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UN Claims Environmental Threats To The World are Result Of Lethargic Laws

Experts urged governments to address hiccups that had undermined enforcement of legislation that promote environmental governance

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Researchers found high concentrations of nickel in the Sydney Basin's mud-rock - surprising because there are no local sources of the element. Pixabay

Environmental threats like climate change and pollution are linked to lethargic enforcement of laws governing management of vital ecosystems, says a report released on Thursday by UN Environment.

According to the first ever global assessment of environmental rule of law, the quest to maintain a healthy and clean planet was being undermined by weak enforcement of legislation to protect it from natural and human-induced threats.

“This report solves the mystery of why problems such as pollution, declining biodiversity and climate change persist despite the proliferation of environmental laws in recent decades,” said David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.

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Environmental threats like climate change and pollution are linked to lethargic enforcement of laws governing management of vital ecosystems, says a report released on Thursday by UN Environment. Wikimedia

“Unless the environmental rule of law is strengthened, even seemingly rigorous rules are destined to fail and the fundamental human right to a healthy environment will go unfulfilled,” he was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.

The UN Environment report said that rapid development of environmental laws and treaties since 1972 had not translated into their enactment thus escalating threats to ecosystems that sustain livelihoods.

It said more than 1,100 environmental treaties and legal frameworks had been developed by national governments since 1972 when the UN environment agency was formed.

At the same time, donor support and robust domestic funding to facilitate development of new environmental laws had been consistent in the last four decades, but it had not been matched with their enforcement, said the report.

It noted that poor coordination among government agencies, weak institutional capacity, lack of access to information, corruption and limited civic engagement contributed to weak enforcement of environmental rule of laws.

“We have the machinery in the form of laws, regulations and agencies to govern our environment sustainably,” said Joyce Msuya, UN Environment Acting Executive Director.

“Political will is now critical to making sure our laws work for the planet. This first global assessment on environmental rule of law highlights the work those standing on the right side of history-and how many nations are stronger and safer as a result,” she added.

Environment
The report revealed that 88 countries had adopted the constitutional right to a healthy environment while an additional 65 had enshrined environmental protection in their constitutions.

The report revealed that 88 countries had adopted the constitutional right to a healthy environment while an additional 65 had enshrined environmental protection in their constitutions.

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Likewise, over 350 environmental courts and tribunals had been established in more than 50 countries while over 60 countries had some legal provisions for citizen’s right to environmental information.

Experts urged governments to address hiccups that had undermined enforcement of legislation that promote environmental governance. (IANS)

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13 Million in Congo Suffer from ‘Hunger’ and ‘Malnutrition’: UN

U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year - more than double the $700 million plus that it raised last year to help 8.5 million people

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FILE - A Congolese boy has his arm measured for malnutrition in a clinic run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the remote town of Dubie in Congo's southeastern Katanga province, March 18, 2006. VOA

The number of people needing humanitarian aid in Congo has increased dramatically in the past year to 13 million and “hunger and malnutrition have reached the highest level on record,” the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Monday.

UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore told a news conference that 7.5 million of those needing aid are children, including 4 million suffering from acute malnutrition and over 1.4 million from severe acute malnutrition “which means that they are in imminent risk of death.”

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who just returned from a visit to Congo with Fore, said the U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year – more than double the $700 million plus that it raised last year to help 8.5 million people.

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U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year. Pixabay

He said the worsening humanitarian situation is the result of economic stresses including volatility in commodity prices and the turbulent political situation surrounding December’s elections, compounded by violence, increased displacement and the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak. Fore added that farmers fleeing with their families and drought in some areas also contributed.

She said the difficulty is that last year’s U.N. appeal was only half funded, and if that same amount is contributed this year it will only be a quarter of this year’s appeal, “and the needs are immense.”

Fore cited more grim statistics: 2 million people were newly displaced last year; 7.3 million children are out of school; 300,000 children die each year before their fifth birthday; 3 in 10 women are reported to be victims of sexual violence; and in January alone there were 7,000 cases of measles and 3,500 cases of cholera.

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UNICEF and its partners are providing psycho-social support, food and material assistance to the children, she said. Pixabay

Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629.

Fore said about 30 percent of the cases are children, and UNICEF has identified about 1,000 children who have been orphaned or left unaccompanied while their parents are isolated in Ebola treatment wards.

UNICEF and its partners are providing psycho-social support, food and material assistance to the children, she said.

In the major city of Bunia close to the epidemic’s center, Fore said U.N. and Red Cross officials visited a kindergarten where Ebola survivors who cannot get the virus were caring for orphaned and unaccompanied children.

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Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629. Pixabay

The U.N. officials also visited Goma, Beni and Butembo and the capital Kinshasa where Lowcock said they had “extremely constructive talks” with Congo’s new president, Felix Tshisekedi.

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“We were encouraged by the new president” who said he would like to work closely with the U.N. on humanitarian issues and problems related to the millions of displaced people, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said.

“Congo is a country where progress is possible,” Lowcock said, pointing to lower infant mortality, more children in school and Kinshasa becoming a modern African capital. (VOA)