The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$8.2 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support China’s efforts to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions from the freight sector, a major consumer of energy, with the highest growth rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions among all sectors in China.
Freight transport accounted for over half of total transport CO2 emissions in 2013. As one of the most freight intensive economies in the world, for China to maintain healthy economic growth while fulfilling its commitment to global carbon reduction and environmental sustainability, developing a competitive, efficient and green freight transport system is a national strategic priority.
“This GEF project will contribute to China’s efforts in meeting or exceeding its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement well before 2020. It aims to improve the efficiency of multimodal freight transport, so that long-distance freight will be shifted from roads to greener transport modes such as railways and waterways. It will also promote green urban logistics to reduce emissions,” said Tan Hua, World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and task team leader of the project.
The GEF Efficient and Green Freight Transport Project will seek to improve institutional capacity by focusing on two priority areas at the national level: promotion of multimodal freight transportation system, and optimization of urban freight distribution. The project will also pilot key policy, strategy and analytical tools at the local levels in two provinces (Guangdong and Hubei) and three municipalities (Yantai, Weifang and Xiamen). The project will engage key industry players in the formulation of sector policies at both national and local levels.
“This project will introduce and pilot innovations in the development of China’s first macro-logistics freight model, applying big data analytics to inform policy formulation, and piloting of public-private partnerships to facilitate better rural-urban freight distribution and accelerate rural economic development,” added Yang Yi, World Bank’s Operations Analyst and co-task team leader of the project.
Knowledge and experience gained from the project will be disseminated within China and in World Bank’s client countries through TransForm, a knowledge platform jointly developed by the Chinese Ministry of Transport and the World Bank to learn and spread China’s experience and good practices in transport development and transformation.
The GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided over $17.9 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $93.2 billion in co-financing for more than 4500 projects in 170 countries.
World Bank Supports Climate Resilient Agriculture and Infrastructure Services in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka and the World Bank today signed two new agreements worth $150 million to improve climate resilience and agriculture productivity for small farmers and support priority infrastructure through public-private partnerships.
Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region and Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary, Ministry of Finance signed the agreements on behalf of the World Bank and the Government of Sri Lanka respectively. The signing took place during the World Bank Group and IMF Spring Meetings 2019 in Washington, D.C., in the presence of Hon. State Minister of Finance, Eran Wickremaratne.
The new projects include:
A $125 million credit for the Climate Smart Irrigated Agriculture Project, which will improve the resilience and productivity of agriculture for more than 470,000 small farmers in 6 provinces in the dry zone of the country.
A $25 million loan for the Framework Development and Infrastructure Financing to Support Public-Private Partnerships Project, which will help the Government of Sri Lanka develop a platform to attract and sustain investments required to fulfill its future development priorities.
“Sri Lanka is on a path to becoming an upper middle-income country,” said Hartwig Schafer. “To ensure that this growth is sustainable, affordable, and resilient, the two projects are designed to leverage private sector financing for infrastructure and address climate vulnerability in the agriculture sector.”
The Climate Smart Irrigated Agriculture Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources along with the six Provincial Councils participating in the project. The total project cost is $140 million, including a $125 million credit from the International Development Association, with a $10 million contribution from the Government of Sri Lanka and a $5 million contribution from the project beneficiaries.
“The project will support farmers’ access to training and research. Currently, only 10 percent of women benefit, and this project will help bridge this gap and improve productivity of both men and women working in agriculture” said Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “Innovation, including the introduction of improved crop varieties, cropping patterns, water resources management, amongst others, can help farmers adapt to changing climate and improve their incomes and livelihoods.”
The key principle of the Framework Development and Infrastructure Financing to Support Public-Private Partnerships Project is to encourage the private sector to invest in priority projects selected through competitive procurement processes to ensure value for money. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media together with the National Agency for Public Private Partnership. The $25 million loan has a 20-year maturity, including a 9-year grace period, and $2 million counterpart funding.
‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals
Pointing to climate change, inequalities and other serious challenges, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a forum on Thursday Development that “the clock is ticking” down, to making the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Climate change is ravaging the planet… staggering numbers of children and youth – especially girls and young women – still lack access to basic education and healthcare services, [and] people in many countries are starved of economic opportunities, decent work and social protection measures”, she told the 2019 ECOSOC Partnership Forum, where governments, business representatives and other influencers met to discuss how partnerships can best advance and the 17 (SDGs).
Under the theme, “Partnerships Driving Inclusive Implementation of the SDGs”, the Forum will capture key policy messages to inform the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in in September.
“Our task is immense, but many of the pathways to change are in plain sight”, she asserted, adding that while “success is still possible”, it requires difficult conversations around “the need to fill partnership skillset gaps, tackle financing shortfalls, and address data deficiencies”.
The economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development call for “a fully integrated approach” that engages everyone.
“Partnerships are critical for achieving progress across the full agenda” stressed Ms. Mohammed, calling SDG 17 on partnerships, “the ‘connective tissue’ which will ensure an integrated and holistic approach to sustainable development”.
The deputy UN chief shared four points for discussion, beginning with a commitment between the UN, governments, private sector and civil society to work together in a more coordinated and integrated way.
“The transformation we need requires us to acknowledge that everyone is a development actor,” she argued. “Governments alone cannot achieve the SDGs”.
Secondly, she pointed to the need to prioritize investments in platforms and coalitions that engage a larger ecosystem of partners.
“Investments in cross-cutting, high-return priorities have strong potential to unlock progress across multiple SDGs”, she stated, flaggin a range of areas, from quality education and health services to zero-carbon energy and environmental conservation.
Ms. Mohammad’s third point focused on leadership, innovation and strategic collaborations “at the local level”.
“We must draw on the knowledge and experience of local communities and actors on the ground to ensure that we replicate and scale up the most promising models”, she emphasized.
Ensuring that the process to socialize the SDGs and strengthen ownership is “inclusive, transparent and accountable”, was her final point.
“All stakeholders, big or small should find a place to play their role and make their contribution”, she maintained.
She urged everyone to “reflect honestly about where we are falling short, because those shortcomings are also where the opportunities lie to make a difference”.
“Only with this kind of pragmatic approach will we realize our aspiration of leaving no one behind”, said Ms. Mohammed, with the reminder that promoting equitable access and equal participation by all, including the most marginalized, “is a fundamental ethic of the SDG era”.
Turning to capacity-building for vulnerable groups, she encouraged the forum to apply “a lens of inclusion and empowerment” to ensure that they “are put in the driver’s seat for SDG implementation”.
Recalling that young people, particularly women and entrepreneurs, are at the forefront of SDG progress, the Deputy Secretary-General concluded: “Let’s make sure we listen carefully to their vision and draw inspiration from their determination and commitment to creating a better world”.
UAE Takes Lead on Tackling Climate Change and Environmental Crises in the Middle East
Political and business leaders today renewed their commitment to urgent action to tackle environmental crises and climate change, as the Middle East and North Africa region faces multiple challenges from water scarcity, air pollution, waste management and climate migration.
“We need leaders who lead by example,” declared Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. “We should not wait until someone else tells us whether he believes in climate change or not. We have to roll up our sleeves and start the work we need to do.”
The United Arab Emirates has set a target to increase the share of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25% to 50% by 2050. Renewables were too expensive 15 years ago, said Al Zeyoudi, but now they can generate electricity more cheaply than natural gas. The UAE is also investing in energy efficiency, water conservation through humidity transfer and cloud seeding, and solid waste management.
Blended finance is vital to scale up investment in green opportunities, said Janet Heckman, Managing Director of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Region for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD has invested $30 billion to date in green projects, reducing carbon emissions by 100 million tonnes annually.
In the MENA region, 60% of EBRD’s funds have gone into green investments – including Egypt’s Benban Solar Park, which will be the world’s largest solar installation when complete, generating 1,650 MW at a cost of just $0.02 per megawatt. Benban has been financed through a blend of EBRD money and investments from more than 30 private-sector developers. “It is very important to have consistent government policy dialogue to make the conditions attractive for private investors,” said Heckman.
Germany provides one model for mapping a pathway towards a cleaner future. It has moved out of nuclear-fuelled electricity altogether and renewables now account for 40% of the energy mix. “Governments have to give a concrete framework and the right incentives for investors,” said Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety of Germany. The advantage of renewables is that they can supply power through decentralized systems in countries with no established power grid, she said.
The green economy also provides great opportunities for entrepreneurs. Water scarcity and food insecurity affect 2 billion people living on the 40% of the Earth’s surface that is dry land or desert – and climate change is aggravating the problem. However, Atle Idland, Managing Director of the UAE-based Desert Control Middle East, has pioneered a way to enhance the capacity of dry soils to retain water. This enables farmers to maintain or increase their crop yields while using 52% less water. The company is aiming to treat 5 million square kilometres of desert by 2030, with a direct impact on the livelihoods of 100 million people. “The ROIs are good,” said Idland: “It comes down to private-sector adoption – do you want to be an early adopter or a laggard?”
Recognizing the potential of technology to support the transition to the circular economy within the MENA region and globally, the United Arab Emirates, represented by the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, in partnership with the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the Ministry of State for Artificial Intelligence, has committed $1 million to support SCALE 360. The initiative of the World Economic Forum aims to unlock the potential of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the circular economy.
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