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350 Singapore – UNFCCC ADP Negotiation Sharing Session

March 25, 2014

World Water Day is almost here!

March 12, 2014
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Originally posted on Green Drinks Singapore:

World Water Day is an occasion that highlights the importance of water. Each year, it takes place on 22 March, and to celebrate this, PUB has organised islandwide activities for this Saturday, 15 March.

So how can you get involved? There are plenty of activities to participate in, whether it includes conserving water with simple acts, cleaning waterways, or just enjoying nature spaces with a water body. Other than these activities at the 5 main sites of Marina Barrage, Jurong Lake, Punggol Waterway, Yishun Pond, and Geylang River, there are other activities you can take part in – see here and here for a list.

Here are some of our picks for this Saturday!:

  • Make-your-own Windmill and mini-raingarden at Marina Barrage, mini raingarden workshop at Yishun Pond, Geylang River
  • Introduction to sailing at Marina Barrage
  • Eco games at Jurong Lake (we will be setting up a game booth!)
  • Zumba by…

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$3m revamp of Climate Change Exhibition at Science Centre Singapore

November 12, 2013

A new $3-million initiative to revamp the Climate Change Exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore (SCS) was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Sources say that the collaboration between the National Climate Change Secretariat, Science Center Singapore and the Meteorological Service Singapore will also reveal growth opportunities in the climate science and clean tech sector. The revamp of the five-year old exhibition will feature more Singapore information and examples to provide better context on how the Republic will be affected by climate change. It will also include fun and interactive displays for visitors to better understand the science behind the headlines. The new exhibition will comprise the following five sections: 

  • Climate Chaos: This section will provide an overview of climate change around the world, specifically the global changes and impacts caused by climate change to invoke visitors’ curiosity in the topic and allow them to relate those impacts back to their daily lives. It will zoom in on the impacts of climate change in Singapore. 
  • Weather and Climate: The weather and climate of Singapore and Southeast Asia will be introduced in a simulated weather monitoring and forecast office. The exhibit will highlight interesting features of the weather systems affecting Singapore and the fundamental scientific concepts behind them. 
  • Climate Causes: This section will focus on the causes of climate change, and explain what the greenhouse effect and carbon cycle is.
  • Climate Action Plan: This section will showcase climate projections and their interpretations. It will also showcase global action to address climate change and highlight Singapore’s efforts to mitigate, adapt and create opportunities  out of it. This zone will end with an area for visitors to contemplate and reflect on what climate change means to them. 
  • Green Climate Challenges: This zone will look into how individuals, groups and organisations can reduce their carbon footprint in creative and innovative ways.

It is hoped that through the newly revamped exhibition, visitors will be motivated to take pro-active steps to help combat climate change. As part of the exhibition revamp, climate change-related outreach and enrichment programmes will also be rolled out after the exhibition is re-launched, to complement the school curriculum and provide students with hands-on and inspiring learning experiences. These could take the form of learning journeys, capacity-building workshops and enrichment talks.

Parties asked to ““win the Warsaw opportunity” at COP19

November 12, 2013

The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw began today with calls for governments to harness the strong groundswell of action on climate change across all levels of government, business and society and make real progress here towards a successful, global climate change agreement in 2015.

After Qatar’s Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah,left, President of previous COP18 ( Conference of Parties) addresses delegates during the opening session (seen above), the newly elected President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19/CMP 9), H. E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister, said in his opening address that climate change is a global problem that must be turned further into a global opportunity. 

“It’s a problem if we can’t coordinate our actions. It becomes opportunity where we can act together. One country or even a group cannot make a difference. But acting together, united as we are here, we can do it,” he said.

In her opening speech at the Warsaw National Stadium, the venue of COP 19, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called on delegates to “win the Warsaw opportunity” in order to safeguard present and future generations.

“We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game. There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”

Ms. Figueres pointed to the sobering realities of climate change and the rise in extreme events that climate science has long predicted, including the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that just hit the Philippines, one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall.

Ms. Figueres highlighted the key areas in which COP 19 can make progress:

“We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas”.

NUS U@Alive Speaker: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: OUR ENVIRONMENT- Is it too late to save it?

October 14, 2013

NUS U@Alive Speaker: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: OUR ENVIRONMENT- Is it too late to save it?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2001. He previously held appointments as the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister responsible for Entrepreneurship, Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts and Minister of State for National Development.

Singapore to study local impact of global climate change findings

October 3, 2013

Article originally written by Kimberly Spykerman for ChannelNewsAsia, and published on 28 September 2013.

(Source: National Climate Change Secretariat)

Significant changes in rainfall patterns and increased rising of sea levels by the year 2100 were among the findings of a global climate science study.

The findings were released by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Stockholm on Friday.

The Singapore government said it will contextualise the global findings and study their impact on the country so that resilience plans can continue to be reviewed and adjusted.

The changes revealed in the findings suggest that Singapore could see more intense and frequent bouts of heavy rainfall as a result.

In Singapore, the number of days each year with heavy rainfall of more than 70mm in an hour has already shown a spike.

It rose from five days in 1980 to 10 days in 2012.

The annual maximum rainfall intensity in an hour also increases from 80mm in 1980 to 107mm in 2012.

The findings also imply that increased temperatures, which Singapore experiences only occasionally now, could become the norm in the future.

Aggressive climate change could affect how Singaporeans carry out their daily activities and the way future infrastructure is planned.

The findings from the international study will be used to provide updated projections of aspects like temperature, rainfall and sea level changes in Singapore’s second National Climate Change study.

This means the relevant government agencies will be well-prepared to cope with the impact of such changes in the future.

The second study started in November 2012.

The Centre for Climate Research Singapore will work with the UK Met Office to project climate parameters in greater detail to help the government better understand the local impact of climate change.

Dr Chris Gordon, director of the Centre for Climate Research Singapore at the Meteorological Service Singapore, said: “Heavy rainfall on the extreme end leads to flooding. This is the main impact of concern and so those projections need to be taken into account in terms of such things as the drainage infrastructure…

“These are already being taken into account in Singapore in the planning that’s going on. But these updated projections will feed into that process to ensure it’s robust against those future changes.”

Separately, the second phase of the first National Climate Change study concluded this year.

This phase looked into the impact of climate change on issues such as public health, biodiversity, the energy consumption of buildings and urban temperature profile.

The findings have been disseminated to the relevant agencies to use in their resilience plans, which include enhancing the stability and connectivity of existing green areas and putting in place plans to better understand the effects of urbanisation together with climate change.

Why the President of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly is pro-Sustainable Development

September 27, 2013

On 18 September 2013, John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda took the gavel as the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly, the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the Organization, it provides the only forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter.

H.E. John W. Ashe

Following his election as Assembly President on 14 June, Mr. Ashe and his team outlined their priorities for the session under a theme entitled, “The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage!.” Under it, he is encouraging Member States and other stakeholders to promote dialogue, reflection and commitment to the formulation of an effective new agenda to overcome poverty and insecurity and ensure sustainable development, to be launched during the 69th session following the 2015 deadline of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Prior to his assumption of the Assembly Presidency, Mr. Ashe served simultaneously as his country’s Permanent Representative to both the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, positions he held since 2004. He has served in a leadership capacity on many of the governing bodies of the major UN environmental agreements, including as the first Chairman of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  He holds a Doctorate in Bioengineering. 

Mr John Ashe at UNFCCC meetings

The UN News Centre spoke to Mr. Ashe on the eve of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, when Heads of State and Government and other high-level officials gather to present their views about pressing world and national issues.

UN News Centre: Mr. Ashe, you’ve spoken extensively of your priorities and aspirations for the 68th session of the General Assembly.  Now that you’ve actually taken the gavel and are about to host some 90 heads of State and Government and many other world officials, has your perspective changed?

John Ashe: Well, if it has changed it has been brought more sharply into focus, now that the day is actually here.  We do hope that when the heads of State and Government are here, that they will indeed address the theme that I have identified.

UN News Centre: Yes, you have put a lot of effort into creating the focus for this session, “Setting the Stage,” for the post-2015 development agenda.  How do you see your role in keeping that focus?   To inspire, seek consensus, guide?  Because the focus can wander.

John Ashe: Well, as it ought to, given that we have other pressing concerns.  But the short answer to that is that one has to be a mixture of all three – you have to inspire, you have to seek consensus and, of course, you have to make accommodations for the vagaries of the position.

UN News Centre: Has your office communicated with world leaders coming to the general debate to encourage them to address this theme?

John Ashe: Well, at the end of the day you’re dealing with sovereign countries and their respective heads of State and Government.  So it’s impossible to dictate what they should speak about. The usual way of communicating is with their representatives here in New York.  And the short answer to that is, yes I have done so.  But ultimately, a head of State and Government has 15 minutes of fame and I’m sure they intend to fully use those 15 minutes to speak on virtually anything they so choose.

UN News Centre: Have you gotten feedback on willingness to take up the theme?

John Ashe: Well, as I said you’re dealing with sovereign countries, so it’s not a give and take.  But let’s just say that from the representative level here in New York, the response has been positive. 

UN News Centre: How would you describe the function of the general debate in accomplishing the priorities of the entire session?

John Ashe: Well, this is an opportunity to hear from the highest levels of Government on how they see the post-2015 development agenda emerging.  So, it’s an important time frame for us to get, as we would say, in my days as a Permanent Representative, guidance from our heads. So that’s why it becomes important. So one can not overemphasize that importance and the need to hear from the heads of State and Government themselves, on how they see the post-2015 development agenda emerging.

UN News Centre: Since Rio+20 (2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development), there’s been a lot of input on the post-2015 agenda, we’ve had global consultations, conferences in such bodies as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and other activities.  Do you see any consensus building at this point?

John Ashe: Well, I don’t think that the intent is to arrive at consensus at the outset.  The intent, I hope, is to identify a common set of parameters on which everyone can agree ought to be included in any agenda, and then working to shape them in a way that people can ultimately find consensus.

UN News Centre:  Do you see any elements at all that seem to be common to all the input that we’ve had so far?

John Ashe: Well, there are different strands of work that are ongoing. Two, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, have to do with the sustainable development goals – that would be a very important exercise – and currently, we just started discussions at the intergovernmental level on financing, or what is generally known as the means of implementation, which is also an important plank going forward.  The outputs of these exercises will come to the General Assembly at the start of the 69th session and that would be an important time period, I think, to start pulling everything together. 

UN News Centre:  Do you see an interest in integrating the resulting targets into a more comprehensive approach in response to criticisms of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that they were kept too separate?

John Ashe: Well, I must admit I hadn’t heard – I’ve heard other complaints but not that specific one – but more importantly, I think what we have now put in place is substantially different from what was put in place for the Millennium Development Goals.  There the approach was more top down.  Here, they’re trying to have a more bottom up approach.  So you have many bosses, some of course not in agreement, but what one hopes is that there will be a core set of goals identified at the end of the period that we can all agree on, and it can make up for the perceived shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals.

UN News Centre: How would you like to see the relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council develop under your session?

John Ashe: Well, I hope it will be a cordial and collegiate one.  Of course, there are differences between the two bodies.  One has a certain cachet, so to speak, and the other is a more deliberative type of body. At the end of the day, they have their separate responsibilities and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

UN News Centre: On Syria, in particular, has any consensus developed on how it can be addressed in the General Assembly?

John Ashe: Well, as you know, the matter of Syria, at least currently, is being dealt with by the Security Council, where rightfully it does belong, because you’re talking ultimately about action under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.  That’s solely within the purview of the Security Council.  If and when the matter comes before the General Assembly, then I’m sure we will deal with it accordingly. 

UN News Centre:  Do you think there is any kind of Security Council reform that could make the relationship with the Assembly more effective?

John Ashe: On the overall question of Security Council reform, there is no shortage of ideas.  There are quite a few.  Where the difficulty lies is in getting Member States to agree on a core set of ideas, and that’s what I’m hoping to turn my attention to this session.

UN News Centre: You’ve spoken before of your turn from medicine to diplomacy as a career interest, because you thought you could help people with survival and well-being just as effectively. Will this mean that you’ll have a focus on the well-being of individuals and communities during the session?

John Ashe: Well, that has always been a goal of mine and perhaps that is why I drifted into sustainable development as a core area, given the potential to do something that would benefit future generations.  I don’t think that that will change during my tenure as President of the General Assembly. 

- See more at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/newsmakers.asp?NewsID=95#sthash.r8HbCGj7.dpuf

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