Daily Archives: December 20, 2017

Secretary-General Calls for Greater Security Council Focus on Emerging Situations, Systematic Pursuit of Conflict Prevention as Sound Investment in Future

Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at the Security Council open debate on “Addressing Complex Contemporary Challenges to International Peace and Security”, in New York today:

I thank Japan for using its presidency of the Security Council to focus on the increasingly complex drivers of armed conflict and instability.  Let me also express my appreciation to the Government and people of Japan for their hospitality during my visit to the country last week.

I would like to make three main points today.  First, we are seeing not only a quantitative but also a qualitative change in threats to international peace and security.  The perils of nuclear weapons are again front and centre, with tensions higher than they have been since the end of the cold war.

Climate change has emerged as a threat multiplier.  Water scarcity is a growing concern, as demand for freshwater is projected to grow by more than 40 per cent by the middle of the century.

Inequality and exclusion feed frustration and marginalization.  Cybersecurity dangers are escalating, as some of the same advances in technology that have generated so many gains have also made it easier for extremists to communicate, broadcast distorted narratives of grievance, recruit followers and exploit people.  The number of armed conflicts has declined over the long-term, but in the Middle East and parts of Africa, conflicts have surged.

Conflicts are becoming more intractable.  They are longer — more than 20 years on average — meaning that the people they displace are spending ever‑increasing amounts of time away from their homes and communities.  They are more complex, as armed groups compete for control over State institutions, natural resources and territory — and as extremist groups with absolutist demands leave little room for diplomacy.  We are seeing a multiplication of political factions and non-State armed groups — with hundreds of armed groups in Syria alone.

There is also an increase in the regionalization and internationalization of conflicts.  External military and financial support to conflict parties prolongs civil wars — and fuels wider tensions as local fights become proxies for larger rivalries.  Conflicts are more linked with each other, and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  And transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers perpetuate the chaos and prey on refugees and migrants.

Second, the changing nature of conflict means rethinking our approaches — both how we work and how we work with others.  Our efforts must be coherent, coordinated and context-specific.  We must work across pillars, and across the peace continuum, towards integrated action.

It was with this goal in mind that I initiated three interlinked reform efforts aimed at repositioning the United Nations development system, streamlining our internal management and strengthening the Secretariat’s peace and security architecture.

I have also sought to forge closer links with regional partners, including the African Union, the European Union and others.  The Joint Force created by the G5 Sahel Member States is an important step in this regard, as is the United Nations-African Union framework agreement earlier this year.

Third, prevention must be at the centre of everything we do.  It is better to prevent conflict than to manage it.  It avoids tragic human suffering and it even saves money.  Though hard to quantify and typically undertaken far from the media spotlight, prevention is a sound investment that brings ample, visible dividends.

Development is one of our best instruments of prevention, and the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] gives us enormous potential.  Development is an objective in its own right, and should not be misused in pursuit of other aims.  But, the steps we take towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will also help build peaceful societies.

Respect for all human rights — not only civil and political, but also economic, social and cultural — is an essential element of prevention.  In the lead-up to the outbreak of widespread violence, we often see increases in repression, the closing of space for civil society and the rise of sectarianism.  We must invest in social cohesion, so that all people feel they have a stake in society.

We also know that gender equality is closely linked with resilience, and that women’s participation is crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women are empowered, societies flourish and peace processes have a better chance of taking hold.  We must also do more to address the systematic violence faced by women before, during and after conflict, and to pursue justice for perpetrators as an essential part of post-conflict healing and recovery.

Prevention also includes preventive diplomacy — efforts to respond promptly to signs of tension and to forge political solutions.  The newly established High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation has met for the first time to assess opportunities for engagement, and I expect it to begin its first formal, but discreet, undertaking soon.  My own good offices are of course available to you at all times.

The concept of human security is a useful frame of reference for this work, and I thank Japan for its long-standing advocacy.  Human security is people-centred and holistic; it stresses the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

These must all be touchstones for our work.  I welcome the efforts by the Council to explore new ways to monitor and address the risks of conflict.  Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace.

Finally, let me emphasize the need for unity on the part of the Security Council.  Without it, the parties to conflict may take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict will push situations to the point of no return, again and again.  But, with unity, we can advance security and well-being for all.

Minutes – Monday, 4 December 2017 – PE 615.291v01-00 – Committee on International Trade

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Globe had third warmest year to date and fifth warmest November on record

Climate threatsGlobe had third warmest year to date and fifth warmest November on record

Published 20 December 2017

With a warm start to the year and only one month remaining, the globe remains on track to go down as the third warmest year in the 138-year climate record. Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage remain at near-record lows.

With a warm start to the year and only one month remaining, the globe remains on track to go down as the third warmest year in the 138-year climate record.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>So, let’s get straight to the data and dive deeper into NOAA’s monthly analysis to see how the planet fared for November, the season and the year to date:


HE”>Climate by the numbers
November 2017

NOAAsays that t
“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>he average global temperature in November 2017 was 1.35 degrees F above the twentieth-century average of 55.2 degrees, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This average temperature tied 2016 as the fifth highest for November in the 1880-2017 record. This marked the 41st consecutive November and the 395rd consecutive month with temperatures above the twentieth-century average.


HE”>Seasonal | September through November 2017


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The end of November marks the end of the fall season for the Northern Hemisphere and spring for the Southern Hemisphere. The average seasonal temperature for the globe was 1.35 degrees F above the 20th century average of 57.1 degrees F. This was the fourth highest for September-November in the 1880-2017 record.


HE”>Year to date | January through November 2017


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The year-to-date average temperature was 1.51 degrees F above the twentieth-century average of 57.2 degrees. This was the third warmest for this period on record.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Other notable climate events and facts around the world last month included:


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Near-record-low sea ice at the poles

·
HE”>The average Arctic sea ice coverage in November was 11.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average, the third smallest since records began in 1979.

·
HE”>Antarctic sea ice extent in November was 5.7 percent below average, the second smallest on record.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Warmer-than-average lands and oceans

·
HE”>The globally averaged land-surface temperature ranked as ninth warmest for the month of November, fifth warmest for the season (September – November) and second highest for the year to date (January to November).  

·
HE”>The globally averaged sea-surface temperature ranked fourth warmest for November and the season, and third highest for the year to date.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>South America and Asia led the continents in November, seasonal warmth rankings

·
HE”>South America and Asia had their 10th warmest November on record; Oceania, its 13th; Africa, its 19th; Europe, its 22nd; and North America, its 30th.  

·
HE”>For the season, South America and Asia had their second warmest September-November on record; Africa, its fourth; North America, its fifth; Oceania, its sixth; and Europe, its seventh.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>You can find NOAA’s report and download related maps and images by visiting the NCEI website.

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South Florida faces increasing inland flood threat

FloodsSouth Florida faces increasing inland flood threat

Published 20 December 2017


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>As South Florida raises groundwater levels to fight saltwater intrusion, the threat of inland flooding will only increase, according to newly published research results. Although high groundwater levels in South Florida are a major contributor to inland floods, especially during the wet season or extreme rain events, traditional flood models don’t account for the groundwater beneath our feet, scientists have found.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>As South Florida raises groundwater levels to fight saltwater intrusion, the threat of inland flooding will only increase, according to newly published research results.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Although high groundwater levels in South Florida are a major contributor to inland floods, especially during the wet season or extreme rain events, traditional flood models don’t account for the groundwater beneath our feet, scientists have found.

The NSFsays that n
“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>ow, hydrologist Michael Sukop of Florida International University and colleagues have released a model that points to South Florida’s groundwater policies as a cause of the region’s flooding.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The results are published this month in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>South Florida protects its drinking water sources from saltwater intrusion by keeping groundwater levels high. As sea level rises, groundwater levels may need to be raised even higher, which could cause yet more flooding, Sukop said.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>It’s a trade-off, he said, that water resource managers need to deal with as they try to control floods, while ensuring water supplies for human consumption and maintaining the integrity of the environment.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>“This research shows that sea-level rise, rainfall and groundwater can interact to create significant ‘nuisance’ flooding — flooding that leads to public impacts such as road closures,” said Tom Torgersen, program director for NSF’s Water, Sustainability and Climate Program, which supported the research.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Added Sukop, “Many current flood models treat the land as an impermeable surface when, in fact, South Florida’s land surface is highly permeable and the water table is very close to the surface.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>“Our model offers a different way of understanding and addressing the flooding problem. When it rains hard enough, or when tides are high, the water table can come all the way to the surface and cause flooding.”


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Sukop collaborated with Jeffrey Czajkowski, managing director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and researchers from nine other universities and government agencies to assess flooding risks posed by groundwater, including the economic costs.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>“Our analysis reveals the historical relationships between flood insurance claims and groundwater levels in Miami-Dade County,” said Czajkowski.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>“We’re able to quantify the economic trade-offs of simultaneously meeting both the flood control and freshwater demands of the urban sector, information we expect to be useful in South Florida where new strategies for managing the region’s water resources are being sought.”


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The NSF notes that Sukop examined groundwater levels in parts of northeast Miami-Dade County. Looking at data from the past forty years, he found that groundwater levels are rising at the rate of local sea level. As a result, parts of Miami could see a doubling in the number of damaging floods and a tripling in the number of severe floods by 2060, Sukop said.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The researchers hope the information will help water resource managers and urban planners better understand flooding and the economic impacts of keeping water tables high to control saltwater intrusion.

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DHS’ empty positions; agriculture security at risk; positive train control, and more

Our picksDHS’ empty positions; agriculture security at risk; positive train control, and more

Published 20 December 2017

· All the key Department of Homeland Security positions Trump has left unfilled

· The National Security Strategy papers over a crisis

· Is agriculture security at risk? More than you realize

· Reciprocal rage: why Islamist extremists and the far right need each other

· The Internet of Things is going to change everything about cybersecurity

· Cybersecurity in the Trump era

· What Trump’s National Security Strategy says on cyber

· Could positive train control have prevented the Washington wreck?

All the key Department of Homeland Security positions Trump has left unfilled (Heather Timmons, NextGov)
The Department of Homeland Security is tasked with keeping the US safe, from securing the country’s borders to protecting against attacks on its electrical grids and thwarting terrorism attacks. One of its biggest challenges in recent months has come from the White House itself: Since Donald Trump took office in January, dozens of top jobs have been left unassigned, hollowing out the massive agency.

The National Security Strategy papers over a crisis (Thomas Wright, Defense One)
The NSS is a stunning repudiation of Trump, and Trump’s speech was a stunning repudiation of the NSS.

Is agriculture security at risk? More than you realize (Sara Brown, Drovers)
When U.S. Navy Seals entered the hiding place for Osama Bin Laden they found a list of 16 deadly agricultural pathogens that Al Qaeda intended to use as bioweapons, said former Sen. Joe Lieberman during a recent Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing on agro-defense. Six of the bioweapons targeted livestock production. Four targeted crop production. Six more targeted humans.

Reciprocal rage: why Islamist extremists and the far right need each other (Sean Illing, Vox)
How two complementary extremisms are defining global politics.

The Internet of Things is going to change everything about cybersecurity (Yevgeny Dibrov, Harvard Business Review)
Cybersecurity can cause organizational migraines. In 2016, breaches cost businesses nearly $4 billion and exposed an average of 24,000 records per incident. In 2017, the number of breaches is anticipated to rise by 36%. The constant drumbeat of threats and attacks is becoming so mainstream that businesses are expected to invest more than $93 billion in cyber defenses by 2018. Even Congress is acting more quickly to pass laws that will — hopefully — improve the situation.

Cybersecurity in the Trump era (Wall Street Journal)
It isn’t much different than under President Obama, say Gregory Touhill and Christopher Krebs. That says a lot about the issue.

What Trump’s National Security Strategy says on cyber (Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain)
Here’s what the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy means for the nation’s cybersecurity strategy.

Could positive train control have prevented the Washington wreck? (David A. Graham, The Atlantic)
The NTSB said the train that derailed south of Seattle on Monday was traveling 80 miles per hour, 50 miles faster than the speed limit on the curve where it crashed.