Nigerian Tribune - -- United Nations Environment Programme _UNEP by abstraks

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									                            THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                               Wednesday, 20 December 2006

      UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

     UN to Intensify Africa Climate Change Monitoring (Reuters)
     Countries take action on protected areas and sustainable tourism (Nigerian Tribune)
     Cape Flats aquifer in pollution threat (The Independent)

                                     Other Environment News

     No dramatic U-turn seen on US climate change policy (Reuters)
      Norway tackles toxic war grave (BBC News)
     In Antarctica, by Law, Extreme Recycling Prevails (Reuters)
      Ministers know emissions trading is a red herring and won't work (The Guardian)
     Climate change clash in Africa (Christian Science Monitor)
     Some European birds delay migration due to warmth (Reuters)
     The Real Inconvienient Truth About Global Warming: Skeptics Have Valid Arguments
      (Capitalism Magazine)
     Inevitable global warming a challenge for agriculture (Southern Highlands)
     Asian pollution twice the global average (SciDev.Net)
     52 new species discovered on Borneo (International Herald Tribune)

                         Environmental News from the UNEP Regions

     ROA
     ROWA
     ROAP

                                          Other UN News

     UN Daily News of 19 December 2006
     S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 19 December 2006 (Not available)

                  Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
    Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692,,
Reuters: UN to Intensify Africa Climate Change Monitoring
SWITZERLAND: December 20, 2006

GENEVA - Global warming is likely to have a profound impact on Africa, but the
continent lacks the means to detect and adapt to shifting patterns of drought, floods and
disease, United Nations' environmental agencies said on Tuesday.

The Global Climate Observing System, a partnership of UN agencies including the World
Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said more
funds were needed to prepare the vast continent for weather extremes linked to "human-
induced climate change".
"There are big holes in climate observing networks in Africa," William Westermeyer of the
Global Climate Observing System told a news briefing.
To help reverse the trend, he said United Nations agencies and regional groups such as the
African Union had agreed to intensify monitoring of global warming trends in Africa in a new
initiative called ClimDev Africa.
Britain has pledged up to US$20 million in start-up funds for ClimDev Africa, which will seek
to improve climate observation and risk management in eight African countries, and then seek
to expand to about half of the continent, Westermeyer said.
The initiative, whose other partners are the International Council for Science and UNESCO's
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, would require about US$200 million over 10
Most scientists now agree that world average temperatures may rise by between two and six
degrees Celsius this century due to emissions of so-called greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide
from burning fossil fuels for power and transport.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001 cited evidence that most
of the warming observed over the last 50 years was "attributable to human activities".

Nigerian Tribune:Countries take action on protected areas and sustainable tourism
19 December 2006

The Carpathian Convention‘s seven member Governments have adopted a wide-ranging
programme of work containing immediate measures for promoting environment-friendly
tourism and a regional network of protected areas.
The programme was adopted by the first conference for the Framework Convention on the
Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which brings together the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine. The three-day
meeting concludes here today.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment
Programme, said: ―The Carpathians of Central and Eastern Europe are among the world‘s
richest regions in terms of biodiversity and pristine landscapes. As such they hold huge
potential for nature- and wildlife-based tourism‖.
―Today‘s decisions recognize this potential and the importance of managing these natural and
cultural assets sustainably. I have no doubt that the Carpathians, like the Alps, the Himalayas
and the Rocky Mountains, will become world famous for walking, hiking, climbing, wildlife
watching, photography and similar leisure pursuits,‖ he added.
―Sustainable tourism can draw investors and tourists to rural communities. This will assist in
conserving and developing livelihoods that until now have been largely isolated from the
European economy,‖ said Mr. Steiner, whose organization provides the Convention‘s interim
It can also provide economic incentives to protect the region‘s brown bears, wolves, European
bison, lynx, Imperial eagles and other globally threatened birds, and unique plant species such
as the Slovak laurel, East Carpathian lilac and Pieniny‘s chrysanthemum.
A key result of the Kyiv meeting has been the decision to develop a Protocol on the
Conservation of Biological and Landscape Diversity. The Protocol, which will detail concrete
measures for strengthening the Convention‘s impact on natural resources, is to be adopted ―as
soon as possible‖.

The Independent online (SA): Cape Flats aquifer in pollution threat
December 19 2006 at 08:19PM
By Richard Davies
The Cape Flats aquifer, which has the potential to supply Cape Town with billions of litres of
fresh water a year, is under growing threat from chemical pollution, say experts.
The chemicals, among others, which have found their way down into the water-bearing rock,
include nitrates from human waste, cyanide from industry, and pesticides sprayed by local
Covering about 630 square kilometres, the aquifer lies under the coastal sands that stretch from
the Cape Peninsula to the inland mountains.
According to a scientific paper - titled "Contamination and Protection of the Cape Flats
Aquifer, South Africa" - the giant aquifer has the potential, if tapped sustainably, to supply
more than two-thirds of the Mother City's basic water needs.
"The sustainable use of the Cape Flats aquifer... is estimated at 18 billion litres per year (49,32
million litres a day), a figure that excludes possible developments unlikely to be economically
"This implies that more than two-thirds of the basic water needs of the population in the greater
Cape Town area [the paper pegs this at nearly three million people] can be met by the Cape
Flats aquifer," it says.

Written by University of the Western Cape researchers Segun Adelana and Yongxin Xu, the
paper is contained in a recent United Nations Environment Programme publication,
"Groundwater Pollution in Africa".
It warns while the quality of the groundwater of the Cape Flats aquifer is generally good, it is
starting to show "measurable impacts from human activities".
Further, it calls for appropriate aquifer "protection zones" to be put in place.
Currently, most of Cape Town's water supply is obtained from surface water, stored inland in
big dams and reservoirs, including those at Theewaterskloof, Voelvlei and Steenbras.
After recent water shortages and droughts, hydrologists in the Western Cape have turned their
attention to the province's aquifers as a means of keeping the fast-growing region assured of a
reliable and sustainable water supply.
Adelana and Xu say their study shows urban development - well known to have a negative
impact on groundwater quality - is taking place over many parts of the Cape Flats aquifer.
The threats from this are:
# low-to-medium risk pollution sources, which occur in large areas of the Cape Flats. These
include low-income residential areas such as Guguletu and Khayelitsha, as well as the Philippi
farming areas; and,
# so-called "nodal sources" of pollution, including waste water treatment works and numerous
waste disposal sites.
"Physico-chemical analysis of groundwater in the study area revealed high levels of nitrates,
chlorides, phosphates and, locally, fluoride."
The paper also notes the provision of adequate sanitation to the numerous people living in
informal settlements on the Cape Flats "is prominent and fundamental to public health".
Within the Cape Town municipality, sources of contamination include cemeteries, stormwater
and wastewater systems.
"Other significant sources... around Cape Town are from leakage of underground petrol and
diesel storage tanks, nutrients and pathogens in human waste (eg nitrate, phosphate and
potassium), cyanide and trichloroethylene from metal plates, chemicals used for cleaning, and
agro-chemicals (fertilisers and pesticides)."
The paper calls for groundwater protection zones to be set up across the Cape Flats.
"The overall quality of groundwater in the Cape Flats is good enough to warrant its
development for the water supply augmentation scheme of the City of Cape Town
"However, the occurrence of pollution... and the identification of [pollution] sources call for
groundwater protection. There is need for close and continuous monitoring of the aquifer
against quality deterioration.
"It is recommended appropriate wellfield protection zones be delineated and implemented in
line with [legislation].

"In this way the Cape Flats aquifer can be abstracted continuously in the period of no rain or
low dam levels to augment the city's water supply... and be allowed to recharge in the rainy
months, when the dams are expected to be at their full capacity," the researchers say. - Sapa

                                   Other Environment News


Reuters: INTERVIEW-No dramatic U-turn seen on US climate change policy
Tue 19 Dec 2006 8:59 AM ET
By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Washington is likely to stay out of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol for
curbing greenhouse gases beyond 2012 even with a shift in power to Democrats from
Republicans, a former top U.S. trade and economics official said.

Stuart Eizenstat, lead negotiator for former U.S. President Bill Clinton on the Kyoto Protocol
for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, said changes were afoot at state and business level but
the mere mention of Kyoto was a red rag and would remain so.

"In the United States there is growing interest and growing concern but no chance of joining
Kyoto," he told Reuters by telephone. "The word is radioactive."

Clinton, a Democrat, did not present Kyoto to the Republican dominated Senate in 1998
knowing it would be defeated.

Clinton's Republican successor U.S. President George W. Bush turned his back on the treaty --
the only legally binding global accord on climate change -- arguing that it would be economic
suicide to sign up to Kyoto while allowing major developing nations like China and India to be

Kyoto obliges 35 developed nations to cut greenhouse gases by at least 5 percent below 1990
levels by 2008-12. Governments are now wrangling over how to extend the protocol beyond

Bush is entering the last two years of his administration, but is not expected to change
course on the environment.

Mid-term elections last month gave Democrats control of Congress by a tiny margin,
reawakening speculation of a shift towards accepting Kyoto-style caps.

But for Eizenstat, a former U.S. deputy treasury secretary and under secretary of commerce for
international trade, the numbers simply do not add up because it needs a two-thirds majority
to get laws through -- and that looks unlikely given most Republicans' ideological hatred of

"With the changeover in Congress we really do have the potential for greater interest but not
really legislation. It hasn't changed the dynamic," he added.

And that is despite the introduction in California by Republican governor Arnold

Schwarzenegger of tough climate laws, and a carbon emissions trading deal between seven
other states.

"California has a formal Kyoto-type emissions law. It is very important to see what they do on
emissions trading," Eizenstat said. "The whole history of environmental laws is that they
start in California and head east."

There is a chance the Senate might agree a less strict goal.

It has voted down calls to set mandatory caps on emissions at 2000 levels -- an easier target
than Kyoto. But backers of that bill say they will try again in 2007.

However, a law passed in 1997 barred the U.S. from making international commitments on
carbon emission cuts unless developing countries did likewise -- and that, according to
Eizenstat, cuts across party lines.

"It would be very difficult to get the U.S. into some sort of Kyoto commitment without China,"
he said. "Unless China undergoes a metamorphosis you would have real difficulty."

Talks to extend Kyoto have made little headway -- due partly to U.S. meddling and partly to
uncertainty over the intentions of China, which builds one coal-fired power plant a week.

Most scientists agree that temperatures will rise by between two and six degrees Celsius this
century due mainly to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport,
putting millions of lives at risk from floods and famines.

Former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said in October that urgent action on
global warming was vital, and that delay would multiply the cost 20 times.

Eizenstat said one possibility was that the United States would at some stage be forced by the
spreading patchwork of business and state actions to bring in federal emissions laws.

But the key would be extending that to the international level, and the hatred of Kyoto made
that less than likely.


BBC News: Norway tackles toxic war grave
20 December 2006
It was not quite the deadly legacy the Germans had in mind when they deployed a U-boat on a
daring mission to Japan in the last desperate months of World War II.
When it set sail in December 1944, U-864 was packed with 65 tonnes of weapons-grade
mercury destined to help the Japanese win back supremacy over the US in the Pacific - and
divert American attention away from Europe in the process.
Neither the cargo nor the 73 men on board made it. The U-boat was torpedoed to the bottom of
the North Sea floor by a British submarine.

More than 60 years on its toxic cargo is slowly leaking into the waters off the coast of Norway,
an ecological time bomb threatening marine - and potentially human - life.
Now the Norwegian government is set to act, following recommendations that the wreck be
hermetically sealed to prevent any more of the mercury from escaping.
"We are worried about the long term consequences of the contamination," says Ane Eide
Kjeras, spokeswoman for The Norwegian Coastal Administration.
"We need to do something as soon as possible."
Deadly dive
By December 1944, the Germans were hemmed in on all sides and one of the only possible
operational routes left was through the North Sea.
Plans were laid for Operation Caesar - which would see the U-846 embark on 5 December,
1944 from the German port of Kiel on its underwater mission.
It was British code breakers at Bletchley Park who learned the details of the operation - even
the names of the German and Japanese scientists and engineers on board, according to a
forthcoming BBC Timewatch documentary.
The British sub Venturer was deployed to intercept the vessel after it left the Norwegian port of
Aware it was being followed, the U-864 desperately tried to trick its stalkers by zigzagging.
The Venturer's commander, 25-year-old Jimmy Launders, took a chance by setting all four of
his vessel's torpedoes off at once.
As the U-864 dived to miss one of the oncoming missiles, it headed straight into the fourth.
The submarine was split into two parts and as such went to rest more than 150m (500ft) below
the surface on the seafloor.
There it lay unknown until the Royal Norwegian Navy, alerted by local fishermen, found the
wreck in early 2003, just off the island of Fedje.
Willi's grave
A no-fishing zone was imposed around the wreck site after the discovery of documents listing
mercury as part of the vessel's cargo. Tests were carried out on the water and silt, with
alarming results.
The Norwegian coastal authorities have decided against raising the wreckage, deeming it too
dangerous, and are recommending the two parts should be sealed.
Ms Kjeras said an area of about 150m in diameter would be covered with up to 12m (40ft) of
material. It is thought a special type of sand or gravel could be used.
Nearly 2,000 eroding flasks of mercury will be covered as a result.
But it will also seal up what is the watery grave of 73 men.
One of them was 18-year-old Willi Transier, who had just asked Edith Wetzler to marry him
before he set off on a mission he suspected he might never return from.

"It still hurts," says Mrs Wetzler, who is now 84.
"But I am so thankful that we had the few years we did have together."

Reuters: In Antarctica, by Law, Extreme Recycling Prevails

December 19, 2006 — By Deborah Zabarenko
McMURDO STATION, Antarctica — There are no garbage dumps here, no piles of rotting
trash or oozing waste, no incinerators belching smoke. That's because all refuse generated by
the U.S. Antarctic Program is shipped to the United States in an act of extreme recycling.

"Everything that comes down here has to leave," said Mark Furnish, head of U.S. waste
management in Antarctica. He is based at McMurdo Station, the biggest science center, with
some 3,000 people resident in the peak spring and summer seasons.

The logistics are mind-boggling, since ships can't even get to McMurdo for much of the year.
The base must also handle trash from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station where garbage
from winter residents was still being flown to McMurdo this month, just days before austral

The one shipload of refuse that departs McMurdo annually carries about 4.86 million pounds
of waste, Furnish said. That includes 740,000 pounds of hazardous waste, 3.64 million pounds
of solid waste and 480,000 pounds of material that can be resold, he said.

Furnish said about $80,000 of the cost of waste disposal was deferred by recycling and a
further $80,000 to $100,000 was deferred by reselling some materials no longer used in
Antarctica, including heavy equipment, tools and furniture.

Furnish, whose e-mail sign-off includes the words "At the tail end of science," said the
extraordinary effort to categorize trash was mandated by the Antarctic Conservation Act,
which has an environmental provision meant to curb pollution of the southern continent.

Its rules are arcane and penalties severe: a fine of up to $11,000 and one year in prison for
violations, plus possible removal from Antarctica, withdrawal of grants and sanctions by

The National Science Foundation, which manages most of the research in Antarctica, advises
participants: "Much of your conservation planning will involve common sense - minimizing
pollution, avoiding interference with animals - but the Act is complex, and you cannot rely on
unassisted common sense."

The act does not just apply to scientists. Everyone who stays in Antarctica for even a short time
winds up living the recycling credo. In every dormitory and most other hallways, there are sets
of a labeled bins for various kinds of trash.


Those range from light metals to aerosols to burnables to food waste. The categorization

prompted one wag to label a big bin outside the main science building as "used neutrinos." But
that was obviously a joke; everybody knows you can't recycle subatomic particles.

Having residents sort their own garbage cuts costs for Furnish's team, which has an annual
budget of about $1 million.

In the main dining hall, the message is not "Bon appetit!" but rather "Waste not, want not." A
recent sign at the entry to the galley read: "Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? Take only
what you are sure to eat."

That is understandable: some 400,000 pounds of food waste was shipped back to the United
States last year.

Food waste is put in refrigerator containers for its trip to Port Hueneme, California, with the
rest of the Antarctic trash. The refrigeration is necessary, Furnish said, because even though
garbage does not decompose in Antarctica, it certainly does as it gets to more temperate

"It becomes liquefied by the time it gets there," he said in an interview. "We've had a few of
them break down on the way across and when they get to Port Hueneme -- I meet the boat
there and you open the door -- it's terrible."

Source: Reuters

The Guardian: Ministers know emissions trading is a red herring and won't work
Inter-industry carbon shuffling and optimistic figures mask the true extent of envionmental
damage caused by flying

George Monbiot
Tuesday December 19, 2006

I suppose I should be flattered. In a speech to fellow airline bosses a few days ago, Martin
Broughton, the chief executive of British Airways, announced that the primary challenge for
the industry is to "isolate the George Monbiots of this world". That shouldn't be difficult. For a
terrifying spectre, I'm feeling pretty lonely. Almost everyone in politics appears to want to
forget about aviation's impact on the environment.
On Wednesday the secretary of state for communities launched a bold plan to make new homes
more energy efficient. She claims it will save 7m tonnes of carbon. On Thursday Douglas
Alexander, the transport secretary, announced that he would allow airports to keep growing: by
2030 the number of passengers will increase from 228 million to 465 million. As a result,
according to a report commissioned by the Department for Environment, carbon emissions will
rise by between 22m and 36m tonnes. So much for joined-up government.
The government says it will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050.
Last month it promised to introduce a climate change bill, which will make this target legally
binding. Douglas Alexander's decision ensures that the new law will be broken.

A 60% cut means that our emissions by 2050 must amount to no more than 65m tonnes of
carbon (MtC). The "best case" figures produced by the Department for Transport would see
emissions from air transport rising from 4.6 to 15.7 MtC - or 24% of the target for the whole
economy. According to the House of Commons environmental audit committee, "this is likely
to be a very substantial understatement".
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research estimates that the UK's aeroplane emissions
are more likely to amount to 32 MtC by 2050, or 49% of the target. The report produced for the
Department for Environment, by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University, calculates
that they will rise to between 29.8 and 44.4 MtC by 2050, or 46-68% of the target. This, they
say, is an underestimate, as they don't include unscheduled flights.
None of these calculations takes into account the other greenhouse gases aircraft produce.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, these create a global-warming
effect, 2.7 times as great as carbon dioxide alone. Nor do the calculations recognise the fact
that 70% of people flying out of the UK live in this country: all the estimates give the UK a
50% share of the flights landing or taking off here, rather than 70%. Throw these numbers into
the equation, and you discover that aviation will account for between 91% and 258% of the
greenhouse gases the UK will be permitted, under the new law, to produce in 2050. So how
does the government navigate this contradiction? It's simple. It doesn't include international
aircraft emissions in its target. Whatever their impact on the world's atmosphere might be, they
don't officially exist.
No one now pretends that the industry can design its way out of this. The Department for
Transport's wildly optimistic figure (a mere 91% of the UK's target) assumes improvements in
efficiency that most observers believe will be impossible to realise. Jet engines consume 70%
less fuel than they did 40 years ago; now they have pretty well reached their limits, while
radical new aircraft designs and new fuels are, at best, several decades away from
commercialisation. Even Martin Broughton admits that the airlines' fuel-efficiency gains "are
likely to be outweighed by future growth". So the government relies on two other mechanisms:
taxation and trading. It knows that neither of them will work.
Gordon Brown announced two weeks ago that he will double air-passenger duty, from £5 to
£10. This merely reverses the cut that he made in 2001. In its white paper on aviation, the
Transport Department investigated the effect of a bigger levy - a 100% fuel tax. This, it found,
would increase the airlines' costs by 10%. But the growth of the no-frills carriers would be
sufficient to offset the price rise, ensuring that there was no suppression of demand. Air-
passenger duty might begin to bite at 10 times its current level. Is there anyone in government
who has the guts to make that happen?
Brown's pathetic levy is counteracted by subsidies that he has managed, so far, to keep mostly
hidden from public view. It turns out that the government has been authorising "route
development funds" to establish "new links from regional airports". European rules permit
governments to provide up to 50% of the start-up costs for regional airports and their new
connections. Last week, for example, the Guardian reported that Derry City Council has been
secretly giving Ryanair £1.3m a year. Our money is being used to subsidise climate change.
Tomorrow the European Union will wave its wand and make the airlines' carbon emissions
magically disappear. It will incorporate them into the European emissions trading scheme.
According to Douglas Alexander, this is "the most efficient and cost-effective way to ensure
that the sector plays its part in tackling climate change". The airlines can keep growing, he
argues, as long as they buy carbon permits from other industries, who can cut their output more

cheaply. All that counts is that the European economy as a whole is reducing its emissions - it
doesn't matter how they are distributed.
So how is this going to work if aviation accounts for 258% of all the greenhouse gases the
target permits us to produce? Or even 91%? Again, there is sleight of hand involved. The other
greenhouse gases don't count - the trading scheme recognises only carbon. But even if we were
to accept its restricted terms, why should aviation force the rest of the European economy to
reduce its emissions much faster than the average? Is flying more important than heating and
You can shuffle carbon between different industries when the overall reduction you are trying
to achieve is just 8%, and still stay within the cap. But when you go much beyond that point, as
the EU must in 2012, almost every industry will have to start making cuts of its own. So what
happens when the growth in flights outstrips the cuts the other industries can make? How will
the airlines cut their emissions in order to stay within the scheme? If the government knows, it
hasn't told us.
Douglas Alexander knows as well as I do that emissions trading is a red herring. In his new
report is a table showing what would happen if trading raised the price of carbon to the
government's upper estimate of £140 a tonne by 2030 (32 times the current price). It would
mean that instead of 465m tickets sold in 2030, there would be 455m. That sorts it out then.
The only certain means by which the growth of flights can be curtailed is by restricting the
capacity of our airports. Aviation expands to fill the available landing space. Unless the
government's decision to double the size of the UK's airports is reversed, the rest of its climate
change programme will be a waste of time.
Come on out British Airways, Virgin, Ryanair, easyJet, BMI, the British government, the
opposition and most of middle England. I've got you surrounded.
Christian Science Monitor: Climate change clash in Africa

Uganda's Karimojong herders are the latest example of how global warming contributes to
increased fighting.
By Tristan McConnell | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

It's been a bloody first half of the dry season in Uganda's Karamoja region. October to
February is the time when grass turns brittle, mud dries and cracks, and competition for scarce
resources increases. More than 40 people have died in recent weeks in fighting between
Karimojong warriors and the Ugandan Army in the arid northeast of the country.
The semi-nomadic Karimojong are pastoralists who protect their cows, violently if necessary.
The warriors are well armed and this has put them on a collision course with Uganda's
government. But the recent clashes are a symptom of more universal problems.
As elsewhere in Africa, the population in eastern Uganda continues to grow as the environment
deteriorates, putting more and more pressure on a land that grows ever drier. At a United

Nations conference on climate change held in neighboring Kenya last month, environmentalists
warned that Africa would bear the brunt of global warming.
With more people forced to share fewer resources, experts warn that conflict will increase.
"Climate change will hit pastoral communities very hard," says Grace Akumu, executive
director of environmental pressure group Climate Network Africa. "The conflict is already
getting out of hand and we are going to see an increase in this insecurity."
Africa consumes least, harmed most
Ms. Akumu argues that, while pastoralists who live in arid regions will suffer, it is the Western
countries who are to blame, especially the United States, which refuses to sign on to global
protocols to reduce greenhouse gases. "Pastoralists are the losers - they are not responsible, but
they feel the impact of climate change the most. The blame lies squarely at the doorstep of
Figures from the World Resources Institute in 2000 calculated that Africa's 812 million people
produce only 0.8 metric tons of greenhouse emissions per person compared with 3.9 metric
tons per person globally. Yet it is the African environment that sees the worst effects, and
marginal communities, such as the pastoralists, who will suffer most.
Pastoralism does not fit well with modern nations of the kind Uganda aspires to be, and
pastoralists have been marginalized by successive regimes from the days of British colonialism
onward. The Karimojong live in an arid zone where settled agriculture does not work. They
ignore borders as they move seasonally between pastures with their cows and use their guns to
protect their herds and to launch cattle-rustling raids against neighboring groups.
They have little respect for state authority, and the government has little interaction with the
Karimojong except during attempts to disarm the warriors. The Karamoja region has Uganda's
lowest life expectancy, its highest infant and maternal mortality rates, no paved roads, and no
industry - the Karimojong do not share in Uganda's economic progress. The country has a 4
percent growth rate.
Violent cattle raids are a traditional method of restocking herds among pastoral groups.
However, the death count has spiraled since sticks and spears were replaced by AK-47s as the
weapon of choice beginning in the late 1970s.
A well-established small-arms trade has sprung out of the regional insecurity, with guns
flowing in from neighboring Sudan and Somalia. All this means Karamoja is well stocked with
weapons and prices are falling: in the 1970s, a gun cost 60-150 cows, by 2004 it had fallen as
low as two cows (roughly $100).
Flooded with weapons
The government estimates that there are up to 40,000 weapons in Karamoja - one for every 24
people - and violent struggles are common. During the first six months of this year, 568 people
died violently in Karamoja, many more were injured.
Uganda is in the process of disarming the tribal warriors, but on Oct. 29, an attempted cordon-
and-search operation went wrong. At least 27 people were killed in a shootout, 16 of the dead
were Ugandan soldiers who had faced tribesmen as well-armed as themselves. One week later,
the army alleges that tribesmen shot at a helicopter gunship, which responded by bombing a
Karimojong village and killing at least a dozen people.

Still, government officials claim success, saying that this round of disarmament has secured
4,500 guns in only six months. But local people complain that the Army simply disarms one
group then moves on, leaving a security vacuum. Mark Apalia, a 25-year-old Karimojong man,
says: "I was disarmed last year and since then cattle thieves came in the night and I can do
This pattern is common. "After I was disarmed in 2001, raiders came and took all my cattle.
Then I regretted not having a gun to defend myself," recalls Lomoto Lochuman a 48-year-old
Disarmament struggles
The youth - known as karachunya - are also despondent. Without guns, they see no way to get
cows. Without cows, they cannot pay the dowry necessary for marriage. "Without cows where
can I get a wife? Where can I go to raid without a gun?" asks 22-year-old John Angolore. "I
will just be killed."
Local official Churchill Lokoroi says that the role of the Army in attempting to prevent cattle
raiding by returning stolen cows to their owners has also caused problems. "The Army is seen
as just another raiding party," he says.
Following the deaths of the 16 soldiers, a government minister characterized the disarmament
as "war" and referred to Karimojong warriors as "enemies." Caught between a government that
sees them as a problem to be solved militarily and a harsh environment that is becoming ever
drier, the Karimojong face a difficult future.

Reuters: Some European birds delay migration due to warmth
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent Tue Dec 19, 11:28 AM ET
OSLO (Reuters) - Some European birds have failed to fly south for the winter, apparently lured
to stay by weeks of mild weather that experts widely link to global warming.
Birds including robins, thrushes and ducks that would normally fly south from Scandinavia, for
instance, have been seen in December -- long after snow usually drives them south. And
Siberian swans have been late reaching western Europe.
"With increasing warmth in winter we suspect that some types of birds won't bother to migrate
at all," said Grahame Madge, spokesman of the British Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds (RSPB).
Many individual birds were leaving later, and flying less far.
One Swiss study this month suggested that Europe has just had the warmest autumn in 500
years. Frosts have crept south in the past week -- chilling any birds gambling that the entire
winter will be balmy.
Madge said that Bewick's swans, for instance, which usually arrive in Britain in October from
Siberia in Russia had apparently stopped for longer than usual in countries such as Estonia or
the Netherlands because of plentiful food.

Birds cutting down on migration save vast amounts of energy on dangerous flights -- such as
from the Arctic to Africa and back -- and can have the pick of northern breeding sites in spring.
But they risk being killed by a snap cold spell.
"Some birds are much more common in winter here than they were about 30 years ago," said
Geoffrey Acklam, a veteran amateur ornithologist who lives near Oslo where there is no snow
but some overnight frosts.
"It's a result of a series of mild winters."
He said he first saw a robin in winter in the 1970s but recently nine were spotted locally in one
day. Migratory chiff chaffs, thrushes and field fares were also increasingly common.
World Meteorological Organization said last week that 10 of the warmest years since records
began in the 1850s were in the last 12 years -- 2006 ranks a provisional sixth.
Changing migratory patterns can also affect distant habitats -- hundreds of millions of birds fly
from the Arctic as far as Australia and South America every year, where they can be food for
other animals.
Experts say that the spring migration is becoming earlier.
"Birds are arriving earlier across Europe," said Endre Knudsen, a researcher at Oslo University.
Birds often needed to race to grab the best nesting sites.
But he said it was risky because the arrival of migrants was sometimes out of step with the
availability of insects and other food.
Almost all climate scientists reckon that human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning
fossil fuels are driving up temperatures and could lead to more floods, erosion, desertification,
spread of disease and rising sea levels.

Capitalism Magazine:The Real Inconvienient Truth About Global Warming: Skeptics
Have Valid Arguments
by Tom DeWeese

(December 19, 2006)
Imagine living in a world where no one is allowed to think independent thoughts or take
independent actions. Only pre-approved human response would be acceptable. To break the
rule and engage in forbidden thought would result in terrible retribution, perhaps leading
literally to ones destruction.

That‘s the kind of world apparently desired by the global warming Chicken Littles. It seems
they are prepared to do anything to achieve it. Case in point is an outrageous letter to
ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson on October 27, 2006. The letter was sent by two United
States Senators, Olympia Snowe (R-MA), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

The letter derides Exxon for helping to fund global warming ―deniers,‖ (a term the global
warming crowd is using more and more these days to try to draw a parallel with those who
deny the Holocaust). Said the letter, ―We are convinced that ExxonMobil‘s longstanding
support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and
influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United
States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.‖

The letter goes on to say, ―Exxon Mobil and its partners in denial have manufactured
controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those
used by the tobacco industry for so many years.‖ The mention of the tobacco industry is not
just a randomly chosen analogy. It‘s a heavy-handed threat that Exxon could face the same
massive government attack on its very existence if it doesn‘t play ball. Threats of wind fall
profits taxes and increased regulations being just a couple of the weapons in the government‘s

The letter concludes, saying, ―We would recommend that Exxon Mobil publicly acknowledge
both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it. Second,
Exxon Mobil should repudiate its climate change denial campaign…‖

As incredible as the letter may seem to free thinkers and Constitutionalists, one must pause to
understand the ―new think‖ being foisted on our society. In the August, 2006 issue of The
DeWeese Report, (Vol.12, Issue 7), I reported on the root of the new edicts on thinking, called
―globally acceptable truth.‖ This is not just an Ivory Tower intellectual exercise. Those who
practice it believe the only way we can have a well-ordered society is for everyone to think and
act in unison. Those who break the rules and think for themselves or take action contrary to the
―consensus‖ are simply causing havoc on all of their well-laid plans.

Again, as I reported in August, this incredible idea is not just the silly ravings of a few lunatics.
It is being accepted as the proper focus for major policy matters as they emanate from
Congress and are parroted by the news media. The main source of such thinking seems to come
from the Eden Institute, operating out of New York and with close ties to the UN.

The official use of globally acceptable truth is best described in a letter to the Eden Institute
from Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary General of the UN. He wrote, ―I am referring to the
need to establish a body of objective, globally acceptable information to serve as a foundation
for global education…Its (Eden Project) formula for identifying universally acceptable
objective data is truly unique. It achieves this distinction by establishing a global standard for
inquiry.‖ Translation: We will decide what is truth and all new information or scientific
discovery will be judged on whether it matches this ―globally acceptable‖ truth.

The last time human kind was strapped into such a mental straight jacket was during the
Inquisition of the Dark Ages. The period was called the Dark Ages because it was an era of
ignorance, superstition and social chaos and repression. Anyone caught questioning the
doctrine or power of the church was labeled a heretic and found his or her way to the rack or
into the middle of a fire while tied to a stake. The church, of course, was practicing its own
brand of globally acceptable truth.

Today, the new heretics to the religion of global warming are those who question whether
scientific facts support the dire warnings that are screaming from the newspaper headlines and
from environmental groups‘ press releases. In fact, there is no better example for the practice

of globally acceptable truth than the global warming crowd.

The letter to ExxonMobile from Rockefeller and Snowe is but one example of the dire tactics
being used to stifle any debate on the subject. Just recently, the Attorney General of California
filed suit against the world‘s three biggest care manufacturers for their complicity in creating
CO2 emissions. As part of the discovery for the suit, the Attorney General demanded copies of
any correspondence between the automakers and so-called ―skeptics‖ of climate change.
Message: you can‘t even talk to these people! 2006 has seen the church of global warming go
into near panic at any sign of heretical behavior.

It‘s absolutely incredible to see such panic, considering the global warming mantra is near
universal. There are over 12,000 environmental groups in the country controlling over $20
billion in assets, all unified in spreading the climate change gospel. On top of their vast
holdings, many of those same groups receive federal grants for ―studies‖ and ―reports‖ on their
climate change findings. More grants, in the billions of dollars, are going to scientists willing
to join the church and help substantiate the mantra in their ―research.‖

Added to that substantial fire power is a willing news media which offers magazine cover
photos of melting ice caps; and the efforts of the movie and television industry which lets no
opportunity get by without some reference to global warming. Al Gore‘s own documentary has
been in theaters around the nation for months. He is the guest on talk shows nearly every week.

The catastrophic global warming message is literally everywhere. It indoctrinates our children
in the classroom. It flows from the advertising messages of corporations, in their corporate
social responsible ad to sell their environmentally-responsible products (for which research and
development was probably paid for with federal tax dollars). Huge numbers of Hollywood
stars and international political leaders have endorsed the mantra of the church of global
warming. Billions and billions of dollars are being spent to influence literally every corner of
the earth to accept global warming as a fact.

Countering this massive onslaught of globally acceptable climate change ―truth‖ is a tiny,
dedicated band of scientists, political leaders and non-profits that are seeking the truth. Their
assets are literally in the low millions of dollars – simply a drop in the bucket when compared
to the war chest of the climate change church. They don‘t have the medias attention. They
don‘t have the ability to issue massive grants. Hollywood certainly isn‘t making movies to
promote the ―skeptics‖ point of view. And the federal government isn‘t allowing the contrary
opinions in many classrooms.

So, with so much incredible fire power covering every possible exit, one must ask the logical
question: why are the climate change crowd so scared of a few renegade groups and their
measly few million dollars? The fact is, the ―skeptics‖ are having such an impact on the debate
because they are telling the truth. The Church of Global Warming is wrong!

As George Orwell once wrote: ―In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary
act.‖ There is no greater hero in the revolution for climate change truth than Senator James
Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He has
truly demonstrated the power one honest individual can wield.

Earlier this year (2006) Sen. Inhofe gave two explosive speeches on the floor of the Senate in
which he attacked and exposed the unfounded claims and scare tactics being employed by the

Global Warming crowd. The speeches were literally unprecedented in the decades-long climate
change debate. And their effect was like a lightening bolt. Almost immediately some scientists
began coming out of hiding to side with the Senator.

On December 6th, just as the Rockefeller/Snowe letter was being exposed across the Internet,
Inhofe held a hearing on Capitol Hill exposing the ―alarmist media.‖ Said Inhofe, ―Rather than
focus on the hard science of global warming, the media has instead become advocates for
hyping scientifically unfounded climate alarmism.‖ His attacks have already forced 60
Minutes, CNN and other major media to at least give lip service to the ―skeptic‖ point of view.
More importantly, the Senator‘s efforts are putting the Global Warming crowd into near
cardiac arrest.

It is important to not that the so-called ―Skeptics‖ include Dr. Daniel Schrag of Harvard;
Claude Allegre, one of the most decorated French geophysicists; Dr. Richard Lindzen,
professor of Atmospheric Sciences, MIT; Dr. Patrick Michaels, University of Virginia: Dr.
Fred Singer; Professor Bob Carter, geologist at James Cook University, Australia; 85 scientists
and climate experts who signed the 1995 Leipzeg Declaration which called drastic climate
controls ―ill-advised, lacking credible support from the underlying science; 17,000 scientists
and leaders involved in climate study who signed a petition issued by the Oregon Institute of
Science and Medicine saying there is no evidence green house gasses cause global warming;
and the 4,000 scientists and leaders from around the world, including 70 Nobel Prize winners,
who signed the Heidelberg Appeal calling greenhouse global warming theories ―highly
uncertainly scientific theories.‖

These are but a few of the highly qualified ―skeptics‖ deride by Jay Rockefeller, Olympia
Snowe and Al Gore whom, they say, should not be given a voice on the issue.

There are lots of lies surrounding the Global Warming mantra. The biggest one claims there is
―consensus‖ among scientists that human-caused global warming is a fact. There is no such
consensus. Human survival demands that we listen to the ―Skeptics‖ before they are burned at
the stake by suppositious brutes like Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe.
Southern Highlands: Inevitable global warming a challenge for agriculture

John Kerin

20 December 2006.

I CURRENTLY see no process or strategy that will stop global warming from becoming
inevitable. The scientific evidence of both global warming and climate change has been
stacking up for some time now.
We don't know the time scale in the changes taking place with any precision and there is a lot
we don't know. However, I believe we can now say climate change is the major challenge
facing Australia and taking it seriously is both an agricultural and an environmental imperative.
In the longer term, I believe global warming is inevitable due to the interaction of several
factors.CO2 emissions are rising inexorably.

The world-wide total was 9.3billion tonnes in 2003 and on current trends it will be 14.5billion
by 2025 when China and the US will have almost doubled their combined emissions from
4.8billion to 8.95billion.World population has grown from 1.65billion in 1900 to 6.54billion
now and may not stabilise at 8.5-9billion by 2050-60.
Not much additional arable land and irrigation water is being created, increasing pressure to
clear forest lands, which adds to the problem.Resource depletion is accelerating and
substitution is going to be increasingly harder and more expensive, if not impossible in some
Even if we can arrange alternative energy resources, the price of oil, chemicals and fertilisers
and their affect on cereal and food production will probably pose a challenge even if
agricultural prices rise and there's enough rain at the right time. The only strategy that works to
lift people out of poverty is economic growth (together with trade, aid and good governance)
Of the 5.1billion people living in the developing world, 1.2billion still face hunger and poverty
The only way developed societies such as ours seem to prosper is never-ending economic
growth and consumerism. This could be cut.Many of the world's governments are rent by
corruption, tribalism, militarism and despotism and put spiritual hegemony above the welfare
of their people. These are generally some of the poorest nations, which don't contribute much
to CO2 emissions, but could be the worst hit by global warming.
As the five permanent members of the UN Security Council still follow their own national
interests it takes a long time to negotiate anything multilaterally.The rich world is dominated
by multinational corporations and will continue to exploit the poorer countries.
While it seems to be agreed that globalisation of trade in goods, services and finances will
continue, improved global stability will depend to a large extent on a more benevolent sharing
of the gains. But I don't see it happening.
When will global warming become irreversible? CO2 has risen from a pre-industrial level of
280 parts per million in the atmosphere to 380-430ppm now. There seems to be consensus
among scientists, if not newspaper economists, that beyond 450-550ppm it becomes
A majority of relevant scientists have been saying that we have only 10-15 years to really do
something about this. The recent report by Sir Nicholas Stern gives weight to this from an
economic point of view. In some ways, I wish his critics were right.
Can Australia make a difference? The factual situation is that with only 0.31 per cent of the
world's population producing about 1.4 per cent of global emissions, if we headed back to the
caves and lived on grass-seeds it would be a pointless exercise in self-denial.
This is not to say we should do nothing about the threat we face. We can make adaptations to
climate change. I accept that there are weather cycles unrelated to anthropogenic causes. For
thousands of years people in this continent have lived with cyclical climate patterns and
relatively slow climate change.
It will be the future acceleration and variations around the trend that will provide increasing
challenges for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the natural environment.

The estimated annual average temperature increase in Australia is agreed by many to be from
0.3-0.4 to 2.0 degrees by 2030 and from 1.0 degree to 6.0 degrees by 2070. It seems to be
assumed that as far as primary production is concerned, the effects of climate change will be
slow enough to cope with and there are directions that we can pursue scientifically,
economically and environmentally.
The farm sector will continue to scale up. We probably need to do more work on farm
sociology and try to understand more about adoption are just 25 per cent of farmers early
adopters of new methods or can there be more? We are becoming better land managers but
more can be done. Genetics, precision farming involving hyperspectral imaging,
bioengineering, nano-technology, molecular bioscience, nutrient recycling, new chemicals and
101 technologies will be employed at the production level.
I strongly believe that by far the best farm and rural policy is investment in education, research
and development. I acknowledge that a lot is being done at individual and institutional levels.
What is really needed is a clear guide from governments that we do face an immense
challenge. We might even rediscover that public good research is not all that bad.
Mr Kerin was Australia's Minister for Primary Industries and Energy from 1983 to 1991. This
is an edited version of his after-dinner address to the 2006 Fenner Conference hosted last
month by the Australian Academy of Science.

SciDev.Net: Asian pollution twice the global average
December 19, 2006, 21:15
By Padma Tata
Air pollution from ozone and soot over Asia is twice the global average,the Science and
Development Network said. The pollution is especially strong over tropical regions, a scientist
said at the Urban Air Quality in Asia workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

India is a 'hotspot for ozone pollution', and in China pollution is rising, said Surabi Menon, of
the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in the US. Her warnings echoed other reports of
deteriorating air quality in Asia at the Urban Air Quality in Asia workshop in Yogyakarta,
Indonesia. The meeting ended with a pledge - albeit non-binding - that the 20 nations would
improve their air quality control programmes.

Menon said emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in China and Korea will exceed
World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality standards by 2020. Industry, transport and
incomplete fossil fuel combustion are the main culprits. The gases cause acid rain, are toxic to
health, and contribute to the formation of ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere.

Ozone is a paradox. In the upper atmosphere, it is considered good, as it protects the earth from
harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. But in the atmosphere's lower layer, which extends up to
2km above sea level, ozone from car exhausts and industry is considered bad as it damages
human health and vegetation.

Poor air quality leading to premature death
'Health and air quality issues will become increasingly important for Asia,' Menon said. Soot
and other polluting particles released by industries and biofuels have important climate effects,
especially over Asia, Menon said.

Other scientists also warned of the poor air quality in most Asian cities. Michal Kryazanoski, a
senior official at WHO, said that air pollution exceeding UN guidelines causes more than 500
000 premature deaths in Asia annually. Most Asian cities do not have adequate air quality
monitoring stations and emissions inventories are either lacking, incomplete or contradictory,
said the Stockholm Environment Institute.

The Asian Development Bank showed that a major cause for deteriorating air quality is rise in
road traffic. This Bank warned that even with the most optimistic estimates for managing the
rise in vehicle use in Asia, emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to treble over the next 25

Pollution affecting rainfall patterns
The conference was organised by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities, the Indonesian
ministry of environment, the UN Centre for Regional Development and the UN Environment
Programme. Four years ago, Menon and colleagues showed that soot heats the air and was
affecting rainfall patterns over China.

A report by Katie Mantell on the SciDev.Net website on the work said Asian soot fueled global
warming. Large amounts of black soot have been disrupting weather patterns over China and
may have contributed to the severe flooding and droughts that the country has seen in recent
decades, according to the 2002 research, published in the journal Science.

Soot - produced by diesel engines, cooking fires and other sources - could have nearly as much
impact on climate change as carbon dioxide, which has long been considered the primary
culprit in global warming.

Benefits of soot control
Researchers from the US and China used a global climate model to simulate how black carbon
affects weather patterns. They found that soot can influence regional climate by absorbing
sunlight, heating the air and affecting rainfall. Emissions of soot are particularly large in China
because cooking and heating are done with wood, cow dung and coal at low temperatures that
do not allow for complete combustion.

"If our interpretation is correct, then reducing the amount of black carbon or soot may help
diminish the intensity of floods in the south and droughts in the northern areas of China, in
addition to having human health benefits," said James Hansen, one of the authors of the study,
and a leading climate change scientist and director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space

Soot could have important climate effects
"In the past, researchers have felt that soot did not really have a significant warming effect,"
said Michael Bergin, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech in the US. "But as we have learned
more about the amount of black carbon emitted by countries like China and India, it appears
now that soot could have important climate effects."

Climate change control measures aimed at reducing emissions of soot could have relatively
quick effects. Soot particles are removed from the atmosphere on time scales of weeks to
months, while carbon dioxide lingers for hundreds of years.

"From a policy standpoint, the payoff for controlling soot could be on the scale of years rather
than centuries," Bergin said. - SciDev.Net

International Herald Tribune: 52 new species discovered on Borneo

GENEVA: Scientists have discovered at least 52 new species of animals and plants on the
southeast Asian island of Borneo over the last year, WWF International said Tuesday.

The new discoveries made between July 2005 and September 2006 include 30 fish species,
such as a miniature fish, which is the world's second-smallest vertebrate, two tree frogs and
several plant species, the Gland-based conservation organization said in a statement.

"The more we look the more we find," said Stuart Chapman, WWF International coordinator
for the "Heart of Borneo," a 220,000-square-kilometer (85,000-square-mile) rain forest in the
center of the island where several of the new species were found. "These discoveries reaffirm
Borneo's position as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world."

Among the many creatures that were new to science were six Siamese fighting fish, whose
unique colors and markings distinguish them from close relatives, and a catfish with protruding
teeth and an adhesive belly with miniature suction cups enabling it to stick to smooth stones
and maintain its position facing into the current of Indonesia's turbulent Kapuas River system.

The catfish, which can be identified by its pretty color pattern, is named glyptothorax exodon, a
reference to the teeth that can be seen even when the creature's mouth is closed.

While those species were spotted in Indonesian waters, the 8.8 millimeter-long (0.35 inch-
long) paedocypris micromegethes was discovered in Malaysia's slow-flowing blackwater
streams and peat swamp forests shielded from light.

The creature, which gets its name from the Greek words for children and small in size, is tinier
than all other vertebrae species except for its slightly more minuscule cousin, a 7.9-millimeter
fish found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, according to WWF.

The discoveries further highlight the need to conserve the habitat and species of Borneo, where
the rain forest continues to be threatened with large areas of forest being destroyed for rubber,
oil palm and pulp production, WWF said.

Much of Borneo, which also is home to the sultanate of Brunei, is covered by one of the
world's last remaining rain forests. However, half of the forest cover has been lost due to
widespread logging, down from 75 percent in the mid-1980s.

The new discoveries brings the total amount of species newly identified on the island to over
400 since 1996, according to WWF, known in North America as the World Wildlife Fund.

"The remote and inaccessible forests in the Heart of Borneo are one of the world's final
frontiers for science, and many new species continue to be discovered here," said Chapman.

He added that the forests were also vital because they were the source the island's major rivers
acting as a natural break to fires that have broken out in the lowlands this year.

Jane Smart, who heads the World Conservation Union's species program, also based in Gland,
said that the discovery of 52 species within a year in Borneo was a "realistic" number given
that scientists' guess there are about 15 million species on Earth. "There are still many more
species that remain to be discovered there."

Borneo is particularly important for biodiversity because the island has a high number of
endemic species, creatures which only occur in that one place, she told The Associated Press.
"So if you wipe out a small area you're going to wipe out a lot of the species' habitat," she said,
adding that once these creatures are destroyed, they are gone forever.

"This is a real concern when forests are ripped out for rubber plantations or oil palm
plantations," Smart said.



                                                                             20 December 2006
                                  General Environment News

Kenya: Titanium Project Woes Are Unending

The East African Standard (Nairobi): Resettlement of people affected by the Titanium Mineral
Sands Project in Kwale raises several issues. To begin with, the financial and economic gains
made from mining would be immense. Then, the upheaval, displacement and impoverishment
of people and communities cannot be under estimated. As much as argument advocating
'economic gain' is eminent, concerns have come up on development projects. They include the
potential of changing patterns of land use, water consumption and other natural resources. In
this light, capital-intensive development projects accelerated the pace toward a brighter and
better future. If people were uprooted along the way, it would be deemed a necessary evil or
even an actual good, since it made them more susceptible to change. In the recent decades, a
new development paradigm has been articulated; one promoting poverty reduction,
environmental protection, social justice and human rights. Development is seen as bringing
benefits and still imposing costs. Among the greatest costs is the displacement of millions of
vulnerable people. It has been estimated that 10 million people have been displaced by
infrastructural         development        projects         globally        since        1990.

Tanzania: New Drive for the Environment in Zanzibar

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks: Environmentalists in Tanzania's semi-
autonomous island of Zanzibar say lack of awareness and negligence have greatly hindered
efforts to protect the environment, which is now threatened by soil erosion, deforestation and
pollution. "Zanzibar's environment is fragile; a lot of destruction has taken place, especially the
ongoing use of sand, trees and rocks in construction works," Mberek Rashid, a commissioner
in the island's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, told IRIN. In a bid to
control pollution, the island's authorities issued an ultimatum on 11 December to hotel owners
and other investors to install sewage-treatment facilities on their premises or risk being barred
from operating. For years, Zanzibar had not put in place policies and laws to safeguard the
environment. Only in the 1990s did the government establish an environmental department,
under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, which remained largely
dormant. However, the island is now committed to environmental conservation. Asha Khatib, a
chief environmentalist in the ministry, said laws and policies to protect the environment were
established in 1996, "but still there has been no joint effort in preventing environmental
damage on the islands. We need urgent change.

Uganda: Ugandans to Get Cash for Carbon

The Monitor (Kampala): International agencies and multinational companies have launched a
campaign to pay monetary incentives to projects that reduce carbon dioxide concentration in
the atmosphere. Environmental Conservation Trust Executive Director Ms Pauline Nantongo
told Daily Monitor in an interview that tree planting is one of the ways Ugandans can tap into
the vast resources of the growing carbon market. "Farmers are required to plant indigenous tree
species that help to reduce carbon dioxide concentration from the atmosphere and then get paid
for the trees planted," she said. Scientists estimate that a Musizi tree, on average, captures

about 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide (measured in terms of carbon) in its lifetime - about the same
amount for all indigenous tree species. Carbon trade is made possible under the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol where signatories are required to
significantly reduce Greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide. Under the arrangement,
companies and governments can meet their Greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments
by paying monetary incentives to investments such as tree growing and renewable energy
technologies that reduce greenhouse gases.

Uganda: Sweden Gives Funds to Lake Victoria Agency

New Vision (Kampala): A project directed at ensuring proper use of Lake Victoria has been
given funds. The Lake Victoria Initiative on Sustainable Development got $3,000,000 from the
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The funding will be for a
period of three years. Ayo Odongo signed on behalf of Lake Victoria Region Local Authorities
Cooperation, which represented the recipients, while Per Lundell, an official of the Swedish
Embassy, signed on behalf of the donors. Per Lundell advised those implementing the project
to be focused and make everybody benefit. The project aims at improving knowledge of the
members on poverty eradication.

Uganda: 459 Die in Cattle Rustling

New Vision (Kampala): Uganda registered the highest number of human deaths and theft of
livestock as a result of cattle rustling among the seven countries in the Horn of Africa,
according to data by a regional body. Steven Candia reports that the report was released by the
Conflict Early Warning and Early Response (CEWARN) mechanism. It said 459 people were
killed and 10,018 animals stolen in Uganda in the first eight months of this year. CEWARN
monitors pastoral conflicts in the Karamoja and "Somali Clusters" comprising the border areas
of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. "In both the Karamoja and the Somali Clusters,
the conflict-aggravating factors were highlighted to be environmental pressure - floods and
drought as well as free flow of arms among others," said a statement issued by the
communications officer, Zam Zam Nagujja.

Uganda: DDT Assessment Lacked a Lot

New Vision (Kampala): If there is anything which has captured my attention so much in recent
months, it is the DDT public hearing programme held recently at Hotel Africana. The debate
was presided over by Prof. Epelu Opio, the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Makerere
University. He commended the National Environment Management Authority for giving
Ugandans a chance to be heard before approving the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
statement on DDT as prepared by the Ministry of Health. A public hearing according to the
1995 Environment Act regulations is not mandatory but there are occasions when it becomes a
necessity especially when the EIA report is controversial. The World Health Organisation
banned DDT as a vector control pesticide in fighting malaria 40 years ago because of its bio-
accumulative, assimilative and persistence implications. The in-door residual spray procedure
for using it is new and is being implemented as a pilot programme in countries like Ethiopia,
South Africa and Vietnam. What people debated at Hotel Africana, therefore, was not an
environmental impact assessment report envisaged in the 1995 Environment Act. It was a
statement incapable of leading the assessor to decision.


Uganda: Govt to Replace Asbestos Roofs

The Monitor (Kampala): Lawmakers have demanded that government replaces all asbestos
roofs of educational institutions countrywide so as to stem possible contraction of cancer by
pupils and students. Oyam North MP Okullo Epak sparked the debate on Thursday. The UN
banned use of asbestos in the 1980s after it was discovered that its residual fibres could cause
lung cancer. "We are very concerned about this matter although we do not have statistics on
who has been affected," said line Minister Gabriel Opio. He said that during the next financial
year, government would start re-roofing the said schools but that the exercise would be done in
phases over years.

Ethiopia: Impacts of the 2006 Flood And Environmental Issues

The Reporter (Addis Ababa): The tragic 2006 floods that have affected parts of Ethiopia have
been naturally perceived by many as being an outcome of higher rainfall. However, the recent
synthesis of research findings on the 2006 flood disaster vis-à-vis environmental issues suggest
that the flood generation potential of a given rainfall level could either be triggered or
diminished by factors such as land cover condition, soil characteristics, river management and
topographic conditions. The study Commissioned by Forum for Environment (FFE), the study
attempted to show a fair geographical distribution of flooded areas in the country. Unlike
previous years, the 2006 Kiremt flooding was unique in many respects. The wave of floods hit
not only traditionally flooded areas of the country, but also new areas where floods were hardly
experienced before. Over 700 people lost their lives; more than 242,000 people were displaced,
and property worth hundreds of millions of birr was washed away. In addition, quite a number
of domestic and wild animals were drowned and thousands of hectares of farmlands were
damaged. Apart from the tangible losses, the psychological impact on the survivors was

South Africa: New Blood for Popular Boland Hiking Trail

Cape Argus (Cape Town): Ululating and rhythmic chanting reverberated in the Boland
Mountains at a joyful certificate presentation ceremony to honour trainees who had completed
the first phase of training for Siyabulela capacity-building projects in the area. These involve
maintenance of the popular Hottentots Holland hiking trail and an associated field guiding
project. The ceremony was proudly hosted by Cape Nature. The guest of honour was Planning
and Environment MEC Tasneem Essop, who launched the Siyabulela programme in August.
The programme includes financing of R3 million for natural resource management and
sustainable livelihood programmes. This money is being used to create jobs, sustainable
enterprises and to create employment for women and young people. In total, 11 projects have
been identified for the empowerment of women and youth "as a special salute and gesture of
thanks to them".

South Africa: Sasol's Eco Hurdle

Business Day (Johannesburg): Plans by petrochemicals giant Sasol's Synfuels division to begin
seismic surveys in Mozambique early next year may be scuppered by pressure from
environmental activists, a research report by Vunani Securities says. Sasol Synfuels accounts

for more than half of the group's earnings and expected future growth. The division largely
depends on the availability of additional gas from Mozambique. Sasol's draft environmental
impact assessment report has received conditional approval from the Mozambican authorities.
However, it has been rejected by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the South African Institute
for Environmental Assessment and an independent Dutch environmental group.
Environmental groups say not enough work has been done to clarify issues regarding the
impact of running seismic surveys in ecologically sensitive areas or compensating local
communities in the event the seismic undermine livelihoods. A 1,5km buffer zone, for which
Sasol has made provision, is deemed inappropriate.
The expansion of capacity at Sasol Synfuels is one of the major components of the group's
R45bn capital expenditure programme over the next three years. Environmental activists have
indicated that they would challenge Sasol's attempts to begin offshore seismic surveys on
offshore Blocks 16 and 19 in January.

Namibia: Autopsies Reveal Seals Are Starving

The Namibian (Windhoek): Seals along the Namibian coast are starving because there is very
little fish for them to eat, an official of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has
announced. Dr Moses Maurihungirire, Director of Resource Management in the Ministry, said
recent autopsies on an adult female seal and a pup showed that all their body-fat reserves were
depleted. He said the blood and organs showed no abnormalities. Hundreds of seal carcasses,
especially those of pups, have washed up on the beaches of the coastal towns over the past four
months or are found dying on the shore. "It was also found during this seal harvesting season,
which ended last month, that the blubber quantity of the animals, which is fat and oil, was
lower than in preceding years," Maurihungirire said at a media briefing on Friday. "Thus the
most likely cause of deaths among the Cape fur seals can be attributed to starvation as a
consequence of food scarcity," he added. About one million Cape fur seals inhabit the coast of
Namibia, the majority at Cape Cross, where some 980 000 are living. Seals mainly feed on
pilchards, horse mackerel and squid. According to Maurihungirire, fish stocks are depleted.

Nigeria: U.S. Firm to Build $50 Million Ethanol Plant in Taraba

Daily Trust (Abuja): A United States based company, Lemna International, said it plans to
establish a $50million (about N6.3billion) ethanol production plant in Taraba state within the
next four months. The plant will use sugarcane as raw material for the production ethanol
which is fast becoming the closest alternative to crude oil, as the price of the commodity
continues to rise in the international market. Speaking before a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) was signed between the company and the Taraba state government, Viet Ngo, the
President and CEO of the company said the company plans to invest between $50million and
$57million dollars in the plant, pointing out that the raw material (sugarcane) would be
produced by local farmers and that the company would pay more for it than what sugar
producers and direct sugarcane consumers are willing to pay. This, he said, will translate into
more money for producers of the crop. He said the company would be the first producer of
ethanol in the country, pointing out that all the company requires from the state government is

"to provide the land some form of co-ordination so that everything goes well.

Nigeria: New DG Appointed for National Environmental Standards and Regulations

Nigeria First (Abuja): President Olusegun Obasanjo has approved the appointment of Dr
Setima Benibo as Director General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations
Enforcement Agency.
The appointment was announced on Monday December 18. Until her appointment, Dr Bekibo
was the Director, Environmental Health and Sanitation Department of the Federal Ministry of
Environment in Abuja. Dr Benibo is the recipient of several national awards including Member
Federal Republic MFR.
The appointment takes immediate effect.

Liberia: Cross Border Environment Needs Attention

The Analyst (Monrovia): Environmentalist and Managing Director/CEO, of UMBRELLA
Management Group Inc., Jerome Sheldon, Jr. has said as a result of cross border environmental
links between Liberia and Ivory Coast, there was need for the Government of Liberia to make
an assessment. He noted that there are rivers with sources in Ivory Coast that run into Liberia
which by government needed to check to determine they have been affected by recent incident
in Ivory Coast when toxic waste was dumped.
"I don't know whether there has been test done. Because waters run into Liberia from Ivory
Coast and such water could be damaged as a result from toxic waste dumped in that country,"
he wondered. Mr. Sheldon made the statement yesterday at the Monrovia City Hall during a
one-day conference on the emergency planning and community right-to-know act program
(EPCRA). He then pledged his organization (UMBRELLA Management Group Inc.),
commitment to upgrading the country's environmental programs. According to him, project for
Liberia is to assess Liberia's needs with regards to chemical industry emergency preparedness
and community awareness. He said the project that is intended to evaluate options and
recommend an information management system, will assist the government and industry in the
"CRAWDIE-TO-GRAVE"                 tracking      of      hazardous       materials       (HM).

Ghana: Looming Crisis in Timber Industry

Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra)"RAW MATERIALS for the timber industry are becoming very
scarce, because most of the major timber companies have exploited their holdings of
concession and if care is not taken, the timber industry in Ghana will face serious crisis", says
the Chief Executive of the Asuo Bomosadu Timbers and Sawmills (ABTS) Ltd, Mr. Ernest
Apraku. He therefore suggested that for the industry not to add to the current large number of
unemployed, it would be laudable for the Forestry Commission (FC) to allocate more
concessions to viable timber firms in the country. The CEO of ABTS indicated that on the part
of the timber firms too, re-forestation should be their target in order to remain in business in
the foreseeable future. ABTS to ensure it maintains its position in the timber industry as one of
the leading companies, according to Mr. Apraku, has taken a bold initiative to embark on a
massive re-forestation programme. He also disclosed that other big companies in the timber
industry have also set the pace, adding, "what we need is government's assistance, because for
a very long time, the timber firms are relying on bank loans that accrued huge interest rates"

Other cost that militated against the timber industry, which makes its future bleak is the high
cost of spare parts, high production cost, maintenance cost, fuel increment and export levies.


                                 ROWA MEDIA UPDATE
                                   20 December 2006


Seminar to present projects to make Al Ain eco-friendly

AL AIN — An international seminar on agriculture and urbanisation will be hosted by the
UAE University and the Al Ain Municipality in collaboration with the University of Pavia in
Italy in Al Ain from January 21 to February 6.

The objective of the seminar, which will be held under the patronage of General Shaikh
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme
Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is to present studies and projects on developing the
city into a tourism hub.

Dr Hadef bin Joan Al Dahry, Vice-Chancellor of the UAE University, Ahmed Al Sharif,
Under-Secretary of the Al Ain Municipality, and Riyad Bou Hlika, Adviser to the
municipality, will take part in the seminar.

Al Sharif said, "The goal of the conference is to make the city environment-friendly. There will
be various events and exhibitions. Around 49 students, including 21 from the UAE and 12
from the Italian university, will participate in the seminar. They will present various designs
for the cityscape."
Bou Hlika said, "It's our responsibilty to make the city as beautiful as possible."

Gulf energy industry leaders call to protect marine environment

 Gulf government and energy industry leaders called for more protection of fragile marine
environments in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea yesterday.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman of the
Emirates Group, said Gulf nations were committed to minimising the potential risks of global

Speaking at Offshore Arabia, an oil and gas conference that kicked off in Dubai yesterday, he
said, "I am also confident that oil producing countries will help in attaining fair and just
solutions towards global energy security and environmental protection."
Offshore Arabia, with its theme of "Global partners for energy and environment," has attracted
more than 50 environmental firms specialising in dealing with oil and gas spills.
There were 164 oil and gas leak cases in the Gulf between 2002 and 2005, and 43 incidents in
the Red Sea during the same period, according to the Saudi Arabian government. The
environmental damage from the leaks is unknown.
"We need to do more," said Salim Al Aydh, senior vice-president of engineering and
operations services at Saudi Aramco.

Non-native species

"We must continue to raise awareness of environmental issues, to develop new technologies to
protect delicate natural ecosystems and work to enhance our operational reliability."

Saudi Aramco, the largest company in the world, worth $781 billion according to recent
estimates, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in environmentally-related projects, said
Al Aydh.

He noted the company recently launched environmental excellence programs, developed a
continuous ballast exchange system on its ships to prevent the importation of non-native
species, and created a technique to rapidly identify the source of marine spills.
Khamis Juma Bu Amim, chairman of the Regional Clean Sea Organisation and vice-president
of Dubai Petroleum Company, said the Gulf was home to energy intensive industries that
would increase with surging economies and populations.
More than 70 per cent of the world's desalinisation plants are located in the region, he noted


Charity donates Dh1m to Greenpeace

A Sharjah charity yesterday donated more than Dh1 million to Greenpeace to continue working
on the recovery and protection of Lebanon‘s marine environment.
Renowned Lebanese singer Majida Al Roumi held a charity music concert in Sharjah in
November under the patronage of Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His
Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and
Ruler of Sharjah.

―People have realised that by looking after the environment they can have a better world. Our
work in Lebanon and in the region is our contribution,‖ said Ahmad Bektas, Executive
Director, Greenpeace Mediterranean, who received the cheque.

During the war on Lebanon, two specific bombings on July 13 and 15 on the oil-fuelled power
plant of Jieh in Southern Lebanon caused fuel spillage of up to 15,000 tonnes damaging half
the Lebanese coastline.

Greenpeace have maintained a strong presence in Lebanon, and have actively participated in
aiding civilians during the start of the war.
Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship, was the second vessel to enter Mediterranean waters
and bring in urgently needed medical supplies for the Medecins Sans Frontieres group.

―This donation will go a long way in achieving our goals, and while it won‘t cover the whole
cost it will certainly play a key role for opening the doors for other donations,‖ said Bektas.

Launching an Ecotourism Project

The Swiss Development Agency and the Swiss Embassy in Lebanon launched a project on the
Protection of Biodiversity through encouraging ecotourism in Lebanon. The cost of the first
phase is $850 thousand, which will be implemented within 18 months, and the cost of the
second phase is the same.

The project will promote the Valley of Bekaa and the Al-Shouf area. They will establish an
environmental hotel which will adopt all the environmental friendly aspects.


                                  ROAP MEDIA UPDATE
                                    19 December 2006

                                   UN or UNEP in the news

Anti-climate change group dismisses policy
Newstalk ZB, New Zealand, 19/12/2006
The Government is being accused of carrying out an injustice by proposing additional taxes on
farmers to combat climate change.

The proposals in the discussion document Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change
include taxing the deforestation of land and charges on nitrogen fertilisers.

Augie Auer, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition says there is no proof
New Zealand will be affected by climate change and he believes it is nonsense to predicate all
kinds of serious consequences. Professor Auer says it is all speculation based on titbits of
information, with no real facts to back it up.

Professor Auer's group's ideas are challenged by organisations such as the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, set up by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United
Nations Environment Programme.

The IPCC says it has carried out the most comprehensive and up-to-date scientific assessment
of past, present and future climate change. It has concluded there is strong evidence that most
of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
UN: Environmental Protection Enhances Economic Development
NEW YORK, New York, December 18, 2006 (ENS) - Egypt, Peru, Vietnam, and Mongolia
are among the countries putting the environment at the core of their plans to cut poverty by
2015, according to a report issued Friday by two United Nations agencies. Environmental
sustainability and economic development work best when they are linked, the report
demonstrates by documenting progress in 158 countries.

The UN Development Programme, UNDP, in partnership with the UN Environment
Programme, UNEP, compiled the report on the progress developing countries are making
towards realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

In an attempt to alleviate poverty by 2015, the international community adopted the
Millennium Declaration in September 2000, which outlines the Millennium Development

The eight Goals - which range from halving extreme poverty to achieving environmental
sustainability, from halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education -
form a blueprint agreed to by all the world‘s governments and development institutions.

"A healthy, sustainable environment is a vital national asset and when it is eroded, the poorest
people suffer the most," said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis.
"This report highlights the progress of some countries towards more environmentally
sustainable development planning but it also presents a harsh reality - if our delicate
ecosystems are not firmly at the heart of all national plans to reduce poverty, then all other
efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 will be undermined," Dervis said.

Of the 158 countries reviewed, 85 countries, 54 percent, have set at least one country specific
environmental target - a greater proportion than in the previous three years.

Targets on access to water and sanitation are most likely to be tailored, with 58 countries
setting at least one tailored target, often with a specific focus on rural populations.

In Egypt, where protecting the environment is a priority for the country‘s eco-tourism industry,
the government is monitoring and reporting progress on water access, waste management and
land degradation, with a view to ensuring it understands what still needs to happen to reach the
Millennium Development Goals, and sets targets accordingly.
Albania, Buthan, Lesotho, Nepal, Syria, Thailand and Vietnam were also cited among the
leaders by the report.

But unless more governments take more ambitious steps to protect the natural world, overall
development goals will be jeopardized, the report cautions.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Achievement of environmental sustainability is
not only a national concern but one with significant international dimensions. Countries, by

mainstreaming environment into poverty reduction and development strategies, can achieve a
great deal."

But Steiner says more needs to be accomplished. "National environmental degradation, and
conversely environmental sustainability, is also inextricably linked with trading regimes,
economic instruments and the values placed on nature-based goods and services within a
globalized world," he said.
Reporting must be improved, the report's findings suggest. Only eight of the 158 countries
report on all global indicators. Indicators related to water and forests have the highest rates of
reporting, with 138 countries reporting on water and 133 countries reporting on forests.

Lack of political will, pressure on environmental resources from high use and natural disasters,
insufficient governance and planning policies, social unrest and lack of financial resources are
among the challenges contributing to lack of environmental sustainability, according to the

One of the main challenges is lack of coordination among internal authorities stemming from
an unclear definition of roles and responsibilities. Collaboration among the donor community
also presents difficulties in terms of country priorities versus those of the donor community,
the authors state.

The report‘s authors, led by Linda Ghanime, UNDP environmental operations and policy
advisor, stress that the best progress is made when countries first adopt the principle of
environmental sustainability, and then adapt their development plans to their own specific

Deforestation is a major challenge in Kenya, for example, where poor people chop down trees
as their only source of fuel for cooking and heating. As part of its plan to reach the Millennium
Development Goals, the Kenyan government proposes to protect at least 3.5 percent of its
forested area by 2008 and introduce renewable options like solar energy to the rural population.

The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s left behind an explosive set of
environmental challenges.
Between 75 and 80 percent of identified minefields, covering about five percent of the
country‘s overall land surface, have yet to be cleared. The mines are damaging to the
environment and their presence means that access to safe, productive land on which the
country‘s citizens can earn a living is restricted.

As part of its planning to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the government of
Bosnia and Herzegovina is working to increase the percentage of de-mined land from five
percent of the minefields in 2000 to 36 percent in 2007 and 80 percent in 2015.

"Together and as part of UN reform," Steiner said, "UNEP and UNDP can be a catalyst for
drawing together and weaving these national and international threads into a seamless whole.
Together we can play a big part towards achieving environmental sustainability and the
realization of the Millennium Development Goals."

The report, which drew financial support from the governments of Canada, Sweden and the
United Kingdom, is part of a wider group of services designed by UNDP to help developing
countries prepare national plans to reach the Millennium Development Goals on time.

The report, entitled "Making Progress on Environmental Sustainability: Lessons and
recommendation from a review of over 150 MDG country experiences," is online at:

Human Powered Extinction: Another Mammal bites the Dust
Melbourne Indymedia, Australia, Takver Tuesday December 19, 2006
The Baiji Yangtze Dolphin has been proclaimed by a scientific team, in all probability, extinct.
"Lipotes vexilifier is the first species of cetacean – whales, dolphins and porpoises – to
disappear from our globe in modern times. It is the first large mammal to go extinct as a result
of man‘s destruction of their natural habitat and ressources." said August Pfluger, CEO of the Foundation on December 13.

A recent six week search expedition, under the direction of the Institute for Hydrobiology
Wuhan and the Swiss-based Foundation, drew to a finish without any results. During
the six-week expedition scientists from six nations desperately searched the Yangtze in vain.

In the 1950's it was estimated there were 6,000 Baiji along the 3,500 km length of the Yangtze
River. By the 1980‘s numbers were estimated at about 400. In 1997, a population survey
counted only 13 animals. The last confirmed sighting of a Baiji was in 2004.

The habitat of the dolphin has been affected by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.
Heavy ship traffic that confused their sonar abilities, overfishing, and high levels of industrial
pollutants dumped into the river is also thought to have affected the species survival.

The Baiji dolphin was colloquially known as the "Goddess of the Yangtze‖ and was regarded
as a symbol of peace and prosperity. A prosperity of industrial development that has led to the
species extinction.

Ironically, the Shanghai stock market hit the highest point in history exactly on the same day
when the Baiji was announced extinct.

Scientists also surveyed the population of the endemic Yangtze Finless Porpoise, and found
less than 400. "The situation of the finless propoise is just like that of the baiji 20 years ago",
sais Wang Ding, deputy director of the Institute of Hydrobiology Wuhan. "Their numbers are
declining at an alarming rate. If we do not act soon they will become a second Baiji", said
Wang Ding, deputy director of the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of
Science in Wuhan.

Other freshwater cetacean species such as The Irawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) are
also under threat of extinction being critically endangered and on IUCN‘s Red List of
Threatend Species. They are found in the Mahakam River of Kalimantan, Indonesia, the
Ayeyarawaddy River of Myanmar and the Mekong River of southern Lao, Cambodia and

The decline in freshwater cetacean numbers signifies an over-exploitation of our world's major
freshwater ecosystems. Ecosystems that millions of humans also depend upon for their daily
survival. The UN declared 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action - Water for Life.

According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2007 has been declared 'the
Year of the Dolphin'. Unfortunately it has come far too late for the Baiji Yangtze Dolphin.
Source: Confederation of Indian Industry
Business Wire India (press release), India, Monday, December 18, 2006
Editors: Business: Advertising, PR & marketing, Automotives, Heavy industries, Major
diversified industrial groups

CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development Organises India’s first
Sustainability Summit: Asia- 2006

Focus: Sustainable Growth for Industry; Businesses as Partners in Sustainable Development
New Delhi, Delhi, India, Monday, December 18, 2006 -- (Business Wire India)
The CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, which advises corporate
organisations on sustainable technologies and practices, will host India‘s first Sustainability
Summit: Asia 2006. Focusing on ‗Promoting Excellence for Sustainable Development‘, the
two-day Summit, starting tomorrow in New Delhi, Is being organised in partnership with
Development Alternatives, a non-governmental organisation.

Set against the background of India‘s poor resource base — low forest cover (one percent of
the world‘s forests), grave water crisis (four percent of the world‘s water resources are found in
India) and land paucity (2.4 percent of the global land mass) — and large population (18
percent of the global population lives in India), the Summit will highlight the role of industry
in ensuring responsible use of natural wealth. Using the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for
Sustainable Development approach of prioritising cost and risk reduction, clean technologies
and innovation for economic and business growth, the Summit will discuss issues of measuring
sustainability as well as issues of mining operations, forestry and innovation for sustainability;
a special session will focus on Orissa.

One of the objectives of the Summit is to create awareness of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
approach which proposes securing economic well-being, social development and
environmental stability as the three pillars of sustainable development.

―Sustainability is a crying need for India as we embark on the path of rapid economic growth,‖
said Mr Y C Deveshwar, chairman of the Advisory Council of CII-ITC Centre of Excellence
for Sustainable Development, of ITC Ltd and a past president of the Confederation of Indian
Industry (CII). ―The Summit will focus on parameters of sustainable development applicable
throughout the country regardless of different socio-economic and environmental concerns in
the urban, rural and other geographical regions. The challenge is to do this and yet ensure
poverty-reduction. India ranks a poor 127 on the UNDP Human Development Index and
desperately needs development on every economic and social front. Yet the path of
development has to be such that we do not destroy the country‘s future even as we address
current imperatives.‖

The Summit is being sponsored by ITC Ltd., partnered by Vedanta Industries, Rio Tinto, the
Tata Group, Ernst & Young and Sesa Goa Limited.

The Summit is supported by the Government of Orissa, United Nations Environment
Programme, Union ministries of Environment and Forests, Tribal Affairs, Heavy Industry and
Public Enterprises, External Affairs and power. Bringing together senior bureaucrats and
political leaders, corporate heads, leaders of development organizations and research
institutions, the debate and discussions are expected to offer breakthrough ideas for directing
action on sustainable growth.

Among the prominent speakers who will address sessions at the Summit are Thiru A Raja,
Union Minister for Environment & Forests, Government of India, Mr. B J Panda, Member of
Parliament – Rajya Sabha, Dr. Kirit S Parikh, Member, Planning Commission, Dr. Prodipto
Ghosh, Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Dr. R C Panda, Secretary, Ministry of
Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises, Ms. Meena Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs,
Dr. T Ramasami, Secretary, Ministry of Science & Technology, Mr. Mechai Viravaidya,
Founder & Chairman, Population & Community Development Programme, Thailand and
Former Minister for Prime Minister‘s Office, Thailand, Prof. Emil Salim, Member, UN High
Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development, Chairman, National Economic Board,
Indonesia and Former Minister for Population & Environment, Indonesia, Prof. David
Jackman, Chair, British Standards (BSi) Committee on Sustainable Development and Director,
London Financial Academy, Mr. Ben Mellor, Head-International, Extractive Industry
Transparency Initiative, U.K., Dr. Jamshed J Irani, Director, Tata Sons Ltd., Mr. Vikram S
Mehta, Chairman, The Shell Group of Companies in India, Mr. Kishor A Chaukar, Managing
Director, Tata Industries Ltd., Mr. Y C Deveshwar, Chairman, ITC Limited, Mr. M S Mehta,
CEO, Hindustan Zinc Ltd., Mr. Nik Senapati, Managing Director, Rio Tinto India Private
Limited, Mr. Ravindra Kastia, Business Head & Group Executive President, Aditya Birla
Group, Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives, and. Mr. Ravi Singh, CEO &
Secretary General, WWF-India.

About CII – ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development
Formed in Jan. 2006 in New Delhi, the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable
Development makes available the services of expert resources to advise Indian industry on
adopting Sustainability best practices. It also engages in research on issues of Sustainable
Development that are relevant to the industry. Instituted in January 2006, it focuses as much on
small enterprises as large corporations in its advisory capacity.

                                 General Environment News

Pollution control zone call renewed
Map Ta Phut now a serious health threat
Bangkok Post, 19 December 2006, APINYA WIPATAYOTIN
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is set to renew its effort to have Map Ta
Phut industrial estate designated as a pollution control zone. The National Environment
Committee had earlier rejected the proposal, as it had faced strong opposition from the
industrial sector and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand which fear the move would
destroy the investment climate in the industrial estate in Rayong province.

It was unclear when the proposal would be re-submitted to the committee, chaired by Deputy
Prime Minister and Industry Minister Kosit Panpiemras, but many believe it could be as soon
as next week.

Sonthi Kochawat, director of the Environmental Impact Evaluation Development and
Monitoring Division, said if the committee turns down the proposal again, he would propose a
major clean-up plan for the heavily-polluted industrial estate, since the pollution is taking a
severe toll on the health of the local population.

The division has still to work out the details of the plan, he said at a seminar on pollution at
Map Ta Phud, organised by the National Human Rights Commission. In principle, the plan
would stipulate effective pollution management and public health protection measures.

Moreover, the plan would allow people's participation in protecting the environment from the
beginning, he said.

Mr Sonthi pointed out that air pollution, as a result of industrial development, should be taken
seriously as heavy pollutants were being emitted by power and petrochemical plants.

Power plants like BLCP, ARC and COCO are known to emit high levels of sulferdioxide
(SO2). BLCP, COCO and the Rayong power plants have also been blamed for the excessive
emission of nitrogendioxide (NO2).
A survey by the Pollution Control Department last year found that the level of 19 cancer-
causing chemicals being released in the air, including Acrolein, Trichloroethylene and
Ethylene Dichloride, exceeded the acceptable standards set by the US Environmental
Protection Agency.

Penchom sae Tang, a coordinator of the Campaign for Alternative Industry Network (CAIN),
urged that the government review its industrial expansion plan under the third phase of
development at the Map Ta Phut petrochemical complex (2004-2118).

''We can see clearly there is no effective measure to control and manage pollution problems at
the moment. If the government still goes ahead and endorses the expansion without putting any
safeguards in place, the pollution situation will only worsen,'' she said.

Statistics released by the National Cancer Institute of Thailand show that 1,263.5 people per
100,000 population in Rayong province had developed cancer last year, a three-fold increase
from the 444.3 people per 100,000 population in 1997.

Moreover, the number of new-born babies with birth defects in Rayong had dramatically
increased to 163.8 per 100,000 population in 2005 from 48.2 per 100,000 in 1997.

Deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had planned to boost the petrochemical industry
there by another 10,000 rai to serve over 30 new plants in the Map Ta Phut industrial zone
alone. However, it had no clear policy on effective pollution control and management.

Meanwhile, the eastern people's network today will submit a letter to Prime Minister Gen
Surayud Chulanont, calling on the government to review the eastern industrial development

plan. They said an increase in conflicts could be expected over natural resources management
unless the government curbs the eastern industrial growth.

Quake tremors felt in central, northeastern areas of Singapore
TODAYonline, Singapore, 19 December 2006
Singaporeans living in many parts of the island woke up yesterday morning to tremors
following two earthquakes off the coast of Sumatra within a half-hour span.
Tremors were felt in areas such as Marine Parade, Beach Road, Whampoa, Ang Mo Kio and
Toa Payoh.
Singapore police said it received 15 calls from the public after 5.45am.
Seventeen buildings — including nine Housing Development Board blocks, six private
residential buildings and two office buildings — in the central and northeast parts of Singapore
experienced the tremors, police said.
Engineers from the HDB and the Building and Construction Authority inspected the buildings
and found none was affected by the tremors. The public should report any cracks resulting
from the tremors, the police added.
The first quake, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, struck about 540km from Singapore
shortly after 5am.
Its epicentre was off the west coast of northern Sumatra, near the town of Padang. Half an hour
later, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck again. At least seven people were killed and 150
injured in Sumatra while hundreds of homes were brought down, local officials and police
Three aftershocks sent residents rushing out of their homes in the region, where memories of
the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami which devastated Aceh further to the north are still fresh.
Bedok South resident Chan Kok Keong told Today he was woken up at 5.40am by the
"clanging" of his dining room chandeliers. The site supervisor said he felt "giddy" but said it
was not as bad as the tsunami tremors. — Ansley Ng
Singaporeans living in many parts of the island woke up yesterday morning to tremors
following two earthquakes off the coast of Sumatra within a half-hour span.
Tremors were felt in areas such as Marine Parade, Beach Road, Whampoa, Ang Mo Kio and
Toa Payoh.
Singapore police said it received 15 calls from the public after 5.45am.
Seventeen buildings — including nine Housing Development Board blocks, six private
residential buildings and two office buildings — in the central and northeast parts of Singapore
experienced the tremors, police said.

Engineers from the HDB and the Building and Construction Authority inspected the buildings
and found none was affected by the tremors. The public should report any cracks resulting
from the tremors, the police added.
The first quake, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, struck about 540km from Singapore
shortly after 5am.
Its epicentre was off the west coast of northern Sumatra, near the town of Padang. Half an hour
later, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck again. At least seven people were killed and 150
injured in Sumatra while hundreds of homes were brought down, local officials and police
Three aftershocks sent residents rushing out of their homes in the region, where memories of
the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami which devastated Aceh further to the north are still fresh.
Bedok South resident Chan Kok Keong told Today he was woken up at 5.40am by the
"clanging" of his dining room chandeliers. The site supervisor said he felt "giddy" but said it
was not as bad as the tsunami tremors. — Ansley Ng

                           UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
                                   DAILY NEWS
19 December, 2006


In his farewell news conference as the world‘s top diplomat, United
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today cited the failure to stop the Iraq war
as the worst moment of his 10 years in office and made a fervent appeal
that the Organization not be judged by the Oil-for-Food scandal but by its
myriad humanitarian and development actions.

―I think the worst moment was the Iraq war which as an Organization we
couldn‘t stop and I really did everything I can to try to see if we could
stop it,‖ he replied when asked what he considered the top achievements and
three worst moments of his tenure.

Among the achievements, he cited the UN‘s human rights efforts, the war
against inequality both between and within States and the battle for
development as epitomized by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that
seek to slash a host of social ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty,
infant and maternal mortality and lack of access to education and health
care, all by 2015.

But he devoted his most fervent appeal to a plea that the UN not be judged
by the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal after which an Independent Inquiry
Committee found mismanagement on the part of Mr. Annan‘s administration and
corruption largely on the part of private companies in connection with the
scheme to allow the sanctions-bound regime of Saddam Hussein to sell oil
and use a portion of the revenues to purchase food and humanitarian

―I think that when historians look at the records they will draw the
conclusion that, yes, there was mismanagement and there may have been
several UN staff members engaged but the scandal, if any, was in the
capitals and with the 2,200 companies that made a deal with Saddam behind
our backs and of course I hope the historians will realize that the UN is
more than oil-for-food,‖ he said.

―The UN is a UN that coordinates tsunami [relief for the Indian Ocean
disaster of 2004], a UN that deals with the Kashmir earthquake [of 2005], a
UN that is pushing for equality and fighting to implement the Millennium
Development Goals, a UN that is fighting for human dignity and the rights
of others and all the other aspects,‖ he added.

―That was a very special programme, the oil-for-food we were asked to

implement. So please don‘t generalize from the particular.‖

Beyond the Iraq War and oil-for-food, Mr. Annan mentioned the bombing of
the UN‘s Baghdad headquarters in 2003 that killed 22 people, including the
top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. ―They were not just colleagues, they were
true friends and I think nothing had hit me as much as almost the loss of
my twin sister,‖ he said.

Among the achievements he cited first the adoption by the UN World Summit
last year of the principal that Members States have the responsibility to
protect their citizens. Secondly he mentioned the determination to cut
inequality among and within States.

―A world where you have extreme poverty and immense wealth side by side is
not sustainable,‖ he said, also noting the UN‘s work on diseases from
HIV/AIDS to bird flu. Thirdly, he said he had made the UN ―a truly
partnership organization… realizing from the beginning that we couldn‘t do
everything and we had to know what we can do, what others do better, what
we have to do with others.‖



Secretary-General Kofi Annan today announced that the former General
Assembly president and Swedish foreign minister Jan Eliasson has been
appointed as a special envoy to deal with the spiralling humanitarian and
security crisis in Sudan‘s war-torn Darfur region.

Speaking to reporters in New York at his year-end press conference, Mr.
Annan said that he and Secretary-General-designate Ban Ki-moon had agreed
to ask Mr. Eliasson – who served as Assembly president during its 60th
session in 2005-06 – to serve in the new post.

―I expect him to [assume] his activities [on Sudan] at the beginning of the
year,‖ Mr. Annan said.

Responding to a question, the Secretary-General said Mr. Eliasson‘s main
task would be to ―the work the diplomatic channels,‖ especially outside
Sudan, to encourage governments in their home capitals to remain engaged on
the issue.

A new Secretary-General‘s Special Representative for Sudan will be
designated shortly to replace Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, he added.

Yesterday Mr. Annan and Mr. Ban met representatives of the Security
Council‘s five permanent members to discuss the deteriorating situation
inside Darfur, a remote and impoverished region in western Sudan that has
been beset by fighting since 2003.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced
from their homes since clashes first erupted between Government forces,
allied militias and rebel groups seeking greater autonomy. The UN estimates
that 4 million people now depend on humanitarian assistance.

Tomorrow another UN special envoy, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, will start his
diplomatic mission in Khartoum, holding talks with Sudanese President Omar
el-Bashir to clarify details of recent agreements on ending the fighting in
Darfur, including on the role of the UN.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah and Mr. el-Bashir will discuss the deal reached at last
month‘s High-Level meeting on Darfur, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where
the UN, the African Union (AU) and Sudan agreed that the UN would provide
extra support to the current AU peacekeeping mission – known as AMIS – as
part of a three-phase process culminating in AMIS becoming a hybrid UN-AU

The hybrid force is expected to have about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police
officers, compared to the current AMIS strength of around 7,000.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah and Mr. el-Bashir will also discuss the outcome of a
subsequent AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, which
endorsed the conclusions reached in Addis Ababa.

Under the first phase of enhanced UN support, the UN is giving AMIS a $21
million ―light support package,‖ which includes the provision of some
equipment as well as 105 military advisers, 33 police officers and 48
civilian staff from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) – a separate
peacekeeping operation mandated to oversee a peace pact that ended the
21-year war in the country‘s south.

Endorsing the agreements reached at Addis Ababa and Abuja, the Security
Council today called for the conclusions to be implemented immediately,
especially the deployment of the UN light support package.

In a presidential statement read out by Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz
al-Nasser of Qatar, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month,
the 15-member body reiterated its grave concern about the situation inside
Darfur and its repercussions for the wider region.

The latest UN initiatives to bring peace come as UNMIS reports that on
Monday night a group of about 20 unidentified armed men attacked the
compounds of two international non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
operating in the South Darfur town of Gereida, about 90 kilometres south of
the state capital, Nyala.

The men stole 12 vehicles and a number of computers from the compounds,
although there were no reports of injuries, according to the Mission. Some
71 aid workers have since been temporarily relocated to Nyala for their


The Secretary-General‘s Deputy Special Representative and UN Humanitarian
Coordinator, Manuel Aranda da Silva, said the NGOs affected carry out
critical work in Gereida, ensuring that about 130,000 internally displaced
persons (IDPs) have access to drinking water, food and basic health care.

―That is why this sort of incident is a huge blow,‖ he said, adding that
aid workers have become increasingly targeted in recent months.

―How can we expect them to carry out humanitarian work without vehicles to
get to camps, phones to communicate, and the constant threat to their own
physical safety? This is preventing humanitarian organizations from
providing lifesaving assistance.‖

The UN annual work plan for Sudan, launched last week in Geneva, forecasts
that the troubled African country needs more than $1.8 billion next year to
fund humanitarian and development projects, with the conflict in Darfur and
reconstruction efforts in southern Sudan, where the UN is monitoring
implementation of a peace agreement that ended over two decades of conflict
there, absorbing most of the costs.



Outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today praised Spain
for donating $700 million to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs), a time-bound set of eight globally agreed targets that aim to
combat poverty and other social ills, calling this a ―splendid example of
international solidarity‖ and urging other countries to follow suit.

―I would just like… to acknowledge the magnificent announcement by the
Spanish prime minister yesterday, that Spain is donating $700 million to
the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,‖ Mr. Annan
said in his last press conference before handing over the reins of the
world body to his successor, Ban Ki-moon, at the end of this month.

―This is the largest contribution yet made to the UN for this purpose by
any country, and I believe it is a splendid example of international
solidarity which I hope other members will follow,‖ said Mr. Annan, who
attended a signing ceremony for the donation yesterday in New York,
alongside Spain‘s Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The agreement, signed between Spanish Secretary of State for International
Cooperation Leire Pajín and Kemal Dervis, the UN Development Programme
(UNDP) Administrator, sets up the UN Fund for the Achievement of the MDGs,
which will be managed by Spain and the UNDP.

According to the agency, which coordinates UN development activities in
developing countries, the MDG Fund will focus on the following:

Democratic governance; Gender equality; Basic social needs, including youth employment;
Economic development, including the role of the private sector; Environment and climate
change; Conflict prevention and peace-building; Cultural diversity and development.
―UNDP thanks the Government of Spain for this contribution which confirms
its leadership in multilateralism and international cooperation and
highlights its confidence in the United Nations,‖ Mr. Dervis said.

―Focussing on seven key development areas, widely acknowledged as central
to the achievement of the MDGs, this contribution will better position the
UN to help countries achieve their national development objectives.‖

The MDGs were agreed by world leaders at the UN‘s Millennium Summit in
2000. They cover eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving
universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child
mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other
diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and fostering a global
partnership for development.



A team of bird flu experts from a joint United Nations crisis centre set up
to deal with the emergency arrived today in South Korea to assess regional
risks and protective measures following three recent outbreaks of the
disease among domestic poultry in rural areas south of the capital Seoul.

A nine-person team from the Crisis Management Centre (CMC), an initiative
between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Paris-based
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), will conduct a 10-day mission
collecting epidemiological data at the invitation of the Government, the
agency said.

―The… team includes international and Korean veterinary epidemiologists,
wildlife veterinarians, biologists and poultry specialists who will pay
particular attention to the relationships between poultry production,
marketing and wildlife sectors to… better understand potential disease
movement among chickens and risks to or from wild birds,‖ FAO said.

―The team will be looking at any wild bird deaths on infected farms or
adjacent wetlands, as well as collecting environmental samples that may
lead to a better understanding of disease emergence in the area… Besides
the wild bird angle, the CMC experts hope to investigate many other

potential risk factors, such as the handling of sick and dead birds.‖

By the end of the mission, the first full-scale multidisciplinary
deployment by the CMC since it was established in October, the team hopes
to be able to provide answers to some of the questions surrounding the
mechanisms of disease introduction and its spread.

Although well over 200 million birds have died worldwide from either the
H5N1 flu virus or preventive culling, there have so far been only 258 human
cases, 154 of them fatal, since the current outbreak started in South-East
Asia in December 2003, and these have been ascribed to contact with
infected birds.

But experts fear the virus could mutate, gaining the ability to pass from
person to person and, in a worst case scenario, unleash a deadly human
pandemic. The so-called Spanish flu pandemic that broke out in 1918 is
estimated to have killed from 20 million to 40 million people by the time
it had run its course two years later.

FAO says winning the battle against the virus demands a long-term vision
with more surveillance as well as stronger emphasis on hygiene and movement
control throughout the animal production and marketing chain.



Japan‘s commitment to the UN has been demonstrated across a range of areas,
from providing funding to advocating for multilateralism, Secretary-General
Kofi Annan has said, marking the country‘s 50th anniversary as a member of
the world body.

―Japan‘s wide-ranging support for UN activities has substantially improved
the Organization‘s ability to address chronic challenges of social and
economic development. Its contributions in humanitarian relief are
legendary, along with its longstanding efforts to promote global nuclear
disarmament, its valiant efforts against global warming, and its strong and
growing support for UN peacekeeping efforts,‖ Mr. Annan said in a message
on the milestone delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament
Affairs Nobuaki Tanaka in Tokyo on Monday.

He said this support is about more than just funding. ―Japan is recognized
worldwide as a leading champion of multilateralism, democracy, as well as
of conflict prevention and human rights.‖

Voicing his expectation that Japan will continue to play a major role in
the future work of the UN, Mr. Annan observed: ―A State does not need to
possess nuclear weapons to achieve greatness in this world.‖



A global community of Internet users and culinary devotees has raised
almost $31,000 in little more than a week to help the United Nations World
Food Programme (WFP) provide meals to some of the hungriest and poorest

Three years ago, Pim Techamuanvivit, a renowned United States blogger on
restaurants, devised the ―Menu for Hope‖ auction programme where foodies
around the world can buy $10 tickets to bid on items ranging from
complimentary meals at top restaurants to rare cookery books to baskets of
unusual gastronomic items.

All proceeds from the auction – which is located at – are being given to the WFP.

This year‘s target of $25,000 has already been exceeded, with the total
reaching $30,986.70 as of 4.15 pm New York time today. Menu for Hope, which
began on 10 December, is scheduled to keep running through Friday. Last
year the project raised $17,000 to help the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF).

Ms. Techamuanvivit said one of the key reasons for the success this year
has been that so many donors value the work of the WFP.

―The opportunity to help the world‘s hungry galvanizes this community of
people who share a passion for food,‖ she said. ―Here is a chance to make a
difference, to share some of the privileges we enjoy – that‘s why so many
people have so generously and enthusiastically shown their support.‖



The United Nations agricultural development agency signed an agreement
today with Eritrea to allow more than 200,000 families from the African
country who have been hard hit by years of war and drought to participate
in a programme designed to raise productivity and boost rural incomes.

Known as the Post-crisis Rural Recovery and Development Programme, the $23
million scheme will be funded in part by a loan of $12.2 million and a
grant of $343,000 from the UN‘s International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD).

The Fund‘s President, Lennart Båge, and Eritrea‘s Ambassador to Italy,
Zemede Tekle Woldetatios, signed the financing deal at IFAD‘s headquarters
in Rome today.

Abla Benhammouche, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Eritrea, said the
project‘s officers would work closely with farmers‘ groups to promote the
use of conservation-based agriculture.

The project will focus on the regions of Dedub and Gash Barka, which have
suffered the most during the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea border war. More
than 80 per cent of the local population in the two regions is classed as
poor and food insecure. Thousands of households own no livestock and
cultivate plots of no more than one hectare.

―The populations of these two regions have paid a massive price to wars and
droughts. Many have been displaced; many have lost their belongings and
family members,‖ Ms. Benhammouche said, adding that ―the goal [of the
programme] is to increase productivity and reconstruct rural livelihoods
while safeguarding the environment.‖

Much of the project funds will be devoted to helping local Eritrean
communities plan and carry out development activities themselves, while
technical support will be given to farmers working more than 200,000
hectares of dry land. Tens of thousands of hectares of rangeland will also
be rehabilitated, while the breeding of livestock – such as cows, goats and
sheep – will also be enhanced.

Set up in 1977 in the wake of the food crises of the early 1970s that hit
the Sahelian countries of Africa particularly hard, IFAD is a specialized
agency of the UN dedicated to helping the rural poor in developing
countries overcome poverty.



It might be impossible to thread a camel through the proverbial eye of a
needle, but the United Nations is helping to get under-age child-jockeys
off the backs of camels and reintegrate them into their home communities.

In May 2005, the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) agreed to return such children, the vast majority of them under 10,
to their countries of origin such as Bangladesh, Mauritania, Pakistan and
Sudan, and yesterday the UAE allocated $9 million to help reintegrate
former jockeys who left the country before the accord came into force.

―We are happy to be working with the UAE on this very important
initiative,‖ UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said. ―The UAE‘s

decision to expand and extend its cooperation to include former camel
jockeys who left the country before, or outside of the legal system put in
place for repatriation and rehabilitation, shows their high level of
commitment to the wellbeing of these children.‖

In 2005, the UAE Government passed a federal law prohibiting the
recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 as jockeys. Violators
face jail terms of up to three years and/or a fine of 50,000 dirhams

To date, over 1,000 former camel jockeys, 93 per cent of them under the age
of 10, have been returned to their countries and reunited with their
families. UNICEF continues to work with the children and provides follow up
to ensure their successful reintegration.

―I see this decision as a real opportunity for all the former jockeys, to
get back some hope that will help them to reintegrate into their
communities and benefit from educational and vocational training programs
that will advance their future,‖ Ms. Salah said of the latest allocation.



Marking United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, Secretary-General
Kofi Annan today called on developing countries to work together more to
tackle some of their greatest common threats and challenges, from extreme
poverty to HIV/AIDS.

―Amid the perils and promise of globalization, South-South cooperation
enables developing countries to share their experiences and successes with
others,‖ Mr. Annan said in a message for the Day.

He noted that expanding trade within the South and the emergence of
multinational corporations from that region, generating jobs and wealth, is
helping to increase the strength and scope of developing country
partnerships. The faster-growing nations in the South are also serving as a
key source of investment, remittances and development.

Recent gatherings such as this year‘s China-Africa Summit in Beijing and
last year‘s South America-Arab Summit have indicated, he said, ―a strong
commitment among developing countries to maintain and increase this

The Secretary-General added that ―by itself, South-South cooperation may
not be sufficient to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But as
one piece of a larger global partnership for development, it is already
making valuable contributions. The international community must not only

applaud this trend, it must make every effort to support strengthened ties
between developing countries.‖

The MDGs are a set of time-bound targets for tackling a host of global
ills, from extreme poverty to HIV/AIDS.

In Bangkok, the UN held a gathering of representatives from agencies,
Member States, civil society organizations and other groups to mark the
Day, which was established in 2003 by the General Assembly.

Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), told participants that the wide
diversity between countries in the South offers individual nations the best
opportunity to learn from each other and prosper.

Yiping Zhou, Director of the UN Special Unit for South-South Cooperation,
said he wished that there were more concrete mechanisms being developed to
deliver results on the ground and to mobilize resources, whether financial,
institutional or human, to help poor countries develop.

Meanwhile, the UN representative for some of the world‘s poorest countries
has welcomed the signing of an agreement by 11 countries last Friday
promoting security, stability and development in Africa‘s Great Lakes

Under the pact, a $2 billion fund will be established to finance
humanitarian needs, rebuild conflict-affected areas, provide basic
services, build infrastructure and promote democracy. Countries that are
signatories are mandated to contribute to the new fund, which will be run
by the African Development Bank.

The 11 signatories are Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR),
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Republic of Congo,
Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Anwarul K. Chowdhury, UN High Representative for the Least Developed
Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing
States, welcomed the pact‘s focus on such goals as eradicating poverty,
fostering good governance and developing infrastructure.



Flood waters in East Africa are rising much faster than funding for United
Nations efforts to feed some 1.5 million people whose lives are threatened
by the disaster.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today voiced
deep concern about growing food shortages in Somalia, yet the UN has so far
received only $5 million of the $18 million it requested two weeks ago to
help the victims of the worst flooding in the impoverished Horn of Africa
country‘s recent history.

Farmers had already been fleeing the Bay region due to armed conflict
there, but the floods have now brought new concerns for crops as well as
deteriorating sanitary conditions and heightened levels of water-borne
diseases, OCHA spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs told a news briefing in Geneva.

Some 455,000 Somalis are receiving food by helicopter and trucks and
airdrops are scheduled for the coming days, UN World Food Programme (WFP)
spokesman Simon Pluess told the briefing.

In Kenya, the rains, though more moderate now, are continuing, with 114
people reported dead and some 723,000 more affected by the flooding as of
earlier this month, Ms. Byrs said. The waters are very high in the region
of Lake Victoria and the Tana River basin, where 20 health centres are no
longer accessible to humanitarian workers and 180,000 people need food and
health aid.

Mr. Pluess said airdrops were planned to begin in Kenya tomorrow, while aid
was also being delivered to the Tana River area by heavy-lift helicopters.
Over the next two weeks, WFP will seek to airdrop 950 tons in Dardar Camp
to ensure food for the area after 1 January.

Overall, WFP has fed 563,000 Kenyans and 100,000 Somali refugees in Kenya,
455,000 people in Somalia and 362,000 in Ethiopia.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Wendy Chamberlin visited
camps sheltering some 160,000 mainly Somali refugees in the Dadaab region
of north-east Kenya after they fled drought and deadly factional fighting
in their homeland. Tens of thousands of them have been displaced by
flooding in recent weeks.

―This is my second visit to Dadaab this year. When I came in February, you
were facing drought-related problems – now you are witnessing floods,‖ she
said while touring two of the camps over the weekend. ―I am struck with the
cycle of death that Somali refugees face in this camp.‖



Demographers and population specialists from 14 Asian nations have gathered
in Bangkok for a three-day conference organized by the United Nations to
discuss the latest challenges and issues posed by the region‘s declining

fertility rates.

The seminar, set up by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and
the Pacific (UNESCAP), is examining why there are such differences in both
the rates of fertility and the scale of the decline in those rates between
countries within the region.

The average number of children per Asian woman is currently 2.3, but
national rates vary from more than five in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste to
less than 1.5 in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong,

In her statement at the conference‘s opening yesterday, Thelma Kay,
Director of UNESCAP‘s Emerging Social Issues Division, said that in some
Asian countries socio-economic development has been the crucial factor
contributing to a decline in fertility, while in others family planning
programmes made the difference.

―However, it has been highlighted that sustained fertility decline has
occurred in countries where both these factors have been in operation,‖ she

―Among the socio-economic factors, urbanization, delay in age at marriage,
especially among women, better education of women and higher labour force
participation of women have been the driving forces behind fertility

Marital status is also critical, according to the population experts, with
little child-bearing outside of marriage in Asia, particularly in
comparison to Northern and Western Europe.

The conference aims to help governments develop guidelines for future
policy research, suggest policy recommendations and develop specific
programmes to boost the quality of life of people in the region.



A United Nations-backed international treaty to preserve the rich diversity
of the world‘s means of cultural expression from the dangers of
globalization, including its many languages, will enter into force on 18
March after it topped the needed total of 30 ratifications yesterday.

―The rapidity of the ratification process is unprecedented,‖ UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Director-General. Koïchiro Matsuura said today of the Convention on the
Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted

by UNESCO‘s General Conference in October 2005.

―None of UNESCO‘s other cultural conventions has been adopted by so many
States in so little time,‖ Mr Matsuura added. Another 13 countries, as well
as the European Community, yesterday deposited their instrument of
ratification at UNESCO‘s Paris headquarters, bringing the total to 35.

As examples of the kind of cultural consolidation threatened by
globalization, UNESCO notes that 50 per cent of the world languages are in
danger of extinction and that 90 per cent of them are not represented on
the Internet. In addition, five countries monopolize the world cultural
industries. In the field of cinema, for instance, 88 countries have never
had their own film productions.

Besides promoting diversity in those areas, the Convention seeks to
reaffirm the links between culture, development and dialogue and to create
a platform for international cooperation, including the creation of an
international fund for cultural diversity.

It highlights ―the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining
those involved in cultural creativity‖ and reaffirms that ―freedom of
thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media,
enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies.‖

It also supports UNESCO‘s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
adopted in 2001, which recognized cultural diversity as ―a source of
exchange, innovation and creativity,‖ a common heritage of humanity that
―should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future

The new Convention reaffirms the sovereign right of States to elaborate
cultural policies with a view ―to protect and promote the diversity of
cultural expressions and reinforce international cooperation‖ while
respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.



Reforming Timor-Leste‘s security sector following this year‘s deadly
violence remains the top priority of the United Nations mission in the tiny
South-East Asian nation, the UN‘s new envoy said shortly after arriving, as
international police officers deployed to more of the nation‘s districts to
end the continuing low-level gang violence.

―There are some very clear immediate priorities which are there in front of
the mission. First and foremost of them, the confidence and review of the
security sector and sector reform,‖ Atul Khare, who was appointed the

Special Representative of the Secretary-General earlier this month, told
reporters on Monday after arriving the previous day.

―The second challenge, would be provision of assistance to the Government
to ensure that …[next year‘s] elections both the national parliament and to
the presidency are conducted in a free and fair manner without any violence
or fear,‖ he said, adding the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)
would also keep working to relocate displaced people.

Mr. Khare, who served in an earlier UN mission in Timor-Leste from June
2002 until last year, also paid tribute in his first press conference to
Finn Reske-Nielsen, who has been the Acting Special Representative of theSecretary-General
and will stay on as Mr. Khare‘s deputy.

―Just to highlight a few of the achievements under his guidance, we have
seen that the security situation in Dili has stabilised and we have seen
the first deployments of the UNPOL (UN Police) officers to the districts –
three districts at least,‖ he said.

The UN said today that it had started deploying UNPOL district commanders
and their units to all 12 of Timor-Leste‘s districts, deployments that are
expected to be completed by the end of the week.

The officers are leaving the capital Dili to join others already stationed
at the border regions of Oecussi, Bobonaro and Covalima. The fourth
eight-member unit will be deployed to the Baucau district taking the total
number of each UNPOL unit to eight officers, it added.

―These additional deployments will begin to lay the groundwork for the
security preparations ahead of next year‘s post-independence elections,‖
said Mr. Khare. The UN says it expects a full force of 1,608 international
police officers to be in country by the end of January 2007.

As part of UNMIT, there are currently 981 international police officers
from 25 different countries implementing screening and mentoring programmes
for the National Police force of Timor-Leste under the Police Supplemental
Agreement, a deal signed at the start of this month under which the UN has
full responsibility for policing.

A further eight UNPOL units will be deployed to Ailieu, Manatuto, Liquica,
Ermera, Viqueque, Manufahi, Ainaro and Lautem by the end of this week.

The Security Council created UNMIT in August to help restore order after
deadly violence, attributed to differences between eastern and western
regions, broke out in April and May in the country that the UN shepherded
to independence from Indonesia just four years ago.

One of its key aspects has been bringing in UN police officers to rebuild
and support the local force as well as enforcing law and order,
particularly in the capital Dili, which remains beset by tensions following

this year‘s violence that led to the deaths of at least 37 people and
forced about 155,000 people – or 15 per cent of the population – to flee
their homes.



Nearly 270 kilos of fresh highly enriched uranium fuel (HEU) that could be
used by terrorists to make nuclear explosives have been returned from a
German research reactor to Russia in a secret airlift jointly monitored by
the United Nations atomic watchdog agency, the largest amount ever
transported in such an operation.

―This action is an important step towards promoting a global cleanout of
HEU in the civilian sector,‖ UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Project Manager Arnaud Atger said of the five-day operation that ended
yesterday. ―The security of HEU is of particular concern due to the
technical feasibility of constructing a crude nuclear explosive device from

The mission was jointly carried out under tight security measures by
Germany, Russia, the United States and the IAEA. A total of 268 kilos of
HEU and 58 kilos of fresh low-enriched uranium fuel (LEU) were taken from
the reactor in Rossendorf near Dresden and airlifted to Russia, where the
fuel originated. Russia will blend the HEU down into LEU for further
civilian use.

IAEA safeguards inspectors monitored the loading of the fuel to 18 special
transportation containers and sealed them. They were joined by experts from
both the US National Nuclear Security Administration and from Russia during
this process and during the departure of the cargo plane from Dresden

The removal was carried out under an IAEA Technical Cooperation project,
entitled ‗Repatriation, Management and Disposition of Fresh and/or Spent
Nuclear Fuel from Research Reactors.‘ This project supports the US-funded
Global Threat Reduction Initiative that aims to identify, secure and
recover high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the

―Every kilogramme of material that is moved is one less kilogramme of
material that could be used by terrorists to make a bomb,‖ US National
Nuclear Security Administration Deputy Administrator Andrew Bieniawski
said. ―The total amount of 326 kg [kilos] of fresh fuel is the largest ever
shipment ever done under our programme.‖

Before the latest shipment, the IAEA had facilitated 11 shipments of a

total of 165 kilos of fresh HEU from eight countries – Serbia, Romania,
Bulgaria, Libya, Uzbekistan, Czech Republic, Latvia and Poland.

The latest batch was supplied by the former Soviet Union the former German
Democratic Republic in 1960s and 1970s. After German reunification, the
Federal Government decided to shut down the two Soviet-design research
reactors at Rossendorf, which were decommissioned in 1991 and 2005. The
fuel had since then been kept under strict security measures at the site.

Research reactors produce radioisotopes for medicine and industry, for
research in physics, biology and material science, and for scientific
education and training.

More than half of research reactors worldwide – 132 out of 244 – are still
fuelled with HEU, considered high-risk since it can also be used in the
making of a nuclear explosive device. Together with the Global Threat
Reduction Initiative, the IAEA works with Member States to return fresh or
spent fuel and convert their research reactors to LEU, leading to the
eventual elimination of international trade in HEU for research reactors.



Thousands of refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and
Central African Republic (CAR) are scheduled to be airlifted to their
respective homes in Angola and Sudan in the coming months under United
Nations repatriation programmes, the UN refugee agency reported today.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees launched an airlift for some 12,700
Angolans in Bas Congo in the DRC. Once completed later this month, it will
mark the end of the agency‘s four-year repatriation programme for hundreds
of thousands of Angolans after a peace accord in 2002 ended 27 years of
civil war, during which 500,000 people fled their homeland and millions
more were internally displaced.

Upon arrival in Angola, returnees are vaccinated for yellow fever and
receive financial aid to reach their final destination. Since June 2003,
some 370,000 Angolan refugees have returned home, including nearly 180,000
from the DRC.

Further to the north, UNHCR has resumed the repatriation of southern
Sudanese refugees from northern CAR after fighting there forced it to
suspend the operation for eight months.

The agency plans to repatriate some 8,000 Sudanese by the middle of next
year. More than 2,100 refugees have returned home since February under an
agreement between UNHCR, CAR and Sudan. Some 92,000 Sudanese refugees have

returned home from neighbouring countries. Of this number, more than 18,000
returned home with UNHCR assistance.

The CAR Government agreed to open a humanitarian corridor for the sole
purpose of repatriating Sudanese by air. The repatriation follows last
year‘s peace agreement between the Sudanese Government and southern rebels
that ended 21 years of civil war during which half a million Sudanese fled
their homeland and 4 million more were internally displaced.

Returnees face serious challenges due to the lack of infrastructure and
skilled personnel in areas such as health and education and UNHCR, through
implementing partners, is rehabilitating some health care centres,
maternity wards and primary schools, though many classes are now taught
under trees. The agency is also providing safe water by drilling boreholes.



The head of the United Nations refugee agency leaves tomorrow on a two-day
mission to Chad to strengthen efforts to maintain a vital lifeline for
370,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) that is
increasingly threatened by violence spilling over the border from Sudan‘s
war-torn Darfur region.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres is expected to
meet with senior Chadian officials, including President Idriss Deby, to
discuss the dire humanitarian situation facing some 232,000 Darfur refugees
and 90,000 Chadian IDPs in remote eastern Chad, as well as 48,000 Central
African Republic (CAR) refugees in the south.

―The volatile and deteriorating security situation, which has led to UNHCR
working on a skeleton staff basis in six of the 12 refugee camps in the
east since late November, is of critical concern to the High Commissioner,‖
UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told a news briefing in Geneva today,
noting that Mr. Guterres will travel to eastern Chad to meet with Darfur
refugees and Chadian IDPs.

―During his mission, he will be stressing the fragility of the vital
humanitarian lifeline in eastern Chad and seeking ways to strengthen it and
protect the hundreds of thousands of victims of violence in the region,‖ he
added, calling the situation, which has forced UNHCR and other aid
organizations to withdraw staff from several camps, one of the world‘s most
difficult and urgent humanitarian crises.

Over the past three years, UNHCR has established a dozen remote refugee
camps for hundreds of thousands of Darfurians scattered along a
600-kilometre stretch of eastern Chad near the border with Sudan. In the
last 12 months, 90,000 Chadians have themselves been displaced by marauding

groups of armed men on camels and horseback whose tactics mirror those of
the notorious Janjaweed across the border in Darfur.

Just last Friday and Saturday, in the latest deadly episode of inter-ethnic
fighting that has been increasing in intensity since November, attacks on
villages in the Koukou Angarana area in south-eastern Chad close to Goz
Amer refugee camp killed 30 people, including local villagers, refugees and
IDPs. Another 30 people were wounded.

Government forces countered the attack in heavy fighting around the village
of Habile, which is also the site of a makeshift camp for IDPs, and 22
villagers and IDPs were killed and 93 homes burned. Some 50 humanitarian
workers in the area have been temporarily located until the situation calms
down. More than 70 villages have been attacked, burned or emptied since
early November. In late November, UNHCR lost more than $1 million in aid
supplies looted from its main warehouse in Abeche following clashes there.



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