Monthly Archives: May 2016

With many plant and animal species ‘hanging on by a thread,’ UN urges action to tackle wildlife crime

UN urges action to tackle wildlife crimeThe report looks at eight case studies of species products sorted by seven industrial sectors that make use of wild sourced materials across the world. It builds on information taken from World WISE, a recently unveiled data platform that contains more than 164,000 seizures related to wildlife crime from 120 countries.

One of the key observations that the database illustrates is the extreme diversity of the illegal activity: nearly 7,000 species are included in the seizures, yet no single one represents more than 6 per cent of the total, nor does a single country constitute the source of more than 15 per cent of the seized shipments, UNODC said.

“This comprehensive global report is rooted in the best data and case studies available, is backed by in-depth analysis, and demonstrates a heightened sense of rigor in the way in which we report on wildlife crime,” emphasized CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon.

“The World Wildlife Crime Report shows the extensive involvement of transnational organized criminal groups in these highly destructive crimes and the pervasive impact of corruption, demonstrating that combating wildlife crime warrants even greater attention and resources at all levels,” he added.

hThe report includes an analysis of legal and illegal markets of wildlife and forest products, which UNODC said can be useful in addressing vulnerabilities in the legal trade and promote better global regulatory systems. It also highlights how gaps in legislation, law enforcement and criminal justice systems present serious issues.

“If we want to get serious about wildlife and forest crime, we must shore up our collective responses and close these gaps,” said Mr. Fedotov, noting that as with all forms of organized crime and trafficking, criminals will always look to exploit systems where they can.

The report, through analysis of trade sectors, markets and representative case studies, also sheds light on seven specific areas to illustrate the scale of wildlife and forest crime: seafood; pets, zoos and breeding; food, medicine and tonics; art, décor and jewellery; cosmetics and perfume; fashion; and furniture.

WHS: Humanitarian summit has ‘set new course,’ says Ban, calling for action on commitments

The first World Humanitarian Summit

24 May 2016 – Hailing the global community’s achievements at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for commitments made to be taken forward for transformative change from the top down and from the ground up.

“The World Humanitarian Summit has been a unique event, in form as well as substance,” Mr. Ban said in Istanbul, Turkey, speaking to reporters on the second and last day of the Summit, dedicated to improving the humanitarian system and alleviating the suffering of millions.

“We have the wealth, knowledge and awareness to take better care of one another. But we need action, based on the five core responsibilities of the Agenda for Humanity,” he stressed, referring to the principles that guided the hundreds of events organized at the two-day conference.

In total, the Summit brought together 173 Member States, 55 Heads of State and Governments, some 350 private sector representatives, and over 2000 people from civil society and non-governmental organizations. Together, some 1,500 commitments were made, including:

Yet, the Secretary-General also expressed disappointment that some world leaders could not be in Istanbul, especially from the G7 countries, except Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

“They are some of the most generous donors of funding for humanitarian action, but I urge their greater engagement, particularly in the search for political solutions,” he stressed, noting that “aligning the interests of such a diverse constellation of actors is inherently challenging.”

The UN chief said divisions between the members of the Security Council have prevented progress in recent years, not only on critical issues of war and peace, but on humanitarian affairs.

“That is why I make a special appeal to leaders of the nations that are permanent Members of that Council to take important steps at the highest level. Their absence from this meeting does not provide an excuse for inaction,” he said.

Speaking at the closing ceremony with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Ban further highlighted that the Summit is not an end point, but a turning point.

“In September, I will report to the United Nations General Assembly on the Summit’s achievements,” he noted. “I will propose ways to take our commitments forward through intergovernmental processes, inter-agency forums and other mechanisms.”

New charter for persons with disabilities endorsed at UN humanitarian summit

SG with people with disabilities on World Humanitarian Summit24 May 2016 – A new charter to significantly improve living conditions of persons with disabilities during emergencies has been endorsed at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

“The intersection between humanitarian crises and persons with disabilities is very strong,” Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, told the UN News Centre on the margins of a special session at the Summit on ensuring disability-inclusive humanitarian action.

“Persons with disabilities are always left behind and the humanitarian response is very complicated because there is no planning to address their needs. We see that constantly – in armed conflict situations, and natural disasters,” she explained.

The Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action urges government representatives as well as leaders of non-governmental organizations and funding bodies to ensure that their future humanitarian actions will be inclusive of people with disabilities, based on five principals:

  • non-discrimination and recognition of the diversity of people with disabilities;
  • involvement of people with disabilities in developing humanitarian programs;
  • ensuring services and humanitarian assistance are equally available for and accessible to all people with disabilities;
  • implementation of inclusive global policies; and
  • cooperation and coordination among humanitarian actors to improve inclusion of people with disabilities.

“For me, it was absolutely critical that I was [at the special session], because it reminded me of my responsibility as a citizen, and also as the Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to really put people with disabilities much closer to the center of everything we do. We must leave no one behind, and we must be inclusive,” said UN Special Advisor David Nabarro.

He noted that the endorsement of the charter shows there is “real commitment” to working to ensure that people with disabilities are much closer to the center of humanitarian action.

Speaking with the UN News Centre through an interpreter, Colin Allen, who will be the next chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), highlighted that the charter will help address the specific needs of many people, such as those who are deaf, blind, or both.

UN report paints mixed picture of global responses to declining air quality

The new report from the UNEP24 May 2016 – Noting that from 2008 to 2013, air pollution levels in urban areas increased by eight per cent, a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) spotlights the need to support introduction of more renewable energies and clean cook stoves, some of the vital actions aimed at combating this public health emergency.

Air pollution kills seven million people each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with more than 80 per cent of people living in urban areas exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits.

Actions on Air Quality, released today at the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) under way in Nairobi, Kenya, found that there is a growing momentum for change, such as improved access to cleaner cooking fuels and stoves, renewables, fuel sulphur content and public transport.

However, action in other areas is less impressive and will not halt the increase in air pollution that is threatening to claim many more lives, the report warned.

“The current global response to pervasive poor air quality is inadequate,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Despite this lack of a holistic response, numerous countries and regions are coming up with effective – and cost-effective – measures to improve air quality. The Sustainable Development Goals provide an opportunity to replicate those best practices globally, and bring about cleaner air, and social and economic benefits worldwide.”

While policies and standards on clean fuels and vehicles could reduce emissions by 90 per cent, only 29 per cent of countries worldwide have adopted ‘Euro 4’ vehicles emissions standards or above. Meanwhile, less than 20 per cent of countries regulate open waste burning, which is a leading cause of air pollution.

On the positive side, 97 countries have increased the percentage of households that have access to cleaner burning fuels to more than 85 per cent – a key move to tackle indoor air pollution, which claims over half of the seven million lives.

At least 82 countries out of 193 analysed have incentives that promote investment in renewable energy production, cleaner production, energy efficiency and/or pollution control equipment. Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of the new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, at an investment of $286 billion, according to research by UNEP, Bloomberg and the Frankfurt School.

A Review of Air Pollution Control in Beijing: 1998-2013, which was also released today, analyzed measures implemented since Beijing began launching air pollution control programmes, which saw a steady downward trend in the concentrations of many harmful pollutants.

“Even though the air pollution control programmes in Beijing have made substantial progress, the environment quality is far from satisfactory,” said Chen Tian, Director General of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. “We will continue to explore approaches that could work effectively for improving the environment in this region.”

UN health agency spotlights role of health in sustainable development as governing body begins session

Director-General of the WHO Margaret Chan addresses the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva23 May 2016 – Health holds a prominent and central role that benefits the entire sustainable development agenda, because the ultimate objective of all development activities is to sustain human lives in good health, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, calling for greater efforts to combat the major challenges of antimicrobial resistance, the world drug problem and the high costs of non-communicable diseases on the road to strengthening health systems.

“WHO, together with its multiple partners, is poised to save many more millions of lives. I ask you to remember this purpose as we go through an agenda that can mean so much for the future,” she added.

Dr. Chan noted that public health constantly struggles to hold infectious diseases at bay, to change lifestyle behaviours, and to find enough money to do these and many other jobs, but sometimes the world needs to “step back and celebrate.”

“Commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) brought focus, energy, creative innovation, and above all money to bear on some of the biggest health challenges that marred the start of this century,” she said.

As such, the world can celebrate the 19,000 fewer children dying every day, a 44 per cent drop in maternal mortality, and the 85 per cent of tuberculosis cases that are successfully cured. Africa, in particular, can celebrate the 60 per cent decline in malaria mortality, while as the result of the fastest scale-up of a life-saving treatment in history, more than 15 million people living with HIV are now receiving antiretroviral therapy, up from just 690,000 in 2000, the Director-General stressed.

An interconnected world leads to global health threats

Highlighting some of the main global health concerns, the Director-General underscored that air pollution is a transboundary hazard that affects the global atmosphere and contributes to climate change, while drug-resistant pathogens, including the growing number of “superbugs,” travel well internationally in people, animals and food. In addition, the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, especially to children, is now a global phenomenon, while safeguarding the quality of pharmaceutical products has become much harder, with complex manufacturing procedures and supply chains spanning multiple companies and countries, she said.ick kiln production is responsible for air pollution in many cities of the world. Credit: UNEP

Moreover, she noted that ensuring the quality of the food supply is also much harder when a single meal can contain ingredients from all around the world, including some potentially contaminated with exotic pathogens. Furthermore, the Ebola outbreak in three small countries had paralyzed the world with fear and travel constraints, while the rapidly evolving outbreak of Zika warns us that an old disease in Africa and Asia can suddenly wake up on a new continent to cause a global health emergency.

‘Slow-motion disasters’ shaping the global health landscape

In addition, the Director-General highlighted that as the international community enters the era of sustainable development, the global health landscape is being shaped by three “slow-motion disasters”: a changing climate, the failure of more and more mainstay antimicrobials, and the rise of chronic non-communicable diseases as the leading killers worldwide.

For its part, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is attempting to ensure that these and many other disasters are averted, the Director-General said.

“The agenda aims to do nothing less than transform the way the world, and the international systems that govern it, work,” Dr. Chan said.

UN presents prizes to ‘Oltin Qalam’ journalism competition participants

Oltin Qalam (Golden Pen), an ultimate accolade for excellence in journalism in UzbekistanFor a tenth year in a row, on May 3 – World Press Freedom Day – Tashkent hosts ‘Oltin Qalam’ (Golden Pen) International Journalism Awards Ceremony. This year, in what has become a tradition, the UN Office in Uzbekistan presented prizes to journalists.

Oltin Qalam (Golden Pen) 2016According to Deputy Chair of Uzbekistan’s Creative Union of Journalists, Mr. Uktam Mirzayorov, 222 journalists have emerged as winners of the competition since it was created ten years ago and 70 have been awarded by international partner organizations. This year’s competition drew 8,500 entries from 510 journalists.

The UNESCO prize on Oltin qalamThe ceremony kicked off with a presentation of special prizes from the UN. The UNESCO prize, presented by the organization’s representative Krista Pikkat, for the best piece covering women’s role in contributing to sustainable development in the Aral Sea region went to Ms. Roza Hamidova, who also received an invitation to an international conference on the issue. The UN Information Office presented a prize for ‘Best Online Coverage of Youth Issues’ to Mastura Hamroyeva.

UNIC-Oltinqalam-2016The winner of this year’s Oltin Qalam Grand Prix is the creative team of the Tashkent TV and Radio Channel. The ceremony doled out twelve main awards (three in each category) for best journalistic pieces in areas such as online, television, radio and print journalism as well as special prizes from international and public organizations.

UWED Hosts its 10th MUN Conference

MUN at UWED 2016

On May 3-4, the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED) hosted its 10th Model UN Conference, organized with support from the UN Office in Tashkent and attended by over 170 students from 23 Uzbek higher education institutions.

Delivering welcome remarks at the start of the conference, UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan Stefan Priesner said that the Uzbek youth’s interest in the UN role-play event is growing year after year. He also underlined the significance of UWED as the host of the conference because it trains future diplomats that must have effective negotiation skills. Mr. Priesner reminded those gathered that each MUN conference should focus on three UN pillars: respect for human rights, the Sustainable Development Goals, and mitigation of climate change consequences.

This year’s conference drew students from a record number of 23 higher education schools from Andijan, Bukhara, Fergana, Gulistan, Jizzakh, Namangan, Navoi, Samarkand and Urgench, as opposed to 13 institutions last year.

The conference participants sat in four General Assembly committees that focused on: strengthening of regional and international scientific and technology ties in the provision of international security; efforts to create sustainable peace; peacemaking in a post-conflict world; and Security Council measures to ensure peaceful use of cosmic space.

On the second day of the conference, the audience was treated to dance and singing performances by students.

The students that gained important skills in discussing global problems and making crucial decisions were given MUN Conference Certificates. Participants that demonstrated distinctive activity were honored with commemorative presents in the Best Delegate, Best Delegation, Best Report and Best Costume categories by the UN Office in Uzbekistan and the UWED MUN Club.

‘Navruz Sadolari’ Festival winners announced

International festival of ensembles and orchestras 2016

On May 2-4, the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan hosted the second edition of the International Festival ‘Navruz Sadolari’ (Melodies of Nowruz), a celebration of polyphonic ensembles and orchestras of folk instruments. The three-day juried fest featured over 700 young performers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who presented a variety of music renditions at the Conservatory.

At a press conference held prior to the start of the festival, Professor Feruza Abdurakhimova, the mind behind the project and festival coordinator, told those gathered about the goals of ‘Melodies of Nowruz”, the primary goal being to stimulate children’s professional growth as well as developing polyphonic performance on folk instruments among students of secondary and higher music education institutions. The project also seeks to enrich the repertoire, boost young musicians’ performing mastery, encourage national instrumental groups, and foster international ties and exchange of repertoire.

Abdurakhimova said that unlike last year’s festival, which featured participants aged 4 to 15, this year’s performers are 15 to 20 years of age. This choice of age categories, she said, will help cover children of all age groups. The participants of the current festival are amateur groups, children’s ensembles and orchestras of folk instruments from the music and art lyceums and colleges and higher music education institutions of the four countries.

The festival included concerts, conducting master classes, workshops for solo instruments, and a conference that focused on the tasks of the secondary music education system.

At the awards ceremony the organizers presented first-, second- and third-degree diplomas to 18 teams (six for each category) as well as participation certificates and prizes. The festival concluded with a gala concert staged by the festival participants.

International Jazz Festival in Uzbekistan wraps up

INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL IN UZBEKISTAN 2016

30 April drew the curtain on the second International Jazz Festival in Uzbekistan held on April 7-30 in Tashkent and Samarkand to commemorate the 5th anniversary of International Jazz Day.

Since 2012, jazz enthusiasts across the world have celebrated the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. “Jazz makes the most of the world’s diversity, effortlessly crossing borders and bringing people together. From its roots in slavery, this music has raised a passionate voice against all forms of oppression. It speaks a language of freedom that is meaningful to all cultures,” says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

The festival was held in the cities of Tashkent and Samarkand under the auspices of UNESCO and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Culture and Sports. Organized by the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, the Botir Zokirov Jazz Orchestra, and Ilkhom Theatre’s Jazz Club, the festival featured groups from the Czech Republic, France, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.S.

Master classes and gigs with national and international musicians have been held at the Uspensky Music School, Tashkent Circus Art College, Samarkand Art College, and the Alisher Navoi National Library of Uzbekistan, while the State Conservatory and the Turkiston Palace hosted concerts.

The festival concluded on 30 April, International Jazz Day, with UNESCO Representative in Uzbekistan Krista Pikkat and Culture and Sports Minister Bahodir Ahmedov delivering greeting remarks. Jazz aficionados gathered for the closing ceremony were treated to performances by the Jazz Orchestra of Uzbekistan, Jazzirama group, Swiss trio Noisy Minority, and a student jazz group from the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan.