By: Insider on April 18, 2012 Mali: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced concern over a fresh wave of arrests of high-ranking public officials in Mali, at a time when numerous efforts are being undertaken to help the country overcome the various challenges it is facing. According to a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Ban called for the immediate release of all those arrested and urged the junta to refrain from any further actions that might undermine the effective restoration of constitutional rule in Mali. Soldiers last month took control of the country and announced the dissolution of the Government led by President Amadou Toumani Toure. The political upheaval followed the eruption of clashes between Government forces and Tuareg rebels in the country’s north in January, leading to the mass displacement of civilians. Human Rights and Sustainability: Countries must integrate human rights into the upcoming sustainable development conference taking place in Rio de Janeiro, as well as its outcome, a top United Nations official stressed today, warning that not doing so will undercut efforts to advance socio-economic development and protect the environment. “Strategies based on the narrow pursuit of economic growth without due regard for equity and related environmental, social and human rights considerations, will both fail in their economic objectives, and risk damaging the planet and the fundamental rights of people,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. She said in a letter to all Member States that, regrettably, the draft outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), fails to take sufficient account of human rights imperatives. Disaster Reduction: The UN office for disaster risk reduction today launched a new initiative to help cities across the world manage risk following the worst year on record for economic losses caused by disasters. The initiative – the ‘Local Government Self-Assessment Tool’ – is part of the campaign to help cities establish baselines, identify planning and investment gaps for risk reduction and climate change adaptation, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) said in a press release. FAO: On the eve of a regional conference set to begin in Azerbaijan with government ministers and officials from 53 countries and the EU, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is warning that obesity and diet-related illnesses could emerge as major challenges for Europe and Central Asia. The FAO report to be presented at the biannual conference also warns that as diets shift from cereals towards higher consumption of meat and dairy, the risk factors behind chronic, non-communicable diseases could rise in parts of the region. The conference will also look at what agricultural policies can help boost crop production to address both food security and combat rural poverty, as well as how to improve agriculture’s environmental sustainability. PGA: The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, warned today that economic growth that relies on unsustainable patterns of consumption and production is undermining humankind’s quest for harmony with nature and called for science-based sustainable development solutions. “As a human race, we have the resources, the scientific knowledge and the know-how to save our planet,” said Mr. Al-Nasser in an address to the General Assembly’s Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature, organized to Commemorate the International Mother Earth Day.