According to Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China would use the next Forum on China-Africa Cooperation conference as an opportunity to engage with Africa to construct a closer China-Africa community with a shared destiny. Li spoke at the virtual opening ceremony of the Fifth Session of the Regular Exchange Mechanism between the NPC and the South African National Assembly.
He said South Africa is welcome to join the Global Development Initiative presented by China in order to achieve robust, green, and healthy global development. China-South Africa ties have been praised by a top Chinese legislator, who said the two nations have consistently promoted cooperation in numerous industries such as commerce, investment, science, and technology.
According to Li, the NPC is prepared to work with the National Assembly of South Africa to fully utilize the regular exchange mechanism platform and improve cooperation between the two nations’ legislative bodies.
Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, attended the meeting via video link and stated that South Africa is ready to further develop the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership and strengthen cooperation in various sectors such as epidemic control and economic and social development.
Mapisa-Nqakula expressed hope that the two nations’ legislative bodies will continue to strengthen collaboration and actively utilise the regular exchange mechanism to promote bilateral relations.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
WHO calls for ‘urgent action’ as monkeypox cases in Europe spark concerns
WHO’s Europe chief has warned cases in the region have tripled in the last two weeks and appealed to countries to do more to ensure the previously rare disease does not become entrenched on the continent.
The European Region remains the centre of the expanding monkeypox outbreak, with the World Health Organisation saying that efforts are needed to prevent the disease.
New cases have tripled since June 15 to over 4,500 laboratory-confirmed infections across the WHO Europe Region, which extends from Greenland in the northwest to the Russian Far East.
“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said on Friday.
From Jan 1 to June 22, altogether 3,413 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death have been reported to WHO from 50 countries and territories in five WHO Regions.
In the meantime, WHO continues to assess the risk of monkeypox in the European Region as “high”, given the continued threat to public health and the rapid expansion of the disease.
WHO said continued challenges hamper the response, with additional cases reported among women and children.
The WHO European Region represents almost 90% of all laboratory-confirmed and globally reported cases since mid-May.
Six new countries
Kluge said that since his last statement on June 15, six new countries and areas have reported monkeypox cases, taking the total to 31.
The WHO regional chief said close to 10% of patients were reported hospitalized for treatment or isolation purposes, and one patient has been admitted to an ICU.
“The vast majority of cases have presented with a rash, and about three-quarters have reported systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sore throat, or headache,” said Kluge.
WHO said 26 countries and areas have submitted detailed information.
“We need to continue to examine this information carefully over the next few weeks and months to understand better exposure risks, clinical presentations in different population groups, and — most importantly — to rapidly identify any changes in the trajectory of the outbreak that would affect our public health risk assessment,” said Kluge.
Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which killed millions around the world every year before it was eradicated in 1980, but has far less severe symptoms.
The disease starts with a fever and quickly develops into a rash, with the formation of scabs. It is usually mild and typically clears up spontaneously after two to three weeks.
UN Ocean Conference: Joint effort needed to combat plastic pollution
Twenty-one new governments announced they will join the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment at the UN Ocean Conference on June 27, further boosting the leadership on tackling plastic pollution.
Established in 2018 and led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Commitment has united more than 500 signatories including businesses, governments and other organizations to drive the transition towards a circular economy for plastic, where plastic never becomes waste.
Plastic is everywhere in our lives, but after we use it, it ends up in the ocean. At least 11 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, according to the UN, making up 80 percent of all marine debris.
Plastic pollution can have a serious impact on the entire marine ecosystem. Plastic entangles animals and is ingested by marine species. More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution, according to the UN. Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles and countless fish each year.
Switching from virgin plastic to recycled plastic is one of the most effective ways to reduce plastic pollution. However, less than 10 percent of the plastic used around the world is recycled, said the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on February 22.
Instead of recycling plastic, more greenhouse gases are emitted each time virgin plastic or single-use plastic is produced, used and disposed. According to projections by UNEP, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal, would account for 15 percent of allowed emissions, under the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As greenhouse gas emissions increase, the planet will become hotter, and the oceans will also be seriously affected, by phenomena such as sea level rise and ocean temperature rise.
Plastic pollution is one of the major global environmental problems, which brings great challenges to global sustainable development. It is estimated that the annual amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean could triple by 2040, according to the UN.
Many countries have issued a number of plastic pollution control policies, and more and more of them have passed some sort of full or partial ban on plastic bags.
India imposed a ban on single-use plastics on items ranging from straws to cigarette packets to combat worsening pollution in the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people on July 1. Canada will impose a ban on the manufacture and import of single-use plastics by the end of the year.
China has always attached great importance to the control of plastic pollution. As early as 2007, policies were introduced to restrict the production, sale and use of plastic bags. China pledged to substantially extend its laws to combat plastic bag use, first banning all non-compostable bags in major cities by the end of 2020 and extending the ban to the entire country by 2022.
It’s urgent for all countries to work together to combat plastic pollution.
In March this year, a historic resolution was adopted by countries at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly. It calls for the convening of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop – by the end of 2024 – an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.
Gov’t does not obstruct freedom of expression: Speaker
Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has stated the administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih does not obstruct freedom of expression. He made the statement in response to a question at the fifth programme of the Ask Speaker series.
Speaking at the programme, Speaker Nasheed said he has not seen President Solih’s administration try to obstruct freedom of speech and expression, and does not believe there are efforts to do so. However, the speaker stated the constitution does not grant freedom of expression without limits and boundaries. He said these boundaries must be respected, especially when it could affect diplomatic relations established with other countries.
During the programme, Speaker Nasheed was also asked if he might contest in the presidential election next year as an independent candidate after leaving the main ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). In response to this question, the speaker said he hopes to remain at MDP till his last day and would definitely not be seen in another party. He said MDP has a vision for the future, and will seek ways to resolve internal conflicts and implement its development vision for the country.
During the programme, Speaker Nasheed answered questions on parliamentary work, as well as other political and social matters. The speaker highlighted the important work carried out by the parliament across the last two terms, including several important bills.
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