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Brussels, 8 February 2012

SWITCH-Asia –promoting sustainable consumption and production in Asia

Today marks the European Launch of the UN Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Following a two-day seminar on SWITCH-Asia, a grants programme funded through the EU Development Cooperation Instrument, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs concluded:

“This year's Rio +20 Conference will put sustainable consumption and production and the green economy in the spotlight as key priorities for development, and SWITCH-Asia underlines how these objectives can work in practice. With its 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 roll out the programme to other regions of the world as part of its effort to promote Sustainable Consumption and Production globally. SWITCH-Asia gives us a glimpse of the overall vision of sustainability we need for the 21st century at home and abroad.”

SWITCH-Asia promotes Sustainable Consumption and Production 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 will present success stories and demonstrate 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.

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.

The latest call for proposals was launched in December 2011. The deadline for applications is 23 March 2012. This should open up financing for an additional 10 to 15 projects. The projects applying are encouraged to seek solutions to the green finance gap in particular through capacity building and raising awareness amongst stakeholders.

The SWITCH Programme elsewhere in the world

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 Mediterranean. 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 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.

Working towards a successful outcome at Rio+20

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.

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. Moreover, Commissioner Piebalgs is a member of High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, under the leadership of Ban Ki-moon. The objective of this group is to provide universal access to modern energy for all by 2030 and effectively eradicate energy-poverty. 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.

For more information:

For details of the SWITCH-Asia programme, see

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