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Global Ideas Reporter | Reporter's Log Rio+20

Rio’s romance with renewable resources

Author and pictures: Kerstin Schnatz

Cups made from corn or electricity from sugar cane: Rio is eager these days to show that it can be environmentally friendly. The city is hosting the United Nations conference on Sustainable Development – better known as Rio+20. While the official part is only starting on Wednesday (June 20) the congress venue is already open for preparatory meetings and non-governmental events.

The Brazilian government is trying to make a point, it seems, of just how much it values the use of renewable resources  such as corn or sugarcane. Indeed, Brazil is well known as a biofuel-country: The standard blend cars run on consists of up to 25 percent of biofuel for example. Even the Brazilian airline that flew us in bragged about its green commitment in the inflight magazine. The carrier plans  to operate a domestic flight on biofuel especially for Rio+20.

Whilst renewable resources may emit less CO2 than fossil fuels, depending on how they are processed and transported, they can of course also create a lot of problems – monocultures, conflict between food and fuel production or soil degradation to name just a few.

Date

June 15, 2012

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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

World Water Day: Humans are guzzling too much water

With World Water Day, the United Nations will draw attention towards mankind’s water consumption, especially in industrial nations. Today, about 7 billion people live on our planet. The number is expected to grow by about 2 billion by the year 2050. Of course, each one of them will need water. That includes drinking water as well as water used in every day life, like for showering or food production. All together, that adds up to a lot of water. Just keep in mind, producing one kilo of beef consumes 15,000 liters of water, and one kilo of wheat guzzles up 1,500 liters.
The United Nations recommends a sustainable diet. That means we should be aware of how water-intensive products are. We also should reduce the amount of food we waste, says the UN. 30% of the food produced worldwide is thrown away. The water used to produce it is therefore lost forever. You can learn more about the World Water Day on the official UN website.  The latest Environmental Outlook report by the OECD also draws a bleak picture on rising sea levels that are swallowing cities and millions of people who will be suffering water shortages.
The UN also provides a very interesting FAQ about the value of water. Facts and figures about water can be found from the National Geographic.  If you are a U.S. resident, the National Geographic provides another interesting feature, a water footprint calculator to estimate your water use on a daily basis.

Date

March 22, 2012

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Klaus Esterluß | COP17

Women Most at Risk from Climate Disasters

Women, particularly those living in mountain regions in developing countries, are facing disproportionately high risks to their livelihoods and health from climate change. That is the result from a new report entiteled “Women at the Frontline of Climate Change: Gender Risks and Hopes.“ The report has been released at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Two women carrying water

CC/waterdotorg

Investing in low carbon, resource efficient green technologies, water harvesting and fuel wood alternatives can strengthen climate change adaptation and improve women’s livelihoods, says the report. In parts of Asia and Africa, where the majority of the agricultural workforce are female, the impacts of such disasters have a major impact on women’s income, food security and health.

Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

“Women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security. Hence, sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful”, said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner. “Women’s voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be made a central part of Governments’ adaptive responses to a rapidly changing climate.” According to the report, women in communities vulnerable to climate change are often more likely than men to lose their lives during natural disasters, due to poor access to coping strategies such as basic lifesaving skills or cultural factors that restrict the mobility of women.

More on that issue on ideasforacoolerworld.org/en

Date

December 6, 2011

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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

2011 – International Year of Forests

2011 is the International Year of Forests, declared by the United Nations. We would like to suggest the project's website to you and a very interesting youtube channel that the project has launched.

The promotion of 2011 as a special year will show people's actions to sustainably manage the world’s forests, the UN says. It is also meant to raise awareness of sustainable management, conservation and development of all types of forests. As we have seen in some of our GLOBAL IDEAS reports this year, forests do have a key role in global sustainable development. According to the World Bank, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that every year 130,000 km2 of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation. Have a look at their channel, here's a glimpse:

Date

March 18, 2011

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Klaus Esterluß | Reporter's Log

Meet the United Nations Volunteers of Cambodia

Last month GLOBAL IDEAS spent some time with the United Nations Volunteers in Phnom Penh, the capitol of Cambodia. Here the volunteers were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10). Our reporter Marion Hütter had the chance to talk to some of the volunteering young people who are coming to Cambodia from all over the world to help and to learn a lot.

Here are some pictures Marion brought back from Phnom Penh:

 

Date

January 26, 2011

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