This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Demonstrators in streets should protect themselves and others from COVID-19
Demonstrators who want to go into the street to make their voices heard should take every precaution against catching or passing on the coronavirus, as the global pandemic is far from over, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
The appeal from the UN agency comes amid ongoing protests in the United States and elsewhere at the killing of George Floyd in police custody, and concerns of a “second wave” of infections in countries where lockdown restrictions have eased.
Here’s WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris.
“It’s not over until there’s no virus anywhere in the world. So all the things we have been saying apply. The best precaution is being able to stay one metre away from each other, being able to wash your hands, being able to ensure that you don’t touch your mouth, nose and eyes…We have certainly seen a lot of passion this week, we’ve seen people who’ve felt the need to be out and to express their feelings, but we ask them to remember: still protect yourself and others, the coronavirus is all around, protect yourselves and others while expressing yourselves.”
At a virtual Press briefing in Geneva, Dr Harris also described galloping infection rates in the Americas – the current regional hotspot for infection - as “deeply disturbing”.
According to latest WHO data, the United States has seen more than 106,000 deaths from the disease and over 1.8 million confirmed infections.
Latin America’s largest country, Brazil, has had more than 580,000 cases of infection and some 32,500 deaths.
May confirmed as warmest on record, CO2 levels hit new high despite COVID economic slowdown
Last month was the warmest May on record and carbon dioxide levels also hit a new high despite the economic slowdown from COVID-19, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday, in an urgent appeal for Member States to renew their efforts to tackle climate threats.
“Governments are going to invest in recovery, and there’s an opportunity to tackle the climate as part of the recovery programme,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
He added that if they took action now, “there was an opportunity to start bending the curve (on emissions) in the coming five years”.
The appeal coincides with World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5 June, and a warning that warmer temperatures and higher greenhouse gas concentrations will have a major impact on biodiversity, socio-economic development and human well-being.
Echoing the call that it is time to grow back greener and build back better for people and the planet, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that Nature was “sending us a clear message: we are harming the natural world – to our own detriment…To care for humanity, we must care for nature.”
Taking oceans for granted must stop for all our sakes: world’s fastest yachtswoman
And finally, to the high seas, where threats to marine life are leading to the rise of diseases akin to COVID-19.
That’s the warning from the world’s fastest yachtswoman, Dona Bertarelli, who has just teamed up with the UN to call for an end to ocean exploitation.
Here she is talking to UN News, ahead of World Oceans Day on Monday 8 June:
“We took the oceans for granted for so long and we continue to do so, but we are really running out of time…the real, rapid degradation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity loss, is causing a proliferation of pathogens that can cause life-threatening diseases. I think world leaders are recognising this because two weeks ago, the European Commission released its biodiversity strategy for 2030, and what the report highlights is the urgent need to protect and restore Nature for an economic recovery after COVID as well as the irrefutable link between our own health and that of ecosystems.”
Ms Bertarelli, who has just been named Special Adviser for the Blue Economy for the United Nations trade and development body, UNCTAD, said that a key challenge for the good of everyone and everything on the planet involved increasing the amount of protected marine spaces, from its current level of seven per cent, to 30 per cent, by 2030.
You can hear the full interview with Dona Bertareli, UNCTAD Special Adviser for the Green Economy, from Saturday, on our UN News audiohub and on Soundcloud.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.