The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has described the typhoon as one of the highest impact storms to hit Japan in many years, with hurricane-force winds, record-breaking rainfall, devastating storm surges, and coastal and inland flooding.

Hagibis made landfall on Saturday, south of the capital Tokyo, before moving north. The typhoon has brought widespread devastation and disruption to densely populated cities, and infrastructure, and has led to the deaths of at least 25 people, with 15 declared missing. The casualties are believed to result mainly from landslides, or from being swept away by flood waters.

According to media reports, tens of thousands of troops, firefighters and other emergency workers have been sent to the worst-hit areas, to rescue people trapped by floodwater.

By Sunday, the intensity of the storm had lessened, and it had moved off land. Utility companies were reportedly attempting to restore power to hundreds of thousands of homes.

Hagibis hit Japan just a month after another intense storm, Faxai, caused widespread damage to property in parts of the country, including tens of thousands of homes, which have yet to be repaired.

In a statement, released on Sunday, the Secretary-General said that he was saddened by reports of loss of life and extensive destruction caused by Hagibis. The UN chief extended his deep condolences to the families of the victims, the Government and people of Japan, and wished a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.

A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) video showing the progress of Typhoon Hagibis
 

The commitment came at a joint meeting of Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry, as part of the Pacific Week of Agriculture being held in Samoa, convened jointly by FAO and the Pacific Community (SPC). 

Pacific Ministers of Ag. and Forestry Meeting in #Samoa. #FAO's Assist. Director-General encourages partnerships promoting inclusiveness across countries & sectors, facilitating investments for better results based on scientific evidence. #EnhancingPartnerships@FAOAsiaPacificpic.twitter.com/mlytESWLw0

— FAO Pacific (@FAOPacific) October 4, 2019

Many Pacific island countries, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) around the world, are disproportionately threatened by climate change and the impacts of severe weather events, says FAO, a point driven home during last week’s landmark summit on SIDS and the unique challenges they face, at UN Headquarters in New York. 

Coupled with the vulnerability to rising sea levels and crippling extreme weather events, the small size and isolation of many Pacific island communities has also led to unhealthy diets though an increasing reliance on imported, processed foods.  

Many of these foods are high in fat, sugar and salt, leading to a crisis of obesity. The Pacific region is home to all the countries ranked in the top ten highest obesity rates globally, and it has the highest prevalence of diabetes per capita, FAO notes. 

“While responding to obesity is a big challenge, the prevalence of stunting in children under-five in the Pacific is also a major concern. It is running at almost 40 percent, the highest rate of any subregion in Asia and the Pacific,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.  

“Globally, the prevalence of undernourishment is around 17.5 percent in SIDS countries, compared to a worldwide average of around 11 percent,” she added in her opening remarks to Ministers. 

Working towards 2030 

The region has made progress in implementing an action programme on food security and nutrition, but much more will need to be achieved if the Pacific Islands are to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Congratulating his fellow Afghans for exercising their right to vote, even some who had had their fingers cut off by the Taliban in previous polls,” Mr. Mohib wholeheartedly thanked the “brave and professional Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for protecting that right.”

Indeed some 70,000 soldiers protected the citizenry and “because of their professionalism, most of the attacks – and all attacks that were intended to inflict mass casualties on civilians – were averted.”

“The next step in the journey to peace will be taken by Afghans, just as the first step was,” he continued, giving credit to Afghan women, “the first Afghan citizens to unite nationally around an agenda for peace.” Indeed, this past February, some 15,000 women from 34 provinces had been consulted on what would be acceptable to them in any peace agreement.

Mr. Mohib went on to highlight the historic national consultations that had been held in April and told the Assembly that as Afghanistan prepares to take the next step forward in the process, “we are committed to the principles of inclusivity, sustainability and dignity.

“No Afghan,” he said, “will truly be able to live in peace and freedom, until the day that every single Afghan lives in peace and freedom. It is the day we know we achieve with our international friends and partners.”

“Increasingly, Afghanistan is a country driven and defined by the expectations of its youth,” he said, explaining that this generation of young Afghans had been born and raised in war. “We are the new Afghanistan … We believe in our abilities to bring about peace we have hoped for all our lives.”

He said the message of the Afghan people to the “Taliban and their foreign sponsors is: join us or we will continue to fight.” Thanking the country’s international friends and partners that had supported the peace effort, he stressed the Afghan people have demanded a ceasefire immediately to stop the bloodshed and that talks must take place between the Government and the Taliban.

Kim Song, head of the country’s delegation, observed that more than a year has passed since DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump issued a joint statement following a historic summit in Singapore in June 2018.

It included security guarantees from Washington while the DPRK, also referred to as North Korea, committed to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“However, the relations between the DPRK and the US have made little progress so far and the situation of the Korean peninsula has not come out of the vicious cycle of increased tension, which is entirely attributable to the political and military provocations perpetrated by the US resorting to the anachronistic hostile policy against the DPRK,” Mr. Song said.

“It depends on the US whether the DPRK-US negotiations will become a window of opportunity or an occasion that will hasten the crisis.”

Last year also saw strides in the relationship between the DPRK and its neighbour to the south, the Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang and Seoul held three summits in 2018 covering numerous measures included denuclearization, but also on bringing an official end to the Korean War, which began in 1950. Although fighting ended three years later, the sides failed to reach agreement on a peace treaty.

Mr. Song reported that the inter-Korean dialogue has also flatlined, and he blamed “the double-dealing behavior of the South Korean authorities”, as evidenced by joint military exercises conducted with the US.

“The improvement of inter-Korean relations can only be achieved when the South Korean authorities put an end to big-Power worship and the policy of dependence on foreign forces encroaching upon the common interests of the nation and fulfill their responsibility assumed before the nation by implementing the inter-Korean declarations in good faith,” he stated.

On the development front, Mr. Song informed that his country is part of the global push to create a better world for all people and the planet.

that it is the duty of those representing their countries to preserve and protect the livelihood of the “generation of the future”, Mr. Pramudwinai said that the world is witnessing “a sea change”, with many challenges and opportunities.

The irony, continued the Foreign Minister, is that in a world where connectivity and interconnection are the norm, reaching out is considered a weakness, rather than strength.

Nevertheless, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived, he said, “irrespective of our preparedness, bringing with it an avalanche of technological advancements that will have far reaching and weighty ramifications on all matters affecting our lives.”

This is the reason that Thailand, which is chairing the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), has adopted the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, explained the Foreign Minister, embodying the notion of long-term and sustainable advancements for mutual benefit, rather than short-term gain.

Reflecting on the key summits held during the high-Level week of the General Debate – in particular those on Universal Health Coverage, Climate Action, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Mr. Pramudwinai noted that Thailand now ranks sixth globally in terms of universal health coverage,

The country has also pressed successfully for the ASEAN region to take a collective stand on marine debris, and ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement; and adopted a Sufficiency Economy Philosophy as its approach to implementing the SDGs, which strives for balance between development and progress, and social factors and coherence: “Without balance the road out of economically deprived existence for millions will lead nowhere”.

Because peace and stability are necessary prerequisites for these issues, Thailand, the Foreign Minister said, along with the other members of ASEAN, is pushing for partnerships, and turning conflicts into cooperation, to enable development and progress to be sustainable: “Essentially, it is our duty to give partnership and cooperation a chance, to prove that, with a different mindset, peace and common benefits can be achieved”.

The UN helped guide the south-east Asian country to independence in May 2002 after years of occupation by Indonesia following the departure of colonial ruler Portugal in 1975. 

“We have a historical relationship with the UN. The UN has a permanent and very special place in our hearts,” Mr. Babo Soares stated

“Timor-Leste continues to be an example of the best the UN has to offer to resolve conflicts and maintain peace and the legal international order when its Member States join efforts.” 

The Foreign Minister outlined some of the achievements of the “young democracy” which continues to engage in areas such as rule of law, good governance and human rights. 

Gender equality and parity are also “fundamental objectives”, with women constituting nearly 40 per cent of the country’s parliamentarians. 

“We have adopted a plan of action  against gender-based violence, including an integrated victim support programme, the promotion of economic empowerment programmes and awareness-raising campaigns,” he added.

Regarding regional developments, Mr. Babo Soares said Timor-Leste and Australia this month concluded talks on the ratification of a treaty on maritime boundaries

“Timor-Leste continues to have strong and special co-operation ties with our nearest neighbours, Indonesia and Australia. We have deepened our relations not only with Indonesia and Australia, but also with all ASEAN members and we serenely await a decision on our request to join this organization,” he said, speaking about the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

Like other small island developing states, Timor-Leste is on the frontlines of the climate crisis.   

Mr. Babo Soares spoke of some of the impacts already being felt, such as an extended dry season which has affected crop yields. In response, the Government is devising policies related to sectors such as renewable energy, forest conservation and promotion of organic farming. 

Timor-Leste is also doing its part in global efforts to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seek to benefit both people and the planet.

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