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Diplomats Take Part in Bicycle Ride in DC to Raise Sustainable Development Awareness

As far as military security is concerned, Kauppi said, Finland and the EU are focused on addressing "so-called hybrid threats" and on improving defense cooperation within the EU

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EU members' diplomatic representatives gather at the Finnish Embassy before biking toward the EU ambassador’s residence in Washington, July 25, 2019. (Delegation of the European Union to the United States) VOA

Finnish Ambassador to Washington Kirsti Kauppi and dozens of her European Union colleagues put some diplomatic muscle into their nations’ policies this week by taking part in a bicycle ride in Washington to show the EU’s commitment sustainable development.

Kauppi organized and co-led the group of about 40 diplomats and supporters clad in everything from T-shirts to business suits.

EU Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis joined Kauppi in leading the 10-minute “pedal for the planet” through what Washingtonians know as Embassy Row — a broad avenue lined with once-stately homes that have been converted to diplomatic missions. Representatives from all 28 European Union member states took part in the event, with some participants following the ride on foot.

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Kirsti Kauppi, Finland’s ambassador to the U.S., is pictured in Washington, July 2019. (N. Liu/VOA)

Still breathing comfortably at the end of her jaunt, the Finnish envoy, along with the EU ambassador, led a panel discussion and then explained to VOA that the outing was designed to highlight one of her nation’s key goals for its six-month term as presiding power in the EU’s rotating presidential system — a sustainable Europe and a sustainable future.

Combating climate change is a big part of sustainability, Kauppi said. She sees the defense of the environment as interconnected with what’s socially and economically sustainable.

Lambrinidis, the EU’s ambassador to the U.S., told VOA that Finland, with its six-month presidency of the EU, “can set certain priorities for all,” adding “they have chosen sustainability, where Finland leads and which is also where the EU has set a collective high bar for itself — carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Lambrinidis also highlighted the EU’s power in numbers. Thanks to the 28 member states’ collective effort, “we can lead the way, while working closely with our partners around the world,” he said.

In addition to climate change, Kauppi said the priorities for Finland’s presidency, which began July 1, are to strengthen common values and the rule of law, to make the EU more competitive and socially inclusive, and to protect the security of citizens comprehensively.

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EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis, center, and other EU diplomats carrying their countries’ flags as they ride along Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, July 25, 2019. (Delegation of the EU to the US) Wikimedia Commons

Kauppi also pointed out that the EU “at its core” is a bloc that emphasizes economic integration. As such, Finland, she said, will use its presidency to focus on economic growth and competitiveness, on “making the single market function better,” as it looks at trade with other entities.

Finland and the EU are also concerned with “security in the broad sense,” Kauppi said, explaining that “security” is not limited to the military domain, but also “how people live, whether they’re safe in their own environment.

ALSO READ: Tanzania to Construct Hydroelectric Power Plant Despite Criticism from Environmentalists

As far as military security is concerned, Kauppi said, Finland and the EU are focused on addressing “so-called hybrid threats” and on improving defense cooperation within the EU.

The EU defines hybrid threats as those that combine conventional and unconventional, military and non-military activities that can be used in a coordinated manner by state or non-state actors and are “designed to be difficult to detect or attribute.” These include cyberattacks on critical information systems, attempts to undermine public trust in government institutions and efforts to deepen social divisions. (VOA)

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Himachal Pradesh CM Formulates Development Policy for Sustainable Development of Himalayan States

The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage

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The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage. Wikimedia Commons

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday advocated the formulation of a holistic development policy for sustainable development of the Himalayan states so that they could progress on par with other states.

Addressing a conclave here of Chief Ministers and representatives of 10 Himalayan states, Thakur said about 66 per cent geographical area of Himachal Pradesh is covered with forests and if ecologically viable and scientific silviculture practices are allowed, the state can earn additional annual revenue of Rs 4,000 crore.

The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage. Thakur said that the state is neither able to get full revenue from its forest wealth, nor undertake developmental activities over a large geographical area on account of national laws and court orders.

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Thakur said that the state is neither able to get full revenue from its forest wealth, nor undertake developmental activities over a large geographical area on account of national laws and court orders. Wikimedia Commons

“Therefore, Himachal Pradesh should be suitably compensated for being deprived of revenue worth crores for being denied harnessing of its forest wealth,” he said. He urged the Finance Commission and the Union government to provide adequate grant to revenue deficit states so that they have adequate funds for capital investment after overcoming the deficit remaining post-devolution.

He said that Himachal Pradesh has seen a huge fall in income following GST implementation and urged the Finance Commission for proper evacuation of GST for the state for the remaining 33 months.

Thakur said that the state has immense tourism potential but due to non-availability of rail and air connectivity, a big airport needs to be constructed. The construction of roads in Himalayan states was expensive and rail network was almost negligible.

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Thakur also said most of the rivers in the country originate from the Himalayas and the Himalayan states are playing the most significant role in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s water conservation initiative. Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, the Himalayan states are prone to several natural calamities on account of the hilly terrain and it was the need of the hour that the Union government ensures adequate allocation of funds under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for these states, he said.

ALSO READ: Fourfold Increase in Himachal Farmers’ Income with Crop Diversification Project

Thakur also said most of the rivers in the country originate from the Himalayas and the Himalayan states are playing the most significant role in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s water conservation initiative.

According to the Chief Minister, since most Himalayan states have to depend on the Centre and the Finance Commissions for financial management, they are facing a lot of hardships after the scrapping of the Planning Commission. (IANS)