation can make devastating landslides more common, just
as the destruction of coral reefs and underwater mangrove forests stripped coastlines of a vital
defense against the 2004 tsunami. Without better preparation of the sort Japan perfected against
natural disasters, death tolls will only rise as urbanization packs formerly rural populations into
areas more vulnerable to earthquakes, floods and storms.
But economic growth may also create a solution by turning environmentalism into a valued
consumer good. Just as richer people want more cars, TVs and air conditioners—all of which
lead to more pollution—they also want air that doesn't make their children asthmatic, and water
that might even be drinkable out of a tap. Economists have a term for it: the environmental
Kuznets Curve, which hypothesizes that once per-capita incomes reach a certain level—in some
past examples, around $5,000—pollution levels begin to plunge, as they did in once-filthy cities
like London and Los Angeles. "You have the phenomenon of people with higher incomes
feeling inconvenienced by pollution and wanting the government to spend money to fix it," says
Finamore. If it happened in Tokyo in the '70s, it can happen in Bombay some time in the next
couple of decades.
Pessimists will say that even at their current torrid rates of growth, it will take decades before
nations like China and India are rich enough to decide they want to be clean—and by then the
damage may be irreversible. The good news is that today's Asians may not have to wait that
long. Contemporary antipollution and energy-efficiency technology is far superior to that used
in the West's first cleanups. If developing Asia commits soon to investing in environmentally
friendly policies and technology—clean coal plants, efficient water pricing, natural gas-powered
bus transit—the region could take a green leap forward. To be sure, that will require serious
investment from those developing advanced technologies in the rich world, but the scale of
Asia's environmental challenges is so immense that everyone has a stake in its success. The
pump is already primed: in August the World Bank brokered the largest ever greenhouse-gas
contract, which will see European and Asian organizations pay two Chinese chemical firms $1
billion to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 19 million tons a year. "There's a paradigm shift
beginning to manifest itself in Asia's environmental policy," says Cornie Huizenga, who heads
the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities for the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.
"You're starting to see investments shift as well."
Carbon credits alone will not buy a better environment for Asia. A revolution in awareness must
be embraced by the individual, with inspirational Asians leading the way, like Tsering Dorje,
the Tibetan activist fighting the illegal wildlife trade, or Vu Thi Quyen, who founded Vietnam's
first homegrown environmental group. Those efforts can be multiplied by the growth of
established environmental NGOs. India is blessed with some of the best organizations, like
Sunita Narain's Centre for Science and the Environment, but even in China environmental
groups are expanding in fits and starts. Politicians, too, must play their part, making sure that a
commitment to a new sort of growth is taken seriously from the halls of government ministries
right down to tiny villages.
Yale University's Center for Environmental Law and Policy recently ranked nations on
environmental performance and found that good governance was even more important than
income. That's one reason why highly regulated Singapore has proven far better at combating
pollution than laissez-faire Hong Kong. It also means that China, which will really decide the
future of Asia's environment, needs to match its bold national goals with local follow-through—
something it has conspicuously struggled to do so far. "There's that old adage in China that the
mountains are high and the emperor is far away," says Dan Dudek, chief economist for
Environmental Defense. China's growth-obsessed, corner-cutting local governments cannot be
allowed to drive the country's environmental policy.
Some days—when the air is heavy in Hong Kong and the gridlock is choking Jakarta—it seems
to take optimism bordering on willful ignorance to feel positive about the future of Asia's
environment. But other nations, including Asian ones, have faced down pollution and come
clean. There are times, and places—everyone who lives in Asia has known them—when it
seems it will take a miracle to save the region's environment. It wouldn't be Asia's first.
With reporting by Cat Sieh/Hong Kong
Indian Tribesmen Oppose Vedanta's Alumina Project
Planet Ark, INDIA: October 4, 2006
KALAHANDI, India - Thousands of tribal people armed with bows and arrows came out of
their hill-top homes in eastern India on Monday to protest against an alumina refinery being set
up by Britain's Vedanta Resources Plc.
The protesters, along with environmental activists, marched to the refinery site in the mineral-
rich Lanjigarh area of Orissa state, about 600 km (375 miles) southwest of state capital
Bhubaneswar, and vowed to stop the US$874 million project.
Dressed in their traditional clothes and wearing colourful headgear, they held placards that read
"Vedanta Go back", and burnt effigies of senior state government ministers.
The protesters also briefly blocked roads in the area, disrupting traffic on a national highway.
"The hills are god to us and provide us food and water," said 22-year-old Suna Majhi, a tribal
The tribals mostly live on the hills and depend on fruit and vegetables grown there.
"We would rather die than give up our homes," said Kumuti Majhi, a tribal spokesman, raising
his fist in the air.
Vedanta signed an agreement with Orissa in 2004 to set up an alumina refinery in bauxite-rich
Lanjigarh, also home to one of India's most primitive tribes, the Dongaria Kondh.
The state government also recommended giving mining rights to the company to extract bauxite
required to make alumina, but this prompted environmentalist groups to oppose the project and
move to court.
Activists say that mining in the nearby Niyamgiri hills would displace thousands of tribespeople
and destroy the fragile eco-system of the region.
Legal wrangles have since stalled the project. But Vedanta officials said they would
commission the refinery by December this year.
The company would source bauxite from other states if it did not get mining rights in
Niyamgiri, a spokesman said on Monday.
"The protests will not affect operation and 90 percent of work on the refinery is over," Vedanta's
Sanjay Pattnaik told Reuters. "The mining clearance issue would not hold us back."
The state government said it expected the protest to fizzle out as the tribals would be resettled
"Once people start realising the benefits of industry in the state the protests will end," N.V.S.
Rajput, a senior Orissa official overseeing the refinery project, told Reuters.
Story by Soumyadip Nayak
Typhoon takes toll on Vietnam and Philippines
Malaysia Star, Malaysia, 3 October 2006, By Jonathan Thatcher
DANANG, Vietnam (Reuters) - Typhoon Xangsane killed at least 120 people in the Philippines
and Vietnam, left tens of thousands homeless and caused millions of dollars damage, officials
said on Tuesday.
The typhoon swept fierce winds and rain into Vietnam's central coast at the weekend after
leaving a trail of destruction in the northern and central Philippines, including the capital,
Vietnamese officials said at least 40 died and four were missing in several central provinces and
the resort city of Danang, Vietnam's fourth largest city of about 1 million, which took the brunt
of the typhoon when it hit on Sunday.
The typhoon ripped off roofs, felled trees and power lines and blew down houses.
A fisherman in Danang told Reuters Television of his anguish at being unable to save his
brother, whose body was found on Tuesday.
"The waves were so big. I saw my brother's ship flipped but the wind was so strong I couldn't
dare to save him because I could certainly die too," said Nguyen Khue, older brother of Nguyen
Phung, a squid fisherman.
An official at the Danang Flood and Storm Control Committee said 22 people died in Danang
and four were missing. She said the accounting for the dead was not yet complete.
The committee said 6,256 houses collapsed, more than 220,000 were damaged and almost
41,000 were still submerged. It estimated storm damage at nearly 5 trillion dong (around $300
State-run Vietnam Television reported 3,000 people injured across the central region.
Typhoon Xangsane, which means "elephant" in the Lao language, killed 78 people and injured
81 in the Philippines, disaster officials said on Tuesday. A further 69 people were missing after
the typhoon ripped through the archipelago last week.
A police spokesman said the toll could climb close to 150 and the government estimated
damage of at least 1.3 billion pesos ($26 million) to property, infrastructure, crops and fisheries.
The storm weakened after crossing into Vietnam and moved west across Laos and into
Many of an estimated 300,000 people who were evacuated in Vietnam's central coastal
provinces to safer locations before the typhoon struck returned to find their houses had been
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are killed and property and crops damaged each year by
tropical storms in the two countries, which are separated by the South China Sea.
Another tropical storm, with maximum winds of 85 kph and gusts of up to 100 kph, was
moving towards the northern tip of the Philippines, weather forecasters said.
ROWA Media Update 4 October 2006
UNEP begin post-war environmental assessment in Lebanon
An international team of experts will tomorrow begin an assessment of the environmental
damage in Lebanon caused by the recent conflict.
The team, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and working in close
cooperation with the Lebanese authorities, will be visiting and sampling sites thought to present
potential risks to human health, wildlife and the wider environment.
These include the Jiyyeh thermal power plant 28km south of Beirut which discharged an
estimated 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of fuel oil into the Mediterranean after being hit in mid July;
Beirut International Airport, where fuel tanks were set alight as a result of repeated bombing;
and the Maliban glass factory in the Bekaa Valley destroyed by an air raid on 19 July.
Other sites expected to be assessed by the UNEP-led team and national experts include some of
the estimated 22 country-wide petrol stations that were damaged or destroyed and locations
where there is thought to be unexploded ordnance.
The team also plans to assess pollution risks at several damaged drinking water, sewage
treatment and hospital facility sites.
Damaged power transformers, collapsed buildings and ruptured oil lines that may have leaked
or discharged hazardous substances and materials—such as asbestos and chlorinated
compounds – are also earmarked for assessment.
Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said:
―There is an urgent need to assess the environmental legacy of the recent conflict and put in
place a comprehensive clean-up of polluted and health-hazardous sites‖.
―Work is on-going to deal with the oil spill on the Lebanese coast. We must now look at the
wider impacts as they relate to issues such as underground and surface water supplies, coastal
contamination and the health and fertility of the land,‖ he said.
―This post conflict assessment is being undertaken in response to a request by the Lebanese
government to assist in the development of a framework for guiding international reconstruction
efforts,‖ said Mr Steiner.
―I must thank the governments of Norway and Switzerland for helping to fund the assessment
which should take just under a month. We expect to have a comprehensive report on sites and
locations in need of decontamination and clean up before the end of the year. Once the hard
facts are known and the hot spots pin pointed, I would urge the international community to back
the findings as part of the reconstruction effort for Lebanon and its people,‖ he added.
Environmental cooperation with UK, Australia
Abu Dhabi, October 3rd, 2006 (WAM)- UAE Minister of Environment and Water, Dr.
Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi, discussed today with the ambassadors of the United Kingdom and
Australia means of boosting bilateral relations in environmental and environmental areas.
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
3 October 2006
ANNAN EXPRESSES CONCERN AFTER DPR KOREA SAYS IT WILL CONDUCT
Voicing concern about the stated intention of the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea
(DPRK) to carry out a nuclear test in the future, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today
that such a move would be counter-productive and worsen tensions in the region, and he called
on the country‘sleadership to maintain the current moratorium on testing.
In a statement issued by his spokesman at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr.
Annan said he ―shares the global concern‖ regarding the DPRK‘s avowal to conduct a nuclear
test. ―Such action, if undertaken, would further aggravate tensions in the region,‖ the statement
said. ―It would bring universal condemnation by the international community and will not help
the DPRK achieve the goals expressed in its statement, particularly with regard to strengthening
The Secretary-General urged Pyongyang ―to exercise utmost restraint and adhere to the
international community‘s norm on nuclear testing and also observe the current moratorium.‖
He called on the North Koreans to return to the Six-Party Talks – comprising the two Koreas,
China, Japan, Russia and the United States – to ensure that the nuclear issue and any other
security concerns on the Korean peninsula are solved through negotiations.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO VOTE FORMALLY ON MONDAY TO SELECT NEW UN
The Security Council will hold a formal vote on Monday morning to select a new
Secretary-General of the United Nations to recommend to the General Assembly for approval,
the Council‘s President for the month of October said today.
Kenzo Oshima, Ambassador of Japan, told journalists as he outlined the Council work
programme for October that a vote has been scheduled for Monday morning, although it has not
yet been determined whether the Council will send a name for approval to the Assembly –
which must formally elect the Secretary-General – on the same day.
After four informal polls this year, five candidates officially remain in the race to replace Kofi
Annan as Secretary-General when he steps down at the end of his term on 31 December.
In response to reporters‘ questions, Mr. Oshima said he agreed there was ―room for further
improvement‖ in the selection process, although he said that efforts had been made to make the
current process more transparent than those of the past.
Mr. Oshima noted that candidates had attended the meetings of regional groups and other
organizations, inside and outside UN Headquarters in New York, and taken the opportunity to
meet with members of those groups.
Turning to the rest of the Council‘s workload, the Japanese Ambassador said the conflict in
Sudan‘s Darfur region, the ongoing problems in the Middle East and the nuclear issue with the
Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (DPRK) were among the key items for discussions this
He also said consultations would be held later this month about the scheduling of a new date for
presidential elections in Côte d‘Ivoire, which has been beset by renewed tensions in recent
months. The polls had been set for the end of October.
Mr. Oshima added that the Council will hold a thematic debate this month on the role of women
in consolidating peace and security.
LEBANON: UN PEACEKEEPERS LAY OUT RULES OF ENGAGEMENT,
INCLUDING USE OF FORCE
United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon have the authority to use force against hostile activity
of any kind, whether in self-defence, to ensure their area of operations is not used for hostile
activities or toresist attempts by force to prevent them from discharging their duties, according
to guidelines published today.
―Should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities, UNIFIL rules of
engagement allow UN forces to respond as required,‖ the UN Interim Force in Lebanon
(UNIFIL) said in a statement, laying out the terms of the Security Council mandate that
established it in August to oversee the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah.
―UNIFIL commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile
activity of any kind,‖ the statement added, noting that the force so far had 5,200 out of a
maximum of 15,000 permitted under Security Council resolution 1701.
UNIFIL has set up temporary checkpoints at key locations within its area of operations, while
permanent checkpoints are being established by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to stop and
search passing vehicles. Yesterday it confirmed that Israel had vacated all but one of the
positions it had taken during the fighting and that the LAF were taking over.
―In case specific information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or
equipment, the LAF will take required action,‖ the statement said. ―However, in situations
where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfil its
mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701.‖
Among the resolution‘s key terms include the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from positions
they occupied in South Lebanon, the deployment of Lebanese and UN forces in the area, and
the banning of any other armed personnel and weapons there.
Laying out specific guidelines, the statement said all UNIFIL personnel may exercise the
inherent right of self-defence; use force to ensure that their area of operations is not used for
hostile activities; and resist attempts by force to prevent them from discharging their duties
under the Council mandate.
Moreover force may be used to protect UN personnel, installations and equipment; to ensure the
security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers; and to protect
civilians under imminent threat of physical violence in the areas of deployment.
Meanwhile the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping Lebanon speed up the
recovery of its agriculture sector following the devastating impact of the fighting on both people
and the economy.
All agricultural areas were directly or indirectly affected by the war, from fruit trees, vegetables,
tobacco and cattle to irrigation systems, farm machinery and forestry. FAO initiatives include a
damage and needs assessment mission currently under way and efforts to strengthen veterinary
services to prevent and control Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks.FAO will
also provide a team of five experts in crop and animal production, fisheries and forestry.
AHEAD OF POLL UN JOINS IN POLICING DR CONGO CAPITAL AGAINST
ARMED GROUPS, WEAPONS
United Nations police today began joint patrols with national and European security
forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo‘s (DRC) capital, Kinshasa, in a crackdown on
armed groups and unauthorized weapons ahead of presidential elections at the end of the month.
―The objective of these patrols is to prevent risks of armed clashes in Kinshasa by verifying the
implementation of the prohibitive measure against armed troops‘ movement,‖ the UN Mission
in DRC (MONUC) said in a statement on the operation dubbed ‗Kinshasa, city without
―The patrols will control anyone moving on the public highway or in public places with
The patrols follow an agreement between President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-
Pierre Bemba, the two candidates in the 29 October run-off presidential poll that is intended to
seal the vast country‘s transition from a disastrous six-year civil war to peace and democracy.
The new joint patrols comprise elements of the Congolese National Police, Military Police of
the DRC‘s Armed Forces, the Formed Police Unit (MONUC‘s maintenance of order unit),
MONUC‘s Western Brigade and EUPOL, which provides technical assistance at the request of
the European Force in the DRC.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGES RUSSIAN FEDERATION AND GEORGIA
TO ‗ENGAGE CONSTRUCTIVELY‘
Welcoming the peaceful resolution of tensions resulting from the recent arrests of Russian
officers in Georgia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all sides to
come together and ―engage constructively to address existing problems.‖ Meanwhile his latest
report on the Caucasus country speaks of new tensions in the long-running dispute between
Georgian authorities and Abkhaz separatists stemming from an operation by Georgian special
forces, and he warns that only dialogue can resolve differences.
―The Secretary-General is pleased that Georgia and the Russian Federation have been able to
resolve the issue of the recent arrest of Russian officers in Georgia in a peaceful and
constructive manner,‖ his Spokesman said in a statement, which also referred to the role played
by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
―He appreciates the efforts undertaken by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, H.E. Mr. Karel de
Gucht, to help bring about this result. The Secretary-General expresses the hope that all parties
concerned will refrain from statements or actions that could affect stability in the region, and
encourages them to engage constructively to address existing problems.‖
Mr. Annan also urges dialogue between Georgian authorities and Abkhaz separatists in his
latest report on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) which oversees relations
between the two sides that fought each other 14 years ago. He highlights the increased tension
in the region and recommends that UNOMIG‘s mandate be extended for another six months
beyond its current deadline of 15 October. ―A new and tense situation has emerged between the
Georgian and Abkhaz sides, in particular as a result of the Georgian special operation in the
upper Kodori Valley [on 25 July]… There is no alternative, however, to dialogue; the threat of
force can only deepen existing mistrust, and a resumption of violence would be the worst
―The presence of UNOMIG remains essential for maintaining stability in the zone of conflict…
I therefore recommend an extension of the mandate of UNOMIG for a further period of six
months, until 15 April 2007.‖
The conflict in Abkhazia, strategically located on the Black Sea, began with social unrest and
attempts by the local authorities to separate from the Republic . It escalated into a series of
armed confrontations in the summer of 1992. A ceasefire agreement was concluded later that
year but never fully implemented and the fighting that followed forced nearly 300,000 refugees
to flee their homes.
UNOMIG was set up in August 1993 and currently has 121 military observers and 12 civilian
GUINEA-BISSAU GAINING GROUND BUT STILL AT RISK OF MAJOR
SETBACKS, SAYS ANNAN
Guinea-Bissau has made some progress towards political reconciliation, but the West African
country remains so poor and enduring tensions are still strong enough that the risk of a major
setback is ever-present, less than a decade after the end of a bitter civil war, Secretary-General
Kofi Annan says in a report issued today.
―A strong commitment to improve the political climate continued to emerge‖ during the past
three months, Mr. Annan said
in his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office,
known as UNOGBIS.
He cited progress in the national dialogue process, the efforts of Guinea-Bissau‘s two major
political parties to heal serious internal divisions and advances in reconciliation efforts within
the defence and security forces.
But Mr. Annan said the socio-economic situation is dire, with a sharp drop in revenue from the
staple cashew nut crop, a poor rice harvest this season and the problem of salary arrears in the
public sector combining to exacerbate social tensions.
Stressing that the international community must continue to support Guinea-Bissau‘s efforts to
achieve political stability, the Secretary-General said he planned to revise UNOGBIS‘ mandate
slightly and extend its operation until the end of next year.
UNOGBIS was created in 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest nations in the world,
emerge from the devastation of a civil war in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced
from their homes.
In his report Mr. Annan also called on the international community to give generously during a
donors‘ round table for Guinea-Bissau in Geneva in early November.
SENIOR UN ENVOY BEGINS SEVEN-NATION TOUR TO PROMOTE PEACE IN
Starting a seven-nation mission to promote peace and reconciliation in Somalia, the top
United Nations envoy for the war-torn east African country today visited neighbouring Ethiopia
to discuss the next round of peace talks between the rival Somali factions.
Acting on recommendations contained in a Security Council presidential statement of 13 July,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan‘s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall,
also plans to visit Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen for consultations with
―Among the most critical issues on Ambassador Fall‘s agenda is the third round of the
Khartoum peace talks scheduled for 30 October between the Transitional Federal Institutions
(TFIs) based in Baidoa and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) established in Mogadishu,‖ the
UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said in a statement.
The last round of talks between the rival sides took place at the beginning of last month in an
effort to bring peace to theimpoverished drought-afflicted country, which has been riven by
factional fighting and has not had a functioning national government since President
Muhammad Siad Barre‘s regime was toppled in 1991.
Mr. Fall had separate meetings today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and African
Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security Said Djinnit. In August he said his office had
been informed by UIC Executive Council ChairmanSheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed that Ethiopian
troops were in Somalia but it had no monitoring capacity on the ground toconfirm the charge.
Mr. Fall will travel to Asmara tomorrow for talks with the Eritrean Government. He is
scheduled to visit Djibouti andYemen next week, before holding talks with leaders in Uganda,
Sudan and Egypt prior to the Khartoum talks. Included inhis Cairo schedule will be discussions
with officials from the Arab League.
UN AGENCY VOICES CONCERN AT MOUNTING NUMBER OF AFGHANS
DISPLACED BY FIGHTING
The United Nations refugee agency today voiced concern about the increasing
number of people internally displaced in southern Afghanistan as a result of hostilities between
government forces, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and insurgents, with 15,000
families uprooted since July.
―We expect further displacement may take place until conditions are safe for the population to
return to their homes,‖ UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer
Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva. ―This fresh displacement adds new hardship to a
population already hosting116,400 people earlier uprooted by conflict and drought.‖
Some families were reported to have gone back from Kandahar city to Panjwai and Zhare Dasht
in Kandahar provinceduring daylight but to have returned to the city at night as they felt it was
too insecure to stay overnight, she added.
The Afghan government has created a disaster management committee in Kandahar to
coordinate relief efforts together withthe UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),
UNHCR and the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF), distributing plasticsheeting, blankets and
warm clothes for children to approximately 3,200 families in Panjwai and Zhare Dasht.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is providing food aid. The government is currently
assessing the needs of thedisplaced in the southern provinces and UNHCR is ready to assist
when it becomes clear what is required.
Meanwhile, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced
today that it will conduct astudy on violence against education personnel to assess what can be
done to improve their safety after last week‘s murder ofan Afghan women‘s rights defender and
leading advocate of education for girls, Safia Ama Jan.
The study will be dedicated to the memory of Ms Ama Jan, who was gunned down outside her
home in Kandahar.
―Her courage was an inspiration to us all,‖ UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said
in a statement. ―And herviolent death serves as a grim reminder that those working to defend
human rights, including and especially women‘s rights,
the right to education and education for girls, are often working on the front line, with their lives
constantly under threat.
―National authorities and the international community must stand united against the forces that
would seek to destroy the efforts made by people such as Safia Ama Jan.‖
ANTARCTIC OZONE HOLE IS WORST EVER RECORDED, UN REPORTS
This year‘s hole in the Antarctic ozone layer is the worst on record, not only matching that of
the year 2000 in surface area but registering the largest depletion ever measured of the naturally
occurring gas that filters out cancer- and cataract-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays, the United
Nations meteorological agency reported today.
―This year‘s hole was caused by the continuing presence of peak levels of ozone destroying
substances in the atmosphere combined with a partic ularly cold stratospheric winter,‖ the UN
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said of the phenomenon, which appears annually at
the start of the southern hemisphere spring.
Large holes over the Antarctic are expected to reoccur over the next two decades before a clear
decline in size and depth, and the Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention phasing out ozone-
destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons must be adhered to with the utmost vigilance,
WMO spokesman Mark Oliver told a news briefing in Geneva.
The agency based its assessments on measurements taken by satellites of the United States
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA),
validated by surface based observations of the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) ozone
NASA instruments showed that on 25 September the area of the hole reached 29.5 million
square kilometres, compared to 29.4 million in September 2000. Each agency uses different
instruments, giving slightly different values, and according to ESA, the hole reached 28 million
square kilometres on 25 September, very close to its maximum for 2000, which peaked at
The ozone mass deficit in 2006 was measured at 39.8 megatonnes on 1 October, higher than in
2000, which peaked at 39.6 megatonnes on 29 September. Mass deficit is the amount of ozone
missing from a vertical column of air compared to a baseline measured many decades earlier
before severe ozone depletion appeared.
Scientists have become increasingly aware of possible links between ozone depletion and
climate change. Increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will lead to a warmer
climate at the Earth‘s surface. At altitudes where the ozone layer is found, the same increase is
likely to lead to a cooling of the atmosphere, enhancing the chemical reactions
that destroy ozone.
At the same time, the amount of water vapour in the stratosphere has been increasing at the rate
of about 1 per cent per year.A wetter and colder stratosphere means more polar stratospheric
clouds, which is likely to lead to more severe ozone loss in both polar regions.
UN AGENCIES MOVE AHEAD ON NEW INITIATIVE TO MITIGATE IMPACT OF
In a further move to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, United Nations agencies today
announced a new initiative to lower the risks involved through preparatory action as well as to
spur recovery through speedy response.
―Risk reduction is the most cost-effective investment we can make for the future,‖ UN
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Director Sálvano Briceño said of the new
project launched in cooperation with the World Bank, which is an independent specialized
agency of the UN.
Setting up the new Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the two organizations
will work at the regional and global levels to ensure that disaster risk reduction becomes a
priority for development investments in countries at risk, increasing their ability to face natural
hazards. The World Bank Global Hotspots Study identifies 86 vulnerable countries with risks of
high mortality and economic loss.
UN agencies have put disaster risk reduction on the fast track ever since the 2004 Indian Ocean
tsunami, when experts said scores of thousands of the more than 200,000 dead could have been
saved if early warning systems had existed and allowed them to escape to higher ground in the
hours between the earthquake that triggered the giant waves and their landfall.
Through the new facility, the Bank will contribute $5 million annually to ISDR for three years
to promote disaster risk reduction at the country level. The Facility will provide expertise and
technical assistance to low and middle income countries to mainstream risk reduction in
strategic planning, particularly in national poverty reduction strategies and various development
It will support several activities including global reporting on disaster risk reduction trends and
on progress in reducing risks, promoting the ISDR global advocacy campaigns on safe schools
and disaster reduction practices and the development of a PreventionWeb for related
―The World Bank has now prioritized reducing disaster risk by mainstreaming disaster
prevention in all its programmes as an integral dimension of its poverty reduction agenda,‖ the
Bank‘s Vice President of Sustainable Development Network, Katherine Sierra, said.
SRI LANKA: UN AGENCY NEGOTIATES WITH GOVERNMENT TO BRING IN
FOOD TO BLOCKADED AREA
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been in constant negotiation with the
Sri Lankan Government in a bid to bring in urgently needed food for more than 60,000
displaced people blockaded in areas controlled by rebel Tamil separatists.
The Agency is particularly concerned about the very short supply of food in the Jaffna and
Kilinochchi area of northern Sri Lanka, where escalating violence between the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Government forces has driven 63,000 people, nearly half of them
children, into camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and cut off food supplies,
spokesman Simon Pluess told a news briefing in Geneva today.
As a result of the negotiations, 30 trucks with 500 tons of food have been dispatched to the area,
and last Saturday 19 of them crossed over into Vanni, a Tamil Tiger-controlled area, he said.
Overall, WFP is currently distributing food aid to some 150,000 internally displaced persons in
districts affected by the conflict, including Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Mullaitivu and
Mr. Pluess said a high-level meeting would take place on Friday between the UN Humanitarian
Coordinator and the Government to discuss the issue of humanitarian access.
UN AGENCY RENEWS ALARM ABOUT PALESTINIAN REFUGEES TRAPPED IN
The United Nations refugee agency expressed fresh concern today about the plight of an
estimated 20,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq as deteriorating security forces an increasing
number to try to flee the country. Palestinians living inside Iraq ―lack protection, have serious
problems obtaining identity cards, and have been the target of continuing harassment, threats,
kidnapping and killings,‖ UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson
Jennifer Pagonis told a media briefing in Geneva.
Ms. Pagonis voiced particular concern about the conditions in Baghdad, noting that late last
month armed men there handdelivered written death threats to several Palestinians – a reprise of
a similar episode earlier this year that led to widespread panic among the capital‘s Palestinian
She said UNHCR‘s attempts to enlist the help of the new Iraqi Government and the
multinational forces stationed inside the country ―have yielded modest results‖ only, and now
about 20,000 Palestinians remain, down from 34,000 three years ago.
Some Palestinians received preferential treatment under the regime of former Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein and supported his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But they have become targets
since Saddam‘s overthrow in 2003. The community comprises those who fled to Iraq from their
homes in newly created Israel in 1948 and others born in the country.
Outside Baghdad, UNHCR has fears for the safety of some 330 Palestinians who tried to flee
Iraq and have been stranded at the Al-Tanf border crossing with Syria for more than four
Describing the humanitarian conditions in the makeshift camp at the border as deplorable, Ms.
Pagonis said ―winter is coming and there is no solution in sight for these men, women and
children.‖ About 250 people are living in tents which could be flooded when upcoming rains
Tensions are rising, she said, noting Iraqi security forces have regularly visited the site and that
medical and sanitation facilities are inadequate. Last month a 14-year-old boy was hit and killed
by a truck when he asked for water, while the father of a premature baby who died in hospital
was not allowed to leave the area to attend the funeral.
Syria, which admitted 300 other Palestinians from Iraq into its El Hol refugee camp in May, is
refusing to admit those currently stranded at the border. UNHCR said those who made it to El
Hol have only temporary status, limited freedom of movement and no clear prospects for their
There is also concern about the situation in Jordan‘s Ruwayshed refugee camp, where 150
Palestinians from Iraq are living, some since 2003. Ms. Pagonis said that while re-settlement is
possible for about 50 of the camp members over the next year, the rest face an uncertain future
as Jordan has called on other countries in the region to share the burden.
UN SETS UP CAMPS FOR PALESTINIAN CHILDREN HIT BY SCHOOL STRIKE IN
With 500,000 Palestinian children out of school due to a strike in the West Bank that has left
most public schools closed, the United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) has set up youth
clubs to provide extracurricular activities, safe indoor and outdoor play areas, and centres to
provide literacy and computer training.
The lack of access to schools come on top of an already very difficult year in which the number
of children killed and injured are close to record highs as youngsters continue to take the brunt
of the unrest in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, UNICEF spokesman Michael Bociurkiw
told a news briefing in Geneva today.
In Gaza, since 28 June, 58 children have been killed and 128 children injured, he said.
The main reason for the strike is non-payment of civil service salaries. The Territories have
been particularly hard hit since Israel stopped tax transfers and other countries suspended
contributions to the Palestinian Authority (PA) after the Hamas election victory in January.
Israel and international donors insist that Hamas, whose charter is committed to Israel‘s
destruction, must subscribe to the principles of non-violence, recognize Israel‘s right to exist,
and accept previous agreements and obligations, including the UN-backed Roadmap plan
providing for two states living side by side in peace.
Various UN agencies have warned regularly over the past months of a looming humanitarian
emergency in the occupied Palestinian territories as food, health and education services
Of all the schools in the West Bank, 24 per cent are run by the UN Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA), the main provider of basic services to over 4.3 million registered Palestinian
refugees in the Middle East, six per cent are private, and 70 per cent are Government-run,
meaning that the majority of children attend public schools.
UN‘S TOP DISARMAMENT OFFICIAL SAYS DESPITE THE DANGERS,
‗POSITIVE STEPS‘ ARE WITHIN REACH
Despite various setbacks this year in global security, including failures to comply with non-
proliferation commitments, growing terrorist threats, and new dangers in the Middle East and
the Korean Peninsula, the United Nations top disarmament official has said the world must
realize it is not powerless in the face of such challenges.
―It is important to all bodies of our disarmament machinery to remind the world not only of the
dangers that threaten us, but also that we are not powerless in the face of them; that practical,
positive steps were within our reach,‖ Nobuaki Tanaka, Under-Secretary-General for
Disarmament Affairs told the General Assembly First Committee on disarmament and
international security on Monday.
He said there were also achievements over the past 12 months, including the Assembly‘s
adoption of a major convention on the suppression of nuclear terrorism and a Global Counter-
Terrorism Strategy, although he acknowledged that more work was needed and it was not
enough simply to anguish over who was to blame for global insecurity.
―We must work together to build bridges over the divisions that remain,‖ he said, referring to
the Committee, adding that it must be more than a forum for reciting policy statements.
Representatives from eight countries made statements during the debate, which is continuing
today and which covers all aspects of disarmament affairs, including nuclear, conventional and
On a separate issue, the Assembly‘s Third Committee on social, humanitarian and cultural
issues was warned on Monday by José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for
Economic and Social Affairs that rising income inequality within
countries has become ―a global pandemic‖. He told the Committee, which is continuing its
debate today, that it bore a ―crucial responsibility‖ to raise the profile of development issues,
adding that ―development‖ referred not only to progress in developing countries, but to the
development of all societies, rich or poor.
The UN‘s development agenda, crystallized in the Millennium Development Goals, represented
a road map towards a better future for all, said Mr. Ocampo, but added that achieving this vision
of eradicating a host of social ills by 2015 would depend on forging meaningful links between
social and economic policies. Representatives from 13 countries spoke during the debate on
OPTOMETRIST VOWS TO USE REFUGEE AWARD PRIZE MONEY TO HELP UN
A Japanese optometrist who has won the world‘s top award for assisting refugees has pledged
to pour the prize money back into the work that led to the honour – working with the United
Nations refugee agency to help displaced visionimpaired people in Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Akio Kanai, chairman and chief executive officer of Fuji Optical and himself forcibly displaced
from the northern Pacific island of Sakhalin at the end of World War II, was given the 2006
Nansen Refugee Award by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres
at a ceremony last night in Geneva.
The Nansen Refugee Award consists of a medal and $100,000 prize money, supplied by
Norway and Switzerland. The award committee, which gives the prize annually to a person or
group for outstanding work in supporting the refugee cause, found that Dr. Kanai had ―rendered
exceptional service‖ by improving the eyesight of thousands of displaced people
in Nepal, Thailand, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Since 1984 Dr. Kanai has donated more than 108,000 pairs of eyeglasses, provided optometry
equipment, given cash grants and trained local staff during at least 20 missions for UNHCR.
Fuji Optical also undertakes regular missions with the UN agency, and many of its employees
have used their holidays to work in refugee camps.
Presenting the medal last night, Mr. Guterres said ―we are very proud that we are the partner of
Dr. Akio Kanai and that the partnership has been extremely important for the lives of more than
In his acceptance speech Dr. Kanai said ―the award is testimony to the significance that the role
of optometry plays in the future of refugees by improving their sight and this empowering them
to secure a ‗future in focus‘… Eyesight can change one‘s life. My dream is that a simple pair of
glasses can change the lives of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the better.‖
Voicing his desire to keep working with refugees and IDPs, he said he hoped the grant will be
used to help those in Azerbaijan and Armenia, ―populations with which I feel emotionally
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE
3 October 2006
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today‘s noon briefing by Stéphane
Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, Spokeswoman
for the General Assembly President.
Briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon. The Security Council met in consultations this morning to discuss the
programme of work for the month of October.
Under ―other matters‖, members also discussed the situations involving Georgia and,
separately, the situation regarding the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea, as well as the
timing of the formal vote on the selection of the next Secretary-General.
Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, who you know is the President of the Security Council for
the month of October, will brief you here immediately after this briefing, and after Gail briefs
you, on behalf of the President of the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is steadily enhancing its
operational capabilities in order to fulfil its responsibilities under Security Council resolution
1701. More than 3,000 additional troops, for a current total of around 5,200, plus an Interim
Maritime Task Force, have been deployed so far.
In a press release, UNIFIL says that, should the situation present any risk of resumption
of hostile activities, its rules of engagement allow UN forces to respond as required. The UN
Mission commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile
activity of any kind.
UNIFIL has set up temporary checkpoints at key locations within its area of operations,
while permanent checkpoints are being established by the Lebanese Armed Forces to stop and
search passing vehicles. In case specific information is available regarding movement of
unauthorized weapons or equipment, the Lebanese Army will take the required action, but, if it
is not possible to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfil its mandate. We have a
very detailed press release available upstairs from UNIFIL, which I recommend to you.
Also on Lebanon, the World Food Programme has started its third and final round of
food distributions. This round, which should wrap up by 15 October, is expected to reach
655,000 people in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley and the southern suburbs of Beirut. We
do have information on other humanitarian activities upstairs.
** Democratic Republic of the Congo
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is taking part in patrols called
―Kinshasa, City without Weapons‖ that have been launched with the aim of preventing armed
clashes in the capital.
The patrols follow an agreement reached by representatives of President Joseph Kabila
and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, the two candidates for the second-round presidential
The patrols started yesterday and they are made up of elements of the Congolese
National Police, the Military Police of the Congolese‘s Armed Forces, formed UN Police units
and the European Union Police Mission in Kinshasa.
Meanwhile, from Georgia, the Secretary-General‘s latest report on the situation in
Abkhazia, Georgia, which covers the period from 26 June 2006 to 28 September 2006, is out on
In it, the Secretary-General says a new and tense situation emerged between the
Georgian and Abkhaz sides, particularly as a result of the Georgian special operation in the
upper Kodori Valley.
He adds that a negotiated solution to the conflict is undoubtedly difficult to reach today,
as the positions of the two sides have grown further apart over the years on the question of
political status. Nevertheless, there is no alternative to dialogue. The threat of force can only
deepen existing mistrust, and a resumption of violence would be the worst possible outcome for
the communities concerned and for the stability of the region and beyond, he says.
Given recent developments, the Secretary-General recommends an extension of the
mandate of the Mission in Georgia for a further six months, until 15 April next year.
And the report is out on the racks, as is the Secretary-General‘s latest report on
developments in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in
that country. It was issued today.
In it, the Secretary-General says a strong commitment to improve the political climate
continued to emerge over the past three months, but, enduring tensions and difficulties highlight
the ever-present risk of occasional setbacks.
He adds that he believes the UN should continue to play a key role in Guinea-Bissau,
and with that in mind, he plans to slightly revise the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support
Office and request an extension until the end of 2007.
From Afghanistan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it
is concerned about the increasing number of internally displaced persons in southern
Afghanistan, following the recent hostilities between Government forces, NATO and
UNHCR, together with the UN Children‘s Fund, has sent supplies for children to
approximately 3,200 families in the area. The World Food Programme, for its part, is providing
**Arctic Ozone Hole
The World Meteorological Organization says today the hole in the ozone layer over the
Antarctic was the most serious on record. It was the largest in surface area and also suffered the
most mass deficit, meaning that there was less ozone over the Antarctic than ever before. You
can read more about that in the briefing notes from our colleagues in Geneva.
A number of events to flag for you. Later today, in the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium,
the Department of Political Affairs will be launching into the public domain a new website, UN
Peacemaker, which is designed as a support tool for UN and non-UN peace envoys, as well as
the general public. The site already contains the most comprehensive indexed database of
modern peace agreements available on the Internet. Under-Secretary-General for Political
Affairs Ibrahim Gambari will host the event, taking place at 3 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld
** Georgia Statement
At 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, Ambassador Irakli Alasania of Georgia will be here to talk
about recent developments in Georgia, and on cue, I now have a statement on Georgia.
The Secretary-General is pleased that Georgia and the Russian Federation have been
able to resolve the issue of the recent arrests of Russian officers in Georgia in a peaceful and
constructive manner. He appreciates the efforts undertaken by the Chairman-in-Office of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE, Mr. Karel de Gucht, from
Belgium, to help bring about this result.
The Secretary-General expresses the hope that all parties concerned will refrain from
statements or actions that could affect stability in the region, and encourages them to engage
constructively to address existing problems.
And going back to my scheduled press conferences, at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, the
Permanent Mission of Germany will be sponsoring a press conference by Romani Rose, the
Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, who will here to talk about
protection and promotion of human rights of the Roma and Sinti minorities in Europe.
At 3 p.m., the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic will be sponsoring a press
conference by representatives of the Asian Inter-Parliamentarian Caucus on Democracy in
Burma. And that is the name of the organization.
And lastly but not least, tomorrow at noon, my guest will be Under-Secretary-General
for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno. He will be here to brief you on the surge
in peacekeeping operations.
Questions and Answers
Question: On the issue of North Korea, in the past, the Secretary-General always used
to have one special representative like Maurice Strong. Now that Mr. Strong has quit, he has
not appointed anyone in his place. Now that the situation is again coming to a head, does the
Secretary-General think about reviving that office?
Spokesman: The issue of North Korea is being followed very closely by the Secretary-
General through the Department of Political Affairs. I am not aware of any plans, at this point,
to appoint any special envoy but that should not be seen as a sign that this is not an issue that is
being followed closely. And, I am waiting for some type of a formal statement, which is still
not here, so, that is all I have to say on that.
Question: How about the Foreign Minister of South Korea as an envoy?
Spokesman: Question or statement?
Question: Question. In his speech to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General,
when he was speaking on the Middle East, he said that some pro-Israel groups, and rightfully
so, complained that some agencies of the UN are perceived as anti-Israel. Now this week, for
the fourth time, according to my count, the Human Rights Council is taking the one country-
specific issue that has been able so far to coalesce around and that is the Israeli resolution. Is
this Human Rights Council, which was created to replace the discredited Human Rights
Commission, whatever, is that one of those agencies that Kofi Annan was speaking of?
Spokesman: The Secretary-General, in his recent press conference, was very clear that
he very much hoped that the Human Rights Council would move on and beyond focusing on
just one country and look at the human rights situations throughout the world. He still hopes
that will be very much the case and he hopes that the Human Rights Council will also focus on
helping countries build better human rights protection structures and help them move towards
better human rights regimes. He very much hopes that the Council will move beyond some of
the focus that we have seen previously in the Human Rights Commission.
The Council is still going on and his comments to you in his press conference remain
valid, and he was obviously following the work of the Council closely.
Question: One follow-up on the Human Rights Council and then something else.
Recently some human rights groups have criticized the Human Rights Council for not doing a
public review of Uzbekistan and the killings in Andijan and so they‘ve decided to review it
privately. Does the Secretary-General have any view on the appropriateness of doing a private
review of a matter of that importance?
Spokesman: One of the main points of the new Human Rights Council, as proposed by
the Secretary-General, was the peer review mechanism that all countries would have their
human rights records reviewed by their peers. Obviously, the Council is the master of its own
operations and the way it does its work, but it would be good if they would operate with the
greatest amount of transparency.
Question: There is a report that has been out for a while by the Office of Internal
Oversight Services (OIOS), their report on various agencies with details and some missing
detailed checks. I mean, I have a question about it, but rather than ask you, many of us have
asked for OIOS to come and give a briefing, and it would seem like, now with this report out
that would be the time. Do you want to answer questions about it? Or do you want to get
Spokesman: I would be happy not to answer any questions about it, and we will talk to
them and see what can and can‘t be done. Thank you very much.
Briefing by the Spokeswoman for the President of the General Assembly
Just to bring you up to date on what is happening in the Assembly -- after a day-long
discussion, the General Assembly, on Monday, took note of the Secretary-General‘s report on
the work of the Organization. It was the tenth and final annual report of Secretary-General Kofi
Annan. The Secretary-General, in his concluding remarks, stressed that the Organization will
become stronger and more effective only if it is better managed and more accountable. He also
reminded Member States that good governance and accountability is not simply a matter of
improving the efficiency of the UN but, goes beyond that to ensuring that governors are
responsible to the governed and that world Powers remember their responsibilities‖.
During the meeting, speakers painted a mixed picture of progress achieved in
implementing the reform agenda launched after the 2005 Summit. While most had high praise
for the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, the Central
Emergency Relief Fund and the Ethics Office, many pointed to the lack of progress on reform
efforts and expansion of the Security Council. Others expressed concern about the stalled
international trade talks and the breakdown of consensus on nuclear disarmament and non-
proliferation. Yet, others pointed to the need to urgently address revitalization of the General
Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Many speakers called for finding ways to
address extreme poverty and dealing with the spread of AIDS. There was also consensus on
giving a higher profile to development on the international agenda, particularly the attainment
of the Millennium Development Goals.
Some Member States also mentioned initiatives they planned to undertake. The
representative of the European Union noted that her group was committed to actively
participating in developing ―coherent international climate change policies‖. The representative
of Belarus said he hoped to present a draft resolution on the subject of human trafficking, which
would include not only protection for victims, but prosecution of consumers of such trade.
Pakistan expressed the hope that a special conference would be called on the issue of
disarmament and proliferation, and India‘s representative said he would be presenting a
working paper during the current session on the same issue.
Among the Main Committees of the Assembly, the Special Political and Decolonization,
the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural and the Disarmament and International Security
committees have begun their general debates. Meanwhile, the President of the Assembly
continues to hold bilateral meetings with heads of delegations and working groups.
Questions and Answers
Question: There was a briefing earlier today about deep-sea bottom trawling and a
proposal that‘s being made to the Assembly. They had the ambassadors of New Zealand,
Australia and Palau. Does the General Assembly President or, separately, Bahrain -- what‘s
their view of this upcoming proposal by those three countries and others to ban trawling of the
bottom of the sea?
Spokeswoman: I will raise this with her. It‘s not an issue that I‘ve discussed with her,
so I would have to get her view on that and get back to you. Anything else on the Assembly?
Question: On the reform process, is she going to call upon the Member States to discuss
this issue quickly?
Spokeswoman: That‘s exactly what she is doing now -- meeting with all the heads of
delegations and the various groups to discuss where people are on those issues. So, that Friday,
we are hoping that she will meet with you to give you a sense of what she has heard back from
everybody to date and how she‘ll move forward with the agenda. Because this week, as you‘ve
noticed in all the Committees, it‘s mainly the general debates and getting a feel for what people
would like to place emphasis on. I think next week‘s work will begin in earnest on the
programme of work.
Question: What‘s happening with the Security Council reform?
Spokeswoman: That depends on Member States. That is why she is talking to them to
find out what they would like to do. If you listened to the general debate, and even yesterday
the discussion on the Secretary-General‘s report on the work of the Organization, there have
been a number of comments that. So, I think there is interest, definitely.
Anything else? Thank you very much.