This is the news in brief from the United Nations
Tax unsustainable activities to reduce pandemic risks, experts urge
Future pandemics will emerge more often, spread quicker and kill more people than COVID-19, without a “seismic shift” in how countries work together to tackle infectious diseases.
That’s the message from international experts in a UN-backed report published on Thursday.
They’ve called for greater conservation of protected areas to reduce biodiversity loss and taxes on meat consumption, livestock production and other high pandemic-risk activities.
Their conclusions follow urgent discussions moderated by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on how pandemic risks are linked to the degradation of wild spaces.
The experts concluded that the risk of global health emergencies like the new coronavirus is increasing rapidly, with more than five new diseases emerging in people every year, any one of which could potentially spark a pandemic.
COVID-19 is at least the sixth global health pandemic since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, also known as the Spanish flu, the IPBES meeting heard.
Speakers stressed that although the new disease has its origins in microbes carried by animals, its emergence has been entirely driven by human activities – as with all pandemics.
These same activities drive climate change and biodiversity loss because of their impact on the environment, said Dr. Peter Daszak, Chair of the IPBES discussions.
Typhoon strikes central Viet Nam, aid agencies rush in emergency relief
UN aid agencies and partners have mobilised to help communities in Viet Nam affected by a major typhoon that has struck central regions.
Storm Molave, which made landfall on Wednesday morning, is one of the strongest storms to hit the southeast Asian nation in 20 years.
Millions of people have been affected; they are already reeling from severe flooding, according to UN humanitarians.
There are also reports that 174 people have died or are missing.
UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement that extremely heavy rain could continue over the coming days. It has also warned that people are suffering additional trauma as many cannot swim.
Affected populations have seen their homes severely damaged and food stocks lost, along with clean water supplies and sanitation systems, said the UN agency.
The evacuation of thousands of people has been complicated by the flooding of shelters, while health centres have also been damaged.
Of the 7.7 million people living in the affected areas, 177,000 need urgent humanitarian assistance.
So far, UNICEF has mobilized to provide emergency water, nutrition, sanitation, education and protection support. It is coordinating with Government agencies and partners to reach the most vulnerable.
After nearly a decade away, La Niña weather system is back
Finally, you may be familiar with El Niño – the ocean-warming phenomenon that affects global weather patterns – but how about La Niña, which is linked to cooler sea temperatures?
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), La Niña is back in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, after nearly a decade’s absence.
The likely results of La Niña vary around the globe, but indications are that the Horn of Africa will see below average rainfall, as will Central Asia.
Elsewhere, WMO’s weather models forecast above-average rainfall for South East Asia, some Pacific Islands and the northern region of South America.
The UN agency also warned that East Africa is forecast to see drier than usual conditions, which together with the existing impacts of the desert locust invasion, may add to regional food insecurity.
WMO says that there is a 90 per cent chance of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures remaining at La Niña levels for the remainder of the year, and a 55 per cent chance that this will continue to March 2021.
This is important because La Niña contributes to temperatures, rainfall and storm patterns in many parts of the world.
What’s more, everyone from governments to farmers uses the announcement of a La Niña event to protect activities that are sensitive to changes in the weather, including agriculture, health, water resources and disaster management.
WMO is now stepping up its support and advice for international humanitarian agencies to try to reduce the impacts among the most vulnerable at a time when coping capacities are stretched by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.