On the 29th and 30th of November, the 5th session of the Working Party on Public-Private Partnerships of the UNECE Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and PPPs took place in Palais des Nations in Geneva (Switzerland) and online.
The Working Party on Public-Private Partnerships is an intergovernmental body established in 2017 and it convenes over 2000 experts coming from the public and private sector, civil society and international organizations.
During this session, the delegates have focused on the contribution of the UNECE work on People-first PPPs to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a policy discussion on the theme of “Scaling up People-first PPP projects in sustainable infrastructure to reignite the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.” The Decade of Action is a call for accelerating the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly.
The policy discussion was organised according to the conclusions made by the 69th session of the Commission that took place in April 2021 and was dedicated to the topic “Circular economy and the sustainable use of natural resources”, during which the member states have stressed the importance of the transition to the circular economy in the UNECE region for the period up to 2030 and as part of the efforts aimed at the implementation of the Build-Back-Better principle, necessitated by the COVID-19.
As the world strives to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, embracing sustainable infrastructure – green, resilient and of high-quality where people are the main beneficiaries – is necessary to stay on track to reignite the Decade of Action and achieve the SDGs, including SDG 12 and the circular economy transition. During the high-level debate “Reignite the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals: the role of sustainable infrastructure” that took place on the 29th of November, on Monday, the participants have discussed how the People-first PPP approach can provide substantive guidance to chart a path to reach a more sustainable and equitable future, and concurrently contributing to the circular economy agenda.
Considering this, the following issues were discussed:
- How can PPP projects contribute to the circular economy agenda?
- How can the UNECE People-first PPP approach to the SDGs help governments achieve green, resilient and high-quality sustainable infrastructure?
- To what extent can the People-first PPP approach to the SDGs contribute to addressing the inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19, in particular, within vulnerable members of society?
The moderator was Dmitry Mariyasin, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNECE. 8 panelists have participated in the discussion, representing 6 countries and international organisations.
Thus, the delegates were presented with work on the Draft standard on People-first PPP/Concession Model law and the People-first Public-Private Partnerships Evaluation Methodology for the Sustainable Development Goals which was developed to advance the implementation of UNECE Guiding Principles on People-first PPPs in support of the SDGs (Guiding Principles) and should be scaled up in collaboration with the multilateral platform SOURCE.
Also this day, two sessions took place, titled “How is the People-first PPP approach to the SDGs contributing to the development of green, circular, inclusive, resilient and fiscally sustainable infrastructure?” and “How do the People-first PPP projects for the SDGs contribute to the circular economy agenda?”
During the first session, the panelists explored how the People-first PPP approach is contributing to the work of the international community aimed at scaling up infrastructure projects that are green, circular, inclusive, resilient and fiscally sustainable; the convergence in implementing the UNECE Guiding Principles on People-first PPPs in support of the SDGs (Guiding Principles) and the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment (QII) endorsed by the G20 Heads of State in 2019, and how this two sets of principles can together contribute to the achievement of SDGs and the implementation of high-quality projects.
The QII (Quality Infrastructure Investment) Principles were first introduced by the government of Japan in 2018 when it held the presidency of the G20. The goal of creating the document was to provide global standards for quality in infrastructure development. QII was endorsed by all G20 leaders.
Among the issues addressed also were:
- How can the UNECE People-first PPP approach to the SDGs be leveraged further in convergence with the work undertaken by the Multilateral Development Banks’ Infrastructure Cooperation Platform (MDB ICP) and with other tools developed by the MDBs?
- How could the tools and joint efforts by UNECE, the MDBs and the G20 contribute to a transition towards a new generation of infrastructure and PPP projects to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs?
During the second session, the participants explored how the People-first PPP projects for the SDGs contribute to the circular economy agenda.
At this session, Pedro Neves, CEO of Global Solutions (Portugal) gave a review of the PPP project life cycle, during each phase of which the participants adhere to the principles of circular economy and SDGs.
The Director of the PPP Agency, Niko Gachechyladze has noted the importance of the transition to the circular economy and the implementation of PPP projects. The global economy has been hit by crises in recent decades and the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to great uncertainty in the possibility of lasting recovery and an energy transition that will enable sustainable green growth.
Ukraine attaches great importance to the circular economy agenda, especially in terms of mobilizing funding for the circular economy transition and implementation of PPP pilot projects that can contribute to the circular economy agenda.
“The circular economy, which promotes the elimination of waste and the continued safe use of natural resources, can be the basis for sustainable development – if we start innovating now. Accelerating this transition relies on the uptake of innovative new business models and disruptive technological innovation. Both innovation and PPPs are essential drivers of economic development, environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness.
From the point of view of the PPP Agency (as an institution that is directly involved in the preparation of PPP projects) we are very interested in new knowledge about circularity elements and in understanding which elements are critical at different stages of PPP project lifecycle – from project identification and preparation to structuring, tender and contract management.”, noted the Director of the PPP Agency.
Also, during this session, the participants discussed the issue of added value, generated via the implementation of sustainable People-first PPP projects in the sector of Waste-to-Energy transformation as well as, how to align this sector with the circular economy agenda.
Athanasios Bourtsalas, lecturer in “Energy and Materials” of Columbia University has explained to the participants the methods of managing waste and why the Waste-to-Energy process is important.
The Waste-to-Energy process can be a part of a comprehensive waste management strategy, combined effectively with recycling and composting. Particularly, taking into account that this is the only proven alternative to landfill disposal regarding the materials that cannot be recycled.
“Waste management, including recycling and Waste-to-Energy, is extremely important for Ukraine. Our country is at the beginning of the path to building a holistic waste management system. We should focus on implementing a strategic approach to the planning of specific projects for recycling, composting and Waste-to-Energy to avoid a gap between the goals/opportunities provided by various ways of waste management and achieve synergy”, noted Niko Gachechyladze, the Director of the PPP Agency.
In general, UNECE continues to work on the Guidelines on Promoting People-first Public-Private Partnerships Waste-to-Energy Projects for the Circular Economy.
The second day of the 5th session of the Working Party on Public-Private Partnerships of the UNECE Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and PPPs was dedicated to the review of the PPP work since the fourth session of the Working Party on 1-2 December 2020. The participants have briefly discussed the reports and events prepared by the UNECE in partnership with three countries: Ukraine, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.
Thus, in Ukraine two webinars took place – one on the 30th of March, 2021, titled “The discussion on the improvement of PPP legislation to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals” and another on the 25th of May, titled “The preparation and implementation of PPP projects aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals”. Aside from this, three reports were developed: “Gap Analisis of PPP legislation in Ukraine in Alignment with the Guiding Principles for People-first PPPs for the SDGs” (April 2021), “Guidelines on Environmental Sustainability and Resilience in People-first PPPs for the SDGs” (October 2021) and “Guidelines on Stakeholder Engagement in People-first PPPs for the SDGs” (October 2021).
The Working Group has discussed the proposals regarding work to be implemented during the remaining part of 2021 and in 2022, according to the Implementation plan for 2021-2022 for the intersessional period, approved by the Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and PPPs.