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UNEP Press Release (February 2004)

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a new project to help make growing middle class consumerism in Asia more eco friendly. The European Union funded project, called Sustainable Consumption Asia or 'SC. Asia', aims to transfer knowledge and experience of consumption issues from Europe to Asian countries.

The US $500,000 SC. Asia project aims to identify existing 'best practices' for promoting sustainable consumption in Europe and Asia, and then build knowledge and capacity in government agencies for their implementation. UNEP, Consumers International, the Danish Consumers Council and the Centre for Environment and Development (Sri Lanka) will review approaches in Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The manual based on these findings will be published in English, Mandarin, Bahasa, Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese and used to guide drafting national action plans for sustainable consumption in the 12 Asian countries.

The project is scheduled for completion by October 2005 and will help Governments meet their requirements related to sustainable consumption under the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection. UNEP has taken the lead in developing a global ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production - one of the key outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002.

For more information contact

Tim Higham
Regional Information Officer
UNEP, Bangkok
Phone: +6622882127
Email: higham@un.org
Website: www.unep.org/sustain

New Research Projects Announced as Efforts to Address Global Water Scarcity Gather Pace (December 2003)

Last month in Colombo, Sri Lanka the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture (CA), announced the winners of the second call for proposals awarded under its competitive research grant scheme. A total of eight new grants have been awarded to organizations that have joined the world's global research programme that aims to address the issue of global water scarcity by taking stock of the investments made in water management in agriculture over the past 50 years. Research gathered over a five year period will play a major role in providing sustainable solutions to water management that balance the future needs of agriculture, livelihoods and the environment. Funding for these new projects amounts to $600,000 and is derived from contributions provided by the Governments of Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The focus of the new projects is wide-ranging. For example, in China a study led by the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) will examine the effectiveness and impact of China's reform of Water pricing for irrigation. In India, Winrock International and other partners will be looking at the use of urban wastewater in agriculture in India - assessing the impacts on livelihoods, health and the environment. In Botswana, research led by the Natural Heritage Institute will look at the future of fishing in the Okavango delta and how inland fisheries can be factored into river basin planning. Projects carried out in river basins in Chile and Argentina (led by University of Chile) will be making comparative studies of modern irrigation systems and their managing institutions, looking at their impact on poverty.

Since its inception in 2001, the CA has steadily been broadening its research agenda. A total of 47 projects worldwide are now being carried out by a wide coalition of partners including 11 research centres of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the UN's FAO and partners from some 90 research and development institutes, universities, and NGOs globally.

For more information, visit: www.iwmi.org/assessment

UN University sets up Virtual Academy to Improve Global Water Management (December 2003)

On 1 December 2003 The United Nations University (UNU) announced that it created a ‘virtual academy’ to teach the fundamentals of water management through the Internet in a bid to improve the availability of safe water around the world.

The course, which will offer successful graduates an academic diploma from the UN (the first of its kind) comprises 10 subjects and 250 hours of instruction.

The course has been developed by a group of water experts over three years, with financial support from the UN Development Account, as a method of marking the conclusion of 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater.

UNU, which is based in Tokyo, said the curriculum has been designed as an undergraduate course for adult professionals. It is expected that engineers, district managers, government administrators and others responsible for water management will take the course.

Initially the course, which has drawn on materials from more than 60 international sources, will be offered through affiliated institutions in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, with plans for a subsequent worldwide expansion.

Students will access course material by CD-ROM, the Internet or mailed printouts, and will have to successfully complete independent work assignments and examinations. By the end of the course, the students should have completed their own integrated water resource management plan.

For more details visit the UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

UN Decade for ESD

The Draft Resolution on the 'United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development' at the United Nations General Assembly (the Plenary Meeting) was adopted on 20 December 2002.

The Draft Resolution was proposed by Japan and adopted at the Plenary Meeting of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The adoption at the Plenary Meeting concludes the entire procedure of adoption of the draft resolution.
The draft resolution was co-sponsored by 46. This draft resolution was adopted by consensus at the Plenary Meeting after its adoption at the Second Committee in early December. The resolution applies to all UN member countries.

What does this imply? From now, the content of the 'United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development' will be examined among governments of each country, relevant international organizations and NGOs, in which process UNESCO, the lead agency, plays a central role. The draft resolution will be discussed and finalized at the next session of the UN General Assembly in September - December 2003.

For the Draft Resolution, visit http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/culture/education. html

IUCN Explores Conservation Learning Network (November 2003)

The Commission on Education and Communication CEC's Chair, Denise Hamu and North American Chair, Keith Wheeler, drew together an exciting team of people at IUCN DURING November 10-12, 2003 to discuss the possibility for IUCN to develop a conservation e-learning network. The basic model will be "business to business" with learning programmes being developed with institutions under an IUCN brand. The team worked with IUCN Programme Director, Bill Jackson, Global Communications Head, Corli Pretorius, and many other programmes to explore the concept and develop a draft business plan. The initiative aims to add value to the IUCN programmes and other programmes such as PalNET and SIS, the law information "Ecolex" and the Academy of Law. It is hoped that the e-Learning Network will make the ‘IUCN knowledge’ more broadly available to government training institutes, NGO and universities to use in their programmes. E-learning will also help magnify access to IUCN knowledge in a broader field of mid career professionals and practitioners in the conservation field.

http://www.iucn.org/themes/cec/cec/home_page.htm

IUCN Statement to the 58th session of UN General Assembly (October 2003)

“… IUCN welcomes the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development as a means to engage people and organizations in learning oriented towards sustainable development. Education for Sustainable Development is a process that is relevant to all, not just education institutions. Education institutions and systems have a key role to play but so too do sustainable development networks and institutions. The Decade must not only place sustainable development into the education agenda and help reorient education systems towards sustainability; it must also challenge social, economic and environmental organizations to redefine the education work that they undertake so that they are aligned with the goals of sustainable development. The focus of education for sustainable development should go beyond youth; attention is also needed for adult and community education, and education within enterprises and businesses. Mobilizing action on education through and by the Major Groups of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development is another important way to bring about social learning. National and Local Councils for Sustainable Development could serve as national and local coordinators of the Decade…”

Excerpts from IUCN Statement (delivered by Amb. Bhagwat Singh) to the UN General Assembly 58th Session held on 20 October 2003 in New York, U.S.A

For more information, visit:
www.iucn.org

Launch of GPA Outreach: Protecting the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (November 2003)

This is about the launch of the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, for which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides the secretariat.

The forum will be useful for those who work in, or are interested in, marine and freshwater policy, management and sustainability. It is hoped that the forum and its activities will be relevant to business, NGOs, students, UN or government officials, scientists and practitioners.

Monthly GPA Outreach newsletters and weekly GPA News Updates are the sources of articles, news and updates on the GPA and GPA-related events and information relevant to the wider marine and freshwater sector.

For subscription to the GPA newsletter, email join-gpa-outreach@lists.healthdev.org.

For more information, visit:
http://www.gpa.unep.org

UNEP launches State of the Environment reports for Bangladesh and Dhaka City (October 2003)

October 2003: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a local-language version of its state of the environment report for Bangladesh and initiated a similar assessment for the City of Dhaka.

The national state of the environment report identifies land degradation, water pollution and scarcity, air pollution, biodiversity loss and the threat of natural disasters as five key environmental issues facing the flood-prone nation which is home to 140 million people.

UNEP Regional Director Surendra Shrestha said he hoped its translation into Bangla language would further strengthen its value as a tool for environmental action planning, policy setting and resource allocation.

For further information visit:
http://www.rrcap.unep.org/reports/soe/bangladeshsoe.cfm