Africa Has Desperate Need for Climate-resilient Water and Sanitation Infrastructure

The international community must prioritize water and sanitation access in Africa, a according to recent joint statement from UNICEF and The Global Water Partnership.

Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF and Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania and currently chairman of the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa and Africa Coordination, raised concerns about the lack of progress in expanding access to key services in communities throughout Africa. The two leaders noted that water and sanitation investment shortfalls will impede other development markers, and called for greater action by the international community. 

Fore and Kikwete argue that “investment in climate-resilient water infrastructure in Africa currently stands far below the levels necessary to ensure water security for the continent’s people.”

In fact, the African Development Bank estimates that $64 billion is needed annually to meet existing needs. Current global investment is less than $19 billion a year, well below the target threshold.

The situation in parts of Africa is dire, with about 220 million children and families facing shortages. Moreover, 58% of children in Eastern and Southern Africa live in high or extremely high-water vulnerable conditions, and 31% of children in West and Central Africa live in a similar situation. Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating the problem.

Ongoing water-related problems have a direct impact on the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs). For example, children who live in water insecure settings often miss school because they have to collect water for their families (SDG 4). These children are also vulnerable to poor nutrition, food insecurity, and commutable diseases from contaminated water (SDGs 2 and 3). More broadly, time and money spent on water issues can reduce funding for other economic development opportunities (SDG 8).

In their call to action, Fore and Kikwete urge world leaders in all sectors — including governments, private businesses, and NGOs — to increase support for solutions to the global water crisis. Improving water and sanitation infrastructure, they noted, will “contribute to a peaceful, prosperous, stronger and equitable Africa, now and in the future.”       

Learn more about The Global Water Partnership

Not a Single G20 Country Is in Line with the Paris Agreement on Climate, Analysis Shows

CNN reports that one of the world’s major economies — including the entire G20 — have a climate plan that meets their obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to an analysis published Wednesday, despite scientists’ warning that deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are needed now.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a clear message: The human-caused climate crisis is worsening extreme weather around the globe.

UN Report: Global Warming Means Code Red for Humanity


A new United Nations report on climate change includes a “code red” for humanity. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that persistent, sustained global emissions have now made it impossible to prevent a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that irreparable damage is being done to the planet.

According to AP News, the UN report should be a wakeup call for governments and the international community to acknowledge the severity of anthropogenic climate change and to take immediate action toward lowering emissions, alleviating poverty, and protecting the planet.

The IPCC study notes that temperatures are rising due to inaction. As a result, the planet is likely to experience increasingly devastating environmental changes, and an increase in natural disasters in the years ahead. The report notes that the planet will also continue to experience a loss of biodiversity and large-scale species extinction.

Moreover, the IPCC report warns that continued inaction will likely cause global temperatures to continue to rise between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius, putting the planet at even greater risk for catastrophic environmental consequences. Risks include a complete collapse of the ice sheets, and a slowing down of thermohaline circulation, which regulates global weather patterns.   

According to the IPCC, the Earth is at a pivotal turning point – with a narrow window of time to take large-scale action to reduce emission and prevent temperatures from warming uncontrollably over the next 30 years. The IPCC report is the most dire warning ever issued on climate change.   

Creative Economy for Sustainable Development

The UN General Assembly declared 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. Indonesia was the main sponsor of the proposal, which was presented by a global group of countries, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines and Thailand.

The proposal recognized the need to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, foster innovation and provide opportunities, benefits and empowerment for all and respect for all human rights. It also identified the ongoing need to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition in diversifying production and exports, including in new sustainable growth areas, including creative industries.

The declaration encourages governments and organizations to raise awareness, promote cooperation and networking, encourage sharing best practices and experiences, enhance human resource capacity, promote an enabling environment at all levels as well as tackle the challenges of the creative economy. 

UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network: 2021 Annual Report

The annual Sustainable Development Report (SDR) tracks progress on the SDGs and analyzes key issues in sustainable development. It is written by a group of authors led by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, President of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Women Work To Rebuild War-Torn Congo

United Nations – After more than a decade of war, women are rebuilding the Republic of Congo, from a vegetable farm to the whole country…

The Nature Conservancy Earth Day Celebration

Co-hosted by CEO Jennifer Morris and Chief Scientist Katharine Hayhoe, The Nature Conservancy’s Earth Day event celebrates today’s environmental heroes, features a musical performance by Aloe Blacc and includes appearances from Danni Washington, Justin Long, Bill Nye, Martha Stewart and more.

Expo 2020’s Sustainability Pavilion Inspires Visitors

Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion is already inspiring action towards a cleaner, safer, healthier world, with 96 per cent of people who have visited the Expo 2020 Pavilions Premiere so far saying the experience has motivated them to change their behavior.

Since launching at the end of January, the Pavilions Premiere has offered more than 50,000 visitors an exciting glimpse at the Sustainability Pavilion’s world-class architecture, its inspiring exhibits and the stunning surrounding areas ahead of Expo’s official opening on October 1, 2020.

The 4.38 square kilometer Expo site is located in Dubai South, within easy reach of Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi cruise terminals, in the UAE.

Learn more on the Expo 2020 website.

New Strategic Plan for UN Global Compact

The United Nations has announced a new three-year strategic plan to increase and accelerate corporate sustainability and principled business.

“The United Nations Global Compact is uniquely positioned to support companies on their journey to align their practices to a sustainable and inclusive future. The 10 Principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption offer a blueprint for businesses seeking to be part of the collective effort to build back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Now is the time to scale up the global business community’s contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” said Guteres. “That is the overarching goal of the Global Compact’s strategic plan for 2021 through 2023.”

With the pandemic and ongoing climate crisis undoing much of the progress the world has achieved since adopting the SDGs in 2015, the new UN Global Compact strategy calls on the global business community to increase its contribution to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. The strategy outlines five key shifts to boost business action and impact:

  •  Accountable companies: UN Global Compact will strive to move its participant companies faster and farther than others in demonstrating progress on corporate sustainability and responsible business practices through specific, measurable targets within an enhanced reporting framework.
  •  Balanced growth of local and regional networks: Local UN Global Compact networks will be empowered to effect change and build more dynamic national ecosystems for business sustainability. This effort should lead to the launch of new national and regional Global Compact networks with a focus on the Global South, China and the U.S.
  •  Measurable impact in prioritized areas: UN Global Compact programs, co-created with local networks and delivered through them, focus on the 10 Principles to lead and shape action on five Sustainable Development Goals: Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Climate Action (SDG 13), Peace Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) and Partnerships (SDG 17) while adapting to each country’s unique context.
  •  Harnessing the collective action of SMEs: Accounting for most of the world’s businesses and employers, UN Global Compact will establish targeted and cross-cutting SME programs that leverage digital tools and value chains to reach scale.
  •  Strong and active engagement with the UN and its partners: UN Global Compact will enhance collaboration at the global and national levels with UN agencies and UN country teams to accelerate its reach and its ability to advance responsible business practice globally.

“Together, we will be One Global Compact uniting business for a better world,” said Sanda Ojiambo, executive director of the UN Global Compact.

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Tiny Chameleon Is Smallest Reptile

Scientists believe they’ve found what could be the smallest reptile on Earth. Check out the sunflower seed-sized chameleon.

Scientists believe they may have discovered the smallest reptile on earth – a chameleon subspecies that is the size of a seed.

The BBC reports that the two of the tiny lizards were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in Madagascar.

The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm.

This makes it the smallest of about 11,500 known species of reptiles, according to the Bavarian State collection of Zoology in Munich.

Its length from top to tail is 22mm (0.86in).

The female is far bigger at around 29mm, the institute said, adding that other specimens were yet to be located, despite “great effort”.

“The new chameleon is only known from a degraded montane rainforest in northern Madagascar and might be threatened by extinction,” said the Scientific Reports journal.

Oliver Hawlitschek, a scientist at the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, said: “The nano-chameleon’s habitat has unfortunately been subject to deforestation, but the area was placed under protection recently, so the species will survive.”

Still of nano-chameleon