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UNESCO hosts the International NGO Forum on Climate Change

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On 7 December 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay opened the 8th International Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in official partnership with UNESCO, alongside Philippe Beaussant, Chair of the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee and Kenneth Kam, Founding President of the Kenn Foundation.

“It was important for me to be with you today, right at the start of my mandate” said the Director-General. “Over time, the relationship between UNESCO and NGOs has varied in intensity, but what remains more true than ever today is the need to preserve and nurture this essential cooperation to cope with the challenges of today’s world and adapt to those of tomorrow,” she said. “In this sense, the theme chosen for this 8th International NGO Forum – Climate Change – is a good example of our shared responsibility towards this key challenge of our time. The privileged partnership between NGOs, which are laboratories of civil society, and UNESCO can enable advances in this regard. As frontline partners of our work, NGOs cannot act alone without the relays provided by our Organization, and I am committed, in the wake of renewed cooperation in recent years, to continue in this direction of constructive and mutually fruitful collaboration,” said the Director-General.

In his introductory remarks, the President of the International Conference of NGOs, Philippe Beaussant, referred to the new directives for the cooperation between UNESCO and NGOs, adopted by the General Conference of the Organization in 2011. “These guidelines, which we have favourably welcomed, have allowed a fruitful change in the role of NGOs, and their better and more systematic involvement in UNESCO’s fields of action,” said Mr Beaussant. “We are convinced that this link with UNESCO, which is still developing, will gain new impetus under your mandate, Madam Director-General.”

“In this spirit, we are delighted to hold the 8th International NGO Forum, an inclusive and participatory mechanism which is a response to the expectations of the 2011 guidelines, and that is an opportunity to propose paths for concrete action,” continued Mr Beaussant.

The President of the Kenn Foundation, Kenneth Kam, called for “new involvement of non-governmental organizations. This International NGO Forum, which provides a truly global environment, can help to reflect and act on issues of importance to UNESCO, the international community and civil society,” said Mr Kam. “The theme chosen for this 8th Forum is particularly important, and I want to say here how much I believe in UNESCO’s mission, and I hope that we will continue to consolidate our cooperation.”

Two years after the Paris Climate Agreement, and a few days before the One Planet Summit organized at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations, the 8th NGO Forum brings together more than 300 representatives of civil society to share their vision of the contribution of NGOs to the fight against climate change, and more specifically to the implementation of UNESCO’s updated Strategy for addressing climate change, adopted by the General Conference of the Organization at its 39th session in November 2017.
 
Over two days of debate, the Forum aims to identify ways of action for NGOs to support the work of UNESCO and make recommendations to the Organization in its various fields of competence. The debates will focus on three central themes: the role of civil society organizations in addressing climate change; Ocean and climate change; and World Heritage, Biosphere Reserves, and the knowledge and actions of indigenous peoples. The discussions will also define a concrete plan of action in relation to UNESCO’s Declaration of Ethical Principles relating to Climate Change, recently adopted by the General Conference of the Organization.
 
Previous editions of the International NGO Forum were held in Beijing (China), Querétaro (Mexico), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Sozopol (Bulgaria) and Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire), and addressed topics such as the social engagement of young people, building peace, access to water, women and poverty, bringing cultures closer together, and the role of youth in safeguarding cultural heritage, and resulted in creation of several local and international initiatives that contribute today to the realization of UNESCO’s programme.

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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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