News in Brief 3 June 2021

News in Brief 3 June 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Restoration call for area ‘the size of China’ to protect falling biodiversity, food insecurity

An area of land the size of China needs restoring if the planet’s biodiversity and the communities who rely on it are to be protected, UN agencies said on Thursday.

The FAO and UNEP – the Food and Agriculture Organization and UN Environment Programme’s - call to reinstate at least one billion degraded hectares of land by 2030 must also be matched by a similar commitment to the oceans, or else risk a growing threat to global food security, they insisted.

Here’s Tim Christophersen, head of UNEP’s Nature for Climate Branch, Ecosystems Division:

“If we do this at the necessary scale it will have benefits far beyond climate change and biodiversity…for food security, for health, for clean water, for jobs. Restoration can benefit all these Sustainable Development Goals.”

In a new report marking the start of a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the UN agencies warned that humans are already using 1.6 times the resources that Nature can provide sustainably.

They said that conservation efforts alone will be insufficient to prevent large-scale ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss, underscoring the need for countries to “re-programme” their post-COVID-19 recovery and move away from massive subsidies to carbon-heavy sectors such as fossil fuels.

Risk of COVID-19 surge threatens Africa's health facilities

Critical health facilities across Africa face being overwhelmed as COVID-19 infections surge ahead of the “real and rising” threat of a third wave, the UN health agency said on Thursday.

In an appeal to authorities to boost lifesaving facilities, the World Health Organization (WHO) also warned that vaccine shipments were at “a near halt”.

To date, only around two per cent of Africans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 24 per cent globally.

In the last two weeks, Africa has seen a 20 per cent increase in coronavirus infections, compared to the previous fortnight.

South Africa has seen “a sustained increase in cases”, Uganda reported a 131 per cent week-on-week rise last week, and Angola and Namibia have also witnessed a resurgence, WHO said.

The UN agency noted that care for COVID-19 patients in Africa has lagged behind other parts of the world; the continent has 2.9 per cent of cases globally but accounts for 3.7 per cent of all deaths.

Food prices reach highest value since September 2011: FAO

Finally, food prices around the world have risen at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade, the UN said on Thursday, fuelling concerns over rising inflation in many of the world’s economies.

In a regular update, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that more costly vegetable oils, sugar and cereals led the increase in May, with prices almost 40 per cent higher than a year ago.

The FAO also forecast record world cereal production this year of 2.8 billion tonnes - and a 1.9 percent increase from 2020.

Despite this increase in the overall amount of cereals, the agency noted that the ratio of cereal stocks to the amount consumed is likely to decline further, to just over 28 per cent.

The rise will further increase food price inflation in poorer nations, which rely on imports of staple foods.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

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  • COVID surge risk in Africa, warns WHO
  • China-sized restoration call from UNEP, FAO
  • Food price inflation fastest since 2011
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
3'9"
Photo Credit
© UNICEF/Catherine Ntabadde