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As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, one fact has never been more evident – our world, our planet and our lives are inextricably interconnected. There are very few issues that can be considered simply “health problems,” as nearly every aspect of life is connected to other societal, economic and environmental issues. While we recognize the negative impact of tobacco on our health, we tend to think less frequently about the economic impact of tobacco use on health costs and productivity losses. What is even less well known is how tremendously destructive tobacco cultivation and tobacco use is for the environment – on land, water and air.
When populations experience economic growth, their appetite for more food and more resource intensive food grows. While this is welcomed in many parts of the world in which communities suffer malnutrition and hunger, the gap between the haves and have nots is growing. The Chefs’ Manifesto is championing a better food future, inspiring people to make changes in their kitchens and communities and empowering them to call on governments and companies to play their part.
Some international agreements emerge quickly. But the birth of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was a long tortuous journey. In particular, it was undermined by the perception that it was a development Convention. Yet the evolution of its sister Rio Conventions on Climate Change and on Biological Diversity shows that a purist approach to environmental conservation is at best misguided, and at worst dangerous.
Iceland will reach carbon neutrality before the year 2040. This is the ambitious goal that my government set in September 2018 when it introduced a new climate action plan to get us there. We are taking actions that tackle the three major global environmental challenges – on biological diversity, climate change and desertification – simultaneously.
Brazil has committed US$100 million dollars raised from domestic environmental fines to finance activities to reverse land degradation in an initiative known as the URAD model that combines social inclusion, local development and environmental sustainability. The results are amazing, with activities being completed well ahead of schedule and behaviour change in the communities evident long before reaping the expected long-term fruits.
This July is the first time the United Nations will review the progress made towards meeting Sustainable Development Goal 15, which is about Life on Land. Healthy and productive land is important in the achievement of many of the SDG goals and targets – poverty reduction, food security, gender equality, access to clean water and energy, urban development, peace and stability