On 9-10 June 2018, Qingdao, PRC, hosted a meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (CHS SCO).
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, and President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The meeting was chaired by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.
The meeting was also attended by SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and Director of the Executive Committee of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS) Yevgeny Sysoyev.
Taking part in the event were President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani, President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga, as well as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed, Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Lim Jock Hoi, Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergei Lebedev, Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation Yuri Khachaturov, Executive Director of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia Gong Jianwei, Chairman of the Collegium of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sarkisyan, Vice President of the World Bank Victoria Kwakwa, and IMF Department Director Changyong Rhee.
The Heads of the Member States considered the implementation of the results of the 2017 Astana Summit and priorities for further SCO development in the context of current processes in world politics and economy. The parties’ coordinated positions have been reflected in the Qingdao Declaration that was adopted at the meeting.
It was stated that the Member States were firmly committed to the goals and principles of the SCO Charter and, guided by the Shanghai Spirit, were continuing to address the tasks outlined in the SCO Development Strategy until 2025. It was noted that the SCO had asserted itself as a unique, influential and authoritative regional organization whose potential had grown remarkably following the accession of India and Pakistan.
The intention was reaffirmed to continue strengthening practical interaction in the political, security, trade and economic areas, including finance, investment, transport, energy, agriculture, as well as cultural and humanitarian ties. A Plan of Action for 2018-2022 to implement the Treaty on Long-Term Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between SCO Member States was approved.
In the context of an exchange of views on current international and regional problems, the need was stressed to build up joint security and stability efforts in the SCO space and to facilitate the emergence of international relations of a new type and a common vision of the idea of creating the Community of Shared Future for Mankind.
The Member States consistently advocate the settlement of crises in Afghanistan, Syria, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, as well as other regional conflicts within the framework of generally accepted norms and principles of international law. They noted the importance of the steady implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme.
The Member States reaffirm their resolute support for UN efforts to ensure international peace and security. They noted the need for reaching a consensus on adopting the UN Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism and supported the Republic of Kazakhstan’s initiative at the UN to promote the Code of Conduct to Achieve a World Free of Terrorism.
The heads of the Member States took note of the intention of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan to become non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The SCO’s coordinated policy of waging an effective fight against challenges and threats to security remains unchanged. Practical interaction in this area will be facilitated by the adopted Programme of Cooperation between the SCO Member States in Opposing Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2019-2021. A special role in implementation is assigned to the SCO RATS.
The participants praised the results of the International Conference on Countering Terrorism and Preventing Violent Extremism (Dushanbe, 3-4 May 2018) that became an important venue for interaction between the parties on said issues.
The Heads of the Member States are in favour of launching a comprehensive effort to promote the spiritual and moral education of youth and prevent their involvement in destructive activities. In this connection, they adopted the Joint Appeal to Young People and the Programme of Action to implement the provisions. They also supported the initiative of the Republic of Uzbekistan to approve a special UN General Assembly resolution on Education and Religious Tolerance.
The Member States will further promote cooperation in the fight against illegal drug trafficking based on the SCO Antidrug Strategy and the Programme of Action to implement this strategy as well as the Concept to Prevent the Abuse of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
The SCO continues to contribute to broad-based and mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of information security and to the development of universal international rules, standards and principles for the responsible conduct of states in the information space.
The SCO Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the central role of the United Nations in implementing the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development. They stressed the importance of improving global economic governance architecture and of consistently strengthening and developing the multilateral trade system with a nucleus in the World Trade Organisation in order to form an open world economy.
The SCO is seeking to create favourable conditions for trade and investment and to define joint approaches to simplifying trade procedures, incentivising e-trade, and developing the service industry and trade in services. Efforts will continue to support micro-, small- and medium-size businesses and to promote transport, energy and agricultural cooperation.
The participants supported the initiative to hold the first meeting of SCO railway administration heads in Uzbekistan.
To draw more attention to environmental issues, the Member States adopted the SCO Concept on Environmental Protection. They have also continued working on the draft programme of cooperation between the SCO member states on food security.
Tajikistan’s initiatives on the International Decade of Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028 and the high-level international conference on this subject (Dushanbe, June 20-22, 2018) were appreciated.
The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan reaffirmed their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and approved the efforts to jointly implement it, including the coordination of the development of the Eurasian Economic Union and BRI.
The leaders of the Member States support using the potential of the regional countries, international organisations and multilateral associations to form a broad, open, mutually beneficial and equal partnership in the SCO space.
The newly-established SCO Regional Heads’ Forum will contribute to the development of interregional cooperation. The plan is to hold the first meeting of the Forum in 2018 in Chelyabinsk (Russian Federation).
Efforts will continue to achieve the full potential of the SCO Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association.
The participants reaffirmed the position in favour of further strengthening of practical cooperation in the banking and financial sectors and continuing to search for common approaches to the establishment of the Development Bank of the SCO and the SCO Development Fund (Special Account).
Reaffirming the special role of humanitarian cooperation in strengthening mutual understanding, trust and friendship among peoples, the leaders of the Member States spoke in favour of developing multifaceted cooperation in culture, education, science and technology, healthcare, tourism and sport.
They underlined the commitment to enhance multidisciplinary cooperation with observer states and partners in the SCO dialogue, as well as with international and regional organisations.
The participants adopted the Joint Statement of the Heads of State on Trade Facilitation and the Declaration of the Heads of State on the Joint Countering of the Threat of Epidemics in the SCO Space. A joint action plan was signed for the implementation of the SCO Cooperation Programme in tourism for 2019-2020, a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting micro-, small- and medium-sized business cooperation within the SCO, the Regulations for Information Interaction for 24-hour contact points using the channels of the CENcomm RILO-Moscow online platform, and the Memorandum on the exchange of information on transboundary movements of ozone-depleting substances and hazardous waste.
The participants heard and approved a report by the SCO Secretary-General on SCO activities over the past year, and a report by the Council of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure on the activities of RATS in 2017.
The Council of Heads of the SCO Member States appointed Vladimir Norov (Republic of Uzbekistan) as Secretary-General of the SCO and Dzhumakhon Giyosov (Republic of Tajikistan) as Director of the Executive Committee of RATS from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021.
Since the summit in Astana (June 8-9, 2017), the following high-level events have been held:
a meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) (Sochi, 30 November — 1 December 2017); a meeting of the SCO National Security Council Secretaries (May 21-22 2018); an extraordinary and regular meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (New York, 20 September 2017; Beijing, 24 April 2018); a meeting of the SCO Council of National Coordinators (Yangzhou City, Moscow, Beijing, August 2017 — June 2018); meetings of the Council of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (Beijing, 17 September 2017; Tashkent, 5 April 2018); a meeting of the Heads of Border Services of Competent Authorities of SCO Member States (Dalian, 29 June 2017); a SCO meeting of Heads of Emergency Prevention and Relief Agencies (Cholpon-Ata, 24-25 August 2017); a meeting of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO member states (Tashkent, 20 October 2017); a meeting of Chairpersons of the Supreme Courts of the SCO Member States (Tashkent, 25-27 October 2017; Beijing, 25 May 2018); a meeting of the Heads of SCO Member States Services in Charge of Ensuring Sanitary and Epidemiological Wellbeing (Sochi, 31 October 2017); a meeting of the SCO ministers responsible for foreign economic and foreign trade activities (Moscow, 15 November 2017); a meeting of the Prosecutor Generals of the SCO (St Petersburg, 29 November 2017); a Conference of the Heads of Ministries and Agencies of Science and Technology (Moscow, 18-21 April 2018); the SCO Forum (Astana, 4-5 May 2018), a meeting of the heads of national tourist administrations (Wuhan, 7-11 May 2018); a Defence Ministers’ Meeting (Beijing, 24 April 2018); a meeting of the Ministers of Culture (Sanya City, 15 May 2018); a meeting of the Heads of the SCO Counternarcotics Agencies (17 May 2018); the SCO Women’s Forum (Beijing, 15-17 May 2018); the SCO Media Forum (Beijing, 1 June 2018); a meeting of the Board of the SCO Business Council (Beijing, 6 June 2018); and a meeting of the Council of the SCO Interbank Association (Beijing, 5-7 June 2018), as well as other events at various levels.
The leaders of the Member States praised the work done by the People’s Republic of China during its Presidency of the SCO and expressed gratitude to China for its hospitality and the quality of the organising of the summit in Qingdao.
The Kyrgyz Republic is taking over the Presidency of the organisation. The next meeting of the Council of the SCO Heads of State will be held in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2019.
COVAX and World Bank to Accelerate Vaccine Access for Developing Countries
COVAX and the World Bank will accelerate COVID-19 vaccine supply for developing countries through a new financing mechanism that builds on Gavi’s newly designed AMC cost-sharing arrangement. This allows AMC countries to purchase doses beyond the fully donor-subsidized doses they are already receiving from COVAX.
COVAX will now be able to make advance purchases from vaccine manufacturers based on aggregated demand across countries, using financing from the World Bank and other multilateral development banks. Participating developing countries will have greater visibility of available vaccines, quantities available, and future delivery schedules, enabling them to secure doses earlier, and prepare and implement vaccination plans more effectively.
“This important and timely financing mechanism, made possible now by the World Bank and Gavi teaming up on the AMC cost-sharing arrangement, will allow COVAX to unlock additional doses for low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “As we move beyond initial targets and work to support countries’ efforts to protect increasingly large portions of their populations, World Bank financing will help us advance further towards our goal of bringing COVID-19 under control.”
The scalable mechanism brings together COVAX’s ability to negotiate advance purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers with the World Bank’s ability to provide predictable financing to countries for vaccine purchase, deployment and broader health systems investments. The new mechanism will mitigate risks and uncertainties in country demand and financing ability.
“Accessing vaccines remains the single greatest challenge that developing countries face in protecting their people from the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “This mechanism will enable new supplies and allow countries to speed up the purchase of vaccines. It will also provide transparency about vaccine availability, prices, and delivery schedules. This is crucial information as governments implement their vaccination plans.”
Countries with approved World Bank vaccine projects that confirm the purchase of additional doses through COVAX will agree with COVAX on the number of doses of a specific vaccine as well as related windows of delivery. On receiving a request from the country, the World Bank will provide COVAX a payment confirmation, allowing COVAX to make advance purchases of large amounts of vaccine doses with manufacturers at competitive prices.
Under the cost-sharing arrangement for AMC countries (92 low- and middle-income countries), COVAX plans to make available up to 430 million additional doses, or enough to fully vaccinate 250 million people, for delivery between late 2021 and mid-2022. There will be several supply offerings where countries will have the opportunity to select and commit to procuring specific vaccines that align with their preferences.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO). The World Bank and COVAX will work in partnership with UNICEF and the PAHO Revolving Fund as key implementing partners to ensure safe vaccine delivery and supply of materials such as syringes, safety boxes and other items essential for vaccination campaigns.
Commission proposes draft mandate for negotiations on Gibraltar
The European Commission has today adopted a Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar. The Commission also presented its proposal for negotiating guidelines.
It is now for the Council to adopt this draft mandate, after which the Commission can begin formal negotiations with the United Kingdom.
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s co-chair of the Joint Committee and Partnership Council, said: “By putting forward this draft mandate, we are honouring the political commitment we made to Spain to start the negotiations of a separate agreement between the EU and the UK on Gibraltar. This is a detailed mandate, which aims to have a positive impact for those living and working on either side of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market.”
Gibraltar was not included in the scope of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the EU and UK at the end of 2020. The Commission committed to begin the negotiation of a separate agreement on Gibraltar, should Spain request so. That is why the Commission is now recommending that the Council authorises the launch of specific negotiations on Gibraltar.
Today’s Recommendation builds upon the political understanding reached between Spain and the UK on 31 December last year. It is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on cooperation in the region.
The proposed negotiating directives put forward solutions to remove physical checks and controls on persons and goods at the land border between Spain and Gibraltar, while ensuring the integrity of the Schengen area and the Single Market. The proposals include rules establishing responsibility for asylum, returns, visas, residence permits, and operational police cooperation and information exchange.
Other measures are included in different areas, such as land and air transport, the rights of cross border workers, the environment, financial support, and establishing a level playing field. It envisages a robust governance mechanism, including a review of the implementation of the agreement after four years, the possibility for both parties to terminate the agreement at any time and the possibility of unilateral suspension of the application of the agreement under certain circumstances.
Spain, as the neighbouring Schengen Member State and as the Member State to be entrusted with the application and implementation of certain provisions of the future agreement, will be particularly affected by the agreement. The Commission will therefore maintain close contacts with the Spanish authorities throughout the negotiations and afterwards, taking their views duly into account.
With regard to external border control, in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational support, any Member State, including Spain, may request Frontex assistance in implementing its obligations. The Commission acknowledges that Spain has already expressed its full intention to ask Frontex for assistance.
The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement excluded Gibraltar from its territorial scope (Article 774(3)). On 31 December 2020, the Commission received a note of the proposed framework for a UK-EU legal instrument setting out Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU. The relevant services in the Commission have examined this in close consultation with Spain. Building upon the proposed framework and in line with Union rules and interests, the Commission has today adopted a Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar and presented its proposal for negotiating guidelines.
IRENA Outlines Action Agenda on Offshore Renewables for G20
Boosting offshore renewables will accelerate the energy transition and allow G20 countries to build a resilient and sustainable energy system, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds. Offshore Renewables: An Action Agenda for Deployment actively contributes to the G20 agenda by identifying actions which support the commercialisation of offshore technologies such as wind, wave, tidal, ocean thermal and floating PV in pursuit of extending their deployment worldwide. The report was launched by IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera during the meeting of G20 Environment, Climate and Energy Ministers in Naples.
“Offshore renewables have the potential to meet more than twenty times of today’s global power demand”, said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Particularly offshore renewables constitute a critical pillar for decarbonising energy systems and fostering a global blue economy. I congratulate the G20 Presidency for their forward-looking decision to integrate offshore renewables in the G20 agenda. IRENA is pleased to support the G20 Offshore Renewables Action Agenda with our energy transition expertise and valuable input from our global membership.”
To put the world on a climate-safe pathway, IRENA’s 1.5°C scenario foresees a massive growth of offshore wind, ocean energy and floating photovoltaic in the coming decades. Offshore wind for example would increase from 34 gigawatts (GW) today to 380 GW by 2030 and more than 2,000 GW by 2050. Ocean energy would represent additional 350 GW of offshore renewable generation capacity by 2050.
Today’s report includes 50 concrete actions that G20 countries could take while defining their national strategies for offshore renewables. Suggested actions include the strengthening of oceans governance in line with UN Law of the Sea, the integration of offshore renewables in national marine spatial planning and early planning for infrastructure like underwater cables and grids. Policy frameworks, international cooperation and investment in R&D are key recommendations to drive offshore globally. The report recommends to promote financing for offshore within the “Finance Track” of the G20.
Offshore renewables have the potential to greatly contribute to SDG 14 on the sustainably use of oceans while boosting blue economy activities such fishery, shipping and tourism. A blue economy fuelled by offshore renewables would help islands and countries with coastal areas to meet their national goals aligned with the Paris Agreement and 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The G20 is well placed to foster offshore renewables. Members account for the vast majority of global economic activity and trade and are home to over three-quarters of total offshore renewable installed capacity to date. 99.3% of total offshore wind capacity and nearly all installed ocean energy capacity globally can be found in G20 countries.
Today’s report was prepared by IRENA on the request and to the Italian Presidency of the G20. It benefited from the input of the G20 Working Group on Energy and insights by IRENA’s global membership gained under the Agency’s Collaborative Framework on Offshore Renewables.
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