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*N E W S -* *Green Climate Fund approves new projects, new director*
[image: Plastic pollution on Kuta Beach]
*The Green Climate Fund has approved US$440 million in financing for nine projects around the world, and appointed a new executive director, Yannick Glemarec, as the institution works to distance itself from internal disputes that led the fund’s previous head to resign.*
The GCF was established in 2010 as a mechanism to bring together developed and developing countries to fund climate adaptation and emissions reductions projects. So far countries have pledged US$10.3 billion in funding, and the fund has committed US$5 billion across more than 100 projects.
A further pledging conference is due to take place later this year, and the fund has been under pressure to demonstrate its value and its ability to disburse money. Last July, the GCF’s executive director, Howard Bamsey, quit after the fund’s board failed to approve any of a slate of US$1 billion worth of projects that were up for review. Bamsey’s resignation deepened the sense of crisis around the GCF, which had already been the target of attacks from the Trump administration.
Barack Obama’s administration pledged US$3 billion to the fund, but his successor reneged on the promise with US$2 billion still outstanding.
The GCF has tried to improve the flow of projects by creating a new, simplified funding process. Two of the nine projects approved in February came through this new mechanism—both of them climate resilience initiatives. Among the approved projects are a US$100 million solar power programme in Nigeria and a US$96.5 million forestry scheme in Brazil.
“GCF now has a US$5 billion portfolio in 97 countries supporting low-emission, climate-resilient development,” Javier Manzanares, the interim executive director, said. “With decisions to ensure better governance, new project approvals, and a reinforced readiness programme, this board meeting has left us in great shape for our first replenishment.”
Glemarec is a veteran of the development sector, having served as UN Assistant Secretary-General and deputy executive director for policy and programme at UN Women until last year, as well as being the UN Development Programme’s executive coordinator for the Global Environment Facility between 2007 and 2012.
* I N F O G R A P H I C -* *Index shows money does not equal wellness*
New research has found that national health and wellness outcomes are not entirely correlated with gross domestic product, and that some large, wealthy economies are underperforming when it comes to improving the lives of their citizens. The Indigo Wellness Index collated data from more than 150 countries, examining 10 metrics including blood pressure, obesity, alcohol use, depression, happiness and health spending. It found that many wealthy countries score poorly overall, including the USA, whose poor performance on obesity and blood pressure pushed it out of the top-25. Surprisingly, countries with low GDP per capita, such as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, outperform their wealthier peers.
[image: Electric Car Stocks in 8 leading markets]
*Source: Indigo Wellness Index*
*N E W S -* *EU’s circular economy plan spurs growth *
The European Union has announced that it has fully implemented its Circular Economy Action Plan, a wide-ranging series of actions adopted in 2015 and aimed at reducing waste and improving the efficient use of resources. The measures included new rules on waste management, and restrictions on single-use plastics and fishing gear, as well as incentives for innovation and recycling.
A report assessing the impact of the action plan found that moving towards circular economy models had spurred job creation within Europe, with a 6 per cent increase jobs in related sectors over the past four years. In 2016, the report found, circular economy activities, including repair, reuse and recycling accounted for €17.5 billion (US$19.8 billion) worth of investments.
“Circular economy is key to putting our economy onto a sustainable path and delivering on the global Sustainable Development Goals,” first vice-president Frans Timmermans said. “This report shows that Europe is leading the way as a trailblazer for the rest of the world. At the same time more remains to be done to ensure that we increase our prosperity within the limits of our planet and close the loop so that there is no waste of our precious resources.”
*N E W S -* *Malaysia will halt palm oil expansion*
Malaysia intends to stop the expansion of palm oil plantations in 2019 in a bid to improve the image of the crop, which has been heavily criticised for its role in the destruction of tropical rainforests. Speaking to Bloomberg ahead of this week’s annual gathering of palm oil producers in Kuala Lumpur, minister of primary industries Teresa Kok said that the Malaysian federal government intends to work with state administrations to slow the advance of the country’s plantations into new territory, and to instead focus on improving productivity and yields on existing areas.
The European Union is currently debating a bill that would classify all palm oil coming from large plantations as unsustainable. Palm oil producing countries are pushing back, and have challenged the EU’s stance through the World Trade Organisation. *This week on responsiblebusiness.com
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*Billions at risk from heat stress at home*
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