UNbacked report shows most of worlds coral reefs under threat

“Reefs at Risk Revisited,” launched today in Washington and London, says that if the threats to the reefs are not dealt with, more than 90 per cent of them will be threatened by 2030 and nearly all reefs will be at risk by 2050.Global pressures are leading to coral bleaching from rising sea temperatures and increasing ocean acidification from carbon dioxide pollution, according to the assessment of threat to coral reefs by the World Resources Institute, the Nature Conservancy, the WorldFish Center, the International Coral Reef Action Network, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP-WCMC), along with a network of more than 25 organizations.“This report serves as a wake-up call for policy-makers, business leaders, ocean managers and others about the urgent need for greater protection for coral reefs,” said Jane Lubchenco, Under-Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).“As the report makes clear, local and global threats, including climate change, are already having significant impacts on coral reefs, putting the future of these beautiful and valuable ecosystems at risk,” she added.According to Lauretta Burke, senior associate at the World Resources Institute and a lead author of the report, coral reefs are valuable resources for millions of people worldwide.“Despite the dire situation for many reefs, there is reason for hope,” she said. “Reefs are resilient, and by reducing the local pressures we can buy time as we find global solutions to preserve reefs for future generations.”The report includes multiple recommendations to better protect and manage reefs, including through marine protected areas. The analysis shows that more than one-quarter of reefs are already encompassed in a range of parks and reserves, more than any other marine habitat. However, only 6 per cent of reefs are in protected areas that are effectively managed.“Well-managed marine protected areas are one of the best tools to safeguard reefs,” said Mark Spalding, senior marine scientist at the Nature Conservancy and one of the authors.“At their core, reefs are about people as well as nature: ensuring stable food supplies, promoting recovery from coral bleaching, and acting as a magnet for tourist dollars. We need to apply the knowledge we have to shore up existing protected areas, as well as to designate new sites where threats are highest, such as the populous hearts of the Caribbean, South-East Asia, East Africa and the Middle East,” he added.According the report, more than 275 million people live in the direct vicinity of coral reefs. In more than 100 countries and territories, coral reefs protect 150,000 kilometres of shorelines, helping defend coastal communities and infrastructure against storms and erosion.The report identifies the 27 nations most socially and economically vulnerable to coral reef degradation and loss. Among these, the nine most vulnerable countries are Haiti, Grenada, Philippines, Comoros, Vanuatu, Tanzania, Kiribati, Fiji and Indonesia. 24 February 2011An estimated 75 per cent of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by local human activity, including over-fishing, coastal development and pollution, and global pressures such as climate change, warming seas and rising ocean acidification, according to a United Nations-backed report unveiled today. read more

Religious leaders at forefront of fight against intolerance says UN chief

“You can do so by fostering dialogue; by using spiritual authority to encourage individuals to act humanely; and by promoting shared values – as enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – and as reflected in the teachings of all world religions,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, held in Astana.In his opening remarks to a dialogue to promote peace and prosperity in turbulent times – which echoed the UN General Assembly thematic debate on “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation” held in April – the Secretary-General reminded religious leaders, both traditional and non-traditional, of their obligation to speak out when “so-called adherents of their faith” commit crimes in its name. “[They] must teach their followers the true meaning of reconciliation, understanding and mutual respect,” Mr. Ban emphasized. “All…crimes committed in the name of religion are crimes against religion,” he stressed, condemning the atrocities committed by Da’esh, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda and “other sectarian and terrorist groups.” Convinced that the scourge of violence in the name of religion calls for concerted action by governments, religious communities, civil society and the media, Mr. Ban highlighted the upcoming launch, during the 70th session of the General Assembly, of a plan of action on the prevention of violent extremism.Often bearing “the brunt of violent ideologies,” women and young girls must be provided with a stronger, more equal platform, as a “means of advancing respect, changing mindsets and shifting global consciousness,” he said.Youth must also be a priority, as the age profile of some countries is sometimes cited as a reason to issue warnings that a “surging” population of young men inevitably drives increased violence and insecurity. Noting that many countries with a high proportion of young people have not suffered violence though, the UN chief pointed to factors such as long-term economic decline, limited educational and employment opportunities, as well as exclusion from social, cultural and political participation.But in all the international community does against radicalization, the respect of international law always must prevail and leaders and policy-makers must recognize a powerful truth –“the larger the spaces for democracy and fundamental freedoms, the smaller the chances for extremism and violence.”There is no greater cause today than building bridges of understanding and cooperation among communities, Mr. Ban stated. “Our challenge is to go beyond the notion of tolerance or simply acknowledging or abiding the existence of the other. No one wants to be merely tolerated, as if there is something wrong with them. Tolerance must be more active and dynamic.”The importance of human rights in fostering development and peace remained a constant theme during the Secretary-General’s visit to Kazakhstan and reverberated widely during his remarks to the press with the country’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov later in the day. Once again drawing from the Universal Declaration on Human Rights’ entreaty for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion across the world, Mr. Ban explained that in Kazakhstan, as anywhere else, “all religious and minority groups should be guaranteed this right on an equal footing.” “Governments around the world should recognize the decisive role of this and other fundamental freedoms in fostering pluralism, understanding and democracy,” he told reporters, adding that Kazakhstan should also continue to make progress on human rights, including the development of “a comprehensive National Human Rights Action Plan.”“Let us work together to help people everywhere around the world so that they can achieve their dreams,” Mr. Ban concluded. “Dreams – everybody should be able to live in peace, harmony and friendship and well-being and dignity.” read more