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As attention turns to managing the economic fallout from COVID-19, national and global recovery plans will determine if future threats to human wellbeing, to our economies and to the planet are mitigated or amplified. The Partnership for Action on Green Economy is committed to assisting its partners as they navigate the recovery, promoting inclusive green economy plans that will create growth, jobs, and prosperity for all while reducing pressures on the planet.

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Build Back Better

United Nations organizations have banded together to call for a sustainable recovery after COVID-19. PAGE partner agencies UNEP and UNDP, among the WHO, UNWTO, UNCTAD and others, are uniting in the message that COVID-19’s impact on the world must be met with commitment to a better future. The agencies reinforce their commitment to member states to unearth opportunities in the recovery process.“As we work through response and recovery from the shocks of the pandemic, the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] need to be designed into the DNA of global recovery”, says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. The collection of statements can be found here.

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COVID Updates from our UN partner agencies

      

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HIGHLIGHTS

Pathways Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development 

The impacts and economic consequences of COVID 19 are adding to existing complexities and are creating economic hardship worldwide. Economies have been hard hit by the crisis due to the direct disruptions in supply chains and drops in aggregate demand, resulting in much larger societal costs.  

What policy measures can countries deploy in the short and long run in response to this crisis? How can governments respond to COVID-19 in a way that supports industry and workers immediately, but also creates beneficial outcomes in the long-term? How can we strengthen industries’ capacity to improve energy efficiency, reduce resource consumption, curb pollution, and  at the same time  generate incomes, jobs, and green growth? 

These and more questions will be tackled in these advanced online training courseThe course will focus on discussing approaches and tools that allow for an integrated response to the crisis in line with sustainable industrial development. 

This course is organized by the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) agencies UNIDOUNEPUNDPILO, and UNITAR in cooperation with the Central European University (CEU). 

For more information and registration click here. 

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PAGE has been recognized as a mechanism for COVID-19 recovery, named within the United Nations Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19, mobilizing PAGE through its “support on green jobs, economic and environmental issues to plan early response and recovery phase of the crisis” and calling on PAGE  “as a vehicle to support peer learning and knowledge transfer on policies that stimulate growth and recovery in the wake of COVID-19”.

With this affirmation, and with years of experience, PAGE is resolute to use its trusted tools and resources and the strength of its collective expertise to shepherd sustainable economic recoveries that will build back stronger, more resilient economies that serve both people and the planet.

Read United Nations Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19

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Drawing on experience from previous economic upheavals and recent data, PAGE partner agency UNIDO shows how energy efficiency measures and renewable energy can reboost economies while contributing to long-term climate resilience, health and jobs. “We know for a fact that employment programmes which promote energy efficiency and the renewable energy sector have a tendency to create more jobs”, writes UNIDO’s Director of Energy Tareq Emtairah. Carefully designed stimulus packages that incentivize SMEs to pursue energy efficiency will also free up much needed capital to innovate and drive investment into low carbon efficient technologies, Emtairah continues. Read the full article for concrete steps and policy measures to re-energize our economies while maintaining commitment for the SDGs and climate targets.

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The International Monetary Fund’s Fiscal Affairs Department has produced a series of notes to offer advice for countries to navigate the impact of COVID-19. In this edition, the writers call attention to the importance of greening recovery responses so as not to overlook the simultaneous climate crisis. They write: “Indeed, decisions taken now to address the COVID-19 crisis may shape the climate, and human health, for decades”. Here, you will find suggested options on green stimulus measures, conditional support to brown activities, and coordination. Read more.

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BLOGS

A Post COVID-19 Green Deal for the Garment Sector in Asia?

As the Asia-Pacific region’s textile industry is hard-hit by the implications of COVID-19, the ILO’s Dr Cristina Martinez, Senior Specialist Environment and Decent Work and Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok and Dr Samantha Sharpe, Research Director at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, argue for the region to embrace its own green new deal during its crisis recovery. “New investments into the sector must enhance sustainability, and a focus on greening production and employment will make the sector more resilient into the future.” While some may argue the cost of environmental sustainability is high, Martinez and Sharpe stress that the opportunities are significant for decent work within the textile and garment industries. These simultaneously can improve upon the current environmental impacts, including introducing cleaner production activities and sustainable development practices, which would contribute to increased productivity and competitiveness. Read the full story here.

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As we navigate the current threats to human wellness, to economies and to the planet, the timely adoption of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns is key to building back stronger and more resilient societies. In the wake of COVID-19, choosing more efficient production methods and implementing better use of natural resources is one of the most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment while simultaneously advancing human wellbeing. 

The Global Resources Outlook 2019, shows that the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 percent of biodiversity loss and water stress. A global shift is essential: Enacting resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production policies, growth in global resource use can slow by 25 percent while global gross domestic product could grow by 8 percent by 2060, according to the International Resource Panel. 

Using its toolkit and years of experience working towards green economic growth, PAGE has supported countries in achieving multiple targets of SDG 12 — Responsible Consumption and Production. In our newest brief, PAGE explores circular economy and resource efficiency using Uruguay as a key example, referring to its achievements towards resource efficiency and circular economy. The brief also highlights work with an additional thirteen partner countries, centered on contributions toward SDG12.

READ OUR SCP THEMATIC BRIEF

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PARTNER NEWS

Secretary General António Guterres Calls for Climate-Action in COVID-19 Recovery

In his 50th Anniversary Earth Day message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a response to the global emergency of COVID-19 that includes decisive action for the planet. Solving the economic crisis and the climate crisis are not two opposing agendas and with this, the Secretary-General has laid out six climate-related actions to help shape the recovery ahead. Demanding “a healthy and resilient future for people and planet alike”, the six points cover investing in green jobs and businesses, financing green economies, ending fossil fuel subsidies and incorporating assessments of climate risks into financial systems and public policymaking and infrastructure. Read the full statement here or watch the address here.

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Inger Andersen Hosts Earth Day Virtual Youth Dialogue

UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen hosted a virtual youth dialogue with the Global Youth Constituency for Environment on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. “You have a brilliant voice and a great set of leaders, and I am very optimistic that with you, we can land this,” Andersen said. Targeted at young people from all over the world including youth organizations and activist movements, the discussion centered on the role of the youth during and after the pandemic. Topics of discussion included the potential environmental actions young people can take in response to COVID-19, the importance of the human-biodiversity relationship, and the role of youth in environmental decision-making. While Andersen addressed the unfair burden that the youth is carrying regarding climate change, she called for young people “to also speak up on the waste, the zoonoses, the planetary health, the ambitious agreement at COP 15, and absolutely on ‘building back better’”. Watch the full video here.

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China’s ‘neo-infrastructure’ investments in a post-pandemic world

Authored by Chengchen Qian, National Coordinator for PAGE China and UNEP Coordinator of the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP) and Yaxuan Chen, Programme Specialist at UNEP, this article explores China’s current emphasis on investments in “neo-infrastructure” as part of its post-COVID-19 economic recovery. In scope, the size of these planned investments in 2020, spanning 25 provinces, will amount to RMB 42 trillion (US$6 trillion) and span three main areas: information and communications technology (ICT), such as 5G, Internet of Things, satellite, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and blockchain; integrated infrastructure (i.e. applying digital technologies to upgrade intelligent transportation and smart energy); and R&D, particularly setting up more innovation centres and labs for science and technology development and education. While these investments have the potential to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, the long-term impact on job creation as well as effects on e-waste, remain unclear. Read the full analysis here. 

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COVID-19 is killing people and setting our economies on fire. While the world is saving lives and fighting the fire, a lurking question is how we are going to rebuild our economies when the pandemic is under some form of control.

Should we build back our old economic “house” that has contributed to the spread of new diseases in the first place? The old house warms the climate and wakes up dormant viruses. It fragments natural habitats and exposes humans to zoonotic diseases. It pollutes the air, water, and soil, making people vulnerable to health risks. And it devours resources, materials, and finance such that little is left for hospitals and schools that are accessible by the disadvantaged and resilient to shocks. Building back the old economic house is nothing but a recipe for more crises. Read more

 

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TOOLS AND RESOURCES

E-LEARNING: MANAGING A JUST TRANSITION TO ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIES AND SOCIETIES

With attention focused on green recovery efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, managing and building sustainable economies and societies — those that account for the wellbeing of all — will be a challenge. The greening of economies brings many opportunities to achieve social objectives, but the economic restructuring also presents enormous challenges for enterprises, workers and the economy at large. To prepare and guide low-carbon and climate-resilient development, the International Training Centre of the ILO is offering an online course 25 May–5 June 2020, “Managing a Just Transition to Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies”. The course objective will be to strengthen institutional and individual capacities to support this just transition, linking three topics: green jobs, just transition and social justice. Using the ILO Guidelines for a Just Transition, participants will acquire knowledge and tools to help them understand the sustainable development framework, in particular the link between environmental challenges and the world of work. The application deadline is 21 May 2020.

Learn More

 

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The Green Growth Knowledge Platform, a PAGE partner, hosted its first webinar in a series on Sustainability After COVID-19 with Voices from Leading International Organisations on the 21 April 2020. GGGI, OECD, UNEP and the World Bank shared their thoughts and expertise on what COVID-19 means for sustainable development, how green economy can be incorporated into a COVID-19 stimulus package and what their organisation is currently doing in response to COVID-19. The webinar offered examples of current COVID-19 recovery packages, focusing on jobs that can be created quickly whilst contributing to long term sustainability outcomes — in areas such as agroforestry, sustainable infrastructure and construction. The speakers highlighted the need to reassess our relationship with nature in addressing the root causes of the crisis as well as expanding the reach of green economy and widening collaborative circles. The next webinar in the series, Public policies for inclusive green growth, took place on the 28th of April. For more information head to the GGKP site and click here for the recordings of all GGKP webinars.