The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo introducing the panel discussion on 'Citizen Networks: The Promise of Technological Innovation' at SnT2015 in Vienna, June 2015. Photo credit: CTBTO
- An international conference has highlighted advances made in detecting nuclear explosions,tracking storms or clouds of volcanic ash, locating epicentres of earthquakes, monitoring the drift of huge icebergs, observing the movements of marine mammals, and detecting plane crashes.
The five-day âScience and Technology 2015 Conferenceâ (SnT2015), which ended Jun. 26, was the fifth in a series of multi-disciplinary conferences organised by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which has been based in the Austrian capital since 1997.
The conference was attended by more than 1100 scientists and other experts, policy makers and representatives of national agencies, independent academic research institutions and civil society organisations from around the world.
SnT2015 drew attention to an important finding of CTBTO sensors: the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 was the largest to hit Earth in at least a century.
Participants also heard that the Air AlgÃ©rie flight between Burkina Faso and Algeria which crashed in Mali in July 2014 was detected by the CTBTOâs monitoring station in Cote dâIvoire, 960 kilometres from the impact of the aircraft.
The importance of SnT2015 lies in the fact that CTBTO is tasked with campaigning for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which outlaws nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. It also aims to develop reliable tools to make sure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected.
These include seismic, hydro-acoustic, infrasound (frequencies too low to be heard by the human ear), and radionuclide sensors. Scientists and other experts demonstrated and explained in presentations and posters how the four state-of-the-art technologies work in practice.
170 seismic stations monitor shockwaves in the Earth, the vast majority of which are caused by earthquakes. But man-made explosions such as mine explosions or the announced North Korean nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 have also been detected.
CTBTOâs 11 hydro-acoustic stations âlistenâ for sound waves in the oceans. Sound waves from explosions can travel extremely far underwater. Sixty infrasound stations on the Earthâs surface can detect ultra-low frequency sound waves that are emitted by large explosions.
Children investigate their community's newly improved toilets, one of UNOCI's âquick impact projectsâ (QIPS) which supported the rehabilitation of schools and toilets in Abidjan. Credit: UN Photo/Patricia Esteve
- As most developing nations fall short of meeting their goals on sanitation, the worldâs poorest countries have been lagging far behind, according to a new U.N. report released here.
The Joint Monitoring Programme report, âProgress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessmentâ, authored by the U.N. childrenâs agency UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), says one in three people, or 2.4 billion worldwide, are still without sanitation facilities â including 946 million people who defecate in the open.
âWhat the data really show is the need to focus on inequalities as the only way to achieve sustainable progress,â said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEFâs global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.
âThe global model so far has been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. If we are to reach universal access to sanitation by 2030, we need to ensure the poorest start making progress right away,â he said.
Pointing out the existing inequities, the report says progress on sanitation has been hampered by inadequate investments in behaviour change campaigns, lack of affordable products for the poor, and social norms which accept or even encourage open defecation.
Although some 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, the world has missed the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target by nearly 700 million people.
Today, only 68 per cent of the worldâs population uses an improved sanitation facility â 9 percentage points below the MDG target of 77 per cent.
Still, the world has made âspectacular progressâ in water, Jeffrey OâMalley, Director, Data, at UNICEFâs Research and Policy Division, told reporters Tuesday.
In 2015, 91 percent of the global population used an improved drinking water source, up from 76 percent in 1990, while 6.6 billion people have access to improved drinking water.
Providing pregnant mothers with antiretroviral medicines can reduce the risk of HIV transmission from 45 percent to just one percent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS
- In 2013, an estimated 240,000 children were born with HIV. This was an improvement from 2009, when 400,000 babies tested positive for the infection, but still a far cry from the global target of reducing total child infections to 40,000 by 2015.
Bucking the global trend, one small island nation has made gigantic strides towards the 2015 goal. That country is Cuba, and in 2013 it recorded just two babies born with HIV.
Today, Cuba has become the first country in the world to receive validation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel SidibÃ© said in a press release today, âThis is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere. It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible and we expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children.â
A wind farm outside Tianjin. China is the world's leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels. Credit: Mitch Moxley/IPS
Environmental groups are praising China following the formal submission of Beijingâs highly-anticipated climate change strategy to the United Nations Tuesday.
The plan includes a commitment to peak emissions around the year 2030, reduce carbon intensity 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels, and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix by about 20 percent by 2030.
The pledges are part of Chinaâs so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), which every country must submit ahead of the December U.N. climate talks in Paris (COP21). At that high-level meeting, a global climate deal is expected to be agreed which will come into force by 2025.
âChinaâs INDC is a positive boost to the ongoing international climate change process leading to Paris,â said Changhua Wu, Greater China Director of The Climate Group. âChinaâs efforts to align its domestic growth agenda and global climate change agenda is a leading example of how a fundamental shift is needed to grow the economy differently.â
- Global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in 2014 declined 16 per cent to 1.2 trillion dollars, according to this yearâs newly released World Investment Report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The UNCTAD report pointed to the fragility of the global economy, policy uncertainty for investors and elevated geopolitical risks as factors contributing to the drop in FDI. New investments were also offset by some large divestments.
However, FDI rose slightly to developing economies, which extended their lead in global inflows of investment. China is now the largest global recipient of FDI.
Released just ahead of the third international conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa in mid-July, the report concluded that reforming international investment governance is key to building an enabling environment for investment, maximising the chances of reaching âfinancing for developmentâ targets to be discussed at the conference.
West Asia maintained its downward trend in FDI in 2014 for the sixth consecutive year, decreasing by 4 per cent to 43 billion dollars. The report describes a succession of crises that have hit the region, including the global economic crisis and an eruption of political unrest leading to conflict in some countries, which have contributed to the continuous fall.
Elsewhere in South, East, and South-East Asia, the report was more positive. Inflows to South Asia rose to 41 billion dollars in 2014, primarily owing to good performance by India, while inflows to East Asia rose by 12 percent to 248 billion, and those to South-East Asia experienced a 5 percent increase, to 133 billion. Chinaâs boost was driven by an increase in FDI to the services sector, while FDI fell in manufacturing, especially in industries that are sensitive to rising labour costs.
These men, aspiring migrants who were abandoned by traffickers on the open ocean, were recently rescued by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and reunited with their families in Teknaf, located in the southern coastal district of Coxâs Bazar. Credit: Abdur Rahman/IPS
- Though he is only 16 years old, Mohammad Yasin has been through hell and back. He recently survived a hazardous journey by sea, crammed into the cargo-hold of a rudimentary boat along with 115 others.
For 45 days they bobbed about on the Indian Ocean somewhere between their native Bangladesh and their destination, Malaysia, with scarcely any food, no water and little hope of making it to shore alive.
The Secretary-General (second from right), accompanied by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal (left), Minister of the Environment of Peru, Laurent Fabius (second from left), Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and Sam Kutesa (right), President of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly, at a press encounter on the General Assemblyâs high-level meeting on climate change. Credit: UN Photo
- When the 193-member General Assembly hosted a high level meeting on climate change Monday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that any proposed agreement at an upcoming international conference in Paris in December must uphold the principle of equity.
The meeting, officially known as the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 21), should approve a universally-binding agreement that will support the adaptation needs of developing nations and, more importantly, âdemonstrate solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable countries through a focused package of assistance,” Ban told delegates.