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UNIDO explores enhanced cooperation with Russian counterparts

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photo: UNIDO

A delegation from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) led by its Director General LI Yong held fruitful bilateral meetings in Moscow to discuss achievements and challenges related to ongoing technical cooperation projects and potential areas for new joint activities.

During his meeting with Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Gulnaz Kadyrova, DG Li highlighted the productive partnership between UNIDO and the Ministry, and referred to the Joint Declaration on Cooperation signed in 2018. “UNIDO and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation have been already working on a vast portfolio of projects, and we are confident that there are many more new initiatives to come with such an active engagement of our partner and friend, Ms. Gulnaz Kadyrova,” Li said

“The Joint Declaration provides a solid foundation for joint initiatives with UNIDO in various areas, including the promotion and development of creative industries as well as the women’s economic empowerment agenda”, Kadyrova said. “We are glad to have UNIDO as our long-standing counterpart and look forward to further strengthening our collaborative ties”. The parties also discussed the ongoing preparations for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit 2019, jointly organized by the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates and UNIDO in Yekaterinburg from 9 to 11 July 2019.

The UNIDO delegation was then welcomed in the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation by Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council Galina Karelova. “We highly value our partnership with UNIDO, as it creates a unique networking, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building platform for women, who are willing to develop their economic independence and contribute to the global economic growth and prosperity,” Karelova emphasized.

“In recent years, the Federation Council, and the Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum established under the Federation Council, headed by Ms. Karelova, have become one of the UNIDO’s key counterparts in the Russian Federation, especially when it comes to the promotion of women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and leadership,” DG Li noted.

To mark the advanced state of bilateral relations, DG LI Yong on behalf of UNIDO and Chairperson Galina Karelova on behalf of the Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum signed a Joint Declaration, reaffirming the intention to upscale the mutually-reinforcing collaboration.

“The Joint Declaration is a true testimony to a spirit of strategic partnership between UNIDO and the Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum. As we celebrate today a new chapter of our cooperation, I am confident that it will continue to thrive and develop in the future,” DG Li emphasized.

The Director General also held a productive meeting with Sergey Vershinin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

“The Russian Federation fully supports cooperation in multilateral formats and remains committed to further enhancing activities aimed at promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development on national, regional and international level”, Vershinin reaffirmed.

“We are extremely grateful for the continuous institutional and financial support that the Russian Government has been providing to UNIDO in the realization of various projects and global forum events. We look forward to strengthening our cooperation, going beyond currently implemented programmes”, DG Li said.  

During the meeting with Timur Maksimov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, DG LI Yong highlighted the role of the Russian Federation as one of the UNIDO’s principal technical cooperation partners and major donors.

“The Government of the Russian Federation is glad to support UNIDO in its ongoing efforts to promote sustainable economic development and industrial growth in the Russian Federation and the region”, Maksimov stated. “We valued UNIDO’s multi-stakeholder approach and look forward to further strengthening our bilateral ties.”

Modalities of the UNIDO’s engagement with multilateral international financial institutions were discussed during the meeting with Sergey Storchak, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation.

“UNIDO has developed a targeted approach of engaging with international financial institutions to mobilize resources required for the realization of various industrial development programmes” marked the Director General.

“The Russian Federation is ready to further support UNIDO in its technical assistance activities, as it also actively contributes to a number of international development assistance funds,” Deputy Minister Storchak noted.

Potential avenues for enhanced cooperation were also discussed with Sergey Katyrin, President of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation. DG LI Yong underscored the importance of close cooperation with the private sector to support inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Russian business sector is rapidly growing, and it is vital for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to support enhanced international public-private networking and cooperation,” noted Katyrin. “We welcome UNIDO’s readiness to engage private actors in the sustainable development agenda.”

The bilateral meetings paved the way for an intensified cooperation in key development areas between UNIDO and the Russian Federation.

During his visit to Moscow, the Director General also visited the tecknopark “Kalibr”, where he was introduced to small- and medium-sized enterprises producing creative and innovative goods and services.

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Environment

New Study Offers Pathways to Climate-Smart Transport

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A two-volume study laying out a pathway to a low-carbon and climate-resilient transport sector in Vietnam was released at a workshop on Addressing Climate Change in Transport, held in Hanoi today.

This analytical work comes at a critical time when the Government of Vietnam is updating its Nationally Determined Contribution on reducing carbon emissions and set out its next medium-term public investment plan for 2021-2025.

“A resilient transport system is critical to the continued success of Vietnam’s economy, which relies heavily on external trade and seamless connectivity,” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “We hope that the findings and recommendations of this new report will help Vietnam in its efforts to achieve a resilient and sustainable transport sector.

The first volume demonstrates that by employing a mix of diverse policies and investments, Vietnam can reduce its carbon emissions in the transport sector up to 9 percent with only domestic resources by 2030, and 15-20 percent by mobilizing international support and private sector participation.

Currently, the transport sector contributes about 10.8 percent of the total CO2 emissions. In a business-as-usual scenario, these emissions are projected to grow at an annual rate of 6-7% to nearly 70 million tons CO2e. The most cost-effective measures to boost the resilience of the transport sector include shifting traffic from roads to inland waterways and coastal transport, deploying stricter vehicle fuel economy standards, and promoting electric mobility.

The second volume provides a methodological framework to analyze critical and vulnerable points of the transport network, and presents a strong economic case for investing in building the climate resilience of Vietnam’s transport networks. A vulnerability assessment looks at the potential impact of different hazards on the transport corridor or network, and the criticality assessment considers such questions as which links and routes along transport networks are the most critical for the unimpeded flow of transport across a particular transport network.

The study identifies systemic critical issues and hazard-specific, high-risk locations in Vietnam’s transport network. Considering climate change, it is estimated that 20 percent of the network is most critical in terms of its exposure to future disaster risks. Meanwhile, road failures can result in very high daily losses of up to US$1.9 million per day, while railway failures can result in losses as high as US$2.6 million per day.

To prepare for the increasing intensity and frequency of extreme hazards due to climate change, it is imperative to make investments to overhaul existing road assets to higher climate-resilient design standards.

Given the vulnerability of land-based transport, a shift to waterborne transport offers a good resilience strategy. A 10-percent shift in that direction could reduce climate risks by 25 percent, according to the report.

This report is a collaborative effort among the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport, the World Bank and Deutsche Gesellschaft für InternationaleZusammenarbeit GmbH (German Development Cooperation GIZ) under the commission by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). It is sponsored by the Australian Government through the Australia-World Bank Group Strategic Partnership in Vietnam – Phase 2 (ABP2) program.

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Human Rights

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace

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Just as the greatest global challenges cannot be solved by a single country, peace cannot be pursued in isolation, outgoing UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa said on Friday.

Ms. Espinosa was speaking at a high-level forum to mark the 20th anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of a Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

“Because peace is more than the absence of war, it needs constant nurturing through the pursuit of dignity and equality, of human rights and justice, of respect and understanding, and of cooperation and multilateralism”, she said.

As UN Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti pointed out, although peace is at the heart of the work of the United Nations, it is something that must be addressed daily.

“A culture of peace is inseparable from human rights, respect for diversity, and fairer societies,” she said.

“One main challenge as we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is to build more preventive and inclusive approaches that ensure the participation of women, young people and vulnerable, marginalized and non-represented groups.”

The Chef de Cabinet said working to achieve peace not only covers traditional notions of security but also challenges such as social injustice, the normalization of hate speech, terrorism, violence against women, and conflict.

Leymah Gbowee from Liberia knows many of these issues first-hand. She won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in uniting Christian and Muslim women to help end her country’s 14-year civil war.

She said peace is seen as the absence of bad, rather than the presence of good. However, instead of being “a fairytale of bland happiness”, she views it as quite radical.

“If we dig a little deeper into what a culture of peace actually looks like, it pushes us beyond understanding peace as the absence of conflict and being a positive state itself”, Ms. Gbowee told the gathering.

“A culture of peace creates an environment where people thrive and have their needs met. It looks like a population of satisfied people: healthy children, educated children, a functional health system, responsive justice structure, an empowered, recognized, appreciated and fully compensated community of women; food on the table of every home, and a lot more. It is the full expression of human dignity.”

The high-level commemorative event marked Ms. Espinosa’s final session presiding over the General Assembly, where all 193 Member States have equal representation.

In her goal to bring the UN’s main deliberative and policy-making organ closer to everyday people, she chose the traditional ruler of the Ashanti people of Ghana to deliver the keynote address: a historic first.

Representing a kingdom that has existed since the 17th century, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II ascended the podium wearing kente cloth and accompanied by two praise-singers.

He highlighted some of the UN’s accomplishments in preserving global security: for example, staving off nuclear war and preventing conflict between nations. However, as he observed, the landscape today is different.

“Warfare is no longer the threat we face from states; it is now a danger we face on a daily basis from our citizens and from all quarters. This new threat comes on the heels of an unprecedented trust deficit in political leadership at the national level. The effect of this trust deficit is to erode the capacity of political leaders to rally their people to coalesce around national interests. The consequence for peace and security cannot be overstated”, he said.

The Ashanti leader called for a new partnership between elected authorities and traditional governance, in the spirit of authentic collaboration.

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EU Politics

European Solidarity Corps: Three years on

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Tomorrow is the third anniversary of President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union announcement to set up a European Solidarity Corps, offering young people the opportunity to take part in a wide range of solidarity activities across the EU.

Since then, more than 161,000 young people between 18 and 30 have signed up to join the Corps, and the initiative has made a difference in many people’s lives. Most of the activities funded offer opportunities to volunteer – individually or in teams. But young people can also benefit from traineeships and jobs. Moreover, young people themselves can set up solidarity projects where they initiate, develop and run activities to contribute to positive change in their community, while living abroad and gaining valuable skills.  

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “We have achieved a lot in the last three years. In record time we put in place a new programme opening up opportunities for young people and organisations to support others, helping us build a more cohesive, caring society. I am proud to see so many young people eager to get involved and active in projects on the ground. Their enthusiasm is truly inspiring. This is why I have proposed to extend and strengthen the European Solidarity Corps after 2020.”

Inclusion is one of the most common topics tackled by European Solidarity Corps projects but not the only one. Other topics are youth work, climate change, community development, citizenship, education and culture. Tens of thousands more opportunities are expected to be created in the following months and years in these fields. Moreover, one in three of the activities funded by the European Solidarity Corps are reserved for participants with fewer opportunities who face obstacles such as disabilities, educational difficulties, or economic, social or geographical obstacles.

For instance, in Latvia, a project entitled “A special place for special people” promotes the integration of young people with disabilities into the labour market by employing them and involving them in all the activities of a social enterprise café in Riga. In Greece, volunteers help protect the forest of Xylokastro and Derveni by taking care of watering and planting trees, as well as cleaning the forest paths. And in Sweden, through the project “Climate Awareness”, volunteers learn about climate change and biodiversity by helping in the organic garden and ecovillage and participating in outreach activities. As an example of a project initiated by volunteers themselves, in Lithuania, five participants from a centre for disabled young people set up their own Solidarity Coffee project, enabling them to form new friendships and build personal connections with the wider community.

Background

In his State of the Union address of September 2016, President Juncker announced the creation of a European Solidarity Corps, providing opportunities for young Europeans to engage in solidarity activities and contribute to society as part of the Commission’s broader strategy to invest in young people. The Corps responds to a real interest among young people to engage in social projects. In a Eurobarometer survey published in spring 2019, more than half of the young respondents said they had participated in volunteering activities or local community projects. Three in four stated that they had been engaged in organised movements or volunteering.

A mere 3 months after President Juncker’s announcement, on 7 December 2016, the Solidarity Corps was launched, with the aim of having 100,000 young people taking part by the end of 2020. During an initial phase, eight different EU funding programmes were mobilised to offer volunteering, traineeship or job opportunities.

On 30 May 2017, the Commission put forward a proposal to equip the European Solidarity Corps with a single legal base, its own financing mechanism and a broader set of solidarity activities. The new Regulation came into force on 5 October 2018 and the Corps has its own budget of €375.6 million until 2020.

The first calls for proposals were launched in August and November 2018, creating some 20,000 new opportunities. Another call for proposals is currently open, with an application deadline of 1 October 2019, and is set to create another 7,000 opportunities. This call invites organisations with a quality label to apply for grants and set up projects for young people to volunteer, work or go on traineeships. Groups of young people can also apply to run a solidarity project themselves. Young people interested in taking part in a funded project can directly sign up on the European Solidarity Corps Portal.

On 11 June 2018, the Commission put forward its proposal for the European Solidarity Corps under the EU’s next long-term budget 2021-2027, allocating €1.26 billion to enable about 350,000 young people to go on a solidarity placement over seven years.

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