UN World Oceans Day Highlights Urgent Need for Marine Protection

7 June 2024 – Climate and Environment

UN World Oceans Day was celebrated on Friday at the UN Headquarters in New York, focusing on “opening minds, igniting senses, and inspiring possibilities” to safeguard marine life globally. The event featured a compelling video themed “awaken new depths,” which underscored the urgent need for immediate ocean protection and cautioned against complacency.

In a statement marking the day, which officially falls on Saturday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the crucial role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, highlighting that the problems it faces are primarily man-made. Guterres pointed out that climate change is causing sea levels to rise, posing an existential threat to small island developing states and coastal populations. He also noted that ocean acidification is destroying coral reefs, and record-high sea temperatures are leading to extreme weather events. Additionally, overfishing and other harmful practices are contributing to the degradation of marine ecosystems.

President of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis, echoed these concerns, stressing the need to learn more about the oceans and to reverse the damage being inflicted on this vital resource. Francis remarked that the ocean is humanity’s strongest ally against climate change and emphasized the collective responsibility to manage ocean resources sustainably to ensure their availability for future generations.

Both Guterres and Francis are looking forward to reflections and actions to restore and protect the oceans as the Summit of the Future in September 2024 and next year’s UN Oceans Conference approach.

Earlier in the week, UNESCO released a State of the Ocean report, urging policymakers to consider “the ocean we need for the future we want.” The report highlighted threats such as the doubling rate of ocean warming over the past 20 years and the decreasing oxygen levels suffocating coastal species. It concluded that ocean literacy is a strategic ally in optimizing resources, accelerating behavioral change, and enhancing the implementation of conservation programs and sustainability practices.

Marine biologist and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, one of the speakers at the event, emphasized the importance of sharing the significance of ocean protection to drive crucial actions for preserving coastal wildlife. Guterres called on governments, businesses, investors, scientists, and communities to unite in defense of the ocean, while Francis urged a renewed commitment to ocean action, capacity building in small island developing states and other developing countries, and innovative financing solutions to enhance resilience.

For more detailed information, you can visit the UN News website

UN Chief Stresses Fair Trade for Developing Nations Amid Rising Debt

12 June 2024 – Economic Development

The right to development is closely linked with fair trade, a necessity for the world’s poorest countries, currently “mired in debt” through no fault of their own, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asserted on Wednesday. In a speech marking the 60th anniversary of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Guterres highlighted the multiple challenges that hinder the creation of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.

Guterres emphasized that these countries must pursue development through equitable trade terms, as they are burdened by escalating debt, exacerbated by both ongoing and new conflicts that ripple across the global economy. This has led to increased global debt levels, while key development indicators, such as poverty and hunger, have regressed.

During his address at the UN Trade and Development Global Leaders Forum in Switzerland, Guterres reiterated that the current international financial architecture is outdated, dysfunctional, and unjust. He noted that it has failed to protect developing countries from debt crises and warned that the international trading system is on the brink of fragmentation due to escalating pressures and geopolitical tensions.

Highlighting the role of UNCTAD, Guterres argued that the agency’s work is more relevant than ever in promoting a sustainable and inclusive global economy through trade and investment. He invoked Raul Prebisch, UNCTAD’s first Secretary-General, asserting that the agency cannot remain neutral on development issues, just as the World Health Organization cannot be neutral on diseases like malaria.

Guterres described trade as a “double-edged sword”—a source of both prosperity and inequality, interconnection and dependence, economic innovation and environmental degradation. He called for increased dialogue between nations to address the near-tripling of trade barriers since 2019, many of which are driven by geopolitical rivalry without consideration for their impact on developing countries.

Stressing the importance of a unified global market, Guterres warned against the division into rival blocs. He emphasized that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring peace and security requires one global market and economy, where poverty and hunger have no place.

for more information visit The UN news

SIDS go forward with ‘new sense of hope, solidarity and determination’

Antigua and Barbuda, May 31, 2024
The Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) concluded with a strong message of hope and optimism despite the significant challenges faced by these nations. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, emphasized the progress and future vision encapsulated in the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda (ABAS).

A Unified Vision for Resilient Prosperity
Over 4,000 participants, including more than 20 world leaders and senior ministers from over 100 nations, gathered at the American University of Antigua. The conference brought together a diverse array of stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, academia, and youth to address critical issues threatening the survival of the 39 SIDS in the face of climate change and other global shocks.

The ABAS outlines a ten-year plan aimed at achieving resilient prosperity. This plan focuses on sustainable development, ensuring access to food, energy, and water, and promoting health, productivity, and security. It also emphasizes protecting biodiversity and conserving ocean resources through strong climate action to mitigate temperature rise and sea level increases.

UN News/Matt Wells Wide view at the closing of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island States (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda.

Financial and Structural Support
Key elements of the ABAS include calls for substantial new financing and the establishment of a debt sustainability support service. These measures are crucial to addressing the high-interest debt burdens that many SIDS face. The new Centre of Excellence for SIDS, based in Antigua and Barbuda, will play a pivotal role in fostering private sector engagement and generating innovative solutions.

A Collective Commitment
Ms. Mohammed highlighted the necessity of robust and effective partnerships to implement the ABAS successfully. She underscored the importance of monitoring and evaluation to maintain the credibility of multilateral efforts, particularly halfway through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) timeline.

The UN, through its Resident Coordinators and Country Teams, will work closely with all partners to achieve the goals set out in the ABAS, supporting digital, green, and blue transformations.

Health and Human Capital
Health was a key focus on the final day, with discussions emphasizing the fragility of health systems in many small island states. Patrice Gumbs, Minister Plenipotentiary from Sint Maarten, stressed that investing in human capital, particularly in health, education, and youth empowerment, is vital for survival and growth. Innovative healthcare solutions such as tele-medicine and mobile health teams were highlighted as essential strategies.

Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, echoed these sentiments, advocating for investments in quality education, healthcare, and job creation for young people. Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, reinforced that strengthening human capital is fundamental to sustainable development.

Looking Ahead
As the conference drew to a close, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda noted that while significant progress has been made, the real work is just beginning. He called for continued commitment to multistakeholder partnerships, innovation, and inclusivity to overcome the unique challenges faced by SIDS.

The SIDS4 conference marks the start of a new journey, guided by the ABAS towards resilient prosperity by 2030. The international community’s collective efforts and commitments will be crucial in turning this vision into reality.

Reference

Japan: Safeguarding a Mother Tongue and Mother Nature

Okinoerabu Island – On this small island of just 12,000 residents, a family has embarked on a mission that intertwines the preservation of their indigenous language with environmental conservation, garnering international recognition in the process.

Reviving a Language
Nami and Tomoyuki Sao, both born on Okinoerabu Island, had not mastered Shimamuni, a local variety of the Kunigami language, during their childhoods. This linguistic heritage is now classified as “definitely endangered” by UNESCO. Concerned by this, the Sao family decided to take action, intertwining the preservation of their mother tongue with a range of community activities.

Sao Family | Residents of Okinoerabu Island collect rubbish on a beach.

A Family’s Commitment
The Sao family, including their four children, initiated beach clean-ups while engaging in Shimamuni language activities. Their efforts extended to cooking traditional dishes, offering haircuts to nursing home residents, and participating in arts and crafts. These activities were part of a broader mission to foster eco-conscious Shimamuni speakers, ensuring the language’s survival through community engagement.

Impacting Environmental Awareness
Utilizing the Shimamuni language has not only helped transmit local knowledge to younger generations but also improved communication about environmental issues with elderly islanders. This has been crucial in addressing misconceptions about marine litter, emphasizing the need for proactive waste management.

UNESCO/Santibhap Ussavasodhi | The Sao family

Global Recognition
The Sao family’s efforts culminated in their presentation at the seventh International Conference on Language and Education in Bangkok, Thailand, co-hosted by UNESCO. Their story resonated with over 450 language experts and participants, highlighting the critical role of linguistic diversity in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the local level.

A Vision for the Future
Tomoyuki Sao emphasizes the importance of real-life experiences over formal education for his children, aiming to empower them to make a difference. His wife, Nami, shares this vision, hoping their children will carry their language and culture with them, regardless of where they live.

As the world grapples with environmental challenges and the erosion of linguistic diversity, the Sao family’s initiative stands as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that safeguarding cultural heritage can drive sustainable development and community resilience.

Reference Here

Droughts and floods threaten ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ across southern Africa

Droughts and floods threaten ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ across southern Africa

Droughts and floods have wreaked havoc across southern Africa, threatening a humanitarian catastrophe. The harsh weather has decimated harvests in regions where 70 percent of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihood.

Executive Director McCain described the situation as both alarming and heartbreaking. “I met farmers who usually grow enough to feed their families and communities. This year, they harvested nothing. Now imagine this scenario affecting millions of people throughout Southern Africa; it’s a humanitarian catastrophe,” she said.

Impact of El Niño

The recent El Niño weather pattern, though nearing its end, has caused severe droughts with lasting impacts. February saw the driest conditions in decades, leading to a 20 percent reduction in essential rainfall for crops.

The hardest-hit countries—Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi—have all declared states of drought disaster, facing substantial crop losses with 40 to 80 percent of their maize harvests destroyed.

Call for Immediate Action

Acknowledging the 61 million people affected by El Niño, the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have launched a $5.5 billion humanitarian appeal. This appeal is meant to supplement the internal resources of the affected nations.

McCain has urged the international community to provide immediate support. “We can’t ask millions to wait for the next harvest season—a year from now—to put food on their tables. These families need our support today as we work towards building a more resilient future,” she emphasized.

Funding Needs and Efforts

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been active in responding to the crisis but still requires $409 million to provide six months of aid to 4.8 million people in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The WFP has collaborated with governments and partners to prepare communities for climate disasters. This includes unlocking over $14 million in anticipatory finance to assist over 1.2 million people affected by El Niño in August 2023.

Additionally, the WFP has supported communities in Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe by providing early warning alerts, anticipatory cash transfers, drought-resistant seeds, agricultural training, and improved water sources.

To further aid affected communities, the WFP plans to distribute approximately $10 million in insurance payouts to nearly 280,000 people over the next six months.

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ICC SEEKING ARREST WARRANTS FOR HAMAS LEADERS AND ISRAEL’S NETANYAHU

ICC SEEKING ARREST WARRANTS FOR HAMAS LEADERS AND ISRAEL’S NETANYAHU

ICC seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leaders and Israel’s Netanyahu
In a statement, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Hamas’s Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri (Deif) and Ismail Haniyeh “bear criminal responsibility” for murder, extermination and taking hostages – among numerous other crimes – since the Gaza conflict erupted in the wake of Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel on 7 October.

There are also reasonable grounds to believe that Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, Israeli Minister of Defence, are responsible for other crimes and crimes against humanity “committed on the territory of the State of Palestine”.

Starvation tactic alleged
These include “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare as a war crime…intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population [and] extermination and/or murder”.

Although the ICC is not a UN organisation, it has an agreement of cooperation with the United Nations. And when a situation is not within the court’s jurisdiction, the UN Security Council can refer the situation to the ICC, granting it jurisdiction.

To complement the allegations, Prosecutor Khan, a British national born in Edinburgh, noted that his Office had interviewed victims and survivors of the 7 October Hamas-led terror attacks in Israel.

This included former hostages and eyewitnesses “from six major attack locations: Kfar Aza, Holit, the venue of the Supernova Music Festival, Be’eri; Nir Oz and Nahal Oz”.

‘Unfathomable pain’
“It is the view of my Office that these individuals planned and instigated the commission of crimes on 7 October 2023 and have through their own actions, including personal visits to hostages shortly after their kidnapping, acknowledged their responsibility for those crimes,” Prosecutor Khan said.

“Speaking with survivors, I heard how the love within a family, the deepest bonds between a parent and a child, were contorted to inflict unfathomable pain through calculated cruelty and extreme callousness. These acts demand accountability,” he added.

Turning to the hostages still believed to be held in Gaza, the ICC official noted that his Office had interviewed victims and survivors and that this information along with other sources indicated that they had been kept in inhumane conditions with some subjected to sexual violence, including rape.

Survivors’ courage
“I wish to express my gratitude to the survivors and the families of victims of the 7 October attacks for their courage in coming forward to provide their accounts to my Office,” Prosecutor Khan said. “We remain focused on further deepening our investigations of all crimes committed as part of these attacks and will continue to work with all partners to ensure that justice is delivered.”

On the issue of the liability of the top Israeli officials Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gallant, the ICC Prosecutor alleged “starvation as a method of war”.

This and other crimes against humanity were allegedly committed “as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy”.

To reinforce the allegations, Mr. Khan cited “interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, authenticated video, photo and audio material, satellite imagery and statements” which showed “that Israel has intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival”.

Aid siege
Detailing the impact of “total siege” imposed by Israel on Gaza after 8 October 2023, the ICC request to judges explained that this involved “completely closing” the three border crossing points – Rafah, Kerem Shalom in the south and Erez in the north – “for extended periods and then by arbitrarily restricting the transfer of essential supplies – including food and medicine – through the border crossings after they were re-opened”.

Among other deprivations, the Israeli siege also cut off water and electricity pipelines to Gaza, the ICC Prosecutor continued, noting that Gazans also faced physical attacks when queuing for food while other “attacks on and killing of aid workers…forced many agencies to cease or limit their operations”.

The effects of this State policy were “acute, visible and widely known”, Mr. Khan said, noting the UN Secretary-General’s warning some two months ago that “1.1 million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic hunger – the highest number of people ever recorded anywhere, anytime” as a result of an “entirely man-made disaster”.

Gravest offences
Although Israel has the right to defend itself under international law, Mr. Khan insisted that “intentionally causing death, starvation, great suffering” to civilians were clear breaches of the ICC’s foundational charter, signed in Rome in 2002. Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute while Palestine is.

“I have consistently emphasised that international humanitarian law demands that Israel take urgent action to immediately allow access to humanitarian aid in Gaza at scale. I specifically underlined that starvation as a method of war and the denial of humanitarian relief constitute Rome Statute offences.”

No one is above the law
In addition to the request to judges to issue warrants, the ICC statement noted that it was pursuing “multiple and interconnected additional lines of inquiry” into crimes committed since 7 October.

These include further allegations of sexual violence during the Hamas-led terror attacks and widespread bombardment in Gaza “that has caused and continues to cause so many civilian deaths, injuries and suffering”.

“Today, we once again underline that international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all. No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader – no one – can act with impunity,” Mr. Khan said, while also highlighting his concern over escalating violence in the West Bank.

“Nothing can justify wilfully depriving human beings, including so many women and children, the basic necessities required for life. Nothing can justify the taking of hostages or the targeting of civilians.”

In a call to all parties in the Gaza conflict “to comply with the law now”, the ICC Prosecutor said his Office “will not hesitate to submit further applications for warrants of arrest if and when we consider that the threshold of a realistic prospect of conviction has been met”.

Unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – which is the UN’s principal judicial organ for settling disputes between countries – the ICC tries individuals. The ICC is a permanent court based in The Hague, unlike temporary tribunals such as those set up to try grave crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

According to ICC documentation, the court’s policy is to focus on those who “bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes” committed. No one is exempt from prosecution and there is no exemption for heads of State of Government.

The decision over whether to issue arrest warrants will be taken by the Pre-Trial Chambers, which must also confirm the alleged charges.

One an arrest warrant is issued and if the alleged perpetrator is arrested on the charges sought by the Prosecutor, a Trial Chamber is then created, headed by three judges.

Once the trial has ended, the judges “may impose a sentence of imprisonment for a specified number of years not exceeding a maximum of thirty years or life imprisonment”, the ICC said.

Reference

Feedback by Brussels for Human Rights and Development on the Draft Initiative – Aggregated Emissions Data Reporting for Shipping Companies

As “Brussels for Human Rights and Development,” we appreciate the European Commission’s efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping sector. The draft initiative concerning the reporting of aggregated emissions data at the company level and the determination of emissions data by relevant administering authorities is a promising step toward transparency, accountability, and emissions reduction in this crucial industry. In our role as advocates for human rights, environmental sustainability, and climate action, we’d like to offer detailed feedback to strengthen and improve this initiative:

1. Clarity and Specificity:

We believe that the draft initiative could benefit from greater clarity and specificity regarding the data elements that shipping companies should report. Well-defined guidelines are essential to ensure that reporting is consistent across the industry, leading to more accurate emissions assessments and supporting the transition to a greener maritime sector.

2. Alignment with International Standards:

Considering the global reach of the shipping industry, it’s essential that the proposed rules align with international standards and agreements. We recommend close collaboration with international bodies, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to ensure that EU regulations complement and reinforce global efforts to combat emissions from shipping. This alignment will prevent duplication of efforts and promote a unified approach to emissions reporting.

3. Data Accuracy and Verification:

We believe that the initiative should place a strong emphasis on data accuracy and verification mechanisms. It’s crucial to establish robust procedures for verifying emissions data to ensure that the reported information is credible and reliable. The inclusion of provisions for third-party verification could significantly enhance the trustworthiness of the data.

4. Flexibility and Adaptability:

Recognizing the diverse nature of the shipping industry and the different operational profiles of shipping companies, we suggest allowing flexibility in reporting requirements. Tailoring reporting criteria to accommodate various vessel types, sizes, and operations is essential to ensure that compliance remains feasible and effective across the sector.

5. Correction of Emissions Data:

While it’s important for administering authorities to have the capacity to correct emissions data in specific situations, we urge the establishment of clear and transparent guidelines. It’s paramount to have mechanisms for oversight and accountability in place to prevent any misuse of this authority. Additionally, a robust mechanism for appeals and dispute resolution should be introduced to ensure fairness and protect stakeholders’ rights.

6. Data Privacy and Confidentiality:

Emissions data may contain sensitive business information, trade secrets, and commercially confidential data. To address these concerns, the initiative must find a balance between transparency and the protection of sensitive information. We recommend implementing safeguards and encryption measures to secure commercially sensitive data.

7. Public Access to Data:

While preserving data privacy and confidentiality, we believe the initiative should ensure public access to aggregated emissions data. Providing relevant emissions data to the public can play a crucial role in raising awareness and accountability within the shipping industry. However, safeguards should be in place to prevent the misuse of data for competitive or harmful purposes.

8. Capacity Building and Support:

To ensure effective implementation, we recommend including provisions for capacity building and support for both shipping companies and administering authorities. Technical assistance, guidance, and training should be made available to enhance understanding and compliance with the regulations.

the draft initiative for reporting aggregated emissions data for shipping companies is a commendable step toward mitigating the environmental impact of the maritime sector and aligning with climate action goals. By addressing the feedback provided, we believe that the initiative can be further refined to strike the right balance between specificity, harmonization, flexibility, accountability, and data protection. This balanced approach will be instrumental in achieving the overarching objectives of emissions reduction and climate action, while respecting the rights and interests of all stakeholders involved. We stand ready to collaborate and engage in the finalization of this significant initiative and its subsequent implementation for a more sustainable and environmentally responsible shipping industry.

Feedback on the European Commission website

Scorching ‘new normal’ as world buckles under extreme heat: WMO

Heatwaves sweeping large parts of the world offer yet another reminder that extreme weather events boosted by human-induced climate change have become “the new normal”, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Friday.

Weather agency Spokesperson Clare Nullis said that heat warnings have been issued by many weather services across Europe this week, including in France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, parts of the Middle East were expected to see temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius in the coming days, and Japan was experiencing a “prolonged” heatwave which shattered temperature records.

Wildfires ‘off the charts’

Speaking to reporters about the recent massive wildfires fuelled by the hot and dry conditions in Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, Ms. Nullis highlighted the “many evacuations and much devastation”.

“Unfortunately, that is a picture with which we’ve become all too familiar this summer,” she said.

The WMO Spokesperson also noted that Canada’s record-breaking season was continuing and that it was “completely off the charts” this year. As of 17 August, more than 600 wildfires across the country were out of control, she said.

Even Canada’s far north near the Arctic Circle had not been spared, as a mass evacuation order was in force in the town of Yellowknife in the Northern Territories due to an approaching blaze.

Meanwhile, in the British Columbia town of Lytton, a record temperature of 42.2 degrees Celsius was reached this week, Ms. Nullis said.

Massive rainfall via Hurricane Hilary

WMO also warned that Hurricane Hilary had intensified “very rapidly” to a major category four hurricane off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, “fed by warm ocean surface temperatures”.

Sustained winds of up to 220 kilometres per hour were expected in Mexico’s coastal areas over the weekend. Ms. Nullis noted that, as it was often the case with tropical cyclones, “the threat is not just from the wind but also from water”, and rainfall of up to 152 millimetres was forecast in the affected areas in Mexico.

The usually arid southwest of the United States, including major cities such as San Diego, would also see “a huge amount of rain in a short time”, she said, with a high risk of flash flooding.

WMO climate expert Alvaro Silva commented that “the frequency and intensity of many extremes, such as heatwaves and heavy precipitation, have increased in recent decades”. He noted that it can be said with “high confidence” that human induced climate change from greenhouse emissions is the main driver.

Dramatic impacts for Pacific islands

The southwest Pacific was another region hit hard by the impacts of a warming climate, WMO said, with weather-related disasters “unravelling the fabric of society” there.

According to the UN agency’s latest report, sea level rise threatened the future of low-lying islands, while increasing ocean heat and acidification devastated vulnerable marine ecosystems.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that the El Niño climate pattern will have a major impact on the region this year, bringing higher temperatures, disruptive weather “and more marine heatwaves and coral bleaching”.

The State of the Climate in the South-West Pacific 2022 – English – August 2023

Sea level rise accelerating

The WMO report shows that sea-level rise rates in the region were higher than the global rate, reaching approximately four millimetres per year in several areas. It also notes that ocean warming contributes 40 per cent of the observed sea-level rise, “through thermal expansion of seawater”.

The agriculture sector is one of the most-affected by climate-related disasters in the southwest Pacific, WMO said, and enhancing the resilience of food production was a high priority for the region.

Mr. Taalas also stressed that implementing early warning systems was “one of the most effective” ways of reducing damage from climate disasters, as it empowered people to make risk-informed decisions.

Seven out of 10 people protected by at least one tobacco control measure

A new World Health Organization (WHO) report highlights that 5.6 billion people – 71% of the world’s population – are now protected with at least one best practice policy to help save lives from deadly tobacco – five times more than in 2007.

In the last 15 years since WHO’s MPOWER tobacco control measures were introduced globally, smoking rates have fallen. Without this decline there would be an estimated 300 million more smokers in the world today.

This WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is focused on protecting the public from second-hand smoke, highlighting that almost 40% of countries now have completely smoke-free indoor public places.

The report rates country progress in tobacco control and shows that two more countries, Mauritius and the Netherlands, have achieved best-practice level in all MPOWER measures, a feat that only Brazil and Türkiye had accomplished until now.

“These data show that slowly but surely, more and more people are being protected from the harms of tobacco by WHO’s evidence-based best-practice policies,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “I congratulate Mauritius on becoming the first country in Africa, and the Netherlands on becoming the first in the European Union to implement the full package of WHO tobacco control policies at the highest level. WHO stands ready to support all countries to follow their example and protect their people from this deadly scourge.”

“With a strong political commitment, we have made great progress in tobacco control policies in Mauritius. Our country has adopted the MPOWER strategy and is moving resolutely towards a smoke-free country.” stated the Hon Pravind Kumar Jugnauth​, Prime Minister, Republic of Mauritius.

Maarten van Ooijen, State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sports for the Netherlands said, “Civil society organizations, health experts and medical professionals are strong driving forces behind everything that we are achieving with regard to tobacco control in the Netherlands. They deserve the primary credits for the praise that our country receives from the World Health Organization. Although we are making progress in reducing smoking prevalence and improving our tobacco control policy we also still have a long way to go. Together we will keep fighting for a smoke free generation by 2040!”

Smoke-free public spaces is just one policy in the set of effective tobacco control measures, MPOWER, to help countries implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and curb the tobacco epidemic.

Smoke-free environments help people breathe clean air, shield the public from deadly second-hand smoke, motivate people to quit, denormalize smoking and help prevent young people from ever starting to smoke or use e-cigarettes.

“While smoking rates have been going down, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death in the world – largely due to relentless marketing campaigns by the tobacco industry,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “As this report shows, our work is making a big difference, but much more remains to be done. By helping more countries implement smart policies, backed by public opinion and science, we’ll be able to improve public health and save millions of more lives.”

Eight countries are just one MPOWER policy away from joining the leaders in tobacco control: Ethiopia, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain.

There is still much work to be done, 44 countries remain unprotected by any of WHO’s MPOWER measures and 53 countries still do not have complete smoking bans in healthcare facilities. Meanwhile, only about half of countries have smoke-free private workplaces and restaurants.

“WHO urges all countries to put in place all of the MPOWER measures at best-practice level to fight the tobacco epidemic, which kills 8.7 million people globally, and push back against the tobacco and nicotine industries, who lobby against these public health measures,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO, Director for Health Promotion. 

Around 1.3 million people die from second-hand smoke every year. All of these deaths are entirely preventable. People exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are at risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancers.

This report demonstrates that all countries irrespective of income levels can drive down the demand for deadly tobacco, achieve major wins for public health and save economies billions of dollars in health care and productivity costs.

Note to the editor:

The ninth WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic launched today summarizes national efforts to implement the most effective demand reduction measures from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) that are proven to reduce tobacco use. These measures are known collectively as “MPOWER”.

The MPOWER interventions have been shown to save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure. The first MPOWER report was launched in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies.
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke.
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use.
  • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco.
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Raise taxes on tobacco.

About the World Health Organization

Dedicated to the well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

For more information visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, PinterestSnapchat, YouTube

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US $1.7 billion.

The G20 is a global force for sustainability

SPEECH DELIVERED BY: Inger Andersen

FOR: G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Ministerial Meeting

LOCATION: Chennai, India

Excellencies, colleagues, and friends.

My sincere thanks to India for warmly hosting us in the beautiful city of Chennai and for providing global leadership during the country’s Presidency of the G20.

With control of 84 per cent of the global economy, G20 nations are the world’s driving force for development and growth. This is a good thing. However, while acknowledging the diversity and different development paths within G20 nations, this strength and influence also makes the bloc largely responsible for many of the environmental issues facing the world today.

Unsustainable production and consumption patterns in the G20 are driving the three environmental planetary crises: the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste. This is indisputable.

Now, the G20 faces a choice. Lead the world down the same high-carbon, resource-hungry path that is threatening to undermine the many gains the G20 has brought and cripple the Sustainable Development Goals. Or lead the world down a new, better path that brings the world into harmony with nature.

By endorsing the high-level principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development under the development track, this cycle and the Indian presidency has shown that the G20 is embracing the latter path. My thanks to the Indian Presidency for its commitment.

There are, of course, many areas in which the G20 can lead as it follows the brighter path for humanity it is increasingly committed to. But let us focus on the three themes of this session, which are also UNEP priority areas.

First, climate change

Climate action is the great unifier. Climate change drives desertification, biodiversity loss, food insecurity, poor human health, water scarcity and overall societal insecurity spurring conflict, strife and so much more. So, if the G20 legislates to make zero-carbon choices the norm – in everything from green and efficient energy and transport to nature-based solutions – the whole sustainable development agenda advances. I ask G20 countries to lead with ambitious climate action plans to reduce emissions and protect vulnerable communities from disasters. Plans that are backed with large-scale investment in domestic solutions and financial mechanisms that support developing countries.

Second, the blue economy

Healthy and resilient marine and coastal ecosystems are fundamental to sustainable development. But climate change is warming and acidifying oceans, threatening mass species extinction. Climate action is clearly essential to protect the oceans. We also need to look at everything from sustainable fisheries to boosting ocean ecosystems in the restoration agenda. I commend India’s leadership on the blue agenda in its Presidency and the efforts of G20 in developing High-Level Principles for a Sustainable and Resilient Blue/Ocean-based Economy. And I also ask the G20 to do more to ensure the blue world supports humanity for centuries to come.

Third, resource efficiency and circular economy

As India’s LiFE initiative makes clear, how humanity produces and consumes resources is a major driver of environmental crises. Plastic pollution is a perfect example. This pollution is harming biodiversity. Driving climate change. Damaging human health.

We now have an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee working on a deal to end plastic pollution. This deal, due by 2024, must be nothing less than a complete redesign of products, packaging and the system – to reduce the amount of virgin plastic used and circulate what remains in the economy. The G20 is engaging with this process. However, I ask G20 nations and businesses to get ahead of the game and start innovating on product design and business models now.

Friends,

There are many other action areas, from transforming food systems to integrating nature into decision making. UNEP is, of course, here to support the G20 with science and know-how to make progress in all these action areas. I look forward to working with the Brazilian Presidency as we head towards the sixth United Nations Environment Assembly – at which many decisions will be taken on pressing environmental issues of concern.

But I ask G20 nations not to wait for the next meeting, or agreement or crisis. I ask the G20 to act with urgency to secure their own long-term prosperity. To flex its financial muscle to move investments into low-carbon, nature-positive economic models. To support less-wealthy nations to address the environmental crises facing the world. And to play a leading role in a just transition to a world of peace, prosperity and harmony with nature.