Posts Tagged ‘Samoa’

Österreich: Let’s ban the bombs!

Donnerstag, Dezember 11th, 2014

“Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons

Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons
Humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons must initiate treaty process in 2015

December 9, 2014

After 44 states called for a prohibition on nuclear weapons at a conference in Vienna on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, Austria delivered the “Austrian pledge” in which it committed to work to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and pledged “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

“All states committed to nuclear disarmament must join the Austrian pledge to work towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons”, said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

“Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will be a fitting time for negotiations to start on a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, Fihn added.

States that expressed support for a ban treaty at the Vienna Conference include: Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

These announcements were given at a two-day international conference convened in Vienna to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether intentional or accidental.

Survivors of the nuclear bombings in Japan and of nuclear testing in Australia, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and the United States, gave powerful testimonies of the horrific effects of nuclear weapons. Their evidence complemented other presentations presenting data and research.

“The consequences of any nuclear weapon use would be devastating, long-lasting, and unacceptable. Governments simply cannot listen to this evidence and hear these human stories without acting”, said Akira Kawasaki, from Japanese NGO Peaceboat. “The only solution is to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and we need to start now,” Kawasaki added.

For decades, discussions on nuclear weapons have been dominated by the few nuclear-armed states – states that continue to stockpile and maintain over 16,000 warheads. The humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons has prompted a fundamental change in this conversation, with non-nuclear armed states leading the way in a discussion on the actual effects of the weapons.

Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and biological – nuclear weapons are not yet prohibited by an international legal treaty. Discussions in Vienna illustrated that the international community is determined to address this. In a statement to the conference, Pope Francis called for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”.

The host of the previous conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, Mexico, called for the commencement of a diplomatic process, and South Africa said it was considering its role in future meetings.

“Anyone in Vienna can tell that something new is happening on nuclear weapons. We have had three conferences examining their humanitarian impact, and now with the Austrian pledge we have everything we need for a diplomatic process to start”, said Thomas Nash of UK NGO Article 36.”


(Quelle: ICAN.)

Global: Klimawandel in der Südsee – schon heute eine Frage von Leben und Tod

Montag, Juli 19th, 2010


By Sonia Smallacombe

Kiribati (Photo taken by Roisterer/Wikipedia).

Indigenous peoples in the Pacific region are among the first to face the direct adverse consequences of climate change, due to their dependence upon and close relationship with the environment and its resources. While they are amongst the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, they are also amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their small size, coastal populations, high dependence on natural resources and the low-lying nature of their lands. As a result, indigenous peoples in many Pacific Island countries feel particularly helpless. Further, they realize that there are climate change threats that cannot be reduced, mitigated or eliminated and they are therefore forced to accept that adaptation is the only responsive option available to them.

Impacts of climate change

On average, more than 90% of the population of the Pacific region are indigenous. This includes Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu, Rapa Nuie (Easter Island), Papua New Guinea etc. Most of the Pacific region comprises small island states and indigenous peoples are heavily impacted by climate-induced warming: their islands are inundated by rising sea levels, increasing erosion occurs from intense storms, and saltwater intrudes into freshwater supplies. These changes are affecting livelihood activities such as hunting and fishing, and impacting on island infrastructure, access to water resources, food and housing availability, and even the very health of indigenous peoples. There is also concern that climate change will result in revenue loss across important economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, tourism, energy and other industry-related sectors.

Rising sea levels

Many Pacific Islands have low land masses and, as a result of the rise in sea levels, are experiencing damage to buildings and infrastructure. Crops and causeways linking villages are being flooded, forcing cars, buses and trucks to drive through seawater. This has been particularly noticeable in Kiribati and a number of other small Pacific Island nations, which could completely disappear beneath the waves at some point this century. The small island of Tebua in Tarawa used to be a landmark for fishermen but today it is knee-deep under water. Kiribati suffers the effects of king tides that wash through the islands from one side to the other with great ease. It is now a common factor in Kiribati to have king tides with waves 2.8 metres in height.[1]
High tides and stormy seas have also recently caused problems in the Marshall Islands, Cook Island, Tuvalu and low-lying islands of Papua New Guinea. In Tuvalu, fresh groundwater mixes with salty seawater, forcing some farmers to grow their root crops in tin containers. These damaging effects of climate change are likely to intensify if sea levels rise as predicted.

Damage to Pacific ecosystems

In the Pacific region, environmental changes are prominent on islands where volcanoes build and erode; coral atolls submerge and reappear and the islands’ biodiversity is in flux. The region has suffered extensively from human-made disasters and hazards resulting from nuclear testing, pollution including shipping-related pollution, hazardous chemicals and hazardous wastes (Persistent Organic Pollutants or POPs), and solid waste management and disposals. These issues, as well as the threats of climate change, have severely affected the ability of island ecosystems to maintain a healthy and pristine environment for the economic, social and cultural viability of indigenous communities.[2]
   Warmer temperatures have led to the bleaching of the Pacific Islands’ main source of survival – the coral reefs. Bleaching occurs when reef-building corals, reacting to stress such as warmer waters, loosen the algae that help feed them. Because the algae give them colour, the starved corals look pale, hence the term “bleaching”. Continued bleaching ultimately kills corals. Reef-building corals provide most of the primary productivity of coral reefs and are also an important shelter for a diversity of marine organisms. Reduced abundance and diversity of reef-building corals is thus very likely to have a major influence on the surrounding biodiversity. Coral reefs are home to much of the seafood that is enjoyed by indigenous peoples in the region.[3]

Food and water security

Agriculture in the Pacific region, especially in small island states, is becoming increasingly vulnerable due to heat stress on plants and salt water incursions. Crops with low tolerance to climate hazards such as bananas, one of the main staple crops, are severely threatened. Soil erosion from destructive wave activity, frequent storm surges and landslides causes land loss to many indigenous communities. Plantations and livestock are the major sources of subsistence farming, and are now faced with serious threats from new diseases and pests linked to flooding, drought and other climatic variations. Threats to food security are thus of great concern to the region.
   A significant impact of climate change and climate variability on indigenous peoples in the Pacific region is unreliable water availability. In many places, there is often a lack of water storage systems such as water tanks. If improvements were made to water supplies and accessibility systems, indigenous peoples would not have to rely on unpredictable and untreated river sources. Hence, sustainable water sources, maintaining and improving water quality and minimizing the spread of water-borne diseases is an important issue for indigenous peoples in the Pacific.


Some 2,000 miles to the west of the Pacific is Australia, which is experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, even with the flooding that occurred in late 2007 and early 2008. Scientists are not certain that climate change is to blame but it is the most popular theory. One concern is that when there is rain in the northeast coastal regions, soil washes into the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef. This process is damaging the coral, and warmer waters are also killing parts of the reef.

Carbon emissions trading

In the Pacific, like in most other regions, indigenous peoples are not only affected by climate change but also by the initiatives developed to address it. Carbon emissions trading is an area of concern for many indigenous peoples. At the same time, however, some indigenous peoples see the potential economic benefits of taking part in carbon trading projects, especially when indigenous communities have already developed, over thousands of years, sustainable, neutral and carbon negative livelihoods. A unique agreement, which claims to be the first of its kind in the world, was recently negotiated in Australia. In June 2007,
when a giant new natural gas refinery was constructed in Darwin, ConocoPhillips agreed to pay the Aboriginal people of the Western Arnhem Land region of Australia AUD 1 million (USD 850,000) per year, for 17 years, to offset 100,000 tons of the refinery’s own greenhouse emissions (The Western Arnhem Fire Management Agreement). The Aboriginal people concerned will use traditional fire management practices, which have been scientifically shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as compared to naturally occurring wildfires.[4]
   Carbon trading continues to be a hugely contentious issue, however, mainly due to its inherent problems. The main concern is that, while companies do not have to actually reduce their emissions, they can pay other companies and groups, mostly from nonindustrialized countries, to reduce emissions or to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and thus account for these as their own reductions. The big benefit to companies is that, when paying others, they pay only a fraction of what they would need to invest at home to achieve the same goal.[5]

Adapting to climate change through migration

As people begin to feel the heavy impact of climate change on the quality of life in the Pacific, migration will become a major issue, particularly as a result of flooding from the rising sea level. Forced adaptation is already underway, with some communities being displaced from their traditional lands and territories due to coastal and land erosion caused by large stormdriven waves. Dislocation is already a reality in Samoa and Vanuatu, where flooding from extreme weather and rising sea levels have become the norm and thus have serious implications for people residing in the region. People living in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville atoll island of Cartaret have asked to be moved to higher ground on the mainland. The people of Sikaiana Atoll in the Solomon Islands have also been migrating away from their atoll, primarily to Honiara, the capital. Similarly, there has been internal migration from the outer islands of Tuvalu to the capital, Funafuti. In the case of Tuvalu, this migration has brought almost half of the national population to Funafuti atoll, with the inherent negative environmental consequences, including an intensified demand for local resources.[6] New Zealand has agreed to take 75 Tuvaluans per year, in a slow evacuation process of the island.
   Migration as a solution is, however, highly problematic. It is a violation of the right of countries to exist as peoples, a threat to cultures and tradition, causes loss of lives, loss of biodiversity, loss of spiritual connectivity and loss of settlement.[7] It is therefore crucial that the issue of “environmental refugees” is seriously discussed and that indigenous peoples become genuinely involved in designing and implementing responses to climate change.

Adapting by applying traditional knowledge

Traditional knowledge and practices are important to sustaining and managing the environment. In a coastal village on Vanua Levu, Fiji, the philosophy of vanua (which refers to the connection of people with the land through their ancestors and guardian spirits) has served as a guiding principle for the management and sustainable use of the rainforest, mangrove forest, coral reefs and village gardens.
   In other parts of the Pacific, indigenous peoples have supported mangrove conservation along the coastline to protect against natural disasters such as cyclones and tsunamis. It is seen as a cheaper undertaking than seawalls, which are funded from external sources. Mangrove conservation involves the community in the management process as well as the inclusion of women in the replanting activities. Other activities include the provision of a water drainage system as well as banning tree clearing. However, it is recognized in the Pacific that enhancing adaptive capacity involves more than local options, which will only be successful if they are integrated with other strategies such as disaster preparation, land-use planning, environmental conservation and national plans for sustainable development.[8]
   Grants from United Nations agencies, such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), promote the development and dissemination of appropriate crops and technologies in the Pacific region. The merging of indigenous and atoll technologies through action research and documentation is designed to support agriculture and fisheries. A similar activity, managed by the Solomon Island Development Trust, is due to take place through a small grant from IFAD’s Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility (IPAF). Indigenous populations will be assisted to improve post-crisis resilience by merging traditional with scientific knowledge.
   Institutional barriers that prevent adaptation exist in the Pacific region. For example, adaptive capacity and resilience in the Pacific is hampered by limited resources and lack of access to technology. On the other hand, the application of traditional knowledge and past experiences has been strengthened in various ways, such as the implementation of traditional marine social institutions, as exemplified in the Ra’ui in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. This is an effective conservation management tool aimed at improving coral reef health. Indigenous peoples’ ecological knowledge and customary sea tenure is also integrated with marine and social science to conserve some of the wildlife, such as the bumphead parrotfish in Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Changes in sea tenure, back to more traditional roles, have also taken place in Kiribati.[9]

What needs to be done

While there is scientific consensus, notably through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with regard to the threats that climate change poses, governments have been slow to respond. The vulnerability of the whole Pacific region to disasters poses a real threat to achieving economic stability, social development, environment conservation and cultural diversity. In September 2007, Mr. Elisara-La’ulu, Director of Ole Siosimaga Society (OLSSI) in Samoa, said that bystanders who knew that the world was in crisis but did nothing were just as bad as the architects of the crisis. He urged government leaders to ask indigenous peoples about the effects of climate change before taking any decisions, and that indigenous peoples should not act when under pressure from global processes driven by big governments.[10] During a meeting in April 2008, Mr. Elisara noted that:

For us Pacific peoples, the discussion on climate change is not just a theoretical issue that we talk about when we come to these global meetings! It is there and we see the effects in our daily lives. For us it is a matter of life and death! In many cases we have to decide whether to stay on our islands or leave our homes. As sovereign countries, our rights as countries are protected under the Charter of the United Nations. We plead accountability against those causing these violations of our rights to exist as peoples, as countries, and as sovereign nations. Someone must bear responsibility for our demise when we lose our cultures, when our traditional ways of lives are trashed, and we are denied our freedom to exist as peoples. This is an issue of climate justice that we are calling for here and will continue to do so in every opportunity that comes our way![11]

There are two important issues that some of the small island states, such as Samoa, are highlighting. The first issue is the importance of allowing communities themselves to prioritize and pursue their adaptation needs. Community representatives need to work with policymakers to identify solutions that take account of cultural values in order to protect the livelihood and well-being of indigenous peoples. The second issue is the urgent need to put early warning systems in place to ensure that indigenous communities have the information they need to respond to each hazard and potential threat. This in turn will go some considerable way towards implementing sustainable community activities to adapt to, and minimize, the adverse impacts of climate change.
   At the Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization Forum held in Tonga in October 2007, the following recommendations were made:

• That regional contingency plans be developed to accommodate environmental refugees in a manner that maintains their national identity and indigenous cultural integrity;
• Engage indigenous peoples’ organizations in the development of programmes that involve measures to deal with the effects of climate change;
• Promote forest conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy; and
• Involve indigenous peoples in programs that support community-level mitigation and aptation measures and, at the same time, recognize the value of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, which has enabled them to maintain and interact with their environment in a sustainable way.[12]



[1] Fiu Mataese Elisara. Effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples. A Pacific presentation during the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Darwin, Australia April 2-4, 2008.
[2] Ema G. Tagicakibau. Pollution in Paradise: The Impact of Nuclear Testing and Radio-Active Pollution on Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific and Strategies for Resolution. Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, August 2007.
[3] Robert W. Buddemeier, Joan A. Kleypas, Richard B. Aronson. Coral Reefs and Global Climate Change: Potential Contributions of Climate Change to Stresses on Coral Reef Ecosystems. Pew Centre, January 2004, page 25.
[4] Victo Mugarura. Aborigines burn the way to climate control. BBC, September 18, 2007
[5] D. Wysham. A Carbon Rush at the World Bank. Foreign Policy in Focus, February 2005. See
[6] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 2: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, 2007, page 708.
[7] Fiu Mataese Elisara. Effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples. A Pacific presentation during the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Darwin, Australia April 2-4, 2008.
[8] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 2: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, 2007, page 709.
[9] Ibid, page 708.
[10] Meetings Coverage, DPI/NGO Annual Conference, NGO/626, PI/1794, Department of Public Information, UN, New York, 6 September 2007.
[11] Fiu Mataese Elisara. Effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples. A Pacific presentation during the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Darwin, Australia April 2-4, 2008.
[12] Communiqué of the Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization Forum held in Tonga in October 2007, pages 4-5.


Sonia Smallacombe is a member of the Maramanindji people in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory in Australia. She is currently working in the United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and is the focal person on climate change.
   The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations or the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.”


(Quelle: Indigenious Affairs.)



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Global: (Be-)Merkenswerte Gesundheitsstatistik

Mittwoch, Juli 14th, 2010

GLOBAL: Ten eyebrow-raising health stats

Photo: Tugela Ridley/IRIN
Where are the world’s youngest mothers?

DAKAR, 14 July 2010 (IRIN) – Pause for thought: IRIN has trawled the 2010 World Health Statistics report to bring you 10 fascinating facts on global health.

Not the spreadable kind: In 43 low-income countries 40 percent more people had non-communicable diseases – including diabetes, heart disease and stroke – than infectious illnesses in 2004. Non-infectious diseases killed 33 million worldwide in 2004.

Sleepless in Swaziland: No under-five children slept under insecticide-treated bed nets to ward off malarial mosquitoes in Swaziland, whereas in Madagascar 60 percent of children did so, according to the countries’ most recent surveys conducted since 2000.

Midwifery in Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan is the only low-income country in the past decade to boast coverage of nurses and midwives similar to that in high-income countries – 108 nurses and/or midwives per 10,000 residents. Australia (109), Switzerland (110), Luxembourg (104) and Canada’s (100) are comparable.

Oil-rich, but doctor-poor: Equatorial Guinea, which in 2009 had the world’s 64th highest per capita income, and the highest in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank), had the same number of doctors per 10,000 residents (3) as did Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Namibia, Togo, Sudan, Yemen and the Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga.

Protected in the Pacific: Fewer than a quarter of women in Africa reported using contraception, while over 80 percent of women in the region WHO classifies as western Pacific used it. Chad had the world’s lowest contraceptive use at 2.8 percent.

Choking on fumes: Of the 20 countries worldwide where more than 95 percent of those surveyed reported using solid fuels (wood, coal, charcoal, crops) for indoor cooking – associated with higher rates of fatal respiratory diseases like pneumonia – six are in West Africa (not counting Benin, Gambia and Chad, which come within points of the highest threshold.)

Photo: Rodrigo A. Nguema/IRIN
Petrol dollars have not made it to parts of Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo (file photo)

Measles: While 76 percent of one-year-olds in Africa on average were immunized against measles in 2008 versus 58 percent in 1990, these rates were 24 and 51 percent, respectively, in Somalia and Equatorial Guinea in 2008.

Slow on sanitation: Thirty percent of people in Africa used “improved sanitation facilities” – including a composting or flushing toilet, piped sewer systems, septic tanks, or latrines with open ventilation or concrete slabs – in 1990. Eighteen years later, the statistical equivalent of less than half an additional person joined them.

Under-weight children: Some four out of 10 under-five children are considered underweight in Niger, India and Yemen.

Youngest mothers: Almost two out of 10 girls aged 15-19 in Niger have given birth, followed by Afghanistan (1.5) and Bangladesh (1.3).


(Quelle: IRIN News.)


Siehe auch:

GLOBAL: Poll ranks AIDS as top health issue
GLOBAL: Health lessons from four big earthquakes

Klimawandel: Südsee-Inseln verlangen nach politischem Handeln

Freitag, Mai 28th, 2010

“Drowning Islands Demand Action On Climate Change

News Release

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Nauru to the United Nations
New York, N.Y.
May 20, 2010


The Pacific Small Island Developing States (Pacific SIDS) at the United Nations called on the Security Council to immediately address the security threats of climate change in a letter sent to Security Council members today. ‘Climate change can devastate a country just as thoroughly as an invading army. We urgently need the Security Council to take this issue seriously,’ said Ambassador Moses, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the United Nations and Chair of thePacific SIDS.
Climate change is already contributing to severe food and water shortages in the Pacificand has led to the forced to displacement of individuals and communities in Vanuatu, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands. Sea level rise is the most dire security threat to the region. Recent projections by scientists indicate that a rise in sea level of two meters by the end of the century cannot be ruled out. Such a scenario would redraw political borders and devastate low-lying islands in the Pacific.

If international community fails to take immediate action, then it will be complicit in the extinction of entire nations,’ said Ambassador Moses. ‘We can no longer be silent on the failure of the Security Council to meaningfully take action on this issue.’ Within the United Nations system, the Security Council holds primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The letter, sent by the Permanent Representatives of eleven Pacific island nations, contends that the Security Council has a duty to use the powers granted to it under the UN Charter to respond to the security threats posed by climate change. ‘While the UNFCCC should be the primary forum for developing a global response to climate change, the negotiations are not keeping pace with the severity of the impacts.

Many of the responses that may be required are beyond the mandate of the UNFCCC,’ said Ambassador Elisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations. ‘Climate refugees, conflict over increasingly scarce resources and the loss of territory are all impacts caused by climate change that will threaten global peace and security.’ Mexico holds the presidency of the Security Council for the month of June and is also host of COP16 in Cancun later this year. The Pacific SIDS are hoping Mexico shows the same leadership on the Security Council as they have been at the UNFCCC negotiations. Ambassador Moses reiterated the appeal for Security Council action in a statement delivered on behalf of the Pacific SIDS during a formal debate of the General Assembly on human security held today.

The Pacific SIDS work together at the United Nations to raise issues unique to the countries in their region. The Pacific SIDS comprises the missions of Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.”

(Quelle: Aboriginal News Group.)