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New Partnership Aims to Boost China’s Environmental Policies and Circular Economy

MD Staff

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The World Economic Forum has signed an agreement to boost multistakeholder cooperation on environmental policy with the China Council on International Cooperation on Environment and Development, an influential advisory body to China’s State Council. The CCICED includes Chinese and international experts.

The MoU comes shortly after Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, stressed the importance of the UN Paris Climate Agreement in his keynote address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos as “a hard-won achievement that is in keeping with the underlying trend of global development.”

The collaboration will explore how circular and sharing-economy models can create a more resource-efficient society in China, and will also focus on other areas including oceans, the potential of new technologies for the environment, and climate change. An early output will involve research using anonymized data from sharing-economy companies and the analytical support of the MIT Senseable Cities Lab.

China has ambitious plans to reduce waste and tackle carbon emissions. Its government has promoted the recirculation of waste materials through targets, policies, financial measures and legislation. The goal is a “circular economy”, which includes closing industrial loops to turn outputs from one manufacturer into inputs for another and reducing the consumption of virgin materials and the generation of waste.

“In the past decade, China has made important progress in both the theory and practice of the circular economy, bringing environmental and economic benefits to key industries. For instance, with an annual output of over 2 trillion yuan, the resource recycling industry is growing by 15% annually and employs more than 30 million people. The application of big data and a new round of technological revolution will deepen regional and international cooperation in circular economy, and facilitate the realization of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” said Fang Li, Assistant Secretary-General of CCICED Secretariat, and Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, People’s Republic of China.

“China is pursuing the world’s largest public-private renewable energy and green-infrastructure investment programme and is also committed to accelerating the circular and sharing economy, driven by technology and business-model innovation to promote mass innovation and entrepreneurialism and to decouple growth from resource use. Through this unprecedented collaboration, which includes harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the environment, we are delighted to help support China’s leadership in environment and economic transformation,” said Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.

“This collaboration shows China’s commitment to exploring new economic models for sustainable and inclusive growth. We believe that our joint work will yield important case studies and policy recommendations for leaders. We hope that this partnership can serve as a role model for collaboration with other thought leaders in China who are committed to improving the state of the world,” said David Aikman, Chief Representative Officer, China, and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.

The collaboration will form part of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, a global project with regional hubs in China, Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe. The platform is chaired by Frans van Houten, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Philips, Netherlands; Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, USA; and Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi. It is hosted by the World Economic Forum with support from Accenture Strategy.

The agreement was signed at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 by Fang, Aikman and Waughray, and It was witnessed by Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, and International Executive Vice-Chair of the CCICED, who added: “China can play an important role in accelerating the shift to a clean-growth economy. I am very pleased to see the Council build on its accomplishments by joining this new partnership.”

A key collaborator in the World Economic Forum’s circular economy initiative is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Dame Ellen MacArthur, its founder said: “In 2009, China was the first country to adopt circular-economy legislation, clearly recognizing the need to address the gap between anticipated economic demand and the supply of finite resources. Today’s announced collaboration between the Chinese government and the World Economic Forum, which is committed to accelerating the transition to a circular economy, sends a very strong signal of the importance of this topic and its take-up globally.”

“Accenture Strategy is pleased to see this MoU signed for the Chinese Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy. We look forward to assisting the work of the hub on transforming consumption patterns through sharing and circular models, and to helping enable mass entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Peter Lacy, Global Managing Director, Strategy and Sustainability, Accenture, United Kingdom.

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EU Politics

Rwanda: EU provides €10.3 million for life-saving refugee support measures

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During his visit to Rwanda, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica has announced a €10.3 million support package to the UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda, which provides a life-saving avenue out of Libya for people in need of international protection, with a view to their further resettlement. The funding is provided through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. This initiative builds on the example of the ETM Niger, through which more than 2,900 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated out of Libya since 2017.

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “The Emergency Transit Mechanism in Rwanda is a vital life-saving measure to bring people in need of international protection out of Libya. It is an important sign of African solidarity and of partnership with the European Union. It broadens the support to the most vulnerable people held in Libyan detention centres that need to be closed urgently.”

Commissioner Mimica said: “This project will support efforts of the Government of Rwanda to receive and provide protection to about 1,500 refugees and asylum-seekers who are currently being held in detention centres in Libya. Such a remarkable and powerful proof of African solidarity should be further encouraged, replicated and supported.”

Background 

The UNHCR has evacuated more than 4,250 refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to other countries since 2017.

However, around 4,700 people are currently estimated to be held in dire conditions inside detention centres in the country. They urgently need to be moved to safety and to be provided with protection, lifesaving assistance, and durable solutions.

Following the escalation in and around Tripoli, namely the July air strike on a migrant detention centre, the EU continues to support the vital work of the Gathering and Departure Facility on location.

The EU is also supporting the UNHCR’s increased efforts to transfer to Tripoli the most vulnerable people in need of international protection from conflict areas where they are at risk, pending their evacuation outside of Libya.

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ADB Program to Help Improve Education and Health in Armenia

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $10 million policy-based loan (in euro equivalent) to assist the Government of Armenia’s efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of education and health services.

Armenia is experiencing a demographic shift with the share of children under the age of 18 declining from 37% of the national population in 1990 to 25% now, signaling an impending decline of the country’s labor force. Access to and funding for quality education and health services are poor, resulting in many people not having the skills to meet employers’ needs and avoidable ill health having a detrimental effect on the population.

In 2017, for instance, public expenditure on education was about 2.2% of gross domestic product (GDP), which is lower than the 5% recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Government health spending was at 1.3% of GDP, below the 5% threshold observed by the World Health Organization as expenditure of countries with low shares of out-of-pocket payments.

To address this, the Government of Armenia has implemented reforms since 2010 to improve education and health services, with a focus on helping women and girls. A preschool law was endorsed to the National Assembly with the aim of boosting the number of children in elementary schools to 70% in 2023, from around 30% in 2017. Teachers have also been receiving training and skills development. A new set of guidelines and protocols, meanwhile, have been implemented in most of the country’s hospitals and health centers, covering topics ranging from preventing hospital-acquired infections to methods in continuing medical education.

“A well-educated and healthy population is essential for the growth and development of a country like Armenia, where human capital is significantly unrealized,” said ADB Senior Health Specialist for Central and West Asia Ms. Rouselle Lavado. “ADB’s assistance will support the government’s ongoing efforts to ensure that citizens are educated, healthy, and productive.

The main focus of the Human Development Enhancement Program is children and youth, starting from the preschool age. As well as improving the accessibility and enhancing the quality of education and health services in the country, the program will also increase financing for these efforts.

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Human Rights

ICC gives greenlight for probe into violent crimes against Rohingya

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Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, namely deportation, which have forced between 600,000 and one million Rohingya refugees out of Myanmar, into neighboring Bangladesh since 2016.  

The pre-trial judges “accepted that there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border” the Court said in a press statement, in addition to “persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population.” 

After a reported military-led crackdown, widespread killings, rape and village burnings, nearly three-quarters of a million Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 to settle in crowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. 

This is the second strike against the alleged crimes this week, as the tribunal’s decision follows a Monday submission by Gambia to the UN’s principal judicial organ, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Myanmar of “mass murder, rape, and genocidal acts” which violate its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in addition to destruction of villages, arbitrary detention, and torture.  

As a member to the Genocide prevention treaty, Gambia “refused to stay silent”, and as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the small African nation has taken legal action to assist the persecuted majority-Muslim Rohingya, with support by other Muslim countries.  

In July, the ICC’s top Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, requested an investigation be open into the alleged crimes committed since October of 2016, concerning Myanmar and Bangladesh.  

At that time, her Office’s preliminary examination found “a reasonable basis” to believe that at least 700,00 Rohingya were deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh “through a range of coercive acts causing suffering and serious injury.” 

Under the Rome Statute that created the ICC, which highlights crimes against humanity as one of its four crucial international crimes, the top Prosecutor concluded sufficient legal conditions had been met to open an investigation.  

While Myanmar is not a State party to the treaty, Bangladesh ratified the Statute in 2010, meaning authorization to investigate does not extend to all crimes potentially committed in Myanmar, but will focus on violations committed in part on Bangladeshi territory, the ICC said in July.  

‘Only justice and accountability’ can stop the violence 

Judges forming the pre-trial chamber, Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia, Judge Robert Fremr, and Judge Geofreey Henderson received views on this request by or on behalf of hundreds of thousands of alleged victims.  

According to the ICC Registry, victims insist they want an investigation by the Court, and many “believe that only justice and accountability can ensure that the perceived circle of violence and abuse comes to an end.” 

“Noting the scale of the alleged crimes and the number of victims allegedly involved, the Chamber considered that the situation clearly reaches the gravity threshold,” the Court said.    

The pre-trial Chamber in addition authorized the commencement of the investigation in relation to any crime, including future crime, so long as it is within the jurisdiction of the Court, and is allegedly committed at least in part in the Rome Statute State Party, Bangladesh, or any other territory accepting the jurisdiction.  

The alleged crime must also be sufficiently linked to the present situation, and must have been committed on or after the date of the Statute’s entry into force for Bangladesh or the relevant State Party.  

Judges from the ICC have given the greenlight for prosecutors to commence collection of necessary evidence, which could result in the judge’s issuance of summonses to appear in court or warrants of arrest. Parties to the Statute have a legal obligation to cooperate fully with the ICC, nonmembers invited to cooperate may decide to do so voluntarily. 

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