Nature

Singapore is proudly known as The Garden City by its citizens. The nickname makes every bit of sense – the city is investing in environmental-friendly projects and is committed to sustainability.

Gardens by the Bay

What comes to one’s mind when one hears of Singapore? Many would say a high-tech, advanced city-state with a dense population and a praiseworthy economic performance. But there’s much more to one of the most innovative communities of the Eastern world as indeed Singapore has been investing heavily in sustainability, green projects and innovative policies – a long-term commitment that should serve as an example for other countries to follow.

There are three fields where the city stands out when it comes to green innovation: urban planning, water management and clean energy. It’s all connected – green buildings, mandatory since 2008, help people to save water, cool temperatures down naturally and improve the quality of the air. They also provide healthier, open spaces for adults and children.

In urban planning, for example, Singapore has set a rule for new developments in the Marina Bay area whereby developers must comply with a 100% greenery replacement policy. It’s also in the same area that the city has created one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world and set aside a 250 acres of green area named Gardens by the Bay. Many public buildings have now their own green terraces. Connected with one another, they make jogging tracks up in the sky!

The city aims to attain by 2030 a 80% score in the environmental performance rating called Green Mark, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. In Marina Bay, visitors can find Supertrees which collect solar energy by day and by night perform a beautiful light show. Singapore has also an electric car project called Eva Taxi, a collaborative project developed by the local university that will transform public transportation while saving energy.

Regarding water management, Singapore has invested in the reuse of reclaimed water, rainwater collection system and dessalination. Committed to building a water-conscious society, the city has won many prizes for its efforts on public and private management of water and is considered as a benchmakr in the use of innovation in the sustainable use of water.

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is on the frontline of innovation for good!

Biodiversity is the ecosystem that has shaped the environment which allowed for human life to exist millions of years ago. Preserving this ecosystem is thus key issue to our survival, failing that, then this would pose a serious threat to human existence, as heralded by the extinction of a number of other living species.

Photo: UNDP

In Greek mythology, Flora and Fauna were goddesses who represented many aspects of ancient life. While Flora, goddess of spring, would be used as a symbol of youth and fertility, Fauna was mainly described as a strong female figure who could foresee the future. According to the elders, Fauna’s songs resonated the fate of humankind.

Which fate would Fauna be singing today? Come every spring, may we still see any future for youth and fertility? Living in a world where technology allows for men to conquer space in search for other viable ecosystems, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are still huge sources of concern on earth. SDG 15 is a call for the protection of life on land: not just animals but everything around us – trees, fungi, mountains, land and native populations.

According to UNDP, progress in preserving and sustainably using Earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems is uneven. The good news is that more forests are being protected and many countries are putting policies and certifications in place to safeguard their ecosystems. But the effort made by governments and NGOs is not enough. Many key biodiversity areas are still under threat as they are not protected. Even when they are, the lack of inspection, added to corruption, make preservation more difficult. Land productivity has been declining since 1998, especially in South America and Africa, which aggravates desertification, security issues and land conflicts. The UN estimates that more than 1 billion people are currently endangered due to these problems.

The international community is committed to support and conserve biodiversity, either by signing agreements or by donating bilateral funds to biodiversity projects. Apart from that, NGOs are tirelessly working to raise awareness of the urgent ‘life on land’ cause.

Horyou is proud to host organizations such as ANDA, the first and largest animal news agency in Latin America. Based in Brazil, with more than 1.5 visitors a month, ANDA is an active voice on animal rights and shares news about scientific tests on animals and poaching, as well as the appalling conditions in farms, among other critical topics. They are trying hard to enforce SDG 15. Are you willing to do the same?

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps protect life on land in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

The Sustainable Development Goal 14 is often overlooked. What many people forget, indeed, is the fact that we live in an ecosystem. The glass of water we drink, the rains and moist that help farmers produce our food, the climate that surrounds us, and even the air that we breathe, it’s all ultimately connected and regulated by the oceans.

Photo: UNDP

The SDG 14 aims to preserve life under water in order to guarantee life above water – seas and oceans are being constantly threatened by climate change, overfishing and pollution; and we face their consequences on a daily basis. The acidification of oceans, apart from causing the extinction of creatures like corals and shelled molluscs, also affects all the food chain, including fishes and seafood that in many countries are the main sources of protein.

According to UNDP, 16% of the 63 large marine ecosystems are at high risk. This is due to eutrophication, a name given by an excessive amount of nutrients in water and dense plant growth, which causes the death of marine species. The most vulnerable areas are the Gulf of Mexico, Western Europe, Southern and Eastern Asia.

The solution lies in government policies and commitments, as marine protected areas must be created and well-managed, with strategies to combat overfishing and incentive small-scale and sustainable fisheries. But we can do more! Many projects are engaged with the protection of the oceans and sea life and we, as consumers, have the power to influence companies and people to respect and protect life under water.

On the Horyou platform, organizations like Maradentro, based in Brazil, take a scientific approach to raise awareness about the risks that marine life is facing. Our community is always highlighting the issue in our blog and through discussions on our platform. You can also be part of this conversation!

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps protect life below water in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

Barcelona is hosting its 8th annual Corporate Social Responsibility Week, an event which connects the public sector to companies and non-profit organizations to discuss the recent developments in CSR. Horyou team has visited the venue and reports on some success stories.

8th CSR Week Barcelona took place from 14th to 18th November

What can a food bank do about global warming? Why should a healthcare and beauty products industry career coach unemployed women? Those are merely signs that CSR is pushing companies to go beyond their backyard. We all find profit in a better world.

The 8th edition of the annual CSR Week in Barcelona was an indication that many companies are trying to run the extra mile through their environmental and social actions. On a panel titled «Conferencias Soc-Eco-Amb», held on Tuesday, four organizations from very diverse industries showcased their actions.

Miguel Ángel Trabado, Henkel Beauty and Healthcare regional head of Professional Partnership Services (PPS), shared the «Fundación Quiero Trabajo» experience inaugurated this year. The project provides hairdressing, clothing, styling and professional coaching to unemployed women, helping them to recover from a job loss and restore their self-confidence. So far, 53 women have received assessment and advice, and 71% have found a new job. «It’s important to notice that most of the work is done by volunteers, and the great majority are women as well», he said. It is a global project that has produced remarkable results in Spain, with a high rate of successful job placements.

Speaking for Metro de Madrid on its recently launched CSR Policy, in line with the 11th and 13th UN Sustainable Development Goals on Sustainable Cities and Climate Action respectively, Monica Mariscal insisted on the company’s commitment to invest in innovation and technology in order to deliver the best user travel experience. Metro de Madrid is thus reusing 80% of its consumed water and, in 2017, it will reduce by 25% its energy consumption. Insisting on the responsibility to cater for the vast diversity of its users, she disclosed that «From a social perspective, the company has a commitment to diversity, and is building accessible stations and training both employees and people with disability to better use the metro». The goal is to have 73% of all stations accessible to people with disability by 2030.

Ana Gonzales talks about the CSR and Environment projects in Caprabo

As for the national supermarket chain Caprabo and its microdonations program, it is striving to reduce food waste, as well as to support people in need. Hence, the company donate small quantities of its unsold products – a pack of eggs in which just one is broken, for instance -, to non-profit organizations or food banks. This sounds simple but it requires some logistics in relation to food preservation and employee training to send out only items that are safe for consumption. According to Ana Gonzales, in charge of CSR and Environment for Caprabo, «The program is a success as it helps to feed 788 families per year. It also reduces food waste by more than 2,000 tons».

Caprabo micro donations go to organizations like Banc dels Aliments de Barcelona, a food bank that provides 18,000 tons of food to 137,000 people in Catalonia. In addition to putting meals on needy families tables, the organization has recently signed an agreement with the public sector by which it is working on reducing CO2 emissions. According to Joan Bosch, Economic Resources Coordinator, it is an extra challenge they are happy to take. «We have changed all our lamps to LED and are looking forward to reducing our emissions by more than 2,300 tons of CO2 in 2017», he stated. It is all done thanks to volunteering work and donations, and we aim higher each year. «Poverty is more intense and chronic than ever. We cover only 27% of families in need, and we expect to improve this number and the quality of what people are eating», he added. It will be done, of course, with lower emissions and the tireless commitment to building a better society.

An exhibition inaugurated this week in Barcelona discusses the influence of human behavior on Earth and casts a different light on our world

It’s 2100 and we have a very, very different world. There is no food for all and water is an overpriced good. Lands are dry – well, not all lands. Cattle and fertile farms prosper in Siberia, Greenland or Alaska, but big parts of Latin America, Africa and Europe are now desertified. Does it sound like a nightmare or a prefiguration of the future? Or is this the beginning of the end of the world as we know it?

On Wednesday 25th of October, the «Despŕes de la fí del món» (After the End of the World) exhibition was inaugurated at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), Spain with a selected audience that was invited to participate in an “Artists’ Talk”, an event whereby a number of artists shared their work and views of the world.

Iron mines in Australia. Source: Daily Overview from Benjamin Grant

Benjamin Grant, the founder of Daily Overview, a project which explores the power of high-resolution satellite photography and which made him a popular social media personality, was one of the talking artists. His idea is to offer a different perspective on our planet, either by sharing beautiful landscapes such as the Amazon rainforest and the Florida Everglades or the ugly impact of mining and of the refugee crisis worldwide. Some of his work bears a strong resemblance to that of Piet Mondrian and Ellsworth Kelly. «There is a lot of thinking behind my work. I want to raise awareness of our planet by showing how it’s changing through perspectives we can’t have in our everyday lives», he said.

The artists and expeditionists Kate Davies and Liam Young presented Unknown Fields, a nomad study that shows the shadows of the contemporary city. In their expeditions around the world, they uncover the impacts of industry and consumption on nature and human lives. The “forgotten ones” – that is the hidden workers of the fashion industry or the cargo ships that travel the world endlessly to deliver goods – are integrated with our daily lives in unexpected and surprising ways.

Unknown Fields Division Showreel 2013 from liam young on Vimeo.

The amazing transformation of Singapore is the topic chosen by Charles Lim. Using maps and telling local stories, he exposes how rapidly the landscape of his country has changed – through land reclamation from the sea, elimination of hills, and renaming islands, Singapore has lived through an intense land revolution, still ongoing.

The collective Rimini Protokoll, from Germany, shared a surprising experience with Documental Theatre. One of the ‘plays’ invited an audience of 500 people to be part of an imaginary Conference of the Parties (COP) whereby they are asked to make decisions for each country and try to reach the 2020 target on greenhouse gases emissions. It is an exercise of awareness and commitment that changes the perspective of normal citizens on climate change.

«Després de la fí del món» is an exhibition that explores Earth in 2017, a planet irreversibly transmuted into Paul J. Crutzen’s Anthropocene after many centuries of the influence of human behavior. Yet it is also an exhibition that forecasts the second half of 21st century and determines our generation’s responsibility to future generations.

La communauté Horyou soutient la prise de conscience sur le changement climatique. Le SIGEF à Marrakech lors de la COP22 est un signe de l’engagement de Horyou en faveur de la mobilisation internationale et de l’espoir pour la durabilité et la préservation de notre planète. Nous sommes heureux de partager avec vous un article de Achim Steiner, Patricia Espinosa et Robert Glasser, de l’UNDP, UNFCCC et UNISDR.

Patricia Espinosa
Patricia Espinosa

De Miami à Porto Rico, en passant par Barbuda et La Havane, les ravages de la saison des ouragans, cette année, dans toute l’Amérique latine et les Caraïbes est un rappel que les effets du changement climatique ne connaissent pas de frontières.

Ces dernières semaines, des ouragans de catégorie 5 ont réduit à néant la vie de millions de gens dans les Caraïbes et sur le continent américain. Harvey, Irma et Maria ont particulièrement été dévastateurs. Les 3,4 millions d’habitants de Porto Rico essaient par tous les moyens d’obtenir des produits de base, tels que de la nourriture et de l’eau, l’île de Barbuda est devenue inhabitable, et des dizaines de personnes sont portées disparues ou décédées sur l’île de la Dominique classée au patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO.

Les conséquences ne se limitent pas à cette région. Le niveau record d’inondations enregistré au Bangladesh, en Inde et au Népal a rendu la vie pénible à quelque 40 millions de personnes. Plus de 1 200 personnes ont péri et plusieurs autres ont perdu leurs maisons, des cultures ont été détruites, et de nombreux lieux de travail ont été inondés. Parallèlement, au cours des 18 derniers mois, l’état d’urgence provoqué par la sécheresse a été déclaré dans 20 pays en Afrique, avec d’importants déplacements observés dans toute la région de la corne.

Pour les pays les moins avancés, l’impact des catastrophes naturelles peut être sévère, privant de moyens d’existence et retardant les progrès dans la santé et l’éducation ; en ce qui concerne les pays développés et à revenu intermédiaire, les pertes économiques d’infrastructures seules peuvent être énormes ; pour les deux catégories, ces évènements rappellent la nécessité d’agir face au changement climatique dont la menace de catastrophe est non seulement plus fréquente mais plus grave.

Le typhon Rammasun (Glenda) traverse la province de Laguna avec des vents de plus de 120 km/h en 2014 en Philippines
Le typhon Rammasun (Glenda) traverse la province de Laguna avec des vents de plus de 120 km/h en 2014 en Philippines

Un signe (inquiétant) avant-coureur ?

Les effets d’un climat plus chaud sur ces récents évènements climatiques, tant pour leur sévérité que pour leur fréquence, ont été révélateurs pour beaucoup, car, même la grande majorité qui accepte la science a reconnu que le réchauffement de la planète est le fait de l’homme.

Si la catastrophe silencieuse de la mort prématurée de 4,2 millions de personnes chaque année à cause de la pollution ambiante, davantage liée à l’utilisation des combustibles fossiles, est relativement peu médiatisée, l’incidence des gaz à effet de serre qui capturent la chaleur sur les phénomènes météorologiques extrêmes, elle, fait l’objet d’une attention croissante.

Comment pourrait-il en être autrement quand, les impacts de ces évènements météorologiques sont si lourds. Au cours des deux dernières années, plus de 40 millions de personnes, notamment dans des pays qui contribuent le moins au réchauffement climatique, ont été forcées d’abandonner leurs foyers soit définitivement soit temporairement à cause des catastrophes.

En Mongolie, à cause de la froideur, il y a un phénomène que nous avons vu deux fois au cours des dix dernières années. Il s'appelle "dzud" où vous avez une sécheresse en été et un hiver extrêmement froid.
En Mongolie, à cause de la froideur, il y a un phénomène que nous avons vu deux fois au cours des dix dernières années. Il s’appelle “dzud” où vous avez une sécheresse en été et un hiver extrêmement froid.

Un consensus se dégage clairement : la hausse des températures augmente la quantité de vapeur d’eau dans l’atmosphère, entrainant des précipitations plus intenses et des inondations à certains endroits, et des sécheresses à d’autres. Certaines zones vivent les deux, comme ce fut le cas cette année en Californie, où des inondations record ont succédé à des années d’intense sécheresse.

TOPEX/Poseidon, le premier satellite à mesurer avec précision l’élévation du niveau de la mer, avait été lancé deux semaines avant l’ouragan Andrew qui avait touché la côte de la Floride il y a 25 ans. Ces mesures ont observé une augmentation globale de 3,4 millimètres par an et depuis lors, un total de 85 millimètres sur 25 ans, ou 3,34 pouces.

La hausse du niveau de la mer et son réchauffement contribuent à l’intensité des tempêtes tropicales dans le monde. Nous continuerons à subir les conséquences anormales et souvent imprévues des niveaux existants des gaz à effet de serre dans l’atmosphère, au cours des nombreuses années à venir.

En 2009, la Suisse a publié à nouveau une étude de cas portant sur les comtés de Miami-Dade, Broward et Palm Beach, qui envisageait un scénario de montée du niveau de la mer pour les années 2030 correspondant à ce qui s’est déjà produit aujourd’hui. Si une tempête de l’ampleur d’Andrew avait frappé ce coin riche des États-Unis aujourd’hui, les dégâts économiques auraient varié entre 100 et 300 milliards $ US. D’après les estimations actuelles, les pertes économiques liées à Harvey, Irma et Maria pourraient dépasser ces chiffres.

Climate Change small

Le typhon Ketsana (Ondoy) a chuté de 455 mm (17,9 po) de pluie sur la ville de Manille en l'espace de 24 heures le 26 septembre 2009.
Le typhon Ketsana (Ondoy) a chuté de 455 mm (17,9 po) de pluie sur la ville de Manille en l’espace de 24 heures le 26 septembre 2009.

Réduction des risques de catastrophes maintenant, lutte contre les changements climatiques à long terme

Miami fait tout son possible pour développer son programme de protection contre les inondations ; 400 millions $ US ont été alloués au financement des pompes à eau de mer, de routes améliorées et de digues. Cependant, ce niveau de dépense est hors de portée des pays à faible revenu et à revenu intermédiaire qui risquent de perdre une bonne partie de leur PIB chaque fois qu’ils sont frappés par des inondations et des tempêtes.

Si l’Accord de Paris a mis le monde sur la voie d’un avenir faible en carbone à long terme, ce chemin n’en est pas moins hasardeux, ce qui reflète un pragmatisme et des réalités propres à chaque pays. Or, s’il est prévu que les émissions de dioxyde de carbone diminuent à mesure que les pays atteignent leurs cibles déclarées, les effets du changement climatique pourraient se faire sentir pendant un certain temps encore, ne laissant d’autre choix au monde que d’investir, simultanément, dans des efforts pour s’adapter au changement climatique et réduire le risque de catastrophe naturelle. Les avantages de telles actions se justifient sur le plan économique si on les compare au coût de reconstruction.

Ceci nécessitera une coopération internationale à une échelle jusqu’ici sans précédent, alors que nous nous attaquons à la tâche la plus ardue qui est de faire de notre planète un lieu plus résilient face aux effets à retardement des émissions de gaz à effet de serre que nous continuerons à vivre pendant les prochaines années. La restauration de l’équilibre écologique entre les émissions et la capacité d’absorption naturelle de la planète est un objectif à long terme. Il est important de rappeler que la réduction à long terme des émissions est LA tactique de réduction des risques la plus importante dont nous disposons, et nous devons parvenir à cette ambition.

La Conférence des Nations Unies sur les changements climatiques, qui se tiendra à Bonn, en novembre, présidée par la petite île des Fidji, offre une opportunité non seulement d’accélérer la réduction des émissions, mais aussi de soutenir le travail sérieux consistant à s’assurer que la gestion du risque climatique est incluse dans la gestion des risques de catastrophes dans son ensemble. La pauvreté, l’urbanisation rapide, la mauvaise utilisation de terres, la dégradation des écosystèmes et d’autres facteurs de risques accroissent les impacts du changement climatique. À l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la prévention des catastrophes, nous demandons que des mesures soient prises à cet égard de façon holistique.

Achim Steiner est l’Administrateur du Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement, www.undp.org

Patricia Espinosa est la Secrétaire exécutive de la Convention-cadre des Nations Unies sur les Changements climatiques, www.unfccc.int

Robert Glasser est le Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général pour la réduction des risques de catastrophe et le Chef du Bureau des Nations Unies pour la réduction des risques de catastrophe, www.unisdr.org

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