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#InvestEU: European support for climate-related research by Kemira Oyj

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a USD 49.3 million (EUR 40 m) loan with global chemicals company Kemira Oyj, headquartered in Finland. The loan was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, which was launched by the EIB Group and the European Commission to boost the competitiveness of the European economy.

Kemira will use the financing to boost its investments in research, development and innovation in chemical applications and technical solutions for water treatment, pulp and paper chemicals, and other chemicals. The aim of the project is to develop new products and technologies for the pulp and paper industry, municipal and industrial waste-water treatment as well as the mining industry. The R&D programme will be implemented in Kemira’s existing R&D centre located in Espoo, Finland, where highly specialised jobs will be maintained through the programme.

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The €40 million loan signed today by the European Investment Bank under the Investment Plan for Europe demonstrates both the EU’s and Kemira’s commitment to investing in the circular economy and minimising waste generation, as well as delivering growth and job opportunities. With this EU-backed financing, Kemira’s R&D capabilities are reinforced to develop new products and methods for treating waste water and to research innovative solutions for example in the paper and pulp as well as mining industries.”

Vice-President Alexander Stubb, responsible for EIB-lending in Northern Europe, said: “Everyone knows that natural resources are limited and that we have to make optimal use of them. The research, development and innovation programme proposed by Kemira will enable industries that use a lot of water to implement more circular economy-focused models, thus mitigating climate change.”

Supporting projects like Kemira, is part of the European drive to promoting a circular economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste is minimised – a key EU policy priority. The EIB, together with the European Commission, supports the Member States in their transition towards a circular economy by providing finance and advisory services for such projects. During the last five years the EIB has co-financed EUR 2.4 billion of circular economy projects with a positive impact on sustainable and economic growth, competitiveness and employment around Europe and beyond.

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Financing the 2030 Agenda: What is it and why is it important?

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António Guterres launches his strategy to finance the 2030 Agenda to put the world on a more sustainable path, this 24 September, ahead of the General Assembly’s annual general debate.

How high on the Secretary-General’s to-do list is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

Well, the timing of the meeting to discuss financing the Agenda might be a clue: it takes place on Monday afternoon, just before the General Debate of the General Assembly on Tuesday morning, when the eyes of the world will be on UN Headquarters in New York.

A plan to transform the world

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, commonly referred to as the 2030 Agenda, is being billed as a plan to “Transform Our World.”

In 2015, UN Member States adopted the Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which break down into three broad areas: people, planet and prosperity.

The adoption of the Agenda was significant, as it was the first time that world leaders pledged common action in support of such a universal and ambitious policy agenda. As the name suggests, the organizing principle of the Agenda and the SDGs, is sustainable development, and this is also the key message to the world community.

The UN defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This means taking into account, for example, the effects that unbalanced economic growth can have on the environment and people’s wellbeing.

The SDGs provide a framework for sustainable development that improves the lives of everyone, everywhere. For example, ensuring that economies grow and provide decent work; that everyone has access to nutritious food, no matter where they live; and access to quality education for all.

From 2015 until 2030, Member States, civil society and other partners are mobilizing efforts to change the way the world does business: ending all forms of poverty, fighting inequalities and tackling climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Since 2015, the UN has been hosting several meetings every year, designed to monitor the progress of Member States and partners, including the private sector, in changing business practices to ensure that the SDGs can be met.

The foundations for the financing of the SDGs were laid in July of that year, at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which took place in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa, in a document called the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. It provided a new global framework for financing sustainable development by aligning finance with economic, social and environmental priorities; and set out a list of over 100 concrete measures, touching on finance, technology, innovation, trade, debt and data, in order to reach the SDGs.

Progress and setbacks

Since then, there have been positive signs. Just a week ago, at the Global Climate Action Summit, it was estimated that new UN-backed commitments to take action against the damaging effects of climate change could result in $26 trillion in economic benefits worldwide, and help create 65 million new “low-carbon jobs” by 2030.

Many welcome initiatives by governments and companies were noted. For examples, the Investors Agenda, one of the focus areas of the Global Climate Action Summit, brought together nearly 400 investors, managing $32 trillion of assets, who pledged to scale up the flow of capital into climate action, and a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.

However, whilst this new way of running the world presents a huge investment opportunity, public or private resources, and investments remain stubbornly far below what is needed to meet the 2030 targets.

Too much investment remains short-term and volatile, and the systemic change needed  transform economies and societies is not yet happening. Governments need to make it easier for business to finance and invest in sustainable development projects, the private sector needs to mobilize for long-term investment, and new solutions for financing the SDGs must be created.

The High-Level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda

Which brings us back to Monday’s meeting. It can be expected that the timing, and the senior status of politicians taking part, will ensure that considerable attention will be directed to the proceedings, and the outcome.

The Secretary-General will open the meeting, followed by Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Heads of State and Government will also participate, as well as senior representatives of leading private sector investors, financial technology innovators, and foundations.

Mr. Guterres has indicated that this meeting will be used to build momentum and political support at all levels; step up engagement with the private sector; and make the most of innovative solutions to finance the SDGs.

It will also be the forum for the launch of his Strategy for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has three objectives:

  1. Aligning global financial and economic policies with the 2030 Agenda
  2. Enhancing sustainable financial strategies at the regional and country levels
  3. Exploiting the potential of financial innovations, new technologies and digitalization to provide equitable access to finance.

After the meeting, the process continues, with several follow-ups scheduled for this year, and into 2019. The road is long, complicated and filled with potential potholes, but the commitment from the UN is clear: transform the world for the better by 2030.

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Peace and Security Are Key to Aligning Security and Development Goals

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It is possible to align security and development goals but it will depend on resolving conflicts, addressing poverty, rebuilding trust and engaging women. Leaders in development and finance debated the building blocks of creating peace and told participants at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit that all issues must be addressed to create sustainable solutions.

Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, World Bank, said: “We can celebrate the decline of extreme poverty – 1.1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty. But to meet the goal of ending extreme poverty, we have to worry about peace and security.” She pointed out that when conflicts are raging, there are other severe factors, such as another crippling wave of Ebola disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“This lack of security is hitting people once, twice and three times,” Georgieva said. In addition, people are suffering from vulnerability to climate change. “Countries that have done the least to contribute to climate change are the most to suffer,” she said. “We are not balancing in investment in mitigation and adaptation.”

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will cost an estimated $7 billion a year, but Georgieva pointed out that trillions of dollars are sitting idle around the world. Policies are needed to give investors certainty. “It is a challenge but also an opportunity to use public money to create the enabling environment for private investments to flow,” she said. This is in the hands of people, businesses and countries, and policies are needed to give investors certainty. “People also need confidence [and trust] that investors will not come and rip them off,” she added.

The World Bank has 72 projects addressing institutional weaknesses. “Are we there yet? Not quite. Are we going in the right direction? For sure,” Georgieva concluded.

Luis Alberto Moreno, President, Inter-American Development Bank, said it is necessary to multiply initiatives and to understand that for every dollar of an organization’s financing, we need to create situations to see that money is moving through the system. This, he added, will create an appetite for owners of savings to use them. “There is an appetite for doing things around climate change,” he said. To encourage investment, Moreno said it is important to manage the risks for the private sector. “We need to see what we can do to mitigate risks by using blended finance,” he added. “We are collectively wrestling with it. We are going in the right direction, but we are way behind.”

Bineta Diop, Founder and President, Femmes, Africa Solidarité, addressed the issue of women, peace and security in Africa. “I have spent most of my life in conflict,” she said. “When people discuss conflict, the first country you think about is Africa. When I see people suffering, I think something can be done in this nexus of peace and development. Human beings are caught in the middle.”

Diop recommended that more GDP needs to be invested in people. “We need to shift to see how we invest if we want to achieve the SDGs. We need to invest in development seriously – but real investment.” She gave the example of countries that have consistent sunshine and can profit from solar. “This is a real investment. Electricity brings people water and light, so it is necessary to invest in infrastructure and new technology,” she added.

Diop’s organization is working in 22 countries in Africa with a Plan of Action for women’s peace and security, which will lead to sustainable peace and development. “I want all African states to have a Plan of Action,” she said. In this way, women are contributing to prevention. She also pointed out that “Africa has to invest in Africa.” It is a poor continent, but when you look at resources, Diop said, “we are a rich country.” She called for European leaders to support women by helping to build the skills of Africans.

Thomas Greminger, Secretary-General, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), raised concern about a return to war in Europe, pointing to the conflict in Ukraine, now in its fifth year. “This is very much at the top of our agenda at OSCE. It undermines trust and confidence among the key stakeholders,” he said. “There is a heavy toll on the ground in terms of suffering and we are also paying a high price for it.”

The OSCE has developed a toolbox to tackle crises and minority-related conflict. “These are tools of prevention and diplomacy,” Greminger said. “We are trying to bring conflicts closer to resolution, but we also need political will.” He called for political leadership to invest in a “rules-based world order” built on strong international institutions. “If the international community pushes, progress is possible in a country,” he said.

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Meet the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2018

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Bas van Abel, Fairphone

Twelve social entrepreneurs at the helm of 11 organizations from around the world have been recognized by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship as the 2018 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Among this year’s honourees is the first Muslim woman from Kenya’s Marsabit region to receive a law degree, which she is using to help create more resilient and peaceful communities in the drought- and conflict-prone region; a Dutch phone manufacturer who is changing the way smartphones are made; and a Brazilian man who created a prisoner rehabilitation programme that has successfully decreased recidivism rates from 85% to 30%.

Social Entrepreneurs leverage the power of market forces and business principles to solve social problems in ways that benefit the marginalized and the poor,” said Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. “Their work is often carried out in areas where government and the private sector are unable to achieve meaningful outcomes and involves considerable creativity coupled with pragmatism.”

The winners of the 2018 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Award are:

Urvashi Sahni, Study Hall Education Foundation, India: The organization runs a network of nine types of schools and programmes, catering to girls, disabled children, rural youth and children outside the formal school system. To date, the foundation has worked with more than 900 government schools and trained 5,000 government teachers, reaching an estimated 500,000 children.

Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan, Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI), Kenya: HODI works to create peaceful, resilient communities in the extremely poor and drought-prone Horn of Africa through advocacy, education, conflict resolution, and the promotion of decent livelihoods. Its four flagship programmes span 300 villages, reaching 10,000 youth, 13 schools including 1,500 girls, and 14,700 households. HODI’s Breaking the Silence programme aims to end the shame and suffering in silence prevalent among victims of sexual violence by creating a school-based peer network for adolescent girls to give and receive support.

Valdeci Ferreira, The Brazilian Fraternity of Assistance to Convicts (FBAC) Brazil/Latin America: The FBAC has developed a prisoner recovery methodology based on 12 principles, including community participation, work, merit and family. FBAC operates in five Brazilian states and has facilitated the adoption of its methodology in 23 countries. Brazilian convicts who serve their sentence at a FBAC-run facility have a 30% recidivism rate, compared to the national average of 85%.

Bas van Abel, Fairphone, Netherlands: Fairphone drives change in the electronics industry by making smartphones in a way that puts social and environmental values first. It has implemented a long-lasting modular design to limit waste, source conflict-free material, provide its workers with good working conditions, and supports recycling efforts to move closer to a circular economy. To date, it has sold 160,000 smartphones.

Bruktawit Tigabu, Whiz Kids Workshop, Ethiopia: Whiz Kids uses the reach of television, radio and print media to disseminate educational messages in seven local languages with an emphasis on early childhood education, healthy behaviour, literacy and gender equality. Its flagship international award-winning programme, Tsehai Loves Learning, reaches up to 5 million television viewers every week and an estimated 10 million radio listeners.

Sasha Chanoff and Amy Slaughter, RefugePoint, Africa/Middle East: This organization finds lasting solutions for the world’s most-at-risk refugees by improving their integration into the countries to which they flee thanks to a self-reliance programme. Partnering with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle East, RefugePoint has directly helped more than 54,000 refugees access resettlement and created the conditions that provide access for thousands more.

Mike Quinn, Zoona, Zambia/Malawi: Zoona has established a technology platform and network of franchises, which provide accessible financial services. Since its launch in 2009, the organization has grown to service an active customer base of 2 million consumers and 3,000 agent outlets in three countries, has processed $2 billion in transactions and raised more than $25 million in investment.

Zack Rosenburg, SBP, USA: The organization reduces the time between disaster and recovery by ensuring that citizens and communities have access to the information and support they need before and after a disaster occurs. It rebuilds homes in an average of 61 days, at 40% of the cost of market rate contractors, and has rebuilt 1,420 houses to date. Additionally, it has open-sourced its rebuilding model and offered training to NGOs to encourage widespread adoption.

Tulin Akin, Tabit, Turkey: Tabit has pioneered an SMS-based system that is free and accessible via any basic mobile phone, revolutionizing the way in which small-scale farmers receive vital agricultural information, including weather forecasts, market prices and financing options. In 2017, 50% of Turkey’s 3 million rural farmers used Tabit’s mobile-based services.

David Yeung, Green Monday, Hong Kong: Green Monday aims to tackle climate change, global food insecurity and public health issues. It offers schools, catering companies and restaurant chains a vegetarian meal once a week and aims to change dietary habits. Its once-a-week plant-based meal philosophy is practiced by more than 1.6 million people in Hong Kong, and has spread to more than 30 countries.

Muhammad Amjad Saqib, Akhuwat, Pakistan/Uganda/Kenya: Akhuwat has disbursed around $600 million in loans among the poor, 98% of which have been used to launch or expand small businesses. Designed to be compatible with Islamic finance, Akhuwat is currently the world’s largest interest-free microfinance programme.

The 11 organizations and 12 individuals honoured in 2018 become part of the broader Schwab Foundation community of 350 outstanding social entrepreneurs from around the world. The work of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs is integrated into the World Economic Forum’s events and initiatives aimed at scaling-up market-based solutions for global challenges

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