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ACP-EU: Leading sustainable economic development for local communities

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EU MEPs and Members of the ACP call for sustainable economic development for the benefit of local communities.

At the 34th session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), which brought together African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and European Union (EU) countries, MEPs discussed the negative and short-term effects of mass tourism with Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Sustainable tourism, respectful of the needs and traditions of local communities, must be encouraged as a vehicle for potentially significant economic development in ACP countries, said MEPs.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, ACP-EU members noted in an emergency resolution referring to the damage caused in September by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated several Caribbean islands. Members adopted an emergency resolution calling on the most vulnerable states to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into their sustainable development policies and for the EU to incorporate these efforts to build the resilience of local people into its programmes and projects.

Finally, the sustainable exploitation and processing of natural resources should be a source of economic and social development for the ACP and should benefit local communities, say Members. They call for action against the illegal exploitation of minerals.

Concerns about the resurgence of slavery practices

In the second emergency resolution, MPs from the ACP and EU countries also decided on an ad hoc delegation to Mauritania to observe all government parties and civil society on the continuing respect for the rule of law, human rights and the effective implementation of the roadmap for the eradication of slavery.

This practice was also strongly denounced during the debate on the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya. A statement by the co-chairs calls on all international bodies to provide the necessary assistance for the protection of migrants and welcomes the creation of a joint EU-AU-UN task force to save and protect the lives of migrants who suffer from insecurity and the consequences of the lack of a central government in Libya. The co-chairs still call for promoting legal migration channels and addressing the root causes of irregular migration.

Institutional situation in Catalonia and peaceful transition in Zimbabwe

Catalonia was the subject of a lively debate among ACP-EU Members. Some criticised the violence of the Spanish government’s reaction to the unilateral independence referendum organised by regional bodies and called on the EU to act more clearly in favour of respect for people’s freedom and human rights. Representatives of the European Commission and several MEPs recalled the non-constitutional nature of the referendum held, called for dialogue and hoped for a constructive outcome to the regional elections on 21 December, stressing that this was an internal Spanish issue.

MEPs and their ACP colleagues also referred to the recent change in Zimbabwe’s leadership after 37 years. Members called for a peaceful transition and the holding of free and open elections in July 2018. The European Parliament will address this issue at the plenary session in January 2018.

Three reports were approved at the voting session on Wednesday afternoon.

  • The blue economy, a source of economic activity around the seas and oceans, should be sustainable, take into account environmental concerns (pollution), the fragility of the marine environment (overexploitation of resources, mining exploration), the exhaustibility of available resources (overfishing control and the fight against illegal fishing) and aim to improve the livelihoods of coastal or island communities, underline the members.
  • There is a need to improve access to basic healthcare and medicines against infectious diseases, in particular by reducing the price of patented products for low-income countries and combating counterfeiting. Members call on the EU and ACP to invest more in healthcare systems for rapid deployment at the front line of public health emergencies (cholera, malaria, Ebola, hepatitis B) and overall improved access to care.
  • The interdependence between security and development in EU and ACP policies is widely recognised. Lack of security hinders development agendas, investment and job creation, while lack of development prospects and poverty fuel insecurity and terrorism. These various aspects should be integrated into the post-Cotonou negotiations to increase the impact of European instruments supporting security and development.

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Environment

New State of Nature report points to persisting pressures on Europe’s nature

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European Commission published its latest assessment of the state of nature in the European Union. It provides a comprehensive overview of the situation of Europe’s most vulnerable species and habitats protected under EU nature laws

Decline of protected habitats and species still continues, caused mostly by intensive agriculture, urbanisation, unsustainable forestry activities and changes to freshwater habitats. Pollution of air, water and soil also impacts habitats, as well as climate change, over-exploitation of animals through illegal harvesting and untenable hunting and fishing. If not addressed, this decline will inevitably result in the continued erosion of our biodiversity and the vital services it provides, putting human health and prosperity at risk.

The report underlines the clear need for action if we are to have any serious chance of putting Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, as envisaged in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. In this regard, the full implementation of the goals and targets proposed in the Strategy, as well as in the Farm to Fork Strategy will be essential.

The assessment – based on a more detailed technical report of the European Environment Agency – shows that while there are protected species and habitats that are managing to hold the line despite being subject to major pressure, the majority have poor or bad status at EU level, with some showing continued deteriorating trends.

Among species, birds that are closely associated with agriculture continue to decline, while freshwater fish have the highest proportion of bad conservation status (38 %) primarily due to changes to waterbodies and water-flow and hydropower installations. Among habitats, only 15% of them are in good condition. Restoration of peatlands and other wetlands can deliver nature benefits, but also significantly contribute to addressing climate change, creating employment opportunities in rural and peripheral areas.

The report also shows that targeted conservation action brings results. The Iberian lynx, the forest reindeer and the otter, each of which has been targeted by major conservation projects, are now recovering. Initiatives under the EU LIFE programme, dedicated agri-environment schemes under the common agricultural policy, and the Natura 2000 network with its 27,000 sites continue to have a positive influence, but this needs to be scaled up considerably. 

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “This State of Nature assessment is the most comprehensive health check of nature ever undertaken in the EU. It shows, yet again, very clearly that we are losing our vital life support system. As much as 81 % of protected habitats are in poor condition in the EU. We urgently need to deliver on the commitments in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy to reverse this decline for the benefit of nature, people, climate and the economy.”

Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, said: “Our assessment shows that safeguarding the health and resilience of Europe’s nature, and people’s well-being, requires fundamental changes to the way we produce and consume food, manage and use forests, and build cities. These efforts need to be coupled with better implementation and enforcement of conservation policies, a focus on nature restoration, as well as increasingly ambitious climate action, especially in the transport and energy sector.”

Background

Every six years, EU Member States report on the conservation status and trends of species and habitat types protected under the EU Directives. The present reporting cycle is the largest and most extensive data-gathering exercise ever undertaken on the state of Europe’s nature. The report provides an analysis of data on status and trends related to all wild bird species occurring in the EU (460 species), 233 habitat types and almost 1400 other wild plants and animals of European interest.

This knowledge will guide EU’s action on biodiversity in the coming years, providing a crucial baseline for monitoring progress towards achieving the targets of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030.

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Finance

4 Steps to a Successful International Expansion

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Doing business internationally is not only a trivial thing nowadays but is also a must for many entrepreneurs who want to go further and develop their venture. With a number of benefits that the business internationalization offers, opening a company in another country is a challenge to take that, however, strongly pays off in the future. But in business, like everywhere else, going to another country means stepping into an unknown land, which is unpredictable and might pose a variety of hazards. However, if you go there prepared, this should not be a problem. The main thing to remember is to look for solutions right away, rather than merely for the problems that might expect you in another and not-so-well-known country.

Main Ingredients of the International Business Campaign

Obviously, you always have to take certain challenges prepared, especially those that imply the investment of time, effort, and money. In business, there’s almost no room for improvisation. You must have a plan for every aspect of your expansion, from the legal and internal business matter to the marketing campaign, PR, and other communication with your customers, including the post-sell service and user experience. Here are the four basic points to consider whenever venturing into a foreign land.

  1. Doing deep research and acquiring local partners. In order to open your business in another country, you must know it extremely well, as if you were born and lived there your entire life. You must know at least the legal framework of the country in general, how the business is done there, how tough is the competition, what consumers prefer, how the media communicates, and so on. While without being actually born or at least living in that country for a decent number of years, it is impossible to become familiar with the country like that, you can get as close to that as possible. One of the top reasonable recommendations for the international expansion you’ll hear today is, perhaps, acquiring the local partners for your business. Those could be anybody, from co-directors to employees or external partners such as suppliers or retailers.
  2. Dealing with the formal matter. After you research everything, make sure to have all formalities done strictly right. That mostly relates to the legal and tax aspects. Ensure that you have all the needed documents and licenses in place and that all of them are valid and properly translated. Address the specialists, use only the best professional translation services for such purposes. This will largely save you time and unnecessary costs caused by possible delays as your business might be frozen while the legal matter is settled. In most cases, you’ll not be welcomed by the competitors and regulative organs in another country, so make sure to settle as safely as possible while doing business internationally.
  3. When dealing with marketing, don’t just translate, localize. While working with the formal things for the internal purposes of your business translation is a must and may be enough. Yet, when it comes to communication with your potential audience, doing a mere translation of your products and marketing campaign may be a serious oversight. For your customers to understand what you’re trying to give them, you must adapt your product to their worldview and cultural background. That’s what the localization is about and for the start, you can use this localization service to understand the idea. The true localization professionals will guide you through the whole process and explain how and why everything is done.
  4. Develop a double strategy. While you might have everything considered very well and be as prepared as you can only be, there’s still room for the exit strategy. Regardless of how prepared you are, there’s always a chance that something will not work out. That won’t make you a bad entrepreneur or mean that you should not expand internationally in the future. This will essentially mean that you’ve managed to get the experience in this area, which will allow you to do better on your future try. Yet, retreating smoothly is better, of course.

Looking Further

Just as you might use the tips for your ventures in the nearest future, you can use your experience garnered during this venture to look even further. Regardless of the result, experience always grants you a heads-up and the ability to look one step further even when you encounter a yet unfamiliar situation. As you shouldn’t underestimate all the aspects of other country economies ’ entry, you must not underestimate your resources and, more importantly, your potential. As you go international, remember to be brave and always try to predict your own movements one step ahead.

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Environment

Celebrating African youth turning the tide on plastic pollution

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More than 400 young Africans were today honoured for their leadership in addressing plastic pollution in their communities as part of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge. At a high-level event, political leaders, senior UN officials and Grammy-nominated Ghanaian musician Rocky Dawuni lauded the leadership shown by young people in global efforts to fight plastic pollution.

The African Youth Summit – Tide Turners Plastic Challenge acknowledged the role of more than 400 champions who have completed all three levels of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge. Participants in the Challenge have shown leadership by raising awareness through social media, championing plastic waste collection campaigns and demonstrating sustainability in their own lives, among other things.

Funded by the United Kingdom for the past two years, the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge has been completed by more than 225,000 young people in over 25 countries, including 50,000 in Africa. The challenge takes the participants on a learning journey consisting of three different levels: entry, leader, and champion.

More than 1,500 young people attended the Summit, organised by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the World Organization of the Scout Movement and Junior Achievement Africa.

“As a former Girl Guide, I am very proud of Tide Turners and all the inspiring young people who are part of it; so far, more than 50,000 young people in 18 countries across Africa have joined this important programme. Let’s continue this momentum, adding seven more countries to reach youth in nearly half of all African countries,” said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.

The Summit which took place alongside the Scouts during their annual Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet event (JOTA-JOTI) to share lessons from the actions young people have taken to fight plastic pollution and become environmental leaders in their communities. Six young changemakers shared their stories about how they went about provoking change and inspiring their peers to join them in taking action on plastic pollution.

“The Tide Turners Plastic Challenge gave me a great platform to pass on the message against plastic waste and share my solutions,” said Fyona Seesurrun, a 22-year old student from Mauritius, one of the champions who was honoured at the summit.

“100,000 mammals and one million birds die every year from eating or getting tangled in plastic in the ocean. If we do nothing, the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to treble by 2025. We must take collective action now. The Tide Turners are a force to be reckoned with, inspiring a whole new generation of leaders to tackle plastic pollution within their communities. That’s why the UK is supporting the UNEP to extend the work of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge to a further 20 countries around the world”, said Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment. 

Grammy-nominated Ghanaian musician Rocky Dawuni – a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador – also addressed the young people at the Summit and serenaded guests with hits including “Rock Your Soul”.

The Tide Turners Plastic Challenge Badge is the first ever Scout and Girl Guide Badge made from recycled plastic; the Challenge has been integrated into a new digital platform for World Scouting’s new environmental education initiative: Earth Tribe, which unites 54 million Scouts in a global youth movement for the environment, and offers young people the opportunity to learn and act on key environmental issues that are affecting their communities.  

In 2021, organisers will be adding a new element to the badge which will focus on influencing policy and practice change.

Each year, more than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries, and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. World production of plastic materials in 2018 was estimated at 359 million tonnes and by 2040, the amount of plastic going into our oceans could triple.

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