The Adaptation Fund capped off another successful year, providing tangible results on the ground for climate-vulnerable countries and raising more than US$ 230 million in new pledges and contributions in 2022 at the United Nations COP27 climate change conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.
Mystery deepens over animal source of coronavirus - Nature
Pangolins are a prime suspect, but a slew of genetic analyses has yet to find conclusive proof.
Scientists are racing to identify the source of the coronavirus that is causing havoc around the world. Three weeks ago, Chinese scientists suggested, on the basis of genetic analyses, that the scaly, ant-eating pangolin was the prime suspect. But scientists have now examined those data — along with three other pangolin coronavirus genome studies released last week — and say that although the animal is still a contender, the mystery is far from solved.
Public-health officials want to pin down the virus’s source so they can prevent new outbreaks. Scientists assume that the pathogen jumped to people from an animal, as has been seen with other coronaviruses; for example, the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is thought to have jumped to humans from civets in 2002. Dozens of people infected early in the current outbreak worked in a live-animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but tests of coronavirus samples found at the market have yet to identify a source.
Three separate Chinese teams are trying to trace the origin of the coronavirus, including a group from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and one from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou suggested pangolins as the animal source at a press conference on 7 February. Pangolins are highly sought-after in China for their meat and their scales; the latter are used in traditional medicine. Although sales of the animal are forbidden in China as part of a worldwide ban, they are still smuggled in from a handful of southeast Asian and African countries. The researchers said they had found a coronavirus in smuggled pangolins that was a 99% genetic match to the virus circulating in people.
But the result did not actually refer to the entire genome. In fact, it related to a specific site known as the receptor-binding domain (RBD), say the study’s authors, who posted their analysis1 on the biomedical preprint server bioRxiv on 20 February. The press-conference report was the result of an “embarrassing miscommunication between the bioinformatics group and the lab group of the study”, explains Xiao Lihua, a parasitologist at the South China Agricultural University and a co-author of the paper. A whole-genome comparison found that the pangolin and human viruses share 90.3% of their DNA.
The RBD is a crucial part of coronaviruses, which allows them to latch on to and enter a cell. Even a 99% similarity between the RBDs of the two viruses is not necessarily enough to link them, says Linfa Wang, a virologist at Duke–National University of Singapore Medical School who was part of the team that found the origin of the SARS virus.
Not close enough
Three similar comparison studies were posted on bioRxiv last week. One of those papers — by an international research group , posted on 18 February — found2 that coronaviruses in frozen cell samples from illegally trafficked pangolins shared between 85.5% and 92.4% of their DNA with the virus found in humans.
Two other papers published on 20 February, from groups in China, also studied coronaviruses from smuggled pangolins. The viruses were 90.23%3 and 91.02%4 similar, respectively, to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The genetic similarity should be higher than reported in these studies before the host can be identified, says Arinjay Banerjee, who studies coronaviruses at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. He notes that the SARS virus shared 99.8% of its genome with a civet coronavirus, which is why civets were considered the source. If pangolins are the origin of the current outbreak, says Banerjee, it is not the pangolins in these studies.
So far, the closest match to the human coronavirus has been found in a bat in China’s Yunnan province. A study5 published on 3 February found that the bat coronavirus shared 96% of its genetic material with the virus that causes COVID-19. Bats could have passed the virus to humans, but there are key differences between the RBD sites in the two viruses. This suggests that this specific bat coronavirus did not directly infect people, but could have been transmitted it to people through an intermediate host, say researchers.
The papers raise more questions than they answer, says Jiang Zhigang, an ecologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Zoology in Beijing. He asks, if pangolins are the source of the virus, and they came from another country, why haven’t there been reports of people being infected in that location?
When the gavel came down on the resolution to end plastic pollution at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi last March, there were hugs and tears among the delegates. The emotion reflected the importance of this historic milestone: a legally binding global instrument toward ending plastic pollution.
Speech delivered by: Inger Andersen. For: 160th Resumed meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Location: Nairobi, Kenya....The last time we spoke, I was in Montreal at the negotiations of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. My connection with you was, unfortunately, cut short due to technical gremlins. My apologies for that, and my thanks to Sonja for delivering my remarks....
New environmental education guide for Latin America, Caribbean region on action for nature, climate and pollution - UNEP
Quito, 27 January 2023 – A new tool aimed at reinforcing environmental education and was launched today by The Environmental Education Network, an intergovernmental platform of environmental education in Latin America. The Environmental Education Resources Guide is launched as part of Ecuador’s Environmental Education Week, organized by its Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Senior UN economists warned on Wednesday that intersecting crises are likely to add further damage to the global economy, with growth set to slow from three per cent in 2022 to 1.9 per cent this year. This will be one of the lowest growth rates in recent decades, apart from during the 2007-8 financial crisis and the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
African Development Bank Group team meet Swiss envoys from West Africa to discuss Africa’s development agenda
Swiss ambassadors meeting in the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan invited a senior management team from the African Development Bank Group to exchange views on development and cooperation.The envoys held a working luncheon, hosted by the Swiss assistant state secretary for Sub-Saharan Africa, Siri Walt, on Friday 20 January. Ambassador Walt is the head of the Africa Division at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.
The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank Group have a concluded a technical session on how to conduct an upcoming joint study on driving development in Africa. The goal of the study, titled Key Actions to Drive Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa, is to identify key actions that will allow Africa to rise and remain at a growth level of 7% GDP.
2022 AEC: Accessing clean, affordable energy in Africa is key as the world moves towards energy transition: panelists - AFDB
As the world moves toward energy transition, it is important that Africa’s ongoing challenges with access to clean, affordable and inclusive energy be addressed for the continent to achieve a fair and just energy transition, panelists said during the 2022 African Economic Conference (AEC).
Abu Dhabi, 16 January 2023 – As the Earth warms at a dangerous pace, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-led Cool Coalition, with the United Arab Emirates’ incoming presidency of COP28, announced the development of a Global Cooling Pledge and a “Cool COP Menu of Actions” that will feature prominently at COP28. The Menu will be defined over the coming months in close collaboration with partners including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).
A new law will ensure that a set of key goods placed on the EU market, such as cattle, beef or soya, will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and elsewhere in the world. Since the EU is a major economy and consumer of these commodities, this step will help stop a significant share of global deforestation and forest degradation, in turn reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss, according to the commission. This major agreement comes just before the start of the Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) which is set to define protection goals for nature for decades to come.
Forest Trends was founded with the mission of putting an economic engine behind nature conservation – the idea being that our economy, our society, and our wellbeing all depend in very real and material ways on healthy natural ecosystems. That idea’s time has come. The world is looking to “nature-based solutions” to combat climate change, mitigate water risks, prevent pandemics, protect biodiversity, support food insecurity, and so on. Forest Trends is fielding many new opportunities at a totally different scale than in the past, and at a much more systemic level.
Fern - New report outlining options for partnerships to accompany the new EU regulation on deforestation-free products
23 January 2023, Fern is launching a report which outlines options for partnerships to accompany the new EU Regulation on deforestation-free products. Partnerships will be an essential part of maximising the Regulation’s impact in decreasing deforestation on the ground. They will also help mitigate risks linked to the Regulation: that it would cause “leakage” of unsustainable production to other consumer markets, or that smallholders would bear the cost of implementation.
Call for inputs for the global Stocktake in 2023 In the run-up to the conclusion of the first global stocktake in COP 28, submissions on views on the approach to the consideration of the outputs component of the first global Stocktake are open until 15 February 2023. Also, submissions for the third technical dialogue, scheduled to be held during the June SB session, are open until 6 March.
At COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, President Emmanuel Macron and President Ali Bongo announced that a One Forest Summit would be held in Libreville, Gabon, on 1st and 2nd of March, 2023. Tropical forests provide an invaluable service both to local populations and to humanity by offering many resources but also by sequestering carbon and hosting biodiversity hotspots.
Of previous editions, the Global Synthesis Report is composed of stand-alone analyses that can be read independently, for a more thematic or sectoral reading. Discover in the report: infographics on the evolution indicators of emissions and activities, the existing and emerging trends in the strategies of actors, signals of change in the various sectors, and case studies of exemplary initiatives.
Protect the Campo Ma’an national park and stop Cameroun Vert SARL (Camvert) from destroying Indigenious Bagyeli people’s and ancestral lands! More than 28 communities call the Campo Ma’an area home. Now, a palm oil company, Cameroun Vert SARL (Camvert), has started clear-cutting these ancestral lands about seven times the size of Dakar illegally.
In the aftermath of COP27, where global leaders have gathered for over two weeks in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, those of us who regularly engage directly with developing countries know that the path forward is clear. Developing countries are committed to climate-compatible development and ready to implement. However, driving climate action on the ground requires unprecedented finance.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced he will convene a Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023, to generate “new, tangible and credible climate action” to “accelerate action at the mid-way point” of the SDGs. Going forward, he said he will push for a Climate Solidarity Pact, for all big emitters to “make an extra effort” to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the 1.5°C goal and provide support for those who need it.
The Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI), a capacity-building programme established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, provides support, advice, and guidance to countries in their efforts to achieve global biodiversity targets in marine and coastal areas. The Initiative, the subject of an event held during the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15), achieves these aims through such activities as the SOI Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fishery Bodies and the SOI Training of Trainers programme.
The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) convened a three-day summit to take stock of the progress in implementing the Principles of Effective Development Co-operation since their endorsement in 2011, and to discuss the future of work. Stakeholders agreed to build on past commitments, achievements, and experiences and to address the “unfinished business of the aid effectiveness agenda.”
Seven safeguard principles for REDD+ were adopted at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun in 2010. Two of these principles address participation and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) directly. These principles are meant to be “interpreted” by REDD+ countries using their national legal frameworks, to decide, for example, who is recognized as an IP or LC, and what is meant by “respect” or their “participation”.
Indonesia’s forests are home to 10-15 percent of the world’s known plants, mammals, and birds, as well as vast carbon stocks. As such, any degradation or deforestation of these ecosystems will have important local, national, and international implications.
Partners call on CBD negotiations to commit to increasing agroecological food production practices. As environmental ministers at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (UNCBD COP15) negotiate an agreement to tackle catastrophic degradation of our planet, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have announced a partnership to accelerate implementation of food-based actions that will help restore nature and limit climate change. The two organisations will partner on major initiatives that support farmers in utilizing the power of natural ecosystems to build healthy and productive food systems that provide enough healthy and nutritious food within planetary boundaries.
Aligning Chad’s Nationally Determined Contribution and National Action Plan to Advance Climate Action – NDCPARTNERSHIP
Chad is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change. Because its economy is based mainly on the primary sector, Chad’s reliance on natural resources makes it particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Take for example the case of Lake Chad, where the water volume has decreased by 90% since the 1960s due to climate change and over-exploitation. Chad’s vulnerability to climate change is further exacerbated by the country’s relatively low level of preparedness when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
In December 2022, the European Union (EU) finally agreed on the text of its long-awaited Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR). For the first time companies selling certain products on the EU market will be punished if they are found to have contributed towards deforestation. This was the final stage in a long and often tortuous journey, in which forests were thrust centre-stage of EU policymaking. 2023 will be another crucial year for the EU and forests, especially since it will be followed by the EU’s ‘cooling off’ period, when no new policies are initiated, in the run-up to the 2024 European elections.
New research by the University of East Anglia (UEA) highlights the risks of countries relying on nature-based solutions to achieve net zero. The article summarizes the findings of the study. For example, the study found that once the bulk of emissions have been reduced, countries plan to "cancel out" the leftover difficult-to-decarbonize emissions, such as those from agriculture, by using forests and soils to remove carbon from the atmosphere. However, this may prove risky because forests and soils are also threatened by a range of impacts, such as fire, disease, changes in farming practices, and deforestation.
Stop burning trees to make energy, say 650 scientists before Cop15 biodiversity summit - theguardian
More than 650 scientists are urging world leaders to stop burning trees to make energy because it destroys valuable habitats for wildlife. Bioenergy has “wrongly been deemed ‘carbon neutral’” and many countries are increasingly relying on forest biomass to meet net zero goals, according to the letter, addressed to world leaders including Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. “The best thing for the climate and biodiversity is to leave forests standing – and biomass energy does the opposite,” it says.
This article is giving an introduction to the paper "Has global deforestation accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic?". Analysis of tree cover loss over time was used to determine whether deforestation observed in 2020 deviated from expected trajectories after the first COVID-19 cases were reported; both at the regional level for the Americas, Africa and Asia and at the country level for Brazil, Colombia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia.
A growing body of research shows that even forests located far away from urban centers provide tremendous benefits in regulating the global climate, water and biodiversity systems that are essential to people’s health and quality of life. New research led by WRI and Pilot Projects through the Cities4Forests initiative synthesizes the benefits that forests at three scales — inner, nearby and faraway — offer cities. The report provides the scientific imperative for city-led policies, incentives and investments that help conserve, restore and sustainably manage forests at each of these scales. The article outlines the many benefits across four categories that forests provide to cities from the report.
Nature is a vital resource, necessary for our health, livelihoods and well-being. It also accounts for $44 trillion of economic value generation. In addition, nature-based solutions can provide more than one third of the mitigation needed by 2030 to keep climate goals in reach. Nature tech will be vital in helping facilitate and accelerate these solutions, making them valuable tools in tackling climate change.
Controversy over the lifting of the moratorium in the DRC, when Bazaiba throws a spanner in the works
The statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Eve Bazaiba, at the press briefing on Monday 28 November, on the lifting of the moratorium has raised the roof. Like a shockwave, the affirmation of the lifting of the moratorium established by the DRC's sovereignty over its forests in 2002 has provoked strong reactions in public opinion.
SW4SW Dialogue - Timber Value Chains for Resilience and Carbon Neutrality, 1-2 December 2022 at NOUBOU International Hotel Douala, Cameroon
The SW4SW Dialogue - Timber Value Chains for Resilience and Carbon Neutrality seeks to identify effective approaches, concrete actions, and actors to be mobilised to make timber value chains, especially those focused on the domestic market, a lever for a forest sector with high environmental, economic and social added value.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) refers to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). However, not all REDD+ countries have legal systems that build on UNDRIP and few, especially in Africa, have ratified other relevant agreements such as the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
Logging affects many of the world's tropical forests, and such forests are often considered degraded because they have lost vegetation structure, biomass and carbon stocks. But there has rarely been analysis of whether the ecological health and functionality of these ecosystems are similarly degraded. A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford, finds that logged rainforests are treasure-troves of healthy ecological function and should not be written off for oil palm plantations. This article gives some insights into the newly published paper.
Most global consumers have heard of palm oil – and if not, they’ve probably tasted it. The versatile commodity is used in almost half of the packaged products found in supermarkets, from chocolate to deodorant or lipstick, as well as for animal feed and biofuel.