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Time to Achieve ‘Asia’s Century’ – India Economic Summit Launches in New Delhi

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The World Economic Forum is holding its 33rd India Economic Summit in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Government of India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on 3-4 October in New Delhi. The summit will host more than 800 leaders from 40 countries, including business, senior public figures and leading representatives from civil society, arts and culture, science and academia.

The theme of the summit is Innovating for India: Strengthening South Asia, Impacting the World. Prominently featured in the programme will be: South Asia’s economic outlook, emerging technologies (including, artificial intelligence and drones), India’s environmental reforms, infrastructure, gender parity, start-up unicorns, education and skills.

India’s and South Asia’s role is critical to the sustainability of global economic growth and, if this is to be Asia’s century, the region’s role will be indispensable. More than ever before, the world needs to engage with India and South Asia, while the region must expand its leadership on a range of global initiatives. The programme will also underline South Asia’s relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and highlight how the two regions, defined by their demographic and digital dividends, will shape the world’s collective future.

The summit will be co-chaired by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice-Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, India; Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Singapore; Shailendra Singh, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital India; Sania Mirza, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia and Indian sportsperson; Gillian Tans, Chairwoman of Booking.com. The co-chair press conference will take place at 08.45 on 3 October at the meeting venue in New Delhi. It will be livestreamed on the Forum’s website.

“Over the course of the Forum’s 35-year engagement with India, we have seen the country’s global profile rapidly rise,” said Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum. “This week, leaders from across the world are coming to New Delhi to tackle the big issues of today and collaborate on how to seize the opportunities of tomorrow. Inclusive growth, the environment and innovation are some of the strategic regional issues to be discussed. We are looking forward to a productive meeting.”

“We are delighted to partner with the World Economic Forum and the CII on the India Economic Summit,” said Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. “As this is the 35th year of Forum’s engagement in India and the 50th year of its founding, it is an opportune time to take this relationship to the next level. With over 800 participants from 40 countries and a strong group of co-chairs, I am certain that the Summit will be an important platform to discuss India’s narratives on regional and global challenges and showcase it as an attractive investment destination.”

“Propelled by a strong reforms process and proactive global agenda, India today stands at an opportune inflection point to emerge as a pole in the geopolitical and economic arena,” said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). “Importantly, India has taken a definitive stance for fostering human development, technology and sustainability, leveraging its demographic advantage. Indian industry is a key engine of India’s development process, and CII partners and supports its contribution to the country’s growth journey.”

Senior government officials from India and South Asia will participate in the summit. They include Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India; Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of India; Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of Railways of India; Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Minister of Steel of India; Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (IC) of Civil Aviation, Housing and Urban Affairs of India and Minister of State of Commerce and Industry; and Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation will announce the winner of the 2019 India Social Entrepreneur of the Year award on 3 October. Social entrepreneurs fill a unique role in modern economies, applying innovative thinking and disruptive technology to meet demands that traditional businesses or governments cannot serve. Ten of the world’s leading social enterprises will be represented at the India Economic Summit.

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Environment

Western Indian Ocean region has declared 550,000 square kilometers as protected

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The Western Indian Ocean region has declared 143* marine and coastal areas as protected – an area covering 553,163 square kilometers, representing 7 percent of the total Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for the region – according to a new publication by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-Nairobi Convention and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association.

The Marine Protected Areas Outlook, released today, indicates that almost half of the total area – an estimated 63 percent of the overall square kilometers – was brought under protection in the seven years since the 2015 adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 14.5, which committed countries to conserving at least 10 percent of their marine and coastal areas by 2020.

This Outlook examines the current and future status of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Comoros, Kenya, France (in its Western Indian Ocean territories), Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania, emphasizing the increased commitment of countries to strengthen marine protection. In 2019 alone, Seychelles brought 30 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone under protection, safeguarding the habitats of 2,600 species, while South Africa declared 20 new MPAs – enabling both countries to exceed the 10 percent target. Comoros has developed new MPA-specific legislation, while over three hundred Locally Managed Marine Areas – i.e., areas in which coastal communities shoulder the mantle of conservation – have been declared across the region.

The publication further documents the dozens of proposed MPAs currently under consideration by countries, which would cover an additional 50,000 square kilometers or more. Nevertheless, with only 7 percent of the region’s total EEZ under protection, greater momentum and investments will be required by countries to reach the more ambitious target of 30 percent protection by 2030, as proposed under the Global Biodiversity Framework.  

Although the ocean provides us with resources essential for survival, including food, employment, and even oxygen, the world is damaging and depleting it faster than ever. Soon, the region may no longer be able to count on the many jobs, health, and economic benefits – valued at 20.8 billion USD – that the Western Indian Ocean provides. Marine protected areas offer one of the best options to reverse these trends. 

“A well-managed MPA can bring significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to a country,” said Yamkela Mngxe, Acting Director of Integrated Projects and International Coordination in South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. “They can increase food security by preventing the overexploitation of fish stocks; create and protect jobs in the tourism and fisheries sectors; build resilience to climate change; and protect species and habitats.”

Though countries in the region have made significant strides in protecting its marine and coastal areas, the Outlook outlines best practices, challenges, and several opportunities to build on thisprogressto ensure the entire region meets future Global Biodiversity Framework targets on marine protected areas. The Outlook’s assessment of the management effectiveness of MPAs indicates that MPA frameworks and institutions do not always function effectively. Nor is relevant legislation consistently implemented, due to financial or personnel capacity gaps; weak enforcement on MPA boundaries; and management decisions that are not guided by science.

Key recommendations from the Outlook therefore include:

  1. The need for dedicated budgets for MPA management;
  2. Adopting proactive law enforcement and compliance strategies to ensure MPA regulations and guidelines are being respected which could be informed by the best practices in fishery reserves like Mauritius, which have helped to restore fish stocks and protect biodiversity;
  3. Incorporating research and monitoring programmes on biodiversity and ecosystems into decision-making in MPAs;
  4. Strengthening community engagement in marine protection by implementing lessons learned by the MIHARI Network, which brings together more than 200 Locally Managed Marine Areas in Madagascar.

“The MPA Outlook comes at a time when the region has embarked on large-scale socio-economic developments that are equally exerting pressure on MPAs,” said Hon. Flavien Joubert,Minister of Agriculture, Climate Change, and Environment of the Seychelles. “The Outlook thus provides some answers and innovative approaches to minimize the scale of negative impacts on MPAs.”

The MPA Outlook concludes that by seizing the opportunities it presents, countries in the region can capitalize on this progress to safeguard the Western Indian Ocean’s immense natural beauty and resources for generations to come – and sustain momentum towards achievement of the post 2020 biodiversity framework targets.

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Development

ADB Calls for Just, Equitable Transition Toward Net Zero in Asia and Pacific

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Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa today called for countries in Asia and the Pacific to take bold action to address climate change while ensuring fair and equitable economic growth amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The task of addressing climate change is not only urgent, but also inextricably linked to an inclusive and lasting recovery from the pandemic,” said Mr. Asakawa at the Indonesian Ministry of Finance–ADB 2021 International Climate Conference. “With shared commitment and international cooperation, we can make the transition to net zero and achieve climate resilience, so that our region emerges stronger than before.”

The one-day virtual conference attracted about 800 people from the public and private sectors, development partners, think tanks, and academia to discuss international good practices that can help ADB developing member countries transition to low-carbon, resilient economies and pursue a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event highlighted Indonesia’s commitment to meeting its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, as well as steps it has taken to support the development of a low-carbon, resilient economy.

“Indonesia has mainstreamed climate change into our National Medium-Term Development Plan 2020–2024 and established a national Action Plan, both on mitigation and adaptation,” said Indonesian Vice Minister of Finance Suahasil Nazara. “In the near future, we will use this recovery phase post-COVID-19 pandemic to pursue our climate and sustainability agenda.” Indonesia will chair the G20 in 2022.

Asia and the Pacific is responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions. Recent analysis predicts that global energy-related CO2 emissions will grow by nearly 5% in 2021, as demand for coal, oil, and gas rebounds. About 80% of the growth in coal demand is expected to come from Asia.

The Paris Agreement aims to keep the rise in global temperatures to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. ADB’s sovereign operations will be fully aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 1 July 2023 and its nonsovereign operations by 1 July 2025. ADB will scale up investments in adaptation and resilience to at least $9 billion from 2019 to 2024 to support Asia and the Pacific’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures will contribute to ADB’s commitment to deliver $80 billion in climate finance between 2019 and 2030.

Mr. Asakawa said ADB will support Indonesia’s transition toward a low-carbon, resilient economy and help the country meet its NDC targets. Strengthening resilience is one of the three focus areas in ADB’s country partnership strategy for Indonesia. That includes climate change mitigation and adaptation and green recovery, as well as disaster risk management and finance.

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Human Rights

UNSC calls for ‘immediate reversal’ of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot decision on Varosha

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The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) controls the buffer zone between the opposing sides. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The Security Council said in a statement released on Friday that settling any part of the abandoned Cypriot suburb of Varosha, “by people other than its inhabitants, is “inadmissible”. 

The presidential statement approved by all 15 Security Council members, upheld that “no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha, that are not in accordance with its resolutions”. 

“The Security Council condemns the announcement in Cyprus by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders on 20 July 2021 on the further reopening of part of the fenced-off area of Varosha”, the statement continued. 

‘Deep regret’ 

“The Security Council expresses its deep regret regarding these unilateral actions that run contrary to its previous resolutions and statements.” 

The statement calls for “the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020.” 

The statement followed a closed-door briefing earlier in the day by the outgoing UN Special Representative, Elizabeth Spehar

The Mediterranean island has been divided between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities for 47 years, and a Security Council resolution of 1964 recommended the establishment of a peacekeeping force to maintain law and order and help end inter-communal strife.  

According to news reports, on Wednesday, Greek Cypriot leaders appealed to the Council over plans by Turkish Cypriot authorities to revert a 1.35 square-mile section of Varosha, from military to civilian control, and open it for potential resettlement. 

The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is backed by Turkey, made the initial announcement a day earlier, that part of the suburb would come under civilian control.  

Guterres statement 

On Wednesday, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his deep concern over Wednesday’s announcements by Turkey and Turkish-Cypriot leaders, on re-opening Varosha, and said that the UN’s position “remains unchanged and is guided by the relevant Security Council resolutions”.  

In a statement issued by his Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, Mr. Guterres called on all sides “to refrain from any unhelpful actions and to engage in dialogue to bring peace and prosperity to the island through a comprehensive settlement”. 

“The Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that provoke tensions and may compromise the ongoing efforts to seek common ground between the parties towards a lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue”. 

‘Just settlement’ 

The Security Council statement concluded with a reaffirmation of its commitment “to an enduring, comprehensive and just settlement, in accordance with the wishes of the Cypriot people, and based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation, with political equality”. 

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