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Time for Cities to Step Up to the Challenge of Climate Change

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The world’s cities generate more than 75% of global carbon emissions – it’s time for them to play a more prominent role in fighting climate change. Shanghai, Dhaka, Karachi, Hong Kong and Miami are “literally going under water,” said Robert Muggah, Research Director of the Igarapé Institute, Brazil, addressing the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils.

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be urbanized. Tokyo’s GDP is already greater than that of Russia, South Korea or Canada. “If we get our cities right, we just might achieve the 2030 development goals and we may limp through the 21st century,” he said, “but if we get our cities wrong – we’re doomed.”

Cities face a range of mounting risks, from homicides to pollution to water scarcity, said Changhua Wu, Director for China and Asia, Office of Jeremy Rifkin, People’s Republic of China. New Delhi ground to a halt last week as a result of air pollution; a problem that poses severe health risks for urban inhabitants in emerging and developed economies. Water shortage is another climate-related challenge: in Brazil alone, 850 cities face chronic water shortages in a country that boasts 20% of the world’s water reserves.

However, cities are stepping up to the challenge. Today, over 200 intercity networks are working together to tackle everything from migration to climate change. More than 8,000 cities have introduced solar power, while 300 cities are completely energy autonomous, some even exporting power back into national grids.

Global decision-making remains dominated by nation states – it’s time to offer the cities a place at the negotiating table, said Muggah. Cities also need greater freedom to solve their own problems by focusing on becoming greener and smarter. “Mayors are rediscovering their mojo”, he said, adding: “Cities are where the future happens first.”

However, an increasing number of cities are becoming more, not less, fragile – particularly across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. According to Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President and Chief Executive Officer of International Crisis Group (ICG), Brussels, urban violence is on the increase, linked to the weakening presence of the nation state in some cities. Guéhenno warned that this rising violence along with unprecedented levels of forced migration are posing major risks to developing countries.

Regional rivalries in the Middle East and Asia have become more pressing, said Guéhenno. “A function of the retreat of the US is that all countries feel more on their own.” The world lacks a shared narrative and the models on offer, from the US and China, are based not so much on common values as on the “optimization of economic resources.” Said Guéhenno: “Trust requires some sense of shared values” – but in the last 25 years, “we’ve seen a steady erosion of norms around the world.”

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European Commission and IMF strengthen cooperation to support sustainable development

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European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, on behalf of the European Union, and International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva concluded a new Financial Framework Partnership Agreement that will boost their cooperation to tackle key challenges including climate change, and help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The European Union is the IMF’s main partner in capacity development since 2016.

To mark the signature of the new Agreement, President von der Leyen said: “The European Union and IMF are strong partners. We jointly want to find solutions to global issues, notably in Africa. Today’s new Agreement will allow us to focus better on climate change and digital challenges. I am particularly grateful to Kristalina Georgieva for her leadership. Together we are going to further strengthen our cooperation and partnership.”

IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, added: “We appreciate the EU’s leadership on sustainable development for all. We have a history of working together in building strong economic institutions to improve economic performance and the livelihoods of people in our partner countries. This Agreement will deepen our collaboration and help us do more together, especially where it matters the most — in low-income countries and fragile states.”

The International Monetary Fund and the European Commission are longstanding partners, inside and outside the European Union. This new Agreement will strengthen, simplify and accelerate the conclusion of contractual arrangements for the numerous joint activities undertaken to support good economic governance, public finance management and domestic revenue mobilisation, institution building, as well as the wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Background

Supporting macroeconomic and public finance institutions and policies in the EU partner countries has long been a common objective of the EU and IMF. Financial Framework Partnership Agreements facilitate this cooperation and stabilize the contractual terms of a long-term cooperation between the Commission and its key partners. The new Agreement will replace the one from 2017 and will allow both the Commission and the IMF to take full advantage of the novelties introduced in the 2018 EU Financial Regulation, such as increased simplification and bigger focus on results.

The EU–IMF partnership has intensified over the years with the organizations supporting each other’s work, through regular consultations at staff and management level, and complementarities of EU budget support and IMF programmes, as well as through developing capacity-building instruments. These include EU support for the Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool, the PIMA tool on public investment management, the management of natural wealth resources, and the strengthening of domestic revenue mobilisation.

The EU is now the largest external contributor to IMF capacity development, including the IMF’s network of ten regional technical assistance centres, particularly in Africa, and support to almost all of the IMF’s thematic and country trust funds, as well as to a range of bilateral projects.

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Taking next steps to end child labour in global supply chains

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ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has called for a whole-of-supply-chain approach to address child labour in global supply chains during his opening statement to the conference . He said that efforts against child labour in global supply chains will be inadequate if they do not extend beyond immediate suppliers and include those involved in the extraction and production of raw materials.

He also urged governments to address the root causes of child labour in global supply chains, such as poverty, informality and insufficient access to education.

“Today, 152 million children are still in child labour. The need to accelerate progress is obvious,” said Ryder. “The UN resolution  declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour is a tremendous opportunity to keep the momentum, and to accelerate action towards the achievement of zero child labour, in all its forms, by 2025.”

Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, announced that the Netherlands will become a pathfinder country of Alliance 8.7 – the first EU Member State to do do.

The Alliance 8.7  partnership brings together 225 partner organizations which are committed to collaborate to achieve Target 8.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals , which calls on governments around the world to end child labour by 2025 and to put in place effective measures to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030. Pathfinder countries commit to go further and faster to achieve Target 8.7. They implement new actions, try new approaches and share their knowledge. With this announcement by the Netherlands, 20 countries have so far committed to accelerate their efforts as Alliance 8.7 pathfinder countries.

A recent report compiled by the ILO, OECD, IOM and UNICEF, Ending child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in global supply chains , provides the first-ever estimates of child labour in global supply chains. The study indicates that the link between child labour and global supply chains is often indirect. A significant share of child labour in global supply chains occurs in their lower tiers, in activities such as raw material extraction and agriculture, making due diligence, visibility and traceability challenging.

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Erasmus+ and its predecessors: A life-changing experience for 10 million young Europeans

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The 2018 annual report on Erasmus+, published today,  shows that over the last three decades, more than 10 million people have participated in what  turned out to be a life-changing experience for many of them.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “People across Europe engage, exchange and learn when they participate in education, youth and sporting activities across borders. Erasmus+ is a fantastic common success and we should aim for more. More participants, more mobility, more diversity, more opportunities.”

At the opening of a stakeholder event on the new Erasmus+ programme in Brussels today, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “Erasmus+ has become for our younger generations a gateway to Europe and to the world. It is one of the EU’s most tangible achievements: uniting people across the continent, creating a sense of belonging and solidarity, raising qualifications, and improving the prospects of participants.

With a budget of €2.8 billion, a 10% funding increase compared to 2017, 2018 was yet another record year. Erasmus+ funded more than 23,500 projects and overall, it supported the mobility of over 850,000 students, apprentices, teachers, and youth workers in 2018. Nearly 10% of the 470,000 students, trainees, and staff in higher education who received a grant during the 2017/2018 academic year, travelled to and from partner countries across the world.

In addition to university students and staff, Erasmus+ supported 40,000 teachers and school staff, 148,000 vocational education and training learners, 8,400 adult education staff, and 155,000 young people and youth workers.

The programme also financed 199 sports projects, 118 of which were run by grassroots sport organisations. Erasmus+ supported the annual European Week of Sport, which saw unprecedented success with more than 50,000 events across Europe.

Building on synergies with the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, many actions supported by Erasmus+ addressed the importance of Europe’s cultural heritage.

Since 2018, Erasmus+ also supports the initiative to make the European Education Area a reality by 2025. The European Universities initiative helps higher education institutions to form strong new alliances.

Background

Erasmus+ and its predecessors are among the most successful EU programmes. Since 1987, they have been offering young people opportunities to gain new experiences by going abroad. The current Erasmus+ programme, running from 2014 to 2020, has a budget of €14.7 billion and will provide opportunities for 3.7% of young people in the EU to study, train, gain work experience, and volunteer abroad. The geographical scope of the programme has expanded from 11 countries in 1987 to 34 in 2020 (which includes all 28 EU Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey). The programme is also open to partner countries across the world.

In May 2018, the Commission presented its proposal for an ambitious new Erasmus programme, seeking to double the budget to €30 billion in the EU’s next long-term budget for the period 2021-2027. The aim is to make the programme even more inclusive, more international and accessible to people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

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