Soualiga Newsday Features

The Best bookmaker bet365

Menu

Soualiga Newsday Features (707)

Americas region adopts 'historic' disaster risk reduction plan at UN-backed forum in Montreal

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 9 March 2017 – Around 50 countries and territories of the Americas at a United Nations-supported conference in Montreal, Canada, agreed a Regional Action Plan today to better protect their citizens from the destruction caused by natural and man-made disasters.

The plan, which is the centerpiece of the Montreal Declaration outcome document, marks the end of three days of deliberation and discussion by close to 1,000 government delegations and officials; non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and other representatives, under the umbrella of the UN-backed Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas.

The conference, supported by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), aimed to put into action the principles and priorities agreed by more than 180 countries across the world in the 2015 Sendai Framework on disaster risk reduction, named after the Japanese city in which it was adopted.

That enshrined the same priorities outlined by the Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, who chaired and hosted the Montreal Conference, when he summarized the thrust of Thursday's Regional Action Plan.

He said there were 16 “specific actions” arising, covering four key areas, namely understanding risk better; improving governance when it comes to dealing with disasters; improving on resilience at all levels regarding risk reduction efforts, and finally, better preparedness.

According to UNISDR, while disaster deaths have gradually fallen around the world – expect in anomalous years marked by mega-disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the 2010 Haiti earthquake – economic impacts have skyrocketed and are now estimated at $500 billion a year.

Hurricane Matthew alone caused damage estimated at $15 billion when it ripped across Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the United States and the Canadian Maritimes last October.

UNISDR chief Robert Glasser gave UN News more details of the 16-point action plan, saying "there are things like cooperating on science and technology research; on developing early warning and building back better after disasters; on embedding risk in core economic planning, on building coherence between disaster risk, climate risk and sustainable development more broadly.”

Mr. Glasser said the Montreal Declaration was an “historic” moment for the Americas, and marked the first time that Member States in the region had come together and agreed a collective plan to make the Sendai Framework a reality.

“This is the number one an issue that effects both less developed and highly developed countries alike. It is an issue that results in huge loss of life each year and that is causing at least $500 billion a year in economic losses that is all money that could be used to fight poverty, increase access to education or healthcare or promote economic development."

“So this is not a hypothetical subject. It is a subject that is a matter of life and death and prosperity,” added Mr Glasser.

The Regional Action Plan now goes forward to the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico, in May.

Read more...

Landfill Fires Constitute a Serious Public Health Concern

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - On Wednesday, another fire took place at the Landfill on Pond Island.  It was a big one based on the dark billowing smoke which lasted a couple of hours.  I’ve noticed that when there isn’t a fire, there is a constant smell of smoke in the air when you drive to Little Bay and on the Pondfill, depending on what is the prevailing wind direction of the day.

The Pond Island Landfill is right in the heart of Philipsburg, and is the number one environmental issue facing the country.  On Wednesday, there were seven cruise ships in port with thousands of passengers on the island.  This was not a pretty sight for them to see and experience.

Fires, combustible and poisonous gasses, have been pointed out as the risks and nuisances of a landfill posing a threat to the environment and human health.  Daily capping – covering landfill waste with layers of soil designed to isolate and stop the spread of contaminants, is required, but spontaneous combustion of decomposing waste involving methane from landfill gas will continue until a permanent solution is found.

Landfill fires produce toxic smoke and gasses.  The danger and level of toxicity of these gasses depend on the length of exposure a person experiences and on the type of material that is burning.  Landfill fires also emit dioxins.  Exposure to high levels of dioxins has been linked to cancer, skin rashes, liver damage, and reproductive and developmental disorders.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 draft review of dioxin reassessment concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to dioxin even at extremely low levels, a wide range of serious health effects are possible, including increased risk of diabetes. 

It has been reported that many of the toxic fumes produced have the capacity to cause a genetic mutation that can lead to cancer in future generations.  Children can be at much greater risk because of their body size; they inhale more air per pound than adults.  Children’s bodies absorb a larger dose of toxins because their nervous systems are not fully developed.

The Cayman Islands has been discussing solutions with respect to their own landfill challenges, but they have now reached the final stages in resolving the issue of waste management.  A contract was signed on 24 January 2017 with a specialist legal team to take forward the plans for the proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS).

Based on a report by environmental consultancy firm Amec Foster Wheeler and financial analysis by consultancy firm KPMG, Cayman Islands Government plans to create a public-private partnership for a new state-of-the-art solid waste management system. This will include the remediation of the current landfills, with recycling, composting and a waste-to-energy approach at the heart of operations.

The procurement of the ISWMS is moving forward based on the project being executed on a “design, build, finance, operate and maintain” basis. The Cayman government went through a pre-qualification process last autumn to shortlist companies that could construct and operate the new waste management system for a 25-year period.

Bidders which were selected have now been asked to outline their ISWMS proposals, and a preferred bidder is expected to be announced by the end of April 2017.

The Pond Island Landfill will remain as part of the country’s integrated solid waste management system which should also include recycling besides a waste to energy plant.

The longer it takes in reaching a decision about the future of the Pond Island Landfill, the longer it will take for the solution to materialize, and this means additional landfill fires can be expected for the foreseeable future.

To mitigate future fires, effective landfill management is necessary to prevent the occurrence of fires in order to protect the environment and human health.

According to  Patrick Foss-Smith, a British environmental consulting engineer specializing in landfill and underground fires: Landfill operators therefore need to be vigilant for hot deposits during the working life of landfills. Knowing their clients and their arisings, enforcing good working practices, maintaining adequate out-of-hours security and being especially vigilant during the ‘hot’ aerobic phases of the landfill lifecycle will all help to reduce the likelihood of a fire.

Roddy Heyliger

Read more...

CANTO Secretary General International Women’s Day Message 2017

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - "International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities" United Nations

The United Nations calls for us to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning and goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Against the backdrop of the 2017 International Woman's Day theme: "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030"; CANTO (Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations) is pleased to note that sixty percent (60%) of our Board of Directors comprises women, with the second highest position of Vice Chair being occupied by a woman. It is also remarkable to note that ninety percent (90%) of the Secretariat staff are women which underscores the Association's commitment in encouraging and promoting gender equality.

Here at CANTO, we proudly celebrate the achievements of women and believe that the road map for change and gender equality rests on education, training, and the opportunities given in the pursuit of careers including technology, research, politics and culture. We accomplish this by programs that encourage competition on an equal basis - including our Video and Hackathon Competitions. Further to this CANTO, seeks to encourage Women in Tech, encompassing both extremes of the generational spectrum by catering to the youth in joining the ITU in celebrating "Girls in ICT Day" annually and also by incorporating a Caribbean Women in ICT Forum during our annual conference, which seeks to promote and highlight women in the industry who are game changers.

CANTO members, we are encouraged by the progress women have made over the years, but we are also cognizant of the fact that a lot more needs to be done if we are to play our part in effectively achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals. We need to embrace, empower, support and celebrate women in every sphere of life. Encompassment of women's rights and gender equality, should not only be addressed within the organizational boundaries; but let us strive to delve further within the social boundaries and communities in which we operate and seek to make a difference in the protection of women.

Let us achieve this by re-imagining the policies in our organizations to promote gender equality and encourage lifelong learning. As stated by the Secretary General of the UN "Women's rights are human rights" and we strongly believe that organizations that promote women's rights are also promoting human rights and are on the right path for success.

Happy International Women's Day!   

Teresa Wankin

Read more...

Disasters in Americas show challenge of meeting global risk reduction targets – senior UN Official

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 7 March 2017 – Disasters in the Americas over the past year such as Hurricane Matthew show the challenge the world faces meeting the risk reduction targets established by the UN’s Sendai Framework.

That’s according to Robert Glasser, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), addressing the opening of the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, taking place this week in Montreal, Canada.

The Sendai Framework, agreed by 187 Member States in 2015, aims to reduce loss of life and injury by shifting from managing disasters, to managing disaster risk, and being better prepared.

A group of four indigenous elders opened proceedings with prayers and blessings for around 1,000 delegates from across the Americas.

More than 50 countries and territories are represented at the forum, aiming to agree a Regional Action Plan by the time they wrap up their work on Thursday, on the Americas’ contribution towards the Sendai targets, which follow the timetable of the overall 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr. Glasser also highlighted the impact of Hurricane Matthew, which ripped through the Caribbean in early October last year, causing widespread devastation to Haiti, including 546 deaths and losses estimated at $2.78 billion.

Sendai means saving life by making economies and societies more resilient, he said.

“Disaster events […] over the last 12 months in the Americas have highlighted how challenging it’s going to be to achieve those targets,” he said, noting that Matthew, the first Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in almost 10 years was a stern test of the region’s preparedness for an event – or something similar – that is likely occur more frequently in future as a result of climate change.

The UNISDR chief said it had been “heartening” to see the response in Central and South America especially to the “major slow onset disaster event” posed by the El Niño weather pattern of the past few years.

“It’s efforts such as these that we must now build on as we prepare to meet the first deadline of the Sendai Framework, the substantial increase in national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. These strategies will lay the foundations for a decade of concerted action on reducing disaster losses,” added Mr. Glasser.

The conference is due to end on Thursday, with a Montreal Declaration that will go forward to the 2017 Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Mexico, in May.

Read more...

Women’s progress uneven and facing backlash, UN rights chief warns ahead of International Day

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 7 March 2017 – The United Nations human rights office today launched a joint report with the African Union and UN Women detailing the progress and challenges to women’s struggle for human rights in Africa, while the UN rights chief warned that the women’s movement around the world is facing a backlash that hurts both men and women.

“We need to be alert – the advances of the last few decades are fragile and should nowhere be taken for granted,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement ahead of International Women’s Day, marked annually on 8 March.

The UN High Commissioner added that it is “extremely troubling” to see recent roll-back of fundamental legislation in many parts of the world.

Such roll-backs are “underpinned by the renewed obsession with controlling and limiting women’s decisions over their bodies and lives, and by views that a woman’s role should be essentially restricted to reproduction and the family,” he said.

While such pushbacks are carried out in the name of tradition, Mr. Zeid noted that they are often a response to segments of society calling for change.

Among examples he gave, Mr. Zeid pointed to recent legislation in Bangladesh, Burundi and the Russian Federation, which weakens women’s rights to fight against child marriage, marital rape and domestic violence, respectively.

He noted also the “fierce resistance” in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to political and civil society efforts to open up access to sexual and reproductive rights.

“With the world’s young population concentrated in developing nations, retrogressive measures denying women and girls access to sexual and reproductive health services will have a devastating effect,” Mr. Zeid said, noting more maternal deaths, more unintended pregnancies, fewer girls finishing school and the economic impact of failing to fully include women in the workforce.

“In short, a generation without choices and a collective failure to deliver on the promises of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he added, referring to the internationally agreed action plan for eradicating poverty while assisting all people and maintain the health of the planet.

Meanwhile, Mr. Zeid praised women’s movements in countries such as Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia, where women and men took to the streets to demand change, but warned that “it is time to come together to protect the important gains of the past and maintain a positive momentum.”

Women as active agents of change

In Africa, women continue to be denied full enjoyment of their rights in every country, according to a new report released today entitled Women’s Rights in Africa.

Statistics show that some African countries have no legal protection for women against domestic violence, are forced to undergo female genital mutilation, and forced to marry while still children.

According to the report, however, in Africa – as around the globe – when women exercise their rights to access to education, skills, and jobs, there is a surge in prosperity, positive health outcomes, and greater freedom and well-being, not only of women but of the whole society.

“Human rights are not a utopian fairy-tale -they are a recipe for sound institutions, more sustainable development and greater peace,” Mr. Zeid wrote in the Foreword to the report.

“When all women are empowered to make their own choices and share resources, opportunities and decisions as equal partners, every society in Africa will be transformed.”

Among its recommendations, the report calls on African governments to encourage women’s full and productive employment, to recognize the importance of unpaid care and domestic work, and to ensure women can access and control their own economic and financial resources.

The report stresses that women should not be seen only as victims but, for example, as active agents in formal and informal peace building processes.

Read more...

UN chief Guterres condemns reported firing of multiple ballistic missiles by DPR Korea

INTERNATIONAL, 6 March 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned the reported firing of ballistic missiles today by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), three of which landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

“Such actions violate Security Council resolutions and seriously undermine regional peace and stability,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the DPRK leadership to refrain from further provocations and return to full compliance with its international obligations,” concluded the statement.

This is the latest in a series of reported missile launches by the DPRK, all of which have been condemned by the United Nations.

After urgent closed-door talks last month, the Security Council, condemning a reported incident on 12 February, issued a press statement expressing serious concern that the DPRK conducted these ballistic missile launches after the 15 April, 23 April, 27 April, 28 April, 31 May, 21 June, 9 July, 18 July, 2 August, 23 August, 5 September, and 14 October 2016 launches, as well as the nuclear test of 9 September, “in flagrant disregard of its repeated statements.”

Read more...

UN agency concerned new US refugee plan may 'compound the anguish' of people fleeing conflict

INTERNATIONAL, 6 March 2017 – Refugees are ordinary people forced to flee war, violence and persecution in their home countries and who remain in urgent need of life-saving assistance and protection, the United Nations refugee agency underscored today in the wake of the latest Executive Order signed by the President of the United States on refugee resettlement.

“The imperative remains to provide protection for people fleeing deadly violence, and we are concerned that this decision, though temporary, may compound the anguish for those it affects,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a news release, adding that his Office (UNHCR) has long been a partner for the US in finding solutions to refugee problems, “and we look forward to continuing this partnership.”

Mr. Grandi's statement follows the signing earlier today by US President Donald Trump of an Executive order that, according to news reports, would, among other things, suspend the country's refugee programme for 120 days. It would also bar for 90 days travel to the US by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Today's measure follows a similar Order signed by the US President on 27 January, which barred all nationals from several majority Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the US for 90 days. Under that Order, Syrian refugees were barred indefinitely.

In the wake of the new Order, the UN refugee agency reiterated its readiness to engage constructively with the US Administration to ensure all refugee programmes meet the highest standards for safety and security.

“Americans have long played a crucial role in promoting global stability while simultaneously exemplifying the highest humanitarian ideals, from support for refugee emergencies overseas, to welcoming some of the most vulnerable refugee families in the United States to rebuild their lives in safety, freedom and dignity,” said UNHCR.

“This is the gold standard in refugee protection and a powerful model for all countries,” it said, adding that at a time of record-high levels of forced human displacement, “this kind of humane leadership is needed more than ever.”

Read more...

‘Communicating SDGs’ key to achieving global development targets – senior UN official

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 2 March 2017 – Bringing together a diverse array of partners to communicate the Sustainable Development Goals was a key focus on day two Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development, a ‘playable’ United Nations conference that aims to chart a new way of thinking on addressing some of the world’s most complex development challenges.

“We have to make the world aware of this […] agenda that is definitely going to transform the planet and that is going to ensure that no one is left behind,” Cristina Gallach, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, told the Festival.

“The more we communicate about the SDGs and make people aware of the agenda, the more the governments will be accountable and will ensure that it is implemented,” she added.

The UN Department headed by Ms. Gallach, Department of Public Information, is the organization’s entity tasked with informing the wider world on the SDGs and ensuring that the 17 goals are known and understood.

To that end, 17 ‘icons’ – each with a designated bright colour, short name phrase and single image – have been created to illustrate each Global Goal.

The icons have also been translated in over 50 languages, from Czech to Bahasa Indonesia, and the number is growing.

‘Going local’

This ‘localization’ is important to allow people around the globe take ownership of their development agenda, said the senior UN official.

“There are a lot of communications that need to be done locally in the different languages people speak locally on a daily basis” she explained.

Going local also helps people on the ground feel that that work is being done, “so local governments have to implement and local media have to monitor what goes on,” added Ms. Gallach.

Youths are the best allies

The UN has also placed a particular focus on youth with regards to the SDGs and considers a key partner in the achievement of the Goals.

“[The youth] are aware the planet is not going well and they might inherit something really bad so they want to be part of the transformation”, said Ms. Gallach, adding: “They know the goals will be achieved when they are adults, when they will be at the peak of their lives.”

The senior UN official also underscored the importance of forging partnerships in the achievement of the SDGs, as well as in communicating them. In addition to the SDG icons – designed in partnership with Jakob Trollbäck, working with Project Everyone – other examples include the branding of the Mexico city metro and a rap song about the Goals in collaboration with Flocabulary, which uses educational hip-hop music to engage with students.

“The more we communicate the more we will harvest for partnerships [and] this agenda cannot be implements without very strong partnerships” stressed Ms. Gallach.

The Global Festival of Ideas, the first in a series of annual forums, is hosted by the UN SDG Action Campaign in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) with the support of the German Government.

Read more...

UN-backed narcotics control body calls for more policies to address drug dependence among women

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 2 March 2017 – Citing a significant rise over the past year in the number of women dying from drug overdoses globally, the independent expert body which monitors Governments’ compliance with the United Nations international drug control treaties is today calling for the implementation of gender-sensitive drug policies and programmes.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said that women and girls comprise one-third of global drug users yet are only one-fifth of those receiving treatment, as significant systemic, structural, social, cultural and personal barriers affect women’s ability to access substance abuse treatment..

Further, they are also more likely to be prescribed narcotics and anti-anxiety medication than men, and are thus more likely to abuse these medications.

For example, Germany and Serbia have reported that fatal overdoses from prescription drugs are more frequent among women. Additionally, countries such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have seen larger increases in overdoses, of all substances, among women than among men.

These are among the key findings in the 2016 Annual Report launched today by the INCB. It stresses that Governments should prioritize providing health care for drug-dependent women, in addition to more funding and coordination to prevent and treat drug abuse among women.

“We want to change perceptions and remind people, particularly policymakers, of the importance of protecting the rights of women who use drugs or who have committed drug-related offences and the rights of their families,” said the organization’s President, Werner Sipp, in a news release.

The report also highlights the importance of targeting prevention programmes to specific populations, such as prisoners, pregnant women, people living with HIV/AIDS, and sex workers.

It notes that women prisoners and sex workers are at “particular risk” of drug use.

Countries are also encouraged to seek alternatives to imprisonment for drug-related offences, such as treatment, rehabilitation and social integration.

The INCB also repeated its longstanding call for countries to abolish the death penalty for drug-related offences.

Among its other observations, the Board noted with “great concern” recent reports in some countries of the targeting of individuals suspected of involvement in drug-related activity, including drug use, who have been subjected to violent acts of reprisal and murder at the hands of law enforcement personnel and members of the civilian population.

In some instances, those acts have been committed with the expressed or tacit approval, or even encouragement, of political forces and, in many cases, have gone unpunished, said the Board, emphasizing that it condemned such practices, including the extrajudicial targeting of persons suspected of drug use, “in the strongest possible terms,” and denounced them as a “serious violation of human rights […] and an affront to the most basic standards of human dignity.”

Read more...

Ocean Water Temperatures in the Western Atlantic & the Gulf of Mexico Warmest on Record. What could this mean for the Atlantic Hurricane Season?

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – “This has been a winter of records across much of the United States. First and foremost, ocean water temperatures across the western Atlantic are currently the warmest on record, especially across the Gulf of Mexico,” according to Crown Weather.

“In addition, the ocean water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic are the warmest start to a year on record. In addition to the very warm ocean water temperatures, the winter of 2016-17 is expected to be the warmest winter on record in places such as Houston and Miami.

“Bottom line is that the lack of any serious cold weather intrusions into the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic has led to a hot Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic and this is concerning for not only the severe weather season, but it is also potentially concerning for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

The reason why this is concerning for the severe weather season is because the warmer the water is in the Gulf of Mexico, the more moisture will be available to be pulled northward into any eastward moving troughs of low pressure. So, this marked increase in available unstable humid air could lead to an above average to perhaps even a much above average severe weather season from the Plains States eastward through the Midwest, southern and south-eastern United States as well as across the eastern United States.

“Obviously, the availability of very warm ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic will not be enough to produce severe weather, it's just one of the ingredients. To produce the severe weather, troughs of low pressure with available energy will need to tap into this ocean water and in fact we are already starting to see this so far this season.

“The very warm ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic are particularly concerning when looking forward towards the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. If we continue to see these well above average ocean temperatures into June and July, then it could be very worrisome as it would give any developing tropical systems an added boost in intensity and development if the other environmental conditions are favorable for development.

“You see when we talk about potential tropical development during the hurricane season, we look at more than just ocean water temperatures, we also look at wind shear forecasts and any dry air outbreaks. So, even if there is plenty of very warm ocean waters across the Atlantic, if the other conditions are not favorable for development, then robust tropical development probably will not happen.

“The reason why I mention this is because there is the possibility for a El Nino to develop this summer during the height of the hurricane season. If we do see a El Nino develop, then it could lead to abnormally high wind shear values across the Atlantic. Should this happen, then it could lead to a below average hurricane season.

“With that said, I am not completely convinced that we are going to see this quick of a transition into El Nino conditions. Instead, it would not surprise me to see conditions peak later this summer as a weak El Nino rather than the moderate to strong El Nino some of the model guidance are forecasting.

“So, if we do see conditions go into a weak El Nino, then it could have little or no effect on the overall hurricane season. At this point, I still think that we may see 12-14 named storms, 5-7 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 2-3 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

“So, any storms pushing into the abnormally warm ocean waters in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico this season could lead to a scenario of a rapidly intensifying tropical cyclone in the western Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, given the very warm ocean waters, it would not surprise me at all to see a May or June tropical system this year,” concludes Crown Weather.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio