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World Bank Group Announces $200 billion over Five Years for Climate Action

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The World Bank Group today announced a major new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action. The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The plan also represents significantly ramped up ambition from the World Bank Group, sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same.

“Climate change is an existential threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue, investing and mobilizing $200 billion over five years to combat climate change,” World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim said. “We are pushing ourselves to do more and to go faster on climate and we call on the global community to do the same. This is about putting countries and communities in charge of building a safer, more climate-resilient future.”

The $200 billion across the Group is made up of approximately $100 billion in direct finance from the World Bank (IBRD/IDA), and approximately $100 billion of combined direct finance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and private capital mobilized by the World Bank Group.

A key priority is boosting support for climate adaptation, recognizing that millions of people across the world are already facing the severe consequences of more extreme weather events. By ramping up direct adaptation finance to reach around $50 billion over FY21-25, the World Bank will, for the first time, give this equal emphasis alongside investments that reduce emissions.

“People are losing their lives and livelihoods because of the disastrous effects of climate change. We must fight the causes, but also adapt to the consequences that are often most dramatic for the world’s poorest people,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva. “This is why we at the World Bank commit to step up climate finance to $100 billion, half of which will go to build better adapted homes, schools and infrastructure, and invest in climate smart agriculture, sustainable water management and responsive social safety nets.”

The new financing will ensure that adaptation is undertaken in a systematic fashion, and the World Bank will develop a new rating system to track and incentivize global progress. Actions will include supporting higher-quality forecasts, early warning systems and climate information services to better prepare 250 million people in 30 developing countries for climate risks. In addition, the expected investments will build more climate-responsive social protection systems in 40 countries, and finance climate smart agriculture investments in 20 countries.

“There are literally trillions of dollars of opportunities for the private sector to invest in projects that will help save the planet,” said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou. “Our job is to go out and proactively find those opportunities, use our de-risking tools, and crowd in private sector investment. We will do much more in helping finance renewable energy, green buildings, climate-smart agribusiness, urban transportation, water, and urban waste management.”

The new targets build on the World Bank Group’s 2016 Climate Change Action Plan. In 2018, the World Bank Group provided a record-breaking $20.5 billion in finance for climate action: doubling delivery from the year before the Paris Agreement and meeting its 2020 target two years ahead of schedule.

The World Bank Group will continue to integrate climate considerations into its work, including screening projects for climate risks and building in appropriate risk mitigation measures, disclosing both gross and net greenhouse gas emissions, and applying a shadow carbon price for all material investments.

To increase system-wide impact for countries, the World Bank Group will support the integration of climate considerations in policy planning, investment design, implementation and evaluation. It will also support at least 20 countries implement and update Nationally Determined Contributions and increase engagement with Ministries of Finance in the design and implementation of transformative low-carbon policies.

In key sectors, efforts will include:

  • In Energy: Support the generation, integration, and enabling infrastructure for 36 GW of renewable energy and support 1.5 million GWh equivalent of energy savings through efficiency improvement;
  • In Cities: Help 100 cities achieve low-carbon and resilient urban planning and transit-oriented development;
  • In Food and Land-Use: Increase integrated landscape management in up to 50 countries, covering up to120 million hectares of forests.
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Making carbon dioxide into protein for innovative animal feed

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by Tom Cassauwers

Having a big idea may not be enough to change the world – innovation is a commercial process as well as scientific inspiration. Turning research into marketable products is partly a business challenge.

It’s common knowledge that proteins, a key component of human nutrition, are also essential for making animal feeds. Less well known is the uncomfortable fact that much of the protein we feed animals in Europe leads to deforestation and overfishing worldwide.

Biotechnology start-up Deep Branch have designed a biochemical transformation process that turns carbon dioxide (CO2) into a protein-rich powder for animals to eat.

The Deep Branch process converts carbon dioxide into a powder, called Proton, which has around 70% protein content. This is much higher than natural soy, which has around 40%.

British-Dutch company Deep Branch is the brainchild of Peter Rowe, a PhD graduate in molecular biology of Nottingham University in the UK. For him, the idea to convert CO2 into protein just kept popping up. ‘We looked at the field and wondered “Why the hell isn’t anyone doing this?”’ said Rowe.

Fish meals

Raising livestock and fish farming requires foods with high protein densities. Around 80% of the world’s soy crop is used to raise beef and dairy, with demand for these products increasing with the growing population.

Aquaculture depends on fishmeal production, which is partly reliant on harvesting fish from the wild.

Soy agriculture drives deforestation, global warming and habitat loss while overfishing endangers ecosystems and affects the balance of life in the oceans. Overall, food production has a huge role to play in the climate and biodiversity crises.

There’s also the issue of food security. ‘Europe is almost completely reliant on South America for the protein we use to feed our animals,’ said Rowe. ‘There’s a high risk of extreme events, geopolitics or even weather, disrupting that.’

Proton powder

The carbon dioxide can come from many sources. In the pilot, Deep Branch used gas coming from a bioenergy plant that burns waste wood. ‘We culture these microbes in a bioreactor,’ said Rowe. ‘This is the same technology used to make enzymes in biotechnology, or even brew beer.’

The carbon dioxide is put into a fermentation tank as a gas, with hydrogen added to serve as an energy source. After the cellular process is complete, the protein is then dried into a powder to be used as an ingredient in a sustainable animal feed.

Real impact

It’s the type of idea that could make a circular, sustainable economy grow. Deep Branch emerged with Rowe’s biotech qualification. However, he wasn’t necessarily interested in a career in academics.

‘I never saw myself as a career academic, but a PhD is a good choice for a career in biotechnology,’ he said. On the other hand, ‘I like the idea that my research has real, short-term impacts in the world,’ he said.

According to Rowe, speculative research is always necessary, and universities are ideal places to pursue that. But bridging the gap from academia to the private sector presents its own challenges.

‘Some technologies would never have been invented in the private sector,’ said Rowe. ‘Sometimes you need fundamental scientific breakthroughs. But afterwards there needs to be a transition to the market.’

Risk takers

Universities will need to improve their policies around spin-off businesses for this process to work better, argues Rowe. As it stands, when technology is developed at an institution, universities and even individual academics take a share of the value in a spin-off company.

The problem is, sometimes this share becomes too high. When this happens it potentially impacts the further growth of the company by disincentivising private investment.  

‘The university or academic who gets the equity doesn’t get any risk,’ said Rowe. ‘The PhD-students or postdocs who founded the company take all the risk.’

By taking an equity stake that is too large, institutions could potentially affect the development of the business. ‘We need to ensure that young researchers can go out and take risks,’ said Rowe.

In the meantime, Deep Branch seems to be a good example of how the transition from academia to private industry can work well. With a growing team, the business is seeking further investment to develop their next facility.

‘We’re keeping busy’, said Rowe, smiling.

The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.  

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Sustainable blue economy vital for small countries and coastal populations

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The coastline of Alor Island in Indonesia. Ocean Image Bank/Erik Lukas

With the livelihoods of about 40 per cent of the world’s population living at or near a coast, the second day of the UN Ocean Conference under way in Lisbon focused on strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, managing coastal ecosystems.

The world’s coastal populations contribute significantly to the global economy – an estimated $1.5 trillion per year – with expectations pointing to some $3 trillion by 2030.

Ensuring ocean ecosystem health, supporting livelihoods and driving economic growth requires targeted support for key sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, energy, shipping and port activities, and seabed mining, as well as innovative areas such as renewable energy and marine biotechnology.

Marine resources ‘essential’

This is particularly important to small island developing states (SIDS), for whom marine resources are critical assets, providing them with food security, nutrition, employment, foreign exchange, and recreation.

Further, through evidence-based policy interventions, these assets can also make enhanced and sustained contributions to the economic growth, and prosperity of SIDS and least developed countries (LDCs).

Participating in the main interactive dialogue of the second-day of the Conference, former President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, explained to UN News that it is “extremely important that small States have a place at the table, to ensure that they can put forward their aspirations and move in the right direction”.

Acknowledging that climate change continues to affect his own country, and several SIDS, Mr. Faure called on the international community to continue to support countries like Seychelles.

“The blue economy is essential for the livelihoods of our people and nations. I see [investment] coming very slowly and I believe it is very important that, internationally, we continue to maintain the focus, so we can build partnerships between civil society and private sector,” he stated.

What does a truly sustainable blue economy mean?

Despite of the lack of a universally accepted definition of the term blue economy, the World Bank defines it as “the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

A blue economy prioritizes all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social. When talking about sustainable development, it is important to understand the difference between a blue economy and an ocean economy. The term implies that the initiative is environmentally sustainable, inclusive and climate resilient.

In addition to providing goods and services measurable in monetary terms, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows and wetlands deliver critical ecosystem services such as coastal protection and carbon sequestration.

Action now

Small island developing states control 30 per cent of all oceans and seas. But how can SIDS and the private sector build equitable and accountable partnerships for sustainable ocean?

Calling for the implementation of the promises set out in the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action, known by the shorthand SAMOA Pathway and the ambitions of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14), on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, experts on the second day of the Conference reiterated the importance of harnessing private sector collaboration to make it possible.

Impacts of climate change

Speaking to UN News, the Secretary to Government of Tuvalu, Tapugao Falefou, said that his country was “not just beginning to understand what climate change is and how impacts [the world] but also physically understanding how it impacts [us].”

Describing major coastal erosion, drought and inland inundated by seawater, Mr. Falefou said “that didn’t happen 20 years back. These are the impacts of climate change that I can attest to, that larger countries may not experience.”

The path of multilateralism

With millions employed worldwide in fishing and fish farming, most in developing countries, healthy and resilient marine and coastal ecosystems are fundamental to sustainable development.

Other sectors that are critical to the resilience of developing countries include the coastal tourism sector, which contributes up to 40 per cent or more of the global gross domestic product (GDP) in some SIDS, and the marine fisheries sector, which provides nearly 20 per cent of the average intake of animal protein consumed by 3.2 billion people, and more than 50 per cent of the average intake in some least developed countries.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General, added that without multilateralism, no one can solve the problem of the Ocean.

“SIDS have the potential to be large ocean economies (…) if we do so sustainably, we can unlock development prospects”, she added, emphasizing the blue economy path.

Women and the ocean

Focusing on the interlinkage between the SDG14 and SDG 5 (gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls) a panel of experts advocated for increasing women’s participation and leadership at all levels.

With women critically under-represented in the field of ocean actions, particularly in decision-making roles in ocean science, policy-making, and blue economy, the panel called for more action and a radical change in society.

“We have an enormous responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure the sustainability of our planet, and an event like this [Conference] is probably one of the most important in terms of the future of life,” said Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the World Maritime University, based in Sweden.

Reiterating the importance of looking into women’s working conditions and pay-gap in fisheries, Ms. Doumbia-Henry added: “We need to focus on some of these questions, and what I am tired of is the lip service, we need to make the changes, and implement, to take it forward.”

Mainstream women’s participation

For Maria Damanaki, founder of Leading Women for the Ocean, concrete action plan is needed, along with legislation.

“We need to see women as part of the blue economy, we need to see them everywhere, to mainstream their participation, because without their leadership, humanity as a whole is going to lose a lot,” Ms. Damanaki said.

With the expected participation of over 12 thousand ocean advocates, including world leaders, entrepreneurs, youth, influencers, and scientists, the Conference will continue to ignite fresh impetus for advancing SDG14, at the heart of global action to protect life under water. Concrete measures will be adopted to build ocean resilience and more sustainable communities, underpinned by a new wave of commitments to restore the ocean’s health.

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World Bank Group Launches First Country Climate and Development Report

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The World Bank Group has launched the first in a series of new core diagnostic reports that integrate climate change and development considerations and help countries prioritize the most impactful actions that can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and boost adaptation.

The Country Climate and Development Reports (CCDRs) build on rigorous data and research and identify main sources of GHG emissions and climate vulnerabilities. They discuss development paths that reduce GHG emissions and boost climate adaptation, including the costs and challenges as well as benefits and opportunities. The reports also suggest concrete, priority actions that can support the transition towards climate resilience and lower emissions.

As public documents, CCDRs are aimed at informing governments, citizens, and development partners to engage with the development and climate agenda. CCDRs will feed into other core Bank Group diagnostics and help attract funding and direct financing for high-impact climate action.

As the largest multilateral funder of climate action in developing countries, we recognize the importance of good data and diagnostics that identify and prioritize actions that meaningfully reduce GHG emissions and build resilience,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “These reports offer concrete ideas of high-impact climate actions that support development and also explore opportunities and reforms to enable private sector engagement in the transition.”

The Türkiye CCDR released this week identifies key priorities for climate action to help Türkiye  reduce GHG emissions and boost resilience, including:

  • Reducing the carbon intensity of the energy sector and transitioning away from coal in a just and inclusive manner, while supporting well-designed power markets and a well-functioning grid;
  • Enabling public investments and mobilizing private investments through a tax reform that combines subsidy reform with a carbon tax, along with other structural interventions that better align incentives to increase productivity and growth and reduce carbon intensity;
  • Reducing energy inefficiency and supporting modal shift in transport;
  • Sustainable forest management and landscape restoration;
  • Mainstreaming resilience considerations in public and private sector decisions; and
  • Enabling a people-centered approach to the green transition, providing well-targeted support to communities impacted by physical and transition risks.

Over the next few months, the World Bank Group expects to publish more than 20 CCDRs. An overview document summarizing the key emerging priorities arising from these diagnostics will be published ahead of COP27 to foster action-oriented discussion in the global community.

The World Bank Group delivered over $26 billion of climate finance in fiscal year 2021 alone. That number is set to rise further this year. The Bank Group remains committed to aligning its financing flows with the Paris Agreement.

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