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									THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Wednesday, 3 October 2007

UNEP and the Executive Director in the News     Tourists will stay home as Earth heats up Font Size: Decrease Increase (The Australian) Tourism needs radical cure for global warming (Reuters) Climate change will alter world travel patterns (Reuters) Responding to Climate Change with Concrete Action (News Bureau)

Other Environment News            Poll: Americans remain pessimistic about environment, desire prompt action (Stanford News Service) CLIMATE CHANGE: Czech President Clashes with Environmentalists after UN Speech (IPS) Expert says China would follow U.S. lead on climate (Reuters) Record 22C temperatures in Arctic heatwave (The Independent) Ice cap melt seen "very, very alarming" (Reuters) Despite warming, ships to shun Northwest Passage (Reuters) Public prepared to pay for plastic bags, survey shows (The Guardian) Schools Embrace Ways to Help Environment (AP) Call it the Wal-Mart challenge (Bloomberg) Maldives urges new global consensus on climate change (Xinhua) China offers surprise hope in climate change fight (AFP)

Environmental News from the UNEP Regions     ROAP ROA RONA ROWA

Other UN News   UN Daily News of 2 October 2007 S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 2 October 2007

The Australian: Tourists will stay home as Earth heats up Font Size: Decrease Increase From correspondents in Davos, Switzerland | October 03, 2007 CLIMATE change may trigger "very large" changes in tourism habits within 50 years, as European travellers desert fraught hotspots and stay closer to home, an international conference has been told. A summary report by the UN's tourism, environmental and weather agencies said that travel by north Europeans to some popular Mediterranean, Caribbean and North American areas could suffer, as well as to a lesser degree parts of Asia. Tourists from temperate nations that currently dominate international travel would adapt and take advantage of "new climatic opportunities closer to home", according to the summary of the report due to be released next month. Although the overall worldwide growth in tourism was unlikely to suffer much, it could lead to more tourism spending in temperate nations and less in warmer or tropical destinations that are currently popular, it said. The summary - which was released in advance of the full report due out next month at a ministerial meeting on tourism in London - did not give details of the predicted shifts. A leading scientists in the International Panel on Climate Change, Andreas Fischlin, said Mediterranean tourism was likely to decrease in summer, but expand in autumn and spring due to changing weather patterns. "For small islands in the Caribbean climate change's effects on tourism are largely negative,'' Mr Fischlin added, warning that nearby Mexico's coastal resorts were also likely to be blighted by more intense storms and sea level changes. In August, an approaching top force hurricane forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of tourists from resorts around Cancun at the start of the regular storm season. Officials at the climate change and tourism conference here underlined that would-be travellers' perceptions of the impact of global warming in particular areas would increasingly influence their choices. Some of their habits could also be influenced by indirect impacts of global warming, such as water shortages in popular warm weather resorts that would strain resources shared with the local population or agriculture, they said.

Recent opinion polls have also indicated that travellers are increasingly aware of greenhouse gas emissions, and possible carbon taxes especially associated with air travel, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. "The aviation industry has been slow in responding to the environmental debate and especially the climate change debate,'' said Philippe Rochat, executive director of the aviation lobby Air Transport Action Group. "Keep in mind it's a global industry and the pressure is coming mainly from Europe, and not in the developing world... or even in North America,'' he said. _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters:Tourism needs radical cure for global warming Tue Oct 2, 2007 7:32pm BST By Laura MacInnis DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Smart investments may avert a "crash landing" for the global tourist industry, which is dangerously exposed to the effects of climate change, an expert said on Tuesday. Shardul Agrawala, principal economist for climate change at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said ski and beach resorts were most vulnerable from global warming, which is causing glaciers to recede and sea levels to rise. While many tourism operators are trying to adapt to rising temperatures, for instance buying snow-making equipment or building sea walls, he said the industry needed more radical alternatives to preserve jobs, which one lobby group estimated at 230 million worldwide. "There is a tendency for inertia. The first impulse will be to try to preserve what you're doing currently," Agrawala told Reuters on the sidelines of a United Nations conference on tourism and climate change. Pointing to the recent experiences of European ski resorts, where poor snow cover has prompted some low-altitude Alpine stations to turn to spas and hiking, he said similar steps were required from other areas now dependent on vulnerable ecology. This could mean drawing tourists to new areas, encouraging new businesses, or investing in infrastructure and real estate that is appropriate for forecasted changes such as more frequent floods, droughts, storms and heat waves. Tourist operators in hot areas such as the Mediterranean basin could also focus more on autumn and winter tourism, when heat and wildfire risks would be less acute, Agrawala said. "If you have those measures in place early on, you can essentially prevent a crash landing," he said. "What winter tourism is showing, in a concentrated time slice, is the choices that will need to be made in other sectors." Some green critics, however, say a slump in long-distance tourism would do the world good.

The tourist sector accounts for 5 percent of the world's total emissions of carbon dioxide, which scientists have linked to the heating-up of the atmosphere. Those emissions, dominated by air travel, are expected to surge in coming years as increasing numbers of people take international trips. In a report presented at the Davos conference, the U.N. Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organisation and World Tourism Organisation said climate change would affect the length and quality of tourist seasons and boost operators' heating, cooling, irrigation, food, water and insurance costs. Though yearly snowfall levels are expected to vary across regions, the report found that the global ski industry would become more limited as global temperatures rise, with the highest-altitude sites continuing to thrive. "It isn't doom and gloom for the winter tourism industry. It means a contraction," Daniel Scott, lead author of the study, told the conference participants. _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters:Climate change will alter world travel patterns By Laura MacInnis Tuesday, October 2, 2007; 8:39 AM DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Global warming will produce stay-at-home tourists over the next few decades, radically altering travel patterns and threatening jobs and businesses in tourism-dependent countries, according to a stark assessment by U.N experts. The U.N. Environment Program, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Tourism Organization said concerns about weather extremes and calls to reduce emissionsheavy air travel would make long-haul flights less attractive. Holiday-makers from Europe, Canada, the United States and Japan were likely to spend more vacations in or near their home countries to take advantage of longer summers, they said. In a report prepared for a U.N. conference on climate change and tourism, they projected that global warming would reduce demand for travel between northern Europe and the Mediterranean, between North America and the Caribbean, and between northeast Asia and southeast Asia. "The geographic and seasonal redistribution of tourist demand may be very large for individual destinations and countries by mid- to late-century," the agencies said. "This shift in travel patterns may have important implications, including proportionally more tourism spending in temperate nations and proportionally less spending in warmer nations now frequented by tourists from temperate regions."

ad_icon However, overall travel demand was expected to grow by between 4 and 5 percent a year, with international arrivals doubling to 1.6 billion by 2020. In some developing and island states, tourism accounts for as much as 40 percent of national economic output. Officials from tourism-dependent countries such as the Maldives, Fiji, the Seychelles and Egypt told the conference that shifts in travel choices, and ecological damage from global warming, posed serious threats to their businesses and jobs. "Tourism is a catalyst to the economy. If you are hitting the tourism sector, automatically this rocks the whole economic machinery," Michael Nalletamby of the Seychelles Tourism Board told the Davos conference. Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of the British government agency VisitBritain, said the sector needed to find ways to reduce the effects of ever-increasing travel demand on the environment, which in turn affects the industry's health. "The biggest risk is that the success of the tourist industry becomes its own undoing," he told the conference. _______________________________________________________________________ News Bureau: Responding to Climate Change with Concrete Action Carbon free destinations and interactive ―eTourism‖ tools to advance a coherent response to climate challenge, are among the proposals discussed at the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism held in Davos, Switzerland. UNWTO calls on all private and public stakeholders in tourism to factor climate change into their decision-taking process. UNWTO advocates adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, while maintaining its commitment to reducing extreme poverty and fostering sustainable development, as laid out in the UN Millennium Development Goals. Increased awareness for climate change and its solutions can be advanced through webbased tools which highlight destinations offering more climate friendly tourism choices, as travel information is increasingly becoming web-oriented. Changing consumption behaviour, for example, by encouraging carbon neutral travel, will be promoted through the UNWTO eTourism Climate Change Award.

This initiative is a global first as it links tourism response to climate change with the latest state of the art information and communications technology. It is also among the practical outcomes of UNWTO‘s public-private-partnership signed with Microsoft and acknowledges best practice responses to climate change in order to stimulate innovation and change of behaviour to global warming. The pilot trial for this award will be held at the Canadian Tourism Commission‘s ―Canadae-Connect‖, the 1st Canadian eTourism Strategy Conference & eTourism Awards in Vancouver, Canada, 7-9 November, 2007. Each entry will be reviewed by a panel of experts selected by UNWTO, which will certify and promote the winners ( Carbon Free Destinations The Tourism Industry needs to prepare for a possible change in tourism demand as a response to climate change. With transport as one of the most visible contributors to global warming, increased awareness regarding climate change might induce tourists to switch from long haul to short haul destinations. But these shifts could potentially harm least developed countries, most of which depend heavily on tourism income - 46 of the 49 poorest countries of the world rely on international tourism as their primary source of foreign exchange earnings. During the Davos Conference Sri Lanka announced the initiative Earth Lung – Carbon Free Sri Lanka. This practical policy response represents a bridge across the trade-off between environmental awareness and tourism‘s pro-development potential. As a small country which depends heavily on long-haul travel to generate tourism income, Sri Lanka is facing up to the climate challenge and aims at becoming the first carbon neutral destination. As its tropical forest systems can store large amounts of carbon which otherwise would add to the CO2 in the atmosphere, Sri Lanka aspires to be a travel and tourism Earth Lung. With its commitment to a range of LULUCF-activities (Land Use, Land Use Change & Forestry) associated with appropriate Carbon Offset Programs (COP), ―this initiative has both real and symbolic value and we hope other countries and stakeholders to join the Earth Lung Community to create a global framework that will contribute to the overall UN response to climate change‖, said UNWTO Assistant Secretary-General, Geoffrey Lipman. The 2nd International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism is organized by UNWTO together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Swiss Government. The three-day Conference concludes on 3 October and will have addressed the global challenge of climate change and action by the tourism sector in both adaptation of destinations and mitigation of its own impacts.

For further information please contact: Geoffrey Lipman, UNWTO Assistant Secretary-General, Spokesperson Marcelo Risi, Media Officer T: (34) 91-567-8194 / (34) 91-567-8100 / F: (34) 91-567-8218 - =================================================================

Other Environment News

Stanford News Service: Poll: Americans remain pessimistic about environment, desire prompt action October 3, 2007 Printable VersionAmericans remain pessimistic about the state of the environment and want prompt action taken to improve its health, according to the second annual "America's Report Card on the Environment"—a national public opinion survey conducted by the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University in collaboration with the Associated Press. "The public's overall pessimism and general desire for action has remained constant during the past year," said Woods Institute senior fellow Jon A. Krosnick, the Frederic O. Glover Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Stanford, who designed the 2006 and 2007 surveys. "However, Americans have significantly more negative views of business and of President Bush's handling of the environment than they did a year ago." The 2007 report card was based on a telephone survey of a representative national sample of 1,001 American adults, who were interviewed from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23. Pessimism and global warming The survey found that 52 percent of Americans expect the world's natural environment to be in worse shape in 10 years than it is now, compared to 55 percent in 2006—a statistically insignificant difference, Krosnick said. An additional 8 percent said the environment is in "poor" or "very poor" shape and will not improve—about the same as the 5 percent reported in 2006. "We refer to this group of 60 percent [52 percent plus 8 percent] of Americans as 'pessimists,'" he said. "These pessimists closely resemble the entire U.S. population in terms of gender, race, level of education and whether they live in urban, suburban or rural settings, although white people are now significantly less likely to be pessimists than people of other races." As in 2006, partisan loyalties are related to pessimism: 72 percent of Democrats are pessimists versus 36 percent of Republicans. In 2006, those numbers were 67 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Republicans. "The decrease in pessimism among Republicans is significant, while the increase among Democrats is not," Krosnick said. Pessimism about the health of the natural environment is strongly related to beliefs about global warming, he added, noting that 84 percent of Americans believe that global warming is occurring—compared to 85 percent in 2006. The survey found that 69 percent of the public is at least "somewhat sure" that global warming has been happening and believe that it will have at least "somewhat serious" effects if unchecked, compared to 68 percent in 2006. Among that group, 70 percent are pessimists about the environment in general, compared to 71 percent last year. Remedial action

The 2007 report card revealed that 84 percent of Americans (compared to 86 percent in 2006) want President Bush, Congress, American businesses and/or the American public to do "a great deal" or "a lot" to help the environment during the next year. This call to action remains bipartisan, with 92 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans calling for environmental improvements, compared to 94 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans last year. As in 2006, the proportion of people wanting "a great deal" or "a lot" of effort did not vary according to age and race. "However, those who want more to be done are now more likely to be female than male, are more likely to have completed high school—but no further education—than to be more educated, and are less likely to live in a rural area and more likely to live in other parts of the country," Krosnick noted. Only 7 percent of Americans surveyed say that Bush did "a great deal" or "a lot" to help the environment during the past year (8 percent in 2006), and 67 percent want him to do "a great deal" or "a lot" in the coming year—slightly but significantly lower than last year's figure of 73 percent. This decrease was greatest among Republicans—from 58 percent in 2006 to 47 percent in 2007. "Only 8 percent of Americans believe that U.S. businesses did a great deal or a lot to help the environment during the past year, as in 2006," Krosnick said. "And 71 percent want them to do a great deal or a lot to help the environment during the next year, which is slightly but significantly lower than the 76 percent we saw in 2006. Again, this decrease was greatest among Republicans—from 64 percent in 2006 to 53 percent in 2007." According to the survey, 70 percent of Americans also believe that Congress should do "a great deal" or "a lot" to help the environment during the next year—slightly but significantly less than the 75 percent figure in 2006. This decrease was most marked among Republicans—from 63 percent in 2006 to 49 percent in 2007. Business, Bush and Congress Approval of the President's handling of the environmental issues remained as low as one year ago—20 percent in 2007 compared to 21 percent in 2006. Fifty percent of Republicans approved of the president's performance on this issue, compared to 47 percent last year. "Essentially no Democrats approved of the president's handling of the issue in 2006, and this is still true today," Krosnick said, noting that only 5 percent of Democrats approved of Bush's actions last year and 8 percent approved this year—an insignificant increase. Americans' approval of Congress's handling of the environment remained constant during the past year—16 percent compared to 15 percent in 2006. Among Democrats, there was virtually no change during the past year, with approval of congressional performance at 10 percent (11 percent in 2006). Among Republicans, approval is at 19 percent (25 percent in 2006). Approval of U.S. businesses' handling of the environment also stayed constant, at 22 percent (21 percent in 2006). "Republicans approve of U.S. businesses significantly more than do Democrats—31 percent versus 19 percent," Krosnick noted. "This was true in 2006 as well—32 percent versus 20 percent." Conclusions

Krosnick and his colleagues provided the following summary of this year's environmental report card: As in 2006, a majority of Americans is pessimistic about the health of the environment, believing that it will get worse or is already in poor shape and will not improve. A large majority of Americans still wants to see substantially greater effort to help the environment, but this majority has decreased slightly since 2006, especially among Republicans. Blame for poor and declining environmental conditions is frequently placed on American businesses and to a lesser degree on President Bush's policies. A large majority of Americans is at least somewhat certain that global warming has been happening and will have at least somewhat serious consequences. These individuals are particularly likely to be pessimistic about the future of the environment. Democrats are more pessimistic about the environment and more supportive of remedial efforts than are Republicans, but even majorities of Republicans expressed negative views during the past year. The 2007 survey was conducted by Krosnick and Trevor Tompson of the Associated Press, with support from the Woods Institute. The questionnaire used in the survey was designed by Krosnick and Gary Langer of ABC News. The report was written by Krosnick and Stanford doctoral student Brent Bannon in collaboration with Matthew DeBell, academic research and program director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford. _________________________________________________________________________ IPS: CLIMATE CHANGE: Czech President Clashes with Environmentalists after UN Speech Zoltán Dujisin: PRAGUE, Oct 2 (IPS) - "The recent rise in global temperatures has been very small in historical comparison, and its impact on man and his activities are basically negligible," Czech President Vaclav Klaus told a United Nations conference on global warming last week, causing domestic uproar.

Klaus also called on "monopoly" and "one-sidedness" to be removed from the debate on climate change, and proposed the setting up of two parallel inter-governmental panels under the auspices of the UN that would publish competing reports on what he defined as "a political question." Klaus was invited to the New York conference by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The conference gave 40 heads of state the chance to deliver five-minute speeches on the topic.

The following day Klaus added that "even this potential problem...can never be solved without relying on freedom, free markets, free trade and other attributes of free society." Before his speech at the UN, an ad featuring Klaus appeared in the Washington Post as part of a media campaign against the proponents of the global warming theory. Published by the conservative UN Heartland Institute, which some environmental groups claim is sponsored by energy-generating companies, the ad features photos of Klaus and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, a proponent of the global warming theory, head to head with the inscription "Freedom, not climate is in danger". Klaus has in the past claimed that the "fashionable" environmentalist movement poses a threat to freedom, mostly hinting at the freedom of countries to industrialise themselves. The press has criticised Klaus for his exclusively economic perspective on climate change. Klaus calls economics the "science par excellence," and says he understands it in a broad sense of human interactions. With the Czech Republic aspiring to a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2008-09, Czech officials fear Klaus' comments will affect Prague's chances of gaining the votes of island countries endangered by the rising ocean levels. Czech Deputy PM and junior ruling Green Party leader Martin Bursik, which Klaus has labeled, together with Al Gore, as his enemy in the discussion, said Klaus' speech had done damage to the Czech Republic's reputation. "Such a contradiction between the Czech Republic's official position and the President's personal view he presented will not contribute to our reputation," Bursik said. However, the minister admitted he expected worse. "Under the burden of isolation the President has slightly moderated his speech." Speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty before the conference, Klaus had warned he would deliver a very radical speech at the "gathering of Gore-ites" that had invited him "by mistake". Social Democrat opposition leader Jiri Paroubek also criticised Klaus for bringing his private views to the diplomatic arena. "It is not courageous, but silly to deny the man's responsibility for the processes," he told journalists. The day after the speech leading Czech climatologist Jan Pretel held a press conference in which he argued that Klaus had failed to understand the essence of the problem by focusing solely on global warming.

"This is the fundamental misunderstanding of the entire problem which is really not about global warming. There are many proofs today testifying to changes in ecosystems," Pretel said. The climatologist promised better communication with Czech media to pre-empt further misunderstandings. Justin Hyatt from the Czech office of the World Car Free Network environmental group, admits there are indeed many issues at stake, global warming being just one, and says there are enough reasons to take early action. "Would Mr. Klaus like to deny the reality of the thousands of people who die every month as a direct result of local air pollution?" Hyatt told IPS.

While both the Prime Minister and the President belong to the neo-liberal Civic Democrats (ODS), the ruling party has been forced to govern in a coalition with the Greens, who have shifted the government's orientation towards more environmental-friendly stances. The cabinet agreed Jun. 11 on a programme to lower emissions for the next seven years, focusing on car emissions and domestic coal consumption. In view of the country's upcoming EU presidency in the first half of 2009, preceded by the French and followed by the Swedish presidencies, the three countries' leaders met Sep. 13 to concert strategies on climate protection, one of the states' priorities for their mandates. Yet the Czech Republic is among the eight Eastern European EU member states who have expressed dissatisfaction with EU plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The countries claim the EU targets will limit their development vis-à-vis the older members, and have vowed to take legal action against the European Commission for not permitting a sufficient allocation of emissions allowances. "Unfortunately leaders in the region are usually too preoccupied with generating rapid economic growth, often at the expense of social and environmental issues," Hyatt told IPS. "But adopting clean technologies only makes sense for these countries as sooner or later it will anyways be necessary." Klaus strongly criticised the EU-set goals, but his views do not seem to reflect those of the Czech public. An EU poll carried out on Jul. 12 showed that 91 percent of Czechs wanted the EU to urgently deal with global warming, a rate surprisingly higher

among right-wing than among left-wing supporters. The poll also showed that a majority of Czechs would prefer to delegate more power to the EU when it comes to issues such as energy policy, research and the environment. But climate has not hinged on Klaus' popularity who, according to a recent poll, remains the country's most trustworthy politician for two-thirds of Czechs. (END/2007) _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Expert says China would follow U.S. lead on climate Tue Oct 2, 2007 6:29pm EDT By Timothy Gardner NEW YORK (Reuters) - China would soon follow the U.S. lead if Washington agrees to tackle its emissions in the next few years because China's government takes the threat of global warming more seriously than the United States does, a climate expert said on Tuesday. "My impression is that the national government -- top level ministry officials -- in China regard the threats of global warming to their country with a much higher level of seriousness than their counterparts do here in the United States," said David Hawkins of the environmental group National Resources Defense Council. Hawkins, head of the group's climate center, spoke by telephone to the Reuters Environment Summit in New York. If the United States agrees to cut emissions deeply with a baseline that gets tougher over time, it would spur U.S. manufacturers to build low-emissions technologies like alternative energy and coal plants that store carbon dioxide underground. It could then market those technologies to the world, forcing China to act. "The biggest carrot is to have the U.S. to take a leadership role," he said. "Then countries like China are going to say, 'What does the United States know that we don't know?' and agree to their own cuts," said Hawkins. Hawkins is based in Washington but visits China often, meeting with government ministers heading the country's science and technology, environmental protection, agriculture, and development reform agencies. He said they are very concerned about the possibility that global warming will lead to drastic cuts in water for agriculture. MELTING GLACIERS "They are very much aware that the Tibetan glaciers are threatened and they cannot count on the same water supply to western China from those glaciers 20, 25, or 30 years from now as they get now," he said.

The drought possibility threatens China's food supply as well as its political stability because agriculture provides jobs. "It's a huge threat to China as a stable growing nation," he said. Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the U.N.'s climate panel the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said that a quarter of a billion people in China alone could suffer from less glacier melt from the Himalayan Hindu Kush mountains for water supplies. World leaders are seeking to get the top greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, to engage in a global agreement to cut output of the gases that would succeed the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. They will meet in Bali later this year to try to begin hashing out a new plan. U.S. President George W. Bush, however, continues to oppose mandatory caps on greenhouse emissions. Front runners in both major political parties in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, however, favor mandatory emissions cuts. Many developing countries say rich countries must act first to cut emissions since they are mostly responsible for the build-up of the gases in the atmosphere over decades of industrialization. _________________________________________________________________________ The Independent: Record 22C temperatures in Arctic heatwave By Steve Connor, Science Editor Published: 03 October 2007 Parts of the Arctic have experienced an unprecedented heatwave this summer, with one research station in the Canadian High Arctic recording temperatures above 20C, about 15C higher than the long-term average. The high temperatures were accompanied by a dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice in September to the lowest levels ever recorded, a further indication of how sensitive this region of the world is to global warming. Scientists from Queen's University in Ontario watched with amazement as their thermometers touched 22C during their July field expedition at the High Arctic camp on Melville Island, usually one of the coldest places in North America. "This was exceptional for a place where the normal average temperatures are about 5C. This year we frequently recorded daytime temperatures of between 10C and 15C and on some days it went as high as 22C," said Scott Lamoureux, a professor of geography at Queen's. "Even temperatures of 15C are higher than we'd expect and yet we recorded them for between 10 and 12 days during July. We won't know the August and September recordings until next year when we go back there but it appears the region has continued to be warm through the summer." The high temperatures on the island caused catastrophic mudslides as the permafrost on hillsides melted, Professor Lamoureux said. "The landscape was being torn to pieces, literally before our eyes."

Other parts of the Arctic also experienced higher-than-normal temperatures, which indicate that the wider polar region may have experienced its hottest summer on record, according to Walt Meir of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado. "It's been warm, with temperatures about 3C or 4C above normal for June, July and August, particularly to the north of Siberia where the temperatures have reached between 4C and 5C above average," Dr Meir said. Unusually clear skies over the Arctic this summer have caused temperatures to rise. More sunlight has exacerbated the loss of sea ice, which fell to a record low of 4.28 million square kilometres (1.65 million square miles), some 39 per cent below the long-term average for the period 1979 to 2000. Dr Meir said: "While the decline of the ice started out fairly slowly in spring and early summer, it accelerated rapidly in July. By mid-August, we had already shattered all previous records for ice extent." An international team of scientists on board the Polar Stern, a research ship operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, also felt the effects of an exceptionally warm Arctic summer. The scientists had anticipated that large areas of the Arctic would be covered by ice with a thickness of about two metres, but found that it had thinned to just one metre. Instead of breaking through thicker ice at an expected speed of between 1 and 2 knots, the Polar Stern managed to cruise at 6 knots through thin ice and sometimes open water. "We are in the midst of a phase of dramatic change in the Arctic," said Ursula Schauer, the chief scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, who was on board the Polar Stern expedition. "The ice cover of the North Polar Sea is dwindling, the ocean and the atmosphere are becoming steadily warmer, the ocean currents are changing," she said. One scientist came back from the North Pole and reported that it was raining there, said David Carlson, the director of International Polar Year, the effort to highlight the climate issues of the Arctic and Antarctic. "It makes you wonder whether anyone has ever reported rain at the North Pole before." Another team of scientists monitoring the movements of Ayles Ice Island off northern Canada reported that it had broken in two far earlier than expected, a further indication of warmer temperatures. And this summer, for the first time, an American sailing boat managed to traverse the North-west Passage from Nova Scotia to Alaska, a voyage usually made by icebreakers. Never before has a sail-powered vessel managed to get straight through the usually ice-blocked sea passage. Inhabitants of the region are also noticing a significant change as a result of warmer summers, according to Shari Gearheard, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre. "People who live in the region are noticing changes in sea ice. The earlier break-up and later freeze-up affect when and where people can go hunting, as well as safety for travel," she said. Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, said: "We may see an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer within our lifetimes. The implications... are disturbing." The North-west Passage: an ominous sign The idea of a North-west Passage was born in 1493, when Pope Alexander VI divided the discovered world between Spain and Portugal, blocking England, France and Holland from a sea route to Asia. As it became clear a passage across Europe was impossible, the ambitious plan was hatched to seek out a route through north-western waters, and nations sent out explorers. When, in the 18th century, James Cook reported that Antarctic icebergs produced fresh water, the view that northern waters were not impossibly frozen was

encouraged. In 1776 Cook himself was dispatched by the Admiralty with an Act promising a £20,000 prize, but he failed to push through a route north of Canada. His attempt preceded several British expeditions including a famous Victorian one by Sir John Franklin in 1845. Finally, in 1906 Roald Amundsen led the first trip across the passage to Alaska, and since then a number of fortified ships have followed. On 21 August this year, the North-west Passage was opened to ships not armed with icebreakers for the first time since records began. _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Ice cap melt seen "very, very alarming" Tue Oct 2, 2007 3:01pm EDT By Gerard Wynn and Jeremy Lovell LONDON (Reuters) - Record melting of Arctic sea ice this year sent a "very alarming" signal about warming at the North Pole, but it couldn't all definitely be blamed on manmade climate change, the U.N.'s top weatherman said on Tuesday. The amount of Arctic ice which melted this summer beat a previous record, set two years ago, by an area more than four times the size of Britain, a 30-year satellite record shows. "This year was quite exceptional ... the melting of the Arctic ice ... it's quite spectacular," Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organisation, told Reuters. "Can it all be attributed to climate change? That's very difficult. It's very, very alarming," he said. His answer to how best to interpret the melt was -- "let's do more research". "What it means is that we have to monitor that very, very carefully. It's a warning signal." Melting of sea ice doesn't affect sea levels because it's entire volume is already in the water, but scientists fear if it melted that could trigger more warming and melting of ice sheets over Greenland, which could raise sea levels by 7 meters. Asked if scientists should have better predicted the rate of sea ice melting now seen Jarraud said: "I don't know the answer. It's a difficult question. Some of the models predicted faster melting than others." The prospects for avoiding dangerous climate change depended on the world putting in place measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for heating the planet, he said. But things were looking up. "There's a lot more political attention on this issue. I take it as a positive signal," he said, referring to two high-level climate meetings last week hosted by the United Nations and the United States in New York and Washington. POLITICAL ATTENTION Vast geographical and scientific gaps in the global meteorological and oceanographic monitoring system had to be filled urgently, said Jarraud. The world's weather centers spent $5-10 billion a year in total, and for every extra $1 billion spent up to 10 times that amount could be saved in preparing for and better reacting to climate disasters, Jarraud said.

The ultimate goal, he said, would be to refine climate change forecasting from a coarse global level down towards a regional or even national level so governments could plan in detail how to prepare. "We are very confident that over the next five to 10 years we will be better able to answer questions of regional outlook," Jarraud said. The U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this year concluded global warming was definitely happening and almost certainly manmade. A fifth such IPCC report in six years time would yield answers to whether the increasing frequency and severity of specific extreme weather events, like hurricanes, floods and heatwaves, was linked to climate change. "I'm confident for example that in the next report we might give a better answer with respect to the link between global warming and tropical cyclones," Jarraud said. "There seems to be a growing consensus that global warming may... lead to more of the very intense hurricanes, category 4 and 5." _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Despite warming, ships to shun Northwest Passage Tue Oct 2, 2007 8:50pm EDT By David Ljunggren OTTAWA (Reuters) - While there has been much talk that Arctic trade routes will open up as northern ice melts, shipping companies and experts say using the fabled Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic archipelago would be too difficult, too dangerous and totally impractical. In theory, the idea is tempting -- the passage cuts the distance between Europe and the Far East to just 7,900 nautical miles, from 12,600 nautical miles through the Panama Canal. Global warming means that the summer ice cover in Canada's Arctic is shrinking at such a rapid rate that experts predict the waters could be clear for at least part of the year within a few decades. Yet few predict vessels will steam through the Passage in any great numbers. The highly unpredictable nature of Arctic ice, a total lack of infrastructure, narrow channels, relatively shallow waters, increased insurance costs and the unwillingness of firms to take risks are all to blame. "No one in the industry is really talking about the Northwest Passage being a serious alternative to the Panama Canal, even if it does open up at all," said Simon Bennett, secretary of the International Chamber of Shipping in London.

"There are navigational challenges, so many 'ifs' and 'buts' and the idea that you are going to take merchant ships with deep draughts through icy waters that are uncharted, really means that currently it is no match for the canal." Even if the ice does melt in summer the season would be very brief, perhaps from late June to late September. Then the long dark winter starts drawing in and ice forms again. And just because there is no ice in the passage one summer is no guarantee it will not return the next -- a factor which does little to assuage vessels seeking reliable routes. Canarctic Shipping, by far the biggest operator in the Canadian Arctic, says the extremely high demand for cargo ships means owners do not need to look for short cuts. "Ships are not like buses. They don't run on a schedule at 3:20 in the afternoon. They have to be positioned," said Tom Paterson, Canarctic's vice president of ship management. "The big fear is that you get up there and you can't get through because you've got a block point ... and then you've risked the customer's cargo and have to reroute him back through Panama and he's not going to take that risk." The Passage is in fact five different routes through dozens of rocky islands and narrow waterways. The southern route, the one the least likely to be affected by ice, is also one of the most challenging and not best suited to enormous ships that need plenty of water to maneuver. Michael Gardiner, assistant commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard for the Arctic, said there had only been 150 transits in the last 100 years, most by coast guard vessels. "The Northwest Passage in its entirety has often been described at shipping conferences ... as a rock pile. It's very tricky navigation through most of it," he said. And if a ship got into trouble the rescue effort would be massively complex and costly, said Bob Gorman of Enfotec, which provides ice navigation services in the Arctic. "It's just not a route well traveled ... there are no tugboats nearby, there are no shipyards nearby, there are no repair facilities, there is no port of safe refuge. You are really out in the wilderness," he said. Another challenge is the slowly rotating permanent ice cap at the top of the world, which is made up of diamond-hard multiyear ice that can easily tear holes in ships.

Chunks of this ice, which are hard to spot, occasionally make it into the passage and are set to do so more frequently as the Arctic warms and the giant cap slowly comes apart. "We believe that the last ice in the Arctic to melt, whenever it is ... is likely going to be this ice," said John Falkingham of the Canadian Ice Service. This puts the focus on other routes that might become ice free in summer, such as those over the North Pole and along the top of Russia. Using the Northwest Passage is also hampered by bureaucracy. Canada claims control of the waters in the passage -- something the United States disputes -- and only allows ships to sail through if they are specially strengthened and follow a series of strict rules. Most analysts do expect increased shipping going into and out of the Arctic to meet growing demand for the remote region's rich store of minerals. But experts say that does not mean cargo vessels will be crowding through the passage as they seek a short cut. "There's going to be a lot more people and lot more ships there but it's not going to be the Panama of the north," said Falkingham. (additional reporting by Stefano Ambrogi in London) The Guardian: Public prepared to pay for plastic bags, survey shows Tuesday October 2 2007 Almost three quarters of adults say they are prepared to pay for re-usable carrier bags according to an exclusive survey released today to Guardian Unlimited Environment by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB). If supermarkets stopped supplying free plastic bags, 14% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay £2 or more for a re-usable woven shopping bag that would last for up to a year, 64% said they would pay between 50p and £1, while 11% thought that 20p was a fair price. If supermarkets offered plastic re-usable bags that would last for about 10 shopping trips, 61% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay 5p (34%) or 10p (27%) for them. Only 11% admitted to throwing away a plastic bag after one use. Nearly two thirds of adults said they already re-used plastic bags and 23% already use the sturdier, paid-for re-

usable shopping bags. Re-use of plastic bags was highest among the 16-24 age group (67%), dropping to 56% among the over –50s. The most popular reuse for plastic bags is as bin liners. While 61% of people wanted supermarket to stop supplying free plastic carrier bags, in order to cut down on rubbish, a third were opposed to the idea because either they thought people who forgot to bring their own bags shouldn't be penalised (20%) or they believed that supermarkets had a duty to supply free carrier bags to customers (13%). When the 30 cents (20p) plastic bag levy in the Republic of Ireland came into effect in March 2002, it resulted in a dramatic fall in plastic bag use from an estimated 328 bags per person a year to just 21. The 'plastax', as it was dubbed, also lead to a 95% decrease in plastic bag little. In the UK more than 13bn bags are issued every year to shoppers. This means that each person receives roughly 220 bags a year. Only one in 200 bags are estimated to be recycled. London councils are currently consulting the public over its proposals to introduce a London-wide ban, or levy on plastic bags. The consultation asks the public its views on a range of options – from doing nothing, to an outright ban on all throw away shopping bags. The consultation runs until Friday 26 October, and will help shape the final proposal that will go into the 10th London Local Authorities Bill, due to go before Parliament in November. The government is opposed to a ban or levy. Early this year it struck an agreement with retailers to cut back on bags by a quarter by the end of 2008, potentially reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by 58,500 tonnes - equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road for a year. "This agreement is working with retailers offering shoppers reusable bags for life. We don't think a ban or a levy is the right way to go," said a Defra spokeswoman. "In Ireland people just brought more bin liners to replace free carrier bags, so the volume of waste stayed the same." Despite the government's stance, some 50 towns, cities and villages across Britain are now in the process of imposing their own plastic bag ban, inspired by the Devon town of Modbury. ___________________________________________________________________ AP: Schools Embrace Ways to Help Environment KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jacob Chapman hopes to plant a rooftop garden at Olathe South High School, encourages classmates to recycle plastic bottles and paper, and wants them to reduce their use of disposables in the school cafeteria.

"Our school is farther along than some, but I'm sure we could do more," the 18-year-old said. Chapman is among a growing group of students working to make schools greener as he learns more about the environment. While students push for more change, many Kansas City-area districts are embracing environmentally-friendly policies at schools, said Matt Riggs of the Mid-America Regional Council. Riggs, outreach coordinator for MARC's solid waste management district, said many school districts are reducing energy and water use, taking steps to lower school-bus emissions and constructing green buildings. One of the biggest benefits is that the practices are being taught to students, he said. "The school becomes the model by which kids can see things in action," Riggs said. "... It's more of a holistic approach." In the North Kansas City district, the new Staley High School should become a giant teaching tool, as it will be certified for its energy-saving and earth-friendly construction. Olathe schools control thermostat settings and have installed energy-saving lights, said Bob Courtney, the district's energy manager. The newest Blue Valley schools have been built to use maximum daylight, with adhesives and floor tiles that did not emit fumes and windows and mechanical systems that save energy. Blue Valley was the first district in the nation to receive the Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Model of Sustained Excellence award. "Not only is it good for the environment, but most importantly for us, it creates exceptional learning environments for kids," said Dave Hill, the district's executive director of facilities and operations. ________________________________________________________________________ Bloomberg -- Call it the Wal-Mart challenge. A move by the world's largest retailer to ask suppliers to report their greenhouse emissions is an ominous sign for executives in Asia, where many of them operate. In the long run, it might be just what the region needs. First, some background. Asian companies performed dismally in CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets' maiden survey on climate change. Most respondents proved to be ``largely oblivious'' to the issue, the Hong Kong-based brokerage found. About 40 percent of the 582 companies responding to CLSA's corporate-governance survey ignored the newly added ``Clean and Green'' section. Of those that took it seriously, 64 percent scored a zero. That prompted CLSA to warn that it's ``reckless'' for organizations to ignore the environmental impact of their businesses amid rising social pressure. Enter Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based behemoth hasn't yet said what it will do with the emissions data. Yet given the pressure U.S. executives are under from customers, politicians and activists, companies will probably soon begin to blacklist suppliers and nations. ``Once the likes of Wal-Mart start asking for such information, it may be only a matter of time before Asia finds itself in a losing position as activism in western countries grows,'' says Amar Gill, head of thematic research at CLSA.

Climate Challenge For most corporate managers in Asia, Gill says, it hasn't sunk in that business has a carbon footprint. Every enterprise consumes electricity, requires employees to travel and will have negative effects on the environment. As Wal-Mart's ever-growing interest in the issue attests, Asian companies ``could soon be at a disadvantage if they don't take steps to address the challenges,'' Gill says. The bottom line is that heeding calls for environmental responsibility is no longer a choice. You would think that darkening skies from Beijing to Jakarta and from Manila to Mumbai would drive the point home. So far, they haven't. ``If this is going to be the Asian century, which I hope it will be, then Asia needs to take the lead on this,'' says Rajat Nag, director general of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank. Sadly, no leadership has come from the largest emitter of greenhouse gases: the U.S. It's great that President George W. Bush has evolved from dismissing climate change as a conspiracy theory to convening conferences, as he did in Washington last week. Yet by refusing to endorse the carbon-dioxide limits needed to avoid the most damaging effects of global warming, Bush is just encouraging Asia to drag its feet on going green. Fairness Issue Bush blew off the Kyoto accord in 2001 because some big developing nations are exempt from the required carbon cuts. That served China well; it took the onus off officials in Beijing to figure out how to grow rapidly while also reducing pollution. Japan, the U.S.'s staunchest ally in Asia, hasn't applied the pressure it should on Bush to offer a better example. After all, if the richest nation won't change, why should povertyplagued China, India or Indonesia? Also, Europeans and Americans polluted plenty in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the spirit of fairness, it would seem that Chinese, Indians and other developing-nation populations should be able to do the same as the West did. The trouble is our planet just couldn't survive a few billion Asians polluting the way Westerners have. `Clear Leaders' Yesterday, Yasuo Fukuda, Japan's new prime minister, reminded investors why CLSA rates Japan one of the ``clear leaders'' in its commitment to the environment. Fukuda called on his government to step up efforts to meet its Kyoto greenhouse- gas-emissions target. Along with companies in South Korea and Taiwan, CLSA found Japan's to be among the most environmentally friendly. Those with ``Clean and Green'' scores of more than 80 percent include Japan's NEC Corp., Sharp Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., Korea's Samsung SDI Co., Posco and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Taiwan's Zyxel Communications Corp., China Steel Corp. and Taiwan Cement Corp. The message needs to travel farther and wider in Asia. Governments, of course, are expected to take the lead, says Nag. Yet Asia is already beyond the point where it must strike a balance between growth and getting control over the environment. The cost of not acting today will be slower growth, dirtier skies and ever-increasing health problems that add to public debt. Dark Side

It's worth noting that on the broader issue of corporate governance, CLSA's latest study -conducted with the Asian Corporate Governance Association -- was less than encouraging. The average score for companies in ex-Japan Asia rose just 1.2 points, a much smaller improvement than previous years. The reason? Thriving economies and markets, which CLSA says are reducing pressure in Asia to clean up business dealings. The real dark side is that the faster Asia's economies move, the bigger the environmental cleanup will be 10 or 15 years from now. It's a risk that executives and investors are mostly ignoring. Wal-Mart is one exception. ________________________________________________________________________ Xinhua: Maldives urges new global consensus on climate change The Maldives urged on Tuesday the international community to build a new global consensus on climate change at the forthcoming UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, this December. The conference "offers a change to overcome the failed promises and missed opportunities of the past, and to build a new global consensus on climate change," Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said at the general debate of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. He said that there is "a real sense of international momentum" leading toward the UN climate change conference in Bali. "We must take collective responsibility and agree to an integrated and comprehensive approach to climate change that recognizes and covers all four pillars of climate change policy - mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and funding," he said. The crucial question is whether the international community has the political will to secure a successful outcome from the Bali process, he said, adding that the Maldives will play its part in this process. He announced the government's initiative to host a preparatory meeting of small island developing states in the Maldives in November. "The purpose of the meeting is to draw up a collective stand on the individual human dimension of climate change, for submission to the Bali Conference," he added. The UN climate change conference is due to be held in Bali this December with an aim to pave the way for a new global treaty on further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ______________________________________________________________________ AFP: China offers surprise hope in climate change fight

YANQING, CHINA — Teenager Zhu Xiaotong's home a few hours' drive outside Beijing is a world away from the acrid air and snarling traffic jams that have come to dominate China's energy-hungry capital. Cherry tomatoes, capsicum and spring onions rise up from a little garden patch that forms the centrepiece of her family's brick courtyard home, while a solar panel heater ensures the Zhu's have warm water even in winter. Zhu, the 19-year-old daughter of cabbage farmers, has also for the past few months cooked the family meal in their sparse kitchen on a new eco-friendly stove that burns crop waste ultra-efficiently instead of noxious coal. "There was a lot of smoke when we burnt the coal, but now there's no smoke at all. Coal smoke used to make us cough," she said on a recent clear sunny day at their home in Yanqing, a picturesque farming district. The Zhu family stove, in fact, is being held up as a symbol of what many may be surprised to hear -- that China could be one of the world's saviours in combatting global warming. Former US vice president Al Gore recently presented Chinese firm Daxu, the makers of the stove, with an Ashden Award, a high-profile British honour that promotes world-leading sustainable technologies. China's environment is undoubtedly under unprecedented pressure as its 1.3 billion people rush to live modern, Western lifestyles, and it continues to rely on global-warming culprit coal for 70 percent of its expanding energy needs. In fact, China has quickly caught up with the United States as the world's biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming. But China is also quietly emerging as a global force in renewable energy technologies, from big-ticket items such as wind and solar power to small products like the Zhu's stove. This is being driven by strong government policies, its own vast market and businesses seizing opportunities in a fast-growing global industry, according to the China programme manager for Worldwatch Institute, Yingling Liu. "China has the potential to be a world leader in the renewable energy sector," Washingtonbased Liu told AFP. "What is promising is that changes (in China) are happening in the right directions towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, and the trends will likely be accelerated." China currently gets eight percent of its energy from renewable sources, and the official target is to build that up to around 15 percent by 2020. And while most of that comes from hydropower, a scan around China's countryside and even its cities shows that some other renewable technologies have already become more widespread in the developing Asian nation than in rich countries. Solar water heaters such as the one used at the Zhu's home can be seen on the roofs of remote village homes and endless lines of new apartments in China's rapidly emerging urban sprawl. Meanwhile, China's status as the world's "factory floor" and its ability to drive product costs down globally is being seen as an even bigger cause for optimism in the struggle against climate change.

Currently, fossil fuels remain a cheaper source for power than wind, solar and other renewables, while energy-efficient products often cost more than their energy-hungry equivalents. "The price of these technologies will only come down if countries like China start manufacturing them," said Greenpeace China climate and energy campaign manager Yang Ailun. In one example, which has ironically drawn anti-dumping tariffs from the European Union, China has emerged as the world's biggest and cheapest exporter of energy-saving light bulbs. Solar technology is another. While solar power, as opposed to water heaters, is yet to take off dramatically in China due to high costs, Chinese businesses are beginning to dominate the global market. Chinese scientist-turned-entrepreneur Shi Zhengrong is a billionaire thanks to his Suntech Power company, a New York-listed firm that is one of the world's leading makers of photovoltaic equipment that turns sunlight into electricity.


_________________________________________________________________________ ROAP Media Update 3 October 2007

UNEP or UN in the news           

UN-Habitat-Central Chronicle : Town planners observe World Habitat Day UN-Habitat-The Jakarta Post : World Habitat Day sees city clean up WTO/UNEP-Thaisnews : The United Nations World Tourism Organisation UNWTO discuss…. WTO/UNEP-e-Travel Blackboard : New report to quantify link between tourism and climate change WTO/UNEP-Daily Telegraph : Tourists will stay home as Earth heats WTO/UNEP- : Tourism industry faces rising climate change threat WTO/UNEP-The Times of India : Climate change set to influence travel habits: UN report WTO/UNEP-Malaysia Star : Climate will alter travel patterns in decades - U.N. UN-The Daily Star : A global issue UNEP-Bangkok Post : The future they want UN-Bayanihan : UN says meeting MDGs still possible

General Environment News                AUSTRALIA-ABC Science Online : Expect more drought, floods, says new report JAPAN-Malaysia Star : Japan to remap climate plans to reach Kyoto goal PHILLIPINES- Inquirer : Apo Reef declared off-limits to fishing PHILIPPINES-Bayanihan : RP gains headway in environmental sustainability bid PHILLIPINES-Inquirer : DENR: Towns have duty to keep forests green PHILIPPINES-Manila Bulletin : The Podium, Australian Embassy help to ‗Clean Up the World‘ PHILIPPINES-Malaya : Drilling at Tanon Strait bucked PHILIPPINES-Malaya : N. Ecija eyes plant nurseries THAILAND-MCOT : PTTEP to explore for more gas in Northeast THAILAND- Inquirer : Thailand approves Honda's eco-car investment THAILAND-The Nation : Rising mercury a threat to turtles THAILAND-Bangkok Post : Tesco goes green with new branch, truck fleet OPINION-The Daily Star : Global warming, Kyoto Protocol and developing countries OPINION-The Daily Star : Climate change and agriculture TOXIC WASTE-Malaya : Groups plead for action to stop toxic waste trade

UNEP or UN in the news

UN-Habitat-Central Chronicle : Town planners observe World Habitat Day By Our Staff Reporter Bhopal, Oct 2: The Institute of Town Planners India, Madhya Pradesh chapter in collaboration with HUDCO and Madhya Pradesh Housing Board the other day observed the World Habitat Day. A seminar on ``A safe city is a just city'' was organised on the occasion. Minister for Housing and Environment Jayant Malaiya was the chief guest of the occasion. The programme began with the introductory speech of the chairman of ITPI BN Tripathi. He said that the theme of the seminar ``A safe city is a just city'' was first introduced by the United Nations. Ashok Dohare, IG, spoke on urban crime and violence and urban safety, while Dr Ashutosh Sharma, Dean Admn and HoD Dept of Arch MANIT talked about matching the boundaries of planning units and wards for efficient use of the resources available. This would create the sense of belongingness and help in reducing crime with the help of urban planning, he added. Rajesh Nagal, Secretary ITPI proposed the vote of thanks. Prizes were given to the winners of drawing competition conducted by HUDCO and MPHB. Dr DK Satpathi, Director Medico Legal, Devraj Birdi PS and RK Swai, Commissioner MPHB, were also present on the occasion. ………………………………. UN-Habitat-The Jakarta Post : World Habitat Day sees city clean up SURAKARTA: Improved city management practices saw Surakarta municipality in Central Java host a commemoration for World Habitat Day on Monday. Surakarta mayor Joko Widodo said his administration had successfully improved the city without causing social conflict. "The success stories include ... the management of street vendors, the revitalization of 36 traditional markets and the construction of affordable houses for slum people," he told Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto and State Minister for Public Housing Muhammad Yusuf Asy'ari witnessed the agreement. The United Nations has made the first Monday every October World Habitat Day to reflect the state of human settlements and the right to adequate shelter for all. The theme of this year's World Habitat Day is "Cities, magnets of hope".

The UN said the theme should remind the world about the greatest migration in history -- of people into towns and cities. In 1950, one-third of the world's population lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this rose to 50 percent and would continue to grow to two-thirds, or 6 billion people, by 2050, the UN said. It also said cities are now home to half of mankind. ………………………….. WTO/UNEP-Thaisnews : The United Nations World Tourism Organisation UNWTO discuss climate change solutions. Andaman News TV11 (VHF dial) 8.30am + maybe FM90.5 Radio Thailand 6pm, both broadcast to Phang Nga, Krabi & Phuket provinces, FM108 Mazz Radio 7.30pm in Phuket & Phuket Cable TV Channel 1 at 7, 10.30 or 11pm, Wednesday 3 October 2007 & More than 600 participants from over 100 countries and 20 international organizations are at the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism in Davos, Switzerland which opened on Monday. Organized by UNWTO together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Swiss Government, the three-day Conference addresses the global challenge of climate change and action by the tourism sector in both adaptation of destinations and mitigation of its own impacts. The Conference stressed the need for fostering the full use of the adaptation potential of the tourism sector and supporting market-based off-setting mechanisms. To be consistent with UNWTO's commitment to sustainable travel, the Organization has asked participants to register with carbon offsetting organizations. Carbon offsetting mitigates greenhouse gas emissions and can involve renewable energy projects and tree planting, among others. …………………………… WTO/UNEP-e-Travel Blackboard : New report to quantify link between tourism and climate change Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - The UNWTO will soon be releasing a paper that quantifies the links between tourism and climate change. An advance summary of the report entitled ―Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges" predicts that the tourism sector‘s contribution to CO2 emissions could grow by 150 percent in the next 30 years if no mitigation measures are taken. "Climate change is real, its effects are proven and the Tourism sector has to play its part in contributing to the solution of the challenges it poses. Within our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and as the lead Tourism organization in the UN family, we want to ensure the coherence between action on poverty reduction and climate change," UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said.

The UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said that numerous world leaders pledged their support for a post 2012 emissions reduction agreement at the United Nations in New York last week. Others even plan to go carbon neutral. ―This is the kind of leadership and innovation needed across all sectors including the tourism industry-leadership that supports governments and may help ensure that the wonderful and extraordinary travel destinations that sustain the industry today will be there for us to enjoy tomorrow," he added. The report also discusses the impacts of climate change on tourism both in the short term and in the future. This includes implications on tourist demand and levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The report also provides an overview of policy and business management responses to climate change. Climate change will be the topic of debate at this week‘s second International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism which is taking place in Davos, Switzerland. The conference is a collaborative effort between the UNWTO, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Swiss Government. ………………………………. WTO/UNEP-Daily Telegraph : Tourists will stay home as Earth heats From correspondents in Davos, Switzerland October 03, 2007 - CLIMATE change may trigger "very large" changes in tourism habits within 50 years, as European travellers desert fraught hotspots and stay closer to home, an international conference has been told. A summary report by the UN's tourism, environmental and weather agencies said that travel by north Europeans to some popular Mediterranean, Caribbean and North American areas could suffer, as well as to a lesser degree parts of Asia. Tourists from temperate nations that currently dominate international travel would adapt and take advantage of "new climatic opportunities closer to home", according to the summary of the report due to be released next month. Although the overall worldwide growth in tourism was unlikely to suffer much, it could lead to more tourism spending in temperate nations and less in warmer or tropical destinations that are currently popular, it said. The summary - which was released in advance of the full report due out next month at a ministerial meeting on tourism in London - did not give details of the predicted shifts. A leading scientists in the International Panel on Climate Change, Andreas Fischlin, said Mediterranean tourism was likely to decrease in summer, but expand in autumn and spring due to changing weather patterns.

"For small islands in the Caribbean climate change's effects on tourism are largely negative,'' Mr Fischlin added, warning that nearby Mexico's coastal resorts were also likely to be blighted by more intense storms and sea level changes. In August, an approaching top force hurricane forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of tourists from resorts around Cancun at the start of the regular storm season. Officials at the climate change and tourism conference here underlined that would-be travellers' perceptions of the impact of global warming in particular areas would increasingly influence their choices. Some of their habits could also be influenced by indirect impacts of global warming, such as water shortages in popular warm weather resorts that would strain resources shared with the local population or agriculture, they said. Recent opinion polls have also indicated that travellers are increasingly aware of greenhouse gas emissions, and possible carbon taxes especially associated with air travel, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. "The aviation industry has been slow in responding to the environmental debate and especially the climate change debate,'' said Philippe Rochat, executive director of the aviation lobby Air Transport Action Group. "Keep in mind it's a global industry and the pressure is coming mainly from Europe, and not in the developing world... or even in North America,'' he said.,22049,22523524-5006506,00.html ……………………………….. WTO/UNEP- : Tourism industry faces rising climate change threat Reuters | Wednesday, 3 October 2007 Booming demand for international travel is exacerbating climate change pressures and threatening many coastal, mountain and outdoor destinations, United Nations experts have said. Tourism currently accounts for 5 per cent of global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and the sector's contribution to global warming is expected to jump as increasing numbers of people travel, particularly by air. "The tourism industry is going to double between now and 2020. We cannot afford that the emissions also double in the same time," World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli told journalists during a conference in the Swiss resort of Davos. In a report prepared for the three-day meeting of scientists, politicians and industry officials, the UN agency said global warming may extend the summers of northern countries such as Canada, Britain and Russia, and create new opportunities for travel in polar regions.

But most sites, particularly in poorer and island nations where tourism can generate up to 40 per cent of economic output, were seen at risk from rising world temperatures and resultant environmental shifts. "There are few other economic activities that are so dependent on climate as tourism," the World Tourism Organisation report noted. "All destinations will have to adapt at some level," lead author Daniel Scott told the Davos conference. Beach tourism and winter sports have already felt the pinch of rising temperatures, which scientists say will cause more hot days, strong winds, tropical storms, intense rainfall, droughts and wildfires, the Madrid-based agency said. Many coastal areas have seen beach erosion from storms, more algae blooms, and jellyfish infestations because of warmer than normal sea temperatures. Mountain resorts have coped with less snow and shorter ski seasons. Areas dependent on scuba diving and snorkelling were also seen under threat from climate change. "Most of the world's coral reefs would die off with only a 3 degree Celsius increase in sea temperatures and the myriad of colourful fish and sea creatures that live in the reefs would also disappear," the report found. Referring to scientists' findings that projected temperature rises could threaten extinction for up to 30 per cent of animal and plant species, the World Tourism Organisation also flagged "a spectacular decrease" in the number of lions, elephants and rhinoceroses in Africa, hurting safari operators. It also said the Maldives, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, could lose entire islands with a small increase in sea levels, while urban sites such as Venice and lower Manhattan could also be submerged. While declining to estimate potential losses to the sector from unmitigated climate change, Frangialli warned damage to tourist sites could cause severe job losses and economic disruption. "The consequences for some destinations could be very strong," he said. …………………………………… WTO/UNEP-The Times of India : Climate change set to influence travel habits: UN report 2 Oct 2007, 2057 - DAVOS: Climate change may trigger very large changes in tourism habits within 50 years, as European travellers desert fraught hot spots and stay closer to home, an international conference heard on Tuesday.

A summary report by the UN's tourism, environmental, and weather agencies said that travel by north Europeans to some popular Mediterranean, Caribbean and North American areas could suffer, as well as to a lesser degree parts of Asia. Tourists from temperate nations that currently dominate international travel would adapt and take advantage of "new climatic opportunities closer to home," according to an advance summary of the report due to be released next month. Although the overall worldwide growth in tourism was unlikely to suffer much, it could lead to more tourism spending in temperate nations and less in warmer or tropical destinations that are currently popular, it added. The summary -- which was released in advance of the full report due out next month at a ministerial meeting on tourism in London -- did not give details of the predicted shifts. Officials at the conference on climate change and tourism here underlined that some of the changes could be influenced by indirect impacts of global warming, such as water shortages in popular warm weather resorts that would strain resources shared with the local population or agriculture. Recent opinion polls have also indicated that travellers are increasingly aware of greenhouse gas emissions, possible carbon taxes especially associated with air travel, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. UN_report/articleshow/2422933.cms .............................................................. WTO/UNEP-Malaysia Star : Climate will alter travel patterns in decades - U.N. By Laura MacInnis DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Global warming will produce stay-at-home tourists over the next few decades, radically altering travel patterns and threatening jobs and businesses in tourism-dependent countries, according to a stark assessment by U.N experts. The U.N. Environment Programme, the World Meteorological Organisation and the World Tourism Organisation said concerns about weather extremes and calls to reduce emissionsheavy air travel would make long-haul flights less attractive. Tourists stand on a walkway extending from the Brazilian bank of the Iguacu River to observe the part of the Iguacu waterfalls in southern Brazilian city Foz do Iguacu, September 20, 2007. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker) Holiday-makers from Europe, Canada, the United States and Japan were likely to spend more vacations in or near their home countries to take advantage of longer summers, they said. In a report prepared for a U.N. conference on climate change and tourism, they projected that global warming would reduce demand for travel between northern Europe and the Mediterranean, between North America and the Caribbean, and between northeast Asia and southeast Asia.

"The geographic and seasonal redistribution of tourist demand may be very large for individual destinations and countries by mid- to late-century," the agencies said. "This shift in travel patterns may have important implications, including proportionally more tourism spending in temperate nations and proportionally less spending in warmer nations now frequented by tourists from temperate regions." However, overall travel demand was expected to grow by between 4 and 5 percent a year, with international arrivals doubling to 1.6 billion by 2020. In some developing and island states, tourism accounts for as much as 40 percent of national economic output. Officials from tourism-dependent countries such as the Maldives, Fiji, the Seychelles and Egypt told the conference that shifts in travel choices, and ecological damage from global warming, posed serious threats to their businesses and jobs. "Tourism is a catalyst to the economy. If you are hitting the tourism sector, automatically this rocks the whole economic machinery," Michael Nalletamby of the Seychelles Tourism Board told the Davos conference. Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of the British government agency VisitBritain, said the sector needed to find ways to reduce the effects of ever-increasing travel demand on the environment, which in turn affects the industry's health. "The biggest risk is that the success of the tourist industry becomes its own undoing," he told the conference. ……………………………………….. UN-The Daily Star : A global issue Ripan Kumar Biswas Starting with the most recent natural disaster while over 100 fishing trawlers with some 1200 fishermen aboard went missing in the Bay of Bengal due to high waves triggered by a sudden storm on Thursday, September 20, 2007, Bangladesh frequently faces crucial natural behavior not only for its geographical position but also for the rapid changing of world climate which is largely caused by human activity. Giving importance to strike a balance between mitigation and adaptation, Chief Adviser to the present interim government of Bangladesh Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, said to the world leaders, policy makers, scientists and environmental activists to take drastic measures against the rise of global temperature and sea level while he was delivering a lecture as cochairman at a seminar on the "Challenges of adaptation -- From vulnerability to resilience" which was a part of daylong deliberations on "high level event on climate change" at the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2007. "The event is not simply an occasion for negotiations. It is meant to express the political will of the world leaders at the highest level to tackle the challenge of climate change

through concerted action," said the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the chair at the closing of that daylong deliberation. The effort began at the UN headquarters in New York to seek to at least makes world leaders aware of the role greenhouse gasses play in warming the earth and the necessity to address the problem, secure apolitical commitment and build momentum for the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia on Dec. 3 to 14, 2007, where negotiations about a new international climate agreement will start. However, the question remains unanswered whether the greenhouse gasses (mainly CO2 produced by power plants and cars) are a primary cause or not? California Governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger and former US Vice President Al Gore were also set to join with more than 70 world leaders to spur global negotiations on how to cool the warming planet. They acknowledged that rich and poor countries have differing responsibilities when it comes to global warming, but it is time to stop the blame game. However, they are not interested to look back at the Kyoto protocol, which has also been rejected by the US President George W. Bush. The 1997 Kyoto deal requires 36 industrial nations including United States to reduce heattrapping gases produced by power plants and other industrial, agricultural and transportation sources by an average 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. 16 countries that together represent 85% of the global economy and 80% of global greenhouse-gas emissions are more or less responsible for rising temperature, according to the environment scientists. This includes the leading "Western" economies and large "developing" ones such as China, India and Brazil. Sadly, it does not include the countries that are most at risk from the impacts of climate change: places like Bangladesh and most African nations that do not have the funds to build dykes and grow drought-resistant crops. In much of South Asia, the irony of climate change is that it creates too little water in some places and too much in others. The summer runoff from mountain glaciers that now provides most of the drinking water to 40 percent of the world's population is rapidly disappearing. And so are myriad inhabitants, forced to leave land their families tilled for generations. In Bangladesh, refugees who can no longer farm on drowning coastal land are falling inward to cities already crammed with jobless and desperate masses. Smaller than Illinois, US, Bangladesh has 152.6 million people, half the US population. Imagine what it will be like in 50 years, when the Bay of Bengal is predicted to cover 11 percent of Bangladesh's land. By some estimates, a one-meter sea level rise would submerge about one-third of Bangladesh's total area, uprooting 25-30 million people. Country's recent flooding is one of the worst floods in recent times as more than one-third of the country was inundated, but in the face of such a deluge, there is little that Bangladesh can prevent this natural disaster.

The one-day gathering is meant to send a "strong political message" about the urgency of the problem of curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. According to a recently released study by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSDIC), the extent of sea ice now stands at 4.18 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles). This represents an increase of 50,000 square kilometers (19,000 square miles) compared to the value of 4.13 million square kilometers (1.59 million square miles) five-day running mean extent, observed on September 16, which appears to be the 2007 minimum. The increase reflects the end of the Arctic summer and the onset of winter. However, the NSDIC also noted: The minimum for 2007 shatters the previous five-day minimum set on September 20-21, 2005, by 1.19 million square kilometers (460,000 square miles), roughly the size of Texas and California combined, or nearly five United Kingdoms." Because oceans are so dark compared to sea ice, the immense open water areas north of Siberia absorbed a great deal of the sun's energy through summer, hence heating the upper ocean. As the sun begins to set in autumn, this heat stored in the ocean starts to be released back to the atmosphere, which increases air temperatures. Hence, the anomalous lack of sea ice is itself partly responsible for the unusually high temperatures. On September 17, 2007 the Arctic ice pack reached its lowest level since measurements have been taken. Glaciers are melting and the world's weather patterns are changing. In addition, to balance public and private sector involvement in clean energy growth, leaders in the discussion also emphasised to stimulate the development and deployment of clean, low-carbon energy technologies to balance environmental protection with economic growth. No problem is as complex, or as potentially catastrophic for the industry, as the rising temperatures in the world's oceans and atmosphere. It is time for action. World needs adaptation to climate change, because irrespective of what one's do, everybody will have to live with change in the climate. Adaptation alone can not cope with all the projected impacts of climate change. Hence, a mix of strategies is needed, including adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York ………………………………… UNEP-Bangkok Post : The future they want Story and photos by VASANA CHINVARAKORN At the Tunza International Youth Conference, young people discussed responses to the destruction of the planet

Siriwat "Big" Rittapai conceded his idea may seem far-fetched _ at least for now. But the Matayom 6 student of Benjamamaharat School in Ubon Ratchathani strongly believes in the potential of solar energy and the possibility of it being shared across borders. At the recent Tunza International Youth Conference in Germany, Siriwat thus proposed to his peers the possibility of technology he called "solar credits". Some, he said, were totally amazed. "'How could you have come up with such an avantgarde proposal?' they asked me after my presentation was over. Others offered their ideas on how I could develop it further," recalled Siriwat. The young man's "solar credit" hypothesis was inspired by the fact that Thailand has much sunlight throughout the year. Given the need for renewable energy in many rich countries in the northern hemisphere, Siriwat asked could we perhaps "sell" them this ample natural resource, maybe by using special mirrors to reflect sunlight to a satellite that would beam it to another country on the other side of the globe? As part of the conference programme, Siriwat got to discuss his proposal with a German engineer when he visited TUV Rheinland's solar-cell testing lab in Cologne. He was told his idea of solar transmission was possible "in compliance with the laws of physics", but it appeared that it was not particularly viable economically. Still, the discussions prompted were not a waste of time. The Tunza Conference, which is jointly held by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and German multinational Bayer AG, exposed Siriwat to a multitude of ideas and examples on how to save the world. Held in the German town of Leverkusen, the event saw 180 young environmentalists aged between 15 and 24 from 85 countries discuss and debate the best way to turn things around. The topics covered ranged from planting trees, using biodegradable products and being more energy-efficient to pushing for more stringent laws and sharing technological know-how with the rest of the world. Hana Shazwin from Malaysia, one of the youngest participants, proposed establishing a "World Tree Day", which would be held on the last weekend of September because that "is the only point in time when both the northern and southern hemispheres share a warm climate suitable for tree planting. "World Tree Day [would aim] to instil awareness and love for trees in children, youth and communities. [It will also] help the world achieve a carbon neutral status, meaning our trees would absorb as much carbon as we release into the atmosphere." The 15-year-old also presented some samples of packaging products made out of a biodegradable fibre produced from discarded palm oil husks. Named Eco Pak, the packaging was recently developed by a Malaysian company. It is cheaper than plastic, Shazwin claimed, and decays naturally, turning into fertiliser. A shrewd two-in-one remedy to the problems of waste from the palm oil industry and what to do with plastic rubbish. Other attendees chose to start at the most basic level _ themselves. Waranya Roekparitat, also from Thailand, said she was quite interested in the concept of "sustainable lifestyles". The 22-year-old noted with a smile that her dormitory room at the University of Hawaii is filled with piles of used paper. She said she has experimented with using each page "four times" by writing first on both sides then writing between the lines on each side with the

page turned upside down so she knows which line to read. She said she writes using smaller print and even switched to using pencil first so she could write over the same page in pen later. It takes time "but it works", said the enthusiastic young lady, who was elected to sit on the Tunza Youth Advisory Council during its last conference two years ago in India. Efforts like these enhance the title of this youth forum, Tunza, which in Kiswahili (an East African language) means "to treat with care and affection". Siriwat reckoned that the choice of the word, agreed upon during the first conference in Russia in 2003, might have to do with the location of Unep's headquarters, which are in Nairobi, Kenya. One highlight of this year's Tunza programme was a lecture by Gerhard Thiele, "the tenth and [so far] last German astronaut" to join Nasa's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission in 2000 and the present head of the Astronaut Centre of the European Space Agency. Thiele awed his young audience with a tale of his trip to space and a short video of the mission. The attendees laughed at scenes of gravity-free life in space where everyone's hair lifted up and people could float and dance in mid-air. More important was Thiele's emphasis on the preciousness of the earth. He began by citing French artist Claude Monet as his favourite painter, saying he "painted with thousands of small strokes, with each stroke being very important". To appreciate the whole painting, that is, the big picture, one has to step back to view it. Likewise, while out in the vastness of space, Thiele said he was "stunned" upon seeing "how very thin our atmosphere is ... you can only feel it when you see it," he said as he changed slides to show a photo he took from space of the thin blue line that curves around our planet. To see is to believe, or at least ask more questions. Germany showcased plenty of state-ofthe-art environmental technology at the conference, from tools for cleaning up toxic waste to ways to exploit renewable energy sources. Will Thailand ever develop such technology? Or will we continue importing technology; some that cause ecological disasters and others to clean up the mess later? At the conference, which was held under the theme "Technology in Service of the Environment", technology was portrayed as both a cause of and a potential response to the destruction of the environment. Achim Steiner, Unep's executive director, gave his stance clearly at a press conference when he said he did not think economic prosperity and environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive. To battle climate change does not mean we stop driving cars, but we could try driving smaller ones as well as engaging in conservation activities, he said. In his opening speech, Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said through an interpreter: "Technological and industrial processes have in the past often enough been the source of environmental damage _ and continue to be today. At the same time, it is hard to imagine effective environmental protection without innovative technologies. "We in the industrialised world bear a special responsibility to make our technological know-how available in the service of environmental protection. We will, after all, benefit the most in doing so _ not least of which economically." Siriwat thinks his countrymen could learn a lot from their German counterparts. The Germans, he said, are meticulous when it comes to waste management: There are up to "40"

different bins for locals to put their waste in. In Thailand, however, we complain about having to separate rubbish into just three categories. "Even though there are [only] three types [of rubbish disposal], most of us still don't know how to do it properly," said Siriwat. But the young man from Ubon Ratchathani is far from losing hope for a healthier world. Since returning from the German conference he has kept in contact with other participants and now intends to study environmental or electrical engineering next year. Who knows if his original idea of solar transmission may one day become a reality? …………………………………… UN-Bayanihan : UN says meeting MDGs still possible Monday, October 01, Environmental The United Nations (UN) is still optimistic its member-countries can meet by 2015 the Millenium Development Goals on combating poverty, hunger, diseases, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. "Success is still possible," UN Statistics Divison's Francesca Perucci said as she noted the organization drew this assessment after monitoring progress several countries made on meeting MDGs. In a presentation on MDG statistics and global monitoring during the 10th National Convention on Statistics at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City, she said proportion of the world's people living in extreme poverty declined during the 1990-2004 period. "Child mortality declined globally," she also said, citing advances in life-saving interventions as among reasons for this development. She also said tuberculosis "seems to be declining," developing countries are bringing more children to school and women's political participation is growing although at a slower pace. "These are signs of improvement," she said. "We're seeing progress made in the world's poorest areas. Such indicators success is still possible in most parts of the globe." Perucci stressed countries must accelerate implementation of MDG-related programs and projects to meet such goals by UN's target year of 2015, however. "Focus on MDGs' remaining seven years must be on implementation," she said. To accelerate implementation, she called for continuing improvement of countries' national statistical systems so these can generate data needed in developing MDG-related policies and action. She also said donor-countries must fulfill respective commitments to allocate about 0.7 percent of gross national incomes to official development aid (ODA) for poorer nations striving to meet MDGs. ODA dropped in 2005 and 2006 and is expected to further dip this year, she noted.

The Philippine Statistical System (PSS), through government's National Statistical Coordination Board, will hold until October 2 the two-day convention which carries the theme 'Statistics and Action: A Road to a Better Life through the MDGs.' This event aims to provide a forum for stakeholders concerned to discuss prevailing issues and emerging developments affecting PSS. The convention is being held simultaneously with observance of the 18th National Statistics Month. (PNA)

General Environment News

AUSTRALIA-ABC Science Online : Expect more drought, floods, says new report Agençe France-Presse, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 Floods and droughts will become more frequent in Australia and cyclones more intense, as the world's driest inhabited continent heats up due to global warning, a new government report warns. Sea levels are expected to rise and snow and rainfall to decrease as average temperatures rise by as much as 5°C by 2070, according to government scientists. "By 2030 we will are looking at an increase in temperature of about 1°C," says one of the report's authors Dr Penny Whetton, from CSIRO. "If you go out to 2070, what happens then depends on what happens to our global emissions of greenhouse gas. "There is the risk of warming as high as 4 or 5°C by 2070 in parts of Australia," she says. Whetton says how high temperatures in Australia overall would rise depends on the level of greenhouse gas emissions. At low emissions of greenhouse gases, warming of between 1-2.5°C is expected by 2070, with a best estimate of 1.8°C degrees, she says. At high emissions, the best estimate is warming of 3.4°C, in a range of 2.2-5°C. The report, Climate Change in Australia, found that rainfall would decrease by 10-30% by 2070, particularly in the major agricultural zones in southeastern Australia. Whetton says there would also be changes in extreme weather events, meaning more days when the temperature tops 35°C, fewer frosts and more intense tropical cyclones. Dr Scott Power, from the Bureau of Meteorology, says Australia's average temperature had already increased by 0.9°C since 1950.

"We are more certain than ever before that these changes can be largely attributed to human intervention," he says. Harder hit Australia is likely to be hit harder by climate change than other sub-tropical parts of the world, including South Africa, the Mediterranean and parts of South America, because it is already very dry, says Whetton. Frequently recurring Australian droughts will be more severe because of higher temperatures, while periods of high fire danger are increasing, as is coastal flooding from storms. Inland parts of Australia, home to vast agricultural enterprises producing wheat and cattle which supply export markets in Asia and the Middle East, would warm faster than coastal areas and receive less rainfall, Whetton says. Wheat crop Dryland crops such as wheat could possibly increase because of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, if rainfall decline is not too large, Whetton says. But Australia's wheat crop has already been hit hard by drought in 2002, 2006 and 2007. And there will be less water for irrigated crops, which include grapes, cotton and rice. Higher temperatures increased coral bleaching and could pose a severe risk to the Great Barrier Reef, she says. City water supplies could decrease significantly. Melbourne and parts of southern Victoria state have already had 10 years of below-average rainfall. ………………………….. JAPAN-Malaysia Star : Japan to remap climate plans to reach Kyoto goal TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will draw up new measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions by next March in an attempt to meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, a top official said on Tuesday. Japan, home to the ancient city that gave its name to the Kyoto Protocol, has proposed halving global emissions by 2050, but is struggling to meet its own target of cutting emissions from 1990 levels by 6 percent over the 2008-2012 period. After a meeting of top officials including Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Japan's top government spokesman said current plans to fight global warming would be revised, with new steps to be mapped out for sectors such as households and industry. "It is looking very difficult to reach the Kyoto Protocol's 6 percent reduction target based solely on the plans already in place," Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference.

Japan's emissions were 14 percent above the Kyoto goal as of March 2006. An advisory panel forecast in August that emissions would continue to rise over the next few years. Of particular concern are emissions from households and offices, although the government has been trying to raise public consciousness to cut back on energy use. Analysts say Japan may also need to resort to placing mandatory caps on industrial emissions, as in Europe, but the idea has met strong opposition from business groups. ……………………………… PHILLIPINES- Inquirer : Apo Reef declared off-limits to fishing By TJ Burgonio, 10/02/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- The world famous Apo Reef, a biodiversity hotspot beset by destructive fishing, has just been declared off-limits to fishing. To allow it to recover from years of fishing, the Apo Reef's Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) has passed an ordinance banning fishing, collecting and harvesting of any life form in the marine park. The ordinance declaring the whole of Apo Reef as a ―no take zone‖ took effect Tuesday, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). "Once you cut off or destroy the breeding area, your fish supply becomes finite. But when you protect their spawning grounds, fish -- and therefore food -- will be practically unlimited,‖ Sablayan Mayor Godofreido Mintu said. ―If we are to restore this reef to its former glory, then we have to act now,‖ he added in a statement released by the WWF. The Apo Reef Natural Park lies 15 nautical miles west of Sablayan, a town in Occidental Mindoro. It's a major component of the Earth's coral triangle spanning 27,469 hectares. Home to 385 species of fish, 190 coral, 26 algae and seven sea grass species, the park has lured divers from all over the world, and emerged as one of the world's premier diving destinations, according to WWF. ―The entire coast was also a vast fishing ground. Even during the height of its destruction in the 1980s, you could still catch a basket-load of fish in minutes. It truly was the jewel of Mindoro,‖ Mintu said. But the park has been threatened, and its marine life decimated by dynamite, cyanide, muro-ami (coral smashing) , strobe fishing and other forms of destructive fishing by fishermen sailing from as far as Cebu and Navotas since the 1970s.

By the 1980s, the international diving community lost interest, and ―destructive activities‖ continued, WWF said. In 1994, after nearly two decades of blasting, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) found out that the remaining coral cover was just over 33 percent. The reef was finally declared a Natural Park in September 1996. In 1999 a zoning system was implemented, giving the fishermen limited access to the reef's eastern side. Mayor Mintu recalled that several Peace Corps volunteers had visited him in the past and given him a stern warning. "Apo Reef is a wonderful place. But if people keep on taking without giving anything back, very soon there will be nothing left but a sad, dead reef," the mayor recalled volunteers as telling him. The WWF, the global conservation organization, took a lead role in facilitating the passage of the ordinance. WWF Sablayan Project Manager John Manul and his team helped draft the ordinance, and mobilized the local government and communities to support the law. WWF has been working towards sustainable coastal practices for the Apo Reef Natural Park and the municipality of Sablayan since 2003. To offset the adverse effects of the ban on fishermen, Mintu said that alternative sources of livelihood were now being developed. Giant fish aggregation devices, locally termed payaw, have been installed a few kilometers from the coast. "We just had eight payaws installed. We'll bolster them with 10 more," Mintu said. The crude devices consist of a buoy, a counterweight, and anywhere from 10 to 15 giant coconut fronds, which attract herbivores such as surgeon and rabbitfish, and which in turn draw in larger predators, WWF said. A single payaw can yield at least 15 kilograms daily of good fish per boat. ``You can catch good-sized tambakol (Bluefin Tuna), tulingan (Frigate Mackerel), galunggong (Round Scad) and even albacora (Yellowfin Tuna) on any given night,‖ local group leader Elmo Bijona said. "There's resistance now because people fear change," explains Mintu. "But in the long run, they will benefit from this. Tourists will come back. Sablayan will once again be known worldwide.‖ …………………………………….. PHILIPPINES-Bayanihan : RP gains headway in environmental sustainability bid Monday, October 01 2007, Environmental

The Philippines is gaining headway in its bid to meet by 2015 the United Nations Millenium Development Goal (MDG) of ensuring environmental sustainability nationwide. National Economic Development Authority Director Erlinda Capones reported this matter at the two-day 10th National Convention on Statistics at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City where she said the country will likely meet such goal. MDGs are time-bound and measurable targets which UN member-countries committed to meet so poverty, hunger, diseases, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women can be addressed. During the event, Capones presented data available as of September 2007 on the country's progress in making sustainable development principles as part of its policies and programs on reversing loss of environmental resources. The data showed proportion of the country's urban population with access to improved sanitation already exceeded the MDG goal of 83.8 percent as this soared from 67.6 percent (1990) to 86.2 percent (2004). Proportion of Philippine population with sustainable access also improved water source jumped from 73 percent (1990) to 80.2 percent (2004) which is about 6.3 percent below the 86.5 percent MDG target by 2015. While that of forest-covered land nationwide rose to 23.9 percent (2003) from 20.5 percent (1990) while area protected to maintain bio-diversity increased to 12.7 percent (2006) from 8.5 percent (1990) of the Philippines' total surface area. Data also indicated that consumption of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons dipped to 681 tons (2006) from 2,981 tons (1990) and proportion of households using solid fuels for cooking decreased to 42.1 percent (203) from 66.2 percent (1990). Capones also identified ways to accelerate implementation of MDG-related programs and projects. These include curbing high population growth rate, improving agricultural performance, boosting efforts to push reforms on basic education and health and ensuring transparency and accountability in government transactions. She also said strengthening local government units' capacity to deliver basic services and bolstering government's links with other nations and the private sector are needed to accelerate the Philippines' bid to meet MDG goals. The Philippine Statistical System (PSS), through government's National Statistical Coordination Board, will hold until October 2 the two-day convention which carries the theme 'Statistics and Action: A Road to a Better Life through the MDGs.' The event aims to provide a forum for stakeholders concerned to discuss prevailing issues and emerging developments affecting PSS.

The convention is being held simultaneously with observance of the 18th National Statistics Month. (PNA) ............................................... PHILLIPINES-Inquirer : DENR: Towns have duty to keep forests green By Delmar Cariño, 10/01/2007 LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET, Philippines — Environment officials have asked officials of the province‘s 13 towns to muster enough political will and assume the task of protecting their communal forests as required by law. Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Benguet Environment and Natural Resources Office (Benro) said the local officials‘ obligation to lead the inventory of existing communal forests was long overdue. Tribes‘ role They said the call for the towns‘ participation recognized the role of the province‘s indigenous communities in determining the extent of use of their natural resources. The environment officials said the devolution provision of the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) provided the legal basis for the DENR‘s decision to transfer some of its functions to cities, towns and provinces. Explaining the devolved functions to local officials at the provincial capitol here recently, Severino Balangcod, Benro forester, said the code transferred to towns the management and control of communal forests with an area of not more than 50 square kilometers or 5,000 hectares. Balangcod said the management of small watershed areas, which are sources of local water supply, was also devolved. Towns’ duties He said towns could impose measures to prevent illegal tree cutting and the kaingin system or ―slash and burn‖ agriculture. He reminded local officials that they should implement the DENR‘s Rescue for Important Conservation Hotspots (Rich) program that required them to save caves and endangered waterfalls. Gov. Nestor Fongwan welcomed the devolved functions and advised local officials to be ready to file cases against private claimants and settlers within communal forests. ―They will be expected to [resist] if asked to vacate portions of the forest they have occupied for years,‖ he said. DENR officials said many tax declarations encroached on portions of the province‘s forests, as either vegetable farms or residential lots.

No record of forests Manuel Pogeyed, provincial environment natural resources officer, said the DENR has no record of existing communal forests. But he said commercial vegetable farms, forest fires, erosion and illegal logging have harmed the province‘s communal forests, national parks and watersheds. Pogeyed cited Sablan and this town‘s successful bid to protect their forests by placing monuments indicating their boundaries after a survey. ………………………….. PHILIPPINES-Manila Bulletin : The Podium, Australian Embassy help to ‘Clean Up the World’ The Australian Embassy in Manila and The Podium recently joined efforts in doing their share for the environment during the recent ―Clean Up the World, Clean Up the Philippines 2007‖ campaign. The project was also in partnership with the City Government of Mandaluyong and Clean Up the Philippines, the local arm of Clean Up the World. They joined an estimated 35 million people in over 10 countries participating in the activities. The week-long celebration began with the project partners signing the manifesto pledging their support for the campaign. Australian Ambassador Tony Hely graced the occasion together with Mandaluyong City Vice Mayor Renato Sta. Maria, Clean Up the Philippines chairman Roald Arcangel, and The Podium mall manager Christian Mathay. The mall served as a sign up center for the weekend clean-up activities. Shoppers signed up for the Village Clean Up in Bgy. Amihan in Proj. 3, QC; as well as Bgy. Clean Ups near the Pasig River in Mandaluyong City, and in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Some joined the activities in the provincial areas like the Mangrove Reforestation, as well as Clean Up Activities of streets and parks in Mandaue City, and in the Benguet State University in Benguet, La Trinidad. A Bikathon was held to raise awareness about climate change. Representatives from the project partners, cycling clubs, and volunteers gathered at The Podium, which was the starting point. Seen cycling for a cause were Australian Embassy counselor for political-economic and public affairs Pablo Kang, Mandaluyong public information head Jimmy Isidro, and members of the Live Strong Cycling Club, the Mandaluyong Cycling Federation, the Mandaluyong Cycling Club, and the Vergara Cycling Club.

Clean Up the World is one of the world‘s largest environmental campaigns, and is held in partnership with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). It was founded by Australian sportsman Ian Keirnan, who was shocked by the pollution he encountered when he sailed around the world in the BOC Challenge solo yacht race. Back in Sydney, he enlisted the help of friends and organized Clean Up Sydney Harbor Day in 1989. The event motivated 40,000 volunteers to remove rusted car bodies, plastics of all kinds, glass bottles, and cigarette butts from the harbor. This gave way to the Clean Up the World concept in 1993, after gaining the support of the Unite Nations Environment Program (UNEP). In 1998, Ian was awarded the United Nations Environmental Program Sasakawa Environment Prize for mobilizing tens of millions of people around the world to take responsibility for their own environment. He has also been awarded a Global 500 Laureate, while Clean Up the World has been honored with a Building World Citizenship Award from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. "Clean Up the Philippines, Clean Up the World" is a joint project of the Australian Embassy in Manila, the City of Mandaluyong, Clean Up the Philippines, and The Podium. ............................................ PHILIPPINES-Malaya : Drilling at Tanon Strait bucked By GILBERT BAYORAN BACOLOD CITY — Former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angel Alcala and a fisherfolk organization have banded together in opposing the scheduled offshore drilling at the Tañon Strait between islands of Negros and Cebu. The drilling operations for oil deposits by the Japan Petroleum Exploration Inc (JAPEX) at Tanon Strait is expected to start January next year. Alcala said the drilling operations will have a great impact to the prime fishing ground in the two islands, which may result to the dramatic decrease in fish catch, and also to the tourism industry in Bais City, which considered as the whale and dolphin watching center of Oriental Negros. "The Tanon Strait is a protected area. It‘s like a basin filled with fish, squid, chambered nautilus which was thought to be extinct, dolphins and whales," he added. The direct impact area of the proposed drilling operations has a radius of five kilometers, according to Alcala, a marine biologist. Vince Cinches, executive director of the Fisherfolk Development Center, claimed that fishermen have not been informed of the planned exploration. At the same time, fishermen

who are presently hauling an average of three kilos a day, expressed fear of a further reduction in fish catch. Cinches said they also supported the move of three Oriental Negros congressmen to conduct an investigation on the exploration. Alcala, on the other hand, criticized the use of undated baseline data in the study of JAPEX. "Our review concluded that the environmental and resource survey was extremely rapid, lacking in critical data essential for valid and meaningful comparisons in order to determine the impacts of the exploratory drilling", he said. Alcala added the eight coastal barangays of Pinamungajan town in southwestern part of Cebu, will be most likely affected by the drilling. "The sonic booms from the seismic survey Japex will create about 250 decibels, will certainly scare all the fish and dolphins," he said. ………………………………………. PHILIPPINES-Malaya : N. Ecija eyes plant nurseries PALAYAN CITY — The provincial government of Nueva Ecija will establish plant nurseries in the province to step up local initiatives at reforestation. Gov. Aurelio "Oyie" Matias Umali has directed the agriculture and environment officials in the province to establish a plant nursery to maximize local efforts at reforestation of the dwindling forests and mountains in the province. Umali said there is a vast space at the provincial grounds here for the culture and propagation of fruit tree seedlings. Gradually, the project will extend beyond the provincial grounds, he said. The neophyte governor said such a nursery could revitalize the agricultural sector‘s efforts in promoting the local high-value fruit tree industry capitalizing on the presence of thousands of old mango trees especially at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) which could be tapped for their prized budsticks and utilized for seedlings production. Umali believes that the province could provide its own stocks of fruit trees seedlings for propagation in the greening of the countryside and at the same time producing quality fruits, such as mangoes, which are potential dollar-earners and alternative livelihood for rice farming. Instead of buying seedlings of mangoes, calamansi, pomelo, langka, rambutan, mangosteen, from nurseries in Batangas, Laguna and elsewhere, he said the farmers or the village folk may engage in seedling production for distribution in the government‘s food production efforts.

A labor-intensive endeavor, propagation of high-value fruit trees seedlings could be easily learned and serve as an alternative livelihood for the marginalized farmers‘ group, it was learned. It‘s about time, he said, that Nueva Ecija, an agricultural province, lived up to this tag and establish its own nursery that may even cater to the needs of fruit tree orchards in Central Luzon. Rep. Czarina "Cherry" Umali appeared enthusiastic about the ambitious project which she said could spark a new industry that could serve as the centerfold of the Umalis‘ extension of stable and high income-generating livelihood projects to their constituents. The project would capitalize on the presence of thousands of old mango trees especially at CLSU and will tap the expertise of noted pomologist Bernie Dizon, who hails from Bongabon town, for the establishment of a nursery. Dizon, who openly advocated a stable plant nursery promoting double-rooted high-value fruit trees, has developed his own nursery dubbed "Nueva Ecija‘s Best" in Magalang, Pampanga. The biggest of its kind in Central Luzon, Dizon‘s nursery boasts of thousands of seedlings of exotic varieties of mango such as Chocanan of Thailand; Guimaras, Talaban, Sweet Elena, Carabao mango. Dizon also cultures double-rooted seedlings of durian, mangosteen, pomelo, rambutan, lanzones, lychees, chocanan, Guimaras and golden queen mangoes from Taiwan, and other exotic fruit trees. – Jojo de Guzman ……………………………………… THAILAND-MCOT : PTTEP to explore for more gas in Northeast BANGKOK, Oct 2 (TNA) – PTT Production and Exploration Plc (PTTEP), Thailand's petroleum giant, is set to begin exploration of more gas in the Northeast early next year to enhance energy reserves and boost the country's energy stability. PTTEP president Maroot Mrigadat said the firm would start exploring natural gas sources in L21/48, L22/48 and L23/48 blocks in Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Chaiyaphum in the January-April period if the Natural Resources and Environment Planning and Policy Office approves its report regarding the environment impact analysis. He said PTTEP planned to explore some areas stretching some 1,200 kilometres of the four provinces through a 2-dimension seismic approach. "The Northeast is considered as the region with the most possible petroleum availability. Should additional gas be found, it will benefit our country because it can not only boost the energy stability, but also help reduce crude oil imports. Equally important, it will serve the energy demand in the region," he said.

Mr. Maroot said the initial exploration of the petroleum and gas in the blocks would be made through a seismic approach. Should there be a possibility of the petroleum and gas availability, drilling into the blocks would be made. He assured the pubic at PTTEP would operate with regard to the safety, public healthcare, and environment protection. The L21/48, L22/48 and L23/48 blocks are located onshore covering areas of 12,000 square kilometres stretching over seven northeastern provinces including Udorn Thani, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram, and Nakhon Ratchasima. The blocks are 70 per cent owned by PTTEP and 30 per cent by Resourceful Petroleum (Thailand) Limited. (TNA)-E005 …………………………………. THAILAND- Inquirer : Thailand approves Honda's eco-car investment Agence France-Presse, 10/01/2007 BANGKOK--Thailand's state-run investment promotion agency on Monday approved an investment worth nearly $200 million by Japan's Honda Motor Co. to produce fuel-efficient cars in the kingdom. Honda, Japan's second-largest automaker, is expect to start production as early as 2009, said Adisak Rohitasune, senior vice president of Honda Motor in Thailand. Honda will invest 6.7 billion baht ($195 million), Thailand's Board of Investment said, adding the company will make some 120,000 units of small cars per year. Thailand has offered tax incentives to automakers to produce eco-cars that meet the next generation of European emission standards, which will require that by 2012, cars release no more than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Thai business leaders have hoped the scheme would help stimulate the kingdom's auto market, which has seen domestic sales falling amid sluggish consumer confidence. ………………………………. THAILAND-The Nation : Rising mercury a threat to turtles Janjira Pongrai, Published on October 3, 2007 Rising temperatures are threatening the future of turtles, which need to be exposed to an average of 30 degrees Celsius during incubation to hatch eggs successfully. The temperature of incubating eggs determines the sex of baby turtles, and they cannot lay any eggs if the temperature is above 34 degrees, said Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre's Marine Endangered Species Unit. "This hurts the breeding ability of the turtles."

Kongkiat also raised concerns about the effects of global warming on the turtles. Experts on endangered marine species in Asia are now paying close attention to the possibility that turtles might become extinct in an increasingly warmer world, he said. Recent studies have shown that the number of turtle nests around Thailand's beaches have significantly reduced from 2,000 to just 400. Kongkiat said the Marine and Coastal Resources Department was considering a plan to save the turtles from extinction by collecting their eggs from natural habitats and incubating them at appropriate temperatures. At 29.5 degrees, the ratio of male and female babies from turtle eggs is 50:50. "The baby turtles can then be nurtured under our care for about 10 months, after which we can release them to the wild," Kongkiat said. However, the plan would cost quite a lot of money and the nurtured turtles might not develop hunting instincts to survive on their own. "But if we don't nurture them, they will have a minimal survival rate because they have so many natural enemies." Meanwhile, vet Sonthaya Manawattana said the Marine Endangered Species Unit and the Kasetsart University had been successful in their attempt to use electro-ejaculator techniques to collect semen from six Ridley's turtles. …………………………………… THAILAND-Bangkok Post : Tesco goes green with new branch, truck fleet ARANEE JAIIMSIN Ayutthaya _ Tesco Lotus has switched its entire truck fleet to using B5 biodiesel, aiming at cutting its fuel costs by 5% and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by three tonnes a year."From Oct 1, we have become the first and largest retail fleet using B5 biodiesel, with our 400 diesel-powered trucks in Thailand," said chairman Sunthorn Arunanondchai. The switch is made possible through collaboration with Tesco Lotus's exclusive logistic suppliers, Linfox Transportation (Thailand) Ltd and Eternity Grand Logistics Plc. Linfox provides 320 trucks and Eternity Grand Logistics 80 trucks, with Tesco Lotus paying all the fuel bills. Dr Sunthorn said the fleet currently used 20 million litres of diesel each year for a total distance travelled of 73 million kilometres. The move to B5 biodiesel would decrease its carbon footprint by three tonnes of CO2 each year, as well as offer a 5% saving on its fuel bills, which would be passed on to customers. Currently, Tesco Lotus is constructing its first biodiesel plant at its second energy-saving prototype branch in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom.

Used cooking oil at the new branch would be recycled into a raw material for biodiesel production and all output would be utilised to generate electricity for the branch. Darmp Sukontasap, senior vice-president for Tesco Lotus, said the biodiesel plant would help cut down electricity bills by 30%, or 15 million baht per year. It is scheduled to be ready for operation next year. The investment cost of 200 million baht would finance the construction of the plant and the energy-saving system at the Salaya branch, which was the second prototype after the Rama I branch, said Dr Darmp. The Salaya branch would boast a higher energy-efficiency rate, at 30% compared with 1215% at the Rama I branch. New branches will also be required to show further improvements of the energy efficiency rates, which would be audited every three months. At present, Tesco Lotus is in the process of measuring the CO2 footprint of more than 35,000 products sold at the stores. A carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service, usually expressed in grammes of CO2 equivalent. Dr Darmp said the energy-utilisation information of each product supplied by Tesco Lotus would be labelled in the near future to offer an option to consumers who are concerned about the environment. Tesco Lotus runs 380 branches across the country. Of the total, 280 are Tesco Lotus Express and the rest are hypermarts, compact hypermarts and markets. For its future plan, "I have no idea how many more branches would be opened next year because of uncertain progress of the Retail Business Act," said Dr Darmp. Barring complications from the revised law, Tesco Lotus plans to open 120 new branches next year, of which 80 would be Lotus Express, said Dr Darmp. Tesco Lotus's sales revenue in the first half of the year expanded by 3-5%, lower than forecast, said Dr Darmp. ……………………………….. OPINION-The Daily Star : Global warming, Kyoto Protocol and developing countries Md. Asadullah Khan In the face of mounting debate on the disastrous effect of greenhouse gases, scientists agree on the other hand that as a natural process the effect makes life on earth possible. This is a process by which various gases act like the glass of a greenhouse, trapping heat near the earth's surface. The greenhouse gases are naturally occurring and include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour and other trace chemicals. But it is now known that man-made chemicals have caused a massive build-up of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere.

Precisely true, human activities are changing and enhancing the greenhouse effect. We are, so to say, thickening the walls of the greenhouse. And those activities that contribute to the build up of these gases include the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, certain agricultural activities and industrial practices. Scientists have warned time and again that this sort of profligacy with nature, this wanton destruction of forest wealth will only invite grim and disastrous consequences for us like the colossal deluge we have witnessed in 1988, 1998, 2004 and the most recent one. A cursory look at the world consumption of fossil fuels will reveal that we are adding a net three billion tons a year of carbons to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons popularly known as CFCs. The world population that now stands at almost six billion will double in another 40 years from now. To combat the pollution problem associated with population boom and industrialization, vis-a-vis the global warming caused by greenhouse effect, we need trees and a lot of them, to absorb the carbon produced by such growth. Countries irrespective of their position in the globe need at least 25 per cent as forest zone to sustain life without disastrous environmental hazards. In Bangladesh this ratio has now come down to seven percent because of our senseless action of cutting down trees without replenishing them. Reports have it that chopping down of trees in the Madhupur forest, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet and the mangrove forest of the Sundarbans, often with official patronage in exchange of hefty kickbacks continued unabated till before the take over by the present caretaker government. What actually happens in the warming trend in the aftermath of the carbon accumulation in the atmosphere? Sunlight is always falling on the earth, the laws of physics decree that the planet has to radiate the same amount of energy back into space to keep its books balanced. The earth does this by sending infrared radiation out through the atmosphere, where an array of molecules (best known as carbon dioxide) form a kind of blanket, holding outgoing radiation for a while and warming the earth surface. The molecules are similar to the glass in a greenhouse, which is why the warming process is called greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is nothing new; it has been operating ever since the earth formed. Without it, the surface of the globe would be rigid 20 degree centigrade, the oceans would have frozen, and no life would have developed. So the issue we face in this millennium is not whether there will be a greenhouse effect, but whether humans, by burning fossil fuels, are adding enough carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to change it -- in a sense our climate -in significant ways. One might think that knowing what causes greenhouse warming, it would be an easy matter to predict how hot the world would be in the next century. Unfortunately things aren't that simple. The world is a complex place and reducing it to the climatologist's tool of choice -computer model -- isn't easy. There is one fact though that everyone agrees on : the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing steadily. It is near 360 parts per million today, vs 315 p.p.m in 1958 ( when modern measurements started) and 270 p.p.m in pre-industrial times ( as measured by air bubbles trapped in Greenland ice sheet). An analysis of the admittedly temperature records indicates that the world's average temperature has gone up about 0.5 degree centigrade in the past century.

The most authoritative predictions about future warming come from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a worldwide consortium of more than 2000 climate scientists. The current forecast is that by 2100 the earth's temperature will go up 1 degree to 3.5 degree centigrade, with the best guesses being an increase of 2 degree centigrade However, experts are not sure till now as to how much carbon dioxide will be added to the atmosphere by human activity. Experts think that they can probably develop technologies to deal with excess carbon --some scientists talk about removing it from the smokestacks and stashing underground -- but the most direct way to control carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not to put it there in the first place. This is the essence or point of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol -- signed by 84 nations but not ratified by the U.S Senate -- which would limit developed countries' carbon emission from cars, power plants, and other major users of fossil fuels. US President George Bush during his tenure of office has seen the worst of upheavals that global warming has wreaked in his own country, but he still holds the view that it makes no sense to 'overreact' to the prospect of global warming, but he should gracefully accept that it makes no sense to ignore it either. A prudent policy that stresses conservation and alternate energy sources seems to be wise insurance in an uncertain age. Kyoto Protocol The Kyoto Protocol that was adopted by over 160 nations on December 11, 1997 setting binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries has been opposed by the polluting industries in the US on the plea that it will result in massive job losses and reduced living standards for all Americans. But these critics have misled the media and public for a long time revealing only one side of the story: the costs and not the benefits of steps to prevent global warming. It is worth mentioning that eight Nobel laureate economists supported by 2400 of their colleagues made it known to the world as early as 1998 that this one sided story does not provide a true picture of the impact on the US economy in implementing the treaty It is true that costs of reducing greenhouse pollution are not insignificant since these include costs of research and development , new technology and job loss in a few specific field of the economy but it is also true that more balanced economic analyses anticipate substantial economic benefits including cost saving from increased efficiency, improved competitiveness, job gains and increased investment in several high-tech sectors of the economy. Despite skepticism from the developed countries studies have concluded that the economic benefits from the climate policies far exceed costs. for example, a National Academy of Science study in the recent past concluded that the US can reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent or more (resulting in substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions ) at a net economic benefit taking advantage of high efficiency motors, computerised controls, cogeneration and industry specific technologies, annual energy savings to US industry between 11 and 37 per cent by 2015 or an estimated $183 billion a year by 2010 is likely to be achieved. The Protocol set out binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for 38 developed countries. The countries accepted varying targets based on the principle of ―differentiation‖ which recognises that some countries are more capable of reducing their emissions than

others because of how they produce and reduce their energy, their access to clean technologies and their relative levels of pollution, among numerous other factors. The Protocol commits the US to reducing its emissions to an average of 7 per cent below its 1990 levels. The European Commission has a target of 8 per cent and Japan a target of 6 per cent below its 1990 levels and Australia a target of 8 per cent above its 1990 levels. Parties were given a target of 2008-12 , a five year average instead of a single year so that they will not be forced into non-compliance by unavoidable short term jumps. The protocol restricts emission of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluoro carbons (PFCs)and sulphur hexafluoride Taking it for granted that the US, the biggest polluter, does not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the warming trend goes on, there are ways to combat greenhouse effect in our day to day activities. Surely we must realise that forests are giant utilities providing indispensable service to the stability of the planet earth in which case Bangladesh is no exception. Stated in obvious terms trees are carbon dumps. Trees extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, emit oxygen and store the carbon in the branches, leaves, roots and soils. Can't we care for more trees? Notably reports in recent times reveal that most developing countries have already cut a greater proportion of their greenhouse gas emissions than industrialised countries. Six developing countries like China, Mexico, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Brazil are cutting carbon emissions twice as fast as the industrialised countries. Encouragingly, some of the developing world's largest greenhouse gas emitters have launched energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes. What all this requires is self discipline on the part of the world's haves and increased assistance to have-nots. Today a billion people live in a degree of squalor that forces them to deplete the environment without regard to its future. Similarly in developing or underdeveloped countries, governments are often too crippled by international debt and corruption to afford the short term costs of ecological prudence and that underscores the fact that protecting the global environment is inextricably linked to eliminating poverty. Md. Asadullah Khan is a former teacher of physics and Controller of Examinations, BUET. ……………………………………………. OPINION-The Daily Star : Climate change and agriculture Byomkesh Talukder The global climate change is one of the most significant environmental issues of the present world. The problem of this human-induced climate change first came to the attention of the global public and international policy makers when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its first assessment report in 1990 (Huq and The effects of global climate change are evident now, as we are experiencing through irregular weather conditions. These effects are multidimensional. Among the many effects, scientific evidence has proved that several low-lying countries of the world will be badly

affected by climate change, and scientists are predicting that Bangladesh will be among the countries most affected by the change (The Daily Ittefaq, June 22). The sea level along the Bangladesh coast is rising at about 3 millimeters a year, and the sea surface temperature is also showing a rising trend (Bangladesh National Adaptation Program of Action, 2000). Bangladesh is facing the reality of climate change due to global warming like other parts of the planet. The climate pattern is altering across the world due to global warming. This will have an impact on the composition of the atmosphere, hydrology, geomorphology, ecology, soil, land use, biological diversity, vegetation etc. The individual impacts on each environmental component also have interactive effects. Environmental components are interrelated, and the world's ecosystems are linked to these components. Therefore, many natural ecosystems will be changed as a result of climate change. The tropical and subtropical countries will be more vulnerable to the potential impact of global warming through the effects on crops, soils, insects, weeds, and diseases (Bangladesh State of the Environment, 2001). Bangladesh is in the subtropical region. Therefore, the agriculture of this country will be affected. The effects of climate change are already evident in the agro-ecosystem of the country. Agriculture is strongly interrelated with climatic factors. Temperature, which is one of the main factors of climate, is closely associated with agricultural production. In agriculture, rice production is affected by deviation in temperature. Climate change will increase the temperature, which will bring changes in rice farming activities and affect crops yields. Various studies indicate that a rise of 10C to 20C, in combination with lower solar radiation, causes sterility in rice spikelets, and high temperature was found to reduce yields of HYVs of aus, aman and boro rice in all study locations and in all seasons in Bangladesh (Bangladesh National Adaptation Program of Action 2000). As temperature has an influence on plants, temperature change will modify rate of pollination and flower blooming, seed distribution, plant growth etc., as a result production of rice, wheat, and maize will decrease. Climate change will act as a factor for sea level rise in the costal regions of Bangladesh. This will cause an increase in salinity in water and soil in the coastal regions. Growth of standing crops (like rice, jute, sugarcane etc.) will be affected due to soil salinity, and this will limit overall crop production in the costal regions as well as make the soil unsuitable for many potential crops. The index of aridity will increase during winter under changed climate conditions. As a result, an increased rate of desiccation in topsoil, leading to higher rates of capillary action, will be observed. It is expected that due to climate change, humidity, wind flow, and temperature in Bangladesh will be changed. These three climatic mechanisms, in changing conditions, cause an increase in insects, pests, diseases and microorganisms in agriculture, and accordingly, crop production will decrease.

The production of potato, brinjal, ladie's finger, tomato, cauliflower, sugarcane, groundnut, ginger, onion, garlic, banana, date, plum etc. will decrease. Increase of diseases, pests and insects will also effect transportation and storage of different crops and vegetable. Less rainfall during winter due to climate change will lead to a decrease in moisture content of the topsoil, as well as less recharging of the ground water. Higher evaporation will cause drought-like conditions. In summer, increased precipitation will worsen the flood situation, which will have negative effect on agriculture production (Bangladesh State of the Environment, 2001) . Climate change will lead to extreme weather, which will increase the burning or destruction of crops. Due to climate change, occurrence of tornadoes, cyclones and hailstorms will be greater than before. It will hamper the total agriculture production. Bangladesh is an agro-economy based developing country. There is no doubt that its agriculture will be badly affected by the climate change. Loss in agriculture would increase many social problems, and force the import of food, which will require spending of hard currency. Therefore, from now on, adaptation and awareness about the impact of climate change in agriculture, and many other sectors, are imperative for the development of Bangladesh. In this respect, the government, the people of Bangladesh, and international bodies will have to work unitedly to face the climate change problem. Byomkesh Talukder is one of the Faculty Members of Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC), now doing his MSc in Environmental Policy at Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC), Hiroshima University, Japan. ……………………………….. TOXIC WASTE-Malaya : Groups plead for action to stop toxic waste trade "No pasaran!" (Spanish for "they shall not pass") resonated in a resolution on toxic waste trade that was adopted by 125-strong public health and environmental justice advocates who had gathered in Hondarribia in the Basque region of Spain. They decried the long overdue entry into force of the Basel Ban Amendment that explicitly prohibits exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for recycling or disposal to protect poorer nations from becoming toxic waste dumping grounds. The global meeting of advocates from 39 countries deplored the horrible incidents of toxic waste dumping such as the one that occurred in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast in West Africa and the zero tariff reduction for hazardous wastes in Japan‘s economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with its Asian neighbors. The participants supported the plea from the Moroccan and Tanzanian civil society groups for the prohibition of the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes following the dumping of chemical sludge from Europe in September 2006 at around 14 sites in Abidjan, capital city of Ivory Coast. The outrageous scandal, which shocked the whole world and renewed calls for the Basel Ban Amendment to come into force, killed at least 10 people, forced over 80,000 residents

to seek immediate medical treatment, and almost led to the collapse of the Ivory Coast government. The global advocates likewise echoed the stance by concerned groups in Asia and the Pacific against the Japanese scheme to set up "waste colonies" via bilateral EPAs that provide for preferential tariff reductions for hazardous wastes. Japan has signed EPAs with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and is currently negotiating similar agreements with India, Vietnam and othercountries. As Senators consider the Japan – Philippines EPA (JPEPA), environmental and health advocates from five continents called on Filipino lawmakers to reject the treaty to avert the perilous expansion of toxic waste trade in the region. They also challenged the governments of Japan, the Philippines and other concerned countries to ratify without further deferral the Basel Ban Amendment. "We stand in solidarity with the public interest groups in Africa and Asia and the communities that are adversely impacted by the globalization of trade in toxic wastes and technologies in their work for environmental health and justice," said Monica Wilson of the California-based Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (also known as the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance). _________________________________________________________________________ ROA Media Update 3 October 2007 UN In The News Une ONG sud-africaine primée par le PNUE PANA: Une ONG sud-africaine dénommée "Food and Trees for Africa" (FTFA) a été primée par le Programme des Nations unies pour l‘environnement (PNUE), avec une somme de 100.000 dollars américains, pour son apport à une "contribution importante" à la gestion de l'environnement, a appris la PANA vendredi de source onusienne dans la capitale rwandaise. Selon un communiqué du PNUE dont la PANA a reçu une copie vendredi à Kigali, ce prix décerné annuellement par l'organisation et dénommé "Sasakawa" a été également attribué à une autre ONG du Bangladesh, "Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangsth". "Il est très gratifiant de noter l'intérêt croissant porté à la crise mondiale et de savoir que nous avons joué un petit rôle dans la prise d'action en Afrique du Sud contre ce phénomène", a souligné dans le communiqué la présidente de l'ONG Food and Trees for Africa, Jeunesse Parkest. Le prix Sasakawa du PNUE vise à encourager les efforts en matière de protection de l'environnement qui s'inscrivent dans la durée. Il représente une reconnaissance des idées et de recherches novatrices ainsi que des initiatives communautaires exceptionnelles qui sont entreprises partout dans le monde en faveur de la sauvegarde de la nature. Les activités des différents candidats, pour la présente édition, sont liées au thème environnemental de l'année 2007, qui est le changement climatique. "Le prix sera utilisé pour développer les programmes de sensibilisation et d'éducation aux changements climatiques, ainsi que pour aider le gouvernement, les compagnies et les communautés

désavantagées en Afrique du sud à développer leurs réseaux de contact et leurs représentations dans le domaine des changements climatiques", a ajouté Mme Parkest. "Le leadership est un besoin urgent si la communauté internationale veut relever le défi du changement climatique. il s'agit du leadership des Nations unies, des gouvernements, des scientifiques, des compagnies et des villes, mais également des individus et des organisations de la société civile qui sont actifs sur terrain", a souligné de son côté le soussecrétaire général des Nations unies et directeur exécutif du PNUE, Achim Steiner. "Ces deux lauréats exemplaires du Prix Sasakawa 2007 incarnent le leadership sous son meilleur aspect : l'action créative et déterminée qui assure une différence réelle et tangible aux peuples et communautés qu'ils servent. Par leur action, les deux lauréats prouvent que la lutte contre le changement climatique n'est pas seulement possible mais est également liée aux objectifs environnementaux, sociaux et économiques plus généraux inclus par exemple dans les objectifs du millénaire pour le développement" a-t- il ajouté. General Environment News Mauritania gets set for disaster management PANA (Nouakchott, Mauritania): Hundreds of participants from various ministerial departments and the civil society in Mauritania on Tuesday began a national workshop to ratify an action plan for the management of disaster risks in the country. The three-day gathering organised by the Ministry of Finance and Economy in Mauritania in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is aimed at defining a management plan of operational actions with an early warning system. The General Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, Diagana Mamadou Youssouf, reminded participants about the calamities that hit Mauritanian society during the past few decades, including "the transition of agropastoral society to an urban society" which increased risks of disasters and the necessity to address them. Uganda: 200 Fish Species in L. Victoria Vanish New Vision (Kampala): At least 200 fish species, especially the Cichlid stock have disappeared from Lake Victoria over the past 40 years, a survey has revealed. The study, carried out by the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute showed that over 600 species existed in the lake in the 1960s, before the introduction of the Nile Perch. The Nile Perch is largely responsible for the Cichlids' depletion as it feeds on most of them, revealed the institute's deputy executive director, Dr. Lucas Ndawula. Cichlids span a wide range of body sizes, from species as small as 2.5 centimetres in length. Cichlid species include Angelfish, Oscars, Aulonocara species, Firemouth Cichlid, Golden Tropheops, Bumblebees, Sarotherodons, Tilapia and haplochromines (nkejje). Ndawula also noted that the annual fish landings, especially of Nile Perch and Tilapia had reduced forcing its price to increase. Uganda: Buveera Ban Takes Effect New Vision (Kampala): A ban on polythene bags, commonly called buveera, took effect yesterday. "Anybody found producing, importing, selling or using the banned type of carrier bags and materials shall be violating the ban and will be arrested and charged," said Dr. Aryamanya Mugisha, the executive director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). "As of today October 1, 2007, the importation, production and use of

polythene bags and materials of 30 microns (120 gauges) or less is illegal," said Mugisha. "This gauge is irrespective of the colours and size ranges used to produce the bags and materials." He warned that importing or using polythene bags violates the national environment Act and waste management regulations. In the national budget speech read on June 14, the finance minister, Ezra Suruma, announced a ban on the importation, production and use of polythene bags and materials of less than 30 microns. Mugisha cited the bags commonly used for packing commodities such as sugar, salt, water, passion juice among the illegal ones.

________________________________________________________________________ RONA Media Update 2 October 2007

UNEP and the Executive Director in the News  Reuters – Climate Change will Alter World Travel Patterns General Environmental News New York Times – Fair Trade in Bloom CanWest News Service - Canada's greenhouse gas emissions remain at a record high Globe and Mail - Climate change top issue, CEOs declare Washington Post - Chertoff Blames Border Crossers For Land Damage Washington Post - Cleanup of Fly Ash Dumpsite Ordered Washington Post - Nature Conservancy's President Abruptly Announces Resignation New York Times – Gov. Spitzer Picks Activists to Make State a Bit Greener ABC Premium News – Solar takes off with US power supply deal Associated Press – Iowa: Groups pressure Iowa delegation on global warming Associated Press – Restoration planned at lake polluted with arsenic, lead Associated Press - Alexander City taking steps to maintain drinking water supply BusinessWire – Brookfield Properties‘ Bay Adelaide Centre Development to Be Built to LEED Gold Standard BusinessWire – AMEC Paragon Keeps US$5 Billion Alternative Fuels Project Moving; Baard Energy signs contract to proceed with second phase of work Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) – All Nations Must Help Slow Global Warming United Press International- Energy Department funds bioenergy centers US NewsWire - Nintendo Goes Green with Environmental Game and 500 Trees Canada NewsWire - October 15th - 21st - Computation's FREE Waste Reduction Week Computer Recycling Events in Toronto & Montreal! Toronto Star - Toronto embraces green wave; City government credited with decreasing the size of our footprint on the environment

UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Climate change will alter world travel patterns

By Laura MacInnis Reuters Tuesday, October 2, 2007 Global warming will produce stay-at-home tourists over the next few decades, radically altering travel patterns and threatening jobs and businesses in tourism-dependent countries, according to a stark assessment by U.N experts. The U.N. Environment Program, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Tourism Organization said concerns about weather extremes and calls to reduce emissionsheavy air travel would make long-haul flights less attractive. Holiday-makers from Europe, Canada, the United States and Japan were likely to spend more vacations in or near their home countries to take advantage of longer summers, they said. In a report prepared for a U.N. conference on climate change and tourism, they projected that global warming would reduce demand for travel between northern Europe and the Mediterranean, between North America and the Caribbean, and between northeast Asia and southeast Asia. "The geographic and seasonal redistribution of tourist demand may be very large for individual destinations and countries by mid- to late-century," the agencies said. "This shift in travel patterns may have important implications, including proportionally more tourism spending in temperate nations and proportionally less spending in warmer nations now frequented by tourists from temperate regions." However, overall travel demand was expected to grow by between 4 and 5 percent a year, with international arrivals doubling to 1.6 billion by 2020. In some developing and island states, tourism accounts for as much as 40 percent of national economic output. Officials from tourism-dependent countries such as the Maldives, Fiji, the Seychelles and Egypt told the conference that shifts in travel choices, and ecological damage from global warming, posed serious threats to their businesses and jobs. "Tourism is a catalyst to the economy. If you are hitting the tourism sector, automatically this rocks the whole economic machinery," Michael Nalletamby of the Seychelles Tourism Board told the Davos conference. Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of the British government agency VisitBritain, said the sector needed to find ways to reduce the effects of ever-increasing travel demand on the environment, which in turn affects the industry's health. "The biggest risk is that the success of the tourist industry becomes its own undoing," he told the conference.

General Environmental News
Fair Trade in Bloom

By Andrew Downie NY Times October 2, 2007 Rafael de Paiva was skeptical at first. If he wanted a ―fair trade‖ certification for his coffee crop, the Brazilian farmer would have to adhere to a long list of rules on pesticides, farming techniques, recycling and other matters. He even had to show that his children were enrolled in school. ―I thought, ‗This is difficult,‘‖ recalled the humble farmer. But the 20 percent premium he recently received for his first fair trade harvest made the effort worthwhile, Mr. Paiva said, adding, it ―helped us create a decent living.‖ More farmers are likely to receive such offers, as importers and retailers rush to meet a growing demand from consumers and activists to adhere to stricter environmental and social standards. Mr. Paiva‘s beans will be in the store-brand coffee sold by Sam‘s Club, the warehouse chain of Wal-Mart Stores. Dunkin‘ Donuts, McDonald‘s and Starbucks already sell some fair trade coffee. ―We see a real momentum now with big companies and institutions switching to fair trade,‖ said Paul Rice, president and chief executive of TransFair USA, the only independent fair trade certifier in the United States. The International Fair Trade Association, an umbrella group of organizations in more than 70 countries, defines fair trade as reflecting ―concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers‖ and does ―not maximize profit at their expense.‖ According to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, a group of fair trade certifiers, consumers spent approximately $2.2 billion on certified products in 2006, a 42 percent increase over the previous year, benefiting over seven million people in developing countries. Like consumer awareness of organic products a decade ago, fair trade awareness is growing. In 2006, 27 percent of Americans said they were aware of the certification, up from 12 percent in 2004, according to a study by the New-York based National Coffee Association. Fair trade products that have experienced the biggest jump in demand include coffee, cocoa and cotton, according to the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations. Dozens of other products, including tea, pineapples, wine and flowers, are certified by organizations that visit farmers to verify that they are meeting the many criteria that bar, among other things, the use of child labor and harmful chemicals. There is no governmental standard for fair trade certification, the same situation as with ―organic‖ until a few years ago. Some fair trade produce also carries the organic label, but

most does not. One important difference is the focus of the labels: organic refers to how food is cultivated, while fair trade is primarily concerned with the condition of the farmer and his laborers. Big chains are marketing fair trade coffee to varying degrees. All the espresso served at the 5,400 Dunkin‘ Donuts stores in the United States, for example, is fair trade. All McDonald‘s stores in New England sell only fair trade coffee. And in 2006, Starbucks bought 50 percent more fair trade coffee than in 2005. Fair trade produce remains a minuscule percentage of world trade, but it is growing. Only 3.3 percent of coffee sold in the United States in 2006 was certified fair trade, but that was more than eight times the level in 2001, according to TransFair USA. Although Sam‘s Club already sells seven fair trade imports, including coffee, this will be the first time it has put its Member‘s Mark label on a fair trade product, which Mr. Rice of TransFair called ―a statement of their commitment to fair trade.‖ He added, ―The impact in terms of volume and the impact in terms of the farmers and their families is quite dramatic.‖ Michael Ellgass, the director of house brands for Sam‘s Club, said the company could afford to pay fair trade‘s premium because it has reduced the number of middlemen. Coffee usually passes from farmers through roasters, packers, traders, shippers and warehouses before arriving in stores. But Sam‘s Club will buy shelf-ready merchandise directly from Café Bom Dia, the roaster here in Brazil‘s lush coffee country. ―We are cutting a number of steps out of the process by working directly with the farmer,‖ Mr. Ellgass said. Some critics of fair trade say that working with thousands of small farmers makes strict adherence to fair trade rules difficult. Others argue that fair trade coffee is as exploitive as the conventional kind, especially in countries that produce the highest-quality beans — like Colombia, Ethiopia and Guatemala. Fair trade farmers there are barely paid more than their counterparts in Brazil, though their crops become gourmet brands, selling for a hefty markup, said Geoff Watts, vice president for coffee at Chicago‘s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, a coffee importer. But in Brazil, a nation with little top-grade coffee, the partnership between small producers and big retailers is a better blend, Mr. Watts said. Fair trade coffee farmers in Brazil are paid at least $1.29 a pound, compared with the current market rate of roughly $1.05 per pound, said Sydney Marques de Paiva, president of Café Bom Dia. Most coffee farmers are organized into cooperatives, and some of that premium finances community projects like schools or potable water.

Like most of his cooperative‘s 3,000-odd members — and three-quarters of coffee growers worldwide — Mr. Paiva, the coffee farmer (no relation to Mr. Marques de Paiva), farms less than 25 acres of land. He produces around 200 132-pound sacks for the co-op, with 70 percent of that sold as fair trade to Café Bom Dia. The company would buy more if there were more of a market for fair trade coffee, it said. The fair trade crop brought Mr. Paiva about 258 reais ($139) a sack, compared with about 230 reais for the sacks that were not fair trade. For the latest crop, that meant an additional 3,920 reais ($2,116) for him, a huge sum here in the impoverished mountains of Minas. ―It‘s been great for us,‖ Mr. Paiva said with a huge, toothless grin. ―I call the people from the co-op my family now.‖ Mr. Ellgass, the Sam‘s Club executive, said the chain hoped to expand its fair trade goods. So do Brazil‘s farmers. ―Everybody is doing their best to come up to standard so we can sell our coffee as fair trade,‖ said Conceição Peres da Costa, one of the co-op‘s growers. ―Everybody wants to earn as much as he can.‖ Canada's greenhouse gas emissions remain at a record high Tom Spears CanWest News Service October 01, 2007 Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have stayed at a record high for another year, according to federal statistics showing that even a warm winter and more nuclear power can't stop our up-and-up emissions trend. The newest national summary shows our greenhouse gas production in 2005 stayed at the peak first reached in 2004, slightly above 2003, and significantly higher than all previous years. Our emissions are now 32.7 per cent above the target in Canada's Kyoto Protocol commitment - which takes binding effect in three months. While we at least managed not to increase our emissions in 2005, Environment Canada says that's partly because we got lucky with a warm winter. We also reduced emissions in some areas by bringing nuclear plants back online in Ontario, which allowed the province's power plants to burn less coal. Environment Canada adds: "Long term growth, nevertheless, remains large. Between 1990 and 2005 significant increases in oil and gas production, much of which have been provided to the United States, have resulted in a significant increase in the emissions associated with the production and transportation of fuel for export." The Kyoto Protocol obliges Canada to keep greenhouse gas emissions six percentage below 1990 levels, on average, from the beginning of 2008 through 2012.

Yet the latest figures illustrate the gap between the public's stated goals - pollsters we demand cuts in emissions - and the nation's real demand for cars, heated homes and manufactured products.

The upward emissions trend doesn't surprise Jim Bruce, a former senior official of Environment Canada now in private practice. That's "because we haven't made any really big, determined efforts," he said. "We've taken a number of baby steps but not really big concerted effort to reduce emissions." We can't cut fuel unless we re-engineer existing buildings to conserve more heat, and make smaller cars and trucks, he said. "The Europeans are doing this, especially Britain and Norway and Germany." Some of these countries also have substantial wind power, and this week Britain announced it will dam the Severn River estuary to run rising and falling tidewaters through turbines that produce electricity. "California is doing things. There are a number of developed countries and regions that have taken the bit in the teeth and are moving to reductions. "What the Swedes did is a really a key thing. They rejigged their whole tax structure to reduce significantly income takes and other taxes and increase energy taxes." Canadian figures comparing 2005 to previous years show that: People still aren't conserving electricity. Demand actually increased from 2003 to 2005, but greenhouse emissions fell when Ontario refurbished nuclear plants that had been idle, and shut down coal-burning plans. There was also some increase nationally in hydroelectric power, which doesn't produce carbon dioxide. Since 1990, Canadians have increased their emissions from transportation by 33 per cent. (The Kyoto deal measures everything since 1990.) But within that category, emissions from light trucks and SUVs are up by 109 percent, reflecting how sales of these popular brands have risen sharply despite our national commitment to use less fuel. Most of the rest of the increase from transportation came from heavy diesel trucks. The growth of factory farms for pigs, chickens and beef cattle boosted emissions in the agriculture sector. As well, the conversion of forest and natural grasslands to cropland is a continuing source of gas emissions. Alberta is the biggest greenhouse gas producer (more than 230 million tonnes in 2005, or about 30 per cent of Canada's total.) Ontario comes second (200 million tonnes), followed by Quebec (about 90 million), Saskatchewan (about 70 million, much of it from fertilizer), British Columbia (about 65 million) and the rest all less than 25 million.

Leaks from natural gas pipelines continue to be a major source of greenhouse gases. Leakage grew by 54 per cent between 1990 and 2005. Exploitation of tarsands is expected to increase greenhouse gases from energy production. Climate change top issue, CEOs declare 'Unprecedented consensus' has task force acknowledging need for emission cuts, higher energy prices By Steven Chase Globe and Mail October 1, 2007 Canada's top chief executive officers have reached an "unprecedented consensus" on the need to combat global warming and their obligation to do more to help. This morning the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is releasing a declaration calling climate change "the most pressing and daunting issue" today, and acknowledging the need for "aggressive" action including "absolute" emission cuts. It's the clearest signal ever sent by a broad coalition of Canadian businesses that they embrace the fight against climate change and accept the need for emission cut targets. Even more significant: the CEOs acknowledge a necessary part of the battle will be government intervention to raise energy prices as a means influencing consumption. "We share the goal of slowing, stopping and reversing the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions over the shortest period of time that is reasonably achievable," the 150 CEOs announce in a declaration obtained by The Globe and Mail. They say they're confident that technology investment - spurred by incentives - could help Canada become a leader in trimming emissions output. But the CEOs acknowledge that governments must step in with an emissions trading market or even something most of them don't welcome: environment taxes. They say even without government intervention in markets, consumer preferences are shifting toward more environmentally friendly alternatives, but market forces alone are unlikely enough to meet the challenge of climate change." The declaration is an attempt by the CEO group, whose companies generate more than $800-billion in revenue a year, to secure a greater role in the national debate on tackling climate change. "It's meant to go on the offensive in a positive way as opposed to being in a defensive position where I think the industry has been for the past [few] years," said Thomas d'Aquino, Council of Chief Executives president.

A key goal in this public embrace of the battle against global warming is to forestall measures from current or future governments that would unduly penalize the Canadian economy. Both Ottawa's minority Parliament and provinces are divided over what sort of policies are best to reduce greenhouse gas output. "Unless we pull together and get a degree of consensus in the country ... Canada will continue to be mired in this highly destructive, non-productive debate that eventually will lead to - I don't know – maybe Draconian regulations that make no sense whatsoever," Mr. d'Aquino said. However, there is still plenty of time to influence the direction of Canada's climate-change abatement strategy because the Harper government is still in the process of assembling it. After announcing that Canada could not meet the heavy emissions reduction obligations under the 1997 Kyoto treaty, the minority Harper government is trying to chart a new course to reduce greenhouse gas output over a longer period. Once considered a global-warming skeptic, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears more resolved to act now. He told global leaders earlier this month that the "growing menace of climate change is one of the most important public policy challenges of our time." The CEO task force that drew up the declaration, co-chaired by Alcan Inc.'s Richard Evans and Suncor Energy Inc.'s Rick George, also sounds the alarm about the lack of a coherent national strategy to combat climate change, saying it's undermined by conflict between the provinces and Ottawa. Finally, the CEO group cautions, if real gains are to be achieved on climate change, any long-term plan must include all countries that are major emitters. Chertoff Blames Border Crossers For Land Damage Washington Post Tuesday, October 2, 2007; A17 Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, whose department has come under fire from environmentalists for fencing off hundreds of miles of the U.S. border with Mexico at Congress's request, said yesterday that he knows of something worse for nature than a wall: illegal immigrants. "Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas," Chertoff told the Associated Press, in remarks confirmed by his spokesman. "And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment." Chertoff spoke as DHS announced it has more than doubled the number of miles of border fencing in the year that ended Sunday, to more than 150. The agency is on track to meet a goal of 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico by the end of 2008.

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will conduct environmental impact studies on two proposed stretches of fencing, one extending about 70 miles southeast of Rio Grande City in south Texas and another about four miles east of San Diego. Environmentalists say studies are being done piecemeal and were neglected at six active construction sites in Arizona. They say fences affect migratory and mating patterns and destroy habitats used by 500 kinds of birds, as well as threatened species such as jaguars and the Sonoran pronghorn antelope. Construction crews and the Border Patrol use off-road vehicles that worsen the environmental damage caused by immigrants, they say. Yesterday, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife appealed to the Interior Department to stop construction in a wildlife area on the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona. Congress has given Chertoff authority to waive legal requirements, including environmental laws, to build border barriers. Pending legislation could require DHS to consult with local and federal agencies to minimize environmental damage. Cleanup of Fly Ash Dumpsite Ordered By William Wan Washington Post Tuesday, October 2, 2007 Maryland officials ordered Constellation Energy and the owner of a local dumpsite yesterday to pay a $1 million penalty and clean up groundwater contaminated by fly ash dumping in Anne Arundel County. The order is an outgrowth of negotiations that the state, Constellation and BBSS Inc., owner of the 80-acre dumpsite in Gambrills where 4.5 million tons of fly ash has been dumped, have engaged in since the contamination was discovered a year ago. State officials said the order is proof of their vigilance against companies that violate health and environmental laws. But Anne Arundel officials and residents who have called for action against the dumping for months criticized the order as too little, too late. "It's a joke. A million dollars is nothing to a company like Constellation -- a drop in the bucket," said Torrey Jacobsen Jr., president of the Greater Crofton Council, an umbrella group of local homeowners associations in the area of the contamination. "They polluted our waters, our wells, and this is all the state does?" Constellation has been under increasing public pressure to clean up the contamination that its Glen Burnie-based coal-burning operation has caused in the Gambrills area. For a year, residents of about a dozen households have had to rely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth because their well water was found to be contaminated with arsenic and other metals. In response to residents' frustrations and a threat by the county to ban fly ash dumping in Anne Arundel, Constellation volunteered last week to stop dumping the material at the Gambrills site temporarily. Yesterday's order requires Constellation and BBSS Inc. to submit a plan within 60 days to clean up the groundwater, provide alternative water sources for affected residents and continue monitoring the area's groundwater.

A statement by the Maryland Department of the Environment said the "significant" penalty demonstrates the agency's commitment to protect the state's groundwater and health of its citizens. Anne Arundel leaders, who have accused state officials and the two companies of ignoring early warning signs at the dumpsite and being slow to act when contamination was found, took issue with several points in the order. The order requires 40 homes to be hooked up to public water or be given alternative water sources because of the contamination. But county officials contend that at least 45 homes are affected. In recent meetings, Constellation has outlined a strategy for cleaning the groundwater and resuming dumping at the Gambrills site. County leaders have called the cleanup strategy unproven and possibly ineffective. And although the contamination is limited to wells in Gambrills, residents in Crofton and other surrounding towns fear that it will soon spread to them. "Sure, the consent decree deals with Gambrills now, but who's going to pay for public water hookups when it spreads to Millersville or Crownsville?" said County Council member Jamie Benoit (D-Odenton). "It doesn't sound like the county and residents' interests were protected at all." County Executive John R. Leopold (R) said he is frustrated, too. The state Environment Department "has kept us out of the loop the whole way through," said Leopold, who added that his request to be included in the negotiations that led to the order was rejected. Leopold proposed a ban on future fly ash dumpsites that the County Council approved last night as a one-year moratorium. Although no illness has been proved to be caused by the contamination, county officials are pushing for a comprehensive health assessment to be conducted on affected residents. Leopold and others have also raised questions about the health effects of dust from fly ash, which state environmental officials said they are investigating. Yesterday's order also requires that Constellation submit plans to the state for how it will clean up the groundwater and improve its contamination prevention features at the Gambrills site before it can resume dumping there. For its part, the Environment Department has formed a panel to reexamine its fly ash disposal regulations. Nature Conservancy's President Abruptly Announces Resignation By Joe Stephens Washington Post Tuesday, October 2, 2007 The president of the Arlington-based Nature Conservancy resigned abruptly yesterday, announcing his departure in an early-morning e-mail to all 3,500 employees of the world's largest environmental organization.

Steven J. McCormick, who had been with the Conservancy for 30 years and had spent the past seven as president, gave no indication of his plans. "I've concluded that I've contributed all I can to help the organization improve its ability to fulfill the mission. I've decided, therefore, to resign, and will vacate my role immediately," he wrote in the e-mail. McCormick, a lawyer, guided the $4.8 billion organization through the rockiest period in its history, working to sustain its growth and expand its international presence while weathering a major Internal Revenue Service audit and a two-year investigation by the Senate Finance Committee. Conservancy spokesman James Petterson said McCormick, 56, gave employees no warning he might be leaving. Many of the chief executive's key initiatives were nearing fruition, Petterson said, and a recent summit of senior Conservancy managers ended on an exuberant note. So on Monday morning, Petterson and his colleagues were surprised to find McCormick's e-mail, which began "Subject: Resignation." "I'm proud of what the Conservancy has accomplished while I've been President," McCormick wrote in the 14-sentence memo. "It is a more global organization today, with substantially increased attention and resources devoted to projects and activities of global importance and scale. "I'm proud that the Conservancy has an organization-wide conservation goal for the first time in its history, a goal that is incredibly -- and rightly -- breathtaking in its reach and ambition. . . . I am also very proud of helping position the Conservancy to lead in demonstrating and realizing a new vision for conservation in the 21st Century: that our mission is not about protecting lands and waters from people, but conserving them for people." McCormick's e-mail also referenced the difficulties that the organization faced beginning in 2003, after a series of articles in The Washington Post traced the Conservancy's phenomenal growth and the trade-offs that its leaders had made to achieve it. "I am proud," he wrote, "that despite a withering, and potentially irreversible, crises following the Washington Post series, and the consequent investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, the organization rallied and not only survived, but improved." He said the organization "became a more unified, more cohesive enterprise producing conservation that is more than the simple sum of its parts. Conservancy Chairman John Morgridge praised McCormick's tenure and said he would remain an adviser for the next year. Morgridge named the chief operating officer, Stephanie K. Meeks, as acting president. In an interview, McCormick said he kept his departure quiet to avoid distractions for his staff. He said he recently began discussing the move with board members and a handful of senior managers. He said he had grown tired of traveling, especially after he recently became ill returning from Mongolia.

"I was looking at my calendar for the rest of the year and it was just continuous travel," he said. "It's harder for me to recover from these trips than it was seven years ago." He added that a new multi-year fundraising campaign will make the job even more demanding. "It's a combination of things," he said of his decision. "There's never a perfect time to leave. "He said he would like to remain in conservation, perhaps working on global warming. McCormick played a pivotal role in the Conservancy's response to public concerns after the Post series and subsequent government examinations. The series described how the Conservancy had logged forests and drilled for oil under the last native breeding ground of an endangered bird species. It reported that the charity's governing and advisory boards had grown to include executives from corporations that had paid millions of dollars in environment-related fines. It showed how the Conservancy had engaged in deals with executives on its boards. The stories detailed how the Conservancy gave low-interest loans to its executives and sold scenic properties to its employees and trustees, who built homes on the sites and reaped large tax breaks. After the Post series, the Conservancy restructured its board and banned some practices, including lending money to insiders, selling land to trustees and drilling on preserves. Gov. Spitzer Picks Activists to Make State a Bit Greener By Anthony DePalma New York Times October 1 2007 ALBANY — Before Gov. Eliot Spitzer took office in January, there was one recycling bin for cans and bottles in the entire Statehouse. Now 25 blue-topped containers are spread throughout the ornate halls, and more line the paths of the small park behind the Capitol. The recycling containers are a small, visible sign of the heightened environmental awareness that the new administration vowed to bring to Albany. There are other, less obvious signs of a change that not everyone doing business with the state finds reassuring. Mr. Spitzer, who entered office with a solid environmental reputation as attorney general, has drawn from the top echelons of the state‘s environmental movement in assembling his team. Many of the movement‘s most passionate advocates now occupy the highest offices of the Department of Environmental Conservation, which had widespread staff cutbacks and a diminished role during the administration of Gov. George E. Pataki. Mr. Spitzer added 100 staff positions to the department in his first budget. But it is the infusion of new blood, some of it running pretty green, that is particularly notable. The department‘s new commissioner, Pete Grannis, is a former longtime member of the Assembly who introduced some of the state‘s most important environmental laws, including the first bottle bill and the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which has

changed the way construction projects are built. Mr. Grannis‘s director of legislative affairs is Chris Ballantyne, a 20-year veteran of the Sierra Club. Mr. Spitzer‘s deputy secretary for environmental affairs, Judith Enck, has been involved in environmental advocacy most of her adult life. (She had the recycling bins installed in the Statehouse shortly after she was appointed.) The director of the new office on climate change, Peter M. Iwanowicz, was the chief policy officer and a clean air advocate for the American Lung Association of New York State. Several of the department‘s eight regional directors came from advocacy backgrounds: Suzanne Y. Mattei was executive of the New York City office of the Sierra Club; William C. Janeway was director of government relations for the Nature Conservancy; and Elizabeth M. Lowe was managing director of the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. The officials have re-energized the department and renewed its sense of mission, Mr. Grannis said. But whether they can be effective working with businesses as well as environmental groups remains a question. A few early decisions have been met with mixed reviews. In one case, Ms. Enck‘s previous ties to environmental groups helped resolve a longstanding battle with a developer over a huge golf and ski resort project near Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the Catskills. She had a hand in keeping everyone at the bargaining table when negotiations seemed to stall this year. The result was a smaller project that kept 1,200 woodland acres untouched, a bargain that delighted most environmentalists. But in another case, a group was dismayed when the new officials drummed up support for the veto of a bill that would have shut down a large hazardous waste dump in the town of Porter, near Lake Ontario. Residents said they had expected more support in their effort to close the dump than they had before. ―The reality for us is that there has been no change,‖ said Amy Witryol, who belongs to the group Residents for Responsible Government, which has been fighting for six years to close the dump. Despite the new staff, she said, ―it‘s the same old D.E.C.‖ Businesses and industries regulated by the department have been guarded with their comments so far. But some said they would be watching for signs of bias that hint at a less than fair treatment of issues. ―The real test for Pete and his agency will be to engage the business community and make sure the regulatory process isn‘t just a regulatory hammer on the economy,‖ said Kenneth Adams, president of the Business Council of New York State. ―Everything has to be viewed in the context of achieving a balance between protecting the environment and protecting business,‖ he said. Mr. Grannis said he expects to eventually have to ―go head to head‖ with business and industry representatives, but he promised that everyone would be treated fairly and openly.

―Our goal is to clean the environment, not to fire people or anger industry,‖ Mr. Grannis said. He said that he told the former advocates he hired to remember that they now are part of a team, which means ―not tempering passions, but realizing they have a job to do.‖ Advocates in environmental groups said they would keep an eye on their former colleagues to see if they could maintain their principles in the face of the competing interests of government. Jason K. Babbie, environmental policy analyst for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said many in the environmental community know these officials have strong track records. ―But ultimately,‖ he said, ―we will have to judge them on what they‘re doing. ‖ And those who have made the transition from advocacy to regulation are learning that though the issues might be the same as before, their perspectives have changed. ―I have had to learn to temper things and remind myself that I‘m not a free agent,‖ said Ms. Enck. In the past, she worked as executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and senior associate for environmental affairs of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Eight years ago, she joined the attorney general‘s office, advising Mr. Spitzer on environmental issues. ―Now I have to approach things with a different style, and spend a lot more time looking at multiple sides of an issue,‖ she said. Perhaps too much time, according to some. Gavin J. Donohue, president of the Independent Power Producers of New York, said the administration is several months late issuing regulations implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate effort to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. And Philip A. LaRocque, executive vice president of the New York State Builders Association, said builders are not happy that the administration has not yet come to an agreement on refinements to the state‘s brownfields redevelopment program, which seeks to move forward on the decontamination and redevelopment of tainted industrial sites. The administration officials said they were aware that their past advocacy might be a cause for concern. But they said they hoped that people would remember how they handled issues before taking their posts. ―They know my passion and history, but they also know that I have a reputation for being practical,‖ said Mr. Janeway, the new director of Region 3, which covers the lower and central Hudson Valley. Mr. Iwanowicz said that balance is essential. ―If a bill or something we‘re trying to push through on the regulatory side is one-sided, it probably will fail,‖ he said. All of the officials said that they were motivated to join the government team because they wanted to roll up their sleeves and actually do something about the environment, rather than urge somebody else to act. ―Look, I‘m an environmentalist, I‘m proud of it, and the governor knew that when he hired me,‖ said Ms. Enck. ―I know that I can‘t just be a fierce advocate for the environment now.

But neither am I going to be a shrinking violet and not make the case for the environment. I will.‖ Solar takes off with US power supply deal By Matt Peacock ABC Premium News October 2, 2007 Two of America's biggest power utilities have unveiled plans for a multi-billion-dollar expansion of solar power supply, backing the argument that solar energy can indeed become a viable alternative to coal-fired electricity. The company at the heart of the development is Ausra. It was started by Australian solar expert David Mills, who left this country for California earlier this year to pursue the further development of his ground-breaking work. What makes the announcement more significant is that the utilities are confidently predicting that their solar power will soon be providing baseload electricity - that is, day and night - at prices competitive with coal. Those associated with the project believe it could signal a paradigm shift in electricity generation. After decades as a fringe player in the energy industry, solar power is finally taking off in the world's largest economy. Dr Mills says solar power could potentially supply most of the world's electricity. "My hope, my dream if you will, is that this will become a mechanism not only for the majority of the electricity generation in the United States but the majority globally," he said. As world leaders gathered in New York last week to focus on climate change, across town at the Clinton Global Initiative, giant US power companies were pledging billions of dollars of investment into solar power. For Dr Mills, it's vindication of a lifetime's research. Only nine months ago the former Sydney University professor was packing his bags for California's Silicon Valley, where the venture capitalist who made his fortune in IT, Vinod Khosla, was prepared to back him. The Khosla Ventures founder is enthusiastic about Dr Mills's work with solar power. "We were very excited about what they were doing and surprised at the lack of support they were getting in Australia," he said. Dr Mills says the way his innovation is taking off is gratifying. "This is the culmination of a life's work - I've been at this for 30 years, so you can imagine how I feel," he said.

"It's almost a sense of great relief that finally this problem is being noticed and action is taking place." Australian technology The solar technology developed by Dr Mills already exists here in Australia, in the form of small pilot plants attached to the Liddell coal-fired power station in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. A plant officer explains that the system's emphasis is on simplicity, with near-flat mirrors on giant hoops tracking the sun. "Sunlight, on a clear day like this, strikes those mirrors and is gathered up onto the tower, and there's an absorber underneath that tower," he said. Out comes steam, ready to drive a conventional power turbine. This is on a small scale; the new US company started by Dr Mills and Mr Khosla, Ausra, is now planning plants far bigger. Dr Mills says the first plant size is more than two square kilometres in area and will generate 175 megawatts of power. "But really we want to aim for gigawatt-style plants, and they're much bigger than that," he said. Sustainable energy expert Mark Diesendorf, who lectures in environmental studies at the University of NSW, says large solar power plants are the way to go. "It's important to get a large scale for the development to bring down costs, and the United States offers a magnificent opportunity for large-scale solar development," he said. Solar power is not new in the United States. A giant photovoltaic plant in the Mojave Desert was built during the oil shock of the 1980s. And more recent concern over global warming has led to other investments into solar thermal plants. But Mr Khosla notes that the low cost of Ausra's new design is now attracting the big money. "What's very exciting is major utilities in the US are now starting to believe our story after doing their own independent due diligence," he said. "They actually believe this is competitive power generation. More importantly it's reliable power generation. We can ship them power when the sun isn't shining, which is what most utilities need." Assumptions overturned

The coal and nuclear industries have long asserted that baseload power cannot be supplied by renewable energy. That mantra is oft repeated by Australian politicians like federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. "You cannot run a modern economy on wind farms and solar powers. It's a pity that you can't, but you can't," he said. Prime Minister John Howard says solar is "a nice, easy soft answer". "There's this vague idea in the community that solar doesn't cost anything and it can solve the problem," he said. "It can't. It can't replace baseload power generation by power stations." But baseload power supply is just what Ausra is now being contracted to supply for the insatiable US market. It says that within two years it will be able to economically store its hot water for more than 16 hours. Dr Mills says there is a convenient correlation between humans' power consumption and the sun's power supply. "We get up in the morning everyday, we start using energy, we go to sleep at night," he said. "And the presence of the sun, that's natural. And that correlation means that we can get away with a lot less storage than we might have thought." Dr Diesendorf agrees. "There's been a lot of nonsense talked about, in Australia and elsewhere, about renewable energy allegedly not being able to provide baseload power, not being able to substitute for coal," he said. "That's never been true. It's even untrue with regard to wind power, and now with solar thermal power, it's certainly untrue." Better than coal or nuclear Dr Diesendorf says the huge US investment into solar will soon make talk of clean coal and nuclear as solutions to climate change redundant. "Basically, the solar thermal technology will be on the ground, certainly in the United States and many other countries long before so-called clean coal and nuclear power," he said. Mr Khosla says solar power is developing rapidly and will be cheaper than either nuclear power or 'clean' coal.

"We think we can move much faster than nuclear and on an unsubsidised basis, we will be cheaper than nuclear power, and we should be cheaper than IGCC [integrated gasification combined cycle] coal-based power generation," he said. Dr Mills says big solar plants will be able to replace nuclear and fossil fuel-fired plants in the US. "In five years time, we'll have very large plants and I would say gigawatt-style plants already commissioned, able to run 24 hours a day and completely replace the function of nuclear and coal plants," he said. And as international alarm mounts at the ever-more-obvious signs of global climate change, Dr Mills is not the only one who thinks the switch from fossil fuels is overdue. "I was talking to a banker the other day and after a series of negotiations he looked at me straight and said, 'I wonder if we're too late,'" Dr Mills said. "The time has gone for easy action. We waited too long, we've wasted 15 years but now we've got to really, really act quickly." Iowa: Groups pressure Iowa delegation on global warming By Henry C. Jackson The Associated Press October 2, 2007 A coalition of interest groups led by Greenpeace is trying to put pressure on Iowa's congressional delegation to support legislation targeting global warming. And it has chosen a unique symbol to illustrate its cause. As she called Tuesday for greater leadership from Iowa's congressmen, Greenpeace's Kelly Mitchell stood in front of an aerial shot of a crop formation her group had helped create on a farm outside of Ames. The corn in the field has been fashioned into the shape of a wind turbine, a symbol of Iowa's need for greater commitment to renewable energy in the effort to reduce global warming, Mitchell said. "The solutions are right here in the fields of Iowa," Mitchell said. "We see this as a symbol of Iowa's commitment to renewable energy (and) we hope that our representatives will see this as a symbol of our commitment." Members of Greenpeace, Iowa Farmers Union, United Steelworkers Union, Iowa Interfaith Power, and Iowa Environmental Council, among others, gathered at the Des Moines Public Library to support legislation addressing global warming. The groups want Iowa's congressmen to sign onto the Safe Climate Act, a measure now in the U.S. House. The act would take a variety of steps to reduce global warming, including creating a national renewable electricity standard and increasing tailpipe emissions standards.

So far, Mitchell said, only Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, has signed on as a supporter of the legislation. Mitchell said it was imperative that Congress take action against global warming and called on Iowans to contact the state's four other representatives Reps. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines; Steve King, R-Kiron; Tom Latham, R-Ames; and Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon. John Campbell, with the United Steelworkers, said it was sound business to embrace renewable energy and confront global warming. "If we want a new economy ... now is the time to do it," Campbell said. "We have the technology. All we need is the will." Restoration planned at lake polluted with arsenic, lead The Associated Press October 2, 2007 Restoration could begin soon on the ecosystem of a northwestern Indiana lake that has been polluted for decades with sewage and stormwater filled with fertilizer from farm fields. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is finishing a $600,000 study of possible ways to restore the ecosystem of Cedar Lake, which also has elevated levels of arsenic and lead. Political and financial support is being lined up for the restoration, but a few obstacles still need to be overcome before work can begin. Three of six preliminary alternatives involve dredging, which local residents also advocate. Another option is to add chemical treatment to the water, which binds some of the nutrients and forms a crust at the bottom of the lake. The Corps of Engineers is also considering setting up a temporary treatment plant to clean lakewater and send it back. "We take a look at everything and what is most feasible and the best use of the government's money, and that's what we recommend," said Lynne Wheland, spokeswoman for the Army Corps. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., has proposed a bill providing $4.4 million for the restoration. It has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate, said Justin Kitsch, a spokesman for Visclosky. The federal government provides 65 percent of the project cost, which some have put at $12 million. The rest has to be found elsewhere. The study was originally supposed to be finished in 2007, but it was taking longer because the Corps is waiting for information from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the town of Cedar Lake, which surrounds the lake about 15 miles south of Gary.

Part of the delay is that the federal agency is waiting for information from IDEM on what restrictions it has to follow when dealing with the lead and arsenic, Army Corps project manager Mike Nguyen said. Another is the town has proposed its own sewage treatment plant, which would discharge effluent back into the lake, he said. "Our concern was that (discharge) from the sewage treatment plant will have a negative impact on the ecosystem," he said. The Town Council also is considering whether to spend $1.7 million on 114 acres of land as a disposal site for the dredged material. Residents at newer nearby homes object. They worry the dredged material will affect the safety of their drinking water. "Cedar Lake has other land available, land within their own town limits, why do they have to go out of their town limits and ruin the neighborhood we live in?" said Craig Flanders in an open letter to Visclosky. Alexander City taking steps to maintain drinking water supply The Associated Press State & Local Wire October 2, 2007 The city council has hired engineering consultants to help make sure Alexander City's water system continues to draw water out of Lake Martin, which has dropped to record low levels for this time of year due due to a drought. The lake is the only source of water for the system, which provides drinking water to about 60,000 people in Tallapoosa, Coosa and Elmore counties. The council approved a contract Monday night with the engineering consultants, CH2M Hill, to create a drought response plan. The Alexander City Outlook reported that the plan could include making alterations to the city's water intake or installation of new pumps. "You have already started having some problems because of the lower levels," CH2M Hill's Steve Newton told the council. "Some of the pumps have shut down at times because they started pumping air." The problem has been caused by water levels getting so low that the surface of the lake is above or near the intake pipes that bring water into the drinking water system. Lake Martin's level was 478.17 feet above sea level Monday. Newton said the water system intake was designed to operate when the lake level gets as low as 473 feet, but he said in reality the system would have trouble if the level was as low as 475 feet. "We have been in constant communication with Alabama Power and they are fully aware of our situation," Newton said. "They have already worked with the Corps of Engineers to reduce the minimum flow out of the dam to slow the level drop."

Alabama Power officials have predicted that if the drought continues water levels on the lake could reach as low as 465 feet by Christmas. Water system officials are considering using a barge to pump water from deeper parts of the lake to areas around the intake pipes. Information from: Outlook, Brookfield Properties' Bay Adelaide Centre Development to Be Built to LEED Gold Standard Business Wire October 2, 2007 Brookfield Properties Corporation (BPO: NYSE, TSX) and its Canadian-based subsidiary, BPO Properties Ltd. (BPP: TSX), today announced that the 2.6 million square foot Bay Adelaide Centre development in Toronto's financial core will be built to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard, as specified by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). The LEED Green Building Rating System is the internationally accepted scorecard for sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. In achieving a LEED Gold standard, the entire Bay Adelaide Centre complex will produce an estimated 40% energy savings relative to other buildings built to the Canadian Model National Energy Code, and will feature state-of-the-art operating and life safety systems, including:
. . . . . . .

Lighting occupancy sensors; Enhanced indoor air quality; Low emitting materials; Optimization of energy performance; Indoor water use reduction features; Rain water collection system; Bicycle storage and changing rooms.

"With this project, Brookfield Properties is helping lead the way for high-performing, socially-conscious developments that will benefit our tenants, employees, communities and the environment," said Ric Clark, President & CEO of Brookfield Properties Corporation. "Brookfield is committed to environmental sustainability in all of our new developments." "Our goal is to provide office space of the highest quality for our tenants while reducing their operating costs which is why we've made energy efficiency a top priority," said Tom Farley, President and COO, Canadian Commercial Operations for Brookfield Properties. "Our hope is that this project will serve as a model for 21st century commercial development." Construction on the development commenced in July 2006, and KPMG and Goodmans LLP have signed on as anchor tenants for the project's first phase - Bay Adelaide Centre West Tower - which is scheduled for completion in July 2009. Comprising approximately 1.1 million square feet, the 50-storey tower is the first new development in Toronto's

financial core since Brookfield Place was completed in 1992. Phases Two and Three of Bay Adelaide Centre will likely be a mix of office and hotel/residential. Brookfield Properties Corporation, one of North America's largest commercial real estate companies, owns, develops and manages premier office properties. The portfolio is comprised of interests in 111 office properties totaling 75 million square feet in the downtown cores of New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa. Landmark assets include the World Financial Center in Manhattan, Brookfield Place in Toronto, Bank of America Plaza in Los Angeles and Bankers Hall in Calgary. Brookfield Properties also holds interests in over 15 million square feet of highquality, centrally located development properties in its major markets. Brookfield Properties trades on the NYSE and TSX under the symbol BPO. For more information, BPO Properties Ltd., 89% owned by Brookfield Properties Corporation, is a Canadian company that invests in real estate, focusing on the ownership and value enhancement of premier office properties. The current property portfolio is comprised of interests in 29 commercial properties totaling 19.5 million square feet and five development projects totaling 5.6 million square feet. Landmark properties include First Canadian Place in Toronto and Bankers Hall in Calgary. BPO Properties' common shares trade on the TSX under the symbol BPP. For more information, This press release contains forward-looking statements and information within the meaning of applicable securities legislation. Although Brookfield Properties believes that the anticipated future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements and information are based upon reasonable assumptions and expectations, the reader should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and information because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the company to differ materially from anticipated future results, performance or achievement expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and information. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements and information include general economic conditions; local real estate conditions, including the development of properties in close proximity to the company's properties; timely leasing of newly-developed properties and re-leasing of occupied square footage upon expiration; dependence on tenants' financial condition; the uncertainties of real estate development and acquisition activity; the ability to effectively integrate acquisitions; interest rates; availability of equity and debt financing; the impact of newly-adopted accounting principles on the company's accounting policies and on period-to-period comparisons of financial results; and other risks and factors described from time to time in the documents filed by the company with the securities regulators in Canada and the United States including in the Annual Information Form under the heading "Business of Brookfield Properties - Company and Real Estate Industry Risks." The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements or information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. AMEC Paragon Keeps US$5 Billion Alternative Fuels Project Moving; Baard Energy signs contract to proceed with second phase of work Business Wire

October 2, 2007 AMEC, the international engineering and project management company, today announced that Houston-based subsidiary AMEC Paragon has been awarded a contract by Baard Energy to provide engineering and project management services for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase of the US$5 billion Ohio River Clean Fuels project in Wellsville, Ohio. The value of the contract has not been announced. This contract follows AMEC Paragon's initial work as owner's engineer and project management services provider for feasibility studies concerning the integration of various processes at the plant. The FEED phase is scheduled to commence in November 2007. The project is being undertaken in response to growing demand for more environmentallyfriendly fuels. The facility is expected to produce approximately 50,000barrels per day of jet and diesel fuel and other liquid products from biomass, coal and other feedstocks. The new facilities will capture at least 80 percent of the carbon dioxide produced during refining. Much of the captured carbon dioxide will be used for enhanced oil recovery in the nearby Appalachian oil fields, with the remainder to be stored in underground caverns. "With this project, AMEC is taking a leading role in the energy industry's efforts to develop facilities that address global environmental concerns," said Simon Naylor, President of AMEC's Natural Resources Americas business. "We are excited to progress this innovative and important work and to continue to help Baard Energy achieve its goals." Baard Energy President and Chief Executive Officer John Baardson said, "Phase I of this project went smoothly and according to schedule. We are especially impressed with AMEC's intrinsic expertise in all of the diverse components of this project, and we view our work with AMEC Paragon as a solid model for future alternative fuel projects in the United States." In addition to continuing in its role as owner's engineer and project management services provider, AMEC Paragon will provide FEED for the facility's site infrastructure, utilities, storage sections and feedstock handling. The company also will support engineering for the plant's liquid fuel production and upgrading facilities. All Nations Must Help Slow Global Warming By Brian Nimmo McCandless Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) October 2, 2007 Tuesday President Bush was one of few national leaders who skipped the United Nations meeting on global warming last week ("Bush Skips U.N. Warming Meetings," Sept. 24). As described in the article, Mr. Bush decided that his own meetings had precedence over the international meetings. He believes nations should be able to set their own timetables for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

This would not work effectively because there is little motive for individual nations to reduce emissions. They would all blame each other, believing that they were not the sole cause of global warming, and would push for other nations to instead reduce their emissions. A worldwide approach must be taken to efficiently reverse global warming. The United States must go to these meetings as the world's superpower to show other nations they should be doing work, too. Another problem is that under the Kyoto Protocol, developing nations have the prerogative not to worry about the amount of greenhouse gases they are putting into the air. China is considered a developing nation and is emitting a significant percentage of greenhouse gases.All nations should be considered important for any reduction to occur, and these nations must work together to achieve this. Energy Department funds bioenergy centers United Press International October 2, 2007 The U.S. Department of Energy will invest nearly $30 million in end of fiscal year funds to accelerate the start-up of three Bioenergy Research Centers. The three centers -- located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; the University of Wisconsin and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California -are designed to advance research in making the production of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels commercially viable on a national scale. The funding is in addition to the $375 million the department previously announced it will invest during the next five years. "For the sake of both our nation's energy security and the health of our environment, we need major alternatives to imported oil and fossil fuels, and we need them soon," said Energy Department Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach. "This early infusion of funds will permit the (centers) to get to work immediately on the basic, transformational science needed to make environmentally friendly biofuels costeffective, increase their use for transportation, and help achieve President Bush's goal of reducing gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years," he added. Nintendo Goes Green with Environmental Game and 500 Trees U.S. Newswire October 2, 2007 Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol is one of the first games based on the growing environmental movement, and it's a great way to get kids and their parents on a green path. In the game, players take on the persona of a cute little robot. They clean up a park by planting flowers, building park equipment and defeating toxic enemies called Smoglings.

Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol lets players use the Nintendo DS touch screen to control actions like watering plants, squirting enemies or riding a bike. Chibi's good deeds are converted into Happy Points that power him and the friendly toys he meets along the way. He even uses environmentally friendly modes of transportation to get around. "From hybrid cars to energy-conserving light bulbs, everyone is going green," says George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. "Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol represents one of the first environmentally themed video game adventures." To get a tree seedling, register at between now and Nov. 9. Before America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, Nintendo will choose 500 people at random to receive a seedling that they can plant in their community. But Nintendo's environmental efforts are not limited to video games. In the real world, Nintendo has already undertaken multiple initiatives to help preserve the environment. The worldwide innovator in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its Wii(TM), Nintendo DS(TM), Game Boy(R) Advance and Nintendo GameCube(TM) systems. Since 1983, Nintendo has sold nearly 2.4 billion video games and more than 420 million hardware units globally, and has created industry icons like Mario(TM), Donkey Kong(R), Metroid(R), Zelda(TM) and Pokemon(R). A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo's operations in the Western Hemisphere. For more information about Nintendo, visit the company's Web site at October 15th - 21st - Computation's FREE Waste Reduction Week Computer Recycling Events in Toronto & Montreal! Canada NewsWire October 2, 2007 Looking for an environmentally sensitive and privacy ensured method to dispose of your unwanted computer equipment? Leave it with Computation for FREE during Waste Reduction Week! From October 15th - 21st we are inviting the general public to drop-off their unwanted computer equipment for recycling. For larger quantities, organizations, businesses, and special requirements, please contact us about our services. Computation is a computer equipment refurbisher, recycler, and IT service provider serving the Greater Toronto and Montreal Areas. Drop off recycling is available at our: Toronto facility – 2444 Bloor St West (entrance at rear), from 10:00am until 7:00pm Monday through Friday and from 10:00am until 6:00pm on weekends. Montreal facility, 7080 Alexandra St, Suite 401, from 11:00am until 6:00pm Monday through Friday Pick-up service is available by appointment, please contact us to make arrangements.

All information present on systems will be securely destroyed. Every effort will be made to refurbish the equipment placed under our stewardship, remarketing and donating where possible. Irreparable equipment is recycled for its raw materials. All equipment under our management is diverted from landfill and processed locally. In addition to recycling we offer computer and IT services for the home and office. Toronto embraces green wave; City government credited with decreasing the size of our footprint on the environment By Catherine Porter The Toronto Star October 2, 2007 Green thumbs up, Toronto! Despite increased air pollution, the city's environment is improving on many fronts, the latest Vital Signs report reveals. The report shows: Our residential water consumption was down to 248 litres per person a day in 2006 - 11 litres less than the year before. Our beaches are cleaner. In 2006, they were open 72 per cent of the time on average, up from 58 per cent in 2005. We're sending less garbage to landfill - diverting 42 per cent of our trash through recycling and composting in 2006, compared to 32 per cent in 2003. We are littering less. In the face of all this, environmentalists are sounding alarmingly optimistic. "There's no doubt there have been improvements," says Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, which only a year ago condemned the city for inaction on smog. "It's really important to acknowledge when governments work with citizens, good things can happen." The city, most environmentalists agree, is responsible for most of the progress. By introducing the green bin composting program in Toronto's residential areas, the city has greatly reduced the amount of garbage it sends to landfill - although we are still far from reaching our goal of diverting 60 per cent. The city's aggressive water efficiency programs have paid off early. By the end of last year, we'd already reached our 2011 goal of cutting water use by 15 per cent - from 1.3 billion to 1.17 billion litres a day. That's mostly been through the city's rebate programs for both residents and businesses. Since it was introduced three years ago, the city has issued 205,000 rebates to people for replacing their old, water-guzzling toilets with low-flush models. As each new toilet will

save the city from cleaning, pumping and treating as much as 84 litres of water a day, it adds up, says Lou Di Gironimo, the city's general manager of water. "Because we're using less water, we're also using less electricity," he said. As for our beaches, they were even cleaner this year. The latest numbers reveal they were open more than 80 per cent of the time - a huge jump from 2004, when they were closed to swimmers for almost half of the summer (45 per cent of the time.) The city's new infrastructure has paid off, says Sarah Winterton, program manager for Environmental Defence, a group that has pushed the city to clean up its beaches for years. In the past, many of our beaches teamed with a toxic stew of sewage, garbage and pesticides after a big rainstorm, as rainwater would overwhelm treatment facilities, and discharge directly into rivers, creeks and the lake. But, since last year, the Western Beaches storage tunnel has been in full capturing operation. It's a series of huge underground tanks and tunnels that can hold back most of the extra storm water for treatment. "That's had a huge impact," says Winterton. The one area where we're lagging, according to the report, is air pollution. Though 2006 was less smoggy than 2005, that had nothing to do with decreased air pollution. "It was totally based on meteorology," says Eva Ligeti, executive director of the City of Toronto's Clean Air Partnership. Smog is created when certain pollutants bake in the sun. And it is only washed away by great winds or rainstorms. So 2005, the hottest and driest summer on record, had a record 48 smog-advisory days. Last year, that number was down to 11 - the lowest since 2000. But this year, we have already reached 27. That's mostly because there are more cars on the city's roads spewing exhaust, as well as more electricity being generated by coal-fired plants, says Ligeti. She and others hope that will change, now that the city has passed its climate change action plan, which includes programs to cut down on air pollution. But, given the city's current budget crunch, there's no certainty that it will be funded. "There are a lot of things in Toronto going well," says Environmental Defence's executive director Rick Smith. "But we shouldn't get cocky about it." _________________________________________________________________________

ROWA Media Update 3 October 2007

Lebanon Forest fires scorch broad swaths of Lebanon Firefighters battled wildfires in steep valleys in several mountainous areas of Lebanon on Tuesday. Thousands of trees were charred and several homes damaged or destroyed. Civil Defense workers, backed by Lebanese Army helicopters, struggled to extinguish blazes in the North and in the Chouf Mountains east of Beirut. The fires also swept across stretches of forest in Qobeyyat and Andaqt in Northern Lebanon, forcing several schools to shut down. There were no reports of casualties in the fires, which started overnight in the Chouf Mountains southeast of the capital and in areas in the North and the South of the country, the state-run National News Agency said. Ghayath Boustani, an official in the Deir al-Qamar municipality, said strong eastern winds had caused the fires to spread and were making it difficult for firefighters to contain them and for helicopters to reach the area. It was still unclear what had set off the fires in the relatively cool mountain region, he said. Summer fires are common in Lebanon's mountains. About 85 fires started on Tuesday and more than a 100 on Monday, the head of the Lebanese Civil Defense, Brigadier General Darwish Hobeika, told The Daily Star. Hobeika added that investigations were under way to determine whether the fires had been set intentionally. "It's a 95 percent possibility that the fires were caused intentionally by people trying to obtain charcoal as a cheaper substitute for fuel," Hobeika said. An estimated 3,400,000 square meters of woodland were destroyed by fires in the Chouf region and around 200,000 square meters in the North. Hobeika said almost 80 percent of fires had been contained but blazes still raged in the Northern town of Andaqt. Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh requested firefighting planes from Italy on Tuesday. Local media said some residents had been evacuated from their homes. Nine people trying to fight fires in the North had suffered from smoke inhalation, hospital sources said.

The blazes were worst in the area around Deir al-Qamar, a well-preserved Christian town in the Chouf that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Television footage showed several burned cars on roads in the Chouf region and smoke billowing from thick forests. "Fifteen people suffered injuries and burns, while 20 others were treated for respiratory problems" in the Chouf, Deir al-Qamar Municipality official Edy Renno said. "About 10 houses were partly burned in the same region. Most of them were damaged on the rooftops because fires reached them from nearby trees," Renno added. He said several hectares of woods had caught fire in the ancient town of Deir al-Qamar and nearby villages, causing many people to don surgical masks because of the smoke. In valleys around Deir al-Qamar, hundreds of pine trees were burned. Several electricity and telephone poles had collapsed along the town's main road.

Syria The Syrian Directorate of Environment in Dara’ City grand 84 environmental approvals for Industrial and craft installations during the 3red quarter of this year. (Arabic)


UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE DAILY NEWS 2 October 2007 ================================================================

In the headlines: • UN officials roundly condemn attack on AU peacekeepers in Darfur • Secretary-General pledges UN support for inter-Korean summit • UN envoy set to meet with Myanmar‘s top general • Democracy cannot be imposed from outside, Myanmar warns at UN debate • Secretary-General sends team to Côte d‘Ivoire regarding attack on Prime Minister • Guinea-Bissau: drug trafficking threatens consolidation of democracy, says Ban Kimoon • Survivors of South Asia floods must not be forgotten, urge UN and partners • Nepal: world body sets up internal probe after UN vehicle accident kills two • Syrian Foreign Minister says Security Council should condemn Israeli acts • Israel‘s Foreign Minister urges UN to act on its founding principles • Western Sahara dispute at turning point, Morocco tells UN • Eritrea accuses Security Council members of allowing Ethiopia to disregard law

UN officials roundly condemn attack on AU peacekeepers in Darfur 1 October - United Nations officials have joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in strongly condemning this weekend‘s deadly attack on African Union (AU) peacekeepers at a base in Haskinita, South Darfur, which killed nearly a dozen people and wounded many more, with several people also reported missing. Mr. Ban, in a statement released yesterday, characterized the attack as ―shocking and brutal‖ and called ―for the perpetrators to be held fully accountable for this outrageous act.‖ In his statement, AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré stressed that ―this heinous and cowardly act will not deter the determination and commitment of the AU in bringing about lasting peace and alleviating the suffering of the people in Darfur.‖ More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to leave their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 in Darfur among rebel groups, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed. UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today that Joint AU-UN Special Representative Rodolphe Adada is in Haskinita, where an investigation into the incident is under way. The UN and AU Special Envoys to Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, expressed their shock and dismay at the attack, appealing to all parties to the conflict to demonstrate a serious commitment to the peace process and to end hostilities. Martin Luther Agwai, Chairman of the Ceasefire Commission and the Force Commanderdesignate of the soon-to-be deployed AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping force to be known as UNAMID, said that ―despite the casualties and loss of life, we will persevere in our efforts

to keep the fragile peace on the ground while all eyes are set on the negotiation table to ensure the peace is a lasting and sustainable one.‖ He added that it was regrettable that such an incident took place before the start of political negotiations between the Sudanese Government and Darfur‘s rebel groups on 27 October in Tripoli, Libya. The Security Council was briefed today on the incident by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno. In a related development, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that a camp hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) and humanitarian convoys have been attacked in South Darfur. Nearly all localities in Darfur hosting IDPs have witness violence during the past month. Yesterday, acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Tayé-Brook Zerihoun met with the visiting delegation of ―The ―Elders.‖ The group is led by South African Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu and also includes former United States President Jimmy Carter, former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Secretary-General pledges UN support for inter-Korean summit 1 October - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed this week‘s inter-Korean summit as an opportunity to contribute to reconciliation, cooperation and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged any United Nations support that may be needed. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban wished the leaders of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (DPRK) success in ―using this historic occasion to lay a solid foundation for peace and stability‖ on the peninsula at their three-day meeting in the DPRK capital of Pyongyang beginning tomorrow. ―The Secretary-General hopes the summit will lead to increased inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation, as well as promoting co-prosperity,‖ the statement said. ―He further hopes that it will contribute to the progress of the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and advance security cooperation in Northeast Asia. The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance as may be required,‖ it concluded. The Six-Party Talks in Beijing between the two nations, China, Japan, Russia and the United States are currently seeking to work out the details of an agreement reached in February on dismantling the DPRK‘s nuclear weapons facilities. Mr. Ban told the DPRK‘s Permanent Representative to the UN today that he will ―spare no efforts to facilitate such a peace negotiation‖ between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK. ―I sincerely hope that the leaders of both Koreas will make a great historic successful result out of this meeting and I am confident that this summit meeting will pave the groundwork for peace and security of the Korean Peninsula, ultimately leading this path to the reunification of the Korea Peninsula,‖ he said at the start of a meeting with Ambassador Pak Gil Yon.

―At the same time, I sincerely hope that this summit meeting will pave a good groundwork again beyond the Korean Peninsula and we‘ll be able to discuss peace and security in Northeast Asia,‖ he added, asking Mr. Pak to convey his message to DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. This week‘s summit is the result of the ―good atmosphere‖ generated by the Joint Declaration of 2000, Mr. Pak noted. He said he hoped the summit will contribute to ―the promotion of relations between the North and South as well as co-prosperity of the nation, of Korea, as well as the relaxation of tensions in the regional Northeast Asia as well as the world over.‖ Yesterday, Mr. Ban telephoned President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea to convey his best wishes on the eve of the historic summit. The Secretary-General, who has previously served as that country‘s Foreign Minister, voiced his hopes for increased reconciliation and strengthened cooperation between the Koreas. He is scheduled to meet with the DPRK‘s Permanent Representative to the UN today to convey a similar message. UN envoy set to meet with Myanmar’s top general 1 October - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon‘s Special Envoy to Myanmar has been told by authorities that he will be able to meet the South-East Asian nation‘s top general on Tuesday, the United Nations announced today. Ibrahim Gambari, who was dispatched by Mr. Ban to the region last week in response to the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, ―looks forward to meeting Senior General Than Shwe,‖ UN Spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. After arriving in Myanmar on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Gambari spent the evening in the new capital, Naypyitaw. He was received on Sunday by the Acting Prime Minister, Lieutenant-General Thein Sein, along with the Cabinet Ministers for Information and Culture and the Deputy Foreign Minister. Later that afternoon in Yangon, Mr. Gambari met for over an hour with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He also consulted with the UN Country Team and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Myanmar has recently witnessed a wave of peaceful demonstrations, which began last month to protest a surge in fuel prices and more recently have included many of the country‘s monks. In a telephone conversation today, the Secretary-General asked Mr. Gambari ―to call on the Myanmar authorities to cease the repression of peaceful protest, release detainees and to move more credibly and inclusively in the direction of democratic reform, human rights and national reconciliation,‖ Ms. Okabe said. Democracy cannot be imposed from outside, Myanmar warns at UN debate 1 October - The current crisis in Myanmar is the result of a ―neo-colonialist‖ attempt by powerful countries to exploit recent peaceful protests, the country‘s Foreign Minister told

the General Assembly today, adding that ―normalcy has now returned‖ after security forces took action against the demonstrators. Speaking at the Assembly‘s annual high-level debate, U Nyan Win warned other Member States that ―the destiny of each and every country… cannot be imposed from outside‖ and that Myanmar will proceed towards democracy in its own way. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon‘s Special Envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari is slated to meet Senior General Than Shwe, the top general in the Asian nation, tomorrow to discuss the deteriorating situation. The Human Rights Council is also holding a special session on the issue tomorrow amid widespread international calls – including from Mr. Ban and the Security Council – for Myanmar‘s authorities to exercise restraint towards the protesters. The Foreign Minister said today that an ―initial protest of a small group of activists against the rise in fuel prices‖ had then been exploited by political opportunists. ―They sought to turn the situation into a political showdown aided and abetted by some powerful countries. They also took advantage of protests staged initially by a small group of Buddhist clergy demanding apology for maltreatment of fellow monks by local authorities. ―The security personnel exercised utmost restraint and they did not intervene for nearly a month. However, when the mob became unruly and provocative, they were compelled to declare a curfew. Subsequently, when protesters ignored their warnings, they had to take action to restore the situation. Normalcy has now returned in Myanmar.‖ Describing Myanmar as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, the Foreign Minister said the ―Government is fully aware of its responsibility to lead the nation in the process of transformation to a disciplined democracy,‖ and added that a detailed road map has been outlined to try to achieve that goal. ―The international community can best help Myanmar by showing greater understanding. They can begin by refraining from measures which would result in adding fuel to the fire.‖ He also warned against ―neo-colonialist attempts‖ to undermine the country, which he said can only result ―in conflict and untold sufferings‖ for the people of Myanmar. Too often, the Foreign Minister, certain countries conduct media campaigns against a targeted State, ―spread disinformation that the country concerned is committing gross human rights violations,‖ portray the campaign as a fight for democracy and then impose sanctions and provide material support to create unrest in the country. ―I would like to stress that economic sanctions are counterproductive and can only delay the path to democracy,‖ he said. Secretary-General sends team to Côte d’Ivoire regarding attack on Prime Minister 1 October - On the request of the President of Côte d‘Ivoire for an independent international inquiry into the June attack against a plane carrying Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent an exploratory mission to the West African country.

On 29 June, at least four people were killed when unidentified attackers fired a rocket on a plane carrying Mr. Soro as it landed at the airport in Bouaké, situated in the north of Côte d‘Ivoire. The aim of the six-day mission is to determine the nature of the Ivorian authorities‘ request and to discuss options, based on UN principles and practices, pertaining to such investigations, according to a press release issued by the UN Mission in Côte d‘Ivoire (UNOCI). The Security Council had denounced the June attack, saying that it backed the March Ouagadougou agreement, which sets out a series of measures to deal with the political divide in the country, and condemned ―any attempt to destabilize the peace process by force.‖

Guinea-Bissau: drug trafficking threatens consolidation of democracy, says Ban Kimoon 1 October - Despite recent progress in the fields of public finance and cooperation with international finance institutions, the consolidation of democracy in Guinea-Bissau is being impeded by numerous challenges, particularly drug trafficking, Secretary-General Ban Kimoon said in a new report made public today. ―Drug trafficking threatens to subvert the nascent democratization process of GuineaBissau, entrench organized crime and undermine respect for the rule of law,‖ Mr. Ban writes in the report to the Security Council on the latest activities the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS). ―There is no reliable data on drug seizures, the volume of drugs in transit through GuineaBissau or the local consumption of narcotics,‖ he notes. ―However, there is a growing consensus that Guinea-Bissau is a major drug trafficking transit point in the subregion.‖ Anti-aircraft artillery have been deployed to the Bijagos archipelago after reports that unidentified aircraft have been transporting cocaine, and investigations were resumed in September into the alleged involvement of several high-level officials of former Prime Minister Aristides Gomes in the disappearance of nearly 700 kilograms of cocaine seized by authorities. ―Given the country‘s inability to combat this new phenomenon alone, a collective response is required,‖ Mr. Ban writes. ―Vital technical and financial support from regional and international partners is therefore urgently needed. Guinea-Bissau must join forces with regional and international partners to tackle this growing threat through cooperation within law enforcement frameworks.‖ Between July and August, civil society organizations raised concerns over infringements of the freedoms of the press and expression with regard to media reports on drug trafficking. Journalists reporting on the drug trade said that they had been pressured and intimidated, the report says.

On 24 July, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) voiced concern to the Government over the case of two journalists, one of whom was charged with libel after allegedly suggesting that the Navy Chief of Staff may have been linked to drug trafficking. ―These developments marked a reversal in the positive trend of the past three years, during which time Guinea-Bissau was not cited by the press watchdog [Reporters without Borders] as being among those countries with a poor record of respect for freedom of the press,‖ the Secretary-General says. He also appeals for the consolidation of the stability pact signed on 12 March by the country‘s three main political parties – the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea, the Social Renewal Party and the United Social Democratic Party – which led to the swearing in of the Government of Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi. ―I am concerned about the fact that, while the political stability pact continues to provide a platform for a more consensual approach to governance and for Government sustainability, the continuing divisions and rivalry for power among political parties could undermine crucial stabilization efforts and discourage the country‘s partners and potential investors,‖ he says. Survivors of South Asia floods must not be forgotten, urge UN and partners 1 October - Warning that the humanitarian crisis in South Asia could worsen, the United Nations and leading relief agencies are calling for increased resources and attention to the plight of the millions in need of assistance after this summer‘s devastating floods. A new wave of floods in the past few weeks has submerged vast areas that were just beginning to recover from earlier flooding, stranding another 100,000 people in Bangladesh and leaving millions homeless in India, according to a joint statement issued today in Geneva by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and international organizations CARE, World Vision, Save the Children, Oxfam and Mercy Corps. ―Overall, the floods which have struck with devastating effect in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan have now killed more than 4,000 people, and disrupted the lives of more than 66 million – a number larger than the population of France,‖ the statement added. In addition to the loss of life, the severe weather that occurred during this year‘s monsoon season has led to the death of livestock and the destruction of agricultural lands and livelihoods. Stagnant flood water, food shortages and the lack of drinking water are contributing to the outbreak of disease. While the organizations have been carrying out relief efforts over the past several months, they stressed the need for greater resources in order to provide the assistance planned. ―A more forceful international response is necessary to prevent an even greater catastrophe that will have debilitating social consequences for the affected population.‖ UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes emphasized that the international aid community has been a ―steadfast partner‖ in the efforts of the affected Governments to assist their people.

―We need to reinforce those efforts, and to look to the protracted process of recovery for those affected this year and above all to improve disaster risk reduction and preparedness for those who will be affected in the years to come,‖ he said. Nepal: world body sets up internal probe after UN vehicle accident kills two 1 October - The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) has expressed its deep regret at the death of two pedestrians in an accident involving one of its vehicles and said it will set up an investigation into the incident. On Sunday afternoon, an UNMIN vehicle transporting members of the UN verification teams was involved in an accident with three pedestrians some 16 kilometres from Dhangadhi in the country‘s western region. Two pedestrians died and a third was seriously injured and taken to a local hospital. ―I am deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the loss of life and injury,‖ the SecretaryGeneral‘s Special Representative in Nepal Ian Martin said in a statement. Mr. Martin, who is also head of UNMIN, said the Mission ―will do all it can to support the families in their time of grief,‖ and has sent Deputy Special Representative Tamrat Samuel to convey condolences to the families of the deceased. ―UNMIN will of course cooperate with the police in their investigations, and is immediately establishing its own Board of Inquiry in accordance with UN procedures,‖ the statement added. The Mission was established this January to support Nepal‘s peace process by helping to create conditions for the election to take place in a free and fair atmosphere, and to monitor the arms and armies of the former adversaries, the Maoist army and the Nepal Army, who are confined to cantonments and barracks in the lead-up to the election. Syrian Foreign Minister says Security Council should condemn Israeli acts 1 October - The Security Council should condemn a recent Israeli ―act of aggression‖ against Syria, the country‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly in a speech that also urged greater assistance to help Iraqi refugees and non-intervention in Lebanon‘s upcoming presidential elections. ―The latest act of Israeli aggression against Syria on September 6, 2007 is a proof of Israel‘s desire to escalate tension,‖ Walid Al-Moualem told the Assembly‘s annual highlevel debate. ―We reiterate that the failure of the international community, including the Security Council, to condemn this act of aggression would encourage Israel to persist in this hostile pursuit, and lead to an exacerbation of tensions in the region,‖ he said, charging ―some sources in the United States‖ with spreading rumours to justify the act of aggression. ―Syria has the will to make a genuine peace that would recover the usurped rights, return the land to its rightful owners and guarantee peace for all,‖ he said, while the actions of Israel and United States suggested that they do not have the same will.

Regarding the situation in Iraq, he said a solution must begin with national reconciliation and stressed the need for ―the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Iraq, subject to the agreement of the Iraqi Government, because this measure will contribute to curbing the violence.‖ He condemned all terrorist acts committed in Iraq. ―Random allegations that combatants are infiltrating into Iraq through the Syrian-Iraqi border cannot be further from the truth,‖ he said. ―They fail to acknowledge the strict measures that Syria has put in place to control these borders.‖ He said the purpose of these allegations ―is assigning responsibility for the failure of the occupying power to achieve security and stability in Iraq to others.‖ With 1.6 million Iraqi refugees in Syria today, he said the country is ―bearing enormous financial burdens to satisfy their economic needs and provide them with services.‖ The international community, he added, had ―failed to discharge its responsibility toward the Iraqi refugees.‖ Syria had received ―almost negligible‖ assistance to date. ―The occupying power spends hundreds of billions of dollars on military operations inside Iraq but fails to allocate any resources to assist Iraqis who have been forced out of Iraq as a result of occupation and its concomitant repercussions.‖ Addressing the situation in Lebanon, he said Syria had persistently supported solutions that would serve the common interests of the country‘s people. ―We believe that the run-up to the upcoming presidential elections constitutes a good basis for consensus building among the Lebanese to elect a president in accordance with constitutional prerogatives, free from foreign intervention and in a manner that would safeguard Lebanon‘s interest and its Arab relations.‖ Terrorism had spread further since the beginning of the ‗war on terrorism,‘ he said, calling for efforts to address its root causes. In addition, he said the international community must ―firmly distinguish between terrorism and the peoples‘ legitimate right to resist foreign occupation.‖ Israel’s Foreign Minister urges UN to act on its founding principles 1 October - The Foreign Minister of Israel today called on the United Nations to act on its founding principles by ensuring that the work of its Human Rights Council is balanced and by standing up to those who openly espouse violence. ―What is the value, we have to ask, of an Organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect?‖ asked Tzipi Livni in her address to the General Assembly‘s annual high-level debate. ―It is time for the United Nations, and the States of the world, to live up to their promise of never again,‖ she declared. She added that ―it is also time to see this same kind of moral conviction in the Human Rights Council so that it can become a shield for the victims of human rights, not a weapon for its abusers.‖

Israel, she said, ―has never tried to avoid genuine discussion of its human rights record. But so long as the Council maintains its wildly disproportionate focus on Israel, it weakens the UN‘s moral voice, and the price of this blindness is paid by the victims of human rights atrocities in Darfur and Myanmar and throughout the world.‖ The Foreign Minister also issued a call for the development ―at the global level what democracies apply at the national one‖ – namely a universal set of standards for participation in democratic elections. ―We need a universal democratic code that requires that all those seeking the legitimacy of the democratic process earn it by respecting such principles as State monopoly over the lawful use of force, the rejection of racism and violence and the protection of rights of others.‖ She cautioned against ―buying off extremists‖ in search of a short-term fix to instability. ―Instead, groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah must be presented with a clear choice: between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy.‖ The Israeli Foreign Minister said responsible States agree that ―Iran is the most prominent sponsor of terrorism‖ and that it is actively pursuing means to ―wipe a Member State – mine – off the map.‖ She charged that despite this, ―there are still those who, in the name of consensus and engagement, continue to obstruct the urgent steps which are needed to bring Iran‘s sinister ambition to a halt.‖ Despite all the obstacles to the Middle East peace process, she said ―there is a new moment of opportunity, an alliance that favours peace.‖ Guided by shared principles regarding the need to establish two States, living side by side in peace and security, ―the parties can define a common border and turn the two-State vision into a reality,‖ she said. Using the right of reply, Iran‘s representative said Ms. Livni had made ―baseless allegations‖ and distortions against his country to distract the international community from the ―criminal policies and… atrocities‖ carried out by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory and elsewhere in the region. Western Sahara dispute at turning point, Morocco tells UN 1 October - The issue of Western Sahara is witnessing an ―historical turning point,‖ the Foreign Minister of Morocco said today, referring to the Non-Self-Governing Territory as ―Moroccan Sahara‖ and advocating a settlement based on an autonomy proposal put forward by the country‘s Government. Addressing the General Assembly‘s annual high-level debate, Mohamed Benaïssa said the turning point ―results from the dynamic created by the Moroccan Initiative on a Statute of Autonomy,‖ which he said ―has opened promising perspectives for overcoming the stalemate this issue faces at the UN level.‖

He said the initiative ―offers the fundamental elements necessary for a realistic, applicable and final political solution to a regional dispute that hinders the construction of a strong and homogenous Maghreb, interacting with its geopolitical environment.‖ It also ―answers the call of the Security Council since 2004 about the need for finding a political solution to this dispute‖ and ―is in conformity with international law.‖ He said Morocco has taken part in negotiations in ―good faith with a constructive attitude.‖ Morocco is committed ―to advance this process in order to reach a final solution to this dispute within the framework of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as on the basis of the Autonomy Initiative as the ultimate objective of the negotiation process and as an open, flexible and indivisible offer.‖ Earlier today, Algeria‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly that his country hopes for an agreement between Morocco and the Polisario Front that would pave the way for the people of Western Sahara to decide on their future. Mourad Medelci said Western Sahara is the ―last case of decolonization in Africa where the people are still deprived of their right to self-determination enshrined in relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.‖ He said the international community had nourished hopes for a just and lasting solution, notably through the Security Council‘s support in 2003 for the peace plan put forward by James Baker, the former Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General. Algeria welcomed recent developments on the issue, including the adoption of Security Council resolution 1754, which underlined the need to achieve a just and comprehensive solution, Mr. Medelci said, voicing hope that negotiations could lead to an agreement that would allow the people of Western Sahara to pronounce themselves, freely and without constraints, through a self-determination referendum. Eritrea accuses Security Council members of allowing Ethiopia to disregard law 1 October - Ethiopia seems to be planning to renounce the accord that ended its border war with Eritrea so that it can renew hostilities, the latter‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today, accusing some Security Council members of accommodating the interests of Ethiopia despite its repeated breaches of international law. Speaking at the Assembly‘s annual high-level debate at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Osman Saleh said ―the simple truth is that Ethiopia has refused to cooperate‖ since 2002 with the binding decisions of a boundary commission charged with demarcating the border between the two African countries. ―In flagrant breach of international law, the Charter of the UN, and the Algiers Peace Agreement [which ended hostilities in 2000], Ethiopia continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories through military forces,‖ Mr. Saleh said, noting that unlawful Ethiopian settlements have been in place for five years. He said Ethiopia has been able to frustrate the implementation of the boundary commission‘s decision – which were supposed to have been completed in 2003 – ―because of the unwarranted positions of some UN Security Council Member States, and especially

the United States of America, which has regrettably chosen to placate Ethiopia at the expense of international law and the interests of regional peace and security.‖ Mr. Saleh said Eritrea had learned of a letter from the Ethiopian Foreign Minister indicating his country intended to try to renounce the two Algiers Agreements. The Government in Addis Ababa, he said, ―seems to be planning to use its unlawful attempt at renunciation… as a precursor for initiation of renewed hostilities.‖ Saying the boundary commission had reached a crossroads, Mr. Saleh called on the UN and the Security Council to exercise their ―unequivocal legal and moral responsibilities‖ to ensure the final border decision is marked on the ground in accordance with earlier agreements. He added that ―some powers with major interest in the region need to reassess their policies so that the peoples in the region can live in peace and harmony.‖ Using the right of reply, Ethiopia‘s representative said his country was familiar with the ―baseless accusations‖ of Eritrea, which he said was the obstacle to the full implementation of the Algiers Agreements and the boundary commission‘s decision. Eritrea had moved its forces into the temporary security zone (TSZ) created by the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) as a demilitarized area, he said, and restricted the legitimate work of the UN mission. Belgium warns against weakening of UN presence in DR Congo’s troubled east 1 October - The stability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in serious jeopardy from the resumption of fighting in the far east of the country, where the recruitment of child soldiers proceeds unabated, Belgium‘s Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told the General Assembly today. In an address to the annual high-level debate at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. De Gucht warned that the fragile situation in DRC‘s North Kivu province was also creating severe humanitarian problems. ―This is not the time to reduce our efforts,‖ he said, referring to the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission to the country, known as MONUC, which he said has been crucial in re-establishing peace in recent years and setting up democratic institutions after a protracted civil war. ―We urgently need a global solution, including a regional dimension, that will also allow us to make better use of MONUC‘s input. The Congolese authorities are preparing for the local elections, which will strengthen the democratic culture across the country. They need our full support.‖ An estimated 300,000 people have fled their homes in North Kivu since the end of last year because of fighting between Government forces, renegade troops and other armed groups. The violence and displacement has been particularly intense in the last two months. UN humanitarian agencies reported last week that they are stretched to their limits in trying to help the people escaping the fighting.

India calls on UN to play lead role in reform of economic and trade institutions 1 October - A comprehensive overhaul of the world‘s key financial institutions and drastic changes to the rules of international trade are necessary if poor countries are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their target date of 2015, India‘s External Affairs Minister told the General Assembly today. ―The United Nations must play an important role in overseeing the reform of the international financial architecture,‖ Pranab Mukherjee told the annual high-level debate of the Assembly, held at UN Headquarters in New York. ―This should include measures to ensure a greater voice for and participation by developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions,‖ he said, referring to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Mr. Mukherjee said these reforms must be taken to their ―logical conclusion if the credibility of these institutions is to be enhanced,‖ noting that progress towards the MDGs – a series of eight anti-poverty targets which world leaders agreed at a UN summit in 2000 to work towards over the next 15 years – has been tardy. ―Early and substantive progress‖ in the current Doha round of international trade negotiations is also essential, he said, urging special attention be paid to the needs and interests of subsistence farmers in poor States. ―The overarching principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries remains a categorical imperative.‖ The External Affairs Minister voiced alarm at the ―regrettable inversion of global resource flows‖ in recent years, with a net outflow of resources from developing countries. Overall, official development assistance (ODA) from the industrialized world fell markedly last year, he said, and remains well below the target measure of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). The ODA that is being sent is ―primarily being used to finance debt relief. That this is happening after so many years of liberalization and globalization highlights our collective failure. Perhaps we should be considering mechanisms such as an international debt commission to redress the problem of developing country debt.‖ Mr. Mukherjee also pressed the case for reform of the Security Council, saying it was now time for intergovernmental negotiations on the issue to begin on the latest proposals for altering the 15-member body‘s membership and working methods. Countries must enforce indictments of war crimes court, Liechtenstein tells UN 1 October - The creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been ―the crowning success‖ of recent progress towards the rule of law and global justice, Liechtenstein‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today, but that achievement must be backed up by arrests of all the people indicted by the Court.

Rita Kieber-Beck called on the UN and all Member States to cooperate with the ICC to ensure that the arrests are made and the indictees are brought to The Hague in the Netherlands, where the Court is based, for trial. So far the ICC has issued arrest warrants for two suspects accused of war crimes in Darfur and five leaders of the rebel Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda, but none have been arrested. The Darfur indictees are Ahmed Muhammad Harun, currently the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb. The LRA indictees are the leader Joseph Kony, and commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya. Thomas Lubanga, a rebel militia leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was arrested last year, while the Prosecutor‘s Office has begun to probe of allegations of killings and rapes in the Central African Republic (CAR). Ms. Kieber-Beck said the Security Council‘s decision to refer the situation in Darfur – where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003 – ―was a landmark decision, both legally and politically. ―It was a strong message by the Security Council that the international community does not accept impunity for the most serious crimes under international law.‖ But the Foreign Minister stressed that this message needs to be backed by enforcement action on the suspects who remain at large. Pacific island nations spotlight perils of climate change during addresses to UN 1 October - Developing countries must be allowed to make voluntary commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under any new global agreement to deal with the effects of climate change, the Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu told the General Assembly today. Tavau Teii, who is also his country‘s Natural Resources and Environment Minister, said the international summit being held in Bali, Indonesia, in December, ―will be very important‖ in determining how and whether the world can respond successfully to the impact of global warming. Any agreement emerging from the Bali summit should reconfirm the importance of the Kyoto Protocol concerning greenhouse gas emissions and encourage States Parties to make new and substantial emissions reductions, he said at the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly. Mr. Teii said newly industrialized countries and States with economies in transition should be encouraged to take on pledges to reduce their emissions. A new negotiation process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) should also be agreed, he said, to set up a legal agreement allowing developing countries to make voluntary commitments to reduce their emissions.

―Under this arrangement we envisage that developing countries will be able to take voluntary commitments to reduce emissions from the energy, transport and forest sectors. These commitments would be linked to appropriate incentive mechanisms.‖ Mr. Teii also said it was important that any reductions in emissions from deforestation should not come at the expense of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Vanuatu‘s Foreign Minister George Andre Wells said a rapid reduction in gas emissions must take place within the next 10 to 15 years. ―It is a reality that, if it is not addressed urgently, will have irreversible effects on the agriculture and tourism sectors which constitute the core pillars of development of many of our island economies.‖ Mr. Wells said the effect of climate change – such as rising sea levels – on agriculture production, water quality and infrastructure development was of critical importance to his nation. ―For many small island States and least developed countries (LDCs) meeting the challenges of climate change will only add additional stress to their financial, human and institutional capacities.‖ Mongolia‘s Foreign Minister Enkhbold Nyamaa told the high-level debate that climate change was already having an impact on nations large and small, coastal and landlocked – like his own. Desertification has become rampant in Mongolia, he said, with pastures supporting the semi-nomadic lifestyle of many locals dwindling and becoming more fragile. Extreme weather conditions have also become more common in recent years, particularly droughts and the phenomenon known as ―dzud,‖ a cold winter with heavy snowfalls. Any agreements that succeeds or supplants the Kyoto Protocol ―should be flexible and diverse, taking into consideration circumstances in each country,‖ Mr. Nyamaa stressed. ―It must include all the major emitters and achieve compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth by utilizing advances in technologies to the greatest extent possible.‖ UN role should be to inculcate ‘culture of democracy’ – Lesotho 1 October - The United Nations should strive ―to aggressively inculcate the culture of democracy in all nations‖ and discourage losing parties from using unlawful means to contest election results, Lesotho‘s Deputy Prime Minister told the General Assembly today. Archibald Lesao Lehohla told the annual high-level debate at the Assembly that all too frequently in poor countries the losing parties resort to violence and other methods to dispute the results. ―This is despite the fact that there are always lawful mechanisms for challenging the election results,‖ he said. ―This is one area where we see the role of the United Nations, as the universal institution, with the necessary capacity, to assist requesting Member States to reverse these trends.‖

Mr. Lehohla stressed that ―just as the United Nations plays a critical role in world economic development, it should see it as its role to aggressively inculcate the culture of democracy in all nations. In particular it must help the developing countries to fight the culture of impunity‖ around violent responses to the results of ballots. ―Victors must learn to accept victory with humility and magnanimity and losers to accept defeat with grace. In this way, the post-election period can be devoted to development, with all sides joining hands in the collective national effort.‖ Mr. Lehohla also called on the UN to adopt an instrument that introduces sanctions when a Member State has an unconstitutional change of government. Solomon Islands urges greater UN involvement in regional peace operations 1 October - The United Nations needs to become more involved in the management of regional peacekeeping operations in trouble spots or the lead countries in those missions will inevitably use them for the benefit of their own economic interests, the Solomon Islands‘ Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today. Patteson Oti said his Government has begun a parliamentary review of the legislative basis for the continuing presence in his country of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which was deployed in 2003 to try to quell violent unrest after years of simmering ethnic tensions. RAMSI comprises police, military and civilian personnel from Australia, New Zealand and 13 Pacific island nations. While the visiting forces deserve credit for restoring law and order, Mr. Oti said, the underlying social and cultural causes of tensions in the Solomon Islands have not been addressed. ―Moreover, those who pay the piper call the tune… Howsoever dressed and rationalized, intervention and occupation allow ‗assisting‘ nations to spend and earn substantial revenue for their supporting businesses and industries,‖ he said. ―Mine is too nationalistic a Government to become captive to the fortunes which justify our perpetual retention under siege. My Prime Minister, fellow Government ministers and parliamentarians, as well as our Attorney-General, remained unmoved by Australian resistance to our attempts to reclaim our sovereignty and independence.‖ Mr. Oti said the Solomon Islands‘ experience with ―the Australian-designed ‗cooperative intervention‘ package demonstrates the need for greater UN involvement in the leadership of future regional peacekeeping operations.‖ Noting his multiple-entry visitor visa to Australia was cancelled suddenly last year on the grounds that he was ―a risk to the health, safety and good order of the Australian community,‖ the Foreign Minister said it was an illustration of ―international anxiety, insecurity and paranoia‖ about the threat of terrorism. ―One would have to admit that is an incredible justification for excluding democratically elected leaders of neighbouring countries unknown for breeding terrorists,‖ he said.

Multinational mission needed for breakaway region in Moldova, official tells UN 1 October - A multinational civil mission with an international mandate is needed to resolve the separatist conflict in Moldova‘s Transdniestrian region, the country‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today. Speaking at the annual high-level debate, Andrei Stratan said the ―conflict remains a continuous obstacle in promoting reforms and ensuring social and economic development of our country.‖ Transdniestria has been a breakaway region on Moldova‘s eastern flank following fighting between Moldovan and separatist forces in the early 1990s, when the country gained its independence. Mr. Stratan said the negotiation process has remained stalled since April last year ―because of the rigid and non-constructive position of the separatist leaders supported from outside of Moldova,‖ adding that ―this is serving as a screen for promoting some political and mafia interests foreign to the people of this region.‖ He said ―continuous violation of the fundamental human rights in the Transdniestrian region and the inefficiency of the existing peacekeeping mechanism‖ meant a multinational civil mission with an international mandate was necessary. Mr. Stratan also reiterated Moldova‘s view that the Russian troops remaining on Moldovan territory must withdraw, according to obligations assumed in a 1999 agreement, to ―create the necessary premises for ratifying and applying the Adapted Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.‖ Central African Republic welcomes UN mission but urges more aid 1 October - A senior official from the Central African Republic (CAR) today welcomed the recent establishment of a United Nations-mandated, multidimensional presence in the country but said it must be accompanied by assistance to bolster national capacity there. Addressing the General Assembly‘s annual high-level debate, CAR Minister for Foreign Affairs Côme Zoumara hailed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1778. Unanimously passed on 25 September, that text set up a mission to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in CAR, Chad and neighbouring Sudan. At the same time, he stressed that the operation, to be known as MINURCAT, must be accompanied by real support to reinforce the CAR‘s own institutional capacities. The conflict in Darfur, as well as the presence of rebels, armed groups and roadblocks and the proliferation of light arms, has combined to foster a ―generalized and permanent‖ insecurity in the region, he said. As a result, CAR has faced recurrent crises which chronically tear at the country‘s economic fabric, exacerbating conditions of poverty endured by the country‘s people, he said.

On the general economic situation, he said CAR was working to develop its economy in a manner consistent with the principles of sustainable development, engaging in regional cooperation toward that end. The CAR is open to private and public investments from other States, he said, thanking those which have responded positively, including France, the United States, China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, and a number of countries in the South. Thanking also international financial institutions such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he appealed to them to ―turn a new page on the environment and economies of poor countries.‖ Niger’s Foreign Minister sees central role for UN Economic and Social Council 1 October - The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has a decisive role to play in promoting development as a central United Nations organ, the Foreign Minister of Niger told the General Assembly today. Welcoming a decision taken by the Assembly on ECOSOC at its last session, Aïchatou Mindaoudou said it entrusted the Council with tasks including policy coordination, the formulation of proposals relating to economic and social development, and the fulfilment of global mandates, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of timebound anti-poverty targets for slashing a host of global ills. ―We welcome the fact that ECOSOC has already, without delay, begun to carry out these functions at its substantive session in Geneva this past July,‖ she said. Jean Ping, the Foreign Minister of Gabon, called for action on the recommendations of the High-level Panel on System-Wide Coherence, which was set up to foster greater effectiveness of the world body‘s operations in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. He noted that intergovernmental consultations on ―this important issue‖ have already begun. ―The intense activity of the General Assembly these past few years testifies well to its central role as the representative principal organ charged with orienting the work of the Organization,‖ he said. At the same time, he urged greater efforts to achieve reform o the Security Council, emphasizing the importance of achieving this ―for the future of our Organization.‖ Cambodia‘s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hor Namhong, echoed the call to strengthen the role of ECOSOC, saying this should serve as the prelude to reform the General Assembly and the Security Council. ―There is no doubt that the current status quo does not correspond with the challenges posed by the world today,‖ the Foreign Minister said, adding that any reforms – especially of the Security Council – must ensure equitable representation for developed and developing countries.

Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Laos, stressed to the Assembly that reform of the UN will not be complete until the Security Council is restructured ―into a more legitimate, representative, democratic and effective organ.‖ Dr. Sisoulith also called for the wider UN to be made more inclusive and transparent so that the world body can meet the ―daunting challenges that lie ahead,‖ particularly in the fields of economic development and peace and security. At UN debate, Uganda calls for stepped-up pressure on northern rebels 1 October - Warning that peace talks ―cannot go on forever,‖ Uganda‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today that the international community must step up the pressure on the rebel Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA) to meet its commitments under an agreement aimed at ending hostilities in the long-running civil war in the country‘s north. Sam K. Kutesa told the Assembly‘s annual high-level debate, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, that the LRA has not met any of the terms of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities that it signed with the Ugandan Government in August 2006. ―For example, it is stipulated that LRA forces assemble at Ri-Kwangba in southern Sudan,‖ Mr. Kutesa said. ―They have, however, not done this. They are still camped in Garamba National Park in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo].‖ The Foreign Minister said the international community must pressure the LRA to assemble at Ri-Kwangba and to put a time frame on the peace talks. ―As we inch towards a comprehensive peace agreement, international support and understanding is required to balance the need for durable peace and stability on one hand and the imperative for justice on the other.‖ The conflict between the Government and the LRA, which has raged since the mid-1980s, has killed more than 100,000 people and forced 2 million others to flee their homes. The LRA has also become notorious for abducting as many as 25,000 children and using them as fighters and porters. The children were often subject to extreme violence shortly after abduction, with many girls allocated to officers in a form of institutional rape. In October 2005 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever arrest warrants against five senior members of the LRA: the leader Joseph Kony, and commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya. In his address today, Mr. Kutesa also called on the Security Council to reinforce the mandate and resources of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to enable it to work more effectively with the Congolese national armed forces ―to totally eradicate the threat of negative forces operating on the DRC territory.‖ Oman sees positive signs on Middle East peace, official tells UN 1 October - There are positive signs pointing to a common understanding on the need for a comprehensive and just settlement to the Middle East conflict, a senior official from Oman today told the General Assembly today, urging the international community to advance the cause. ―We sense that there are positive indicators, reflected by a new conviction at the level of political leadership and society in Israel, on the necessity to reach a peaceful solution, based

on the resolutions of the United Nations, in order to end decades of conflict in the Middle East region,‖ said Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad AlBusaidi, the Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry of the Sultanate of Oman, as the Assembly continued its annual high-level debate. He emphasized the longstanding position of Arab countries that peace with Israel requires the withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 borders. ―We call upon the international community, especially the superpowers, to support and advanced such positive convictions within Israel and the Arab countries for the sake of achieving peace.‖ He said Israeli withdrawal, the establishment of a Palestinian State, and the withdrawal of Israel from Syrian Golan Heights and Shabaa farms ―will extend security and stability in the Middle East region and will encourage cooperation between the countries and people of the region.‖ Abubakr Al-Qirbi, Foreign Minister of Yemen, decried the violence being suffered by the Palestinian people. While in the past, the Arabs have been criticized for not providing a vision, they have since presented a peace initiative which has been ―totally ignored‖ by Israel and the international community, he said, even though it contains all elements needed for a comprehensive solution. Looking to an international conference, he voiced hope that the United States would keep to its promise regarding the establishment of a Palestinian State, which must have Jerusalem as its capital. He stressed that all parties should participate in the international conference being proposed. He called on the Palestinians to return to dialogue, unite their positions, abide by the Arab peace initiative, and ―reorganize the Palestinian house‖ bringing together different factions in the interests of unity. Concerning Iraq, he called for the international community to stand with the elected Iraqi Government as it works to end sectarian violence, control the militias and end the spread of anarchy by terrorists. ―Each and all‖ must stop interfering into the internal affairs of Iraq and put an end to the occupation and reject any plans to divide Iraq, he said. Libya proposes summit meeting on Security Council reform 1 October - The international community should convene a summit in the coming years on reform of the Security Council, bringing together national leaders from across the world to break the impasse on the issue, a senior Libyan official told the General Assembly today. Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Secretary of the General People‘s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, said the UN has achieved its goals in a number of areas on the reform agenda, but there has been an absence of progress towards reforming the Security Council despite intensive consultations. A number of proposals were realistic, based on the principles of the sovereign equality of all nations, but other ideas ―involve confirming control by the powerful of the organs of the United Nations and the concept that those with privileges in the Security Council hold fast to those privileges, while rejecting any active role for other actors in this respect,‖ he told the Assembly‘s annual high-level debate.

That attitude, he said, ―cannot lead to any true reform which will contribute to the realization of the purposes embodied in the UN Charter.‖ Given the impasse, he proposed convening a meeting of top national leaders to address the issue. ―There is an urgent need for a new world summit conference to push forward the reform process, bringing to an end the work which we began two years ago,‖ he said. The summit should be held at the UN Office at Geneva within the framework of the next session of the General Assembly in 2008 ―dedicated to the reform process and the expansion of the Security Council.‖ Holding the meting in Geneva ―will provide the opportunity for all world leaders to attend, to present constructive proposals and to participate in the decision-making process regarding this thorny issue – an issue with which the entire international community is concerned,‖ he said. Efforts to reform the Security Council should involve consideration of a new formula for permanent membership under which it would be awarded ―to geographical blocs and not to specific countries,‖ he said. The African Union, he added, should be granted permanent membership on the Council ―with all the privileges enjoyed by other permanent members, since Africa is the only continent which has no representative among the permanent members.‖ He said Libya supports the position adopted at the 2005 African Union Summit, held in Sirte, where countries agreed that the continent should be granted five non-permanent seats and two permanent seats. UN system of human rights rapporteurs must continue, Hungary says 1 October - The system of using United Nations special rapporteurs and independent experts to investigate the human rights situation around the world gives ―voice to the voiceless,‖ Hungary‘s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today as she called for the network of monitors to be allowed to continue their work. Kinga Göncz said the rapporteurs and experts – several dozen unpaid individuals who report to the UN Human Rights Council – have provided ―effective action for the benefit of victims of human rights abuses‖ as they probe rights problems relating to specific nations or issues. ―We are firmly convinced that both thematic and country-specific mandates remain valid in the face of the numerous human rights violations still occurring on a daily basis,‖ Ms. Göncz told the Assembly‘s annual high-level debate. ―In this regard, we concur with the Secretary-General, who emphasized the need to consider all situations of possible human rights violations on an equal footing.‖ Ms. Göncz added that a particular country was not absolved from its international human rights obligations just because a special rapporteur was not assigned to it. The Foreign Minister welcomed the consensus around the Council‘s ―universal periodic review‖ mechanism, which allows for all countries, regardless of size or status, to have their human rights record scrutinized regularly.

But for this mechanism to be truly meaningful, ―we have to build a credible and robust mechanism,‖ she said, with contributions to the review from treaty bodies, special procedures and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Ms. Göncz also praised the Council‘s recent decision to establish a forum on minority issues, voicing confidence that it will ―provide a useful platform for dialogue and exchange of views between minorities, governments and other stakeholders on issues related to national or ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities.‖ Nepal on schedule to hold polls next month, Foreign Minister tells UN 1 October - The Nepalese Government is determined to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly on time next month, its Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today, voicing hope that a ―new Nepal‖ would soon emerge from the Himalayan country‘s ongoing peace process. Addressing the annual high-level debate at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Sahana Pradhan said the Government was engaged in dialogue with the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) to ensure that the polls are held as scheduled on 22 November. Mrs. Pradhan said the country‘s independent Election Commission was making the necessary preparations to conduct the balloting and she invited other countries and organizations to send observers to monitor the polls. ―We are committed to bring the peace process to a successful conclusion,‖ she said, acknowledging that it has faced serious challenges in recent months. The polls were originally slated to take place in mid-June but had to be postponed due to technical problems and the onset of the monsoon season. Mrs. Pradhan noted that the Government has concluded agreements with the leaders of the Madhesi and Janajati movement recently that will allow those communities ―a stronger voice in the political dispensation and a more inclusive representation in the Constituent Assembly.‖ An estimated 13,000 people were killed during the decade-long civil conflict that came to a formal end when the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord late last year, and the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is now in place to help shepherd the country through the transition process. The Foreign Minister said the Nepalese had voiced their desire ―for an inclusive, democratic and participatory restructuring of the State‖ that is also peaceful. ―I have every confidence that the peace process will reap numerous dividends to the Nepalese people to create a ‗new Nepal.‘ We expect generous assistance from our development partners in this process, including in Nepal‘s reconstruction and development needs.‖ She added that the Government was also determined to end the climate of impunity that pervaded during Nepal‘s armed conflict, and it is carrying out plans to set up a truth and reconciliation agreement as mandated under the peace accord.

Religious freedom under threat in many countries, Holy See says at UN debate 1 October - The right to religious freedom continues to be ignored and even violated in many countries, the Holy See told the General Assembly‘s annual high-level debate today, warning that such behaviour is often the pretext for other forms of discrimination. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See‘s Relations with States, said dialogue among peoples of different religions and cultures was no longer an option, but ―something indispensable for peace and for the renewal of international life.‖ He welcomed the holding of the High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace, a two-day meeting starting later this week at UN Headquarters. General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim is convening the event. ―The Holy See hopes that the increased interest on the part of non-religious bodies and institutions will contribute to a greater respect for religious freedom everywhere,‖ the Archbishop said. ―Today, the right to religious freedom continues to be disregarded and even violated in certain places. Such violation has become a pretext for various other forms of discrimination.‖ Archbishop Mamberti said non-believers were not the only ones who needed to contribute to a climate of greater religious tolerance. ―If religious leaders and believers expect States and societies to respect them and acknowledge their religions to be truly instruments of peace, they themselves must respect religious freedom; they must show that they are pledged to promote peace and shun violence; they must demonstrate that religion is not and must not become a pretext for conflict; and they must declare without ambiguity that to promote violence or to wage war in the name of religion is a blatant contradiction.‖ Somalia: nearly 600 police recruits graduate from UNDP-backed programme 1 October - Nearly 600 Somali police recruits – including 50 women officers – have graduated from a training programme sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed at creating a professional civilian police force to work towards restoring peace, gain the community‘s trust and champion human rights. This initiative is one component of UNDP‘s efforts – which also include developing oversight mechanisms for the police by establishing Police Advisory Committees – to support the war-torn country‘s police and bolster the rule of law and security. ―The training you have all successfully completed emphasized human rights principles as a core component of policing,‖ UNDP Country Director Bruno Lemarquis said at last week‘s graduation ceremony. He underscored the importance of recognizing that the police are responsible and accountable to the Somali people, and said he expects the graduates to strive to uphold human rights principles every day. Representatives from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and State authorities attended the event at Armo Police Training Academy in Puntland, in the country‘s northeast.

Recruits for the programme were selected through an inclusive process taking balanced regional representation into account. This is the second group of police recruits to graduate from Armo Academy. UN issues ‘age-friendly cities’ guide to both help and tap value of older people 1 October - The United Nations today marked the International Day of Older Persons with appeals for sustainable pension programmes and the release of the first guide on agefriendly cities, recommending a range of measures from well-lit sidewalks to bus drivers‘ waiting until senior citizens are seated before starting off. ―Sobering statistics show that some 80 per cent of the world‘s population are not covered by social protection in old age,‖ Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message marking the Day. ―Finding ways to provide economic support for a growing number of older persons, through sustainable pension programmes and new social protection measures, is a daunting task, particularly in developing countries.‖ ―Our views on what it means to be old are changing all the time. Where older persons were sometimes seen as a burden on society, they are now increasingly recognized as an asset that can and should be tapped,‖ he added, noting that population ageing brings significant economic and social challenges for developed and developing countries alike. The growing proportion of older people in the global population is predicted to double from 11 per cent in 2006 to 22 per cent in 2050, with the trend occurring at a much faster rate in the developing world where the number is about twice that in developed countries. By 2050, some 80 per cent of older people will be living in less developed regions. In Asia and the Pacific alone, the rapidly growing number of older persons is projected to reach 733 million in 2025 and 1.3 billion in 2050 from 410 million this year – 15 per cent of the total population in 2025 and nearly 25 per cent by 2050 from over 10 per cent now. With more than half of the global population already urban dwellers, a proportion that is expected to reach three out of every five people by 2030, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) today released ―Global age-friendly cities: a guide,‖ based on consultations with older people in 33 cities in 22 countries on key physical, social and services needs. ―Age-friendly cities benefit people of all ages, not just older people, and WHO is committed to disseminating and promoting the implementation of the guide worldwide,‖ WHO Assistant Director-General for Family and Community Health Daisy Mafubelu said of the consultations carried out in Istanbul, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai and Tokyo among other centres. Guide recommendations include: sufficient well-situated public benches and clean public toilets accessible for people with disabilities; well-maintained, well-lit sidewalks; public buildings fully accessible to people with disabilities; and bus drivers who wait until older people are seated before starting off, and priority seating on buses. Other steps include enough reserved parking spots for people with disabilities; housing integrated in the community that accommodates changing needs and abilities as people grow older; friendly, personalized service and information instead of automated answering services; easy-to-read information in plain language; public and commercial services and

stores in neighbourhoods close to where people live rather than concentrated outside the city; and a civic culture that respects and includes older persons. ―Older people are concentrated in cities and will become even more so,‖ WHO Ageing and Life Course Programme Director Alex Kalache said. ―Today around 75 per cent of all older people living in the developed world are urban dwellers – expected to increase to 80 per cent in 2015. More spectacularly, in developing countries the number of older people in cities will increase from 56 million in 2000 to over 908 million in 2050.‖ Meanwhile, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) announced it will bring together representatives from 25 regional countries to a high-level meeting in Macao, China, from 9 to 11 October to review progress made in response to the challenges of population ageing. ―Now is the time to address the challenges and opportunities of ageing and empower older persons,‖ UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Thoraya Obaid said in a message marking the Day. ―UNFPA urges all countries to recognize the great potential that the elderly offer and to tap into their wisdom, strength, courage and resourcefulness. ―By instituting policies and programmes that support the well-being of persons of all ages, Governments, civil society and the private sector can create a society for all,‖ she added. From wood pellets to green taxes, UN highlights tools to fight global warming 1 October - A United Nations-backed pilot project in Costa Rica to convert large stockpiles of sawdust and other polluting residues from wood industries into a profitable ―green‖ energy source offers new prospects for the industries in developing countries to combat global warming, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. The project, converting the residue into wood pellets that can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels, is just one scheme being highlighted this week following last month‘s summit at UN Headquarters in New York on climate change. ―Costa Rica‘s pioneer project will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to sustainable development,‖ FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry Jan Heino said. The FAO is working with the Government to provide technical assistance. In many countries, surplus wood residues from sawmills occupy large amounts of space and often pollute local rivers. Their decay leads to emissions of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Moreover, the residues can ignite spontaneously and thus present a fire risk. Thus the project has a two-fold benefit: avoiding methane emissions and substituting fossil fuels with renewable wood pellets. On the other side of the world, in Cambodia, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is holding a seminar to help the country to adopt development policies which protect the environment without limiting economic growth. The five-day workshop in Sihanoukville is studying tools and approaches for the Government to introduce a green tax and budget reforms which take into account environmental costs, develop sustainable infrastructure such as public transport, promote cleaner production and more sustainable consumption patterns and develop eco-efficiency indicators.

The seminar is the second in a series of five aimed at helping Asia-Pacific countries which have requested aid in designing and implementing Green Growth policies. The first took place in Kazakhstan. These countries have acknowledged that the current focus on measuring development in terms of gross domestic product growth is not enough, and there is a critical need to change the mindset and embrace measures which take quality of life and well-being into consideration. In a related development the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today that New Zealand, one of the first countries to pledge a carbon-neutral future, will be the main host of World Environment Day 2008. Carbon emissions are a main source of global warming. The focus of the global 2008 celebrations will be on solutions and opportunities for countries, companies and communities to ―Kick the habit‖ and de-carbonize their economies and life-styles. Measures range from greater energy efficiency in buildings and appliances, including light bulbs, to a switch to cleaner and renewable forms of electricity generation and transport systems. The focus will also be put on the role of forests in countering rises in greenhouse gases. An estimated 20 per cent of emissions contributing to climate change globally are a result of deforestation. ―New Zealand is among a pioneer group of countries committed to accelerating a transition to a low carbon and carbon-neutral economy,‖ UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner said. ―What we need is action to slow, stop and then to reverse the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions. A transition to a low carbon economy is essential to achieving this.‖ Finally in Davos, Switzerland, the global challenge of climate change and action by the tourism sector in both adaptation of destinations and mitigation of its own impacts are the focus of a four-day meeting organized UNEP, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and their partners. The increasingly important travel and tourism sector, totalling 846 million international arrivals and some 4 billion domestic trips in 2006, is both a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a new UN report to be released later this year. According to the report, carbon dioxide emissions from the sector‘s transport, accommodation and other activities are estimated to account for between 4 and 6 per cent of total emissions and, without mitigation measures, could grow by 150 per cent in the next 30 years. ―Climate change is real, its effects are proven and the tourism sector has to play its part in contributing to the solution of the challenges it poses,‖ UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said. On World Habitat Day, Ban Ki-moon calls for safer, greener cities

1 October - With two-thirds of the human race expected to be urban dwellers by 2030, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked World Habitat Day with a call to make cities around the world safer, greener and more inclusive. ―We are at the dawn of a new urban era,‖ Mr. Ban stated, noting that half of the world‘s population now live in towns and cities. Recalling this year‘s theme for the Day – ―a safe city is a just city‖ – he said surveys show that crime in urban areas is on the rise everywhere. ―And fear of crime is one of the most influential factors shaping our daily lives. In too many cities around the world, it dictates where we choose to live, shop, work and play,‖ he stated. ―This is bad for human progress and for economic development – especially in a world where for the first time the number of urban slum dwellers is set to top the one billion mark.‖ Mr. Ban urged greater investment in children and young people, especially those at risk of becoming marginalized and turning to crime as an escape from the harsh realities of poverty and deprivation. Noting that those living in slums and poor urban areas are particularly vulnerable as they lack security of tenure, utilities and health services, and are most at risk to disasters wrought by climate change, the Secretary-General encouraged city leaders to plan better for crime reduction, security of tenure and climate change mitigation. He also called for stepping up efforts to be more energy-conscious. ―Our cities are our biggest polluters, and require big, innovative thinking commensurate with their size.‖ Iraqi vaccinators fight against enormous odds with UN help in anti-polio campaign 1 October - United Nations agencies are helping over 20,000 Iraqi mobile polio vaccinators in ―a titanic effort‖ to reach as many as 5 million children under the age of five despite the violence raging in the strife-torn country and the added difficulty of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. ―Delivering polio vaccine in Iraq's violent heartland has never been harder,‖ the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) said in its latest update on the campaign. ―Vaccinators working in central Iraq, where violence and suspicion are at their most intense, risk their lives to knock on doors and ask to immunize children. ―Others have to make the long and difficult trek out to temporary camps where displaced families eke out a precarious existence,‖ it added. ―But vaccinators know that they carry the hopes and fears of Iraq‘s polio eradication programme on their shoulders.‖ UNICEF has provided transport for many vaccination teams in an effort to improve their security, as well as carriers to protect the vaccine vials. It has also supported a massive communication and community mobilization effort to lobby support from local leaders and families. With more than 1 million Iraqis forced to flee their homes since early 2006, close-knit communities are now filled with strangers, their names and faces unknown to the local

health teams. But no matter where these children live – whether in cities or remote rural areas, in conflict zones or temporary camps – vaccinators bring the polio vaccine right to their doorsteps, with help from UNICEF and the UN World Health Organization (WHO). The campaign has a simple objective: to administer two drops of oral vaccine to every eligible child. ―Iraq's vaccinators are truly some of the world‘s greatest champions for children, and among the least recognized,‖ UNICEF Iraq's Chief of Health Alexander Malyavin said. ―Their courage alone has kept Iraq polio-free since 2000, despite the chaos brought by conflict and insecurity. To watch them work during a polio campaign is to understand what it means to challenge enormous odds – and beat them.‖ Succeeding against the odds has become a tradition for Iraq‘s polio campaigns, which have continued for the past seven years, through sanctions and war, to maintain the country‘s precious polio-free status. The last round in December 2006 reached over 90 per cent of its intended target, immunizing almost 4.4 million children. But concerns are high that as insecurity traps children in ―hot zones‖ or forces them to flee, the most vulnerable will become harder and harder to reach. During this round, vaccinators are will make special efforts to include recently displaced children, many of whom have not been counted on the tally sheets vaccinators usually rely on to keep track of their progress. ―These children are probably the most vulnerable in Iraq today, and we‘re determined to ensure they don‘t miss out," Dr. Malyavin said. ―The goal of the polio campaigns is every child, not just those that are easy to reach.‖ Iraqi families appreciate that determination. One father put his feelings into words as his son received the two drops needed to remain polio-free for life. ―God bless the vaccinators,‖ he said. ―They are doing their very best for the protection of our children.‖ In Baghdad‘s Karrada district, experienced vaccinators are now struggling with impossible burdens. ―Huge numbers of displaced families have moved into this area because of violence in their neighbourhoods,‖ said Alyaa Ahmed Aziz, manager of the local primary health care centre. ―You can imagine the load on the vaccinators who were already required to cover a large number of children living here Karrada even before the conflict.‖ Secretary-General hails Jewish feast, Muslim fast at Sukkot celebration 1 October - The convergence of the Jewish festival of Sukkot and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan with the United Nations General Assembly‘s 62nd session is a ―particularly auspicious‖ symbol of how people of different cultures and religions can be brought together, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a Sukkot celebration. ―For me, there could be no better way of celebrating the opening of the United Nations General Assembly – an occasion on which we come together not only as nations, but as human beings united in our yearning for peace,‖ he told guests, including Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, at last night‘s Celebration of Understanding and Harmony between the Peoples and Faiths of the World. ―This year, Sukkot falls at a particularly auspicious time, as we also approach the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. This reminds us that men and women of faith around the world

can be brought together, rather than separated, by their convictions and their belief in something greater than themselves.‖ Mr. Ban cited last week‘s meeting at UN Headquarters in New York of a ministerial meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN-backed initiative to build bridges and promote dialogue between cultures and religions. ―I was delighted to see how membership of the Alliance had nearly doubled since the inaugural meeting a year ago,‖ he said. ―This represents a growing resolve among nations to work together to heal divides in our world. I draw strength from that resolve, at a time when so many of the challenges we face are aggravated by distrust and hostility. ―And I draw strength from gatherings such as yours. Looking around this tabernacle today, and at your faces illuminated by the celebration of the Israelites‘ exodus and bountiful harvest, I feel that we are all united: we are united in our choice of dialogue before confrontation; united in our pursuit of engagement before alienation; united in our embrace of harmony and understanding.‖ UN refugee chief calls for new strategies to tackle global displacement 1 October - With millions of people on the move around the world, the top United Nations refugee official today called for new strategies to tackle the causes, scale and complexity of global displacement and migration. ―The present century is a time of human displacement,‖ UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres said at the opening of the weeklong annual meeting of the agency‘s governing Executive Committee. ―With each economic opportunity and departing vessel, with every calamity and conflict, the 21st century is being marked by people on the move.‖ After several years of decline, the number of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution rose last year and continues to climb in 2007, according to UNHCR. At the end of last year, the agency was caring for 32.9 million people, including nearly 10 million refugees, 13 million people displaced internally within their own countries and 5.8 million stateless people. Mr. Guterres told delegates gathered in Geneva‘s Palais des Nations that there were several reasons for the dramatic growth in migration, including poverty and the pursuit of a better standard of living. Safeguarding refugees and others in need of protection means that ―we must recognize the mixed nature of many present-day population flows.‖ He highlighted the need for targeted strategies and innovative solutions to address the increasingly interlinked factors causing people to move. ―Many people move simply to avoid dying of hunger,‖ he noted. ―When leaving is not an option but a necessity, this is more than poverty. On the other hand, natural disasters occur more frequently and are of greater magnitude and devastating impact.‖ It iscrucial to examine the reasons, scale and trends of present-day displacement, Mr. Guterres said, adding that ―it involves much more than understanding refugee flight.‖ He also noted that the more than 4 million uprooted Iraqis in and outside their country constitute the biggest single group of displaced people and largest ever population of urban refugees. Of the more than 2 million outside Iraq, most are in cities in Jordan and Syria.

The High Commissioner also provided an overview of UNHCR's ongoing internal reforms, including budget restructuring, the out-posting of more than 120 posts from Geneva and other efforts aimed at strengthening the agency‘s capacity in the field. Also addressing today‘s opening session, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes predicted that the demands for humanitarian relief were likely to grow with traditional reasons for flight – conflict and persecution – compounded by new dynamics such as environmental degradation and climate change. Mr. Holmes called on donors to support UNHCR, emphasizing the vital role the agency was playing in the humanitarian sphere. ―A healthy and vigorous UNHCR is fundamental to a healthy and vigorous international humanitarian system,‖ he said. The UNHCR Executive Committee reviews and approves the agency‘s programmes and budget, advises on protection issues and discusses a wide range of other topics. Special sessions will focus on issues such as Iraq, refugee protection and mixed migration. UNESCO honours projects in Belgium and US for using ICT to enhance learning 1 October - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized the Claroline open source eLearning platform project, based in Belgium, and Curriki, a global education community based in the United States, for their use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education. The two projects were selected as the winners of this year‘s King Hamad Bin Isa AlKhalifa Prize for the Use of ICT in Education by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, on the recommendation of an international jury and from among 68 projects in 51 countries and one non-governmental organization (NGO). Launched in 2005, the prize rewards the projects and best practices of individuals, institutions and NGOs in using ICT to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance. Mr. Matsuura will present the prize – a diploma and $25,000 each – to the winners at a ceremony at UNESCO‘s Paris headquarters on 19 December. Honourable mentions will also be presented to Sésamath Project – Association Sésamath (France), a comprehensive mathematics curriculum honoured for its high quality, and to Enciclomedia – Instituto Latinoamericano de la Comunicación Educativa (Mexico), an easy-to-use platform installed in 145,000 primary school classrooms that provides digital multimedia resources. Also today, the agency designated Belizean musician and singer Andy Palacio as a UNESCO Artist for Peace. One of his country‘s most popular musicians, Mr. Palacio is also one of the most prominent defenders of the regional Garifuna culture and traditions. With his band the Garifuna Collective he has created a unique musical style known as Punta Rock, based on Garifuna rhythms. Mr. Palacio also sings in the Garifuna language,

which blends many linguistic influences and which UNESCO declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001. Ban Ki-moon voices outrage at deadly attacks on AU peacekeepers in Darfur 30 September - Condemning in the strongest possible terms the recent attack in Haskanita, South Darfur, which killed some 10 African Union (AU) peacekeepers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for those responsible to be brought to justice for the "outrageous" act. According to AU reports, personnel from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) have also been wounded and many are missing following yesterday's "shocking and brutal assault," Mr. Ban said in a statement. He offered his condolences to the families of those who were killed, and called "on all parties to recommit as a matter of the highest priority to a peaceful resolution to the conflict as the Government and rebel movements prepare for peace talks in Libya on 27 October and as the African Union and United Nations prepare to deploy a joint peace operation in Darfur." The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) also decried the incident, which it characterized as "unprovoked and barbaric," by an armed group. "UNMIS is shocked at the unprecedented scale of the attack," it noted in a statement issued today. The Mission also reiterated that "attacks on AMIS constitute a serious violation of international law and relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the African Union and urges all concerned to assist in identifying the perpetrators so they could be held accountable without delay." Kosovo's status process can be concluded soon, top UN envoy says 30 September - Following direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina, the SecretaryGeneral's top envoy to Kosovo expressed optimism that the status process of the Serbian province - which the world body has run since western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid ethnic fighting - can be concluded soon. Direct negotiations between both sides, the first to be led by the Troika comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States, were held on Friday in New York. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Joachim Rucker yesterday said he welcomed the "New York Declaration" of the two parties reaffirming their commitment to engage seriously until the end of the process on 10 December. "In this context, it is very important that the parties also reaffirmed their commitment to avoid provocations and refrain from any activities or statements that might jeopardize the security situation," Mr. Rucker said. "It is too early to say what the final outcome of negotiations will be. However, it is significant that the Contact Group reaffirmed its Guiding Principles: that there be no

partition of Kosovo, no union with another state, no return to the pre-1999 status, and that any settlement needs to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo." On the eve of this first round of direct talks under the Troika-led negotiations, Contact Group Ministers said resolving of Kosovo's status quickly is crucial to the region's stability and security of the region and to Europe as a whole. They reiterated their endorsement of the Mr. Ban's assessment that the status quo is cannot be sustained and is damaging for the Serbian province's political, social and economic development. "It is also very significant that the Ministers stated that any settlement needs to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo," said Mr. Rucker. They also voiced their appreciation for the work of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) for their contributions towards a multi-ethnic, peaceful and democratic society. "I wish to reassure all people of Kosovo that these efforts will continue," the Special Representative said. Myanmar: UN to resume delivering food in Mandalay District 30 September - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it has been assured by Myanmar that authorities will lift restrictions on the movement of the agency's food aid. WFP Country Director and Representative Chris Kaye confirmed that the Mandalay Area Military Commander on Saturday issued the transport permit to allow for the delivery of nearly 200 metric tons of food to Lashio in northern Myanmar. WFP has therefore scheduled food deliveries to WFP operational areas to resume next week. Mandalay's local authorities halted all movements of food supplies out of the Division earlier this week, obstructing WFP's operations in northern Shan and the Central Dry Zone, both of which depend on food deliveries from Mandalay. Disturbances in the port town of Sittwe have also thwarted food movement to the agency's operational areas in north Rakhine State. Civil protests led by Buddhist monks in the South-East Asian nation for 11 consecutive days were concentrated mostly in the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay, but the demonstrators' stand-off with the Government and its response had consequences in other areas where WFP distributes food assistance. Operating in Myanmar in collaboration with 22 UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, WFP provides much-needed food for vulnerable persons in the country, including HIV/AIDS and TB patients under treatment, primary school children in marginalized areas of the country and communities in former poppy-farming areas. A programme supporting the nutrition status of mothers and children addresses acute malnutrition rates that prevail in several operational areas.

Afghanistan: top UN envoy speaks out against deadly army bus attack in Kabul 29 September - The top United Nations envoy in Afghanistan expressed his outrage over the terrible loss of life from morning's army bus attack in capital Kabul, which is among deadliest the city has seen. "We don't at this stage know the final numbers for dead and wounded but it is clear this attack is among the worst that Kabul has seen," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Tom Koenigs said in a statement. The attack, which took place on a busy city street, was undoubtedly aimed at terrorizing the population, he noted. "Those responsible are evidently incapable of offering anything beyond savagery and murder. They must be made to know they will not prevail." Liberia: UN mission hands rehabilitated school for Christian and Muslim over to community 29 September - The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) handed over a school it rehabilitated for some 1,500 Christian and Muslin children to a community on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia. "This school is a symbol of the progress that Liberia is making and of UNMIL's engagement to support the Government in meeting the needs of its citizens," the SecretaryGeneral's Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance Jordan Ryan said at the hand-over ceremony in Sawebeh. Stressing the significance of education for the development of Liberia, he said that "it is now time for the Ministry of Education takes the responsibility to make sure the school works well." Liberian Education Minister Joseph Korto stressed that ensuring young people go to school is one of his Government's top priorities as the West African nation seeks to recover from a civil war that killed almost 150,000 people and sent 850,000 more fleeing across its borders. "Access to educational opportunities is a right and not a privilege," he noted. "Whenever UNMIL and our development partners assist in providing additional classrooms, it is a joyful day for the Ministry of Education, the Government and villages like Sawegbeh." He underscored the uniqueness of the Sawegbeh English and Arabic Grammar School project because it is the first with additional amenities to meet the Islamic community's needs. "The Muslim community is an integral part of Liberia and deserves to be educated like any other," he stated. Thanking the Mission for its efforts, Elder John Mills of Sawegbeh, where former internally displaced persons (IDPs) have resettled, said that his people "will always remember the good work UNMIL has done in our community."

As part of UNMIL's Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) initiative, the project aims to assist both Christian and Muslim children in the community. The Mission's Pakistani engineers supervised the construction of the school, while the community provided labour. Over the past four years, UNMIL, through its QIPs, has spent more than $1.5 million on nearly 120 educational institutions across Liberia with the objective of providing improved facilities for the countryâ??s young people. UNMIL was established in September 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace process; protect UN staff, facilities and civilians; bolster humanitarian and human rights activities; and assist in national security reform, including national police training and formation of a new, restructured military. =================================================================

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL 2 October 2007 ================================================================= The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today‘s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President. Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Good afternoon, all. ** Myanmar First, on Myanmar, the Secretary-General‘s Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, met for over one hour today with Senior General Than Shwe in Naypyitaw, as well as with other members of the senior leadership, to discuss the current situation in Myanmar. Following that meeting, Mr. Gambari returned to Yangon and met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for the second time during his mission. That meeting lasted about 45 minutes. Mr. Gambari has now left Myanmar and is presently in Singapore. He will return to New York to report to the Secretary-General on the outcome of his mission by the end of this week. From Geneva, the Human Rights Council‘s Special Session on Myanmar has just adopted by consensus a resolution on Myanmar. According to the text, the Human Rights Council strongly deplores the continued violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar. It also urges Myanmar to release without delay those arrested and detained as a result of the recent repression and to release all political detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi. In her opening statement to the Session, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said the peaceful protests and the shocking response by the Myanmar authorities were only the most recent manifestations of the repression of fundamental rights and freedoms taking place over nearly 20 years in that country. The Myanmar authorities should no longer expect that their self-imposed isolation would shield them from accountability, she added. We have upstairs her full remarks, as well as the resolution that was just adopted. ** Sudan On Sudan, the Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, met with AMIS Force Commander General Martin Luther Agwai on the situation in Haskanita following the attack on the AMIS team. He assured the

General that both the United Nations and the African Union stand firm in their resolve to help bring peace to Darfur, and in carrying out their assignment as contained in resolution 1769. Mr. Adada added that both the UN Secretary-General and AU Commission Chairman remain committed to supporting the people of Darfur in achieving peace and security. The UN Mission in Sudan also reports further attacks in North, South and West Darfur. In North Darfur, two armed men entered a compound housing an international nongovernmental organization in El Fasher on Sunday and threatened to shoot the staff if they did not hand them the keys of one of the vehicles. The attackers left with the vehicle. The staff was not harmed. Then in South Darfur, three armed men shot and killed a resident at the Hassa Hissa camp housing internally displaced persons and fled the scene. And two armed men approached a UN vehicle in Nyala yesterday and drove away with it after they fired warning shots in the air, forced the driver out and beat him up. Local police arrested two suspects on the same day, and they are currently investigating that incident. In West Darfur yesterday, meanwhile, three armed men attempted to hijack an NGO vehicle in El Geneina. They shot at the vehicle and wounded the driver, who is in critical condition and is being treated in El Geneina Hospital. Turning to South Sudan, the UN Refugee Agency says it is facing a critical funding shortfall for its refugee return and reintegration programmes in South Sudan. The funding situation is so dire, UNHCR says, that it may not be able to resume transporting refugees back home from camps in neighbouring countries once the rainy season ends. The lack of funds has forced UNHCR to stop buying some of the basic items it normally distributes to returnees, such as blankets, soap, mosquito nets and cooking sets. The Refugee Agency says it urgently needs $11 million to keep the operation going. There‘s more information on the UNHCR briefing upstairs. **Security Council The Security Council this morning held consultations in which it approved its programme of work for October. The Council President for October, Ambassador Leslie Kojo Christian of Ghana, will brief you on the Council‘s work over the coming month shortly after this briefing, as soon as the Council consultations are over. The Security Council yesterday afternoon held consultations on Sudan, with UnderSecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefing Council members on the weekend attack against African Union Mission troops in Darfur.

Council members discussed a possible statement on that attack. This morning, Council members are continuing to consider a draft presidential statement. ** Côte d‘Ivoire On Côte d‘Ivoire, the Operation in Côte d‘Ivoire confirmed yesterday in a press release that a United Nations exploratory mission is now in that country. This comes as a preliminary response to a request from Côte d‘Ivoire asking for the start of an independent international inquiry into the June 2007 attack on a plane carrying Prime Minister Guillaume Soro. The exploratory mission will be in Côte d‘Ivoire for six days. The purpose of its visit is to ascertain the nature of Côte d‘Ivoire‘s request and to discuss possible options in accordance with the UN‘s practices and principles with regard to such inquiries. Copies of the press release are available upstairs. **Democratic Republic of Congo United Nations humanitarian workers in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo say they have regained access to internally displaced persons and resumed their work. And that‘s thanks due to a recent lull in the fighting between rebel and Government forces. Families in need are now receiving basic supplies from UN and nongovernmental agencies, and UN peacekeepers are on hand to secure various IDP sites in Goma, the provincial capital. Meanwhile, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees will soon resume IDP registration in an effort to improve accuracy in the figures the UN keeps on beneficiaries of its humanitarian work in the region. To date, some 300,000 people have been displaced by armed battles between Government and rebel forces in North Kivu. **Non-Violence Day The Secretary-General this morning addressed the informal General Assembly plenary meeting on the first commemoration of the International Day of Non-Violence. He reminded delegates that the UN had been created in the hope that humanity could not only end wars, it could eventually make them unnecessary. Highlighting the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi -- whose birthday was today and who was one of his personal heroes -- the Secretary-General said he hoped today would help spread Gandhi‘s message to an ever wider audience, and hasten a time when every day was a day without violence. Also marking the occasion, the Deputy Secretary-General today participated in a round-table discussion chaired by India‘s Sonia Gandhi. In her remarks, the Deputy Secretary-General said our violent and unsettled times cried out for Mahatma Gandhi‘s healing touch. We have both sets of remarks upstairs. ** Cambodia

On Cambodia, in the interests of transparency and fairness, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have released on its website the findings of the special audits of the Cambodian side of the Extraordinary Chambers, which was commissioned by UNDP in early 2007, together with Cambodian responses. Among its other conclusions, the audit report finds that some national staff recruited for the Chambers did not meet the minimum requirements specified in the vacancy announcements, and that recruitment was not always performed in a transparent, competitive and objective manner. We have copies of the audit report, together with Cambodian responses, in my office and the report can also be found on the Chambers‘ website. **Press Conference Today At approximately 12:30 p.m., Ambassador Leslie Kojo Christian of Ghana will brief you in his capacity as the President of the Security Council for the month of October, on the Council‘s programme of work for the month. It will be, of course, after Janos‘ briefing. This is all I have for you. **Questions and Answers Question: Did the Secretary-General push, if I can say forward, with the request of the Croatian President Stjepan Mesić? Because he somehow promised him that he would make that letter from the Prime Minister of Croatia a matter available for all delegates of the Member States here during this General Assembly? Did the letter appear on the racks? Is it available? Spokesperson: I will check on that for you. Question: That will also be available for journalists? Spokesperson: If it‘s on the racks it will, of course, be available for everyone. I have to find out how it was circulated and if it was circulated and when. Question: And any additional comments of the Secretary-General that strongly expressed dissatisfaction by the Croatian Government of the ruling of the verdict of the ICTY on the three Serb officers in regard to the massacres in Vukovar in 1991? Spokesperson: We don‘t have any further comments on that, Erol. Nothing further. Yes, Mr. Abbadi? Question: Michèle, as you indicated, Mr. Gambari will soon be returning to New York to report to the Secretary-General on his mission. Will he also be reporting to the Security Council? Spokesperson: He will probably be reporting to the Security Council. You can ask the question to the President of the Council when he comes a little later. We don‘t know exactly when it will be. Probably Friday. But you can ask him. He is expected to report to the Secretary-General on Thursday when he comes in.

Question: There‘s a report in the Independent in London saying that UNMIS had tried to evacuate the African Union troops that were under attack, but the Government in Khartoum didn‘t allow them to do so? Can the UN confirm or deny that? Spokesperson: Well, we were not specifically asked. According to our Mission, to UNMIS, it says it was not asked by AMIS to launch an evacuation operation and the information reported by the Independent is not true. UNMIS did, however, put some of its air assets on standby in case a request is made by AMIS for assistance. So this is what we have. Question: There was no, from the Khartoum Government, there was no negative saying, there was no saying they couldn‘t have gone if they wanted to go? Spokesperson: No. Question: Michèle, will the Secretary-General meet with the Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, when he is going to be here on 15 or 16 October? Spokesperson: I‘ll check on that for you. [The correspondent was later informed that the Secretary-General‘s Executive Office had not received any request for such a meeting.] Question: Darfur, the situation as (inaudible) the Secretary-General has been there: Does the Secretary-General believe the situation is now worse than ever before in Darfur, Sudan? What kind of action is he seeking from the Security Council for the hybrid force to do? Spokesperson: Well, as you know, the Security Council is examining the situation right now and is discussing the situation and is discussing a statement to put out on the issue. In terms of what the Secretary-General‘s concerns are, of course, as you know, he has been very strong about what happened. There is going to be a meeting of troopcontributing countries at the end of this week. We don‘t have an exact time yet, and we will have some high senior officials from DPKO to come to brief you on that. Question: Michèle, also on Iraq, I wanted to find out, since the situation in Iraq is somewhat stabilizing is the Secretary-General considering re-entering the United Nations in Iraq? I mean, do you think the United Nations will be in Iraq again? Is there any talks going on about that, or is there any consideration given to that? Since the United States has been asking for more of the UN involvement? Spokesperson: I think there is a continued assessment of the issue. The issue of security is being continually assessed and as soon as it is possible, I think it will be done. But for the time being, right now, it is still being assessed. Question: Perhaps I missed this, I‘m sorry if I did, but did you say that Sonia Gandhi will be available to brief us as well? Spokesperson: No, I didn‘t say that. I don‘t know.

Question: But there‘s a chance she might be? Spokesperson: She is here, that‘s all I can say. Question: Yes, thank you, Michèle. With regard to the negotiations that are ongoing between North and South Korea, I wondered if there was any more information about the meeting that was held yesterday with the Secretary-General and Pak Gil Yon from the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea? Spokesperson: Well, you can have a readout of the meeting from my office anytime. We actually talked about it yesterday. Question: You talked about the introduction to the meeting. But I wondered if after the meeting there was something. Spokesperson: No, there was nothing added onto that. Question: Okay, and the second question is, did the Secretary-General try to call Kim Jong-il? Did he try to telephone him the way he did Roh Moo-hyun? There were different ways of dealing with each of them. I was wondering if there was a reason for that, if he would try to telephone the head of DPRK the way he did the head of South Korea. Spokesperson: I‘ll check which additional phone calls he made. Question: Do you know if the issue of the visas to get the auditors into North Korea, if that came up in the meeting? And if not there, what is the status of that request to get them in? Spokesperson: That hasn‘t come up. When they met, the issue was the summit. The issue was not specifically visas for auditors. Question: The DSG has written saying it should happen. I guess I‘m just wondering, has it happened or what‘s going to happen with actually getting the auditors there? Spokesperson: I‘ll get an update for you on that. Question: Michèle, has any African State threatened to withdraw its contingents from the peacekeeping forces in Darfur, in Sudan, as a result of the attack on the peacekeepers there? Spokesperson: Well, you should know more about it at the end of the week, as I said, because right after the troop-contributing countries‘ meeting, you are going to have a briefing on this, on the status of the deployment, where we are, how many countries are contributing troops. You will get all this information at the end of this week. Question: What I‘m asking is about the threat by certain States, or any particular State, of withdrawing their forces from the region as the result of the attack on…

Spokesperson: Well, I‘m saying you will know the answer to that question whenever the troop-contributing countries meet, so we‘ll know which ones are withdrawing or threatening to withdraw. Question: I want to know, you tell about the report about the Refugee Agency, does it have enough money. It‘s the second time you do in the last two weeks. You know if the UN is going to do something? Because they need money for the people in Sudan. I don‘t know if the UN or Secretary-General is going to do something about that. Spokesperson: Well, it‘s not going to be the Secretary-General. As you know, UNHCR has a periodic call to Member States for contributions to specific programmes and what they are saying is that they are short of funds for this programme for southern Sudan. So I think they are going to keep on calling on Member States; those are funded by Member States. The Secretary-General has no direct impact on this. Thank you very much. And in a few minutes, right after Janos, you have the President of the Security Council for this month. Thank you. Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President Thank you, Michèle. Thank you very much. Good afternoon, good to see you all. **Day of Non-Violence Let me continue with the Day of Non-violence. On the International Day of NonViolence, we also have a statement attributable to the Spokesman of the President of the General Assembly. It reads as follows: ―The President of the General Assembly welcomes the first commemoration of the International Day of Non-Violence and calls on all peace-loving people to use the occasion of this day to spread the message that non-violence is the only way to reach sustainable solutions to political and social challenges. Regrettably, recent terrorist acts and the use of force against non-violent protests continue to underline the importance and urgency of this appeal. ―The President notes that non-violence, tolerance, respect for human rights, democracy, development and diversity are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. He invites all Member States, United Nations organizations, regional and non-governmental bodies and individuals to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence by spreading this message.‖ And continuing with the International Day of Non-Violence, let me note that this morning the Assembly held its first observance of the Day. From 9:30 to 10 in the form of an informal meeting of the plenary in the Assembly Hall. The observance of the Day on 2 October is based on resolution 61/271, which is adopted during the sixty-first session of the Assembly on 27 June 2007. The Day, 2 October, is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, regarded by many as the pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. Let me also flag for you, for those of you more interested in the concept and events of the

International Day of Non-Violence, there‘s a special website devoted just to that, which is The President of the Assembly addressed the General Assembly along with the Secretary-General, the Foreign Minister of South Africa and Sonia Gandhi as the Chair of the United Progressive Alliance, in that informal meeting commemorating Non-Violence Day. The President of the Assembly, in his address to the informal meeting, drew attention to the words of Mahatma Gandhi, quoting him as saying that: ―Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man‖. The President went on to stress Gandhi‘s message -- the rejection of violence had as much relevance now as it did during his lifetime. This political philosophy is based on universal human principles that transcend history, nations and cultures. Gandhi believed that intolerance was the worst form of violence; that without genuine tolerance -- of the kind that springs from within -- no dialogue can have a lasting impact. The President pointed out that this message underlined the importance of having various initiatives within the United Nations to promote dialogue among cultures, religions and faiths, as well as to strengthen mutual understanding between nations. And tying into that, as I already flagged, one such key initiative is the two-day High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace that will follow the general debate on Thursday and Friday. And I‘ll have all the details for you on that tomorrow at the noon briefing. **General Debate Talking about the general debate, it is set to conclude tomorrow but it will be tomorrow early afternoon. Up to this morning we had, for those of you interested in statistics, 147 Member States and 2 Observers address the debate, the two Observers being Palestine and the Holy See. Of those taking the floor we had 67 Heads of State and 25 Heads of Government -- and for those looking for the gender aspects -- 13 women were among the speakers. That‘s all I have for you. Questions? Please. **Questions and Answers Question: There‘s a linkage between the International Day of Peace and the International Day of Non-Violence. Can they be linked together? Spokesperson: I‘m sure they can, because if you look at the resolution that created the International Day of Peace -- which, as you may remember, is on 21 September, originally it used to be, I think, on every second or third Tuesday of September, linked to the beginning of the General Assembly, but then six years ago the Members States decided to have it on 21 September every year -- in that resolution there is talk of peace and also talk of non-violence. But I think the approach is, that with the International Day of Peace, you‘re looking at more the ceasefire aspects, which is what that resolution stressed. In

other words, looking at non-violence as far as States are concerned. I think in the case of the Day of Non-Violence today, from the perspective of Gandhi, it is more on the level of the individual and interaction among individuals as well. At least, this is how I see it. Question: You mean the International Day of Non-Violence would exclude violence committed by States? Spokesperson: No, I would not think so. No, no, no. It also involves that as well, definitely. Question: I have a question. Do you know how many Foreign Ministers attended or spoke? Spokesperson: The GA is still going on. I will try to get a hold of the statistics for you. I do have some kind of tentative number and according to that, we have on the summary list 68 for Foreign Ministers but let‘s wait until the debate concludes. Question: As a follow-up, I wonder how this compares with last year. Spokesperson: That I don‘t have. Question: Could you maybe look at that at some point when you have the time? Spokesperson: I‘ll give it a try. Yes, definitely. Question: We heard, as of late yesterday, the Secretary-General has made 129 bilateral meetings with these various attendees. So, inevitably, it‘s not that it‘s a competition with the President of the GA, but how, do you keep a tab that way? What‘s the number? Spokesperson: Of course, we do. It‘s a little over 50 at the moment. Matthew, I did want to mention, because you were asking about the technical glitch with the microphone on Friday evening, it was purely a technical glitch, no political ―messages‖ there. So, therefore, when you mentioned yesterday the connection with the Capital Master Plan, yes, you can draw a connection there. Question: I don‘t know if this is more or less serious, but in the address today, the representative of Canada came out with this idea that there should be a new UN envoy to Afghanistan. I‘m wondering, do these types of proposals, do they then become part of the General Assembly‘s agenda? Does it get put on? Or he said maybe the Council will consider it. I‘m asking about that one in particular because it‘s high profile. They said in advance he‘d say it; he did say it. Now what? Spokesperson: In the case of Afghanistan, it is definitely an issue on the agenda of the Security Council. So, from that perspective, the Canadian initiative can be seen through that. As regards agenda items of the Assembly, those are set. As I mentioned to you yesterday, the President of the Assembly and his team are definitely paying attention to all statements, all proposals, all initiatives, and are making note of them. They are looking at all the different ideas that Member States express when it comes to the basic theme of ―responding to climate change‖ and, of course, the priority themes of climate change,

countering terrorism, financing for development, Millennium Development Goals and management reform, and within that also Security Council reform, which some of you were interested in. The idea is to see how Member States are voicing their views on those issues. And as I said yesterday, the bilateral meetings are also revolving around those themes. So it is based on all of that that the President of the Assembly will chart his course of action over the coming year. That‘ll also be very much taken into consideration. But let‘s not forget that the whole idea of the theme for the debate and the priority issues were already a result of previous negotiations, or informal talks with Member States, on an individual basis or in the form of regional groups. So that was already a good sounding out process as to where Member States want to go with this session. Question: In addition to the proposals and ideas submitted by delegations to the general debate, is the President of the Assembly in contact with the Secretary-General and the President of the Council regarding the reform of the Security Council? Spokesperson: I‘m not so sure that in the course of these two weeks, when we have the general debate, that there is contact on this issue. But do not forget that on 19 September, the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly had a working lunch and already discussed some of these issues. Also, the two of them very often attend the same meetings, so there is plenty of possibility for them to interact, but I would think that it‘ll be more once the general debate is over, after that, that such discussions take place and are, of course, on a regular basis, to see how to coordinate action to see how to work together, especially on some of the key issues that we‘ve mentioned: climate change, definitely, the road to Bali and what to do afterwards. I think you remember we talked about this, it was in the President‘s speech as well, that he‘s planning to work with the Secretary-General on the road map issue that will be devised as far as the climate change challenge, up to Kyoto and beyond, taking into consideration a larger concept as regards addressing climate change, not just the environmental aspects, but the whole broader security, development, economics, human rights, rule of law, etc. aspects. So that‘s definitely there to come, this kind of coordination. Question: Two questions. First, I want to congratulate you. The statements of the people who speak are online, not only in the verbal but also in a written form, and I was very happy to see that and I don‘t know if everybody knows about that but it was very nice to find that. Spokesperson: Thank you very much. I will definitely pass that on to the colleagues who‘ve been working on that and making sure that this happens. Thank you. Question: The second question. I was looking at the booklet of the programme for the future, and then I‘ve been listening to some of the statements being made, and what struck me was that the booklets seem to say that this was a time for the presidents, or the people who would speak for each country, to make their general statements. It was an open discussion. And yet there are themes and priorities. I wonder about the intersection of that because I notice that some have more general statements and some address the themes and priorities. Is there some sense of which is higher, or why there‘s the themes and yet the general statements seem to be what was more mandated from years before?

Spokesperson: I understand the question. I think we touched on this yesterday and maybe even some of the days before, as regards these statements. The basic idea with the general debate is, that for those 7, 5 or 10 days, depending on how long it lasts, it gives an occasion for Member States to come here on the highest level and at the United Nations, address and be addressed, again, at the highest level of representation of the other Member States, and thereby use this forum to basically state what they think, what to them is the most important challenge of the day, what they feel is important to them, what they feel is important collectively. Now, ideally, of course, what happens is that -- and this is what this President is definitely trying to do, and this is what I think the whole revitalization of the General Assembly is all about -- is to try to have this general debate focused a little bit. This President has been saying that he would like to see this general debate move away from a series of monologues to some sort of dialogue. Now, in order to have a dialogue, you need to frame the debate to some extent without, of course, putting it into a straightjacket. That is why the idea of coming up with themes has been introduced, again, as part of the revitalization of the General Assembly. So having themes is not necessarily new to this session. It has been there in the previous few sessions. This year it is responding to climate change. And as I said, the priorities, again, are also to assist Member States as regards what issues to touch upon. But again, it goes back to what I just mentioned to Matthew. The identification of the priorities and also the setting of the theme is not something that is dreamt up in a vacuum. It is the result of previous consultations. So it is based on what Member States feel covers their key issues. It is important because whatever they say on those issues, it is, of course, a message to the whole session, message to the other Member States and their representation, and of course it gives an indication to the President, the team and the whole Organization, of what are the ideas, what are the commitments, what kind of political will is there to move on and in which direction on these issues. So in that way, this debate is getting to be more of a chart-setting exercise rather than making it a case whereby Member States come here and voice their views, which, in itself, is still within the whole spirit of what this Organization is about. But if you can somewhat channel that in a direction that actually leads somewhere and gives indications as to where countries want to go with these issues, that‘s very good. One additional thing, of course, is that what we‘re talking about is currently 192 or so addresses in the general debate in the Assembly in the course of seven days. You‘re trying to limit speeches as much as possible; the idea was to have it around 15 minutes. Most of the speakers, of course, overstepped that. But what we‘re talking about is to have a Head of State, Head of Government or a Foreign Minister come here and address these major issues and challenges and whatever they think are their own key issues, in roughly 20 or 25 minutes. So it is better to give that some kind of a focus rather than have it go in all directions. Question: The fact that the debate could be restructured in such a way through a cluster of themes, etc., does not mean that there is a dialogue. Why can‘t the President go back to some ideas that were used in previous summits, the round-table discussions by Heads of States, which will bring up dialogue issue?

Spokesperson: I think it has to do with the fact that the general debate will continue to remain as such in the sense of a major opening event for each session and for the highest level of participation from Member States, to give their keynote address. But as I tried to say, at the same time the idea is to somehow focus it in the form of making Member States concentrate on certain issues that then later on will be taken forward. Forward in the sense of what you‘re referring to with thematic debates, because as part of the revitalization process there is this idea of holding thematic debates with the idea of having round tables, discussing issues and engaging in dialogue -- for example, on some of the issues we have talked about here, which would be financing for development or the MDGs, you will see, as we progress throughout the year. But I doubt the general debate as such, as an institutionalized and somewhat still very much formal addressing of Member States, is going to go in the direction of round tables and interactive dialogue. That I don‘t see. Summits, thematic debate, yes. The general debate will remain, though. But as I said, the idea is still to try to push the debate into a direction where it is at least a little more focused. And what you will see tomorrow, as the debate closes, the Assembly President is going to give concluding remarks and those concluding remarks will touch upon some of the issues mentioned in the debate by the Member States. So in a way, that‘s kind of like a dialogue. If no more questions, then thank you very much for you attention. * *** *

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