Casablanca- The alarming statistics revealed by the High Commission for Planning (HCP) last week on the rate of unemployment in Morocco have incited Moroccans’ pessimism about the future of employment in the kingdom.Nearly 114,000 Moroccans have joined the camp of jobless citizens and around 10,000 jobs were lost, according to the HCP. A report recently revealed by the same institution has shown Moroccans’ impressions of this rise in unemployment rate.The bulk of Moroccan families have pessimistic speculations for the future of employment in the country. More than 77 percent of Moroccan families now predict that the unemployment rate will rise further in the next 12 months, compared to 75 percent last quarter. Based on HCP’s statistics, Moroccans have also expressed an increasing pessimism toward the development of living conditions in the kingdom. Compared to 2013, Moroccans are 6.4 percent less optimistic about the development of living standards in Morocco.Moroccans’ negative view about the future is also clear in their predictions for the development of financial conditions. Only 57 percent of Moroccan families say that their incomes entirely cover their expenses, whereas more than 37 percent say that they mostly spend their incomes and eventually have to borrow money to cover their expenses. Only 5.8 percent of Moroccan families say they are able to save a portion of their incomes.As for the purchasing of durable goods, the majority of Moroccans (54 percent) said that current financial conditions did not allow them to purchase durable goods, whereas 22.4 percent said they could.Former governmental decisions to raise the prices of some vital goods possibly played a part in amplifying Moroccans’ pessimism about the development of living standards in the kingdom. More than 90 percent of Moroccan families said the price of vital products increased significantly.Edited by Liz Yaslik
New York – Morocco on Monday reiterated its commitment to promote international peace and security, stressing that the UN remains the “lead agency” to guarantee peace and security in the world.This is the place to “reiterate my country’s commitment for peace and international security,” Morocco’s ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, said at the UN Security Council Open Debate on United Nations Peacekeeping: Regional Partnerships and their Evolution.On this occasion, Mr. Hilale expressed the kingdom’s determination to “continue to engage, under the auspices of the United Nations, for the promotion and consolidation of peace throughout the world”In this regard, he said “the international community would undoubtedly benefit from strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations.” He underlined that such cooperation “shall go beyond the political support based on universal principles, raison d’être of the United Nations, to include predictable and adequate logistical support.”He also stressed that the UN, through the Security Council, remains the “main guarantor of peace and security in the world,” and the role of regional and sub-regional organizations shall remain consistent with the provisions of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.
Marrakech – Morocco, which has always been an outstanding model of cultural coexistence and interaction between Islam and other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, has played a leading role in interfaith dialogue, King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, said on Monday.One of the glorious pages in this history was the emergence of the Moroccan-Andalusian civilization, which brought together various communities, the King said in a message to the participants in the conference “The rights of religious minorities in Islamic lands”, which kicked off Monday morning in Marrakech.“This was especially the case when large numbers of Muslims moved from Andalusia to Morocco in particularly difficult conditions. With them, there were also Jews, who joined a Jewish community, which had existed in the country since the pre-Islamic era”, the Sovereign underlined. In this regard, the Monarch stressed that the Jewish community in Morocco was never treated by Muslims as a minority, as its members were involved in all fields of activity and were present at all levels of society, noting that Morocco perpetuates the same tradition by enabling Christians of all denominations, who reside legally in the country, to perform their religious rites, according to the church to which they belong.“As Commander of the Faithful and defender of the faith, I am committed to protecting the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike”, the King said, underling his commitment that “Moroccan Jews enjoy the same constitutional rights as their fellow Muslim citizens”, through joining political parties, participating in elections, setting up associations and playing a key role in the economy.“We, in the Kingdom of Morocco, see no reason for denying religious minorities any of their rights. We do not tolerate a violation of this kind being perpetrated in the name of Islam, nor do we tolerate any Muslim being involved in such an infringement”, the Sovereign stressed.The Moroccan monarch noted that “our management of the religious domain in Morocco focuses on preventing any distorted interpretation of the revealed texts, particularly what relates to jihad a question on which our Ulema issued an unequivocal statement a few weeks ago”.The Royal message underlines that today’s world needs “religious values because they embody the virtues we should uphold before the Creator. We also need them because they consolidate our propensity for tolerance, love and cooperation in promoting righteousness and piety”.“We need common values not just to nurture tolerance, but also to derive from them the energy and fortitude that will enable Man to take a long hard look at himself; we need them because they can help us to rally together in order to enjoy a life free from war, greed, extremism and hatred a life in which crises and human suffering can be reduced as a prelude to the elimination of the risk of religious conflict”, the Sovereign concluded.With MAP
The Russian fighter’s October 6 victory over Conor McGregor in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 229 made headlines globally. Afterwards, several heads of state have warmly congratulated Nurmagomedov in person, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Diab Bin Zayed Al NahyanIn an interview with TMZ Sports on Wednesday, Abdelaziz stated that Khabib will “probably meet King Mohammed VI next week.”The manager mentioned the possibility of a rematch with McGregor in exchange for a large sum of money. “Maybe for a whole bunch of money … maybe we give a rematch to the guy that was just killed.”He added that Nurmagomedov has plans in Africa to help people and fund the digging of wells and school building.Abdelaziz requested at least $50 million to get Nurmagomedov into a cage or boxing ring.Because the UFC 229 fight was held in Las Vegas, the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended Nurmagomedov and has withheld his $2 million UFC 229 prize pending a full investigation into a post-match incident between Nurmagomedov and McGregor.After the match, Nurmagomedov jumped into McGregor’s team’s area and started fighting them. He said he was reacting to McGregor’s insults of Nurmagomedov’s Muslim religion and family at press meetings before the match.Nurmagomedov’s future with the UFC is uncertain. The organization withdrew Nurmagomedov’s training partner, Zubaira Tukhukov, from a match with McGregor’s training partner, Artem Lobov. The fight was scheduled for late October, but Tukhukov was involved in the Las Vegas fight and even punched McGregor, according to MMAFighting.Nurmagomedov has denounced the UFC’s decision and threatened to leave the organization.Will a Nurmagomedov-Mayweather boxing match happen?A few days after Nurmagomedov’s victory over McGregor, the Russian fighter called out the undefeated American boxer, Floyd Mayweather, to a boxing match.There has not been an official statement that the match will take place.However, UFC President Dana White insisted on a match under mixed martial arts rules, not another boxing match like the one between Mayweather and McGregor last year.“We went over there, we boxed him and if he wants to do it again, he’s gotta come fight in the UFC,” White said to ESPN.“I don’t think it’s very realistic at all but I didn’t think the boxing match was either and it happened so we’ll see,” he added.
BEIJING — Asian stocks rose Monday after news reports said Washington and Beijing are close to reaching an agreement as early as this month to end their costly tariff war.Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney advanced after Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, said China was offering to ease tariffs and other restrictions on U.S. farm, chemical, auto and other products. They said Washington would remove most sanctions on Chinese imports.A deal might be completed in time to be signed by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping this month, the reports said. But they cautioned the two sides still were negotiating on the issue that sparked the dispute: Chinese plans for state-led creation of global technology competitors that Washington, Europe and other trading partners say violate Beijing’s market-opening obligations.The battle between the two biggest global economies has rattled global financial markets for months. Investors worry it will weigh on global economic growth that already is showing signs of slowing.“Speculation that both the U.S. and China are close to signing a deal will keep market players slightly upbeat,” Nicholas Mapa and Prakash Sakpal of ING said in a report.The Shanghai Composite Index rose 3 per cent to a nine-month high of 3,083.44. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 1.0 per cent to 21,822.04.Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.7 per cent to 29,012.17 and Seoul’s Kospi lost 0.2 per cent to 2,190.66. Sydney’s S&P-ASX gained 0.4 per cent to 6,218.90.New Zealand and Singapore advanced while Taiwan retreated. Indian markets were closed for a holiday.Investors are watching this week’s session of China’s ceremonial national legislature for announcements of policy on currency, trade, industrial development and possible economic stimulus.The legislature is due to endorse a law that would address one portion of foreign complaints about Beijing’s regulation system by discouraging officials from pressuring companies to hand over technology.Forecasters expect an official 2019 growth target of 6 per cent to be announced. Few major changes are expected, but economists expect more government spending to shore up cooling growth.WALL STREET: Health care and technology companies helped lift U.S. stocks, breaking a three-day losing streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and giving the benchmark index its fifth straight weekly gain. The S&P 500 climbed 0.7 per cent to 2,803.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 per cent to 26,026.32. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.8 per cent to 7,595.35.ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 10 cents to $55.90 per barrel in electronics trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.40 on Friday to $55.80. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 15 cents to $65.22 per barrel in London. It lost $1.24 the previous session to $65.07.CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 111.94 yen from Friday’s 111.92 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1364 from $1.1411.Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Chinese importers have stopped buying Canadian canola seed, according to an industry group.Canola Council of Canada president Jim Everson says canola seed exporters are reporting that Chinese importers are unwilling to purchase Canadian canola seed at this time.Earlier this month, Beijing suspended canola imports from Richardson International Ltd. for what one Chinese official alleged was the detection of hazardous organisms in the company’s product.Everson says Canadian canola seed exporters who normally ship to China have no alternative but to supply customers in other countries.Companies that are members of the council include Viterra Inc., Louis Dreyfus Company, Cargill Ltd. and Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd.China’s decision to reject shipments of one of Canada’s key exports comes with the two countries in a diplomatic dispute that erupted after the December arrest of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the United States. The Canadian Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Lyft is raising the price target for its initial public offering in a sign of the excitement surrounding the stock market debut of a ride-hailing service.With the revision disclosed Wednesday, Lyft is now seeking $70 to $72 per share, up from its previous goal of $62 to $68.The adjustment comes after Lyft’s management bankers spent a week meeting with investors to explain why buying its stock makes sense even though the company has an uninterrupted history of losses.The higher price target implies investors are clamouring to buy Lyft’s stock. The proof will come Thursday when a final IPO price is determined, setting the stage for the stock to begin trading Friday morning.The Associated Press
Rabat – An Algerian military court sentenced, on Tuesday, September 24, Said Bouteflika, brother of the former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to 15 years in prison. Bouteflika faced charges of “attacking the authority of the army” and “conspiracy against the authority of the state.”After two days of hearings, Blida’s public prosecution office requested a 20-year prison sentence for the defendant. Said Bouteflika has been seen as the power behind the Bouteflika regime, following his brother’s stroke in 2013. Algeria also sentenced two former secret service chiefs and a political party head on similar charges.In a series of protests, which started on February 22, Algerians have been denouncing the widespread corruption amongst the country’s political elite. The protesters are calling for accountability and for an end to the impunity enjoyed by elites.The Algerian protesters demanded radical change for the whole “corrupt system,” including the dismissal of every official from Bouteflika’s era. The former president was in power from 1999 to 2019.Several other senior government officials have been placed in custody, including Algeria’s two former prime ministers, Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal.Read also: Algerian Army Orders Police to Bar Protesters from CapitalDespite threats to arrest protesters, Algeria flocked to the capital for another wave of protests on Friday, September 20Last week, Algerian army chief Gaid Salah ordered the police to arrest protesters entering Algeria.“I have instructed the national gendarmerie to deal with these actions with firmness,” said General Ahmed Gaid Salah.Salah said that orders had been issued to stop “vehicles and coaches used” to bring protestors to Algiers by seizing them and “fining their owners.”The chief, regarded as Algeria’s de facto leader after the resignation of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is also insisting on the importance of an election before the end of this year.Interim president Abdelkader Bensalah has announced that the election will take place on December 12.
MADRID — Spanish police say they have arrested four people as part of a judicial probe into a money laundering racket allegedly involving funds coming from Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA.Police have confirmed Spanish media reports to The Associated Press that the four detainees are also facing charges of corruption in international monetary transactions and the falsification of documents, in addition to money laundering.The arrests took place on Monday when Spanish police say they raided eight locations.The investigation is being ordered by an investigative judge in Madrid.The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Lawmakers are calling on the federal government to better support Canadian farmers who they say are more at risk of mental-health issues like stress, depression and suicidal thoughts than other segments of the population.In a new report Tuesday, members of an all-party parliamentary committee made 10 recommendations — including ensuring the government considers and addresses any potential impacts from new policies on the well-being of agricultural producers.The MPs also recommended the public-awareness campaigns to deal with an increasing number of incidents of intimidation, cyberbullying and threats faced by farmers from people who take issue with their occupations and practices.The report says farmers struggle with many challenges — such as market volatility, debt, long work days, unpredictable weather and loneliness.Committee chair and New Brunswick Liberal MP Pat Finnigan says the well-being of farmers is critical because the agriculture sector feeds Canadians and helps drive the entire economy.Alberta Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen says the incidence of mental-health problems within the farming sector is reaching crisis proportions.Dreeshen says agriculture producers and their families are increasingly experiencing “high levels of stress, depression and even suicidal thoughts — the causes are many and varied.”He added that farmers sometimes face hardship from government policies, such as the carbon tax and concessions made in recent trade agreements.The report is based on testimony from farmers, mental-health experts and government officials.The Canadian Press
18 January 2007The reconstruction of Lebanon, the conflict in Darfur and the situation in Somalia will be on the agenda when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heads to Europe and Africa next week for his first overseas visit since taking the reins at the United Nations on 1 January. Mr. Ban’s first stop will be Brussels, where he will meet European Commission officials and Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament, as well as Belgium’s King Albert II and its Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.The Secretary-General’s spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists today that Mr. Ban will then head to Paris to participate in a conference, to be hosted by French President Jacques Chirac, on the reconstruction and redevelopment of Lebanon following last year’s war between Hizbollah and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).The Lebanese Government is expected to present an economic reform plan to the conference that will include measures to tackle the country’s debt sustainability problem and restore its foundations for achieving sustained financial growth.Mr. Ban then travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), home of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world, where he hopes to hold talks with President Joseph Kabila on continuing the process of democratization after decades of war, dictatorship and misrule in the vast African country. He also plans to meet peacekeepers to express his personal gratitude for their efforts.Ms. Montas said Mr. Ban will travel next to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Union (AU) summit, where the conflict in Darfur and the situation in Somalia are expected to dominate the agenda.The final stop on the trip will be in Nairobi, where the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet staff at the UN regional office.Ms. Montas also confirmed that Mr. Ban will attend a meeting of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – which comprises the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia – that is slated to be held in Washington, D.C., on 2 February.
31 July 2007The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) today lauded the signing of a €4 million contract between the European Commission (EC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to clear remaining mines inside the buffer zone patrolled by the world body. The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) today lauded the signing of a €4 million contract between the European Commission (EC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to clear remaining mines inside the buffer zone patrolled by the world body.In a press release, the mission commended the EC for its continued financial assistance “to continue the important task of rendering the buffer zone free of all mines and ultimately returning the land to civilian use.”To date, the UNDP – through its Partnership for the Future, Mine Action Centre programme which was launched in November 2004 – has released more than 2 million square metres of land and removed over 2,800 mines from the Mediterranean island.Last November, Nicosia, the capital, was declared mine-free after the Partnership cleared the area of its last mines, capping off a two-year campaign.UNFICYP pledged its full support to the Partnership in completing “this important work” in the buffer zone, which is 180 kilometres long and covers around three per cent of the surface area of Cyprus.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention examined the level of freedom in centres for irregular migrants and asylum-seekers during a two-week official visit to Rome, Naples, Milan and eastern Sicily that ended today.At a press conference in Rome, members of the working group noted that the Italian Government had largely ignored the findings and recommendations of a 2006 commission it had established to study the legal basis under which detainees are kept in special centres set up for migrants and asylum-seekers are detained. Although the group described the answers it received from Italian authorities and civil society regarding the massive recent influx of migrants escaping war, persecution and poverty searching for a better life as “admirable,” the experts warned the “strength of commitment of a government to human rights – among them due process guarantees – is really put to the test when faced with a real or perceived emergency.”According to the experts, Italy currently faces three emergencies: the fight against mafia crimes, the alleged rise in common criminality by illegal immigrants, and the post-11 September 2001 threat of international terrorism. Citing a recent amendment to the criminal code making the status of foreigners living in Italy without a permit an aggravating circumstance for any offence as an example, the working group said the Government had resorted to “extraordinary measures involving the deprivation of liberty” in response to the country’s emergencies.“In other words, if an Italian citizen and an irregularly present foreigner steal a car together, the foreigner is to receive a significantly higher sentence than the Italian,” explained Aslan Abashidze, one of the independent experts on the working group. The investigation of the working group – which reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council – paid particular attention to the situation of detainees belonging to vulnerable groups, including juvenile offenders and persons living with mental disabilities. “We are very impressed with Italy’s juvenile justice system,” said Mr. Abashidze, adding that “Italy could serve as a model to many other countries in this respect.” 14 November 2008A group of independent United Nations experts today expressed “significant human rights concerns” over the legal rights of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers in Italy, while otherwise acknowledging the strength of the country’s judicial system.
3 December 2009Global measles deaths have fallen by 78 per cent within the past decade, with vaccinations saving some 4.3 million lives, but the disease could make a deadly comeback if funding and political will are not sustained, a United Nations-backed study warned today. All regions except South-East Asia – where India alone, with its 1-billion strong population, accounted for three out of four measles deaths in 2008 – have achieved the UN goal of reducing measles mortality by 90 per cent from 2000 to 2010, two years ahead of target, according to the Measles Initiative, a partnership led by UN and United States organizations.Overall, the annual number of deaths worldwide has plunged from an estimated 733,000 in 2000 to about 164,000 last year.But the Measles Initiative cautioned that a let-up in effort could send annual deaths surging to more than half a million in 2013. “So much has been achieved in the past several years thanks to the hard work and commitment of national governments and donors, but with only two years until the target date, there are signs of stalling momentum,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said.“This is a highly contagious disease that can quickly take advantage of any lapse in effort,” she added, citing a funding gap of $59 million for 2010. Immunization experts fear the combined effect of decreased political and financial commitment could result in an estimated 1.7 million measles-related deaths between 2010 and 2013, stressing that even the current reduced rate of 450 deaths a day is still hundreds too many for a disease that can be easily prevented.In the hold-out region of South-East Asia, which beyond India includes heavily populated Indonesia and Bangladesh, measles deaths declined by only 46 per cent between 2000 and 2008, with delayed implementation of large-scale vaccination campaigns in India largely accountable for the lack of progress.“Three out of four children who died from measles in 2008 were in India,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said. “India’s plan to scale up its measles vaccination campaign in many parts of the country is very encouraging.” Kathy Calvin, Chief Executive Officer for the UN Foundation, a public charity created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes, noted that more children than ever are scheduled to be vaccinated in 2010. “Next year, some of the most populous countries – China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Nigeria, and Ethiopia – are planning national immunization campaigns. We’re looking at a pivotal year for measles vaccination and the financial commitments haven’t kept up with the demand,” she stressed. Measles is among the world’s most contagious diseases and one of the leading causes of death among children. Even the healthy and well-nourished, if unvaccinated, are at risk, with pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis among the severe complications. But in vulnerable populations the disease is deadly. The Measles Initiative – a partnership launched in 2001 and led by the UN Foundation, UNICEF, WHO, the American Red Cross and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide. It works with several key partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Japanese Agency for Development Cooperation, among others.
28 December 2010A large crowd today attacked a three-vehicle convoy of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire in the commercial capital of Abidjan, slashing one soldier with a machete and setting one of the vehicles on fire. The attack happened in the Yopougon neighbourhood of Abidjan when the convoy carrying 22 soldiers of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) was on its way from the country’s interior.Calm was restored after the intervention of the defence and security forces chief of staff, General Philippe Mangou, UNOCI said in a statement.“UNOCI vigorously condemns this attack and reiterates its determination to pursue its work in the service of the Ivorian people,” the statement added.The UN envoy in Côte d’Ivoire, meanwhile, met with the presidents of three West African States who are in the country to deliver a message from regional leaders urging Laurent Gbagbo to hand over power to the winner of the presidential election, Alassane Ouattara.Y. J. Choi, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, briefed presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone on the electoral process in which Mr. Ouattara emerged as the winner. Mr. Gbagbo, the outgoing president, has refused to step down insisting that he was the victor of the run-off poll held on 28 November.The three presidents are in Côte d’Ivoire to deliver a messaged from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who met in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Friday and recognized Mr. Ouattara as the duly elected president, while demanding that Mr. Gbagbo relinquish power.At the ECOWAS summit in Abuja, the leaders envisaged a possible military intervention to restore constitutional order in Côte d’Ivoire.The UN and the wider international community have also recognized Mr. Ouattara as the rightful president of Côte d’Ivoire.In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today convened a video conference with UNOCI’s leadership and Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who is visiting the West African country, focusing on the post-electoral crisis.Mr. Le Roy arrived in Abidjan yesterday and met with Mr. Ouattara and other officials. He told a news conference that his request to meet with Mr. Gbagbo was not acknowledged by the outgoing president’s office.He is in Côte d’Ivoire primarily to show support for UNOCI at a time when it is working with limited resources to address the difficult political situation facing the country. The mission is also confronted with a population and political leaders “who are partially hostile to its presence,” Mr. Le Roy said.Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency today reported that Ivorian refugees continue to flee into eastern Liberia’s Nimba County.Staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and local authorities have recorded a total of 15,120 refugees from western Cote d’Ivoire, and there are reports that another 4,000 people have arrived, the agency said.The majority of the refugees are women and children, with 62 per cent of them listed as being under the age of 18. The refugees told UNHCR that they fled because they fear that the political deadlock could lead to civil war.The influx is straining the resources of the host communities amid limited supplies of clean water, shelter and food. UNHCR teams are distributing emergency aid across nearly 20 villages.Cote
The sector also delivered close to 20 per cent of the world’s electricity production, according to the report commissioned by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), whose secretariat is supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).“The global performance of renewable energy despite headwinds has been a positive constant in turbulent times,” said Mohamed El-Ashry, Chairman of REN21’s Steering Committee. “Today, more people than ever before derive energy from renewables as capacity continues to grow, prices continue to fall, and shares of global energy from renewable energy continue to increase.”Global solar power generation doubled last year compared to the previous year, thanks to government incentive programmes and the continued fall in the price of Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, according to the “Renewables 21: Global Status Report.”Germany installed more PV in 2010 than the entire world added in 2009. PV markets in Japan and the United States almost doubled relative to 2009.Globally, wind power added the most new capacity, followed by hydropower and solar PV, but for the first time ever, Europe added more PV than wind capacity.Renewable energy policies continue to be the main driver of the renewable energy growth, according to the report. By early this year, at least 119 countries had some type of policy target or renewable support policy at the national level, more than doubling from 55 countries in early 2005. More than half of those countries are in the developing world. Last year, investment reached a record $211 billion in renewables – about one-third more than the $160 billion invested in 2009 – and more than five times the amount invested in 2004.Funds invested in renewable energy companies, and in utility-scale generation and biofuel projects increased to $143 billion, with developing countries surpassing developed economies for the first time.“The increased renewable energy activity in developing countries highlighted in this year’s report is very encouraging, since most of the future growth in energy demand is expected to occur in developing countries,” said Mr. El-Ashry.“More and more of the world’s people are gaining access to energy services through renewables, not only to meet their basic needs, but also to enable them to develop economically,” he added. 13 July 2011The renewable energy sector has continued to perform well despite the global economic slowdown, cuts in incentives, and low natural-gas prices, according to a United Nations-backed report unveiled today, which shows that the sector supplied an estimated 16 per cent of global energy last year.
13 October 2011The soccer ace and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Zinédine Zidane, will travel to Mali next week to highlight the country’s progress in the effort to alleviate poverty. “Today I want to help,” said Zidane, who has been UNDP’s Goodwill Ambassador for 10 years. “Ending poverty takes each and every one of us. I, too, lived in difficult places where we had very little,” said the Frenchman, who retired from professional football in 2006 and is now Director of Sport for Real Madrid FC.Zidane’s trip to the West African country, which will include visits to women’s and youth empowerment projects, as well as income-generating initiatives among some of Mali’s poorest populations, will coincide with the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is marked on 17 October.He will meet women in the Malian capital, Bamako, who are involved in a cooperative that makes shea butter products, as well as others who manage a multi-use engine that powers machines, including a grinding mill and battery charger, thus reducing the amount of time local women spend on household chores.Mr. Zidane will also participate in a discussion with young people on the role they can play in community development and visit an environmental protection project that promotes sustainable farming techniques.Mali has made significant progress in poverty reduction in recent years under the eight internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include action against hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, gender inequality and environmental degradation.Primary school enrolment has risen from less than half of school-age children to over 90 per cent during the past decade, and more than 69 percent of Malians now have access to clean drinking water. Between 2001 and 2006, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate dropped from 1.7 to 1.3 per cent.Despite these achievements, challenges remain in nutrition, youth employment, sustainable development and maternal and child health.“Zinédine Zidane’s visit to Mali is significant to draw attention to what is possible when different actors come together with a common goal,” said Maurice Dewulf, the acting UNDP Resident Representative in Mali. “It’s a global message of encouragement to all those who struggle daily against poverty.”
22 October 2011As Tunisians prepare to vote on Sunday in the first elections to be held in the wake of this year’s Arab Spring reform movement, United Nations staff are in place to assist the country to stage the ballots as peacefully and smoothly as possible. A team of up to 15 UN electoral experts has been on the ground in recent months in the North African country to offer advice and support to both Tunisia’s independent electoral authorities as they conduct the polls and to political parties, candidates and civil society groups as they participate in the electoral process – many of them for the first time.Tomorrow’s election for the 217 members of a constituent assembly, which is tasked with drafting a new constitution, is the first of its kind in any North African or Middle Eastern country that has been swept up by the Arab Spring movement. Thousands of candidates are competing.It is a pioneering moment, says Mohammed Belhocine, the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Tunisia and the Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in an interview with the UN News Centre on the eve of the poll.“We know this is being watched all over the world,” he says, noting that Tunisians were the first people in the Arab Spring to oust their long-standing government regime. “We hear that the Arab world is not suited for democracy. But this can show that a smooth, peaceful transition is the only way to go.”Dr. Belhocine’s comments are echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said last night in a statement issued by his spokesperson that he will be following the election with keen interest.“Tunisia’s example has inspired the region and the world, and these elections are of great importance in the country’s democratic transition, providing the Tunisian people with an historic opportunity to express their will through the ballot box,” the statement said.“It is encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm and preparedness the people and officials have shown to make the elections a success. This is a Tunisia-led and Tunisian-owned process to which the United Nations has provided technical electoral support at the request of Tunisia’s authorities.”That technical support has come at virtually every step of the electoral process, explains Dr. Belhocine, from setting up the legal framework for the polls to accrediting observers to determining the procedures for counting and announcing the results.UN staff have been placed inside key institutions to work alongside their Tunisian counterparts, giving advice and offering expertise and comparative experiences from other countries to help guide them.“We always emphasize that our support is impartial, neutral. We don’t interfere with the final decision – we just provide them with the knowledge and expertise so they can do the job.”The official says the initial stages of the electoral process earlier this year were difficult, with several misunderstandings between Tunisian electoral authorities and the UN and other outside groups. But he says the relationship has become much more cooperative as the elections have drawn closer.Dr. Belhocine is confident that Tunisia can have a successful election, citing the population’s high education levels and respect for public institutions as just two examples of why the country is ready.“We share the optimism of the authorities that we have a process that can go to its end without too much trouble or problems.”In the end, however, he stresses that the elections represent only one step in a much longer process to help Tunisia build up the institutions and processes it needs to flourish as a democracy after decades of autocracy. A process of “electoral consultation” lies ahead, with presidential and parliamentary polls scheduled after that.“Our assistance doesn’t stop after the election. The situation is still fragile, and we will work with whomever wins to ensure that the administration of elections is carried out with quality.”
In a statement to the Assembly’s Second Committee, which deals with economic and financial issues, delivered by his chef de cabinet Mutlaq M. Al-Qahtani, Mr. Al-Nasser noted that world leaders at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro set out the principles of sustainable development and highlighted that no one nation can achieve sustainable development alone.“Over the past 20 years governments, businesses, and civil society have accepted this paradigm as imperative for making progress on the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental,” he said. “Today, however the world is facing new and emerging challenges – challenges ranging from the food and energy crisis to the global recession to climate change. Of course, the ever-present challenge of poverty eradication looms large. All these factors make the situation today much more complex. Implementation has proven difficult and many commitments remain largely unfulfilled.”He stressed that next year’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, offers an opportunity to pay special attention to the means of implementation.“For a concrete outcome, Member States are encouraged to agree on a framework of action which could include, among others things, a timeline for implementing sustainable development commitments and a set of sustainable development action goals,” he said.Calling for strengthening the institutional framework of sustainable development and facilitating concrete solutions to issues related to the transfer of technology, he urged Member States to set out concrete actions to bridge the gaps in achieving full and effective implementation.“Supporting sustainable development requires integrated solutions, a global partnership, including triangular cooperation, and broad public participation,” he said. “I therefore call on the renewed commitment and political will of the international community to support financing for development and national capacity-building efforts, in particular for least developed countries (LDCs).” 25 October 2011With the world facing new challenges, from food and energy crises to global recession to climate change, achieving sustainable development is more complex than ever, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser warned today, calling for concrete actions and timelines.
Most tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean and connected seas, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Three tsunamis have struck that region recently – Samoa in 2009, Chile in 2010 and Japan in 2011.The test scheduled for 9 and 10 November, known as PacWave11, is organized under the aegis of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and will be carried out in two phases.In its first phase, the exercise will consist of nine different scenarios to allow each participating country to respond to a regional or local source tsunami based on powerful earthquake events generated off the shores of the Philippines, Vanuatu, Tonga, Ecuador, Central America or Japan’s Ryukyu Islands.Countries engaged in the test will choose one of these scenarios and opt for a region or local event to which they would have to react.In the second phase, which will be carried out simultaneously after receipt of warning messages, the authorities will test all the necessary steps to respond to a warning prior to alerting the public.Simulated warnings will be sent out to national focal points by the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Centre (Japan), the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (United States) and the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (US).The Commission set up the International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific in 1965, following the major tsunami of 1960 that hit the coast of Chile and claimed close to 5,000 lives.The purpose of the Group is to coordinate the ongoing development and enhancement of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Systems and to promote the establishment of national risk assessments, alert and response programmes. 4 November 2011Some 30 Pacific Rim countries are to take part next week in a United Nations-backed tsunami warning exercise to improve their ability to respond to an alert and enhance regional coordination in the event of a disaster.