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Sustainable Development - Canadian Strategy
Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generations. It is about improving standard of living by protecting human health, conserving the environment, using resources efficiently and advancing long-term economic competitiveness. It requires the integration of environmental, economic and social priorities into policies and programs and requires action at all levels - citizens, industry, and governments.

Europe will push for a world environment agency in Rio - By Colin Sullivan, E&E reporter
UNITED NATIONS - Beefing up global political oversight with a world environment organization has emerged as a top priority for Europe heading into this summer's sustainable development conference in Brazil.

Europe:Seizing Sustainable Development - By Jacob Zuma
The world is on an unsustainable path, and must urgently chart a new course forward, one that brings equity and environmental concerns into the economic mainstream.

Pricing a Sustainable Future - By Paul Burke
The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability released its report, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”.

EU Strategy Seeks Brisk Development of Bio-Economy
With warnings that Europe is “too slow and too piecemeal” in developing a sustainable economy, the EU executive has unveiled plans to encourage development of the ‘bio-economy’ through investment and innovation.

Closer EU-China Cooperation - By Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso
The world is going through rapid changes and global readjustments caused by globalization and increased inter-connectedness between countries and peoples.

Sustainable Energy is Answer to Wider Crisis - By Barbara Lewis
Energy efficiency offers one of the best tools for tackling the world's debt and social crises as sustainable development comes in from the margins to the mainstream of economic debate, the European Union's climate chief said

Green Economy Vital for Resource Constraints in Asia-Pacific
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region could overcome the constraints of limited resources by making the transition from dependence on traditional means of production to a more sustainable green economy.

Businesses Gather for Summit on Sustainable Growth
KPMG International, in cooperation with the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), hosted a Summit on the Business Perspective for Sustainable Growth, at which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for business leaders’ support in achieving “critical mass” for corporate sustainability.

ESCAP, UNEP and ADB Release Asia-Pacific Green Growth Report
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have released a report asserting that the challenges of resource constraints in the Asia-Pacific region are more serious than anywhere else, and proposing strategies for changing economic incentives to promote a green economy. The report was prepared as part of preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

Canada Announces a New Federal Sustainable Development Strategy
Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Jim Prentice, today announced the tabling of a new Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada, which provides a government-wide approach to improve environmental sustainability. The Strategy renders federal environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Canadians.

Asia and Pacific can lead in Green Growth: Study
Asia and the Pacific has the potential to be a world leader in low carbon growth, but only if it adopts a new development strategy, says a joint study released today by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN agencies.

Space-based Technology for Sustainable Development
The fundamental role of space technology-based data and geo-spatial information for the management of sustainable development in the 21st century was highlighted at the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) that concluded today.

U.N. Conference Shifts Focus From Climate Change to Sustainable Development
The United Nations’ conference scheduled to take place this June in Rio will focus on sustainable development instead of climate change, Reuters reports.

Biodiesel mandate now in effect
Two per cent must come from crops. Mandating the use of biodiesel should not drive up fuel costs for farmers, truckers and others who burn diesel in Manitoba, since the cost of blending is low. The biodiesel industry is expected to create a new market for Canadian farmers with oilseeds that fail to meet food-grade standards.


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Sustainable Development - Canadian Strategy

Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generations. It is about improving standard of living by protecting human health, conserving the environment, using resources efficiently and advancing long-term economic competitiveness. It requires the integration of environmental, economic and social priorities into policies and programs and requires action at all levels - citizens, industry, and governments.

Environment Canada released the first Progress Report on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) on June 16, 2011. This first Progress Report describes actions taken to implement the requirements under the Federal Sustainable Development Act since the tabling of the FSDS in October 2010. It focuses on progress made on setting up the systems needed to implement the FSDS and lays the foundation for future reporting by outlining how results will be measured and shared using the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators. Like the FSDS itself, progress reports are part of a long-term 'plan, do, check, and improve' management approach geared to making environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable over time.

The FSDS was tabled on October 6th, 2010. For the first time, Canadians will see, all in one place, the Government of Canada’s environmental sustainability priorities and our progress in achieving them. The FSDS presents a detailed description of federal government activities to achieve environmental sustainability. The Strategy also commits to strengthening the guidelines for strategic environmental assessments by federal departments which help integrate environmental considerations related to economic and social decision-making. The Office of Greening Government Operations provides a series of guidelines to help departments and agencies implement and report progress on the Greening Government Operations targets for Theme IV of the Strategy.

The FSDS is mandated by the Federal Sustainable Development Act (the Act), which received Royal Assent on June 26, 2008. The Act responds to a number of international commitments Canada has made to produce such a strategy, including at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 and at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The purpose of the Act is "to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that will make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament".

(ec.gc.ca)

 

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Europe will push for a world environment agency in Rio

UNITED NATIONS -- Beefing up global political oversight with a world environment organization has emerged as a top priority for Europe heading into this summer's sustainable development conference in Brazil but with the host nation and the United States not necessarily on board, selling the concept might be difficult. The idea, years in the making and pushed initially by France, is to strengthen the Nairobi, Kenya-based U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) in a manner that would give the agency a more explicit mandate to guide global environmental concerns. That would convert what many regard as an underfunded, backwater agency into a more robust traffic cop to watch the commons.

A European diplomat close to negotiations in the lead-up to the Rio de Janeiro conference, called Rio+20, said in an interview that more than 100 countries are prepared to vote for the agency. These include the entire European Union, the African Union and many middle Asian countries, he said.

The diplomat, who asked not to be identified by name, added that the agency would not be moved from Nairobi, shooting down rumors that it would be based in Paris. "This rumor that France wants to have it on its own territory, it's complete baloney," he said.

But the United States and Brazil are likely to resist in any event. An official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently told U.N. officials during a meeting on Rio preparations that the United States supports the current framework, while Brazil's chief negotiator at Rio+20, Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago, told reporters yesterday that the concept as crafted by Europe is not supported in Brazil.

Asked point-blank if he would back a "WEO," or a supposed World Environment Organization, Correa do Lago bluntly said, "No."

"We think that we have to have a debate in the preparation for Rio and in Rio," he said, explaining that Brazil believes such an agency should not isolate environmental concerns from economic concerns. "This idea ... is a proposal mostly from European countries."

Corrêa do Lago went on to suggest that the problem is that such an agency would see environmental concerns as a higher priority than economic concerns. Developing nations would like to see the latter take precedence, in a way that advances green technologies for all countries.

"It is to go backward to isolate again the environment with the World Environment Organization," he said. "We think we have to [not] create an isolated structure."

The European diplomat acknowledged the opposition and agreed that the political environment in the United States is such that a WEO would have little chance of getting ratified in Congress. He said Europe is working with U.S. officials to address key concerns.

"We understand that this is a major difficulty for our U.S. counterparts," he said. "The main question is to decide whether this organization needs an international treaty to be set up."

A closer look at the actual proposal from Europe describes the new agency as a kind of UNEP on steroids. It would have the same charter but more money and staff, as well as the centralized ability to act as "the U.N. voice for the environment."

What this means in U.N.-speak is that the WEO would become a specialized agency with more heft in the U.N. system. UNEP, the European proposal declares, is "a body too low in the U.N. family to exert its influence."

So the new WEO would be elevated to the level of organizations such as the International Labour Organization, the World Meteorological Organization or the World Intellectual Property Organization, the proposal says.

To the European eyes behind the proposal, the current system fails when it comes to coordinating U.N. agencies and international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Communications among agencies and between agencies and the business community "are very complex but nevertheless often lack coherence," the document says.

"Over the last 4 decades, well over one hundred multilateral environmental agreements have been concluded and around 50 U.N. bodies have the environment as part of their remit," the document says. "They are also resource-heavy: it was estimated by the U.N. Joint Inspection Unit that the cost of the international environmental governance system in 2006 was $1.6 billion."

So the WEO would theoretically help solve all that, to operate "on an equal footing with other U.N. specialized agencies," the European document argues. Still, a look at the general objectives of the WEO reveals an organization that would play a largely advisory and coordinating role with nations that have the real sovereign authority to enforce environmental rules.

The document is largely worded with language such as this: The super UNEP, Europe says, would be given enhanced authority in order to have "better positioning to help developing countries reinforce capacity and environmental policies."

It would give policy advice, in other words, and help to guide countries on policy it favors. It would also be charged with building "strong links between science, policy and decisionmaking to support evidence-based and coherent decisionmaking inside and outside the U.N."

The agency would also be asked to provide technical assistance in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action. And the WEO would help to "identify and bring new and emerging global environmental issues to the political agenda so as to be responsive to challenges as they arise," the Europeans argue.

"For example, it is not enough to focus international action solely on climate change-related issues: Swift responses are also needed to problems such as loss of biodiversity, land degradation and sound chemical and waste management, management of natural resources or disaster-risk reduction," the document reads.

The document is less clear on funding. The proposal argues that "widening of the funding basis to include other sources is essential," but does not advocate any new funding structures to bankroll UNEP, which spent $85 million in 2011.

Caught within the political back-and-forth on governance issues is an old argument pitting developing nations against developed. Corrêa do Lago hinted at the difficulty of that persistent fight in his comments to reporters yesterday.

Corrêa do Lago said the approach to sustainable development from developed nations is much like their approach to regulating climate change, which is also reflected in the WEO idea. In other words, the idea that Europe could direct a country like Brazil to "have a green economy from now on," even though developed nations benefited from resource extraction and fossil fuels, rubs him the wrong way, he said.

"This is interpreted very negatively in developing countries," he said.

Corrêa do Lago added that the developed world has to look at itself first and not assume the developing world should "exclusively" pursue sustainable development from here on out. Those sorts of issues would have to be resolved first, before agreeing on international governance, he appeared to be saying.

"If developed countries' middle class are [behaving] unsustainably, then our middle classes will be unsustainable," he said.

This kind of haggling perhaps explains why a WEO may not have much chance to fly in Rio. Jacob Scherr, director of global strategy and advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said he wants Rio+20 to get past the same fights that bogged down U.N. climate conferences in South Africa, Mexico and Denmark.

"NRDC wants this Earth summit to be different and focus on action and accountability and not arguments over abstractions," he said. "WEO is an interesting idea, but it would take years to implement. We don't have the luxury of time anymore."

Scherr, an attendee at the first Rio summit in 1992, said NRDC is instead pushing a "cloud of commitments" to result from Rio.

"Restructuring the U.N. is not adequate to speed the transition to a low-carbon green economy," he said. "We need to 'rewire' the international system and use the power of connectivity to stimulate action by countries, corporations and communities."

(eenews.net)


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Europe: Seizing Sustainable Development

The world is on an unsustainable path, and must urgently chart a new course forward, one that brings equity and environmental concerns into the economic mainstream. To do so, we must put sustainable development into practice now, not in spite of the economic crisis, but because of it.

Our challenges today are many. Economies are teetering, ecosystems are under siege, and inequality ? within and between countries ? is soaring. Taken together, these are symptoms that share a root cause: speculative and often narrow interests have superseded common interests, common responsibilities, and common sense.

As Co-Chairs of the United Nations? High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, we have been asked by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to work with 20 of the world?s most eminent leaders in grappling with these issues. Our task is clear: propose how to provide greater opportunity for more people with less impact on our planet.

A quarter-century ago, the Brundtland report, named for former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, called for a new paradigm of sustainable development. It stated that durable economic growth, social equality, and environmental sustainability are mutually interdependent. Human well-being depends on their integration.

We are convinced not only that this concept is sound, but also that it remains more relevant than ever. Now we need to put theory into practice by moving sustainable development into mainstream economics and making clear the costs of action ? and inaction ? today and in the future.

By 2030, as the human population swells and appetites increase, the world will need at least 50% more food, 45% more energy, and 30% more water. Our planet is approaching, and even exceeding, scientific tipping points. This has serious implications for how we manage the global commons ? and for reducing poverty: if developing countries are to realize their legitimate growth aspirations, they will need more time, as well as financial and technological support, to make the transition to sustainability.

Yet we remain optimistic. Representative democracy is now the world?s dominant form of government. Advances in science have given us a better understanding of climate and ecosystem risks. Billions of people are connected by technologies that have shrunk the world and expanded the notion of a global neighborhood. We believe that we can summon the wit and the will to choose our future, rather than have it choose us.

The greatest risk lies in continuing down our current path. In 2030, a child born this year will come of age. We cannot mortgage her future to pay for an inherently unsustainable and inequitable way of life.

So, how do we begin to tackle the massive challenge of retooling our global economy, preserving the environment, and providing greater opportunity and equity, including gender equality, to all? The Panel?s report, Resilient People, Resilient Planet, offers suggestions.

First, we need to measure and price what matters. The marketplace needs to reflect the full ecological and human costs of economic decisions and establish price signals that make transparent the consequences of action ? and inaction. Pollution ? including carbon emissions ? must no longer be free. Price- and trade-distorting subsidies should be made transparent and phased out for fossil fuels by 2020. We also need to build new ways to measure development beyond GDP, and propose a new sustainable development index by 2014.

Second, we must put science at the center of sustainability. We live in an era of unprecedented human impact on the planet, coupled with unprecedented technological change. Science must point the way to more informed and integrated policy-making, including on climate change, biodiversity, ocean and coastal management, water and food scarcities, and planetary ?boundaries? (the scientific thresholds that define a ?safe operating space? for humanity). To see the big picture, we propose a regular Global Sustainability Outlook that integrates knowledge across sectors and institutions.

Third, we need to provide incentives to take the long view. The tyranny of the urgent is never more absolute than during tough times. We need to place long-term thinking above short-term demands, both in the marketplace and at the polling place.

Limited public funds should be used strategically to unlock greater private investment flows, share risks, and expand access to the building blocks of prosperity, including modern energy services. The UN?s Millennium Development Goals ? aimed at, among other things, halving global poverty by 2015 ? have served us well. Governments should develop a post-2015 set of universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals that can galvanize long-term action beyond electoral cycles.

Fourth, we should prepare for a rough ride ahead, because extreme weather, resource scarcity, and price volatility have become the ?new normal.? We need to strengthen our resilience by promoting disaster risk reduction, adaptation, and sound safety nets for the most vulnerable. This is an investment in our common future.

Fifth, it is crucial to value equity as opportunity. Inequality and exclusion of women, young people, and the poor undermines global growth and threatens to unravel the compact between society and its institutions. Empowering women has the potential to reap tremendous benefits, not least for the global economy.

Ensuring that developing countries have the time ? and the financial and technical support ? to make the transition to sustainable development ultimately benefits all. Promoting fairness and inclusion is the right thing to do ? and the smart thing to do for lasting prosperity and stability.

No expert panel, including ours, has all the answers. But if we work together, we can help to steer our world onto a safer, more equitable, and more prosperous course. We call on leaders across all sectors of society to join us. The need is urgent; the opportunity, enormous. Let us seize it.

(mareeg.com)

 

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Pricing a Sustainable Future

A recent cartoon (below) extrapolates the use of the word 'sustainable'. It predicts that in 50 years each sentence will on average contain the word at least once.

The cartoon is clever, and 'sustainable' is indeed overused. But there is a good reason why we hear about sustainability so much these days. It is important.

Despite the odd hiccup, and ongoing deprivation in some regions, we seem to have by and large worked out how to get richer. But can the planet handle the strain on its resources?

The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability released its report, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”, last week.

The panel is composed mostly of political leaders, and has global representation. One of the members is Australia’s Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd.

A broad vision

Despite the panel’s name, its recommendations really relate to sustainable development rather than the narrower concept of sustainability (the ability to endure).

The report includes 56 recommendations. While it is unlikely that the panel’s goals will all be reached (“universal broadband by 2025”), its ambition is commendable.

The panel makes a number of quite standard, but important, points about sustainable development. It calls for more research and development in agriculture and energy to reduce these sectors’ environmental impacts and alleviate food and energy poverty.

It also notes that helping poor families to access health and education services improves their lives, and can relieve pressure on the environment from population growth.

Getting prices right

The report’s primary message is that we need to do much more to get prices right. Markets work well when goods and services are properly priced. But no price will naturally emerge for carbon dioxide emissions or many of the benefits provided by natural ecosystems.

The playing field is heavily biased against the natural environment.

The panel recommends emissions pricing as the most sensible way to slow climate change and address other environmental issues.

The report also takes up the case against fossil fuel subsidies, which are in effect a negative carbon price. These subsidies are also a large drain on government budgets in many countries.

Environmental challenges are vast. But until we allow prices to properly mobilise the power of the private sector to confront them, it is too early to give up hope.

Reforming economics

The panel has a dig at mainstream economics, which it suggests needs to open its eyes more fully to sustainability.

This critique has some validity. Some strands of economics do tend to overlook environmental impediments to improving living standards.

But economics should not be seen as the bad guy. The report’s principle philosophy of getting prices and rules right and then letting the market work is straight from Microeconomics 1.

Inspiring, but diplomatic

The panel’s report is designed to inspire. Its release is part of the lead-up to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held in June 2012.

As a United Nations document, it is no surprise that the report is diplomatic in tone. It does not berate any individual countries for their current policies. It instead highlights positive initiatives under way around the world.

The report also sidesteps discussion of just how challenging sustainability reforms can be. As our experience with moving to carbon pricing here in Australia has shown, vested interests can put up a strong fight.

Addressing a key global injustice

The report talks a lot about poverty reduction, but mentions the Doha Roundof trade negotiations only once. This is not enough.

Removing agricultural subsidies and trade barriers in developed countries is one of the most powerful options available to advance the development agenda in Africa and elsewhere.

Yet progress toward reducing agricultural distortions has stalled, in Europe and elsewhere.

Until trade-protecting developed countries improve the fairness of global agricultural markets, these countries’ professed support for plans for global poverty reduction should be called what it is: a bit rich.

(Business Spectator)

 

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EU Strategy Seeks Brisk Development of Bio-Economy

With warnings that Europe is “too slow and too piecemeal” in developing a sustainable economy, the EU executive has unveiled plans to encourage development of the ‘bio-economy’ through investment and innovation. The European Commission yesterday (13 February) announced its strategy to address food and energy needs as well as promote resource efficiency through a more nimble and sustainable economy.

“We’re too slow and too piecemeal in converting research results into innovation and using these to tackle our biggest societal challenges,” Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, commissioner for research, innovation and science, said in unveiling the strategy.

“Policy actions at European and member-state level are often launched in isolation,” she said in calling for “a stronger framework” that involves scientists, policymakers and entrepreneurs.

The Commission’s strategy, titled ‘Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe’, was welcomed by conservation and industry groups for its emphasis on investing in research and retaining Europe’s competitive edge in sustainable technology.

“We’re really enthusiast about the strategy,” said Joanna Dupont-Inglis, director of industrial biotechnology at the EuropaBio industry association, which represents industrial biotech firms such as DuPont and Novozymes.

“We feel that in terms in of technology, we have the edge in Europe,” she said, “but obviously there are things we still need to fix.”

Dupont-Inglis said public-private partnerships could boost development and investment in areas such as bioplastics production and biofuel refining.

The strategy offers no additional money. It calls for better coordination or efforts through the Common Agricultural Policy, the Horizon 2020 research programme, along with other EU and national programmes. Geoghegan-Quinn said the strategy will offer “direction” toward sustainable growth.

Grow, but be efficient

The bio-economy strategy broadly reflects the Commission’s current focus on improving resource efficiency, conserving natural resources and shifting to renewable energy while promoting economic growth.

But some provisions are almost certain to be controversial. Geoghegan-Quinn called the development of biofuels "really, really important as we move forward,” saying Europe’s refining capacity needs to grow.

Yet there are mounting concerns – even among commissioners – that fuels derived from plants may not be as benign as first thought when the EU embraced alternative diesel and ethanol in a 2003 directive on alternative fuels.

A draft Commission impact assessment indicates that the greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels such as palm oil, soybean and rapeseed may exceed those of fossil fuels when wider factors – such as the clearing of tropical forests and wetlands to grow biofuel crops – are considered.

“Personally, I’ve always been very cautious on biofuels,” Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commission, told EurActiv in a recent interview. “It’s great to see the potential in new technologies, but we should take very much care in Europe that we are now not establishing a new big industry that we then - after some time - say, wow, that was not so good.”

Other proposals in the bio-economy plan are likely to be less controversial, although implementation is far from a done deal.

For example, the strategy urges turning food waste into biomass energy and fertilisers. Studies show that food and plant waste accounts for as much as 40% of landfill content in the EU.

The Commission’s strategy also envisions innovations and research helping to lift agricultural efficiency while conserving water and other natural resources. Some €4.7 billion has been proposed in the Commission's research programme, Horizon 2020, for sustainable agriculture, maritime research and the bio-economy.

Positions:

The European Research Council said in a statement it supports the transition to a global bio-economy. “Europe and the rest of the world must urgently reconcile the challenges of securing food, water and energy supplies with the un-sustainability of biological and non-biological resources and the need to reduce emissions.”

In a written statement, the Confederation of European Paper Industries also said it welcomed the strategy “and looks forward to its timely implementation. The EU can create a first mover advantage on global markets, if this bio-economy strategy leads to a true system shift and finds its place in a broader industrial policy agenda.”

Jesús Serafín Pérez, president of the FoodDrinkEurope, said the industry group "welcomes the Commission’s communication ‘Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe’ and now looks to the EU’s institutions to help make this communication a reality. The industry welcomes the recognition that it has a big role to play in the move towards a more innovative and low-emissions economy.”

Nathalie Moll, secretary-general of the EuropaBio? industry association, said: “We have the technological edge here in the EU and, in the face of mounting economic and environmental challenges and burgeoning international interest in this field, it’s vital that we keep it.

“We applaud the Commission for its inclusive approach towards developing this strategy which has involved thorough consultation with the whole value chain and has the support of several key Directorate Generals within the Commission. The EU’s leadership is helping to ensure the bio-economy will bring big benefits for our economy and for our environment in the process.”

The Danish company Novozymes said in written remarks: “The bio-economy is one of the sectors where Europe has a technological edge. We must build on it to enhance EU competitiveness. Today’s European Commission’s strategy can contribute to deliver the full potential of the bio-economy. Let’s avoid it becomes a pure think piece and implement the proposed actions as soon as possible.”

Biochem, an EU?funded innovation project helping small and medium business enter the bio?based economy, also welcomed the Commission document. Steve Fletcher, the coordinator, said “EU policy often reminds us of the importance of a healthy SME sector. The BIOCHEM project is giving SMEs a springboard to the bio?economy, benefiting both these small European companies and the sustainability of our sector. In the push to a more sustainable, bio?based economy, SMEs have vital role to play.”

(euractive.com)

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Closer EU-China Cooperation

The world is going through rapid changes and global readjustments caused by globalization and increased inter-connectedness between countries and peoples. This trend has brought us closer together, has helped us know each other better and understand the other's needs in a clearer manner. The shortening of the distances has cut across many areas. In the emerging new global order every country is shaped by what is happening around it.

All actors, big and small, should play their part in fostering even closer global cooperation. To this effect, a stronger EU-China cooperation is not only desirable but a true necessity. This has been made once again strikingly evident with the current world economic uncertainties. The crisis which started across the Atlantic, has hit Europe and is having repercussions throughout the world. Reinvigorating economic growth, creating jobs, ensuring financial stability, promoting social inclusion and making globalization serve the needs of the people are today's most important priorities.

China and the EU, as two pillars of world's economy, need to do their part to contribute to a strong and a balanced global growth. The European Union is doing whatever it takes to overcome the current situation in the eurozone by correcting budgetary imbalances, and taking active measures to enhance growth and competitiveness and create jobs. At the same time, China's plan to rebalance its growth model is not only key to securing more resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth in China, it is also a crucial contribution to the rebalancing of demand needed at the global level. Implementing the Action Plan for Growth and delivering on the G20 Cannes Summit conclusions should therefore be part of our common response and bilateral agenda.

There are further challenges we need to tackle together: the progress to be made toward 2015 to achieve a comprehensive and legally binding outcome on climate change, the actions to be taken to ensure regional peace and stability, the preservation of the non-proliferation system, the strategy to ensure food security and sustainable development, the measures to prevent cyber crime, to name but a few.

It is with this ambitious agenda and shared determination that we came to China to attend the 14th EU-China Summit in Beijing on Feb 14. Our discussions focus on a forward looking agenda touching all areas of cooperation. It shows that we are moving forward and the EU-China relationship is strong, balanced, creative in overcoming its differences, and built on mutual respect.

The prosperity of our peoples and the sustainable and inclusive development of our economies is at the center of our relations. Europe is China's biggest trading partner, and China is now close to becoming the EU's largest trading partner as well. Europe also offers to Chinese business a single market of 500 million consumers and safe and predictable investment opportunities. The EU has been supporting China's stable development with investment and technology. However, the scope for improvement of the economic relation is still enormous, particularly on mutual investment flows. We need to work together to promote and facilitate more investment and market access in both directions, to remove trade barriers and to uphold intellectual property rights.

Mutual prosperity is a key component of our relations, and so is the Strategic Dialogue on foreign and security issues in our regions and around the globe, so far the two pillars of our cooperation.

In addition to government-to-government relations we need to go deeper and wider and reach out to our peoples. This is the reason we will launch the new "People-to-People Dialogue". Its main goal is to promote friendship and better knowledge between our 1.8 billion citizens through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences. This will be henceforth the third pillar of our cooperation.

The way our societies and economies interact has the potential to transform our partnership and relations between our peoples. That is a reason to engage in discussions on today's and tomorrow's challenges, such as energy security, cyber security, innovation and urbanization. On the latter, a new partnership will prolong the spirit of Shanghai Expo Better City, Better Life and put China and Europe on a joint learning curve towards the emergence of sustainable and liveable cities.

The remarkable scale and speed of China's development has had an enormous impact on the world and Europe, and the image of China has become an everyday feature for our societies and public opinions. China's public image will be shaped by factors going beyond its economic performance, which has been crucial in lifting many millions out of poverty: benefiting from an open and interdependent world implies a greater responsibility in contributing to its stability as well. Safeguarding Human Rights and the Rule of Law is part of this. China and the EU have both signed up to the international instruments that enshrine the universal values of human rights, and we have a shared responsibility to uphold them. This work is among the core values the European Union is built on. China's contribution to implementing the universal principles of Human Rights and Rule of Law will be an important element shaping its global public reputation.

As to the 14th EU-China Summit, we are confident that the summit will be a successful one, bringing a positive message to our peoples and to the world that the EU and China stand ready to bring our strategic partnership to new heights for the benefit not only of us, but of the wider world.

Herman Van Rompuy is president of the European Council and Jos Manuel Barroso is president of the European Commission.

(China Daily)

 

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Sustainable Energy is Answer to Wider Crisis

Energy efficiency offers one of the best tools for tackling the world's debt and social crises as sustainable development comes in from the margins to the mainstream of economic debate, the European Union's climate chief said.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard was speaking after Monday's summit of EU leaders sought ways to create jobs as well as to deal with massive amounts of debt. At the same time, data showed euro zone unemployment had reached the highest level since before the launch of the single currency.

"When we want to adjust our economics and make them more resilient, can anyone come up with a better proposal than to address energy efficiency?" Hedegaard asked.

"We must bring sustainable development from the margins of the economy to the mainstream of the global economic debate," she said. "It sounds easy, maybe even logical, but everybody knows it's a very different kind of thinking."

An example would be adapting buildings with better insulation in Europe, which could create up to half a million jobs in the years to 2020, Hedegaard has said.

It would also cut Europe's energy import bill, which for oil alone rose to 315 billion euros ($413 billion) last year.

Such a figure equates to a significant chunk of Greece's debt, estimated to reach 420.6 billion euros this year, nearly 200 percent of its gross domestic product.

"How do we want to spend our money? Do we want to continue to pour it into Saudi Arabia and elsewhere?" Hedegaard asked.

She was speaking at a roundtable session to discuss a report published on Monday by the U.N.'s high-level panel on Global Sustainability.

Hedegaard is one of the 22 members of the panel, which was set up to formulate a blueprint for sustainable and low carbon development.

The report cited the urgent need to tackle shortfalls of food, water and energy as the world's population continues to grow.

Hedegaard drew the contrast with previous centuries when the prices of resources fell progressively. Now, they are expected to continue to rise as the scramble for commodities intensifies.

The U.N. report includes 56 recommendations, but Hedegaard said there was a need to focus on priorities in the run-up to the United Nations conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro in June.

"My concern is for the next two or three months, everybody will be just talking about everything without specific priorities. Then we will come up with paper, paper, paper without making any difference," Hedegaard said.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL

One real target was working out how to ensure sustainable energy for all by 2030, she said, as well as to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Asked for a working definition of sustainable, Hedegaard said it referred to development that combined social, economic and environmental factors.

The conference on sustainable development, named Rio+20, will mark the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit, which was regarded as a step on the way to the Kyoto process on tackling climate change.

After initial progress in raising the world's awareness of the need for more sustainable growth, the advent of economic crisis has made it much more difficult to focus politicians' attention beyond urgent matters such as spiraling debt.

Expectations for the U.N. climate conference in Durban last year were low, but Hedegaard and the EU team of negotiators were credited with keeping the multilateral process alive, although some environmental groups have said it is in intensive care.

"What we did achieve in Durban was that the whole world had to accept that we are moving forward together," Hedegaard said.

"Durban could have delivered nothing and that would have created a very problematic background for Rio."

Instead, it showed the multilateral process still had a role to play, marking a shift from a world divided into North and South, rich and poor, developing and developed, to an interdependent one.

"We saw the start of this paradigm shift in Durban," Hedegaard said, citing the EU's close collaboration with small island states and least developed nations, rather than its traditional allegiance with the West.

(Reuters)

 

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Green economy vital for resource constraints in Asia-Pacific

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region could overcome the constraints of limited resources by making the transition from dependence on traditional means of production to a more sustainable green economy, according to a joint report unveiled today by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The region utilizes three times as much resources to produce $1 of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the rest of the world, and resource use in the region grew by 50 percent between 1995 and 2005, says the report, entitled Green Growth, Resources and Resilience: Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific.

Produced by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and ADB ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Brazil in June, the report emphasizes that the challenges of resource constraints are more serious in the Asia-Pacific region than anywhere else.

It rejects the assumption that technology advances will be able to solve the problems of resource constraints and proposes specific strategies for changing economic incentives to promote a green economy which uses resources much more efficiently.

“Countries of Asia and the Pacific have been at the forefront of implementing initiatives to green their economic growth and will reap the benefits of such investments economically, socially and environmentally,” said Young Woo Park, UNEP’s regional director.

With the global market for green goods and services expanding rapidly and the right policies and investments, the Asia-Pacific region could lead the world towards a more sustainable future, according to Nessim Ahmad, director of ADB’s Environment and Social Safeguards Division.

The report stresses that economic incentives to promote investments in resource efficiency and natural resource protection are key, but action on other fronts is also needed, including an integrated policy framework and approaches.

Governance must be more adaptive and inclusive and become more adept at harnessing knowledge from different sources and incorporating information from various stakeholders, the report stresses.

For developing countries, the massive investments in infrastructure, as well as the unmet needs for energy, water, transportation and housing, offer a window of opportunity to change the way that energy and other resources are used, it states.

The report addresses the two main Rio+20 themes – green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and institutional framework for sustainable development.

“Business as usual is no longer a feasible option, but many governments and other stakeholders still do not recognize the urgency of the challenge of improving the resource efficiency of economic growth,” said Rae Kwon Chung, director of ESCAP’s environment and development division.

The Asia-Pacific region’s resource and pollution-intensive growth trends means the region is at risk of not being able to sustain the growth needed to reduce poverty in the long term, the report points out.

Optimistic growth projections for the region do not factor in resource constraints sufficiently, Chung added. Green growth, he underlined, is a strategy to achieve sustainable development, addressing both resource constraints and the climate crisis.

(bikyamasr.com)

 

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Businesses Gather for Summit on Sustainable Growth

KPMG International, in cooperation with the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), hosted a Summit on the Business Perspective for Sustainable Growth, at which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for business leaders’ support in achieving “critical mass” for corporate sustainability.

Participants in the Summit, which opened on 14 February 2012, in New York, US, included over 400 CEOs, senior business leaders from major corporations, and key policymakers.

Alongside declining trust in government in the past year, Ban also noted declining trust in the private sector, as “a series of disasters, scandals and business-as-usual have made people increasingly skeptical of the corporate world.” Ban also highlighted the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) as an opportunity for business and investors to show leadership. He asked them to “do more.” From business’ perspective, he suggested, the case for sustainability is getting stronger, given both risks, and the growing consumer desire and demand for greener products and services.

Ban called on businesses to take the following five steps: participate in the Corporate Sustainability Forum during the UNCSD; publicly report on sustainability performance; make their lobbying and advocacy more responsible and consistent with stated values, including by not blocking action on climate change; support regulatory frameworks and incentives to reward environmental and social performance; and work with the UN in its platforms and initiatives, such as the Global Compact, the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) effort to mobilize the private sector on energy, the Caring for Climate initiative, CEO Water Mandate, Women’s Empowerment Principles, and Every Woman Every Child initiative.

(uncsd.iisd.org)

 

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ESCAP, UNEP and ADB Release Asia-Pacific Green Growth Report

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have released a report asserting that the challenges of resource constraints in the Asia-Pacific region are more serious than anywhere else, and proposing strategies for changing economic incentives to promote a green economy. The report was prepared as part of preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The report, titled “Green Growth, Resources and Resilience: Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific," stresses the need to “recalibrate the economy” to bring it into closer alignment with sustainable development. It underscores the need for economic incentives to promote investments in resource efficiency and natural resource protection, and calls for governance structures to be more adaptive and inclusive.

The report consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 describes the evolving policy landscape in which rising demand for resources, together with increasingly apparent impacts from climate change, are bringing together economic, social and environmental crises. It warns that if current trends continue, the carbon dioxde emissions of the region are likely to more than triple by 2050. Chapter 2 includes a detailed examination of resource use and efficiency trends. Chapter 3 outlines policy actions for bringing economic growth strategies into closer alignment with the objectives of sustainable development. Chapter 4 describes how new governance challenges can be addressed internationally, regionally, nationally and locally. Chapter 5 includes strategies to promote increased resilience, enabling societies and economies to resist and adapt to shocks. The sixth and final chapter comments on the implications of the report for the two themes of Rio+20, “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” and “the institutional framework for sustainable development.”

(uncsd.iisd.org)

 

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Canada Announces a New Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Jim Prentice, today announced the tabling of a new Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada, which provides a government-wide approach to improve environmental sustainability. The Strategy renders federal environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Canadians.

“For the first time, Canadians and Parliamentarians will be able to see a comprehensive picture of federal actions to achieve environmental sustainability and also be able to track progress,” said the Honourable Jim Prentice. “The Strategy tabled by the Government of Canada today responds to comments and recommendations by Commissioners of the Environment and Sustainable Development over the years about systemic weaknesses in the previous approach to Sustainable Development in the Government of Canada.”

The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy makes three key improvements to the transparency of environmental decision-making. First, it provides an integrated, whole-of-government picture of government actions and concrete results to achieve environmental sustainability. Second, it forges a clear link between sustainable development planning and reporting and the Government’s core expenditure planning and reporting system. Lastly, it sets the stage for effective measurement, monitoring, and reporting in order to track and report on progress to Canadians.

The Strategy increases transparency that will drive change over time. The three-year cycle to update and report on results in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy establishes a system of “plan, do, check, and improve”. The new approach promises to be a useful and meaningful addition to results-based public management.

At the same time, the Government of Canada is also taking measures to reduce the environmental footprint of its own operations in the key areas of green buildings, electronic waste, printing units, paper consumption, green meetings, green procurement, and greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations. The Government will take action now to reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations to match the national target of 17% below 2005 by 2020.

The Strategy also commits to strengthening the guidelines for strategic environmental assessments by federal departments which help integrate environmental considerations related to economic and social decision-making.

(ec.gc.ca)

 

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Asia and Pacific can lead in Green Growth: Study

Asia and the Pacific has the potential to be a world leader in low carbon growth, but only if it adopts a new development strategy, says a joint study released today by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN agencies. “The global market for green goods and services is vast and growing and with the right policies and investments, Asia and the Pacific could lead the world towards a more sustainable future,” said Nessim Ahmad, ADB’s Director for Environment and Safeguards.

The report, Green Growth, Resources and Resilience - Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific, was prepared by ADB, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the United Nations Environment Programme. It provides timely support to policymakers as they prepare for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20), which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June. Asia and the Pacific has been the world’s largest resource user since the mid-1990s.

If current trends continue, its CO2 emissions are likely to more than triple by 2050, putting an unbearable strain on the Earth’s ecosystems. Reversing this trend will require a new development model characterised by systems innovation, efficient use of resources, and a greatly reduced reliance on hydrocarbons. The region is already leading the world in commitments to green investment, including funding for low carbon power generation and energy efficiency improvements. The report notes that about two-thirds of the $8 trillion needed for infrastructure in the region between now and 2020 will be in the form of new investment, opening up huge opportunities for businesses who can design, finance, build and manage green buildings, transport systems and other sustainable infrastructure.

The high upfront costs of providing green goods and services, such as renewable energy facilities, has hampered development on a large scale, but the report notes that with the right policies and incentives, ‘greening’ the economy can be made viable and profitable in the long-term. Policymakers need to consider measures such as ecological tax reforms that penalise polluters while rewarding those who invest in low carbon, resource-friendly activities. Creative financing arrangements that ease the initial cost burden and risks for green developers will also help stimulate investment.

(nation.lk)

 

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Space-based Technology for Sustainable Development


The fundamental role of space technology-based data and geo-spatial information for the management of sustainable development in the 21st century was highlighted at the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) that concluded today.

With our civilization becoming increasingly dependent on space-based technology, the Subcommittee continued to work on issues relevant to ensure long-term sustainability of outer space and to help states develop their capabilities to use space technologies to address global challenges such as climate change, disasters, global health and food security. Other highlights include:

  1. The four Expert Groups of the Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities set up a framework for their work on issues such as sustainable space utilization, space debris and space operations, space weather and regulatory regimes for actors in the space arena. Experiences and practices in the conduct of sustainable space activities were also shared in a workshop on the long-term sustainability of outer space, held on 9 February.
  2. Near-Earth objects (NEOs) as a global threat were addressed by the Action Team on NEOs as well as the Subcommittee's Working Group on NEOs, which continued their work on draft recommendations for an international response to the NEO impact threat. Representatives of space agencies met to build consensus on recommendations to establish a mission planning and operations group as part of the overall NEO threat mitigation efforts.
  3. The Subcommittee's Working Group on the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space held the second in a series of workshops on the safe use of nuclear power sources in outer space aimed at re-enforcing the 2009 Safety Framework for Nuclear Power Sources Applications in Outer Space.
  4. On 7 February, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) signed a cooperation agreement with Hungary to establish a regional support office for implementing the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response, UN-SPIDER.
  5. On 13 February, UNOOSA organized the industry symposium entitled "The Earth observation services industry: market opportunities" that brought together representatives from industry and government agencies to discuss developments in the Earth Observation industry sector.
  6. The Subcommittee also witnessed the successful launch of the new European Vega launcher on 13 February that carried nine satellites into orbit.

(spaceref.com)

 

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U.N. Conference Shifts Focus From Climate Change to Sustainable Development

The United Nations’ conference scheduled to take place this June in Rio will focus on sustainable development instead of climate change, Reuters reports.

The conference, known as Rio+20 or the Earth Summit, will focus on sustainable development and not on climate change in an attempt to avoid too much confrontation and to ensure that economies can grow without endangering resources and the environment for future generations.

The focus on sustainability for this year’s summit is by design, Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago, who headed Brazil’s delegation to the U.N. climate talks in Durban and will be a chief negotiator for Brazil in Rio, told Reuters. Sustainable development is much easier to sell than climate change, he added. “Climate change is an [issue] that has very strong resistance from sectors that are going to be substantially altered, like the oil industry,” do Lago told Reuters. “Sustainable development is something that is as simple as looking at how we would like to be in 10 or 20 years.”

Public interest in climate change has waned since the first Earth Summit in 1992, and successive attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale have failed. Additionally, many world leaders are now concentrating on upcoming elections and economic woes resulting from the “Great Recession” that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

(securityandsustainabilityforum.org)

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Biodiesel mandate now in effect

An average of two per cent of all diesel fuel sold in Manitoba must now come from vegetable oils from canola, soybeans and sunflowers, Premier Greg Selinger said Monday.

The province's new biodiesel mandate, the first of its kind in Canada, took effect Sunday.

Selinger said using more clean-burning biodiesel is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the province by 56,000 tonnes a year or the equivalent of taking 11,000 cars off the road.

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be produced from a variety of sources, including vegetable oils made from canola, soybeans and sunflowers.

The NDP promised in the 2007 provincial election campaign to implement a five per cent biodiesel mandate by 2010.

However, the province is now taking a gradual approach to ensure a smoother transition for the industry.

British Columbia is expected to introduce its own mandate effective Jan. 1. The Harper government has announced it plans to bring in a national mandate of at least two per cent by 2012.

The province will support the industry in the changeover by offering biodiesel producers a 14-cent-a-litre subsidy. The subsidy, which is to end in five years, will replace the government's current fuel-tax exemption on biodiesel.

Mandating the use of biodiesel should not drive up fuel costs for farmers, truckers and others who burn diesel in Manitoba, since the cost of blending is low.

The biodiesel industry is expected to create a new market for Canadian farmers with oilseeds that fail to meet food-grade standards.

Biodiesel is now used in some vehicle fleets including those of Manitoba Hydro, the Winnipeg School Division and Canada Safeway. It's expected to be available to the public next summer.

 

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