11 January 2014


At its second meeting in Antalya, Turkey, the recently established UN Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)  agreed to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species aimed at providing policymakers with the tools to tackle pressing environmental challenges.

IPBES was established to assist governments and the public to better understand the trends and challenges facing the natural world and humanity in the 21st century, and thus promote human wellbeing and sustainable development through the sustainable use of biodiversity.

The first assessment, to be available as early as December 2015, will look at pollination and food production. Studies show that some three quarters of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees and other pollinators for optimum production.

In recent years there has been growing concern at the alarming decline in the bee population all around the world. Ten million beehives have disappeared in the US alone in the past six years!

A 2011 UN Environment Program (UNEP) report suggested more than a dozen possible reasons for the decline including new types of fungal pathogens, a drastic decline in the number of flowering plant species, the increased use of agricultural chemicals, and climate change.

However, more information is needed in order to fully understand how pollination underpins food production and assess the effectiveness of current policies

Whatever the cause, and apart from the impact on world food production, many believe that the decline of the honey bee is an alarm bell alerting our attention to problems in our wider environment and the unsustainable nature of our food and farming systems.

In the meantime on 20th December, the United Nations General Assembly also agreed to designate the 3rd March, as World Wildlife Day, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora.


Giant clothing brand Hanes is in the spotlight for exploiting some of the poorest workers in the world.

Haiti has become an apparel-producing powerhouse as global clothing brands like Hanes move factories there to take advantage of some of the lowest wages in the western hemisphere.  But workers aren't benefiting from the boom -- a new report from the Worker Rights Consortium  has revealed that every single export garment factory in Haiti has been paying workers less than the minimum wage. And as a result, three quarters of Haitian garment workers don’t make enough to afford three full meals a day.

Whilst two of Hanes’s competitors, agreed to meet recently with labor rights advocates and representatives from Haitian unions to make plans to pay workers what they're owed, Hanes has refused to join them.

This isn't the first time Hanes has been in the public eye for trying to keep Haitian workers in poverty. Two years ago, WikiLeaks revealed that the company furiously lobbied the US State Department to stop the Caribbean nation from raising its minimum wage to just $5 a day.

Factories exploit workers in variety of ways: such as refusing to pay overtime or requiring workers to reach totally unrealistic production quotas to get their full wages. On average, Haitian garment workers make more than 30% less than what they’re legally owed.

Hanes could help more than 3,000 workers get millions of dollars in money that its suppliers stole from them as it is the major buyer at several factories, and has huge influence in the industry. Instead, the company is claiming it hasn’t technically broken the law - another example that shows that what is legal is not necessarily what is moral.

Visit the sum of us website to register your concern with Hanes


Crime, corruption, and tax evasion drained US$946.7 billion from the developing world in 2011, up more than 13.7 percent from 2010—when illicit financial outflows totaled US$832.4 billion.  The findings—which peg cumulative illicit financial outflows from developing countries at US$5.9 trillion between 2002 and 2011—are part of a new study published today by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a US-based research and advocacy organisation.

The report, “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011,” is GFI’s 2013 annual update on the amount of money flowing out of developing economies as a result of crime, corruption and tax evasion, and it is the first of GFI’s reports to include data for the year 2011.

“As the world economy sputters along in the wake of the global financial crisis, the illicit underworld is thriving—siphoning more and more money from developing countries each year,” said GFI President Raymond Baker.  “Anonymous shell companies, tax haven secrecy, and trade-based money laundering techniques drained nearly a trillion dollars from the world’s poorest in 2011, at a time when rich and poor nations alike are struggling to spur economic growth.  While global momentum has been building over the past year to curtail this problem, more must be done.  This study should serve as a wake-up call to world leaders: the time to act is now.”


 UNICEF/NYHQ2007-2285/Roger LeMoyn
Nearly 230 million children under the age of five have not had their births officially recorded, excluding them from education, health care and social security, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported.

Birth registration is more than just a right. It’s how societies first recognise and acknowledge a child’s identity and existence,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. She added that registration is also key “to guaranteeing that children are not forgotten, denied their rights or hidden from the progress of their nations.”

Only around 60 per cent of births last year were recorded, with the lowest levels of registration in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, according to ‘Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration.’

Even when children are recorded, one in seven do not have a physical birth certificate as proof of registration.

“All children are born with enormous potential. But if societies fail to count them, and don’t even recognise that they are there, they are more vulnerable to neglect and abuse,” Ms. Gupta said. “Inevitably, their potential will be severely diminished.”

Birth registration not only aids children and their families, but the overall communities and countries. In addition to contributing to a country’s civil registry, birth registration also strengthens the quality of vital statistics, aiding planning and government efficiency, said UNICEF.

Among the reasons for not registering, the report authors cite prohibitive costs, cultural barriers and fears of discrimination or marginalisation.

Unregistered births are a “symptom of the inequities and disparities in a society,” according to the report, with birth of children living in rural or remote areas, from poor families, and to uneducated mothers most likely not to be registered.

In the report, UNICEF highlights innovative approaches to support governments and communities in strengthening their civil and birth registration systems.

See http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46713&Cr=UNICEF&Cr1=#.UqnW3I2GGg5

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