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Mr. President, distinguished participants,
It is my pleasure to contribute to this important discussion on the dual challenge of the pandemic recovery and the climate emergency from the perspective of the European Union.
EU action today is oriented exactly on those two challenges. With our European Green Deal and the Team Europe COVID-19 Response we are determined to play a major part in the solution of this double challenge both at home and in our partner countries around the globe.
The post-COVID economic recovery and the transition to a sustainable, socially just, resilient and climate neutral economy must go hand in hand. Governments around the world are borrowing heavily to counter the impact from the pandemic, and that means borrowing from future generations.
The massive investment financed by this borrowing to kick-start our economies must aim to relieve the burden their shoulders, not make it heavier. This is why the recovery plans should be designed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ‘build back better’ and invest in green and digital transitions and building a fairer and more resilient economy and society. Concretely, the EU budget for the next 7 years will include a 30% target for spending on climate investments, both for spending within the EU and in our external funding instruments and development assistance with third countries.
The EU has in place the most advanced and ambitious legislative framework on climate and energy. To accelerate the clean energy transition we are preparing initiatives, such as a building renovation initiative, actions to plan and design the energy system of the future and to foster offshore renewables, and to limit fugitive methane emissions. And we are ready to share our vast policy experience on energy transition with our international partners.
As half of total greenhouse gas emissions come from resource extraction and processing , improvements in resource efficiency and the adoption of sustainable consumption and production practices are key to tackling climate change.
Circular economy models will make an important contribution to achieving climate neutrality and decoupling economic growth from resource use. The EU set out its ambition in a circular economy Action Plan, adopted in 2020, which also has a strong international dimension.
Initiatives such as the Regional Alliances on circular economy in Latin America and in Africa show that a growing number of countries share the EU’s vision on the need to progress towards circular economy, contributing to sustainable consumption and production.
The sustainable consumption and production model is highly relevant for development cooperation, tackling climate change and other environmental challenges such as biodiversity loss, and contributing to job creation and growth at the same time.
A recent study on EU-Africa cooperation on circular economy just published confirms these opportunities: its shows that a first set of circular measures in a limited set of priority sectors will lead to a projected GDP growth that is 2.2% higher than in a business-as-usual situation by 2030, while employment will be up by 2.7%.
Other studies (e.g. Chatham House) have underlined opportunities for developing countries in industrial development, economic diversification and job creation through investment in areas such as waste, and both digital and materials innovation.
The switch to sustainable consumption and production patterns requires significant policy and regulatory reforms, for example to set harmonized sustainability standards for products in key value chains such as food, textile and electronics. It also requires engagement with the private sector, from large retailers at the top of value chains to micro, small and medium size enterprises, and the EU is scaling up cooperation in these areas.
A key lesson of the COVID crisis is that we need to build a more resilient global economic system. [According to the World Economic Forum, the environmental and climate crisis has become one of the top risks to the global economy and it highlights the need for an economic transformation that addresses sustainability as a priority.] And this has to happen everywhere.
 International Resource Panel 2019: Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want. See https://www.resourcepanel.org/reports/global-resources-outlook
 The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2017. A Wider Circle? The Circular Economy in Developing Countries