Soualiga (13833)

COP28: UN chief previews panel on management of minerals essential for green energy transition

INTERNATIONAL, 2 December 2023, Climate and Environment - UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday announced his plan to set up a panel aimed to ensure the move from fossil fuels towards renewable energy is just, sustainable and benefits all countries.
The UN chief made this announcement in an address to a summit of developing country leaders taking place at the latest UN climate conference, COP28, now under way in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Guterres, who has been a strong proponent of moving away from fossil fuels, told leaders of the Group of 77 Developing Countries, which includes China, that the availability and accessibility of critical energy transition minerals is crucial to reach the goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“COP28 must commit countries to triple renewables capacity, double energy efficiency, and bring clean energy to all, by 2030,” stated the UN chief, stressing that the phase out fossil fuels with a roadmap that is equitable and with a timeframe compatible with 1.5 degrees is also essential. 

As such, he said, “we need a just, fair and equitable transition from fossil fuels to renewables…The very existence of some countries in this room depends on it.” 

The green energy boom is an opportunity for commodity-rich developing countries to transform and diversify their economies.

However, a lack of global guidance to manage these resources could exacerbate geopolitical risks and environmental and social challenges, including impacts on water, biodiversity, health and indigenous peoples’ rights.

“The extraction of critical minerals for the clean energy revolution – from wind farms to solar panels and battery manufacturing – must be done in a sustainable, fair and just way,” the UN chief said, adding that the demand for minerals, such as copper, lithium and cobalt, is set to increase almost fourfold by 2030.

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past,” with a systematic exploitation of developing countries reduced to the production of basic raw materials.

The proposed Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals will bring together governments, international organizations, industry, and civil society to develop common and voluntary principles to guide extractive industries in the years ahead “in the name of justice and sustainability.”

‘Keep pushing the needle’

In his remarks, UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis praised the G77 and China for leading the charge to shift to renewable energy and leading the calls for building resilience.

“They have spearheaded debates on climate finance – including pushing for the reform of the international financial architecture, that would afford developing countries better access to development funding without the overhang of unsustainable debt levels,” he added.

The Assembly President noted his intention to convene a ‘Sustainability Week’ in April 2024, to address the dynamics of sustainability in relation to infrastructure, transportation, tourism, and, of course, energy.

“We must continue to push the needle on these sectors that are so essential to modern economies, that yet constitute some of the greatest contributors to atmospheric emissions,” he said invited the developing country leaders to come to New York for that ‘week’ to build on the impact of the decisions taken at COP28.

‘Renewables revolution’

The second and final day of the World Climate Action Summit – the ministerial-level segment of COP28, where world leaders have been laying out their national strategies – also saw the Secretary General press for accelerated climate action that would help offset the challenges faced by mountainous and landlocked developing countries.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres (centre left) and other panellist at the High-Level meeting on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) held during the World Climate Action Summit at COP28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
UNFCCC/Kiara Worth
UN Secretary-General António Guterres (centre left) and other panellist at the High-Level meeting on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) held during the World Climate Action Summit at COP28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

At a high-level meeting of the landlocked developing countries (LLDc), the UN chief highlighted that they are on the frontlines of climate change, facing a range of dramatic impacts: desertification and prolonged droughts, catastrophic biodiversity loss and rapidly melting glaciers.

According to Mr. Guterres, there are no LLDCs that are big emitters, but all landlocked nations are coping with the negative and devastating impacts of runaway emissions and the climate chaos it drives.

“So I think you have a moral authority to tell big emitters, namely the G20 countries that represent 80 per cent of the emissions, it’s time to seriously reduce emissions,” so the more than 500 million people living in least developed countries are not so impacted by the accelerated effects of climate change and benefit from “the same levels of well-being that we want for everyone everywhere in the world.”

At the same time, he pointed out how they could also harness it to their advantage, reaping the “rewards of the renewables revolution.”

“You can be champions of an energy transition that is sustainable, just, inclusive, and equitable. But to do all of this, you need much, much more support,” said Mr. Guterres.

‘Distress call’

Addressing the high-level side event ‘Call of the Mountain: Who Saves us from the Climate Crisis?’, the UN chief said mountains are issuing a distress call, and COP28 must respond with a strong rescue plan.

Mr. Guterres described his recent “unforgettable visit” to Nepal, where he was deeply shocked to learn about the rapid pace of glacier melting and its “terrible impact” on local communities.

The Himalayan nation has lost close to a third of its ice in just over 30 years – a direct result of the greenhouse [gas] pollution heating our planet.

“Nepal, and other vulnerable mountain countries, are being pounded by a crisis that is not of their making. Unless we change course, we will unleash catastrophe,” he explained.

Screenshot of a monitor in the meeting room at the COP28 event in Expo City in Dubai on ‘Call of the Mountains: who saves us from the climate crisis?’
UNFCCC/Kiara Worth
Screenshot of a monitor in the meeting room at the COP28 event in Expo City in Dubai on ‘Call of the Mountains: who saves us from the climate crisis?’

COP28: Towards solutions

Against the backdrop of the challenges faced by vulnerable landlocks and mountainous nations, The Secretary-General underscored the critical importance of the expected decisions by delegates at COP28 on the so-called ‘Global Stocktake’, which should set the stage for a “surge in global climate ambition in 2025 and beyond.”

The stocktake is a crucial mechanism established under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, aimed at measuring progress towards the accord’s goals and encouraging countries to ramp up their climate action plans.

An ambitious outcome from the global stocktake process will require major progress on three fronts, Mr. Guterres explained.

Finance: “We need to see a boosting of contributions to the new Loss and Damage Fund.” Developed countries need to make good on their financial commitments.

Reducing emissions: “We must preserve the limit of 1.5-degrees of heating, as set out in the Paris Agreement, to avert the worst of climate chaos.” It must advance a just, fair and equitable transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

More international cooperation: Achieving the climate goals agreed in Paris “depend on new levels of collaboration between government, and between countries and companies, to drive down emissions, and to protect everyone on earth with an effective early warning system by 2027.”

Want to know more? Check out our special events page, where you can find all our coverage of the COP28 climate conference, including stories and videos, explainers and our newsletter.


World News in Brief: Engagement with Sudan, Red Sea vessel attacks, SDGs disabilities promise

INTERNATIONAL, 2 December 2023, Peace and Security - UN engagement with Sudan will continue in the wake of the decision to terminate its political mission in the country, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
On Friday, the Security Council adopted a resolution to close the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) following a request last month from the authorities.

UNITAMS was established in June 2020 to provide support to Sudan for an initial 12-month period during its transition to democratic rule following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for 30 years.

Sudan’s military Government, whose forces have been battling the RSF militia for control of the country since mid-April, has said that the UN mission was failing to meet expectations.

Concern for civilians

The Secretary-General has taken note of the Council resolution, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement issued on Friday evening.

He added that the UN Country Team in Sudan will continue its essential work there, including providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

“The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the escalating conflict in the Sudan and its devastating impact on civilians and will continue to engage with all Sudanese stakeholders in support of the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a peaceful and secure future,” the statement continued.

“He reiterates his call to the warring parties to reach an agreement on an immediate ceasefire and engage in discussions to achieve a permanent cessation of hostilities.

Security Council condemns attacks on vessels in the Red Sea

The Security Council has condemned in the strongest terms recent attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen against a commercial vessel in the Red Sea, which are occurring against the backdrop of the conflict in Gaza.

The 15 members also recalled ongoing threats and previous attacks against oil terminals under the control of the Government of Yemen.  

They issued a statement on Friday demanding “that such attacks and action cease immediately.”

The Council also called for the immediate release of the MV Galaxy Leader and its crew. 

The cargo ship, which was hijacked on 19 November, is reportedly owned by an Israeli businessman and operated by Japan, according to international media.

Members underlined the importance of the navigational rights and freedoms of all vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, in accordance with international law.

They also stressed the importance of enhancing international and regional cooperation to counter threats to peace and security in the region.

A disabled student on a sports court in Brazil.
© UNICEF Brazil
A disabled student on a sports court in Brazil.

Persons with disabilities face discrimination despite SDG promise: Guterres

Persons with disabilities must be at the decision-making table and across countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - from poverty eradication, to health, education, and climate action.

That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on 3 December.

The 17 SDGs were adopted by world leaders in 2015 and have a 2030 deadline.

Mr. Guterres said achieving the goals requires living up to the promise to leave no one behind, especially the 1.3 billion persons with disabilities worldwide. 

However, they continue to face systemic discrimination and barriers that restrict their meaningful inclusion in all areas of society. 

“Truly sustainable development for persons with disabilities requires a laser-like focus on their needs and rights — not only as beneficiaries, but as active contributors across social, economic and political life,” he said.

The UN chief urged everyone “to work side-by-side with persons with disabilities to design and deliver solutions based on equal rights in every country and community.”


Security Council agrees to terminate UN mission in Sudan

INTERNATIONAL, 1 December 2023, Peace and Security - The Security Council on Friday decided to terminate the mandate of the UN political mission in Sudan from next Monday, after Khartoum called for its immediate withdrawal last month.

Sudan’s military Government, whose forces have been battling the RSF militia for control of the country since April, has said that the UN mission was failing to meet expectations.

The end of the UN Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) comes against the backdrop of the continuing war raging between rival militaries that has claimed over 6,000 lives, driven millions from their homes, led to abhorrent sexual and gender-based violence, and precipitated a severe humanitarian crisis.

Adopting resolution 2715 (2023) by 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Russia), the Security Council requested UNITAMS “immediately start on 4 December 2023, the cessation of its operations and the process of the transfer of its tasks, where appropriate and to the extent feasible, to UN agencies, funds and programmes, with the objective of completing this by 29 February 2024.”

The Council also decided that the Mission’s liquidation shall commence 1 March 2024, and underlined the need for an orderly transition to ensure the safety of UN personnel and the effective functioning of all UN operations.

‘Not abandoning Sudanese people’

Following the vote to close the mission, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the Organization stands with the Sudanese people.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Ms. DiCarlo stated “the Security Council just voted to close down UNITAMS, but the UN is not abandoning the Sudanese people.”

“We urge full support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Ramtane Lamamra, to bolster efforts to bring the devastating conflict to an end,” she added.

Security a priority

The 15-member Security Council also authorized, for the duration of UNITAMS’ transition and liquidation, “the retention of necessary security personnel” to protect UNITAMS’ staffers, facilities and assets and called on all relevant Sudanese parties to cooperate fully with the UN during the process.

It also called on Sudan to act in accordance with its full legal obligations.

Not a good decision: UK

Speaking after the vote, Security Council members highlighted the volatile security and humanitarian situation in the country and stressed that the Sudanese authorities remain responsible for the safety and security of UNITAMS staff and assets during the transition.  

“Let me be clear, the United Kingdom would have chosen to close UNITAMS at this moment,” said Deputy Permanent Representative James Kariuki, commending the work of the mission “for and since the outbreak of the conflict”.

“But given the unequivocal demand of the Sudanese authorities for the immediate terminations, we have worked tireless as penholder to agree a compromise to allow an orderly transition and liquidation,” he added.

‘Sovereign right of Sudanese authorities’

The representative of Russia referred to the letter by the Foreign Minister of Sudan that called for the closure of UNITAMS.

She said that such a position “is not arrived at random” and that the Security Council “has to admit candidly” that the Mission did not manage to carry out its mandated tasks, created at the request of Sudan to support the political transition process following the ouster of former ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

“It stopped tallying with the changed reality of the country and basically it started working in the interest of just one political group, which did not enjoy mass support in the Sudanese society,” she said, underscoring that the ending of UNITAMS is the sovereign right of the Sudanese authorities.

Refugees from Sudan wait to collect aid items in a border village in Chad.
© UNICEF/Donaig Le Du
Refugees from Sudan wait to collect aid items in a border village in Chad.

Secretary-General’s new envoy

The Security Council also welcomed the appointment of the Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, to use his good offices with the parties in Sudan and neighbouring States, complementing regional peace efforts, including those of African Union (AU) and the east African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The UN chief appointed Mr. Lamamra as his Personal Envoy for Sudan on 21 November.  

Mr. Lamamra, a former Foreign Minister of Algeria had also served as the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and had been a member of the Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Board on Mediation since 2017.

UNITAMS established in June 2020

UNITAMS was established by the Security Council in June 2020 as a special political mission, to provide support to Sudan for an initial 12-month period during its political transition to democratic rule. Its mandate was subsequently extended in 2021 and 2022.

Headquartered in Khartoum, UNITAMS supported the country through a range of political, peacebuilding and development initiatives, including assisting the nation to achieve the goals of the Constitutional Declaration of August 2019, and carrying out its National Plan for Civilian Protection.


Shock and terror in Gaza as bombardment of shattered enclave resumes

INTERNATIONAL, 1 December 2023, Peace and Security - As Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of his deep regret about the resumption of military operations in Gaza on Friday, UN humanitarians vowed to stay and help all those in need, while reiterating “nowhere is safe from attacks” in the war-shattered enclave.
The sound of shells exploding shortly after 7am Gaza time was clearly audible at Nasser hospital in the south, where terrified and traumatised youngsters immediately reacted by clinging to their mothers in fright, said James Elder from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“The bombs started just a few seconds after the ceasefire (ended),” Mr. Elder told journalists at UN Geneva via video link from Khan Younis, before decrying the “ongoing war on children”.

Wounds of war

“As we approached Nasser hospital there had been a hit, a missile, a rocket, something…Children with the wounds of war are everywhere, children with the wounds of war are still in corridors. Hundreds of women and children take refuge in here. You walk out of ICU (intensive care unit) and there are families of five on a mattress for two.”

The return to violence follows the end of a week-long pause in hostilities between Hamas militants and Israeli forces that allowed the delivery of desperately needed fuel, food and water, which people have been drinking as soon as it is given to them, humanitarians report. 

The pause also enabled the release of hostages taken during Hamas’s 7 October surprise attack on southern Israel and ensuing massacre of some 1,200 people, and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Gaza’s health authorities have reported more than 15,000 fatalities since the Israeli strikes began, with thousands of children believed buried under the rubble. The conflict has also created around 1,000 child amputees in recent weeks, Mr. Elder noted.

In an interview later in the day with UN News, Mr. Elder demonstrated the reality that nowhere is safe in Gaza, describing scenes of bombardment close by from his base in the southern city of Rafah.

He called on leaders involved in the conflict and with influence over the situation to understand that "enabling these attacks to begin again is to allow the killing of more and more children."

UN chief leads new ceasefire appeal 

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, UN Chief Guterres led calls for the warring sides to return to the negotiating table to agree on a long-lasting ceasefire to allow desperately needed aid into Gaza.

“I deeply regret that military operations have started again in Gaza,” he said. “I still hope that it will be possible to renew the pause that was established. The return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian ceasefire.”

Let aid in, urges rights chief

Echoing that call for peace, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, expressed deep concern at declarations by Israeli political and military leaders “planning to expand and intensify the military offensive”.

“The resumption of hostilities in Gaza is catastrophic,” the UN rights chief said, before urging all parties and States with influence over the warring sides “to redouble efforts, immediately, to ensure a ceasefire – on humanitarian and human rights grounds”.

The “full respect and protection of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis” remain critically important, Mr. Türk stressed, before calling for an immediate end to the violence and the prompt and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.

He said civilians must be protected in line with international humanitarian law, appealing to Israel “as the occupying power…to ensure that the basic needs of the population in Gaza, such as food, water, and medical care, are met. I remind all parties of their obligation to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, throughout Gaza.”

A Red Crescent worker at the Al Quds hospital in Gaza flees bombing. (file)
A Red Crescent worker at the Al Quds hospital in Gaza flees bombing. (file)

Hospital ‘like a horror movie’

Medical needs continue to far outstrip available care, the UN health agency has warned, with some 5,000 beds required but only around 1,500 to hand and only 51 out of 72 primary healthcare facilities now functional, said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, speaking from Gaza.

“The Gaza health system has been crippled by the ongoing hostilities and I want to stress that we cannot afford to lose any more hospitals or hospital beds,” he said.

Dr. Peeperkorn also highlighted a study in the medical journal The Lancet that confirmed mortality statistics reported by the enclave’s health authorities in October. To date, more than 6,200 children have died, over 4,000 women and roughly 4,850 men, with over 36,000 injured, he said.

Men walk through the destroyed streets of Gaza.
Men walk through the destroyed streets of Gaza.

Floors ‘awash with blood’

At one small hospital in Gaza City that is one of three barely functioning trauma centres for the north of the enclave, staff are overwhelmed and “bodies are lined up in the car park outside (and) the floor is just awash with blood,” said WHO Rob Holden, WHO Senior Emergency Officer. 

“The only way to describe it, it's like a horror movie. When you walk in there there are patients on the floor with the most traumatic injuries that you can imagine, potentially battlefield trauma. You know, the patients are given the best possible care, but the number of staff available is relatively small, any of this stuff, have fled with their families or have been killed.”

“The supplies are just not enough. There have been major problems of getting supplies to the north of Gaza as well…as you drive into the hospital, you are met with bodies deceased who've died either on arrival at the hospital or during their stay at the hospital, lined up outside, waiting for family members to come and identify them.”

Speaking from Gaza, the WHO official explained that doctors, nurses, lab technicians and engineers “who keep the machinery running, the generators are running” were working 22-hour days “just to give the most basic level of service”.

Echoing the call for peace, the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, said that children, women and men in Gaza and Israel "woke up to war" once again on Friday. "Parties to this conflict must protect civilians and provide access to humanitarian actors to deliver across Gaza and according to needs as per international humanitarian law,” said OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke.   

"Humanitarian aid must continue unconditionally, hostages must be released unconditionally. The UN will continue to stay and deliver food, water, medical and other critical supplies to save lives.”


Unprecedented drought emergency demands urgent action

INTERNATIONAL, 1 December 2023, Climate and Environment - A new report by the UN team combatting desertification reveals alarming trends over the past two years which have resulted in an unprecedented emergency due to human-induced droughts.
The Global Drought Snapshot report, released by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on Friday, coinciding with COP 28, paint a grim picture of the scale of lives and livelihoods lost to droughts.

Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, emphasized the urgency of the situation.

“Unlike other disasters that attract media attention, droughts happen silently, often going unnoticed and failing to provoke an immediate public and political response,” he said.

“With the frequency and severity of drought events increasing, as reservoir levels dwindle and crop yields decline, as we continue to lose biological diversity and famines spread, transformational change is needed.”

Wake-up call

The report stresses that land restoration and sustainable management are critical to strengthen drought resilience.

It also urges nature-positive farming techniques, such as growing drought-resistant crops, efficient irrigation methods and soil conservation practices, so that communities can reduce the impact of drought on their crops and incomes.

Efficient water management is another key component of global drought resilience. This includes investing in sustainable water supply systems, conservation measures and the promotion of water-efficient technologies.

UNCCD also urges disaster preparedness and early warning systems for global drought resilience.

Greater investments in meteorological monitoring, data collection and risk assessment can help respond quickly to drought emergencies and minimize impacts, it said, calling also for international cooperation, knowledge sharing, and environmental and social justice.


The publication includes important drought data, including on geographic spread, agriculture and forests, water conditions, social dimensions, emissions, and more.

For instance, it shows 85 per cent of those affected by droughts live in low or middle-income countries, and that people living in countries classified as highly vulnerable are 15 times more likely to be killed by floods, droughts and storms as those in low vulnerability ones.

It also notes that 1.2 million people in the so-called Central American Dry Corridor – a strip of land across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – need food aid, after going through five years of drought, heatwaves and unpredictable rainfall.

Landfills are a major source of methane emissions, and improved management can capture the methane as a clean fuel source as well as reducing health risks.
World Bank/Curt Carnemark
Landfills are a major source of methane emissions, and improved management can capture the methane as a clean fuel source as well as reducing health risks.

Watching methane

Also on Friday, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released the first ever findings from its Methane Alert and Reponses System (MARS).

The System uses satellites to monitor methane data to help governments limit anthropogenic emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas – over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (COs) and responsible for a third of today’s global warming.

The term anthropogenic emission refers to emission caused or influenced by human activity – directly or indirectly.

Atmospheric methane is at its highest level in recorded history, with serious implications for air quality and human health, according to UNEP.

The agency added that human activities in agriculture, waste, and fossil fuel sectors account for more than half of global methane emissions, and the current rate of human activity could see methane levels rise by up to 13 per cent between 2020 and 2030, when they would need to fall by up to 60 per cent over the same period to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.

UNEP Video | An eye on methane: The road to radical transparency.

COP28: As ‘humanity’s fate hangs in the balance’, UN chief calls for urgent action to prevent planetary crash

INTERNATIONAL, 1 December 2023Climate and Environment - Earth’s vital signs are failing and to prevent planetary crash and burn, “we need…cooperation and political will”, UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Friday, challenging world leaders gathered in Dubai for COP28 to show real global climate leadership.
The UN chief delivered his impassioned appeal at the high-level opening of the Global Climate Action Summit, which will see world leaders and Heads of State and Government taking centre stage for the next two days in the Al Waha Theatre in Dubai’s iconic Expo City.

Warning that “humanity’s fate is hanging in the balance”, the Secretary-General said world leaders must act now to end the climate catastrophe.

“This is a sickness only you, global leaders, can cure,” he said, calling on the leaders to end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and to fulfill the long overdue promise for climate justice.

Mr. Guterres also welcomed the breakthrough achieved Thursday on the opening day of COP28 after delegates reached a deal on the operationalization a fund for loss and damage to help the world’s most vulnerable countries pay for the devastating impacts of climate disaster.

An indigenous community member attends the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
COP28/Anthony Fleyhan

Buzz around the venue

Expo City, the venue for the climate talks, is buzzing with activity amid the tight security on the second day of COP28, as world’s leaders started arriving for the Action Summit.

Over the next two days, leaders from over 160 countries are expected to outline their vision for tackling the climate crisis, including from Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Turkiye and India.

Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, is well-known for its extremely hot weather. While December is normally a relatively pleasant month, hundreds of reporters, photographers and civil society delegates have been jostling for space in Expo City’s shady spots to catch a break from the scorching sun.

Indigenous peoples are on the frontline of climate change impacts and their representatives are very active – and vocal – at COP28. Earlier on Friday UN News ran into Jacob Johns, who says he’s working to inform climate policy with indigenous knowledge.

“We are here to shift the hearts and minds of conference goers and the negotiating teams so that we live in solidarity with a healthy, livable future,” said Mr. Johns, who is Hopi and Akimel O’odham, and a member of the US-based Indigenous Wisdom Keepers delegation.

“We want to see real climate action... We want to see funding going into climate justice and the loss and damage fund. We want all these funds to be available to indigenous people who are suffering at the impending climate collapse, with land loss and extreme weather events,” he told us.

United in crisis

In his remarks to the Action Summit, the Secretary-General recalled to his recent trips to Antarctica and Nepal, pointing out how he witnessed first-hand the scale and extent of melting ice and glaciers.

“These two spots are far in distance, but united in crisis,” said Mr. Guterres.

He cautioned though that this is just one symptom of the sickness bringing our climate to its knees.

Painting a worrisome picture of ongoing climate chaos, the UN chief said global heating is busting budgets, ballooning food prices, upending energy markets, and feeding a cost-of-living crisis.

“We are miles from the goals of the Paris Agreement – and minutes to midnight for the 1.5-degree limit.”

No more time to lose

Mr. Guterres emphasized that the success of the Dubai conference will depends on the outcome of the so-named ‘Global Stocktake’ – where countries will for the first time assess progress on curbing global warming – which can get the world on track to achieve the temperature, finance, and adaptation goals.

He underscored that the stocktake must prescribe a credible cure for our ailing planet in three key areas.

  • First, a drastic cut in emissions since current policies are leading us to an earth-scorching three-degree temperature rise.

    “I urge countries to speed up their net zero timelines, to get there as close as possible to 2040 in developed countries and 2050 in emerging economies.”

  • Second, acceleration towards a just, equitable transition to renewables, since a burning planet cannot be saved with a firehose of fossil fuels.

    “The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate. Phase out – with a clear timeframe aligned with 1.5 degrees.”

  • Third, fulfillment of the long overdue promise of climate justice in an unequal and divided world – a surge in finance, including for adaptation and loss and damage.

He urged developed countries to double adaptation finance to $40 billion a year by 2025 and provide details on how they plan to deliver on the $100 billion promise for financial support for developing countries.

‘People-first strategy’

“As a citizen of a small Island developing State myself, I am acutely aware that on our current trajectory those islands and the wealth of culture and history they represent are at peril of imminent disappearance,” said Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, threatened by fast-advancing sea level rise.

“A three-degree world is not science fiction but the path we are on,” he said, referring to the fact that if current trends continue the world may be facing a temperature increase of three degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era, instead of the 1.5-degree target set in Paris.

He focused on the need for “a just transition to sustainable energy systems” and for “more accessible, more available” financing for climate adaptation.

Recalling that all countries are dealing with unique crises in their national contexts, Assembly President Francis urged delegations to draw on those experiences in your discussions at COP28.

“I urge you to propose integrated and action-oriented solutions, that will guide other participants – to help them to re-imagine local, national, and regional policies and policy frameworks that anticipate risks, prioritize investments, and enable adaptive climate mobility; while embracing a people-first strategy.”

Isabel Prestes da Fonseca, a representative of the Brazilian indigenous community, addressing the World Climate Action Summit during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City  in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
COP28/Christophe Viseux

The opening ceremony of the World Climate Action Summit also saw the representation of the indigenous communities whose survival is threatened by climate change.

Isabel Prestes da Fonseca is the co-founder and environmental director of Instituto Zág, an indigenous youth-led organisation whose key activity is the reforestation and preservation of traditional knowledge around the Araucaria tree, known as Zág.

“I stand here today, representing indigenous voices and the urgent need to address environmental crises. Join us in this fight for nature and biodiversity. Together, we can be the change,” she said.

Another ‘turning point’

King Charles III recalled the time that he was invited to speak at the opening of the landmark COP21 in Paris eight years ago, “where nations put differences aside for common good”. “I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another turning point,” he said.

He deplored the fact that progress towards climate goals has fallen off track, as the global stocktake shows, and asked, “How dangerous are we actually prepared to make our world?”

King Charles III addressing the World Climate Action Summit during the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
COP28/Christophe Viseux

“Dealing with this is a job for us all,” he insisted in his address to the Summit on behalf of the United Kingdom.

King Charles went on to cite the impact of climate change globally, including devastating floods in India and Pakistan and severe wildfires in the United States, Canada and Greece.

“Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature's unique economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperiled,” he said.

Want to know more? Check out our special events page, where you can find all our coverage of the COP28 climate conference, including stories and videos, explainers and our newsletter.


Global agrifood systems are the climate solution, new FAO report highlights

INTERNATIONAL, 1 December 2023, Climate and Environment - Agrifood systems and the communities that support and depend on them are on the front lines of loss and damage linked to climate change, a new report released on Friday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has revealed.
The current climate crisis is affecting the world’s capacity to produce sufficient food. Its multiple impacts on water, soil, biodiversity, as well as the frequency of extreme weather events are leading to increased food insecurity.

These effects diminish crop yields, livestock productivity, and the potential of fisheries and aquaculture as food producers, according to the report.

Against the backdrop of these findings, the FAO Director-General underscored that nations must ensure that the loss and damage fund, ‘historically’ set in motion on the first day of the UN Climate Change conference in Dubai, UAE, reaches the agricultural communities dealing on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

He was speaking at the COP28 Presidency’s first Leader’s Event focused specifically on food and agriculture held on Friday at Expo City, venue of the conference in Dubai.

More support needed

The report says it is critical to address loss and damage in the agrifood system, given its importance for livelihoods and sustainable development.

However, despite an increase in global climate finance flows, support for agrifood systems lags behind other sectors, constituting less than 20 percent of climate-related development finance in 2021.

The Director-General highlighted that the solutions to help countries build resilience, adaptation, mitigation, and achieve food security already exist.

“But we need enabling policies to close the investment gap to ensure that climate finance is increased and reaches those who need it most, especially smallholder farmers,” he said. 

“We have to produce more with less. Agrifood systems must be transformed to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable to effectively contribute to food availability, accessibility, and affordability, and to achieve all the SDGs,” Qu underscored.

A new declaration

Qu also expressed FAO’s support for the newly launched Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, endorsed by 134 countries.

The Emirates Declaration, officially launched during the World Climate Action Summit event, emphasizes the key role of agriculture and food systems in addressing climate change.

“New FAO 1.5 °C Roadmap and Emirates declaration will play a key role in promoting climate action and achieving all of the sustainable development goals,” he told Heads of State and Government gathered at the summit.  

The said roadmap will be presented later at COP28 which captures contributions that nations can make to building climate resilience, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and boosting food security.  


Needs rise as flooding spreads in Somalia

INTERNATIONAL, 30 November 2023, Climate and Environment - Deadly torrential rains and floods have affected more than two million people in several areas of Somalia, with over 100 killed and 750,000 displaced from their homes, the authorities and humanitarian partners said on Thursday in the capital, Mogadishu.  

The crisis began with the start of the deyr rainy season in October and comes six months after the country emerged from a historic drought that brought it to the brink of widespread famine.

“Recurrent climate shocks, widespread insecurity and rampant poverty have pushed the people of Somalia to the breaking point,” said George Conway, UN Deputy Special Representative and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

‘Heartbreaking’ devastation

The ongoing heavy rains and floods are expected to swamp at least 1.5 million hectares of farmland through December.

Thousands of people have been cut off from markets and supplies, or marooned in isolated villages.

Roads, bridges and other infrastructure have been extensively damaged while vital facilities such as hospitals and schools have been closed, and the risk of cholera has increased.

Nimo Hassan, Director of the Somali NGO Consortium, described the devastation as heartbreaking. 

“The floods have reinforced the urgent need for sustainable solutions and disaster preparedness,” he added.

Rescue and relief 

So far, the Somali authorities and partners have reached roughly 820,000 affected people with assistance but needs are rapidly rising as the flooding expands around the country. 

“The priority right now is to rescue stranded families and provide immediate humanitarian relief to the victims,” said Mahamud Moallim, Commissioner of Somalia’s Disaster Management Agency.

The situation is unfolding as millions of Somalis continue to battle hunger and malnutrition, with an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five facing acute malnutrition between August and next July. 

Humanitarians warn that they will not be able to meet current and emerging needs without additional resources.

A $2.6 billion plan to support 7.6 million people this year is only 42 per cent funded.  


COP28 talks open in Dubai with breakthrough deal on loss and damage fund

INTERNATIONAL, 30 November 2023, Climate and Environment - Delegates meeting in Dubai agreed Thursday on the operationalization of a fund that would help compensate vulnerable countries coping with loss and damage caused by climate change, a major breakthrough on the first day of this year’s UN climate conference.
“Today’s news on loss and damage gives this UN climate conference a running start. All governments and negotiators must use this momentum to deliver ambitious outcomes here in Dubai,” said UN climate chief Simon Stiell during a press conference at which the announcement was made. 

On X (formerly Twitter), UN Secretary-General António Guterres also welcomed the agreement to operationalize the fund calling it an essential tool to deliver climate justice. He urged leaders to support the fund and get COP28 off to a strong start. 

The fund has been a long-standing demand of developing nations on the frontlines of climate change coping with the cost of the devastation caused by ever-increasing extreme weather events such as drought, floods, and rising seas.

Following several years of intense negotiations at annual UN climate meetings, developed nations extended their support for the need to set up the fund last year during COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Reportedly, Sultan al-Jaber, the President of the COP28 climate conference, has said that his country, the United Arab Emirates, would commit $100 million to the fund.  

Germany has also reportedly pledged a contribution of $100 million to the fund. The United States and Japan have also announced contributions to the fund. 

The 28th annual meeting known as ‘COP’ after the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Cli​mate Change (UNFCCC), opened today and is scheduled to run through to 12 December. 

The action is taking place at the sprawling campus of Expo City, which has been decorated with trees and foliage. It is located on the outskirts of Dubai and is expected to host over 70,000 delegates, climate negotiators and other participants coming together to shape a better future for the planet. 

‘Bold action, now’

Speaking earlier on Thursday at the opening of the conference, Mr. Stiell, who is the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, issued a warning that the world is taking “baby steps” in the face of a terrifying planetary climate crisis that requires bold action now. 

We are taking baby steps and stepping far too slowly to work out the best responses to the complex climate impacts we are faced with,” he told delegates gathered for COP28. 

The UN climate chief’s warning came just hours after the UN weather agency, known as WMOissued a provisional report saying that this has “shattered” climate records accompanied by extreme weather which has left a trail of devastation and despair.

What’s at stake

Mr Stiell then outlined what’s at stake. “This has been the hottest year ever for humanity. So many terrifying records were broken,” he said, adding: We are paying with people’s lives and livelihoods.” 

“Science tells us we have around six years before we exhaust the planet’s ability to cope with our emissions. Before we blow through the 1.5-degree limit,” he warned, referring to one of the keystone targets under the landmark Paris Agreement

Ominously, a steady stream of reports published in the lead up to COP28 have shown that the world is way off-track in achieving climate goals. and in the absence of ambitious action, we are heading towards a temperature increase of 3 degrees by the end of this century. 

Against this backdrop, Mr. Stiell called on countries to deliver ambitious new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), or national climate action plans where every single commitment in 2025 – on finance, adaptation, and mitigation – must be in line with a 1.5-degree world.

Progress on Paris Goals

The Dubai COP will mark the culmination of a process known as the ‘Global Stocktake’ – an evaluation of the progress so far on achieving key provisions of the Paris accord: namely curbing greenhouse gas emissions, building climate resilience and mobilizing financial support for vulnerable countries. 

As such, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary said delegations at COP28 face two options: The first would be to note the lack of progress, tweak current best practices “and encourage ourselves to do more ‘at some other point in time’.”

Or the conference could decide at what point it will have made everyone on the planet safe and resilient; to fund this transition properly including the response to loss and damage; and decide to commit to a new energy system.  
Indeed, he warned: “If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives. If this transition isn’t just, we won’t transition at all. That means justice within and between countries.” 

He also emphasized his focus on ensuring accountability for climate promises. 

“Yes, this is the biggest COP yet – but attending a COP does not tick the climate box for the year. The badges around your necks make you responsible for delivering climate action here and at home.” 

“I am committing the UNFCCC to track all announcements made and initiatives launched. So that long after the cameras have gone, we can ensure our promises continue to serve the planet,” Mr. Stiell added. 

Thursday’s events marked the meeting’s procedural opening, but the conference will begin in earnest on Friday with a ‘climate action summit’ featuring the UN Secretary General alongside world leaders who will present national statements on what their governments are doing to address the global climate crisis. 

COP27: A call we heeded together

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of COP27 Sameh Shoukry reminded delegates that despite global challenges such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, COP27 turned out to be a moment for effective and global climate action, and succeeded in delivering a number of long-awaited elements of the global climate action agenda. 

He recalled that the ‘loss and damage’ funding arrangement had been established, the so-named ‘Just Transition’ work programme had been launched, and parties had also agreed on a pathway to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, providing a boost to climate action during this critical decade.

He underscored that Together for Implementation had not just been a slogan for COP27, but rather a timely call to move from setting rules, frameworks and commitments to a clear focus on the tangible implementation these commitments on the ground.

World at a crossroads:

Addressing the opening plenary, Sultan al-Jaber, the President of the COP28 said: “We feel, as you feel, the urgency of the work, and we see, as you see, that the world has reached a crossroads.” 

“The science has spoken. It has confirmed that the moment is now to find a new road, wide enough for all of us. That new road starts with a decision on the global stocktake.” 

He expressed his commitment to ensuring an inclusive and transparent process, one that encourages free and open discussion between all parties.

Want to know more? Check out our special events page, where you can find all our coverage of the COP28 climate conference, including stories and videos, explainers and our newsletter.


World News in Brief: New relief window in Gaza, sexual violence in Sudan, new action against chemical weapons

INTERNATIONAL, 30 November 2023, Humanitarian Aid - A last-minute extension of the pause in fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas on Thursday offered hope that UN humanitarians and aid partners will be able to pursue their efforts to reach the enclave’s most vulnerable people.
The latest update from UN aid coordination office OCHA indicated that two hospitals in Gaza City, Al Ahli and As Sahaba, had received a total of 10,500 litres of fuel, which is enough to operate their generators for about seven days.

But humanitarians have warned that despite the pause in fighting, much more aid is needed, urgently. 

They also warned that has been almost no improvement in access to clean water for residents in northern Gaza, after most of the main water production facilities shut down through lack of fuel, or damage from Israeli airstrikes launched after Hamas’s 7 October terror attacks that killed 1,200 and took another 240 hostage.  

Enhanced aid distribution, including fuel to hospitals, water and sanitation facilities, and shelters for internally displaced people, also continued in areas south of Wadi Gaza, where the vast majority of internally displaced are staying, said the UN Spokesperson, briefing journalists in New York. 

"Cooking gas, which has been entering daily from Egypt since the start of the pause, has been available in the market at one distribution centre in Khan Younis, but in quantities well below the actual demand for the cooking gas", said Stéphane Dujarric. 

Sudan: UN rights experts ‘appalled’ at rise in sexual violence

Independent UN Human Rights Council-appointed experts expressed heightened alarm on Thursday over the escalation in gender-based violence in Sudan, primarily at the hands of the Rapid Support Forces militia.

According to UN sources, more than six million people have been forcibly displaced inside and outside the country since fighting began between the RSF and the national army, in mid-April.

“We are appalled by reports of widespread use of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, as a tool of war to subjugate, terrorise, break and punish women and girls, and as a means of punishing specific communities targeted by the RSF and allied militias,” the experts said.

The militia partnered with national forces up to the impasse in April, and grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militia that operated in Darfur in the 2000s.

Slavery, trafficking, rape

They stressed sexual violence has also been used against non-Sudanese migrants, refugees and stateless persons, during the brutal fighting for territory and control.

In August, the independent experts raised concerns at reports of multiple serious violations perpetrated by the RSF in particular. 

This included reports of sexual exploitation, slavery, trafficking, rape, and acts tantamount to enforced disappearances, which in some cases may have been racially, ethnically and politically motivated, including for expressing opposition to the presence of armed groups. 

Since then, reports of forced prostitution and forced marriage of women and girls have also emerged.

“These serious acts are reportedly no longer concentrated in Khartoum or Darfur, but have spread to other parts of the country, such as Kordofan,” the UN experts said. 

They called on the international fact-finding mission for Sudan, established by the Human Rights Council last month, to investigate these human rights violations and crimes with a view to ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable.

End ‘repugnant’ chemical weapons use once and for all, says UN chief

Thursday marks the day of Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare – it’s also a day when UN Secretary-General António Guterres insisted that we should resolve to end the use of these repugnant weapons, once and  for all.

In a social media post on X, the UN chief said that “in the name and memory of all who have suffered, let’s consign chemical weapons to history”.

“Ending this scourge means living up to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s call to prevent the use of any chemical weapons, and ending impunity for those who use them, especially against civilians”, he wrote, in his official message marking the international day.

He noted that it is now ten years since the deadly chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta district of Damascus that resulted in numerous casualties, many of them children.

International efforts to eradicate the illegal munitions are led by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Twenty-Eighth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on Thursday adopted a decision on Addressing the Threat from Chemical Weapons Use and the Threat of Future Use, brought forward by 48 countries.

The Conference decided that the continued possession and use of chemical weapons by Syria and its failures to submit an accurate and complete declaration and to destroy all its undeclared chemical weapons and production facilities, have caused serious damage to the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In adopting the decision, States Parties condemned “in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons by anyone, under any circumstances, emphasising that any use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anyone, and under any circumstances is unacceptable and contravenes international norms and standards”. 

The decision seeks to implement for the first time Paragraph 3 of Article XII of the Convention, which refers to measures States Parties can take in order to ensure compliance.

The OPCW meets in the Hague to discuss progress in chemical weapons disarmament which emerged as an issue more than a century ago, during the First World War, when chemical weapons such as mustard gas were used on a massive scale, resulting in more than 100,000 fatalities and a million casualties.

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