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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

EU collaborates with other OECD countries to propose ban on export credits for coal-fired power projects

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Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries hold an extraordinary meeting today (15 September) and Thursday (16 September) to discuss a possible ban on export credits for international coal-fired power generation projects without measures compensation. Discussions will focus on a proposal presented by the EU and other countries (Canada, Republic of Korea, Norway, Switzerland, UK and US) earlier this month. The proposal supports the greening of the global economy and is an important step in aligning the activities of export credit agencies with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Export credits are an important part of promoting international trade. As a participant in the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits, the EU plays a major role in efforts to ensure a level playing field at international level and to ensure the coherence of the common objective of combating climate change. The EU has pledged to end aid for export credits for coal without offsetting measures, and at the same time commits at the international level to a just transition.

In January 2021, the Council of the European Union called for the global phasing out of environmentally damaging fossil fuel subsidies on a clear timetable and for a resolute and just global transformation. towards climate neutrality, including the gradual phase-out of coal without compensatory measures in energy production and, as a first step, the immediate end of all funding for new coal infrastructure in third countries. In its February 2021 Trade Policy Review, the European Commission pledged to propose an immediate end to export credit support for the coal-fired electricity sector.

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In June this year, G7 members also recognized that continued global investment in non-reduction coal-fired electricity generation was inconsistent with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C and pledged to end new direct government support for global coal-fired power generation internationally by the end of 2021, including through government funding.

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Committee of the Regions (CoR)

UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals should guide the European Recovery

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European local and regional leaders are calling for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs) to be put back on the top of the European Union's agenda, asking the EU institutions and member states to ensure their implementation by 2030. In an opinion adopted today by its plenary, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of sustainable development and that SDGs can help move towards a coherent, holistic vision within Next Generation EU. However, a recent CoR study points out a lack of explicit and transparent reference to the UN SDGs in many national recovery and resilience plans.

The ongoing pandemic and its expected economic, social and environmental consequences show a clear urgency to support the "localisation" of the SDGs in order to build back in a fairer way and avoid future health crises. SDGs should help Member States' economies recover and deliver the digital and green transitions on the ground. However, a recent study commissioned by the CoR sounded the alarm about the lack of involvement of regions and cities in national recovery plans, while in many cases clear references to SDGs are missing, reducing the opportunity for a common understanding of the plans.

Ricardo Rio (PT/EPP), rapporteur and Mayor of Braga, said: "The SDGs almost disappeared from the EU narrative: there is no overarching strategy and no effective mainstreaming or coordination of SDGs in the European Commission's internal governance. This is all the more striking as in parallel the commitment of local and regional authorities on SDGs kept increasing. The preliminary results of our OECD-CoR survey clearly show that local and regional authorities are well engaged in a sustainable recovery, based on SDGs. 40% of respondents have been using them before the pandemic and now started to use them to address the recovery, while 44% are planning to do so to recover from COVID-19. This is a big opportunity for all policy-makers to come back stronger from this crisis and I will, together with the OECD, actively advocate for it at EU level."

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The OECD estimates that 65% of the 169 targets of the 17 SDGs cannot be reached without involvement of, or coordination with, local and regional authorities. Moreover, the results of a new CoR-OECD joint survey show that 60% of local and regional governments believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more conviction that the SDGs can help take a more holistic approach for recovery. Therefore, the CoR regrets that the SDGs have progressively lost ground in the EU narrative, with a lower profile in EU policy-making jeopardising their chances of implementation by 2030.

CoR members urge European leaders to be ambitious and consistent in their domestic and foreign policy agendas and to declare with one clear purpose that the EU must be a leader and visible champion in the implementation of the SDGs at all governmental levels. The opinion points out that Sustainable Development Goals should provide a coherent framework for all EU policies and help align the priorities of all funding programmes. Nevertheless, sometimes the link between the UN objectives and main European initiatives like the new industrial strategy appear tenuous. Moreover, it calls on the European Commission to use the next Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2022 to formally reintegrate SDGs into the European Semester, better link SDGs and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (the cornerstone of Next Generation EU), and explicitly affirm SDGs as a way for the EU to shape a sustainable recovery.

Local and regional leaders ask the European Commission to renew the SDG multi-stakeholder platform or create another dialogue platform with clout and structured follow-up to foster expertise from all the different stakeholders from public and private institutions regarding the 2030 Agenda and to advise the Commission directly.

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The rapporteur Mr Rio delivered the call to prominent EU policy makers already on Tuesday, when he took the floor at the Brussels Economic Forum 2021, the flagship annual economic event of the European Commission, alongside President Von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Background

The CoR and the OECD jointly carried out a survey between May and Mid-June 2021 on SDGs as a framework for COVID-19 recovery in cities and regions. The survey included 86 responses from municipalities, regions and intermediary entities in 24 EU countries, plus a few other OECD & non-OECD countries. Preliminary findings were presented on Tuesday during the fourth edition of the Cities and Regions for the SDGs roundtable, a two-day online event that focused on the SDGs as a framework for long-term COVID-19 recovery strategies in cities and regions. The document is available here.

The CoR adopted a first opinion on 'Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a basis for a long-term EU strategy for a sustainable Europe by 2030' in 2019 by rapporteur Arnoldas Abramavičius (LT/EPP) Member of Zarasai District Municipal Council.

In November 2020 the European Commission published the staff working document Delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – A comprehensive approach.

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Environment

European Development Days 2021: Driving the global debate on green action ahead of Kunming and Glasgow Summits

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The leading global forum on development co-operation, the European Development Days (EDD), began on 15 June to reflect on the road to the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) in Kunming in October and the Glasgow COP26 in November 2021. More than 8,400 registered participants and more than 1,000 organizations from over 160 countries are preent at the event, which ends today (16 June), with two main topics: a green economy for people and nature, and protecting biodiversity and people. The forum includes the participation of high-level speakers from the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President; Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships; and Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries; as well as the United Nations with Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General; Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director; HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, President of Fauna and Flora International; Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director.

This year's edition has placed a special emphasis on the views of young leaders with expertise and active contributions to find solutions for climate action. With an EDD virtual Global Village presenting innovative projects and ground-breaking reports from 150 organizations all around the world and special events on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, these two days are a unique opportunity to discuss and shape a fairer and greener future. The EDD's website and programme are available online as well as a full press release.

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Economy

Global Europe: €79.5 billion to support development

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The EU is set to invest €79.5 billion on development and international cooperation in neighbouring countries and further afield by 2027, Society.

As part of its 2021-2027 budget, the European Union is overhauling how it invests outside the bloc. Following a landmark deal with EU countries in December 2020, MEPs will vote during June's plenary session in Strasbourg on establishing the €79.5bn Global Europe fund, which merges several existing EU instruments, including the European Development Fund. This streamlining will allow the EU to more effectively uphold and promote its values and interests worldwide and respond more swiftly to emerging global challenges.

The instrument will finance the EU's foreign policy priorities in the coming seven years and support sustainable development in EU neighbourhood countries, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Global Europe will support projects that contribute to addressing issues such as poverty eradication and migration and promote EU values such as human rights and democracy.

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The programme will also support global multilateral efforts and ensure the EU is able to live up to its commitments in the world, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate accord. Thirty percent of the programme’s overall funding will contribute to achieving climate objectives.

At least €19.3bn is earmarked for EU neighbourhood countries with €29.2bn set to be invested in sub-Saharan Africa. Global Europe funding will also be set aside for rapid response action including crisis management and conflict prevention. The EU will boost its support to sustainable investment worldwide under the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus, which will leverage private capital to complement direct development assistance.

In negotiations with the Council, Parliament ensured MEPs’ increased involvement in strategic decisions regarding the programme. Once approved, the regulation on Global Europe will retroactively apply from 1 January 2021.

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Global Europe is one of 15 EU flagship programmes supported by the Parliament in the negotiations on the EU's budget for 2021-2027 and the EU recovery instrument, which collectively will allow the Union to provide more than €1.8 trillion in funding over the coming years.

Global Europe 

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