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Pessimists may be confidently gloomy about 2016 -- anemic world economy, rising inequality, terrorist threats, disastrous weather -- but in the area of sustainable development, they are wrong. WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer notes that we have much more reason for hope at the start of this new year than we did at the beginning of 2015.

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For the 13th year, World Resources Institute will host Stories to Watch, an event looking at the big stories that will shape the world in the coming year. Dr. Andrew Steer, president & CEO, World Resources Institute, will offer his views on the major economic, social, environment and development issues for 2016.

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More than 150 heads of state converged in Paris to kick off COP21 climate negotiations and show their resolve to tackle the climate challenge. In their opening speeches, leaders made it clear that they came to act. Many national leaders from developing and developed countries joined together to launch major new initiatives, some in partnership with the private sector.

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Last week, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board met for its last meeting before the upcoming climate talks in Paris. Countries created the GCF to be the main global fund for climate finance, and as such, it could play a vital role in delivering the goals of an agreement in Paris. If the GCF is to be a key player in the future climate regime, it needs to show that it can effectively spend money. Is it up to the task?

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Evidence is growing that tenure-secure community forests are associated with avoided deforestation and other ecosystem-service benefits. There are also economic and social benefits connected to communal management.

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The UNFCCC secretariat released a major report aggregating greenhouse gas emission reductions captured from 146 countries that submitted their national plans (or INDCs) as of October 1, 2015. These countries represent 86 percent of global emissions. Additional countries have submitted their national plans since October 1 and will continue to do so. The report finds that the INDCs represent a substantial slowdown in emissions growth achieved in a cost-effective way. Yet, countries will need to take additional actions to reduce emissions further before 2030.

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