Dr. Avgerinopoulou at the ICC’s Roundtable for the UN Global Pact for the Environment

Dr. Avgerinopoulou at the ICC’s Roundtable for the UN Global Pact for the Environment

Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Chair of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the Hellenic National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Hellas) and Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy (ICC), participated at the ICC Roundtable regarding the UN Global Pact for the Environment, which took place on January 9, 2019 at ICC Headquarters in Paris.

The event was related to the Resolution 72/277 entitled “Towards a Global Compact for the Environment” adopted on May 2018 by the UN General Assembly, which initiated a process to negotiate an overarching framework to international environmental law aimed at further solidifying, consolidating –as well as advancing- International Environmental Law (IEL) in response to the pressing environmental challenges of our time. The ICC, in its capacity as Permanent Observer to the UN General Assembly and UN Environment Focal Point for Business, convened this high-level roundtable to discuss the business perspective on the UN global pact for the environment ahead of the first round of substantive negotiations, which will take place in Nairobi on 19 January 2019.

The panel discussed the purpose and the business perspective in regards to the UN Secretary-General’s Report A/73/419, entitled “Gaps in International Environmental Law and Environment-related Instruments: towards a global pact for the environment”. The main debates were about the nature and implementation of contemplated instrument as well as the substantive contents of contemplated instrument.

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Dr. Avgerinopoulou’s Participation at the ICC’s Roundtable for the UN Global Pact for the Environment

Dr. Avgerinopoulou’s Participation at the ICC’s Roundtable for the UN Global Pact for the Environment

Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the Hellenic National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Hellas) and Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy (ICC), participated at the ICC Roundtable regarding the UN Global Pact for the Environment, which took place on January 9, 2019 at ICC Headquarters in Paris. The event was being held at a high-level of government representatives, environmental experts and thought leaders, among which, Mr. Laurent Fabius, President of the French Constitutional Council and Chair of the International Group of Experts for the Global Pact for the Environment.

 

The event was the result of the Resolution 72/277 entitled “Towards a Global Compact for the Environment” adopted on May 2018 by the UN General Assembly, which initiated a process to negotiate an overarching framework to international environmental law aimed at further solidifying, consolidating –as well as advancing- international environmental law in response to the pressing environmental challenges of our time. The ICC, in its capacity as Permanent Observer to the UN General Assembly and UN Environment Focal Point for Business, convened this high-level roundtable to discuss the business perspective on the UN global pact for the environment ahead of the first round of substantive negotiations, which will take place in Nairobi on 19 January 2019.

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Business and Industry NGOs (BINGO) UNFCCC 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) High Level Segment

Business and Industry NGOs (BINGO) UNFCCC 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) High Level Segment

Dr. Theodora-Dionysia Avgerinopoulou addressing the Plenary of the UNFCCC COP24
on behalf of the business and industry constituency, Katowice, Poland, 12.12.2018.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen – My name is Dr. Dionysia-Theodora AVGERINOPOULOU and I am Chair of the Environment and Energy group of the International Chamber of Commerce in Greece.

It is my honour to address you on behalf of the business and industry constituency at this meeting and to thank the Polish Presidency for hosting us here in Katowice.

Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, there has been an ever increasing number of commitments and actions across the private sector, from finance to investment, from agriculture to energy, from consumer goods to supply chains and operations.

These commitments and actions have come as business and industry prepare for the decades ahead, where the risks – and opportunities – of climate change must be factored into their own growth and development scenarios.

What has driven this ambition by the private sector is LEADERSHIP.

We are here at COP24 to ask YOU to also show LEADERSHIP. We are counting on you to demonstrate your leadership here in Katowice and deliver a robust Paris Rulebook that will send a strong  signal that climate change is high on the political agenda.

Business and Industry recognizes the complexity of the decisions that are to be taken by the COP. However, the magnitude of the consequences have never been clearer and you must achieve what you set out to do.

On this point, business and industry will rely on the IPCC report to help direct planning, investment and future operations.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

  • The science is clear
  • The will of all stakeholders is clear
  • The signals from business are clear

We ask you to make the Paris Agreement truly historical and deliver the implementation guidelines that will allow it to provide guidance for the future, increase ambition and result in us achieving inclusive and sustainable growth today.

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Dr. Avgerinpoulou’s Participation at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Katowice, Poland

Dr. Avgerinpoulou’s Participation at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Katowice, Poland

In Katowice, Poland, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP24 as generally known, takes place with the message that “climate change is running faster than we do” as stated by the UN Secretary General, Mr. António  Guterres at the opening ceremony of the Conference. The goal remains the same as in COP23 to assess the impact of countries’ efforts to maintain or reduce their emissions to meet the Paris Agreement target of 2 °C, pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 °C. This year’s annual Conference of the Parties is crucial for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was signed in 2015, since the countries are aiming to finalize a detailed set of rules to put the adopted accord into practice worldwide. Adopting a clear and comprehensive Work Programme consistent with what was agreed in Paris is necessary for putting the Agreement into practice, especially under the light of the recent special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found that warming could reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030, with devastating impacts.

Businesses, local governments, cities and other organizations play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world, as was recognized in the Paris Agreement. The sharing of experience from the private sector side, on the conditions to achieve sustainability in practice, is extremely valuable. Under this perspective, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) plays an active role in the Conference, represented, among others, by Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy and Chair of the Commission on Environment and Energy of the ICC Hellas. Dr. Avgerinopoulou will, having a strong background leading business engagement on sustainable development, draw attention to the need for transparency to facilitate long term private sector planning and investments as well as to the necessity of promoting low carbon and environmentally friendly technologies and products. Dr. Avgerinopoulou strongly believes that involving the private sector in defining a clear and comprehensive Paris rulebook is essential to achieving a just transition and tackling the climate challenge, while promoting simultaneously a sustainable economic growth as the Work Programme will provide the framework upon which businesses could strengthen their climate action. After all, “any delay in taking action will make it more difficult and more costly to tackle climate change,” as the presidents of the four previous COPs have stated.

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Dr. Avgerinopoulou appointed as Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy

Dr. Avgerinopoulou appointed as Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy

Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization, member of the ICC Committee on the Environment and Energy and Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the ICC Hellas, was appointed as Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy for a two-year term.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) develops global business policy views on key issues that affect companies’ ability to trade and invest across borders, and meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly integrated global economy. It was founded in 1919 to assist businesses in tackling the challenges and opportunities of globalization with a vision of promoting free international trade and investment. So far, the Chamber has promoted highly important issues, such as the fight against corruption, competition policy, environment and energy, through the creation of relevant Commissions. The mandate of the Environment and Energy Commission is, in particular, primarily concerned with developing policy recommendations and tools to address major global environmental and energy issues, including climate change and green economy within the framework of sustainable development, and making a substantive contribution to key intergovernmental discussions in these areas.

The Working Group on Water will strive to ensure that the ICC will continue to be a leader in responsible business engagement that promotes sustainable, inclusive economic growth in line with the UN Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals, adding value to the policy development process. The Working Group is part of the evolution of the Commission’s strategy towards this direction, coupled with the ICC’s role as UNFCC’s Focal Point for business and industry as well as ICC’s Observer Status at the UN General Assembly.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou has pledged to drive the strategic direction of ICC’s work on water, taking into account current market and business issues, as well as develop a global business position on water, considering the views of technical and policy experts at governmental, stakeholder and business level. She is, also, personally invested in the realization of Sustainable Development Goals No. 6 and 14 and the sustainable water management, which will be the main field of action of the Working Group.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou would like to extend her gratitude towards the ICC Commission on Energy and Environment on her appointment to such a prestigious and influential role.

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Dr. Avgerinopoulou, at Athens Energy Forum 2018: “Greece should take advantage of the financial tools for energy transition”

Dr. Avgerinopoulou, at Athens Energy Forum 2018: “Greece should take advantage of the financial tools for energy transition”

The climate and energy legal framework was presented by Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, f. Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Environment of the Hellenic Parliament, Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the Hellenic National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Hellas) and Executive Director of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology, during her speech at the Athens Energy Forum, which was held on February 15 and 16, 2018, with the participation of select speakers and experts in the energy sector.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou participated in the panel on “Sustainable Development – Climate Change and Energy” and referred to the steps for “cleaner” energy technologies, the responsible measures to be taken to cut carbon pollution, the innovation in the field of “clean” energy and the evolving policy framework. Dr. Avgerinopoulou, also, highlighted the challenges posed by the fragmentation of Public International Law and the lack of a coherent legislative framework, while mentioning that there are, indeed, important recent developments on the international, regional (EU) and domestic level that promote the deployment of Renewables. In addition, she underlined the role of education for energy transition and the emerging momentum seen by the potential of de-investing in the oil and gas intensive sectors.  Part of the speech was devoted to the comparative advantages of renewable energy sources in contrast to the current energy system that is neither effective, nor efficient or sustainable (financially, socially, environmentally) and to the available sources of funding for the shift towards affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goal 7. Funding is vital for the energy transition, as she pointed out, which, if appropriately exploited by Greece, it can generate enormous economic benefits and help the achievement of the EU targets as outlined at the 2020 climate and energy package and the new 2030 climate and energy framework. A major part of the speech was devoted to the several financial EU tools, such as the new Horizon 2020 Work Program 2018-2020 for Energy Efficiency that handles over 2 billion euros for energy related projects. Regarding Greece, she laid emphasis on both the continued interest in lignite units and the major legislative initiatives that were approved by the Greek Parliament, such as the L3851/2010 on “Accelerating the development of Renewable Energy Sources to deal with climate change and other regulations in topics under the authority of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change”.

Concluding, Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou summarized the evolving policy framework and stressed the  need for new policies, market systems and technology enablers that can effectively deliver the required, timely and effective change to a more sustainable, affordable, secure and inclusive energy system. Lastly, she mentioned the gaps that still need to be addressed by the legislation and policy, such as the absence of science and technology – triggering regulations, the nexus between energy and water and the nexus between energy and food security. Thus, she noted that the policies and laws should enable technologies innovations in energy production, consumption and management, adopt financial aid for renewable energy sources, foster citizen education on clean energy, demand the expansion of CO2 capture, storage, and/or conversion and re-design smarter cities.

For further information please visit the official website of the Athens Energy Forum:

http://www.athensenergyforum.com/

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Statement on World Water Day 2017

Statement on World Water Day 2017

The Chair of the Circle of the Mediterranean Parliamentarians on Sustainable Development (COMPSUD), Vice Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization” (GWPO) and f. Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Environment of the Hellenic Parliament and its Subcommittee of Water Resources, and Director of the European Institute of Law, Science & Technology, Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, made the following statement on Water.

“In 1993, the UN General Assembly officially declared March 22 as World Water Day. The World Water Day is celebrated with the UN initiative and the participation of governments and cooperating institutions, including the Global Water Partnership Organization. Every year, March 22 reminds us that, although there has been some progress, we must take additional action to address the water crisis. Today in developing countries there are still 663 million people living without safe access to water, without water near their homes, and spend hundreds of hours to fetch water for their families. At the same time, both developing and developed countries need to step up decontamination efforts. Water resources are often polluted, even drinking water, and we must put our efforts into the decontamination process in order to protect public health and the ecological balance of ecosystems. Furthermore, the global water resources are being under pressure of climate change, resulting in strong water shortages to occur in many parts of the world. Let us not forget that water is a source of life, a cooperation and equitable development tool. The protection and sustainable management of water resources will determine the future of millions of people around the world in the coming years. The challenges -due to overexploitation, pollution and climate change- are great. The intensification of international cooperation, the emphasis on new financial instruments for the environment and adaptation to climate change, the development and use of innovative technologies, as well as sound management and desalination projects are aspects on which the international community should focus. The Global Sustainability Goal No 6 is related to access to safe water for all and adequate sanitation by 2030. Together we must succeed.”

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Dr. Avgerinopoulou, Greek candidate for head of UNEP, attending Leaders΄ Event, COP21, Paris

Dr. Avgerinopoulou, Greek candidate for head of UNEP, attending Leaders΄ Event, COP21, Paris

Dr. Dionysia –Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Greece’s candidate for the position of Under-Secretary General of the UN and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme” (UNEP), is attending the COP21 Opening today in Paris, France. The opening ceremony of the Leaders’ Event head starts the UN Climate Summit that is taking place from Monday 30th to Tuesday 8th December 2015, with the participation of  190 UN member nations’ Presidents and Prime Ministers. The objective of the 2015 Conference is to achieve, for the first time, a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. The ultimate goal of the Convention of the Parties is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and support nations in implementing adaptation policies.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou, has joined the national delegation and is attending the opening ceremony of COP21 in a dual capacity: as Chair of  theCircle of Mediterranean Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development (COMPSUD) and a Member of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization (GWPO).  Dr. Avgerinopoulou, an environmental leader and dedicated politician regarding environmental issues, is a specialized attorney in International, Environmental and Sustainable Development Law, and the recipient of the Green Star Award presented by UNEP, OCHA, and Green Cross International, for her leadership in prevention, preparedness and response to environmental emergencies. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

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“Inspiring Climate Change Policies and Furthering the Sustainable Development Goals – Leadership with a Vision”

Introduction

Distinguished guests, dear friends and colleagues,

 

I am very honored to be here with you today.

First, I would especially like to thank Dr. Agni Arvanitis-Vlavianos, President of the Biopolitics International Organization – one of the most important non-governmental organizations regarding the protection of the earth and the “bio”, a Greek word that means “life”, on earth – and a Peace Nobel Laureate Candidate, for her invitation to be here today. In addition, I would especially like to thank the Hellenic Chapter of the historic Club of Rome for their invitation and support to the event, as well as the Greek Office of the European Parliament for hosting the event.

The aim of the event today is twofold, because it aims to shed light to two parallel global processes that have already started and will conclude in 2015, while they shape our common future; first, in the view of the climate change negotiations, it is important to raise awareness regarding the significant impacts of climate change and how to combat them. Secondly, both State actors and the civil society should participate in the global dialogue regarding the development of the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Both of these instruments, on climate change and the SDGs, will shape the future developmental agenda (2030 Development Agenda) and the new economic world order in the years to come up to 2030.

Our meeting today takes place on a very timely manner, since the global society stands before, first, the Annual Hearing of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) at the UN Headquarters regarding the SDGs that will take place next week, on Nov. 18-21, 2014, and the upcoming global climate change conference that will be held on Dec. 1-12, 2014, in Lima, Peru.

 

 

Part A: The Sustainable Development Goals

 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the overarching framework for development after 2015 and until 2030. After a rigorous international, multi-stake process that is still on, there are up to present 17 SDGs, including, among others:

Goal 1: the complete eradication of poverty;

 

Goal 2: the eradication of hunger, the achievement of food security and improved agriculture, and the promotion of sustainable agriculture;

 

Goal 3: the insurance of healthy lives and promotion of well-being for all at all ages;

 

Goal 4: the insurance of inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all;

 

Goal 5: the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls;

 

Goal 6: the insurance of availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;

 

Goal 7: the insurance of access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all;

 

Goal 8: the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;

 

Goal 9: the establishment of resilient infrastructure, the promotion of sustainable industrialization and fostering of innovation;

 

Goal 10: the reduction of inequality within and among countries;

 

Goal 11: the restructuring of cities and human settlements in order to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;

 

Goal 12: the ensurance of sustainable consumption and production patterns;

 

Goal 13: the undertaking of urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;

 

Goal 14: the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development;

 

Goal 15: the protection, restoration and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainability management of forests, combating desertification, and stopping and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss;

 

Goal 16: the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (the governance goal that the IPU insisted it should be included in the list);

 

and Goal 17: the strengthening of the means of implementation and revitalization of the global partnership for sustainable development.

 

In these processes, the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) serves in an exemplary way as a platform/forum to convey the voices of the ordinary people on the international level through their parliamentary representatives. If representative democracy regimes within the countries deploy all of the necessary institutions available to inform, discuss, and negotiate the SDGs with their people, then IPU could bring to the attention of the international community the voices of the peoples we all need and ought to hear, before the final adoption of the SDGs in 2015. The IPU is the body better equipped to quickly materialize a bottom-up approach to the formation of the SDGs and enhance in this way stakeholder involvement and cooperation.

Why is that? or else: what is the IPU and what is its role in the SDGs development?

 

 

 

What is the IPU?

The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments. It counts as the oldest international (though not inter-governmental, but rather inter-state) organization, established as early as in 1889. It represents more than 189 parliaments around the world, while the delegations of the parliaments are being comprised by all of the political parties that have been elected in their respective parliaments. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.

Among others, the IPU, that contributed to the establishment of the UN, today supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The IPU convenes legislators around the main global issues under consideration by the United Nations.

The IPU Standing Committee on UN Affairs, which I have the honor to chair, is a newly established committee that, among others, assists in developing the IPU’s activities around major issues and processes under the UN System, including the SGDs. There is also another committee that directly deals with the subject-matter, the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade. Within this institutional framework the IPU is since long time closely working with national parliaments and the UN towards the development of a coherent notion on Sustainable Development and adoption of the SDGs and the Post-2015 agenda.

 

 

The Work of the IPU and the National Parliaments on the SDGs

The Quito Communite

The IPU has developed its Strategy for 2012 – 2017, which is a basic instrument that underlines the major goals of the IPU for the current five years we are going through. The promotion of the SDGs is so fundamental for the IPU, that there is a Strategic Objective 5 as part of this Strategy that specifically addresses the issue on how to build parliamentary support for the SDGs and to contribute to the post-2015 agenda.

Specifically in April 2013, in Quito, the final Communique of the 128th IPU Assembly set the tone for the IPU’s engagement in the UN-led consultations on the new set of the SDGs. The main conclusions of the Quito Communique included the need for a new economic model of development centered on human well-being as opposed to pure economic growth, and for a stand-alone goal on democratic governance.

A major stepping stone in bringing the views of parliamentarians to the UN was the November 2013 Parliamentary Hearing before the UN in NYC.  To advance this vision, the IPU engaged actively in the year-long work of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs, which issued its final report in July.

We need to remember that Democratic Governance is both an end and a means of sustainable development. Democratic governance is a pillar of sustainable development.

The SGDs should be governed by a holistic, eco-centric approach, if they are to be sustainable. The first rules to include in the systems are the rules of environmental sustainability, which are not obvious in the enumeration of both the goals and targets we have up to now. For instance, there is no reference to the principle of the respect to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, one of the main principles of sustainable development or, as otherwise placed, there is no mentioning of ‘limits to growth’, ‘planetary boundaries’ or the physical limits of Planet Earth, as the background documentation of the conference comments.

The SDGs, along with other international instruments should lead to a goal of development that we could summarize as “smart, inclusive sustainable development”. The SDGs are the overarching, ultimate goals that every other multilateral agreement should also serve. Regarding the people, we should invest in the openness and transparency in the forthcoming negotiations on the Post-2015 Agenda and the climate change negotiations.  IPU is here to contribute to this! To this end, the IPU supports a parliamentary component also regarding the ongoing negotiations on climate change that will take place next month in Lima, Peru.

 

 

 

Part B: The Climate Change Processes

 

Lima should pave the way in order to reach a climate agreement in Paris in 2015. The most important outcome of the Climate Change Conference will be the draft text that will be the negotiating instrument for a binding agreement that the countries will have to sign next year, in order to replace the binding Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2015.

In 2015, during the Climate Change Conference in Paris, the world will be attending breathless what both the traditional and new and emerging Powers will decide; namely, whether they will bind themselves with an obligatory agreement or not – a fact that will not only impose on them legal and enforceable obligations, but it  will, most of all, signify their decisiveness to actually contribute to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Until August, the messages we were receiving were not that encouraging. However, a seminal event just occurred that has changed our prospects on the issue and shed bright light regarding the upcoming negotiations; the seminal 2014 Climate Summit that took place on September 23, 2014, at the UN Headquarters in NYC organized by the Secretary-General of the UN, His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki Moon. Countries have agreed on the need for a meaningful, robust, universal, legal climate agreement by 2015.

The Summit served as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – all UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors – to reduce climate change emissions and strongly support political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature. The UNSG asked leaders from government, business, finance and civil society to crystallize a global vision for low-carbon economic growth and to advance climate action on five fronts: cutting emissions; mobilizing money and markets; pricing carbon; strengthening resilience; and mobilizing new coalitions.

Indeed the meeting created Convergence on a Long-Term Vision. A comprehensive global vision on climate change emerged from the statements of leaders at the Summit:

World leaders agreed that climate change is a defining issue of our time and that bold action is needed today to reduce emissions and build resilience and that they would lead this effort;

Leaders acknowledged that climate action should be undertaken within the context of efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and promote sustainable development (SDGs related;)

Leaders committed to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels;

Leaders committed to finalise a meaningful, universal new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP-21, in Paris in 2015, and to arrive at the first draft of such an agreement at COP-20 in Lima, in December 2014;

Leaders concurred that the new agreement should be effective, durable and comprehensive and that it should balance support for mitigation and adaptation. Many underlined the importance of addressing loss and damage (in case of natural disasters related to climate change events);

Many leaders affirmed their commitment to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for the new agreement in the first quarter of 2015; and

Many leaders reaffirmed the objectives and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. In addition, others highlighted that the global effort to meet the climate challenge should reflect evolving realities and circumstances.

 

 

Cutting Emissions

Without significant cuts in emissions by all countries, in key sectors, the window of opportunity to stay within less than 2 degrees will soon close forever:

Many leaders, from all regions and all levels of economic development advocated for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, dramatically reduced emissions thereafter, and climate neutrality in the second half of the century;

European Union countries committed to a target of reducing emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030;

Leaders from more than 40 countries, 30 cities, and dozens of corporations launched large-scale commitment to double the rate of global energy efficiency by 2030 through vehicle fuel efficiency, lighting, appliances, buildings and district energy;

The New York Declaration on Forests aims to halve the loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and strives to end it by 2030;

Twenty-four leading global producers of palm oil as well as commodities traders committed to contribute to the goal of zero net deforestation by 2020 and to work with Governments, private sector partners and indigenous peoples to ensure a sustainable supply chain;

The transport sector brought substantial emissions reduction commitments linked to trains, public transportation, freight, aviation and electric cars, which together could save $70 trillion by 2050 with lower spending on vehicles, fuel and transport infrastructure;

Some of the world’s largest food producers and retailers committed to help farmers reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.

 

 

Moving Markets and Mobilizing Money and New Policies

Moving markets across a wide range of sectors is essential in order to transform economies at scale. Mobilizing sufficient public and private funds for low carbon, climate resilient growth is essential to keep within a less than 2 degree Celsius pathway.

The insurance industry committed to double its green investments to $84 billion by the end of 2015, and announced their intention to increase the amount placed in climate-smart development to ten times the current amount by 2020.

Leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020.

A new coalition of more than 160 institutions and local Governments and more than 500 individuals committed to divesting $50 billion from fossil fuel investments within the next three-five years and reinvest in new energy sources.

We have to restructure agriculture. The warming of the planet is already affecting yields of crucial crops. Moreover, approximately one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from land-use, making sustainable practices in agriculture critical.

We also need to rebuild our cities. Being responsible for about 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, cities can play a critical role in reducing these emissions – especially as their populations surge over the coming decades and many cities struggle with aging and inadequate infrastructure. Climate change increases the risk and stress to water, sewer, drainage and transportation systems, as well as infrastructure, as these systems are more exposed to the impact of increasingly powerful hurricanes, typhoons and other natural disasters. Clear greenhouse gas reduction goals, viable strategies, enhanced capacity and tangible financing are essential for cities to reduce emissions and become increasingly resilient.

Last, we need to rethink Energy. About 80 per cent of the world’s energy is supplied through the combustion of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. At the same time, energy demand is growing. A shift toward renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal — along with greater energy efficiency in appliances, buildings, lighting and vehicles — is essential to use the world’s resources sustainably, diversify economies and successfully address the challenge of climate changes.

An initiative led by the United Nations and World Bank has set 2030 as a goal for doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement, doubling renewable energy’s share in the global energy mix, and ensuring universal access to modern energy services.

 

In addition, I would like to draw your attention to a development that occurred last year, in Warsaw, regarding the adoption of the Warsaw Mechanisms on Loss and Damages of developing countries, including effects related to extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Let’s remind ourselves that also the region of the Mediterranean Sea, where we all live, is vulnerable to climate change.

 

Conclusion

Countries are presently working toward a new climate agreement and a new set of sustainable development goals, two international instruments that will both be concluded in 2015. The objectives of both of these processes present an unprecedented opportunity for nature and humanity. Eradicating poverty and restructuring the global economy to hold global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius are goals that – acted on together – can provide prosperity and security for the current  and the future generations.

Regarding the leaders, now it is time for them to join the race for transformative action that can drive economic competitiveness and sustainable prosperity for all.

According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the Secretariat of the UNFCCC: “The only safe path forward is to arrive in a carbon neutral world in the second half of this century”  – I would add: the earlier, the better. This is our common goal. We know what we want and we know how to achieve it.

Let’s bring, through our policies, the harmony all living beings need. Last, let me refer to the Rio+20 Outcome Document; let’s shape together ‘The future we want’! I welcome all of you in this joint effort!

 

Thank you!

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European Young Leaders: ’40 under 40′ – Athens Seminar More co-operation between Mediterranean Countries is needed

By invitation of Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, M.P., Chairperson of the Special Permanent Committee on Environmental Protection of the Hellenic Parliament, the fourth seminar in Friends of Europe and EuropaNova’s European Young Leaders: “40 under 40” programme took place in Athens, Greece. Dr. Avgerinopoulou, selected among the first group of European Young Leader in 2011-2012, welcomed the “40 under 40” group who met in her home-country from June 13-15 2013, highlighting the challenges and the arduous efforts of the Greek people to overcome the crisis and build a better life for future generations.

The European Young Leaders ’40 under 40’ programme, launched two years ago and led by the think-tanks EuropaNova and Friends of Europe, aims to promote a European identity and develop leadership by engaging 40 of the European Union’s brightest minds in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. Each year, forty young leaders, from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds and various European nationalities, are carefully selected to take part in a series of biannual 3-day meetings. The Young Leaders are asked to reflect upon the major problems confronting Europe and to generate innovative ideas that can provide lasting solutions. The European Young Leaders ‘40 under 40’ programme is a unique European leadership initiative that aims to create a new generation of opinion leaders shaping the future of our continent and joining forces to foster our decision-makers’ long-term vision.

New generation of European Young Leaders met in Athens and discussed about the economic future, as well as the overall European integration dynamic, using Greece as an example. Issues discussed at the seminar included democracy and fighting extremism, youth unemployment and prospects for a European “renewal”.

The seminar kicked off with an open discussion between the Young Leaders and the former Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. Building a strong post-crisis Europe will be contingent on fostering unity in union, Avramopoulos said, adding that “we must get away from our fatalist analysis of our situation and offer hope, direction, and a cohesive narrative to younger generations of Europeans.”

Dr. Avgerinopoulou addressed the issue of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, as a way of positive cooperation between EU Member States, African and Middle East countries. In her speech Dr. Avgerinopoulou said that the EU should devote more funds and expertise in order to further support neighboring countries efforts in achieving environmental and energy goals. She also emphasized on the importance of European Young Leaders and the new generation of Europeans as a whole in developing and promoting a sustainable, inclusive economic model for the region and the world.

At the panel discussions Guillaume Klossa, President of EuropaNova, and Giles Merritt Secretary General of Friends of Europe made the opening remarks, while Ioannis Karkalis, Special Advisor to the Director of the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) welcomed the “40 under 40” to the Sounion installations of (EPLO). Assia BenSalah Alaoui, Ambassador at Large of King Mohamed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, Dawood Azami, Senior Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service and Souad Mekhennet, Journalist for The New York Times, ZDF and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung were among the speakers of the seminar.

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