Top Stories

November 20, 2018


Religious leaders urge Theresa May to appoint dedicated SDG minister

Leaders within the UK’s six most predominant religions have urged Prime Minister Theresa May to bolster the Government’s action plans for achieving the aims of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), after a recent report revealed that the nation is delivering on less than a quarter of its SDG targets. To mark the end of UK Inter Faith Week on Friday (16 November), leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist faiths have sent a joint letter to May raising their concerns about the Government’s current approaches to social inequalities, healthcare and nutrition. The letter cites socio-economic strains compounded by Brexit as a key barrier to SDG progress, it goes on to argue that action on the SDGs would “build cohesion and resilience within communities.” (Edie)


Japanese company to reward employees for sleeping longer

A company in Tokyo called Crazy, a wedding-planning boutique, has decided to reward its employees for sleeping longer through a bonus system. If they manage to get at least six hours of sleep on all weekday nights, workers can accumulate the equivalent of ¥64,000 ($562) a year. Kazuhiko Moriyama, its architect and Crazy’s chief executive, passionately believes it should become a model for companies across the country. Emerging technology and its availability at a reasonable price, he acknowledges, have played a key part in the sleep payment idea and other health-enhancing innovations introduced at Crazy. Japan’s producers of medical devices have begun to approach the country’s “sleep debt” as a business opportunity. Hitachi, for instance, has since April been working on a service whereby large companies pay for the administration of a system that tracks employees’ physical activity and sleep. (Financial Times)*

Climate Change

Net zero operations for industry and transport possible by mid-century, research finds

Heavy industry and heavy duty transport could operate with net zero transport emissions by 2060, at a cost of less than 0.5 percent of global GDP, according to new analysis today by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC). Based on consultations with over 200 industry experts, the influential research body suggests some of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise could slash carbon emissions in time to meet global climate targets at an affordable cost. Sectors such as cement, steel, plastics, trucking, shipping and aviation together represent 30 percent of energy emissions. The report sets out possible routes to fully eradicate industrial and transport emissions, arguing net zero emissions are possible based on technologies which already exist. Zero carbon road transport is likely to become cost-competitive by 2030, it adds, while long distance shipping and aviation can be decarbonised through the widespread use of bio- or synthetic fuels. (Business Green)

Circular Economy /Sustainable Investment

EIB plans fund to invest in ‘circular bio-economy’

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is seeking a fund manager for a new fund that will invest in companies developing innovative bio-economy projects. Investments could take the form of debt, equity or quasi-equity, and projects deemed to contribute to a ‘circular bio-economy’ will be given priority. The EIB defines such an economy as one in which “the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible and the generation of waste is minimised.” Examples of projects that are likely to qualify for support under the fund include those that use biological resources “for innovative bio-based products or processes, or to valorise it for other innovative purposes (amongst which food, feed, fertilisers or soil improvers),” the EIB said. Up to €100 million is expected to be made available by the EIB via the EU Finance for Innovators initiative. (Environmental Finance)*


Australian Government reveals sweeping changes to boost women’s economic security

Women fleeing domestic and family abuse situations will have early access to their superannuation (corporate pension), be eligible for no-interest loans and in many cases no longer have to face alleged perpetrators in cross-examination, under sweeping changes instigated by Australia’s minister for women, Kelly O’Dwyer. In the first women’s economic security statement, an initiative announced in the 2018 budget, O’Dwyer will announce $109m in total funding aimed at assisting women bridge the gender pay gap, while addressing the financial disadvantages leaving an abusive situation can bring. O’Dwyer has also revealed changes to the paid parental leave system allowing parents to break up their leave by taking up to six weeks any time over a two-year period. (Guardian)

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External Event

Chatham House: A Sustainable Food Future 2018

26-27th November | London, UK

In the context of a growing world population, dwindling agricultural resources and rising concerns about climate change are adding pressure to an already strained global food system, the annual Chatham House Food conference will explore practical solutions to build a more resilient food system and feed the global population sustainably, focusing on the responsibility of key actors in achieving these goals.

Over two days sessions will cover the following topics: Food Systems, International Food Trade, Sustainable Agriculture and the Future of Land, Investment, Innovation and Disruptive Technologies, Delivering Sustainable and Healthy Diets, Food Loss and Food Waste.

Register now to reserve your place.


Image source: Asleep at the wheel by Aaron Jacobs on FlikrCC BY-SA 2.0