Category Archives: News

Statement of the Secretary-General on wildfires in Portugal

I am shocked and horrified by the many lives claimed by today’s devastating fires that hit the Pedrógão Grande region of Portugal.

Earlier today, I spoke with the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and with the Prime Minister, António Costa, to express my deep sadness and condolences to the Portuguese Government and people.

I wish a speedy recovery to the injured. At this time of loss, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims.

I commend the Government, firefighters, emergency responders and civil society organizations who are sparing no efforts to battle the wildfire and help people in need. The United Nations stands ready to assist in any way possible.

18 June 2017

On the Possibility to Withdraw from the Paris Agreement: A Short Overview

The announcement by the President of the United States in June 2017 that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement has sparked a lot of interest in how a Party* can withdraw, should they decide to do so. Here we try to explain the basic process.

A Party to the Paris Agreement is free to withdraw and the Agreement sets out the following steps and timelines for this:

– Article 28 of the Agreement states that: 1) “At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary”.

– It also states that: 2) “Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.”

– The earliest date that a Party may withdraw by giving written notification is any time from 4 November 2019 – this is the case for those who were already in when the Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.

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Message for the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace

The Secretary-General
13 June 2017

Upon taking up my duties as Secretary-General in January of this year, my very first act was to issue an appeal for peace — a call on citizens, governments and leaders everywhere to put peace first.

The International Day of Peace, observed every year on 21 September, embodies our shared aspiration to end the needless suffering caused by armed conflict.  It offers a moment for the peoples of the world to acknowledge the ties that bind them together, irrespective of their countries of origin.  It is a day on which the United Nations calls for a 24-hour global ceasefire, with the hope that one day of peace can lead to another, and another, and ultimately to a stilling of the guns.

Countries set to agree on decisive and urgent actions to restore marine world to health as Ocean Conference concludes

Universal agreement on need for measures to reverse ocean deterioration

New York, 9 June—The 193 Member States of the United Nations unanimously agreed to a set of measures that will begin the reversal of the decline of the ocean’s health as the five-day Ocean Conference concluded today. The outcome document, together with more than 1,300 commitments to action, marks a breakthrough in the global approach to the management and conservation of the ocean.

The Ocean Conference, the first UN conference of its kind on the issue has raised global consciousness of ocean problems ranging from marine pollution to illegal and over fishing, from ocean acidification to lack of high seas governance. By including all stakeholders in the discussions, the Conference produced a comprehensive and actionable range of solutions.

UN Secretary-General’s Message for World Oceans Day 2017

“Our Oceans, Our Future”

The oceans make our home a blue planet. The oceans regulate climate, generate oxygen, and provide ecosystem services, energy and minerals. The life teeming below their surfaces and along the shorelines is a source of food and medicines. Oceans connect all of us, linking people and nations in cultural ties, and they are essential for sharing goods and services across the world. The importance of our oceans to every single living being on our planet cannot be overstated. Today, we celebrate all that the oceans give us, and reaffirm our commitment to being good stewards.

On this World Oceans Day, we look to the future. Caring for, and using, our oceans in sustainable ways is critical to achieve ecological and economic goals for communities everywhere. However, the future of our oceans is burdened by numerous threats – such as climate change and ocean acidification, pollution, unsustainable and destructive fishing practices, – and the lack of capacities to address these threats. As a group of some 600 experts from around the world reported recently in the first World Ocean Assessment, the impact of human activities on the oceans has increased dramatically, particularly the cumulative impacts, and the oceans’ carrying capacity is near, or at its limit.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an ambitious framework which, together, we will use to address these threats and improve people’s lives. The World Oceans Day provides an important opportunity to advocate for a sustainable future. Ready to launch a call for action, governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society have gathered this week at the United Nations Headquarters for a high-level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Looking forward, the conservation and sustainable use of oceans can be achieved only if we manage to address effectively the threats that oceans face. This requires collaboration at all levels and across many sectors. Our future will thus be determined by our collective resolve to share information and find solutions to common problems. By going forward together, we can ensure that our oceans are peaceful, safe and bountiful, and remain healthy as our blue home.

Turn the Tide on Plastics in the Ocean

The citizens of Port Adelaide and the City of Adelaide responded to the call to help make a difference in saving our ocean. Asked to turn up to play a part in a creative art installation on Semaphore Beach some 50 people dressed in black suits and top hats, braved the lashing rain showers and 40 km/hr winds to join artist Andrew Baines in his work at the ocean’s edge. Forming a solemn line they stared out on the ocean that is in serious trouble as a result of human activities. The brooding images produced will form the basis of further artworks by the artist and also provided great material for both local media and the social media outreach of those who were there.

Prior to the event, which UNIC Canberra worked on with the UN Association of Australia’s South Australia branch, the UNIC Director addressed the participants stressing the dire state of our ocean and highlighting the damage done to them by plastics. He noted that unless we changed our ways, by 2050 we would see more plastic in the ocean than fish and thanked everyone for turning out to help send a message that the world needs to act; whether as delegates to the Ocean Conference, through local groups or through individual action. His call for action and protection of the ocean was echoed in speeches by both the Mayor of Port Adelaide and the Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, each of whom then joined the line at the water’s edge to add action to their words.

UN Oceans Day June 8 – Bombaderry High School and UNIC Canberra beach cleanup.

On June 8 World Oceans Day the Year 8 students from Bombaderry High School undertook a big Ocean Cleanup at Seven Mile Beach near to their school.
They had also been undertaking video projects to show the rest of the school about the importance of saving our oceans and sustainable living.

Picking up plastic on the beach the UNIC Canberra Director and the students were happy that the plastic was in their bags and not in the mouths or stomachs of marine life
or polluting the world’s beautiful oceans.

Prior to the beach clean up UNIC Canberra spoke to the students at their school about the Ocean Conference and how the world is coming together to protect our oceans and that today in Bombaderry we were all playing our part. Good to know our future is in good hands, thanks to all the students.

Ocean Conference shines light on illegal trade: CITES chief

The illegal trade in marine species is one of the major issues that needs to be under the spotlight at the UN Ocean Conference this week. That’s according to John Scanlon, head of the UN body that monitors implementation of an international agreement that helps ensure the survival of nearly 40,000 animal and plant species in the wild. Corals, sharks, dolphins and whales are among the marine species covered by the agreement, known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.

Julia Dean spoke to Secretary-General Scanlon, who is in Australia, and asked him about his hopes for the conference.

UN Ocean Conference opens with calls for united action to reverse human damage

Opening a “game-changing” international conference on the health of the world’s oceans and seas, top United Nations officials today urged coordinated global action to protect the planet.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly Hall, Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned Governments that unless they overcome short-term territorial and resource interests, the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate. More