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Ban Ki-moon voices outrage at deadly attacks on AU peacekeepers in Darfur

Condemning in the strongest possible terms the recent attack in Haskanita, South Darfur, which killed some 10 African Union (AU) peacekeepers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for those responsible to be brought to justice for the “outrageous” act. Read more.

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New York’s Finest

Midtown Manhattan is a madhouse this week. Both the opening session of the 62nd UN General Assembly and the Clinton Global Initiative are in town and bring with them both an unprecedented group of world leaders and a complex security situation. As I shuttle back and forth between the two events, I am struck by the competence of the New York Police Department. I can’t even imagine the intricacies involved in securing an area this large and vulnerable, but they have every appearance of having it under control. I’m confident at least.

This is an apropos moment to bring up the UN’s Capital Master Plan, a plan to renovate the UN Headquarters in New York City, which has not happened since the complex was built in 1950, and bring the building up to current safety and security codes.The existing conditions of the United Nations headquarters in New York pose serious safety and security problems, and waste a tremendous amount of resources. The headquarters were designed to accommodate 70 Member States. UN membership currently stands at 191 Member States.

The UN building no longer complies with U.S. and New York City fire and safety codes, and a considerable amount of energy is wasted as a result of archaic appliances. Problems include asbestos, electromagnetic fields, an inadequate fire alarm system, the lack of sprinklers in high rise buildings, poor or no fire separation between buildings, the possibility of high pressure steam line explosions, falling ceilings, and leaks.

As a high-profile building located in New York and a gathering point for world leaders, the UN is unfortunately a target for a terrorist attack. And it lacks basic security requirements such as shatterproof glass windows. In the event of an incident, first responders — like NY’s finest — would be put in an unacceptable amount of danger.

I have heard at least one person on CNN in the last couple of days talking about the cost to the city of maintaining security this week. New York, as the seat of UN headquarters, plays host to the world and receives untold benefits from acting as such. Aside from the political- and prestige-related benefits, this week alone hotels throughout midtown are sold out and restaurants are packed.

The first step of being a good host is ensuring the security of your guests. The NY Police department is doing its part. It’s time that the Capital Master Plan move forward.

In 1998-99, a team of architects and engineers thoroughly examined the condition of U.N. Headquarter complex. The study concluded that despite the high quality of the original construction, many building elements have deteriorated due to age, or do not meet current standards of safety and energy efficiency. The study concluded “The current condition of the headquarters’ complex is unacceptable for continued use over the long term.”

To address this situation, the Secretary-General presented the Capital Master Plan to renovate the UN headquarters in July 2000. Since that time, a commission has been appointed to determine a budget; complete an overall implementation schedule; select contractors through competitive-bidding; consolidate existing space; secure swing space; and design plans for financing the project. The total cost of the Capital Master Plan is $1.2 billion over period of eight years.

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UNF and Foundation Prince Albert II Monaco Team Up to Combat Global Warming

Here at the Clinton Global Initiative, Prince Albert II of Monaco and UN Foundation chair Ted Turner announced that they will join forces to mobilize political will in support of a comprehensive agreement to combat catastrophic climate change. According to the release this includes “supporting both the Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA)- a partnership of the Club of Madrid and the UN Foundation – and the UN Foundation’s other climate change initiatives.”

The announcement was made moments ago preceding an apropos plenary, “Economic Growth in the Face of Resource Scarcity and Climate Change.”

Read the full release after the jump:

NEW YORK, New York (Sept. 27, 2007) — The United Nations Foundation announced today that the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco will join its efforts to mobilize political will in support of a comprehensive agreement to combat catastrophic climate change. This includes supporting both the Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA) – a partnership of the Club of Madrid and the UN Foundation – and the UN Foundation’s other climate change initiatives. The announcement was made by UN Foundation Chairman Ted Turner and Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Clinton Global Initiative.

“Our future, humanity’s future, depends on how quickly and well we change our thinking on climate change,” said Ted Turner, Chairman of the United Nations Foundation and founding member of the GLCA. “The clock is ticking and it is time for governments and leaders in the business and philanthropic community to get to work. His Majesty, in all his different roles, understands that and his efforts to make Monaco a cutting-edge example of dealing with climate change should be a role model for us all. We’re glad to be working with him.”

Recently in Berlin, the GLCA released a set of 11 recommendations for upcoming negotiations, with the aim of reducing global carbon emissions 60% below 1990 levels by 2050 in order to limit global warming to 2-2.5 degrees Celsius. The GLCA recommendations recognize that climate change presents a tremendous opportunity to spur the development of low-cost, low-carbon technologies that will create new jobs and economic growth. The GLCA also proposes mobilizing public and private finances to support adaptation measures, avoided deforestation, and clean energy deployment in developing countries.

“I’m pleased to be part of this important and innovative effort to stop global warming” said Prince Albert II of Monaco, founder and President of the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco. “As a Head of State, I will personally devote time and energy to mobilize the resources and political will on a global scale to address the environmental challenges of the planet and act to help ensure the future of mankind. There is too much at stake to not do everything we can. Partnering with the UN Foundation and working with the Global Leadership for Climate Action will allow us to both learn from other leaders and to share Monaco’s experience in advancing innovative approaches to dealing with one of the most pressing global issues.”

GLCA is co-chaired by Ricardo Lagos, President of the Club of Madrid and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, and Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation. Additional information, including a full list of the members of GLCA, can be found at www.globalclimateaction.com.

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About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.

About the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco
The Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco was created in June 2006 dedicated to Climate change, Biodiversity and Access to water and desertification. Its work concentrates on three priority zones: the Mediterranean Basin, The Poles and Countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. Its role is to act as an influent body with States, international institutions and opinion leaders to accelerate awareness and decision making in favor of the planet’s resources. For more information, please visit www.fpa2.mc.

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A Bit More on the Forests

Two interesting things that I heard during the CGI plenary on deforestation (see below):

Franz Tattenbach, the Executive Director of FUNDECOR, talked about the progress that has been made in reforesting Costa Rica, which has gone from 26 percent coverage to 50 percent coverage. “How did we do it? We put a price on carbon.” FUNDECOR works directly with individuals who own rain forest land to create incentives for not clear cutting their property. They do so by sending foresters and strategists to develop sustainable individualized plans to help the owners selectively harvest their forests and maximize their profits from that harvest. Stuart E. Eizenstat, President Carter’s Chief Domestic Policy Adviser and President Clinton’s Deputy Treasury Secretary, speculated on why deforestation measures weren’t included in the Kyoto protocol. He gives three reasons:

  • “We were so occupied with macro issues,” like negotiating with the EU and Japan on what level of reductions below the 1990 level could be afforded and trying to get developing countries on board.
  • There are legitimate concerns about the verification of forestation credits. What happens if a forest is planted and then burns down three years later?
  • We simply didn’t know then what we know now. We didn’t have the Stern and IPCC reports that tell us that 20 percent of all carbon emissions can be traced back to forestation and land use issues. That is more than all global transportation emissions. It is the cheapest, most reliable way of reducing emissions.

Eizenstat also expressed his surprise at the lack of knowledge on the Hill about the issue. Language addressing deforestation was only a last minute addition to the last energy bill.

Also, he is Pessimistic about the probability of Congress passing a post-Kyoto framework. As a safety measure, he suggests that in the cap-and-trade legislation that he expects to pass before the end of this Congress we should incorporate the ability for American companies to trade credits abroad and for foreign companies to trade in our system.

Jane Goodall ended the session by paraphrasing an “Eskimo” that she had met. He said, “Up in the north we know everyday what you in the south are doing. What will it take to melt the ice in the human heart?”

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Commitments on Energy Efficiency

The closing plenary of the first day of CGI has started (watch live). It will feature a discussion on children in conflict with Angelina Jolie (see below), Nicolas Kristof, Mohammed Atmar, Valentino Deng, and Alvaro Uribe. But first, President Clinton announced some commitments and made a comment about energy efficiency. He said that if the leading emitters of carbon — including the U.S., China, and India — were to bring their energy efficiency levels to that of Japan, global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 20 percent. Remarkable. For a summary of what that might look like, check out this report.

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Press Room Clears

The press room here cleared out about 15 minutes ago. Angelina Jolie is in the room next door announcing her new Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, “a historic education partnership to address the needs of children living in conflict, post-conflict refugee, and emergency situations.” This alliance has been built out of a long and diverse list of partners including UNICEF, Save the Children, the Sesame Workshop, UNHCR (Angelina’s tie-in). They are making the commitment to help 350,000 children go to school and improve the learning environment of another 650,000 — including 200,000 Iraqi refugees (maybe Angelina advocated for this after her recent trip) and 300,000 children affected by Darfur. As you can see from the photo above, there were many up on the stage, but Angelina got about 80 percent of the questions.

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