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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

It is one of those almost-impossible-to-believe facts, but it is claimed that each year, an area of land three times the size of Switzerland is lost to desertification. That is almost 12 million ha or land turning into desert annually!  (UNCCD, 2012)

To raise awareness about this shocking fact, and to promote ways of reversing the global growth in non-productive dryland, a World Day to Combat Desertification was introduced in 1995, to be celebrated annually on 17 June.

This year, the Day’s slogan is “Healthy soil sustains your life: Let’s go land-degradation neutral”. Not only is this a call to stress the severity of the situation, but also to reinforce the message that desertification needn’t be fatal, that solutions exist, and that it can be effectively tackled through strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels.

Fertile soil is a critical non-renewable resource. Zero-net land degradation can be achieved when non-degraded soil is kept healthy and fertile, and degraded land is restored through reforestation, programmes to improve soil health etc. This is critical to help ensure international food security and alleviate rural poverty.

Drought and global desertification – it’s not someone else’s problem.
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No matter where you are in the world, you can contribute to the fight against desertification.  Planting trees or building terraces to combat soil erosion, contributing to soil enrichment programmes, even just doing your bit to combat climate change by practicing healthy green practices like recycling and reuse.  It’s not someone else’s problem – your actions can make a real difference.

World Environment Day

Today we celebrate World Environment Day, a global event initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote awareness regarding global environmental issues, and to create positive environmental action. Its a day for all people to join hands and start taking action to ensure a cleaner, greener, brighter future.

The 2012 theme for World Environment Day is Green Economy: Does it include you? In the first place, this is meant to raise general awareness of the concept of the “green economy”, and secondly to promote personal involvement in activities supporting a greener future. Simply stated, the green economy is one “whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services” (UNEP, 2012).

The theme for World Environment Day 2012 is Green Economy: Does it include you?
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At a macro level, the green economy is about a move to more sustainable energy sources such as solar, water and wind energy, about infrastructure development promoting green buildings and clean transportation, about water and waste management, about big business investing in more sustainable business practices, and about sustainable job creation and poverty reduction.

While these are all critically important initiatives that need to be promoted and supported, it really does start with each of us, at an individual level, investing in a more environmentally aware lifestyle. Recycling household waste, doing your own composting, growing your own (organic) fruit and veges, conserving water and electricity, minimising waste, buying used products & buying bulk – these are all ways in which we can do our bit for a greener, healthier planet.

The green economy is all about preserving our natural heritage for future generations.
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For more ideas on living responsibly, this How to be Green Guide is a nice place to start.

Enjoy the world, responsibly!

World Hunger Day

Today is World Hunger Day, a day that calls special attention to the millions of people worldwide threatened by starvation and malnutrition.

According the the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), enough food is produced in the world to feed the entire world population.  The world agriculture sector produces 17% more calories per person today than 30 years ago, despite the fact that the world population has increased by 20% during this time.  The problem, though, is that this food is not evenly distributed, with many people not having sufficient land to grow, or money to purchase, adequate food supplies.  This lack of access to food is indicative of a broader lack of access to basic resources, education and healthcare.

At the 1996 World Food Summit, an international target was set to halve the level of undernourishment in the world by 2015.  However, between 1990 and 2010 the number of undernourished people in developing countries have risen from 824 million to 925 million (almost 1/7 of the world population). So, overall,  there is a shocking lack of progress toward the world food summit goal, although there has been progress in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

World Hunger Day seeks to inspire people in both the developed and developing worlds to show their solidarity and support to enable people to end their own hunger and poverty and make the journey to self-reliance,  to help bring about a sustainable end to their hunger and poverty.

World Hunger Day is about raising awareness. It is also about celebrating the achievements of millions of people who are taking actions every day to end their own hunger and poverty and make the journey to self-reliance.
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World Meteorological Day

The theme of this year’s World Meteorological Day is “Powering our future with weather, climate and water”.  This highlights the critical roles of weather, climate and water services in powering a sustainable future for us and for generations to come.

The themes of sustainable power and energy seem quite pertinent this year, with the UN General Assembly also declaring 2012 the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All”.  The use of renewable energies has been growing in leaps and bounds, accounting for about half of the almost 200 gigawatts of new electricity capacity added globally during 2010. According to the International Energy Agency, the renewable energy electricity sector grew by 17.8 per cent between 2005 and 2009. It currently provides nearly 20 percent of total power generation in the world.

Of the renewable electricity sources, hydro power still represents the largest sector. However, wind power has grown the most in absolute terms. The Global Wind Energy Council says the world’s wind power capacity grew by 31 per cent in 2009.

(Source: The World Meteorological Organization, http://www.wmo.int)

New Zealand has 16 wind farms either operating or under construction. These currently have a combined installed capacity of 615 megawatts, supplying about 4% of New Zealand’s annual electricity generation. This is about the same amount of electricity as 180,000 New Zealand homes use in a year. Developers are exploring sites throughout New Zealand for new wind farms. (Source: New Zealand Wind Energy Association)
This image was captured at the Manawatu wind farm during the snowy 2011 winter.
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