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SWITCH-Asia Programme
European Union

SWITCH-Asia - successfully promoting sustainable consumption and production in Asia

February 08, 2012
Commissioner Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, and European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, issued a joint statement about the success of the programme. The Commissioners said: “Sustainable consumption and production and the green economy are key priorities for development, and SWITCH-Asia underlines how they can work in practice. With its grant projects that help businesses and consumers go green, the programme presents practical, tangible examples of shifting from analysis to action. The Commission will now build on these successes and examine how this experience can be used in other regions of the world as part of its effort to promote SCP globally. SWITCH-Asia gives us a glimpse of the overall vision of sustainability we need for the 21st century at home and abroad.”

The statement followed a two-day seminar to highlight the successes of SWITCH-Asia, a grants programme funded through the EU Development Cooperation Instrument. SWITCH-Asia promotes Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) among consumers, small and medium-sized enterprises and Asian policy-makers in 15 Asian countries, from China and India to Bangladesh and the Maldives. Over two days, the conference  presented success stories and demonstrated how similar projects could be set up elsewhere in the world. SWITCH-Asia was launched in 2007 with an overall budget of around €150 million for the period 2007-2013.

In its June 2011 Communication on Rio+20, the Commission recommended stepping up efforts to extend the SWITCH programme to other regions. In the Mediterranean countries of the Southern Neighbourhood, the SWITCH-MED programme is being shaped along the lines of SWITCH-Asia and its policy component is planned to be launched in the first semester of 2012. SWITCH-MED aims at mainstreaming SCP and resource efficiency in the Mediterannean. It will also support a few pilot countries in planning, boosting green entrepreneurship and promoting awareness on SCP among civil society. In addition, starting in 2013, there will be some demonstration projects on SCP best practices, together with a networking component.

A project on Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood (GREEN) is expected to be launched in the autumn of 2012. The project has two components: the main component aims at introducing or strengthening governance and financing tools for promoting SCP in selected policy sectors; the second component intends to promote the use of environmental impact assessment methodologies as tools for accompanying SCP policy implementation. Some pilot projects are expected to demonstrate the concrete applications of SCP in the partner countries. In sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America there are various activities addressing green economy and low-carbon development. This is illustrated for example by the "Maurice Ile Durable" initiative supported by the EU in Mauritius. This encourages consistency between economic reform and sustainable development focusing on limiting the impacts of economic growth, including tourism, on the environment.

In Burkina Faso the EU is working with United Nations programmes to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. This partnership will deliver specific assessments and an analysis of sectors where the links between environmental protection and poverty reduction are strong, such as the cotton and mining sectors. It also involves awareness raising and preparation of a Green Economy Roadmap. In Latin America the EU is supporting projects on adaptation to climate change and low-carbon development strategies. The EUROCLIMA programme aims at enhancing the scientific and socio-economic knowledge of the scientific community and of policy-makers on the effects of climate change, promoting its integration into development strategies and policies of 18 Latin American countries. The EUROSOLAR pilot programme provides rural electrification systems using renewable energy (solar panels and wind generators) to six hundred rural communities in the eight poorest countries of Latin America, combining poverty alleviation and low-carbon development. Furthermore, the Latin American Investment Facility (LAIF) aims at encouraging low-carbon investments in particular by promoting clean technologies with tailor made packages combining grants and loans.

 

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Rio de Janeiro on 20 – 22 June 2012 will be an opportunity to secure renewed political commitment at all levels and to strengthen the coherence and the linkages between the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. This can be achieved notably by promoting sustainable consumption and production, including through SWITCH-Asia. On the same note, in an October 2011 Communication on "increasing the impact of EU development policy: an agenda for change" the Commission underlined the importance of promoting a green economy. Valuing natural capital and investing in it, notably by supporting market opportunities for cleaner technologies, supporting the efficient and sustainable use of energy and natural resources and low-carbon development will generate growth, create jobs and help reduce poverty. With this in mind, preparations have started for SCP support outside Asia.

 

The SWITCH-Asia Programme has three strategic components: grants for projects, a network facility and a policy support component. The programme currently supports 47 projects in 15 Asian countries in areas such as greening supply chains, marketing eco-products, green public procurement, cleaner production, eco-labelling and products for the poor. The network facility organises exchange of project experience in order to increase the quality and impact. The policy support component aims to strengthen the formulation and implementation of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) policies in Asia at regional level primarily through capacity building in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme. In addition there is national level policy support for Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

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