5 June 2011Investing a relatively small amount each year in the forestry sector could halve deforestation, create millions of new jobs and help tackle the devastating effects of climate change, according to a United Nations report released today to mark World Environment Day. The report, “Forests in a Green Economy: A Synthesis,” finds that an additional $40 billion spent each year in the forestry sector – or just 0.034 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) – could result in substantial environmental improvements.The rate of deforestation could be halved by 2030, the number of trees planted could rise by 140 per cent by 2050 and as many as 30 million new jobs could be created by that same year.Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which issued the report, said forestry is one of the key sectors capable of helping the world transition to a ‘green economy’ model that is resource-efficient and low in its use of carbon.“There are already many encouraging signals; the annual net forest loss since 1990 has fallen from around eight million to around five million hectares and in some regions such as Asia, the Caribbean and Europe forest area has actually increased over those 20 years,” he said.The area covered by freshly planted forests has also grown from 3.6 million hectares in 1990 to just below five million hectares last year.Jan McAlpine, the Director of the Secretariat of the UN Forum on Forests, said the capacity of poorer countries to switch to green economies and protect their stocks of forests needs to be strengthened.“Encouraging a transition to green economies will require a broad range of financial, regulatory, institutional and technological measures,” she said.Forests and the benefits they provide represent the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, which is marked every year on 5 June. This year is also the UN-declared International Year of the Forests.Celebrations are being held across the globe, including in India, which is this year’s designated host.On Friday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described forests as central to economic development, poverty reduction and food security.“By reducing deforestation and forest degradation we can make significant progress in addressing the combined threats of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation,” he said in a message to a forestry conservation meeting held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
Special Representative Martti Ahtisaari (second right) at the ballot-counting centre at the Windhoek showgrounds in Namibia during the Constituent Assembly election in November 1989. UN Photo/Milton Grant His experience in Namibia “was pivotal in reaching an understanding of the kinds of issues I would come to deal with later on,” and that he realized that “idealism and realism are not mutually exclusive.”“I think idealism means that – I said it in my speech in Oslo when I got the Nobel Peace Prize – that all conflicts can be solved. You have to believe in that,” he said during the interview. He also singles out the problem of growing inequality in his essay, calling it “the most serious challenge of our time,” and noting his happiness that it has been included as a goal in the new 2030 Agenda, which Member States adopted in September to guide their efforts over the next 15 years as they seek to end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment and address climate change.Asked about his hopes for the UN for the next 70 years, Mr. Ahtisaari said that, having worked with five Secretaries-General and approaching his 80th birthday, he was not too keen to play an active role himself. He reiterated his belief though that the UN was “badly needed in the world,” and that the international community should ensure that the Organization becomes even more effective in order to manage the multiple challenges it faces. Mr. Ahtisaari (seated, right) at the Event with the Authors of “The United Nations at 70: Restoration and Renewal,” held at the UN Bookshop. Seated on the left is co-author and architectural critic Carter Wiseman. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe In his essay, Mr. Ahtisaari reflects on his work with the UN, outlining his involvement in both Namibia and Kosovo, and also pondering larger concerns affecting the Organization today. Among them is a subject that Member States have been grappling with for some two decades – Security Council reform.“I have learned from my tasks that cooperation with the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council is crucial,” the former envoy writes, noting “There are instances when the permanent members of the Security Council abstain from obstructing the process. Benign abstention can also be a silent contribution to the settlement of a difficult issue.” Speaking to the UN News Centre following the book’s launch at UN Headquarters last month, Mr. Ahtisaari reiterated his belief that the support of the Council’s permanent members is essential to solving crises such as the ongoing tragedy in Syria. “We have looked now at UN reforms and also looked at the Security Council reform,” he said, “and I think it is important that we get new Member States. And our proposal is that we can’t have new permanent members who have a veto right – that will never be accepted by existing ones.” But, he said, the term lengths of temporary members might be continued so that, in effect, they become permanent seats, “as long as the Member States are supporting that particular country there.”He also said that “we could also look for voluntary promises from permanent members that they don’t use their veto in cases where there is a national disaster that needs to be addressed.”In the book, he notes that “crises take many shapes and no two crises are likely to be identical, or even related or comparable,” adding that “what is crucial is establishing a human relationship with the parties and acting in a manner that convinces them of the sincerity of the mediator.” To coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN, Rizzoli publishers have released The United Nations at 70: Restoration and Renewal, a book that celebrates in words and photographs both the Organization itself and its landmark headquarters on the eastern edge of midtown Manhattan. The book opens with a foreword by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who looks back on the accomplishments of the UN, and an introductory essay, ‘Personal Reflections on the United Nations at Seventy,’ by Mr. Ahtisaari, who has served the world body in many roles. In 1989, Mr. Ahtisaari went to Namibia as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to lead the UN Transition Assistance Group, and helped pave the way for the country to achieve independence from South Africa. In 2005, he was appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo.After his tenure as Finland’s President from 1994-2000, he founded the Crisis Management Initiative, which, among other projects, helped Aceh achieve special autonomy from Indonesia. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his work in Namibia, Kosovo and Indonesia.
Click here if you can’t see this image clearly WE ALL KNOW that the State’s liabilities have increased massively in recent years with the onset of the financial crisis and economic downturn but by just how much and in what way?A new report from the Fiscal Advisory Council – which assess the government’s budgetary objectives and determines if they are being met – claims to provide a comprehensive assessment of the State’s balance sheet after the financial crisis i.e. what are its assets and its liabilities.As the above charts show the government’s liabilities have increased four-fold since 2007 increasing to €208 billion or 127 per cent of GDP last year.While in 2007 our liabilities were made up primarily of short-term debt and bonds, that type of liability is much less of the overall pie now as we can’t access funding from the normal lending markets in the way we used to.As the second chart shows our loans from the Troika make up 30 per cent of our liabilities while the €25 billion in promissory notes – abolished and replaced with longer-term debt earleir this year – made up over 10 per cent of our liabilities last year.Genrally, the FAC report points out that Ireland is the third most indebted state in the euro area and has experienced the fastest deterioration in net worth of any EU state.The liquidation of IBRC could lead to substantial financial gains for the State, the report also says.The Council wants the government to perform a €3.1 billion adjustment in the Budget next month but as we know that is the subject of much wrangling among the coalition partners.Tánaiste: Budget cut of €3.1 billion not necessary to meet deficit targetsRead: Fiscal council finds ‘wiggle room’ on Budget targets – but wants full cutsRead: Ireland still has 39% chance of defaulting, says Government’s budget adviser
No (893) It depends on the circumstances (1184) YesNoIt depends on the circumstancesVote Yes (181) ONE THIRD OF people called for jury service actually report for duty.Now the Courts Service is said to be looking into ways to crack down on jury dodgers, by prosecuting them.The Irish Mail says that people who don’t turn up could be fined up to €500.The last prosecution for not showing up was in 2008.Up to now, it says that it has been the practice not to prosecute jury dodgers due to the fact court offices are too busy to process the paperwork.What do you think: Should people who dodge jury duty be prosecuted? Poll Results: