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New UNIDO publication on Quality Infrastructure and the SDGs

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If companies want to access and compete in new markets, they have to demonstrate the quality and safety of their goods and services and comply with international standards in the target markets. Quality Infrastructure is a system offering a complete package covering essential aspects such as policy, institutions, service providers, and the value-adding use of international standards and conformity assessment procedures.

A new publication from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), entitled, “Rebooting Quality Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future”, is a call for action for rethinking and adapting Quality Infrastructure (QI) to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to respond to the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including artificial intelligence, smart manufacturing, smart energy, smart agriculture and the circular economy. UNIDO argues that QI development needs to undergo a paradigm shift to adapt to these changes and sustainably and effectively contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

The publication also demonstrates through concrete examples and QI success stories from UNIDO and stakeholders worldwide how QI contributes to three key dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – People, Prosperity, and Planet –  and in doing so, how it can serve the sustainable development paradigm within the framework of a circular economy.

The publication is primarily aimed at policymakers, people working in national QI systems, and other QI stakeholders. It is also relevant for those developing national implementation plans for the SDGs.

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Burkina Faso : The EU reaffirms its support during this humanitarian and security crisis

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In the light of the very rapid deterioration in the humanitarian and security crisis in Burkina Faso, Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, and Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, visited the country. During their visit to the central-north region where they met people displaced and badly affected by the crisis, the Commissioner for Crisis Management announced an initial humanitarian aid package of EUR 11.45 million for 2020.

Commissioner Lenarčič stated:« The EU will continue in its commitment to provide emergency assistance to the most vulnerable members of the population. Humanitarian aid, however, is not a sustainable solution and the underlying causes of the crisis will have to be addressed. Only an integrated response can improve security for all of the population, meet their hopes and needs and rebuild confidence within the areas affected by this crisis.»

Commissioner Lenarčič also reminded all of the players involved in the conflict that they must respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

Commissioner Urpilainen added: « We must rethink our strategy and attempt to address the roots of the problems undermining stability, social cohesion and inclusive development in the country, while strengthening the drivers behind development and consolidating the synergies between peace, development and humanitarian projects in an integrated approach. »

The Burkinabe authorities welcomed the two Commissioners who also met people directly affected by the crisis, as well as the humanitarian and development organisations that put the EU’s aid into action.

Since 2014, the EU has provided more than a billion euros in humanitarian and development aid to Burkina Faso.

Background

The EU funds humanitarian aid projects in Burkina Faso that provide shelter and emergency supplies, food, access to health and education services and protection for vulnerable members of the population. In addition, the EU’s development funds finance longer term projects to address the underlying causes of the crisis that have led to instability, conflicts and vulnerable people in the areas most affected by it. These projects focus on health, governance, food security, job creation, security and defence, energy, social cohesion and resilience of the community.

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Nepal government sets roadmap to improve investment climate reforms

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photo: World Bank

Nepal was ranked 94 out of 190 economies on the Doing Business 2020 ranking marking a significant shift for the country into the top 100 economies on the ease of doing business. As a part of the government’s ongoing efforts to improve the country’s investment climate reforms, the Office of the Prime Minister & Council of Ministers (OPMCM) and Ministry of Finance with the support of the World Bank Group organized a workshop to develop institutional arrangements for the newly formed Coordination Centre in OPMCM and put together an implementation plan for Doing Business reforms.

A new Nepal is in the making. We are a private sector dominated economy, and the role of the public sector is to unlock bottlenecks for the private sector. Public private partnership is the key strategy for doing business in Nepal,” stated Honorable Minister of Finance, Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada.

The international best practices that we are learning today need to be customized based on the context of Nepal,” stated Dr. Teertha Raj Dhakal, Secretary, OPMCM. “Implementation and delivery are the areas where the country needs to improve, and we also need to change our behavior and culture to make Nepal more private-sector friendly.”

The workshop organized on 24-25 February looked at global best practices from leading Delivery Unit practitioners from PEMANDU Associates, Malaysia and Government Partnerships International, UK on the catalytical role of the Delivery Unit in supporting the Doing Business reforms.

We need to encourage private sector participation in all sectors,” stated Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, President and CEO of PEMANDU Associates. “This can only happen if we implement radical changes in government regulations to facilitate investors and eliminate cumbersome procedures involved in doing businesses in the country.”

Nepal climbed 16 spots in the global Doing Business 2020 rankings. Four major positive reforms in a single year – construction permits, access to credit, trading across borders and contract enforcement – were a record for Nepal and accounted for a third of all reforms recorded by Doing Business in the last 10 years. At the same time, two reforms that made it difficult to do business – starting a business and property registration – were also recorded for Nepal.

The major outcomes of the workshop included the development of the Coordination Center’s institutional structure based on the global best practices of international delivery unit practitioners tailored to the Nepali context, and agreement with the core Ministries and private sector on the short (until April 2020 – the closing window for Doing Business 2021 report), medium (next 15 months) and long-term (next 2 years) investment climate reforms and implementation strategies. These initiatives are intended to mobilize increased private investment in support of equitable growth and job creation.

The Government of Nepal is playing a critical role in establishing a conducive climate in which businesses operate and is taking the needed steps to strengthen the environment for private sector businesses and investments,” stated Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “The experience of the international experts from Malaysia and UK provides a springboard for Nepal’s next steps. Their success stories and lessons learnt can help inform the design of appropriate institutional structures and operational framework for the Coordination Center.”

The workshop was actively attended by representatives from the government, regulatory bodies, private sector and development partners.

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West African Ministers Adopt Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles Standards

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The Prime Minister of Burkina Faso opened the meeting, where all 15 countries member of the Economic Community of West African States sent environment and energy ministers or their representatives. photo: UN Environment

With a population of close to 400 million people, the West African region has one of the fastest growing vehicle fleets in the world. As in most African countries, the bulk of vehicle imports into the region consists mainly of used vehicles. Regulation to restrict the quality of cars being imported into the region is weak. This, coupled with poor fuel quality, is one of the leading cause of increasing levels of air pollution in cities in the region, with the population suffering the effects of breathing toxic fumes. Children, who walk to schools alongside busy roads, and informal vendors along these roads are most at risk of the health effects of these toxic fumes. In 2016, the World Health Organization named Onitsha – a city in Nigeria, as the world’s most polluted city in terms of harmful small particles (PM10).

In a major step to reducing air pollution and climate emissions in the region, the environment and energy ministers of all the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), met on 6 7 February 2020 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and  adopted a comprehensive set of regulations for introducing cleaner fuels and vehicles in the region.

The high level ministerial meeting was organized  by the ECOWAS Commission with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners. The regulations adopted by the ministers were a culmination of several years of work by UNEP towards improving the standards of fuels and vehicles in the region.  

The specific regulations adopted by the ministers on cleaner fuels and vehicles are:

A sulfur fuel standard of 50 parts per million (ppm) for petrol and diesel for all imported fuels from 1 January 2021. This is a significant step for the region as some of the countries still have fuel standards that allow import of up to 10,000 ppm diesel fuels. Local refineries will have until 1 January 2025 to upgrade their operations to meet the new requirements as well as comply with other fuel parameters such as benzene and manganese that were agreed by the ministers. This decision will have a significant impact on air quality in the region as only about 20 per cent of fuel needs in the region is locally refined while 80 per cent is imported.

All vehicles that are imported, both new and used, and petrol and diesel, will need to comply to a minimum of EURO 4/IV vehicle emissions standard from 1 January 2021. An age limit forused vehicles of 10 years was also agreed to, with a recommendation of a five-year age limit for light duty vehicles.

A plan to improve the fuel efficiency of imported vehicles was also adopted, with a target to double the efficiency of the fleet from an average of 8 litres per 100 kilometres today to 4.2 litres per  100 kilometres by 2030. An intermediate target of 5 litres per 100 kilometres by 2025 was also agreed. The vehicle fuel efficiency plan or roadmap includes proposals to introduce fiscal incentives to attract low and no emissions vehicles to the region, measures to promote electric vehicles, and a new harmonized label for newly imported vehicles showing the vehicle fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions to support consumer awareness.

These decisions will now go to a Council of Ministers meeting taking place in June 2020, for formal adoption. Once adopted, the legally-binding decisions will become effective on 1 January 2021 at the latest.

“We are very pleased to see the results of a process that took several years,” says Jane Akumu, UNEP expert in clean clean fuels and vehicles. “UNEP supported 11 out of 15 Economic Community of West African States member countries with individual projects and worked closely with the ECOWAS Commission to develop this clean fuels and vehicles regulations. Several partner organizations and non-governmental organizations also supported the process. This work is part of UNEP-led global programmes—the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, the Global Fuel Economy Initiative the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Electric Mobility Programme.

This is not the end of the process, as several countries are now requesting for implementation support to for example, help to draft national fuel and vehicle standards, or to implement the fuel economy roadmap and introduce electric mobility.

“We plan to continue our work in the region and support countries in the implementation of the decisions,” says Akumu. “Ultimately, the use of clean fuels and vehicles is not only an energy or environmental issue. It is a health issue for the millions of people who live in and around the region’s major cities.”

UN Environment

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