This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.
UN-brokered Yemen peace talks open in Sweden
A highly anticipated, UN-brokered meeting between the Yemeni Government and Houthi rebel movement, began in Sweden on Thursday, after more than three years of war that has left the economy in ruins, and pushed millions to the brink of famine.
At a press briefing, Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy for Yemen, said that "Yemen's future is in the hands of those in this room," and called for action now before control of the future of Yemen is lost:
“Yemen is already the largest humanitarian programme in the world, and there is a risk that fully half of that population will, if we are not successful in resolving the conflict, become vulnerable to famine, hunger, disease, in which, of course, the children suffer first. There is a need to think urgently, and to move urgently towards a political solution.”
The conflict, which escalated in early 2015, has also wrecked the country’s medical, water and sanitation systems, resulting in multiple outbreaks of cholera and other deadly diseases.
UN envoy hails first step towards resolving Western Sahara future
UN talks on the future of Western Sahara, the first in six years, ended on a positive note in Geneva on Thursday: the talks were convened by Horst Köhler, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, and a former President of Germany.
Addressing the press at the end of the two-day talks, Mr. Köhler said the meeting was a first, but important, step towards a renewed political process on the future of Western Sahara.
The Envoy commended the representatives from Morocco, the Frente POLISARIO movement, Algeria and Mauritania; for engaging openly, in a spirit of mutual respect, and committing to resolving the conflict: Mr. Köhler said that he has invited the delegations to a second meeting in early 2019.
Clean transport solutions presented at UN climate conference
The importance of shifting the world to non-polluting forms of transport has been highlighted at COP24, the UN climate conference currently underway in Katowice, Poland: transport accounts for a quarter of total emissions every year and, if nothing changes, we could see over 2 billion passenger cars on the world’s streets by 2040.
Several ideas and initiatives have been included in a recent World Bank report, such as the UK and France’s intention to ban new sales of petrol or diesel cars beyond 2040, South Korea’s plan to supply 1 million electric vehicles in the next two years and India’s proposal to ensure that 15 percent of its cars are electric by 2023.
However, any significant growth in electric vehicles will have a major impact on electricity demand and, as UN Chief António Guterres warned at a COP24 event earlier this week, this must be met by renewable, rather than fossil fuel sources.
Conor Lennon, UN News.