The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
UN Members Killed in Ethiopian Plane Crash Headed to 4th UN Environment Assembly
The Fourth UN Environment Assembly began in Nairobi Monday with a moment of silence for the victims of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines ET302 that killed 157 people on Sunday, including 22 UN staff members, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) reported.
Some of those killed in the crash has been traveling to the assembly, which is the largest ever gathering of the world's top environmental decision-making organization. Among the dead were youth delegates, scientists and academics, UN Environment Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya said in a statement.
"The environmental community is in mourning today," Msuya said.
The deadly crash occurred minutes after the plane took off from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia Sunday morning en route to Nairobi, The Guardian reported. Everyone on board was killed. The tragedy raised safety concerns about the plane's model, a Boeing 737 Max 8, a new design that was involved in a similar crash in Indonesia in October 2018.
A UNEP staff member told AFP that the agency was "still trying to consolidate" the number of UN workers who had died.
Among those lost was Victor Shangai Tsang, who was the UNEP Policy Officer on Sustainable Development and had been with the program since 2015. His last professional act had been to work to promote the Sustainable Development Goals Innovation Talks at the assembly. He also worked on issues of gender equality.
"He represented the best in all of us, and we will miss him terribly," a UNEP statement said.
The tragedy cast a pall over the opening proceedings. The UN flag was lowered to half-mast, and the country flags were removed, UNEP reported.
"In the wake of this tragedy, it has been difficult to navigate how to proceed without showing disrespect to the many lives lost yesterday," Acting Director-General of UN Office in Nairobi and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Maimunah Sharif said. "I want to assure you all however, that as the day and week unfolds, and the world's global environmental leaders meet to discuss the future of our planet, we will not forget this tragedy, nor those that perished with it."
As the assembly began, one major theme to emerge was the need to address plastic pollution, AFP reported. The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes (approximately 331 million U.S. tons) of plastic every year, and scientists say at least five trillion pieces of it are floating in the oceans. The UN wants countries to set ambitious targets to reduce plastic manufacturing and phase out single-use plastics by 2030, in an effort modeled after the Paris agreement to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"In the field of (plastic) pollution we don't have such agreements," UN Environment Assembly President and Estonia's Environment Minister Siim Kiisler told members of the press, as AFP reported. "This is the first time (we have) to convince member states to make international commitments."
Msuya urged delegates to be "optimistic and bold" and work towards the goals of reducing fossil fuel use by 80 percent and creating an almost zero waste economy, both by 2050, according to UNEP.
"[We need to] transform the way our economies work ... break the link between growth and increased resource use, and end our throwaway culture," Msuya said, as AFP reported.
- The Victims of the Ethiopia Plane Crash - The New York Times ›
- Georgetown Law student among the victims in Ethiopian plane crash ›
- Ethiopia plane crash: what we know about the disaster so far – video ... ›
- Ethiopian Airlines plane crash prompts grounding of many Boeing ... ›
- Ethiopian Airlines plane crash: Live updates - CNN ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD
While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.
Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.
The Return of a Relative: Tribal Communities in the Northern Great Plains Rally Around Bison Restoration
By Clay Bolt
On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.