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Largest ‘Summer Davos’ Ever Aims to Boost Global Innovation

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Leaders participating in the 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, to be held in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 18-20 September, will be taking part in the largest ever World Economic Forum summit dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In total, the meeting will welcome over 2,000 top-level representatives from politics, business, civil society, academia and the arts from over 100 countries.

The theme of the meeting is Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Top of the agenda will be workshops on how the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a transformation powered by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and gene editing, is already impacting economies and societies as well as the geopolitical landscape.

Ways in which our world is being impacted by these technologies include the widespread deployment of industrial robots in the manufacturing sector, a rapid expansion in the use of artificial intelligence in business and scientific research, the dangerous concept of “dual-use” technologies, or technologies designed for civilian use that can easily be repurposed for military application.

In addition, the meeting will focus on the key geopolitical and geo-economic issues of today, including the latest developments in global trade, the rise of a “multi-conceptual” geopolitical system and the prospects for the global economy.

There will also be a strong focus on China’s rapid development, featuring top-level discussions on a range of topics including developments in the Belt and Road Initiative, the opening up of China’s financial markets and the country’s recent launch of the world’s largest carbon trading scheme.

Like all World Economic Forum meetings, the design of the programme is heavily weighted towards delivering outcomes, with over 100 working sessions in the programme enabling participants to reach consensus, design policies and build partnerships aimed either at exploiting or mitigating the impacts of the wave of transformation.

“Our world is going through one of the most profound shifts in human history. We are only at the beginning of this transformation, yet we know it holds immense promise and challenges for our future. The purpose of designing an international summit that is dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to focus the minds of our leaders on how to harness this immense potential and make sure that the future we build is human-centred, sustainable and inclusive,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“From its home in China, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions has grown over 12 years to become the leading global event bringing leaders from government and business together with those from science and technology. I’m proud this year to be welcoming so many Chinese and international partners, many for the first time, as we look to find new ways for innovation to address our gravest challenges and to drive human and economic development,” said David Aikman, Chief Representative Officer, China, World Economic Forum.

“The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Driven by the new international dynamics and revolutionary technologies, China will advance reforms and innovation to push for quality economic development for a brighter future. In the meantime, China is an unwavering champion for globalization that will continue to open its door wider while joining hands with all stakeholders to preserve economic openness and inclusion. I’m looking forward to being inspired by visionary insights and technological trends shared at the forum regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will provide a great source of power for advancing China’s development and global wellbeing in this new era,” said Xia Qing, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation, NDRC.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of ‘reform and opening-up’ in China, and the sixth Annual Meeting of the New Champions to be held in Tianjin. It is also an opportunity for Tianjin to realize the transition from high-speed growth to high-quality development. The meeting will not only introduce China’s achievements in deepening reform, extended open-up and cultural advancement but also provide the largest platform and the broadest development space to expand and enhance Tianjin’s competitiveness and influence,” said Zhao Haishan, Vice-Mayor, Tianjin Municipal Government.

Nearly 200 public figures from 42 countries will join the discussions in Tianjin. From China, these include: Wan Gang, President, Chinese Association for Science and Technology; Yi Gang, Governor, People’s Bank of China; Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology; Xiao Yaqing, Chairman, State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC); and Liu Kun, Minister of Finance.

International public figures representing G20 economies include: Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs of France; Dorothee Baer, State Minister for Digital Affairs of Germany; Nabeel M. Al-Amudi, Minister of Transport of Saudi Arabia; Jeff Radebe, Minister of Energy of South Africa; and Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, USA.

Four countries will be represented by heads of state or government. Meanwhile 38 countries will be represented by deputy heads of state, government or ministers. These include: Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of Bahrain; Mohammed Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba; Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia; Raimonds Vejonis, President of Latvia; Mohammed Abdul Wahed Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education of Qatar; Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa; and Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia.

The Co-Chairs of the meeting, who will take an active role in a number of sessions, are: Jay Flatley, Executive Chairman, Illumina, USA; Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University, Canada; Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, United Kingdom; Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating Chairman, Huawei Technologies, People’s Republic of China; Liu Jitao, China Communications Construction Company, People’s Republic of China; Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, European Commission; and Abi Ramanan, Chief Executive Officer, ImpactVision, UK.

Other key participants include: more than 1,500 business leaders including 500 founders and chief executive officers of the most exciting and innovative start-up companies, more than 50 Young Scientists, the new class of 2018 Technology Pioneers, and representatives from arts and culture, academia and the media. Representing the Forum’s communities are more than 300 Social Entrepreneurs, Global Shapers and Young Global Leaders.

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Circular Economy: Proposal to boost the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers

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The EU institutions have found an agreement on new EU rules on fertilisers proposed by the Commission in 2016 as a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Package.

Negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached a preliminary political agreement on the Commission’s proposal from March 2016 which built on the Commission’s 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan.

The new rules will facilitate the access of organic and waste-based fertilisers to the EU Single Market. It also introduces limits for cadmium and other contaminants in phosphate fertilisers. This will help to reduce waste, energy consumption and environmental damage, as well as limit the risks to human health.

Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Unlike traditional fertilisers which are highly energy intensive and rely on scarce natural resources, bio-waste fertilisers have the potential to make farming more sustainable. These new rules will also help to create a new market for reused raw materials in line with our efforts to build a circular economy in Europe.”

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The new EU rules will open up new market opportunities for innovative companies producing organic fertilisers and create new local jobs, provide wider choice for our farmers and protect our soils and food. At the same time we are also making sure that our European industry will be able to adapt to the proposed changes.”  

The main elements of the new rules are:

Opening the Single Market for organic fertilisers: The agreement on the Fertilising Products Regulation will open the market for new and innovative organic fertilisers by defining the conditions under which these can access the EU Single Market. The Regulation will provide common rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for all fertilisers to be traded freely across the EU. Producers will need to demonstrate that their products meet those requirements before affixing the CE mark.

Introducing limit values for toxic contaminants in certain fertilisers:The Regulation for the first time introduces limits for toxic contaminants, including a new 60 mg/kg limit for cadmium which will be further reviewed 4 years after the date of application. This will guarantee a high level of soil protection and reduce health and environmental risks, while allowing producers to adapt their manufacturing process to comply with the new limits. To encourage the use of even safer fertilisers, producers will also be able to use a low-cadmium label applicable to products with less than 20mg/kg cadmium content. These rules will affect those fertilisers that choose to affix CE marking.

Maintaining optional harmonisation:The Regulation also offers the possibility to opt for optional harmonisation. A manufacturer who does not wish to CE-mark the product can choose to comply with national standards and sell the product to other EU countries based on the principle of mutual recognition.

Next steps

The preliminary political agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission in so-called trialogue negotiations has today been confirmed by the Member States’ representatives and is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The Regulation will then be directly applicable in all Member States and will become mandatory in 2022.

Background

Under the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission called for a revision of the EU regulation on fertilisers to facilitate the EU-wide recognition of organic and waste-based fertilisers. The sustainable use of fertilisers made from organic waste material in agriculture could reduce the need for mineral-based fertilisers, the production of which has negative environmental impacts, and depends on imports of phosphate rock, a limited resource.

Under current rules, only conventional, non-organic fertilisers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically can freely be traded across the EU. Innovative fertilising products produced from organic materials are outside the scope of the current Fertilisers Regulation. Their access to the single market is therefore dependant on mutual recognition between Member States, which is often difficult due to diverging national rules. Such products therefore have a competitive disadvantage which hampers innovation and investment in the circular economy.

According to estimates, if more bio-waste was recycled, it could replace up to 30 % of non-organic fertilisers. Currently, the EU imports around 6 million tonnes of phosphates a year but could replace up to 30% of this total by extraction from sewage sludge, biodegradable waste, meat and bone meal or manure.

The Commission has also recently presented a new Bioeconomy Strategy, as announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent accompanying President Juncker’s 2018 State of the Union Address, which will further support the scaling up the sustainable use of renewable resources and  boost jobs, growth and investment into a sustainable circular bioeconomy in Europe.

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Yemen talks: Truce agreed over key port city of Hudaydah

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Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani (left) and Head of Ansarullah delegation Mohammed Amdusalem (right) shake hands on a ceasefire in and around the Yemeni port of Hudaydah photo: Government Offices of Sweden/Ninni Andersson

The announcement of a ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties in and around the key port of Hudaydah, was hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday as a deal which would improve the lives of millions of people.

Speaking on the last day of UN-led talks in Sweden to decide the future of the war-torn country, where its people are in the grip of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, Mr. Guterres told those present that they had “the future of Yemen” in their hands.

“You have reached an agreement on Hudaydah port and city, which will see a mutual re-deployment of forces from the port and the city, and the establishment of a Governorate-wide ceasefire,” he said, noting that the UN would play “a leading role” in the port.

“This will facilitate the humanitarian access and the flow of goods to the civilian population. It will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis,” he insisted.

Nearly four years after fighting escalated between the Government of Yemen and Houthi opposition movement, known officially as Ansar Allah, more than 24 million people – three-quarters of the population – need some form of assistance and protection.

Some 20 million are food insecure and 10 million of these people do not know how they will obtain their next meal.

While noting that “pending issues” have yet to be resolved, the UN chief said that representatives from the internationally-recognised Government of Yemen and the opposition had made “real progress” which had yielded “several important results”.

These included a “mutual understanding to ease the situation in Taizz”, Mr Guterres said, in reference to the country’s third largest city.

“We hope this will lead to the opening of humanitarian corridors and the facilitation of demining,” he added.

On the previously-agreed issue of a mass exchange of prisoners, the UN Secretary-General noted that both delegations had drawn up a timeline and provided further details on when it might happen.

This would allow “thousands – I repeat, thousands – of Yemenis to be reunited with their families,” Mr Guterres said, with UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, at his side.

Breakthrough over talks framework

Looking ahead to a new meeting between both parties in the new year, the UN chief insisted that another “very important step for the peace process” had been agreed, namely a willingness to discuss a framework for negotiations.

“You have agreed to meet again to continue to discuss this further at the end of January during the next round of negotiations,” Mr. Guterres said, adding that it was a “critical element” of a future political settlement to end the conflict.

“We have a better understanding of the positions of the parties,” he added, noting their “constructive engagement”, while also crediting the Governments of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait for their “concrete support” in making the meeting happen.

Welcoming the announcement on the Hudaydah ceasefire, the World Food Programme (WFP) underlined that the Red Sea port was “key” to importing some 70 per cent of Yemen’s humanitarian and 90 per cent of its commercial needs.

“Any progress towards peace is good progress, as long as it helps the Yemeni people who have suffered so much in this conflict,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley, noting that what Yemen needed most was lasting peace.

“Today’s announcement gives us hope that the World Food Programme’s work to feed 12 million severely hungry Yemenis may be made easier in the coming weeks and months.”

Owing to the conflict, in recent weeks imports have decreased by about half at Hudaydah’s docks, WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said.

“In November, our target in Hodeidah Governorate was to reach 800 000 people in need of food assistance. This ceasefire will of course help us in our daily activities as the region is one of WFPs priorities.”

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Innovation: key to solving climate change and promoting prosperity

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In the recently launched landmark report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading scientists warned that we only have 12 years to prevent the global environmental catastrophe caused by irreversible climate change. This will require rapid and far-reaching climate action in all sectors, including energy, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture and cities.

While industry is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for nearly one third of total global emissions, it is also a leading provider of climate technology solutions and green jobs.

As the UN’s specialized agency promoting industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is committed to enabling a paradigm shift in industrialization in developing countries as a means to build low-emission climate-resilient societies.

Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24), UNIDO Director General LI Yong said, “Innovation is key to addressing climate change and promoting economic and social prosperity.”

UNIDO is currently implementing over 400 projects, which directly contribute to achieving the targets and goals set by both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To enhance knowledge sharing and demonstrate proven and effective solutions for replication and scaling up, UNIDO showcased some of these projects during COP24 side events.

For instance, the UNIDO-GEF Global Cleantech Innovation Programme, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs in developing innovative climate and clean energy solutions as profitable business models, prominently featured in multiple technology-related side events.

UNIDO also presented its clean cooking fuels initiative, which promotes the production of biofuels in developing countries, as well as the manufacturing of the stoves on an industrial scale.

A dedicated side event marked the fifth anniversary of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), the implementing arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism. Hosted by UNIDO and UN Environment, the CTCN promotes the accelerated transfer of environmentally sound technologies for mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries.

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