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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Let Us Look Closely At Some Of The UN DAILY NEWS from the UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
28 April, 2008 =========================================================================
Analyzing the news we find that now even the UN makes clear prediction that climate change in Africa is bound to become a security problem with the Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal among the first that must address this inevitable danger. All these countries belong to the Arabized Africa.

But Mr. Ziegler of the UN “Right to Food” Program just shoots his mouth at the US and at the EU for trying to decrease their dependence on imported oil by emulating the great Brazilian experience with biofuels. Rather then being helpful, Mr. Ziegler calls for a moratorium that could only benefit his Arab friends.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon visits now the economic offices of the UN in Vienna and Geneva, and speaks up about the real World needs. He will then meet high level UN officials from Economic and Human Rights offices. He will also meet the foreign ministers of Austria and Slovenia, and the President of Switzerland. Our main attention is drawn to this last meeting and we think that the best reason for his trip could come true if he were to negotiate with the Swiss President’s removing Mr. Ziegler from his UN related functions, as he did enough damage by now. Also, perhaps, if needed, Switzerland could take over from South Africa the hosting of that Durban II event. By bringing the hotheads of that planned disaster to their senses, Switzerland could have the chance to redeem itself from all these other problems that its citizen, Ziegler, managed to create on the world stage. We really do not want to see that the Swiss flag will remain stained for any further length of time.

Further, While in Vienna, in his meetings there, Mr. Ban could obtain further information about farm policy and biofuels. The Austrians were very good at that. When “Gemma Brott Verbrennen” was the anti-ethanol call that was all over the frontpage of the daily “Kurrier” – the Austrians moved to the production of biodiesel made from oil of the ricinus plant in order to avoid the Food-for-fuel misrepresentation of the European agriculture. The Slovenians think in this respect like the Austrians.

UN TO ASSIST AFRICAN FARMERS THREATENED BY CLIMATE CHANGE

Some 10,000 farmers in five African countries, where crops are expected to be badly affected by climate change, are to receive help from the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the form of low-cost rain gauge equipment and roving seminars provided by agricultural experts.

With the help of Spain, WMO will distribute the rain gauges to volunteer farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, and train them in using rainfall data to plan sowing, fertilizer application and harvesting.

The goal of the roving seminars is to support farmers’ self-reliance by supplying them with information on weather and climate risk management.

In West Africa, the area suitable for agriculture, the length of the growing season, and crop yields, especially along the margins of arid and semi-arid areas, are all expected to decrease, according to projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In some African countries, yield from rain-fed farming could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020.

The assistance plan was announced on Friday after a meeting in Niamey, Niger, which was organized by WMO and the State Meteorological Agency of Spain.

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BIOFUEL PRODUCTION IS ‘CRIMINAL PATH’ LEADING TO GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS – UN EXPERT

The United States and the European Union have taken a “criminal path” by contributing to an explosive rise in global food prices through using food crops to produce biofuels, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Speaking at a press conference today in Geneva, Jean Ziegler said that fuel policies pursued by the US and the EU were one of the main causes of the current worldwide food crisis. Mr. Ziegler said that last year the US used a third of its corn crop to create biofuels, while the European Union is planning to have 10 per cent of its petrol supplied by biofuels. The Special Rapporteur has called for a five-year moratorium on the production of biofuels.

Mr. Ziegler also said that speculation on international markets was behind 30 per cent of the increase in food prices. He said that companies such as Cargill, which controls a quarter of all cereal production, have enormous power over the market. He added that hedge funds are also making huge profits from raw materials markets, and called for new financial regulations to prevent such speculation.

The Special Rapporteur warned of worsening food riots and a “horrifying” increase in deaths by starvation before reforms could take effect. Mr. Ziegler was speaking before a meeting today in Bern, Switzerland, between Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of key UN agencies.

Meanwhile, speaking in Rome today, a nutritionist with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said that “global price rises mean that food is literally being taken out of the mouths of hungry children whose parents can no longer afford to feed them.”

Andrew Thorne-Lyman said that even temporarily depriving children of the nutrients they need to grow and thrive can leave permanent scars in terms of stunting their physical growth and intellectual potential. He said that families in the developing world are “finding their buying power has been slashed by food price rises, meaning that they can buy less food or food which isn’t as nutritious.”

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SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN CHAIRS MEETING OF TOP OFFICIALS FROM ACROSS THE UN

The current global food crisis triggered by soaring prices, the safety and security of United Nations personnel and climate change dominated talks today involving Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior officials from the world body.

The topics were discussed at the spring session of the Chief Executives Board, which brings together the heads of the world body’s various entities for regular meetings, in Bern, the Swiss capital, where Mr. Ban is on an official visit.

At a panel in Vienna last Friday, the Secretary-General stressed the urgency of tackling the food issue, noting that it is “very closely interlinked with development issues, climate change, food prices, our fight against disease and other equally important areas.”

He noted that the food crisis has hurt the world’s poorest and pushed 100 million people further into poverty, impeding the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets to slash a host of social ills by 2015.

“This has been a global challenge, so we need to address it in a collective way – globally,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to a forum entitled “The United Nations and the European Union: Joining Forces for the Challenges of the 21st Century.”

Also participating in the events were Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik of Austria and Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Minister of Slovenia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, the Secretary-General said that as a short-run response to the food crises, all humanitarian crises must be addressed.

“In the longer term, the international community, particularly the leaders of the international community, should sit down together on an urgent basis and address how we can, first of all, improve these economic systems, distributions systems, as well as how we can promote the improved production of agricultural products,” he added.

Later today, Mr. Ban is scheduled to meet with Pascal Couchepin, the President of Switzerland.

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