• Climate change talks mustn't forget fisheries
    Date: 02-06-2009
    Source: FAO

    Future generations of fishers are threatened by climate change. 1 June 2009, Penang/Rome - Saying that vulnerable fishing and coastal communities around the world will bear the brunt of climate change's impacts, a group of 16 international organizations today have urged climate negotiators to ensure that fisheries and aquaculture are not neglected in ongoing discussions regarding a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. In a policy brief issued today in advance of UNFCC talks in Bonn, Germany, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank, the WorldFish Center and 11 other organizations* warned that millions of fishers, fish farmers and coastal inhabitants will experience less stable livelihoods, changes in the availability and quality of fish for food, and heightened risks to their health, safety and homes as a result of climate change. Many fishing and coastal communities subsist in precarious and vulnerable conditions because of poverty and rural underdevelopment, and their wellbeing is being further undermined by overexploitation of fishery resources and degraded ecosystems. This situation risks being drastically worsened by climate change if immediate adaptation and mitigation measures are not effectively put in place, the brief says. "Our aim here is to ensure that climate change negotiators and decision makers in their deliberations don't forget our freshwaters, seas and oceans and those who depend on them," said Kevern Cochrane of FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. "They must address these aquatic environments and the fishing, aquaculture and other coastal communities whose livelihoods and even survival will be threatened by climate change. Through their decisions and actions, they need to avoid policies that would damage already stressed aquatic resources and human lives and, instead, implement measures that take full advantage of the environmental and food security services that healthy aquatic resources offer." About 520 million people - around 8 percent of the world's population - depend on fisheries and aquaculture as a source of protein, income or family stability. For 400 million of the poorest of these, fish provides half or more of their animal protein and dietary minerals. Multiple impacts The build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is known to be changing air and sea surface temperatures, rainfall and wind patterns, ocean acidity, sea levels and the intensity of tropical cyclones. Research has found that climate change is already modifying the distribution and productivity of marine and freshwater species, affecting biological processes, and altering food webs. Aquatic ecosystems not only support fisheries by providing food, habitat and nursery grounds, the brief notes, but also protect communities from storms, which are predicted to become stronger and more frequent with climate change. Mangroves create barriers to destructive waves and hold sediments in place, reducing coastal erosion. Healthy coral reefs, sea grass beds and wetlands provide similar benefits. Adaptation strategies, research and action needed Adaptation and mitigation measures are needed to improve the management of fisheries and aquaculture and the integrity of aquatic ecosystems, respond to the threats to food and livelihood security posed by climate change, seize possible opportunities that arise with change, and help fisheries and aquaculture emit less greenhouse gas, according to the brief. Research is required to understand the complex biological and chemical processes of aquatic ecosystems that, for example, determine the ocean carbon cycle and the currents and eddies that generate cyclones. Equally important is understanding how people adapt to living in a changing climate and how their institutions and livelihoods have evolved, and can further evolve, to maintain resilience in the face of future change. The brief identifies a number of steps that should be taken to protect aquatic ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture: * Adopt environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient fishing and aquaculture practices. * Eliminate subsidies that promote overfishing and excess fishing capacity. * Undertake assessments of local vulnerability and risk. * Build local-level ocean climate models. * Strengthen knowledge of the dynamics of biogeochemical cycles in aquatic ecosystems, especially of carbon and nitrogen. * Encourage sustainable, environmentally friendly biofuel production from algae and seaweed. * Explore carbon sequestration in aquatic ecosystems. * Implement comprehensive and integrated ecosystem approaches to managing oceans, coastal zones, fisheries and aquaculture; to adapting to climate change; and to reducing risk from natural disasters. The partnership is working together to get these messages to climate policy opinion-formers and decision-makers. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has urged government delegates to next week's UNFCCC meeting in Bonn to highlight the threats of climate change to the regions' important fisheries . And in an article recently published in Nature Reports: Climate Change two of the policy brief's authors, Edward Allison of the World Fish Centre and Nicolas Dulvy of Simon Fraser University, further discussed the policy and research priorities that will help the fisheries sector to adapt to climate change as well as contribute to mitigation. *Organizations making up the partnership that issued the policy brief: Benguela Current Commission European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO-IOC) International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Network of Aquaculture Centres in Central-Eastern Europe (NACEE) Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano (OSPESCA) Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN ISDR) World Bank WorldFish Center

  • Economic development must not be at expense of indigenous rights, UN forum chief
    Date: 28-05-2009
    Source: UN news

    Economic development activities, whether government infrastructure projects or mineral extraction by corporations, must not infringe on the rights of indigenous peoples, the head of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said today. Free, prior and informed consent should be obtained before development projects proceed on indigenous territories, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the Forum, told reporters in New York, as she briefed on the body's eighth session. She pointed out that this is a basic principle enshrined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a landmark text adopted in 2007 outlining the rights of the world's estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them. The Chairperson warned of possible violations of indigenous rights amid the current global economic crisis, as governments and international financial institutions increase their infrastructure budgets in a bid to boost sagging economies. The Forum was told by the World Bank that it has increased its infrastructure budget from $15 billion to $45 billion this year. 'This has caused a great alarm for us because they are going to also weaken their safeguard mechanisms so that these infrastructure projects can be implemented in a very fast pace,' said Ms. Tauli-Corpuz. She noted that in Canada, for example, much of the increase in the infrastructure budget is going to be used for building highways that are cutting across indigenous peoples' territories, and which are going to facilitate the entry of extractive industries like oil, gas and mineral companies into these lands. 'These issues are very hard to reconcile because of course we do understand the need to make our economies survive this crisis,'she said. But, on the other hand, this should not be done at the expense of indigenous peoples' lives, which means either displacement or destruction of their territories. She stated that in addition to compensating indigenous peoples when building in their territories, they should also be involved in the design of projects to ensure that they do not cut across sacred sites, for example. The Forum has engaged the office of the Secretary-General's Special Representative on business and human rights on these issues, and has agreed to support a proposed framework that rests on three pillars. The first is the duty of the State to protect against human rights abuses by third parties including transnational corporations and other business enterprises through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication. The framework also emphasizes the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as well as greater access for victims and effective remedies, both judicial and non-judicial. Some 2,000 indigenous representatives from all regions of the world are participate in the Forum's eighth session, as well as representatives of Member States, civil society, academia, some 35 UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations. Other issues on its current agenda include climate change, the Arctic region and land tenure.

  • U.N.'s Ban Says Climate Change Pace "Alarming"
    Date: 28-05-2009
    Source: Planet Ark

    The impact of climate change is accelerating at an "alarming" pace and urgent action must be taken, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday. "What is frightening is that the scientists are now reviewing their predictions, recognizing that climate change impact is accelerating at a much faster pace," Ban said, referring to the ongoing fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "This is very serious and alarming. That is why I have been urging that if we take any action, we must take action now regardless of where you are coming from. Rich and poor countries, we must address this issue together," Ban told a seminar. The call for urgency echoed similar comments by the U.N. chief at a business conference on climate policy last weekend in Denmark. Business leaders met in Copenhagen to discuss long-term climate policies, ahead of a U.N. conference in December meant to forge a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

  • The Republic of Maldives becomes 183rd ILO member State
    Date: 18-05-2009
    Source: ILO

    The Republic of Maldives has become the 183rd member State of the International Labour Organization (ILO) following receipt in Geneva of a letter from the President of the Republic of Maldives stating on behalf of the Government that the Maldives had formally accepted the obligations of the ILO Constitution. Maldives' membership became effective on 15 May 2009.

  • Proper ship breaking: a test for globalization and decent work
    Date: 03-11-2008
    Source: ILO news

    The last voyage of the ship "Otapan" to a Turkish ship breaking yard last July was a victory for "pre-cleaning" advocates of reducing the human and environmental dangers inherent in ship dismantling and recycling. But does it also lead to decent working practices? Last week, experts from the ILO, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the Basel Convention met to discuss measures to promote guidelines that would make ship breaking not only clean but "green". Questions and answers with a ship breaking expert from the ILO Sectoral Activities Branch.

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