UNECE Weekly
769 12 - 16 November 2018

Sustainable Energy

“New normal” of sustainable energy transformation requires change in mindset and political will, urges Ministerial Conference


Transforming the energy system will require creative and innovative shifts in policy and regulation. In many countries, the current political, regulatory, and industrial infrastructure is not yet ready for a deep and accelerated transformation of aging infrastructure. Countries are not prepared to address the challenges that will emerge in the coming decade as new entrants and emerging business models destroy old paradigms and shift economic power. The “new normal” in energy is the acceleration of the transformation. These opportunities and challenges were the focus as Ministers and high-level officials from different countries gathered at this week’s Ministerial Conference of the Ninth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development in Kyiv.



Kazakhstan presents draft legislation aligned with UNECE Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment legal instruments


The Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which among other areas is responsible for the development of environmental policy, has presented amendments to the country’s environmental legislation to introduce a modern environmental assessment system aligned with the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and its Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Protocol on SEA). The package of amendments, which was presented at a high-level round table, also includes the revision of relevant by-laws to introduce a modern SEA scheme at a national level. The Ministry also presented the key outcomes and recommendations of a SEA pilot project, implemented in the country since October 2017. The measures undertaken are seen as a breakthrough in advancing the environmental assessment framework and contributing to the ongoing green economy reforms in the country. 


Air Pollution

On the way to cleaner air in Uzbekistan


As a result of integrated air pollution management strategies developed under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention), air quality has improved in the region over the past few decades. However, progress has also been uneven as the increase in energy production, industry growth and urban development have raised emissions in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. UNECE has therefore been assisting countries in the subregion to develop better emission inventories with a view to facilitating their ratification and/or implementation of the Air Convention and its key protocols. UNECE’s recent workshop in Tashkent focused on the practical work with the country’s national data in relation to its priority activity sectors.


Industrial Accidents

UNECE launches pilot project to strengthen safety of mining Tailings Management Facilities in Kazakhstan and beyond in Central Asia


Central Asian countries rely heavily on economic activities that produce, process or use hazardous substances in large quantities. The waste that these activities create cannot be released into the environment but needs to be safely stored in so-called Tailings Management Facilities (TMFs). Improperly designed, handled or orphaned TMFs represent a threat that could trigger industrial accidents with transboundary effects and result in soil and water contamination. Of all Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan has the fastest growing uranium production and has inherited a huge legacy of waste sites, many of which require further safety measures. UNECE has launched a pilot project in order to help Kazakhstan, and other Central Asian countries, improve the safe management of TMFs and to enhance its institutional and subregional coordination on this matter.



Paying for priceless values: forests’ role for water quality  


Given the many threats to global water supply, forest management and planning will increasingly need to deploy strategies for optimizing watershed services – such as water purification, the regulation of surface flows, and erosion control. The services provided by forest ecosystems for water quality are largely underestimated. The joint UNECE and FAO study “Forests and Water – Valuation and payments for forest ecosystem services” showcases how payments for ecosystem services schemes can be applied to forests, in particular focusing on forest’s hydrological functions for the mutual benefit of both humans and the environment. In addition, the study contains the most comprehensive database of case studies currently available on water-related payment for forest ecosystem service schemes in the UNECE region.



The Fourth Industrial Revolution: reshaping innovation policies for sustainable and inclusive growth


The driving force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, will be innovation – experimenting with different ways to make use of a range of emerging physical, digital and biological technologies that transform how we produce, consume, and interact and, ultimately, how we meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Key developments include advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, the Internet of Things, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. The opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how effective innovation and industrial policies can steer it towards sustainable and inclusive growth were the focus of recent discussions as experts and members of the UNECE Team of Specialists on Innovation and Competitiveness Policies gathered in Geneva. 



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