CHEMICAL HAZARDS, ENVIRONMENTAL EMERGENCIES AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED
BY PARTNERSNIP INITIATIVES ANNOUNCED AT JOHANNESBURG SUMMIT
(Received from a UN Information Officer.)
JOHANNESBURG, 30 August -- Further partnership initiatives were announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development today concerning such areas as biodiversity conservation, climate change, renewable energy, transfer of energy technology, a global system for classifying chemical hazards, responding to environmental emergencies and harvesting desert rainwater.
Representing an innovative mechanism for moving from paper commitments to joint action on the ground, projects today were announced by Japan, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Australian Association of Yoga in Daily Life and their partners.
Thus far, the United Nations has received 218 partnership submissions.
Japan presented, among other measures and programmes for sustainable development, six important initiatives in the areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change and informed decision-making. In particular, this year the country has contributed $5 million to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, which seeks to protect biodiversity hotspots in developing countries. Another joint project focuses on sustainable use of sites of international importance to migratory birds in Asia and Australia.
In the area of climate change, Japan's proposed initiatives include an Asia-Pacific Network on Climate Change, as well as a partnership seeking to increase scientific capacity in developing countries and promote research on climate change by developing country experts.
Japan also proposes to initiate an Asia Pacific Environmental Innovation Strategy Project, which will develop tools for informed decision-making, and an International Flood Network to raise public awareness of the issues involved. Its other proposals included a worldwide mapping collaboration, an integrated global observation system for monitoring the environmental situation, and several bringing together local, regional and city authorities, businesses and non-governmental organizations in an effort to facilitate implementation of various sustainable development goals. To collect and disseminate best policies and practices, Japan proposes to form a regional knowledge and capacity-building network with participation of some 23 partners.
The United Kingdom announced a partnership to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. As stated by members of the delegation, the initiative intended to "create a level playing field for renewable energy and accelerate national and local markets for the development and deployment of modern renewable energy and energy efficient systems". The partnership was formed around a coalition of progressive countries, businesses and other players committed to accelerating market development and deployment of clean energy projects. Among its participants are Brazil, Czech Republic, Ghana, Iceland, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand and Norway, as well as UNIDO, Shell and United Kingdom Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
The partnership's main focus will be on grid-based distribution of renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency in industrial services and household sectors of the economy in countries at all stages of development. Complementary to other energy access partnerships, the initiative will have strong links to poverty reduction.
Another joint energy-related project was announced by Mexico and Australia on behalf of the APEC Energy Working Group. Entitled "Energy for Sustainable Development", it will foster regional energy links within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation region, which comprises 21 industrialized and developing member economies. Among the partnership's goals are improved access to energy sources, energy security and development of energy supplies.
As particular attention is going to be paid to environmental concerns, clean and renewable energy technology and energy efficiency are also going to be high on the agenda. "Energy efficiency offers a true win-win for developing countries, freeing up resources to meet a whole range of goals, while at the same time improving environmental protection," a representative of Australia said.
Four partnerships for energy and technology were also presented by UNIDO. They relate to transfer of technology to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries; productive use of clean energy for development of small island developing States; industrial energy efficiency; and rural energy for productive use.
A "Globally Harmonized System for Chemical Classification and Labelling" partnership was announced by UNITAR. To protect human health and the environment, this initiative seeks to create a new global system for classifying chemical hazards. Its goal is to ensure that dangerous chemicals, which are traded internationally and produced locally, are appropriately classified and labelled in accordance with international standards.
The programme intends to provide training and guidance materials to countries in order to ensure a higher degree of recognition of chemical labels and warnings by the public and reduce the number of spills, accidents and poisonings. The programme is also going to promote use of less harmful alternative chemicals.
Another partnership -- presented by UNEP/OCHA -- will focus on prevention, preparedness for and response to environmental emergencies. The initiative is based on the understanding that natural and man-made disasters seriously hamper development efforts in many countries. Under this project, collaboration is envisioned with donor countries, existing programmes, local and international
volunteer groups, the private sector and international agencies working in the area of disaster mitigation.
A desert rainwater harvesting initiative was brought forward by the Australian Association of Yoga in Daily Life and its partners. Created in response to the ever-increasing water crisis facing arid regions of India, it is a grass-roots project aimed at alleviating poverty and providing a reliable water supply and sanitation to some of the most remote populations in rural Rajasthan. By using a combination of traditional water harvesting and community-based technologies, the programme will provide long-term solutions by actively involving local people in all aspects of work.
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