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Doctrines of rejection’ must be met with courage, commitment to solidarity and empathy

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Multilateralism is facing challenges just when it is most needed, senior United Nations officials told a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) forum in Paris on Tuesday, calling for a “new humanism” to counter rising doctrines of withdrawal and rejection of others.

“If we want the next generation to be born into a better world, we only have one option. And that is strong multilateralism, with the United Nations system at its core,” the President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák told the Leaders’ Forum of the 39th UNESCO General Conference, which kicked off yesterday at the agency’s headquarters.

He said that cooperation between nations has brought tremendous benefit. In 2015, the international community achieved two important milestones, in the form of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“If implemented, these agreements will protect the planet, and make it a better place to live for everyone,” he said.

Multilateralism has also had a major role in advancing peace, helping rally support for peace agreements.

Peoples come from diverse backgrounds. They hold different positions on the world’s most pressing issues. Their interests, at times, diverge. But convergence can be found – particularly when it comes to human dignity, peace, the protection of environment, and common humanity.

“If one body or country fails to respond, it could affect us all,” he said, adding that the United Nations must lead the charge and act as an honest broker, leveraging its neutrality and experience for meaningful dialogue.

Mr. Lajčák highlighted a critical role played by UNESCO in the multilateral system.

The agency has rallied actors from all over the world to protect our shared cultural heritage, while promoting cooperation for advances in education, science and technology.

Amidst the success of UNESCO’s work, he said: “I regret the decision of member states to withdraw from membership of UNESCO.”

Also addressing the forum, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stressed the relevance of her agency’s ‘soft power’ to foster education, culture and knowledge to transform the world.

UNESCO was created in 1945 in the wake of a devastating war, with the aim of building “the defenses of peace” in the minds of men and women, since war begins in their minds.

“Today, when we see the rise of doctrines based on withdrawal and rejection of others, I believe we need the same courage and the same commitment towards peace, dialogue, solidarity and empathy,” she said. “This is what I have called a ‘new humanism.’”

She said that in these times of limits – limits of resources, limits of the planet – there is a need to invest in the potential of human ingenuity, in the power of innovation, quality education and scientific research, in the power of culture and dialogue.

“This is our ultimate renewable energy. And this is the raison d’être of UNESCO,” she said.

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China to Improve Inland Waterway Transport with World Bank Support

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$150 million loan today to improve the capacity and reliability of inland waterway transport along the Han River in China’s Hubei Province. The project will increase connectivity between the less developed central and western regions and the more prosperous eastern provinces, and yield local and global environmental benefits by promoting a green mode of transport and producing renewable energy.

As part of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, China is relocating industries in the less developed inland regions of the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River. This requires an efficient multimodal transport that can move freight over long distances in a sustainable manner.

“Inland waterway transport is a cost effective and environmentally friendly mode of transport that is underexploited in China. The new project will increase inland waterway transport along the Han River and promote a shift from roads to waterways, which reduces carbon emissions from transport,” said Zhai Xiaoke, World Bank’s Senior Transport Specialist and leader of the project.

The Hubei Inland Waterway Improvement Project will construct the Yakou Navigation-Hydropower Complex in the middle reaches of the Han River. It will upgrade about 53 kilometers of waterway between the Yakou and the Cuijiaying Complex to Class III navigation standards and help enable the completed investments at other cascades to realize their full navigation capacity and economic benefits. The hydropower station will supply renewable energy to Yicheng City, which is located 16 kilometers from Yakou.

The project will also provide gravity flow irrigation to over 5,300 hectares of existing farmland. Other anticipated benefits of the project include the significant reduction of lifting costs, the improvement of flood resilience, and the creation of a better landscape for recreational tourism.

The total investment of the project is US$515.13 million; the IBRD loan will finance US$150 million and the Hubei Provincial Government will invest US$365.13 million. About 5.61 million residents along the Han River are expected to benefit from the economic development and ecological improvement brought about by the greener transport mode.

Starting with the First Inland Waterways Project in 1995, the World Bank has supported seven inland waterway projects in China, with each successive phase introducing important additionality, ranging from technical innovation to integrated development and management of multi-purpose inland waterway transport, as well as improved institutional capacity and environmental aspects.

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EU investment in gas interconnection between Bulgaria and Serbia to enhance energy security in the region

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To boost the diversification of energy sources in the Western Balkan region, reduce dependency on one dominant supplier and increase energy security, a joint commitment to implement the gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia has been signed today 17 May by the Energy Minister of Bulgaria, Ms. Temenuzhka Petkova, and the Energy Minister of Serbia, Mr. Aleksandar Antić, on the occasion of the Western Balkans summit of Leaders in Sofia, Bulgaria. This interconnection will for the first time link the gas systems of Bulgaria and Serbia.

This new political impetus to the project showcases the political will of all parties. Once completed, the interconnector will constitute a major contribution to the solidarity in the Energy Union. The interconnector will allow for the transfer of between 1 and 1.8 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually from Bulgaria to Serbia and 0.15 billion cubic metres from Serbia to Bulgaria. The project forms part of the EU’s Projects of Common Interest and is a priority in the context of the Central and South Eastern Europe Energy Connectivity High Level Group (CESEC).

The European Commission is contributing notably to the Serbian side of the Bulgaria-Serbia Interconnector with a Pre-Accession grant of EUR 49.6 million. The Commission is actively facilitating progress on this priority project in close contact with both the Bulgarian and the Serbian authorities.

The new gas pipeline will provide a new supply route from Bulgaria not only to Serbia, but also to other parts of the South-East European region. This will enable access to liquefied natural gas from Greece, Azeri gas from the Southern Gas Corridor, as well as gas from Black Sea offshore production, and ensure improved integration of these sources into the EU’s internal energy market.

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ASEAN youth promotes “green” entrepreneurship at ASEAN Youth Expo 2018

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ASEAN youth leaders and youth entrepreneurs showcased their efforts and creativity in promoting environment-friendly enterprises at ASEAN Youth Expo 2018 held on 3-4 May at the Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel, Jakarta.

The expo, themed “Proliferating Youth Entrepreneurship: Tacking Environmental Issue by Being Greenpreneurs”, was hosted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Indonesia. It was held in conjunction with the Ninth ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY IX) and the Eighth ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (8th SOMY+3)

The ASEAN Youth Expo is a recurring activity under the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020 led by Indonesia. This year’s event aimed to strengthen collaboration among the youth in ASEAN and the Plus Three Countries in addressing environmental problems through entrepreneurship.

Each country sent four best youth representatives to join the youth-organised and youth-led event which comprised workshop, seminars, discussions, and an exhibit of the products of the youth entrepreneurs. A total of 450 youth leaders and youth entrepreneurs participated in the two-day event.

Nineteen display booths were installed featuring their “green” or environment-friendly products such as biodegradable plastic bags, fresh and processed fruits from organic and integrated farming, and other environmental friendly and recycled products.

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