Best of our wild blogs: 2 Dec 17

3 Dec: Registration opens for Sisters Islands Intertidal walks in Jan 2018
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Night Walk At Punggol Promenade Nature Walk (30 Nov 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Designing green, sustainable buildings key for Singapore’s top young architects

LOUISA TANG Today Online 1 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE — The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central, which was officially opened in 2013, boasts the world’s largest vertical greenery installation comprising seven 25-m-tall walls of plants which act as heat buffers while giving the school’s four faculties and three training blocks at Ang Mo Kio a unique identity. The green wall and roofs also help save energy by reducing the cooling load of the interiors.

The design was the brainchild of architect Lawrence Ler of RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, whose vision is to create spaces that are highly responsive to the tropical climate so that members of the public can fully enjoy and perform in the environments within the buildings.

Mr Ler is one of 20 leading local architects featured in the ‘20 under 45: The Third Edition’ exhibition and book - which was curated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), industry professionals and academics - launched on Friday (Dec 1). The first edition of the exhibition was held in 2004 to showcase the works of local architects aged 45 or below, and the second was held six years later.

“I believe that as an architect, I have the social responsibility to protect the environment we live in for our children and future generations,” said Mr Ler, 39.

“Global warming and resources depletion are real issues that we should not ignore, and every building we design can play a significant part to reduce the impact on our environment.”

In his speech delivered at the launch, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said that architects should be “innovative and strive for higher standards”. He also added that they should design for sustainability and maintainability such as green buildings that are environmentally friendly.

It is a belief shared by Mr Ho Tzu Yin, who designed the Agape Village, a social service hub at Toa Payoh. The 45-year-old from LAUD Architects said that he always tries to convince his clients of the benefits of creating a sustainable building.

“Sustainability does not always mean solar panels and other technology features,” he said. “It starts with something as basic as orientating the building to minimise west sun exposure and creating rooms that allow for proper cross ventilation.”

Director of DP Architects Seah Chee Huang, who designed Our Tampines Hub, said that green, sustainable, and inclusive design is a “vital aspect” of his work, particularly as land is scarce in Singapore.

Mr Seah, 42, added that members of the public should also be encouraged to participate in the design process of social and community spaces. For example, he and his team had engaged the wider Tampines community to help decide what Our Tampines Hub would be like.

Mr Ler, who also designed the Henderson Waves pedestrian bridge that links Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park, also cited the importance of creating features that are accessible to everyone.

Confessing that he had not expected the bridge to become so popular, he added: “I have witnessed firsthand that through inclusive design, my architecture can benefit a wide spectrum of people. There’s always a space for the elderly, young children, persons with disabilities, couples, and even, monkeys crossing the ridges.”

In his speech on Friday, Mr Wong also urged architects to get involved with game-changing projects that will positively impact Singaporeans.

“Poorly designed cities can easily become a high-rise concrete jungle that is stressful to live and work in. On the other hand, well-designed buildings, homes, neighbourhoods with greenery and public spaces can improve our well-being and happiness,” he added.

Mr Wong also announced the setting up of an exhibition space in the URA Centre, which will showcase the works of local architectural practices, especially small, medium and up-and-coming firms. Called the Archi-Model Centre, it will be completed by the third quarter of next year.

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New research works to tackle drug-resistant bacteria; boost urban farming

LOUISA TANG Today Online 1 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE — Coming on the heels of the launch of a national strategy to deal with drug-resistant bacteria, a new five-year research programme has been launched to tackle the global problem of antimicrobial resistance.

The Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (Create), which held a symposium on Friday (Dec 1) to mark its 10th anniversary, announced this and two other initiatives under its wing. The institute, set up by the National Research Foundation and located within the grounds of the National University of Singapore (NUS), houses research centres set up by Singapore and foreign universities.

The antimicrobial resistance programme, which rolls out next month, will involve 18 scientists working on seven projects. Some of the targets to achieve include making new antibodies to combat drug-resistant bacteria, viruses and parasites; creating effective tools to diagnose antimicrobial resistance; and engineering viruses that are able to kill drug-resistant bacteria.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when disease-causing microbes such as bacteria, viruses or parasites grow resistant to the effects of medicine that used to be able to kill them. About 35 to 50 per cent of bacterial infections in Singapore hospitals are now resistant to antibiotics.

Last month, Singapore launched its national strategic action plan to tackle the problem. The team of scientists from Create, who are from Singapore and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, will make up the research arm of the national taskforce.

Professor Peter Dedon from MIT, who co-leads the programme with Professor Peter Preiser from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), noted that research on antimicrobial resistance has mostly been focused on Western countries.

The research programme they are leading will allow them to look at how it affects the Asian population, with Singapore having the “unique geographical aspect” of being made up of several different ethnic groups.

“Singapore is a hub in South-east Asia. The latest infectious disease is just a plane flight away, so we can get clinical populations of the most drug-resistant organisms and emerging drug-resistant organisms,” Prof Dedon added.


Another new initiative launched by Create seeks to improve agricultural processes and produce here, as land-scarce Singapore moves towards high-density urban farming.

The Disruptive and Sustainable Technologies for Agricultural Precision programme, formed by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, will develop two new technologies to tackle the challenge of food and nutrient production in Singapore’s urbanised environment. The project also starts next month.

One experiment will involve placing nano-sensors in the leaves of green vegetables to monitor plant molecules. This will help to find out the optimal environment for vegetables to grow, such as how much sunlight and water they should receive.

The researchers — who are from MIT, the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, NUS and NTU — will share the knowledge they glean with Singapore farmers.

Dr Azlinda Anwar, assistant director of the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory’s research and enterprise development division, said that this would help develop healthier and new varieties of plants, and increase farming productivity.

“When you do farming, you want to have leaves of a certain size. But if you try to plant them in (a) high-density (space), you will have certain trade-offs — the plants might have smaller leaves, or grow tall and thin because they need sunlight,” she explained.

The researchers will also work on developing larger optic sensors, which can be placed at strategic locations around the plants. Farmers can use these sensors to remotely monitor plant growth.

The team also has plans to collaborate with Greenphyto, a developer of an automated vertical farming system in Singapore.


A third new initiative at Create, which began in September and will run for an initial period of five years, will address issues in cyber-physical systems.

These systems integrate computating, networking, and physical processes, which involve machines and sensors connected through networks for monitoring and controlling engineering devices or systems, for example, in the physical world.

Right now, cyber-security solutions for these systems cannot ensure that the components within the systems behave as designed, the centre said.

The research team will work to make these systems more reliable and secure. The programme will also build up a group of highly trained researchers who specialise in safeguarding the security of these systems.

At the symposium on Friday, it was also announced that a new governing council for Create has been formed. This is to oversee the choice of research programmes and steer outcomes relevant for Singapore. Chaired by former head of the civil service Peter Ho, who is now chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, it will comprise presidents from overseas and Singapore universities that partner Create, and members from government and academia.

Speaking at the symposium, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who also serves as deputy chairman of the National Research Foundation, said: “To properly address complex and messy real-world problems, we need to take an inter-disciplinary approach… (this approach) cuts across traditional academic divisions, and brings together diverse knowledge fields and perspectives.”

In total, Create has produced around 540 patent applications, 336 invention disclosures and 15 spin-off companies. About 1,100 researchers from more than 40 countries are now collaborating on projects with the institute.

Programmes that aim to tackle urban food production and antimicrobial resistance launched
Dewi Fabbri Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE: Three new research programmes that aim to address global challenges were launched at the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) on Friday (Dec 1).

CREATE is an international research hub built on institutional partnerships together with seven overseas universities - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California Berkeley, Cambridge University, ETH Zurich, Technical University of Munich, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The new programmes were announced by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at a symposium celebrating CREATE's 10th anniversary.

One of them, by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), aims to solve challenges related to urban food and nutrient production in Singapore.

Called Disruptive and Sustainable Technologies for Agricultural Precision, it seeks to develop nanosensor-based detection technologies to be applied in precision agriculture.

This technology will help discover new plant biosynthetic pathways as well as optimise them for improved yields in production. The project will begin in January 2018 for an initial period of five years.

Another programme that will also begin in January 2018 is one that looks to tackle the global threat of drug-resistant microbes. This will also be formed by SMART, in partnership with Singapore’s universities and research institutions.

While working to identify new antimicrobial drug resistant mechanisms, it also looks to develop new therapeutics diagnostics and drug delivery technologies and approaches.

A programme that looks to address issues in trust and security of cyber-physical systems - which integrate computational, networking, and physical processes - was also announced by Mr Heng.

Trustworthy and Secure Cyber-Plexus, led by Professor David Nicol from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), involves a research team from SUTD and UIUC.

The programme, which commenced in September, examines the reliability and security of cyber-physical systems in existing critical infrastructure. It will run for an initial period of five years.
Source: CNA/mz

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Malaysia: NRE to introduce marine conservation law

Bernama New Straits Times 1 Dec 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Natural Resources and Environment ministry (NRE) is mulling to introduce a special law in marine and coral reef ecosystem conservation.

Its minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said through the proposed legislation, stricter deterrent measures would be taken against anyone found polluting and threatening the sensitive marine ecosystems.

“With the new law in place, a more rigorous approach will be taken whereby a person caught for example, causing oil spills though he has no intention of polluting the sea, would still be held responsible and liable to prosecution,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said this in an exclusive interview with Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang here.

The Minister said the country’s waters, for instance, off the Straits of Melaka and Johor, were sensitive to pollution, and those involved with sea activities should be concerned over the matter.

Wan Junaidi said the preservation of marine ecosystems should be given high priority in view of the fact that marine wealth not only provided benefits to humans but also affected climate change and global warming.

The ministry, he said, was working with Australia on efforts to protect coral reefs and marine life. “We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia which is willing to share expertise, new technology and provide training for this purpose,” he said.

He said the ministry was also reviewing Australia’s recommendations on the use of a certain kind of snail as a natural predator to control the population of crown-of-thorns starfish which were causing significant damage to reefs in Australia.

Meanwhile, he said comprehensive planning was necessary to ensure more effective and sustainable water management in the country.

According to him, the proposed bill on sustainable water management would also ensure more organised and efficient mechanisms on the sale and transfer of water from one state to another.

In another development, Wan Junaidi said Malaysia had successfully met all the stringent criteria in applying for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which was created to support efforts of developing countries in implementing mitigation projects in response to climate change.

GCF was set up by 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, as part of the Convention’s financial mechanism.

Malaysia has pledged to cut carbon emission intensity by 40 per cent by year 2020. -- Bernama

NGO welcomes new approach in marine management
Borneo Post 5 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The recent announcement by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar of a new marine conservation law is to be strongly supported, according to marine conservation NGO Reef Check Malaysia (RCM).

This call is timely as Malaysia is facing increasing threats to its marine ecosystems. It is estimated that Malaysia has some 4,000 km2 of coral reef.

In the wake of the last mass coral bleaching event in Malaysia that devastated up to 10% of coral reefs in Malaysia, stepping up a gear in having more stringent protection is most welcome.

A similar event in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 2016 resulted in some 30% of reefs suffering coral mortality. While on a global level Malaysia has committed to reduce its carbon emission intensity to 40% by 2020, it is equally important to commit to addressing local threats. This represents an important step in building the resilience, or the ‘survivability’, of our coral reefs to withstand growing global threats.

Reef Check Malaysia’s 2016 survey data show that the average Live Coral Cover (LCC) of Malaysia stands at about 44% which is considered to be in ‘fair’ condition. However, the data also reveal that at 13% of sites surveyed, nearly one third of the reef is covered with algae, a sign of nutrient pollution from man-made sources – often poorly treated sewage.

Threats are varied – for example during 2017 tarballs were found around Pulau Tioman, and had to be removed by local volunteers. The growing tourism industry, while an important source of jobs, can also be a threat if it is not controlled. These are examples of problems that require immediate attention and more stringent legislation will certainly help.

The Minister’s call is also in line with Malaysia’s commitment to achieve the goals outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): that by 2020, at least 10% of coastal and marine areas are effectively managed; and that by 2025 there is a significant reduction in all kinds of pollution from land based activities. This is definitely great news as we head into the year 2018 which coincides with International Year of the Reef as declared by United Nations.

It is Reef Check Malaysia’s hope that the law will include provisions that allow greater empowerment to local stakeholders, which it is hoped will in turn improve compliance and optimise enforcement efforts. RCM also hopes that the law will help to protect connected ecosystems, such as coral reefs and sea grass beds, as well as the “charismatic” species such as sharks, turtles, and whales.

This is a positive and progressive move by the Ministry and Reef Check Malaysia strongly supports it.

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Malaysia: Investigation ongoing into last week's slaughter of Bornean Banteng

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 1 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department has carried out an investigation into the shocking killing last week of three endangered Bornean Banteng.

Its director Augustine Tuuga said the investigation team went to the ground to collect evidence on the case.

On Thursday, the Sabah Forestry Department disclosed that a plantation manager may be the culprit behind the poaching of one of the animals in October.

The manager was identified in a seized photograph in which he is seen posing with a Banteng carcass.

The three killings occurred in the Maliau basin, Sipitang and the Tabin conservation and forest reserve areas.

“The Maliau basin is a restricted area and not anyone can go there.

“It could (also) be that some villagers had gone into the forest… but there is no evidence of poaching or meat when we conducted checks at their houses,” he said when contacted.

So far this year, four Banteng have been killed. It is estimated that around 12 Banteng are slaughtered every year.

To date, no Banteng poacher has been prosecuted due to lack of evidence, Augustine said.

The Banteng is a “totally protected species” and there are fewer than 400 left in Sabah.

Sabah on mission to stamp out poaching
ruben sario The Star 1 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: An anti-terror approach will be employed to counter the poaching of Sabah’s wildlife, with some species reaching the tipping point towards extinction.

The Sabah Forestry Department envisions a quick-response enforcement unit trained by elite British SAS personnel as well as veteran anti-poaching rangers from Africa.

Sabah chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan said a wildlife crime analyst unit is also being planned, as well as a specially trained legal team to prosecute poachers.

He said the authorities may also pay for information leading to the arrest of poachers too.

The proposed wildlife protection unit will comprise 50 armed rangers divided into 10 teams that would constantly patrol areas vulnerable to poaching activities.

“The crime analyst unit will sift through the results from intelligence gathering and camera traps to put us in a position to intercept the culprits,” Mannan added.

He said some poachers hunt for sport or illegal trade – for example, shooting elephants for their tusks or banteng for their meat.

“What is worrying is that some senior plantation employees are involved in poaching,” he said, adding that the assistant manager of a plantation was recently detained on suspicion of poaching.

He said animals like the banteng and payau (a deer species) are being killed for their meat, a lot of which ends up in the peninsula where there is high demand.

Wildlife research NGO Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens said Sabah’s banteng population is only around 400 animals and the species is at the tipping point towards extinction.

“We have isolated populations in places like Sipitang, as well as central, south-eastern and north-eastern Sabah. If the killing continues, the banteng will go in the way of our Sumatran rhinos that are virtually extinct,” he added.

He said captive breeding programmes could help augment the small, isolated populations.

Wildlife experts have warned that other animals under threat include the Bornean elephants, numbering around 2,000, and the orang utan which total fewer than 10,000.

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Malaysia: 14,237 people forced from homes as Kelantan flood situation deteriorates

Bernama New Straits Times 1 Dec 17;

KOTA BARU: More people have been moved out of their homes in flood-hit Kelantan, with the number of evacuees rising to 14,237 as of 8am, compared to 13,873 at 9pm yesterday.

The Social Welfare Department’s ‘infobanjir’ app reported that all the evacuees, from 5,561 families, are being accommodated at 63 relief centres in the districts of Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Tumpat, Tanah Merah, Pasir Puteh and Gua Musang.

Gua Musang is the latest district to be hit by floods, with 142 people from 32 families taking shelter at two relief centres which were opened last night.

Pasir Mas has the highest number of evacuees at 10,646 from 4,482 families, housed at 40 centres; followed by Tumpat with 2,266 people from 794 families at six centres.

Pasir Puteh has 828 people from 247 families at eight centres; Kota Baru, 214 people from 63 families at four centres; and Tanah Merah, 141 people from 43 families at three centres.

The portal of the Drainage and Irrigation Department reported that the level of Sungai Golok at Rantau Panjang, Pasir Mas, has dropped to 10.29 metres as of 8am from 10.34 metres at 8pm yesterday, but remains above the danger point of nine metres.

The level of Sungai Golok at Kuala Jambu, Tumpat, remains at 3.71 metres, above the warning level of 2.50 metres.

The portal reported that rain, at times heavy, is currently falling in several areas in the state. -- BERNAMA

Over 14,000 evacuated as floods worsen in Kelantan
The Star 1 Dec 17;

KOTA BARU: More people have been moved out of their homes in flood-hit Kelantan, raising the number of evacuees to 14,237.

The of the Social Welfare Department’s "infobanjir" application reported Friday that all the evacuees were being accommodated at 63 relief centres in six districts, namely Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Tumpat, Tanah Merah, Pasir Puteh and Gua Musang.

Gua Musang became the latest district to be hit by the floods, and has 142 people from 32 families housed at two relief centres.

Pasir Mas has the highest number of evacuees - 10,646 from 4,482 families at 40 centres, followed by Tumpat with 2,266 people from 794 families at six centres

The portal of the Drainage and Irrigation Department reported that the level of Sungai Golok at Rantau Panjang, Pasir Mas, had dropped to 10.29m at 8am but remained above the danger point of 9m.

The level of Sungai Golok at Kuala Jambu, Tumpat, remained at 3.71m, exceeding the warning point of 2.5m. – Bernama

Terengganu floods: 600 displaced; three rivers above warning levels
Zarina Abdullah New Straits Times 2 Dec 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The number of people forced to evacuate their homes due to flooding in the state rose overnight.

State Civil Defence Department director Lt Colonel Che Adam A Rahman said that as of 7.30am today, 600 people from 169 families are taking shelter at 12 relief centres state-wide, compared to 503 people last night.

State Civil Defence Department director Lt Colonel Che Adam A Rahman. FILE PIC
Adam said eight relief centres were opened yesterday in Kuala Terengganu, Marang, Dungun and Kuala Nerus when floodwaters rose following continuous heavy rain.

In Marang, 368 people from 108 families are housed at four relief centres, namely Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Seri Payong, Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Bukit Gasing, SK Marang and SK Pasir Putih.

In Kuala Terengganu, 45 people from 15 families are at Sekolah Kebangsaan Chendering.

In Kuala Nerus, 54 people from 14 families were evacuated to three relief centres, including SK Bukit Nenas and SK Bukit Guntong.

In Dungun, 47 people from 12 families are at the Paka Civic Centre.

In Setiu, two relief centres are accommodating 65 people from 14 families.

In Besut, 21 victims from six families are at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tembila.

Meanwhile, according to the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, three rivers in Marang and Setiu are above their warning levels this morning.

Sungai Nerus in Kampung Langkap, Setiu, is at 21.44 metres (its warning level is 20.75m); while the reading at Sungai Chalok at the Chalok Bridge in Setiu is at 8.34 metres (its warning level is 7.70m).

Sungai Marang at the Pengkalan Berangan bridge is at 2.31 metres (0.01 metre above the warning level).

Flood situation in Terengganu worsens
Zarina Abdullah New Straits Times 1 Dec 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Flood situation in the state worsened as four more relief centres were opened in Kuala Nerus and Marang this evening compared to two in Besut and Setiu this morning.

The number of victims also increased, with 211 victims at six relief centres.

State Welfare Deartment portal has stated that a relief centre in Setiu was closed today as the flood water improved.

The portal said as of 7.30 pm today, 14 people from 4 families were seeking shelter at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Nenas in Kuala Nerus.

In Marang, four relief centres namely SK Seri Payong, SK Marang, SK Pasir Putih and SK Bukit Gasing were opened this evening to cater for 175 people from 51 families who were evacuated from their houses.

In Besut, 21 people from seven families stayed at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tembila when their houses were inundated by flood water between 0.5m and 1 metre.

Number of flood evacuees in Perak increases to 1,000
chan li leen The Star 1 Dec 17;

IPOH: The number of flood evacuees in Perak has risen to 1,000 as of 7pm on Friday.

State Malaysian Civil Defence Department (APM) director Kolonel Mohd Noor Hassan Ashari Sulaiman said there were 232 affected families currently seeking shelter at six flood relief centres in the Manjung district and one centre each in the Muallim and Larut, Matang and Selama districts.

He added that the Manjung district remained the hardest hit, with a total of 963 victims.

In Segari, a 17km-long stretch of road between Batu 3 and Batu 10 has been closed to all traffic due to serious soil erosion after continuous rain since Wednesday (Nov 29).

Floods in Manjung, Perak the worst in years, say locals
The Star 1 Dec 17;

BERUAS: The floods which struck several villages in the Manjung district here have been described by locals as the worst in recent history.

Faizal Mohd Radzi, 32, whose family had to be evacuated from their house in Kampung Semangat, Segari, near here, said this was the worst he had experienced since moving to the village five years ago.

"I was shocked to see that floodwaters had reached up to chest level, and I had to carry my eight-year-old nephew to the relief centre.

"We did not expect the floods to be this bad. I pity my nephew who had come to the village to enjoy his school holidays and had to endure the floods instead," he said when met by reporters at a flood relief centre at the Barisan Nasional Back Bencher's Club Hall in Batu 4, Segari.

Another resident, Muhamad Khairul Azmi, 21, who works as a security guard at a school, said he had to return home from work to help his family after their house was flooded.

He said the situation was worsened during heavy rain as muddy water flowed down from a hill into his house. – Bernama

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'Zero tolerance' plan eyed for plastic pollution

Roger Harrabin BBC 1 Dec 17;

A plan for zero tolerance of plastic pollution of the oceans may be agreed by nations at a UN environment summit.

Governments are being asked to move towards a legal treaty banning plastic waste from entering the sea.

At the moment ships are prohibited from dumping plastic overboard but there's no international law against plastics flooding into the sea from the land.

Experts say ocean plastics are an obvious subject for a global treaty: plastics present a large-scale threat.

Plastic pollution doesn't recognise international borders.

Delegates in Nairobi preparing the way for the UN's environment ministers meeting next week are said to be in broad agreement on the need for tougher action to combat the plastics crisis.

They are setting up a working party to explore options for global action to tackle plastic waste and microplastics.

The US has volunteered to take part, but is traditionally resistant to agreeing any international laws.

Mirror, mirror

One idea is to mirror the model of the Paris climate agreement.

In that deal, the framework of reporting emissions cuts and agreeing long-term goals is legally binding - but the national actions themselves are voluntarily determined.

Environmentalists say getting better information on how much plastic is flowing into the sea from what sources would be a major step.

The UN has already committed to substantial reduction of plastic waste by 2025 but a resolution led by Norway says the long-term aim must be for zero plastic waste.

It also wants to clean up of existing plastic from beaches. It says this is better value for money and better for the environment than some of the large-scale clean-up experiments currently in the mid Pacific - which it fears may harm wildlife.

Cleaning up beach plastic is especially important, it says, because abrasion breaks down large plastics into very harmful microplastics.

Norway also favours attempts to clear up "ghost" fishing gear discarded in the seas.

The conference will also hear that stronger leadership and co-ordination is needed - either from a strengthened UN Environment Programme, or perhaps even a new UN plastics agency.

Cautious progress?

Norway wants governments to compile an assessment of exactly how much waste plastic is getting into the sea from their territory. It admits this won't be easy.

A source close to the talks told BBC News: "There are many questions to be solved. Should there be a legally binding instrument prohibiting plastic from the land?

"If not, what other sort of overarching action should there be? We are grappling with this huge issue in its early stages."

China - the world's biggest plastics polluter - is said to be cautious about being bound by global rules.

Other big polluters like India and Indonesia are said to be generally supportive about the resolutions.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently applauded the clean-up of plastic from a beach in Mumbai, saying: "It is our duty to protect the environment for our future generations."

Eirik Lindebjerg from WWF said the Nairobi meeting could prove a turning point in the plastics crisis. He told BBC News: "The treaties on climate change and biodiversity were initiated in this forum - so it has a track record of making things happen.

"Plastics is one of those issues that clearly needs global agreement with maybe eight million tonnes ending up in the ocean.

"Plastic flows are huge and damaging; they flow across borders. We absolutely have to stop allowing plastics into the ocean - and this meeting looks like it could prove a very important start."

The meeting will also discuss pollution of the air and water. A global ban on lead in paints may be approved.

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Vietnam lacks climate change adaption funds

VietNamNet Bridge 1 Dec 17;

Vietnam needs US$140billion to $179 billion in the next 20 years for climate change reduction and adaptation, as well as technology.

However, the current budget can meet only some 5 per cent of the estimated demand, Nguyen Ngoc Hung, deputy head of People’s Aid Coordination Committee under the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Association told the Dai Doan Ket (Great Unity) newspaper.

In a recent workshop on mobilising sources to adapt to climate change in An Giang Province, environmental experts said that Vietnam needs some $30 billion to reach the target of reducing greenhouse gas by 2020. The budget to realise this target accounts for 0.1 per cent of GDP.

Out of more than $3.3 billion assistance given by non-governmental organisations to Vietnam between 2001 and 2016, only $2.5 million, equivalent to 7.4 per cent, was for natural resources and the environment sector.

In the first six months of this year, Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region was in need of some $10.2 million for climate change adaptation and rising sea water level.

Associate Professor, Le Anh Tuan, from Can Tho University, said that while waiting for investment sources for climate change adaptation work for the Mekong Delta region (the region hit the hardest by climate change in Vietnam), localities must play an active role to implement climate change adaption works by themselves.

Tra Vinh Province, for example, has built a climate change adaptation capacity, with the engagement of community and agriculture-rural development agencies. They have invested in sustainable agricultural livelihood through financial tools and equipment and the study of community-based development in the sector.

This month, Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, signed a resolution to sustainably develop the Mekong Delta as part of an effort to cope with climate change. The resolution also highlights the necessity of the Mekong Delta to create sustainable and prosperous development on the foundation of actively adapting and mobilising its strength and potential and transforming challenges into opportunities for development.

The Mekong Delta region, home to 19 per cent of the country’s population, has contributed to half of the rice production of the country, 65 per cent of aquaculture and 70 per cent of fruit production. Due to impacts of climate change, saline intrusion and landslides have been major threats to local agriculture.

According to a survey conducted by Aid for Social Protection Programme Foundation in Vietnam (AFV) in August and September this year in three districts of An Giang, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh provinces in the Mekong Delta region, nearly 13 per cent of households have totally lost their land or been forced to abandon their land or water surface due to climate change.

The cost to revive the soil for production is VND19.16 million ($830) per household, per year.

Surprisingly, more than 50 per cent of the households affected by climate change have never heard of or heard of but have no idea about the phrase, “climate change.” More than 32 per cent of climate change-affected households are not concerned about climate change.

For these reasons, experts said it is necessary to change the mindset of the community towards climate change in the Mekong Delta region. It is also necessary to share climate change information among sectors and mobilise sources from international non-governmental organisations, cooperation development agencies and social organisations.

Pham Van Tan, deputy head of the climate change department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the agricultural production structure in the region should be built on three key sectors: aquaculture-fruit trees-rice attached with micro eco areas. Besides agriculture, the processing industry and the supporting industry must also be given attention.
Source: VNS

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