Accelerating Energy Efficiency: Policy Briefs for the 2018 High Level Political Forum

The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development meets annually in July, under the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), where countries present their Voluntary National Reviews (VRNs) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The HLPF also carries out thematic reviews of progress on the SDGs including cross-cutting issues. To facilitate an in-depth review of progress, the HLPF annually discusses a particular set of SDGs and their interlinkages. In 2018, the in-depth review will be carried out over SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15, as well as 17, which is reviewed annually.

As a Major Group Consultative Member for the ECOSOC Civil Society Network, my cooperative efforts are particularly focused on the private-public dialogue over policy briefs contained within the new publication “Accelerating SDG 7 achievement: Policy briefs in support of the first SDG 7 review at the UN High-Level Political Forum 2018”. The document was launched by the SDG7 Technical Advisory Group, in partnership with UN DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and includes 27 policy briefs relating to accelerating SDG 7 achievement.

Policy Brief #6 Energy Technology Innovation: Digitalization of Grid Services. Increasing the speed of digitalized technology development could lead to a first-mover advantage for pioneering countries or companies.

  • The need for resilient infrastructure, increasing stress on resources, and decentralized supply) and enabled by the interaction of various disciplines such as data and information networks. As the rate of interlinkages increases and improvements in data and information networks accelerate, we can expect rapid advances in the innovations that exploit the interactions of these technologies.
  • Technology such as sensors, robotics and advanced analytics, which together form advanced interconnected systems capable of quickly analyzing large amounts of data, are developing potentially transformative solutions, across various sectors, for improving energy efficiency and managing more variable renewable energy. This development is driven by continuous improvements, and the cost-performance curve of core digital technology building blocks: computing power, data storage, and bandwidth utilization.

Policy Brief #14 Interlinkages Between Energy and Sustainable Cities: Smart Grid and Smart Buildings. Cities are adopting more energy efficient policies and practices in the transport, buildings, industry, and commercial sectors.

  • The number of energy efficient building codes adopted by countries, and by-law at city levels, has increased in the last five years.
  • Smart grids are enabling major energy efficiency and resilience gains. Using ICTs, the grid is able to manage energy demand and use most efficient energy source on the system.

The formal session to review SDG7 will take place on 10 July from 11:00 to 13:00, during the HLPF 2018 and Side Events sponsored by Member States, UN system and other intergovernmental organizations, Major Groups and other accredited stakeholders will be held in the margins of the event. More information on the HLPF 2018 can be found here.

2018 Economic Outlook Brazil: Foreign Policy

This is the third chapter of the series of posts on the “2018 Economic Outlook Brazil” that is based on the Presidential Message delivered to the Brazilian National Congress in February, 2018 by President Temer. The official document, in its entirety, advises on the key national policies divided into five central pillars: Economy, Infrastructure, Social, Foreign Affairs and Public Administration.

Read below the policy highlights on Foreign Policy. The other posts are Regulated Markets and Structural Reforms.

1. Introduction

In a global scenario trending towards nationalism, Brazil continues to push forward a diplomacy of universalism by promoting multilateral dialogue and integration. Its foreign policy has been implemented towards the interests of economic recovery, job creation, border security and the promotion of welfare.

During the year of 2017, the Brazilian Government continued to give expression to the universalist vocation of its Foreign Policy. Beyond Latin America and the Caribbean, the Brazilian government tried to deepen its diplomatic relations with European countries, North America, Asia Africa and the Middle East. In 2017, Michel Temer visited China (during the BRICS summit), Norway, Portugal and Russia. He also participated in the meetings of G-20 in Hamburg, Mercosur in Mendoza, the UN General Assembly in New York and the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

Its participation in multilateral institutions is also to be highlighted, having representatives working for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, International Court of Justice and the International Law Commission. Brazil is also in the Presidency of the World Trade Organization.

2. Migration and Refugee Crisis

In 2017, the new Migration Law entered into force, establishing the guidelines for the Brazilian migration policy through which the country has acted in the UN negotiations for a Global Compact on Migrations. The government is also working on improving its mechanisms for granting refuge. Aiming to facilitate the instructions on the process of request for refuge, an electronic ordering system is under development (Sisconare), which will give greater speed, reliability and security to the processes. A working group was also established for the revision of the resolutions of the National Refugee Council (Conare).

3. China

In 2017, China remained Brazil’s main trading partner, and an important source of investment. During the Presidential visit to China, bilateral agreements were signed in the areas of tourism, health and consumer product supervision. The bilateral cooperation also advanced through the launch of the Fund for Brazil-China Cooperation for the Expansion of Productive Capacity.

4. Africa

The African continent is a permanent priority to the Brazilian Foreign Policy. During the UN Assembly, in September, President Temer met with the President of Egypt, Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, to discuss economic opportunities for both countries. In the same month, the Mercosur-Egypt free trade agreement entered into force. Egypt is the main destination of Brazilian exports to Africa.

In 2017, the Brazilian Foreign Minister visited Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, south Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Benin. During these visitations, cooperation agreements were signed in areas such as visa facilitation, social security, and air transportation, reiterating the country’s commitment to socio-economic development and the consolidation of peace and democracy in West Africa.

5. BRICS

Within BRICS, progress was made towards the consolidation of the New Development Bank (NDB) with the approval of the 2017 – 2021 General strategy, which included the bank’s second batch of loans and the opening of its first regional office in South Africa. In its 2017 summit, BRICS signed the Plan of Action for Economic and Trade cooperation and the Customs Cooperation Strategy.

6. Middle East

Brazilian Diplomacy is also attentive to the geopolitical situation of the Middle East. It defends the two-State solution to the Israel and Palestine conflicts, based on International Law and opposing to the illegal construction of Israeli settlements in Palestine. President Temer met separately, in New York, with the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of Palestine.

In May 2017, the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kwait, helping to maintain the Brazilian beef exports. To attract investments, the Brazilian government went on a mission to Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Kwait and Qatar.

7. Regional Integration

In 2017, Brazil prioritized advances in economic-trade relations and in the areas of border cooperation, physical integration and the fight against transnational crimes within the Latin America and Caribbean region. In commitment to the Ushuaia Protocol, members of Mercosur voted on the indefinite suspension of Venezuela from participation in the bloc. In articulation with other 11 countries in the “Lima Group”, Brazil seeks to favor the return of democracy in Venezuela. Internally, an inter-ministerial group was designed to coordinate the reception of the Venezuelan migratory flow in the Northern region of Brazil. A Resolution of the National Immigration Council made it possible to grant temporary residence to Venezuelan nationals for two years.

In April, the Protocol of Cooperation and Facilitation of Investments of Mercosur was signed, and in December, the block agreed on the Protocol for Public Procurement. A free trade agreement started to be negotiated with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), formed by Switzerland, Norway, Ireland and Liechtenstein. The negotiations for an FTA with the European Union are still under negotiations.

Brazil has also maintained an active participation in the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), especially in the illegal deforestation monitoring program, in the projects for water resources management and forest firefighting in the Amazon basin.

8. Foreign Trade

The results of the Brazilian foreign trade have contributed to the return to growth, as the country recorded a surplus of USD 67 billion in 2017. Both exports and imports recovered some of the dynamism lost during the crisis. In May, Brazil requested access to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCDE) and, in attempt to speed operational processes, began the implementation of the Digital Origin Certificates and the Consolidated Portal for Trade.

It is estimated the start of production and exporting by companies located at the ZPE in Ceará (Export Processing Zone) has contributed to leverage the state economy. Other ZPEs are already in advanced stages of implementation in the states of Piauí and Mato Grosso.

Source: Presidential Message to Congress 2018 (adapted translation)

Cross-cultural business in the advent of an interactive global economy

Do you have the necessary skills to lead in a global economy? Don’t fall into the traps of undermining cultural differences, when in fact, you can insightfully optimize your business development effectivesness by mapping your stakeholders’ cultural differences.

This Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast on Cross-Culture Work in a Global Economy can help you sharpen up your cross-cultural business relations understanding by shedding light on how complementarily functional cultural differences can be when it comes to developing professional capabilities such as methods of communication, ways of problem-solving, sharing knowledge, and managing meetings in this emergingly interconnected global business environment of ours.

According to Erin Meyer, the author of the HBR article Navigating the Cultural Mindfield and the book The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, the world is becoming evermore about complex multi-cultural interaction.

A good example of the importance of having different approaches to business is the following extract from the interview as it describes, from an informal culture’s perspective, a highly disciplined business culture. “They are so rigid, so inflexible, they are so focused on the structure and puntuality of things that they are unable to adapt as things change around them.” This extract is particularily interesting when immersed in a social environment where self-deprecating the local culture has become the norm, such as in places like Latin America, and particularly in Brazil, where adaptability is a solid cultural trait.

Cultural differences are part of a diverse world that has been described as a source of conflict in Huntington’s The Clash of Civilization. But with the global advent of East meeting West simultaneously with North meeting South for multilateral negotiations, cultural differences are not only important to be considered when mediating political purposes, but to be applied as competitive advantages in diplomatic business encounters as much.