Thursday, April 21, 2016

Coral bleaching confirmed on Seychelles' Curieuse island; project aims to prevent further damage

The Seychelles National Park Authority has confirmed reports that corals are starting to turn white in the marine park of Curieuse island and that a project to prevent further damage is about to start.
  The Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean experienced massive coral bleaching by the El Niño phenomenon in 1998. A similar El Niño has occurred this year, bringing above-average temperatures to the region. “We did a quick assessment and found that the situation is more alarming than in 1998 when there was the El Niño incidence,” said Allen Cedras, an official of the Marine Park Authority. Coral bleaching, which causes a loss of natural colours in coral, was observed in all types of corals, from rocky shores to reefs areas in the marine protected area of 14.7 square kilometres. Curieuse is 15 minutes from Praslin, Seychelles' second-most populated island.    Cedras told SNA that bleaching, caused by an increase in the sea temperature, has affected between 60 percent to 90 percent of coral in the Curieuse Marine Park. He said the problem could become even worse. With an aim to save the coral, a two-year pilot project is about to start and will include corals grown in an underwater nursery around the island and then transplanted. The UN is providing $360,000 under an Ecosystem-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (EBA) project. Divers who are part of the pilot project were recently seen collecting fragments of different corals in shallow areas of the marine park. “Over 9,000 fragments of corals will be transported in the first test,” said the project coordinator, Jude Bijoux, adding that these are carefully selected in shallow areas where they do not show signs of bleaching. The fragments are then grown in the nursery off Anse Papaie beach of Curieuse on ropes and meshed cages before being transplanted to the two sites. “One site is off the coast of Praslin in the Amitie area and the other overlooks the beach of Mandarin, off the coast of Curieuse,” say Bijoux. Coral-growing or coral-nursery projects are not new to the 115 islands archipelago. Such coral replanting exercise have been undertaken at Amitie on Praslin, by Nature Seychelles and at Petite Anse bay in the south of the main island, Mahe. The recent changes in the weather bringing more rain is giving the corals a temporary respite. “We are lucky now we are having some rain and the weather is changing, cooling the waters and preventing further damage,” said Cedras, the Seychelles' National Park Authority officer. Cedras said some corals are more resilient than others and the team is trying to find out why. “There are many reasons why one can be currents cooling the water in some areas or some polyps are more tolerant. We have a team right now working on gathering more precise information.” Meanwhile, Curieuse, which was a former leper colony, has a response plan to emergencies, which according to Cedras, will be initiated to try and contain the coral bleaching.  A national park since 1979, Curieuse has the second most number of coco-de-mer trees in Seychelles. The coco-de-mer is the largest nut in the world. Curieuse is an important tourist island but also plays host to an international voluntary programme under the Global Vision International (GVI). The latter is involved in collecting data on several species on the island including its extensive population of land tortoises and sea turtles. Curieuse is also a research centre for other international groups such as EarthwatchRead More

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States

Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States
“As we embark on this new phase in our journey together, we are hopeful that this venture will go beyond partnerships and find root in supporting SIDS and their special challenges within the broader development system”, said Ambassador Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives and co-chair of the Steering Committee. His fellow co-chair, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy, said that “the Steering Committee, and the partnership framework that we will oversee, was first brought to life in the SAMOA Pathway. Indeed, the concept of the partnership framework was a cornerstone of that document, and it is something that set that Pathway apart from other intergovernmental agreements”   The Third International Conference on SIDS was one of the first to have the theme dedicated to “partnerships”. The overarching theme of "The sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships" lead to commitments of over 300 partnerships to support the effort for SIDS’ sustainable development. “Partnerships” has been recognized as an effective means of implementation in pursuing sustainable development and brought much attention by many Member States and other stakeholders.   The Samoa Pathway made a number of specific calls to the United Nations system and to the international community. Paragraph 101 called for preparation of recommendations for a SIDS Partnership Framework to monitor and ensure the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships for SIDS. In response to the mandate, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), working under the guidance of AOSIS, prepared a set of recommendations in close consultation with Member States. Last December, during the 70th session of the General Assembly, Member States formally established the SIDS Partnership Framework. The GA resolution (70/202) requested the Secretariat to assist in setting up a Steering Committee on partnerships for SIDS with a view to supporting the follow-up of existing, and promote and advocate for the launch of new, SIDS partnerships. The co-chairs of the Steering Committee, Maldives and Italy, were appointed by the President of the General Assembly.   The first Steering Committee meeting was facilitated by the Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee, Permanent Representative of Maldives, Ambassador Sareer, and Permanent Representative of Italy, Ambassador Cardi. The Under-Secretary-General of UN-DESA, Mr. Wu Hongbo, and the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for UN-OHRLLS, Mr. Gyan Acharya, were also present and made remarks at the opening session. Ambassador Ahmed Sareer noted that the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, and of the more than 300 partnerships announced at the Third International Conference on SIDS, will be critical, and he expressed the hope that the Steering Committee could address not only partnerships but all aspects of the Samoa Pathway implementation.    Mr. Wu Hongbo emphasized that many partnerships are making encouraging progress, including those involving the private sector, and that the reporting template and upgraded platform that UN-DESA has developed will help to encourage and track further progress. Mr. Gyan Acharya stressed that the Steering Committee could serve as a model for partnership follow up in other contexts as well and that UN-OHRLLS will be particularly active in advancing the engagement of the private sector through their Global Business Network, which should be linked to the platform overseen by the Steering Committee.   At this meeting, the Steering Committee approved its working methods, and UN-DESA presented a standardized reporting template for SIDS partnerships. The Working Methods highlights that the Committee should meet quarterly and that entities of the UN System, international and regional organizations, major group and other stakeholders may be invited by the Co-Chairs on behalf of, and in consultation with the Steering Committee, to contribute, as appropriate. UN-DESA is working closely with the Co-Chairs in finalizing the reporting template and upgrading the online platform for the SIDS partnerships to regularly report on their progress made.   Many Member States emphasized crucial links between the Samoa Pathway implementation and 2030 Agenda implementation, and many noted that the Steering Committee could offer valuable lessons to partnerships in the 2030 context as well as the Samoa partnerships. The Steering Committee will identify gaps and lessons learned in partnerships, and Member States hoped that the partnership framework could be scaled up and applied more broadly in the coming years. H.E. Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations said “Samoa views the Steering Committee as a “catalyst” to reach out and to advocate to potential partners both public and private, as a “magnet” to attract and bring them in to appreciate SIDS challenges, and as “glue” to ensure that they work together cohesively and cooperatively for the attainment of SIDS development needs”.   In closing, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN and co-chair of the Steering Committee, concluded the meeting with some final thoughts: the Steering Committee can be a catalyst for action in implementation of partnerships and the SAMOA Pathway in general.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Belize Joins Ten Island Challenge

Belize Joins Ten Island Challenge to Transition to 100% Renewable Energy
The islands of the Caribbean are some of the most beautiful places on Earth, which is why they are among the most popular tourist destinations. But those same island nations also suffer from some of the highest electricity prices in the world, a factor that fuels poverty, helps grow their national debts and blocks their ability to plan for sustainable development. Because relatively little of that electricity comes from renewable sources, these countries spend large portion of their GDP importing fossil fuels, money that could otherwise be spent growing their economies. And while these islands don’t contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, they suffer an outsized impact from climate change, with rising sea levels, hotter temperatures and extreme weather events such as hurricanes. That’s why Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson’s climate group the Carbon War Room (CWR), now partnered with Amory Lovins’ think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), created the Ten Island Challenge to encourage these nations to tap into their abundant supply of sun and wind. The challenge was kicked off last year at the Creating Climate Wealth Islands Summit to start collecting commitments from the islands, with CWR and RMI working with them to set ambitious renewable energy goals, develop plans to do so and build the infrastructure and resource capacity to execute those plans.    Aruba was the first nation to join the challenge. Its government worked with the two organizations to create the Smart Growth Pathways, and it has committed to transitioning from fossil fuels by 2020. St. Lucia, Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and San Andres and Providencia have already joined the challenge and are working to transition their economies away from fossil fuels. More

Saturday, April 2, 2016

SE4All Highlights Plans for Implementing SDG 7

25 March 2016: The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), Rachel Kyte, highlighted challenges to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all).

Briefing UN Member States and civil society, she also provided an update on the SE4All initiative's plans for supporting implementation of the Goal.

Kyte emphasized that Goal 7 has three “pillars,” addressing energy poverty, technological advancement, and investment in energy efficiency. Stressing the interlinked nature of the Goal, she said the first pillar, addressing energy poverty, is essential to leaving no one behind, noting that the electricity access gap undermines education, productivity and economic growth, while the gap in access to clean cooking fuels is detrimental to health and gender inequality. On technological advancement, Kyte noted the past decade's reductions in the cost and complexity of renewable energy, which makes on-shore wind, solar photo voltaic, and other technologies more competitive with fossil-based energy sources. On energy efficiency, she said greater investment has made it possible to provide basic electricity services using much less power.

Despite this positive progress, Kyte warned that global economic trends have slowed the momentum for electrification, renewables, efficiency and clean cooking. She said the global energy transition is not taking place at a sufficient pace to meet the temperature goal set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change, or the broader development goals expressed in the 2030 Agenda.

Kyte also stressed that the financial needs to achieve SDG 7, which are estimated at over US$1 trillion annually, will need to come from both private and public sectors. She highlighted the importance of small-scale, private investments to develop renewable energy in many African countries.

On the role of the SE4All initiative in supporting the achievement of SDG 7, Kyte said the Forum's 2017 meeting will assess progress and provide substance for the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) and the UN system as a whole in its review of progress towards the SDGs. In the meantime, SE4All is developing a framework for addressing challenges faced by Member States in achieving SDG 7. Member States will have opportunities to provide input on this framework throughout May 2016, Kyte said, and the SE4All Advisory Board will consider the framework at its meeting, on 15-16 June 2016. [Event Webcast] [SE4All Website]