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

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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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Only 4 out of 38 clean-energy technologies are on track to meet long-term climate goals

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The International Energy Agency’s new and most comprehensive analysis of the clean-energy transition finds that only 4 out of 38 energy technologies and sectors were on track to meet long-term climate, energy access and air pollution goals in 2017.

The findings are part of the IEA’s latest Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP), a newly updated website released today that assesses the latest progress made by key energy technologies, and how quickly each technology is moving towards the goals of the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS).

Some technologies made tremendous progress in 2017, with solar PV seeing record deployment, LEDs quickly becoming the dominant source of lighting in the residential sector, and electric vehicle sales jumping by 54%. But IEA analysis finds that most technologies are not on track to meet long-term sustainability goals. Energy efficiency improvements, for example, have slowed and progress on key technologies like carbon capture and storage remains stalled. This contributed to an increase in global energy-related CO2 emissions of 1.4% last year.

TCEP provides a comprehensive, rigorous and up-to-date analysis of the status of the clean-energy transition across a full range of technologies and sectors, their recent progress, deployment rates, investment levels, and innovation needs. It is the result of a bottom-up approach backed by the IEA’s unique understanding of markets, modeling and energy statistics across all fuels and technologies, and its extensive global technology network, totaling 6,000 researchers across nearly 40 technology collaboration programmes.

The analysis includes a series of high-level indicators that provide an overall assessment of clean energy trends and highlight the most important actions needed for the complex energy sector transformation.

For the first time, the analysis also highlights more than 100 key innovation gaps that need to be addressed to speed up the development and deployment of these clean energy technologies. It provides an extensive analysis of public and private clean energy research and development investment. It found that total public spending on low-carbon energy technology innovation rose 13% in 2017, to more than USD 20 billion.

“There is a critical need for more vigorous action by governments, industry, and other stakeholders to drive advances in energy technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “The world doesn’t have an energy problem but an emissions problem, and this is where we should focus our efforts.”

A total of 11 of 38 technologies surveyed by the IEA were significantly not on track. In particular, unabated coal electricity generation (meaning generation without Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage, or CCUS), which is responsible for 72% of power sector emissions, rebounded in 2017 after falling over the last three years.

Meanwhile, two technologies, onshore wind and energy storage, were downgraded this year, as their progress slowed. This brought the number of technologies “in need of improvement” to a total of 23.

This year, the TCEP tracks progress against the Sustainable Development Scenario, introduced in the World Energy Outlook 2017, which depicts a rapid but achievable transformation of the energy sector. It outlines a path to limiting the rise of average global temperatures to “well below 2°C,” as specified in the Paris Agreement, as well as increasing energy access around the world and reducing air pollution.

In this scenario, meeting long-term sustainability goals requires an ambitious combination of more energy efficient buildings, industry and transport, and more renewables and flexibility in power.

The findings this year are compiled in an updated website, which provides easy navigation across technologies and sectors, and draws links across the IEA’s resources. The report will be updated throughout the year as new data becomes available, and will be complemented by cutting-edge analysis and commentary on notable developments on the global clean energy transition.

The findings for each technology and sector will be updated on a continuous basis with the latest information and findings from the IEA. Find out more at www.iea.org/tcep/.

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Record-high opium production in Afghanistan creates multiple challenges for region and beyond

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Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record-high last year, leading to unprecedented levels of potential heroin on the world market, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a new report released on Monday.

The report noted opium cultivation increased by 63 per cent; from 201,000 hectares in 2016 to an estimated 328,000 hectares in 2017.

UNODC said that it would be possible to produce between 550 and 900 tons of export-quality heroin from the poppies harvested throughout the country during 2017.

The report highlighted that the record level of cultivation creates multiple challenges for the country and its neighbours, as opiate-based illegal drugs make their way across the Afghan border.

Poppy production and illicit trafficking of opiates also fuel political instability, and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan who profit from the trade.

The report revealed that the record-high production led to a rapid expansion of the illegal economy in 2017. Being worth between $4.1 billion to $6.6 billion in 2017 – or 20 and 32 per cent of gross domestic product – the value of the opiate-based economy exceeded by far, the value of Afghanistan’s legal exports of goods and services during 2016.

Opium poppy production has become so engrained in the livelihood of many Afghans, that it is often the main source of income for not only farmers, but also many local and migrant workers hired as day-labourers on farms. In 2017, opium poppy weeding and harvesting provided the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas.

The report concluded that addressing the opiate problem in Afghanistan remains a shared responsibility. Reducing production, requires an international approach that targets the supply chain of opiates at every stage; from source to destination.

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African Development Bank and UNIDO join forces to accelerate Africa’s industrialization

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to step up collaboration to boost Africa’s industrialization.

“The Bank launched in 2016 its Industrialization Strategy for Africa 2016-2025, which was the outcome of collaborative work with UNIDO and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The signing of the present MoU is key to our Strategy’s implementation,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina. “The Bank already benefits enormously from UNIDO’s expertise in developing policies, programmes and knowledge tools which supports our member countries to industrialize.” In 2017, the Bank allocated US$1.2bn to Industrialize Africa – one of the Bank’s High 5 development priorities – mostly to projects for financial sector operations.

The new agreement facilitates the Bank and UNIDO cooperation on joint activities of shared interest in areas such as agro-industry development, circular economy, eco-industrial parks, investment in innovation and technology, enterprise development, trade and capacity-building, and access to finance, among others. The MoU is in line with objectives set in the Bank’s High 5 strategy, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III), the UN’s Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa.

“Achieving Africa’s industrial potential will not happen by chance; strong partnerships such as the one our two organizations have now formalized are key,” said Philippe Scholtès, Managing Director at UNIDO. “This partnership will create significant opportunities and facilitate our work together towards the operationalization of IDDA III 2016–2025”.

The two entities have already initiated working level collaboration including within the framework of UNIDO’s flagship Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) model, which helps synchronize development efforts and mobilize resources to support countries in accelerating industrialization. The Bank and UNIDO recently undertook a joint mission to Morocco as part of the initial development of the PCP and will continue exploring cooperation opportunities in the ongoing PCPs in Senegal and Ethiopia. Collaboration has also been initiated for the establishment of staple crop processing zones in a select number of African countries.

The Memorandum was signed by Adesina and Scholtès in Busan, Republic of Korea, on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group, held under the theme of “Accelerating Africa’s industrialization.” The signing ceremony was attended by African Industry Ministers, representatives of regional Member States, development partners and private-sector executives.

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