Updated daily for 18:00 CET (12:00 in New York) but the week's earlier stories are at the links
News agency, multiple sources or UN preferred. * = read with extra caution. ! = updated since posted.
😡 = Left blindspot ‖ 😰 = Right blindspot ‖ red headline = alt-right ;● = may require signup or subscription
— WHO estimates that air pollution is responsible for around seven million deaths per year, while exposure to other hazardous chemicals causes a further two million deaths annually.
Last March, the UN passed a series of measures aimed at tackling the pollution crisis. As well as plans for a new treaty on ending plastic pollution, these included a resolution to set up a new science–policy panel to advise on managing chemicals and waste, and preventing pollution. The panel will be similar in stature to the IPCC and IPBES — the bodies that produce the world's most authoritative reports on climate and biodiversity issues, respectively.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) wants the new panel to get to work in 2025. The working group charged with forming the panel met for the first time in October, and the latest talks underway in Bangkok will aim to secure funding from UN member states and hone the draft plans for the panel's scope and procedures. The plans will be further refined in numerous regional and international meeting, concluding in at the end of 2024.
— Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, a former Nigerian Cabinet minister and a Muslim, said at a news conference that four Taliban ministers, including the foreign minister and a deputy prime minister, spoke "off one script" during meetings with her delegation last week.
She said the officials sought to stress things that they say they have done and not gotten recognition for — and what they called their effort to create an environment that protects women. "Their definition of protection would be, I would say, ours of oppression," Mohammed said.
— "The United Nations' security response to the Taliban's lightning 2021 overthrow of the United States-backed Afghan government was plagued by poor planning and a breakdown in communication, exposing a fundamental lack of staff trust in the organization's ability to protect them at a time of extreme crisis."
— About half of the estimated 500 companies attending the 2023 annual World Economic Forum (WEF) event in Davos, Switzerland, are technology companies and startups. The conversations I've overheard or been a part of, so far, have concerned the pragmatic (using blockchain for traceability), the political (using blockchain for anti-corruption), the futuristic (decentralized finance and the metaverse) and the hopeful (incentivizing climate action through Web3).
— Singapore's use of its digital twin is already highlighted as best practice in the 2021 UNDP Handbook on Smart Urban Innovations. Its 3D virtual model allows new developments to be simulated with great precision. This digital twin is used in planning bicycle lanes and parking lots, taking into account many factors such as road obstacles, tree shading, surrounding facilities, traffic connections and other safety parameters. The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, aims to use digital twins to increase public participation in urban planning and to track energy consumption. Seoul in South Korea uses it to predict wind paths and inform urban design in a way that reduces spread of forest fires, heat island effect (spots in urban areas with higher temperatures) and spread of fine dust.