UNEP Current Affairs - 2019

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UNEP’s Colombo Declaration to tackle global nitrogen challenges

On October 24, 2019, the member states of United Nations endorsed a proposed road map for action on nitrogen challenges called Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management. It was organized by Sri Lanka with the support of UN and its member nations. A two-day event was conducted to frame the declaration

Highlights

  • The aim of the Declaration is to halve nitrogen waste by 2030
  • Environment ministers and officials from more than 30 countries attended the event
  • The event endorsed UN plans for a campaign called “Nitrogen for Life”. The campaign aims at sustainable management of Nitrogen. It is based on the Sustainable Management Resolution that was adopted during the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly that was held in Nairobi, Kenya in March 2019
  • The Declaration was developed with technical support from International Nitrogen Management System (INMS). INMS is a joint activity of UNEP and Internationals Nitrogen Initiative

Significance

There is need to reduce reactive nitrogen. This will help to reduce Eutrophic zones that are affecting fishing and tourism.

Reactive Nitrogen is the scientific term used for nitrogen compounds like nitrogen oxides, nitrous oxide, ammonia, etc. Most of them are result of intensive farming and misuse of fertilizers. These compounds enter Nitrogen Cycle. Excess reactive nitrogen affects environment very badly. They make the underground water unfit for drinking. They leach out the soil and pollute aquatic ecosystems. As they reach the aquatic eco systems they promote growth of algae extensively leading to eutrophication.

October 12: World Migratory Bird Day

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an awareness – raising campaign organized by CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of wild animals) and AEWA (Agreement on the Conservation of African – Eurasian Migratory water birds) that highlights

  • the conservation of migratory birds,
  • threats faced by them,
  • their ecological importance
  • the need for international cooperation to conserve them.

Different Countries organize different activities based on the theme to mark the WMBD all around the world. This year theme is as follow

Theme: Protect birds – Be the solution to plastic pollution.

Significance of the theme

With an annual production of more than 300 million tons of plastic, 8 million tons enter the world’s ocean every year. These plastics are broken down into smaller particles by water, sunlight and wind that often leads to ingestion and entanglement.

These broken pieces floating on the surface of water covered in algae are easily mistaken for prey by these migrating birds. Ingestion and Entanglement are the two main problems faced by the migrating birds.

Ingestion of Plastics

Ingestion of sharp plastic particles cause immediate death by piercing their internal organs. Plastic consumption predominantly leads to chronic feeling of hunger and starvation without nutritional value affecting the migrating process. The birds lose their strength to fly 1000s of km. This affects the survival of the species as birds migrate mainly to breed, hatch eggs, nurture them and return homeland with their young ones.

Entanglement

Layers of plastic in the wetlands lead to entanglement, trapping and eventually death. These caught birds are either injured, pick up infections and end up drowning. They easily become prey to other animals.

History

The WMBD was started in 2006 by the AEWA – Agreement on the Conservation of African – Eurasian Migratory Water birds. The first World Migratory Birds Day was launched in April 8 – 9, 2006.

The idea began in 1993 when the US Fish and Wild life Services, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology began the celebrations of International Migratory Bird Day. However, the celebrations were restricted to the western hemisphere alone. So, in 2005, in its 10th anniversary function AEWA initiated Migratory Water bird Days that were to be held in Europe, Asia and Africa as well.

In 2017, at COP12 in Manila, the other leading environmental organization, the EFTA – Environment for the Americas joined the campaign. This partnership united the world’s two largest education campaigns International Migratory Bird Day and World Migratory Bird Day.

In 2018, it was decided to be celebrated twice a year, on second Saturday of May and October.