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Chemical pollution exceeds the safe planetary limit

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Chemical pollution exceeds safe planetary limit: researcher Q+A on consequences for life on Earth

Patricia Villarrubia-Gómez, PhD Candidate in Sustainable Development, Stockholm University

The production and release of plastics, pesticides, industrial compounds, antibiotics and other pollutants is now happening so fast and on such a large scale that it has exceeded the planetary boundary for chemical pollution, the safe limit for humanity, a new study claims.

We asked Patricia Villarrubia-Gómez, a PhD candidate at Stockholm University and one of the authors of the study, to explain what this means.

What are planetary boundaries?

In 2009, an international team of researchers identified nine planetary boundaries that maintain the remarkably stable state Earth has remained within for 10,000 years – since the dawn of civilisation.

These boundaries include greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, the ozone layer, an intact biosphere and freshwater. The researchers quantified the boundaries that influence Earth’s stability and concluded in 2015 that human activity has breached four of them. Greenhouse gas emissions are pushing the global climate into a new, hotter state, species extinctions threaten the biosphere’s integrity, the conversion of forests to farmland has degraded the quality of land and industrial and agricultural processes have radically altered natural cycles of phosphorus and nitrogen.

The researchers lacked the data to quantify the boundary for chemical pollution, otherwise known as novel entities (essentially, any substances made by humans plus natural elements like heavy metals which human activity mobilises or transports at high volumes), until now. Our research suggests we have crossed this boundary and beyond the known safe operating space for humanity.

In uncharted territory: humanity is transgressing boundaries which maintain a stable planetary state. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Author provided

How did you discover this?

This project involved 14 authors in five countries and was led by Linn Persson, an expert in chemical pollution at the Stockholm Environment Institute. We wanted to be able to understand the consequences of taking, using and releasing novel entities on a larger scale in the face of huge gaps in our knowledge. Essentially, we wanted to go beyond the individual’s ability to experience and comprehend these things.

We investigated a set of control variables that capture several of the complexities and characteristics of the planetary boundary for chemical pollution. One of these is the trend in the production of novel entities – the volume of chemicals and plastics produced, or the share of chemicals available on the market that have data on their safety or are assessed by regulators.

Another thing we assessed was the continued trend of global emissions of these chemical substances, including plastics, into the environment. We also considered the unwanted effects of these entities on ecosystem processes by drawing on evidence of the toxicity of chemical pollution or the role of plastics in disturbing the biosphere.

Plastic waste is accumulating in the ocean. Rich Carey/Shutterstock

When did humanity breach this limit?

It is difficult to say specifically when humanity breached the planetary boundary for chemical pollution. Unlike other boundaries, this one deals with thousands of different entities.

We know there has been a 50-fold increase in the production of chemicals since 1950. This is projected to triple again by 2050. Plastic production alone increased 79% between 2000 and 2015.

There are 350,000 synthetic chemicals in production globally, and only a very small fraction of these is assessed for toxicity. We know little about their cumulative effects or how they behave in a mixture. This is important, as we are all exposed to (often) small concentrations of thousands of substances over our entire lives. We are only beginning to understand the large-scale, long-term effects of this exposure.

We judged that the boundary had been transgressed because the rate at which these pollutants are appearing in the environment far exceeds the capacity of governments to assess the risk, let alone control potential problems.

What is very important to us is that this study highlights the global scale and severity of chemical pollution. Not only because of the effects of producing and releasing such huge volumes of these substances into the environment on a daily basis, but also because it puts into perspective the consequences of human activity on a geological scale. These changes, led by humans, will have persistent and cumulative effects long after we have gone and industries have stopped pumping them out.

Oil demand is likely to fall in future, so petrochemical companies are ploughing more money into plastic production. Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock

What are some of the possible consequences of exceeding this planetary boundary?

We have observed the problems and risks associated with chemicals and plastics during their entire life cycle. Currently, this is largely linear: from extraction, to production, to use, to waste and, finally, to release into the environment.

Damage can occur at all of these stages. For example, fossil fuels are extracted by processes that can lay waste to entire habitats. These raw materials then give rise to plastics and pesticides which take lots of energy and generate lots of climate-warming gases during manufacture. They are used to wrap food or are applied to farm fields, and then they end up in the soil or in rivers and, eventually, the ocean.

Their environmental impacts might be easiest to visualise according to their effect on other planetary boundaries. Plastics are tightly connected to the climate – approximately 98% of all plastics are made from fossil fuels and will release CO₂ when burned as garbage. Chemicals and plastics both affect biodiversity by adding additional stress to already beleaguered ecosystems. Some chemicals interfere with animal hormone systems, disrupting growth, metabolism and reproduction in wildlife.

Are some parts of the world exceeding this limit more than others?

This problem is a planetary one. As I understand it, the production and release of chemical pollution is intrinsic to the global economic system. In this way, the problem is like any other major environmental issue, including climate change.

People are exposed to these chemicals everywhere, not only in the countries where they are produced. We all use these products and chemicals keep being released while we use them. We consume them and then dispose of them, though they don’t simply go away.

There is a constant flow of them, and so, the situation is becoming more and more alarming. Even as we learn more, we are also making visible the vast unknowns that remain.

Farmland globally is routinely soaked in a cocktail of chemicals. Adriano Kirihara/Shutterstock

Where should governments prioritise action in order to bring humanity back within the safe limit as soon as possible?

I would like to cite my colleagues here. Professor Carney Almroth of Gothenburg University in Sweden says that the world must “work towards implementing a fixed cap on chemical production and release”.

Associate Professor Sarah Cornell, my supervisor at Stockholm University, says:

“Shifting to a circular economy is really important. That means changing materials and products so they can be reused not wasted, designing chemicals and products for recycling, and much better screening of chemicals for their safety and sustainability along their whole impact pathway in the Earth system.”

We do not wish to paralyse readers with despair. Rather, we want to inspire action. We believe we are still on time to revert this situation, but for that we need urgent and ambitious action to take place at an international level.


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Environment Agency boss says 2022 must become the year of climate adaptation

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In the recent Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, all agreed that adaptation, meaning becoming resilient to the inevitable effects of climate change would be as important as actions to lower greenhouse gases. Here is CLAIRE SMITH in New Civil Engineer elaborating on why an Environment Agency boss says 2022 must become the year of climate adaptation. In effect, 2022 will matter for climate action especially in the MENA region and above all in the least developed countries (LDCs). But first, let us see why in the advanced economies.

Environment Agency boss says 2022 must become the year of climate adaptation

20 January 2022 

Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd has called for this year to become one that is focused on climate adaptation in order to deliver climate-resilient infrastructure.

In a speech delivered yesterday at the Coastal Futures conference, Howard Boyd also pushed for a review to assess the true cost of climate impacts and the value of investing in resilience.

However, she warned that lack of public awareness on flooding will compound the future risk the industry is working to mitigate against.

Howard Boyd urged for the adaptation emphasis to follow on from the climate focus delivered during COP26 last year and to build on industry knowledge gained in the last 70 years since the 1953 floods in East Anglia.

“In 1953, 307 lives were lost on land and more than 177 people were lost at sea in the east coast surge,” she said. “Caused by a mixture of high spring tides, low pressure and strong northerly gales, it led to significant developments in flood protection, forecasting, and warning and informing systems. The effectiveness of these improvements means that today, many people do not realise they are artificially shielded from disaster.

“For instance, halfway through COP26, millions of people were protected from the highest tide of the year because we operated the Boston Barrier, the Hull Barrier and the Thames Barrier.

“It’s self-evidently a good thing that people can live without fear but, lack of awareness compounds future risks.

“Last year, 200 people died in Germany’s floods. It was reported that people did not know what to do when they heard warnings. Following that tragedy, we reviewed the situation in England.

“Here, 61% of people living at flood risk do not understand that they are. In November, Storm Arwen hit the coast leading to waves over 10m tall. Had these waves coincided with a high or spring tide, impacts could have been worse than in 1953. We cannot put this down to luck.”

According to Howard Boyd, the data analysed by the Environment Agency shows that climate change “is making it harder to hold weather-related shocks at arm’s length”.

She added: “Climate change is taking existing risks and it is increasing their severity, frequency and duration.”

Howard Boyd’s comments follow on from the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022 being presented to parliament earlier this week. The report said: “The evidence shows that we must do more to build climate change into any decisions that have long-term effects, such as in new housing or infrastructure, to avoid often costly remedial actions in the future.”

Howard Boyd pointed to the Treasury commissioned review on the economics of biodiversity and called for a similar review to assess the true cost of climate impacts and the value of investing in resilience.

“The Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI) – which I co-chair – can help,” she said. “The CCRI currently has 120 members, featuring both governments and investors, with over US$20trillion in assets.

“By pricing climate risks, particularly for infrastructure, and including them in upfront financial decision-making, the CCRI is showing how to incentivise a shift towards greater climate resilience.”

Howard Boyd concluded by saying that 2022 must become the year of climate adaptation in order to ensure the success of the UK’s COP26 presidency and drive the ambition of the Green Industrial Revolution.

One Of The World’s Wealthiest Oil Exporters Is Becoming Unlivable

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Trying to catch a bus at the Maliya station in Kuwait City can be unbearable in the summer.
About two-thirds of the city’s buses pass through the hub, and schedules are unreliable. Fumes from bumper-to-bumper traffic fill the air. Small shelters offer refuge to a handful of people, if they squeeze. Dozens end up standing in the sun, sometimes using umbrellas to shield themselves.

Here is the story as told by Fiona MacDonald (Bloomberg) as published by gCaptain on 16 January 2022.

The image above is for illustration and is of State Magazine.

Kuwait, One Of The World’s Wealthiest Oil Exporters Is Becoming Unlivable

“The Al Burqan Oil Field can be seen in this north-looking view. The country of Kuwait possesses about one-fifth of the world’s oil reserves. To the north of the Al Burqan Oil Field, Kuwait City is discernible. New pivot-irrigation fields (dark circular features) developed since the end of the Gulf War are visible to the west (left) of the city. Oil refineries and large tanker facilities are discernible along the Persian Gulf coast.” NASA Photo ID STS080-733-21

Global warming is smashing temperature records all over the world, but Kuwait — one of the hottest countries on the planet — is fast becoming unlivable. In 2016, thermometers hit 54C, the highest reading on Earth in the last 76 years. Last year, for the first time, they breached 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in June, weeks ahead of usual peak weather. Parts of Kuwait could get as much as 4.5C hotter from 2071 to 2100 compared with the historical average, according to the Environment Public Authority, making large areas of the country uninhabitable.

For wildlife, it almost is. Dead birds appear on rooftops in the brutal summer months, unable to find shade or water. Vets are inundated with stray cats, brought in by people who’ve found them near death from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Even wild foxes are abandoning a desert that no longer blooms after the rains for what small patches of green remain in the city, where they’re treated as pests.

“This is why we are seeing less and less wildlife in Kuwait, it’s because most of them aren’t making it through the seasons,” said Tamara Qabazard, a Kuwaiti zoo and wildlife veterinarian. “Last year, we had three to four days at the end of July that were incredibly humid and very hot, and it was hard to even walk outside your house, and there was no wind. A lot of the animals started having respiratory problems.”

Unlike countries from Bangladesh to Brazil  that are struggling to balance environmental challenges with teeming populations and widespread poverty, Kuwait is OPEC’s number 4 oil-exporter. Home to the world’s third-largest sovereign wealth fund and just over 4.5 million people, it’s not a lack of resources that stands in the way of cutting greenhouse gases and adapting to a warmer planet, but rather political inaction.

Even Kuwait’s neighbors, also dependent on crude exports, have pledged to take stronger climate action. Saudi Arabia last year said it would target net-zero emissions by 2060. The United Arab Emirates has set a goal of 2050. Though they remain among the biggest producers of fossil fuels, both say they are working to diversify their economies and investing in renewables and cleaner energy. The next two United Nations climate conferences will take place in Egypt and the UAE, as Middle East governments acknowledge they also stand to lose from rising temperatures and sea levels.

Kuwait, by contrast, pledged at the COP26 summit in November to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 7.4% by 2035, a target that falls far short of the 45% reduction needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s stretch goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C by 2030. The nation’s $700 billion sovereign wealth fund invests with the specific aim of hedging against oil, but has said that returns remain a priority as it shifts to more sustainable investing.

“Compared with the rest of the Middle East, Kuwait lags in its climate action,” said Manal Shehabi, an academic visitor at Oxford University who studies the Gulf nations. In a region that’s far from doing enough to avoid catastrophic global warming, “climate pledges in Kuwait are [still] significantly lower.”

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, head of the EPA, told COP26 that his country was keen to support international initiatives to stabilize the climate. Kuwait also pledged to adopt a “national low carbon strategy” by mid-century, but it hasn’t said what this will involve and there is little evidence of action on the ground.

That prompted one Twitter user to post pictures of wilted palm trees, asking how his government had the nerve to show up.

Jassim Al-Awadhi is part of a younger generation of Kuwaitis increasingly worried about their country’s future. The 32-year-old former banker quit his job to push for a change that experts argue could be Kuwait’s key to addressing global warming: revamping attitudes toward transportation. His goal is to get Kuwaitis to embrace public transport, which today consists only of the buses that are mostly used by migrant workers with low-paying jobs who have no choice but to put up with the heat.

It’s an uphill struggle. Though Kuwait has among the world’s highest carbon-dioxide emissions per capita, the idea of ditching their cars is completely foreign to most residents in a country where petrol is cheaper than Coca Cola and cities are designed for automobiles.

The London School of Economics, which conducted the only comprehensive survey of climate opinions in Kuwait, found older residents remain skeptical of the urgency, with some speaking of a conspiracy to hobble Gulf economies. In a public consultation, everyone over 50-years-old opposed plans to build a metro network like those already operating in Riyadh and Dubai. And the private sector sees climate change as a problem that requires government leadership to solve.

“When I tell companies let’s do something, they say it’s not their business,’’ Al-Awadhi said. “They make me feel I’m the only one who has problems with transport.”

That’s partly because most Kuwaitis and wealthy residents are shielded from the effects of rising temperatures. Homes, shopping malls and cars are air-conditioned, and those who can afford it often spend summers in Europe. Yet, the heavy reliance on cooling systems also increases the use of fossil fuels, leading to ever hotter temperatures.

The situation is much worse for those who can’t escape the heat, mainly laborers from developing countries. Though the government prohibits peak afternoon outdoor work during the hottest summer months, migrant workers are often seen toiling in the sun. A study published in Science Direct last year found that on extremely hot days, the overall number of deaths doubles, but it triples for non-Kuwaiti men, more likely to take on low-paid work.

It’s a cycle that’s all too clear to Saleh Khaled Al-Misbah. Born in 1959, he remembers growing up when homes rarely had air conditioners, yet felt cool and shaded, even in the hottest months. As a child, he played outside through months of cooler weather and slept on the roof in the summers; it’s too hot for that now. Children spend most of the year indoors to protect them from either burning sun or hazardous pollution, something that’s contributed to deficiencies in vitamin D — which humans generate when exposed to the sun — and respiratory ailments.

Temperature changes in the 2040s and 2050s will have an increasingly negative impact on Kuwait’s creditworthiness, according to Fitch Ratings. Yet despite the growing risks, squabbling between the Gulf’s only elected parliament and a government appointed by the ruling family has made it difficult to push through reforms, on climate or anything else.

“The political deadlock in Kuwait just sucks the oxygen out of the air,” said Samia Alduaij, a Kuwaiti environmental consultant who works with the U.K.’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and UNDP. “This is a very rich country, with a very small population, so it could be so much better.”

So far, there’s been little progress on plans to produce 15% of Kuwait’s power from renewable sources by 2030, from a maximum of 1% now. Oil is so abundant that it’s burned to generate electricity, as well as fuel the 2 million cars on the road, contributing to air pollution. Some power plants have switched to gas, another fossil fuel that’s relatively cleaner but can leak methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Consumption of electricity and water, heavily subsidized by the government, is among the world’s highest per capita, and it’s proven politically toxic to even hint at cutting those benefits.

“That obviously leads to a lot of waste,” said Tarek Sultan, vice chairman of Agility Public Warehousing Co. When fossil-fuel powered electricity “is subsidized, solar technologies that can provide viable solutions get priced out of the competition,” he said. 

Even if the world manages to cut emissions quickly enough to stave off catastrophic global warming, countries will have to adapt to more extreme weather. As it stands, experts say Kuwait’s plan is nowhere near enough to keep the country livable.

If it starts now, said Nadim Farajalla, director of the climate change and environment program at University of Beirut, a lot can be done in the coming decades, but that would need to include protection against rising sea levels, making cities greener and buildings less energy intensive. It also needs to focus on transport, a leading cause of CO2 emissions.

Khaled Mahdi, secretary general of Kuwait’s Supreme Council for Planning and Development, said the government’s adaptation plan is aligned with international policies. “We clearly identify roles and responsibilities, and all the challenges in the country,” he said, though he admitted that “implementation is the usual challenging issue.”

If the government is dragging its feet, young Kuwaitis like Al-Awadhi aren’t.

His advocacy group Kuwait Commute is starting small by campaigning for bus stop shelters to protect passengers from the sun. National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s biggest lender, recently sponsored a bus stop designed by three female graduates. Still, like much of the private sector, they remain outside the decision-making process.

“I think I’m finally making progress,” said Al-Awadhi, who hopes that getting more Kuwaitis to ride buses will fuel enough demand to improve the service. But “it has to be driven by the government. It’s the chicken before the egg.”

–With assistance from Akshat Rathi and Hayley Warren.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Rubble brings opportunity, and risk, in war-scarred Gaza

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FARES AKRAM in an AP article elaborates on how Rubble brings opportunity, and risk, in war-scarred Gaza city. Visit AP to visualise more pictures of this local trend.

Palestinian workers use a backhoe to break and remove parts of the Al-Jawhara building, that was damaged in Israeli airstrikes during Israel’s war with Gaza’s Hamas rulers last May, in the central al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, Nov. 16, 2021. The Gaza Strip has few jobs, little electricity and almost no natural resources. But after four bruising wars with Israel in just over a decade, it has lots of rubble. Local businesses are now finding ways to cash in on the chunks of smashed concrete, bricks and debris left behind by years of conflict. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Gaza Strip has few jobs, little electricity and almost no natural resources. But after four bruising wars with Israel in just over a decade, it has lots of rubble.

Local businesses are now finding ways to cash in on the chunks of smashed concrete, bricks and debris left behind by years of conflict. In a territory suffering from a chronic shortage of construction materials, a bustling recycling industry has sprouted up, providing income to a lucky few but raising concerns that the refurbished rubble is substandard and unsafe.

“It’s a lucrative business,” said Naji Sarhan, deputy housing minister in the territory’s Hamas-led government. The challenge, he said, is regulating the use of recycled rubble in construction.

“We are trying to control and correct the misuse of these materials,” he said.

Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers have gone to war four times since the Islamic militant group, which opposes Israel’s existence, seized control of the territory in 2007. The most recent fighting was in May. Israeli airstrikes have damaged or leveled tens of thousands of buildings in the fighting.ADVERTISEMENT

The United Nations Development Program says it worked with the local private sector to remove some 2.5 million metric tons of rubble left behind from wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014. Gaza’s Housing Ministry says the 11-day war in May left an additional 270,000 tons.

The UNDP has worked on rubble recycling since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. It also has played a key role in the latest cleanup, removing about 110,000 tons, or more than one-third of the rubble. That includes the Al-Jawhara building, a high-rise in downtown Gaza City that was damaged so heavily by Israeli missiles that it was deemed beyond repair. Israel said the building housed Hamas military intelligence operations.

Over the past three months, excavators lifted atop the building systematically demolished it floor by floor. Just one floor remains and the construction crews are now removing the building’s foundations and pillars on the ground.

In a common scene outside every building destroyed by the war, workers separated twisted rebar iron from the debris, to be straightened out and re-used in things like boundary walls and ground slabs.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza for the past 15 years, restricting the entry of badly needed construction materials. Israel says such restrictions are needed to prevent Hamas from diverting goods like concrete and steel for military use. Since 2014, it has allowed some imports under the supervision of the United Nations. But thousands of homes need to be repaired or rebuilt, and shortages are rampant.

The UNDP has put tight restrictions on its recycling effort. It says that renewed rubble is not safe enough for use in building homes and buildings. Instead, it allows it to be used only for road projects.ADVERTISEMENT

“We do not recommend any of the rubble to be used for any reconstruction as such, because it is not a good quality material for reconstruction,” said Yvonne Helle, a UNDP spokeswoman. She said the metal is separated and returned to the buildings’ owners because it “also has a value.”

On a recent day, trucks trickled into a lowland in central Gaza near the Israeli frontier, carrying large chunks from the Al-Jawhara tower. The site, adjacent to a mountain of garbage serving as Gaza’s main landfill, is overseen by the UNDP.

A wheel loader filled a bucket with debris that was tossed into a crushing machine. It produces large pieces of aggregate that the site supervisor said could be used as a base under the asphalt layer in street construction. Because of safety concerns, they are not allowed to crush the rubble into smaller aggregate that could be used in house construction.

The trucks then return to Gaza City where the UNDP is funding a road project, providing a much-needed source of work in a territory with nearly 50% unemployment.

The U.N. road projects have provided a partial solution for the rubble problem, but most of Gaza’s debris continues to make its way into the desperate private sector.

Sarhan, the Housing Ministry official, said it is forbidden to use recycled rubble in major construction. But he said enforcing that ban is extremely difficult and much of the material is creeping back into the local construction markets.

Ahmed Abu Asaker, an engineer from the Gaza Contractors’ Union, said many brick factories use the local aggregate, which he said is not a “great concern.” He said there have been a few isolated cases of it being mixed into concrete, which is far more dangerous.

There have not been any reports of building collapses. But Abu Asaker estimates that thousands of homes have been built with materials from recycled rubble since 2014.

Just north of the UNDP processing center, about 50 rubble crushers were hard at work at a private facility on a recent day, producing different kinds of aggregate.

The most popular items are the “sesame,” which is used for making cinder blocks, and the “lentil-like” grind sent to cement-mixing factories.

Around the crushers were mounds of small aggregate, with tiny pieces of shredded plastic, cloth and wood clearly mixed in.

Antar al-Katatni, who runs a nearby brick factory, says he makes bricks using the sesame aggregate. He acknowledged the material has impurities like sand, but there is an upside. “It makes more bricks,” he said.

He said engineers do not buy his blocks for internationally funded projects, because they are not allowed to do so, “but poor people do.”

A brick costs two shekels, or about 65 cents, when it’s made with higher quality Israeli-imported aggregate. The price for the ones he makes are slightly cheaper, at 1.7 or 1.8 shekels. When a typical project might require several thousand bricks, even the small price difference can add up for a poor family.

Sarhan said that given the blockade and Gaza’s numerous other problems, it is difficult to regulate the gray market industry.

“We cannot patrol or control every citizen,” he said. “That’s why you may find someone used recycled rubble here or there.”

Citi launches sustainability-linked supply chain financing in Algeria

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A Press Release of Zawya‘s FINANCIAL SERVICES informs that Citi launches sustainability-linked supply chain financing in Algeria. Here it is.

The above image is for illustration and is of the ICC Academy.

12 January 2022

Dave Aldred, Citi Regional Head of Treasury and Trade Solutions – Middle East and North Africa, Bülent Pehlivan, Henkel Regional Head of Finance – India, Middle East and Africa, Daniel Lopez Wismer – Regional Treasurer of India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey (next to Dave)

Algeria – Citi has launched its first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Sustainability-linked Supply Chain Finance (SSCF) program in Algeria with the aim of supporting clients as they advance their ESG priorities, improve the resilience of their supply chains and manage their working capital needs. 

Supply Chain Finance (SCF) programs benefit companies and their suppliers as they prioritize their working capital positions respectively. In using Citi’s SCF program, for example, the bank would provide financing to a client’s suppliers from the date of collection of specific goods/provision of services to the date on which payment is owed to these suppliers. The cost of this financing is borne by suppliers at a rate lower than their usual cost of funds. As a result, suppliers benefit from cash flow acceleration, quicker payment, and improved financing costs. 

Citi’s first MENA SSCF program has been implemented for German chemical and consumer goods company, Henkel. The program has been initially launched with suppliers in Algeria and will be expanded to include additional markets and suppliers in the coming months. 

The program is also a first for Henkel in IMEAT and is targeted at existing or new suppliers who demonstrate strong or improving sustainability performance. Qualifying suppliers can access Citi’s supply chain financing at preferential rates, improving as a supplier’s sustainability score improves. Henkel, with the support of a global leading sustainability assessment agency, will periodically assess the sustainability performance of its suppliers. 

Commenting on the collaboration, Bülent Pehlivan, Regional Head of Finance – India, Middle East and Africa said: “With sustainability being at the core of our company’s strategy, we are engaging in a range of activities with new ways of growing and innovative solutions to create value. We are delighted to collaborate with Citi Group to introduce a sustainable supply chain financing program for the first time in the region. Launching first in Algeria, we are committed to continue to implement it in other countries of the region in the near future.” 

Citi’s SSCF program in MENA aligns with the bank’s ESG commitments. To help accelerate the transition to a global low-carbon economy, Citi launched its updated Sustainable Progress Strategy in July of last year, which includes its global US$500 Billion Environmental Finance Goal. Citi also recently established a commitment to US$1 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030, which includes the environmental finance goal and a US$500 Billion Social Finance Goal. 

“We are proud to be collaborating with Henkel in this first SSCF program in the MENA region.  It is really pleasing to see that Henkel and Citi share a strategic focus on ESG.  At Citi we are looking forward to this partnership and journey with Henkel which will ensure that we continue to adapt and develop our ESG solutions even further”  said Dave Aldred. MENA Head, Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citi.

 “We are excited to be partnering with Henkel and helping them to achieve their sustainability goals via the launch of the first Sustainable Supply Chain Financing Program for Citi in the MENAPT region. Like Henkel, our ESG commitments are an essential part of our firm’s strategy and we are committed to provide innovative ESG-linked solutions to our clients and to expand the use of our Sustainable Supply Chain Financing Program in the region,” said Marcel Hanen, Citi Regional Head of the Global Subsidiaries Group – Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey

 

About Henkel

Henkel AG & Co. KGaA is a German chemical and consumer goods company headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany. It is a multinational company active both in the consumer and industrial sector. Founded in 1876, the DAX 30 company is organized into three globally operating business units (Laundry & Home Care, Beauty Care, Adhesive Technologies) and is known for brands such as Loctite, Persil,[2] Fa, Pritt, Dial and Purex, amongst others.

About Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions

Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) enables our clients’ success by providing an integrated suite of innovative and tailored cash management and trade finance services to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations across the globe. Based on the foundation of the industry’s largest proprietary network with banking licenses in over 90 countries and globally integrated technology platforms, TTS continues to lead the way in offering the industry’s most comprehensive range of digitally enabled treasury, trade and liquidity management solutions.

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://new.citi.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi 

Media Contact:
tara.sirinyan@citi.com