15 October 1998

Press Release


Begins Consideration of World Solar Programme 1996-2005, Encourages Use of Renewable Energy Sources, Supports Sustainable Development

The General Assembly this morning invited the Association of Caribbean States and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to participate in its sessions and work in the capacity of observers. It did so by adopting two resolutions, both without votes, granting, respectively, observer status in the Assembly to those two bodies.

The representative of Guyana, supporting observer status for the Association of Caribbean States, noted that the Charter provided for closer relationships between the United Nations and regional arrangements, which could boost the efficiency and effectiveness of international cooperation. He said the record showed that, with proper coordination, partnerships among complementary organizations could be of considerable advantage to all participants. The draft on the Association was introduced by the representative of Guatemala.

Introducing the draft on observer status for the OECD, Maciej Kozlowski, Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, speaking on behalf of the OECD, said the aims of the OECD were fully compatible with the principles of the United Nations, and the two would benefit from a closer relationship.

Also this morning, the Assembly opened consideration of a new agenda item entitled: "World Solar Programme 1996-2005". All speakers on the topic stressed the need to develop and deploy renewable energy technologies if sustainable development and other environmental goals were to be reached. The Programme -- which outlines means to increase the use of renewable energies -- could be a great contribution to that end, many speakers said. Also underlined was the importance of providing alternate energy resources to underdeveloped and rural areas.

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A draft resolution by which the Assembly would endorse the World Solar Programme and urge efforts to support its successful implementation wasintroduced by the representative of Zimbabwe. Action on that draft was postpone until tomorrow.

Statements were also made by the representatives of India, Malaysia, Senegal, Jamaica, Cyprus, Italy, Colombia and Cuba.

The Assembly was informed that Cooperation between the United Nations and the Caribbean Community would now be considered on 29 October instead of on 22 October.

The Assembly will meet again tomorrow at 10 a.m. to take action on the draft resolution on the World Solar Programme 1996-2005 and to elect three judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to discuss a new agenda item: "World Solar Programme 1996-2005"; and to consider granting observer status in the Assembly to the Association of Caribbean States and to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

For its consideration of the World Solar Programme, the Assembly had before it a draft resolution (document A/53/L.8) by which it would endorse the Programme as a contribution to the overall sustainable development agenda. Recalling that the Programme, approved by the World Solar Commission in June, aims to improve quality of life in industrialized and developing countries through the wider use of renewable energies, the Assembly would invite all Member States to contribute to its successful implementation.

The Assembly would also invite the Secretary-General -- in close cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other organizations -- to undertake concrete action to ensure that the Programme is fully integrated and mainstreamed into the efforts of the United Nations to attain sustainable development. The Secretary-General would also be asked to bring the Solar Programme to the attention of relevant funding and technical assistance sources and to encourage them to contribute to its implementation. He would also be asked to generate awareness at the international, regional and national levels of the strategic importance of the Programme to ensuring sustainable development.

The draft is co-sponsored by China, Cuba, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mongolia, Namibia, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Regarding granting observer status in the Assembly to the Association of Caribbean States, the Assembly had before it a draft (document A/53/L.3) by which it would decide to invite the Association to participate in its sessions and work in the capacity of observer. It would also request the Secretary- General to take the necessary steps to implement the present resolution.

The co-sponsors of the text are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

The Association of Caribbean States -- a regional organization with 25 members which are also Member States of the United Nations -- promotes sustained cultural, social, scientific and technological achievement in the region.

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Regarding granting observer status to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Assembly had before it a draft (document A/53/L.4) by which it would invite the organization to participate in the sessions and work of the Assembly in the capacity of observer and request the Secretary-General to take the necessary action to implement that decision.

The draft is co-sponsored by Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

The OECD promotes policies designed to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living in member countries; contribute to economic expansion in member and non-member countries; and contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis. The organization is a forum for countries to discus critical issues, opportunities and policy options, to exchange information and to agree on coordinated or harmonized policy approaches.

World Solar Programme

MACHIVENYIKA TOBIAS MAPURANGA (Zimbabwe), introducing the draft resolution on the World Solar Programme 1996-2005, said the item was of particular concern to many States, including his own. Since its establishment in 1994, the World Solar Commission had overseen and guided the preparation of the World Solar Programme. The Programme represented a major effort to promote all forms of renewable energy. The word "solar" was used in the generic sense to encompass all sources of renewable energy.

He noted that the World Solar Programme placed particular emphasis on the mandates of various global conferences, including the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the 1981 Nairobi Plan of Action for Development and Utilization of New and Renewable Sources of Energy. The 1992 Earth Summit had discussed energy issues and concluded that it was crucial to economic and social development and improved quality of life. The World Solar Programme was based on an outline approved by the Earth Summit and included a variety of actions to be undertaken at the regional, national and global levels. It would be a joint effort by governments, relevant international organs and agencies, non-governmental organizations and financial institutions. Implementation of many of the 400 high-priority national projects were already under way, funded through national and private resources.

The increased utilization of solar energy would address the increasing concerns of industrialized and developing countries with regard to the preservation of the environment, he said. It would also address the urgent

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need to provide basic energy services to those people living in remote, rural and island habitats. The endorsement of the Programme by the General Assembly would constitute a major contribution to its successful implementation and the attainment of sustainable development. The strategic importance of the Programme for developed and developing countries could not be overemphasised. The achievement of sustainable energy for the future was an enormous challenge requiring the international cooperation of all sectors. The major objective should be the significant shift to environmentally sound energy sources. He said action on the draft would be taken tomorrow.

ASLAM SHER KHAN (India) said his country generated more than 28 megawatts per installed square kilometre from solar photovoltaic systems. In addition, it had installed nearly a million solar water heating systems and solar cookers, which decreased pollution and brought nutritional benefits. Solar photovoltaic cells had emerged as a useful power source for not only lighting, pumping of underground water and telecommunication, but also for power plants working to meet the entire electricity needs of isolated villages, hospitals or lodges. In deprived rural and remote areas, where extending national power grids would be prohibitively expensive, solar photovoltaic power was inducing a powerful revolution.

He said significant incentives were being extended by his Government to the private sector and individual citizens in order to promote the use of solar energy through a separate financing agency -- the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency. Energy was an essential component of economic and social growth. It was therefore a matter of serious concern that nearly 40 per cent of the world's population had inadequate energy supplies for their daily needs. Support and promotion of efforts to redress that inequitable and untenable situation must remain one of the priorities of the international community.

SALLEH SAID KERUAK (Malaysia) supported the draft resolution on the World Solar Programme and said that it would encourage wider use of all forms of renewable energy. Energy was a fundamental factor in the socio-economic development process and in the industrialization process of developing countries. About three quarters of the world's energy demands were now being met by fossil fuels. There was an urgent need for a sustainable energy system worldwide. The issue of solar energy must be seen within the context of protection and preservation of global environment and cost effectiveness.

He said that broader use of solar energy and other renewable energy sources, especially for electrification of rural areas and production of clean drinking water, would help improve the quality of life for rural and remote communities in the developing countries. Malaysia believed that to implement the World Solar Programme, the international community must work out a strategic approach based on concerted efforts of all nations. There had to be fair distribution of responsibilities between the developed and the developing nations, and there must be adequate transfer of technology. Also, the

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critical factor of funding must be given due consideration. Malaysia believed that the Programme should be further discussed during the forthcoming session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said that, as a member of the World Solar Commission, his country fully supported the statement made by the representative of Zimbabwe. The great diversity of countries that formed that Commission testified to the consensus on the importance of the issue under discussion today. The Programme outlined a clear set of priorities for the years 1996-2005, which included electrification of rural areas, public education and introduction of new technologies, sensitizing the public and the decision-makers to the issues involved, desalination and purification of water, and transfer of ecologically sensible technologies.

The Programme stressed the many advantages of using solar energy, he continued. Harnessing that important source of energy would greatly reduce industrial pollution and deforestation. The World Solar Programme was in keeping with the efforts of the international community to bring about socio- economic progress in all areas of the world. Senegal had a special interest in the Programme and believed that the adoption of the draft would start a true world partnership for the triumph of the noble cause of the Charter to achieve a better standard of life for all people.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that her country, as a member of the World Solar Commission, had actively participated in the preparatory process in defining the Programme before the Assembly. The World Solar Programme represented a concrete follow-up to the recommendations of the 1992 UNCED regarding the use of energy sources for sustainable development. The Programme was also formally adopted within the framework for the further implementation of the UNCED programme of action, Agenda 21, at the nineteenth special session of the Assembly in 1997.

As a developing nation with a fragile island ecosystem, Jamaica had increasingly incorporated a sustainable energy policy into its overall sustainable development strategy. It fully recognized the integral role that energy must play in fuelling development. Diversification of Jamaica's energy base was a central goal of its energy policy, with special attention being given to the development of solar energy which included: expanded use of solar water heaters for both domestic and industrial use; use of solar technology in industry; and the use of solar lighting in rural electrification programmes. Further projects in wind-generated and hydro-energy were also being pursued.

Her Government deemed it a priority to attract private capital investment for the development of solar and other alternative energy sources, she said. Jamaica was committed to accelerating rural development through harnessing renewable energy sources and strongly supported the call for investment in research and development to that end. Training in the

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application and maintenance of those technologies would be possible through technical assistance and financing by the donor community at the national, regional and global levels.

CONSTANTINE MOUSHOUTAS (Cyprus) said that in spite of the human and economic calamity which befell Cyprus in 1974, its people, through hard work, managed to lift the standard of living to an admirable level. One of the sources of sustainable development was the utilization of the sun. Cyprus was not endowed with indigenous sources of fossil fuels. With the exception of solar energy, the rest of the energy required by the country was imported. Consequently, Cyprus was totally dependent on imported energy.

Alternate sources of energy were being utilized to meet daily energy needs such as windmills and solar water heaters, he said. Solar water heaters had been used in Cyprus since 1960. Today, more than 90 per cent of homes were equipped with solar heaters. Solar energy utilization was being pursued by both private and public authorities. The contribution of solar energy to national energy balance would double in the next 10 years. The Government was willing to share its experience and expertise with other interested developing countries. He hoped the draft would be adopted without a vote.

The Acting President of the Assembly, PERCY METSING MANGOAELA (Lesotho), announced that action on the draft resolution would be taken tomorrow morning.

Observer Status for Association of Caribbean States

Introducing the draft on the observer status for the Association of the Caribbean States, LUIS RAUL ESTEVEZ-LOPEZ (Guatemala) said that the most recent sponsors of the draft were Bangladesh, Canada, India, Italy and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Three of them -- Canada, India and Italy -- had an observer status in the Association. The Association was an inter-governmental organization which promoted goals largely coinciding with the goals of the United Nations. It promoted cooperation, consultation and development of the collective potential of its members. It also worked to develop trade and investment for the benefit of the peoples of the Caribbean, and built institutional structures within the region. He hoped that the draft would be adopted without a vote.

DIGVIJAY SINGH (India) said relations between his country and the Caribbean -- strengthened by a shared historical and cultural experience -- were poised for a new level of development which would reflect the common aspirations of both countries. India enjoyed extensive and wide-ranging bilateral cooperation with all the countries of the Association of Caribbean States. Since the establishment of the Association, his country had maintained close links with it and regularly participated in its meetings as an observer.

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India had provided some immediate assistance in the aftermath of hurricane Georges, and would endeavour to do more through the provision of pharmaceutical and medical supplies, he continued. The efforts of the Caribbean States to utilize the potential of the region for the socio-economic development of all its constituents was exemplary. India viewed regional organizations, as the building blocks of a new compact of South-South cooperation which might generate economic prosperity and social welfare for all. His country was conscious of the enormous capabilities available in the Caribbean countries, and the granting of observer status to the Association would no doubt lead to a rewarding relationship between that body and the United Nations.

FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said the Italian people, who lived in a land with almost 5,000 kilometres of coastline and countless islands and archipelagos, were not strangers to the problems and difficulties faced by small islands and coastal States. Having common problems also resulted in expertise and ideas which could be to shared with each other.

He said many Italian companies were involved in the building or management of high-quality tourist structures, cruise ship services, and air transportation in the Caribbean. Italy, which was tied to the Caribbean States by a long-standing bond of friendship and culture, would continue to follow developments in that region with great attention. Italy would be as supportive of its needs in the future, as it had been in the past. At the United Nations, the friendship between his country and the Caribbean had also developed through the joint battles for democracy, transparency and participation.

ANDELFO J. GARCIA (Colombia) said his country supported strengthening the Association of Caribbean States as an economic and political entity working to assure equitable development of its people. The Caribbean was a cultural, political and economic reality which served to integrate and develop relations among the region's neighbouring countries and promoted policies aimed at exercising the collective capabilities of the Caribbean.

Colombia, he said, was the depository State for the Association and it had worked hard for its development. Colombia had hosted a meeting of ministers in 1997 during which a draft had been produced for the establishment of a sustainable tourism zone in the Caribbean. That draft would be submitted at the next ministerial meeting. Observer status in the Organization would enable the Association to work towards the shared goal of improving living standards in the region.

SAMUEL R. INSANALLY (Guyana) said despite its brief existence, the Association of Caribbean States had already demonstrated its great potential for supporting the development of the countries and peoples which it represented. As part of the widening network of agencies, the Association had expanded opportunities for Caribbean States to engage in functional cooperation. In addition to trade, tourism and transport, the Association also served to intensify efforts in such vital fields as education, health and natural disaster preparedness. To achieve its full potential, however, the

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Association must be drawn into cooperation with the wider United Nations system.

As provided for in the Organization's Charter, the symbiotic relationship between the United Nations and regional arrangements could boost the efficiency and effectiveness of international cooperation, he said. The record had shown that with proper coordination, partnerships among complementary organizations could be of considerable advantage to all participants. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States, which constituted 14 of the 25 members of the Association, wished to fully support the Association's request for observer status in the Assembly.

RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) said his country supported the draft resolution due to the important links it had with the Association of Caribbean States. Consideration of granting it observer status was not only a historic event for its member States, but a milestone for those who had predicted it would be a great success in regard to regional integration. Various regional conferences on development had enjoyed the participation of the Association and its support. Cuba was of the conviction that it should be able to contribute to the multilateral debate and work of the General Assembly. His country had great interest in the work of the Association and was honoured to have organized a number of its meetings. He was sure that the resolve of the member States of the Association would contribute to the well-being of all peoples.

Action on Draft

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on granting observer status to the Association of Caribbean States in the General Assembly, without a vote.

Observer Status for OECD

MACIEJ KOZLOWSKI, Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), introduced the draft on granting observer status to the Organisation. He said The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had been added to the list of co-sponsors for granting the OECD observer status in the Assembly. The aims of the OECD were fully compatible with the principles of the United Nations and the two bodies would benefit from a closer relationship. The OECD valued open market economy, democracy and respect for human rights.

Reviewing other aspects of the OECD, he urged the Assembly to consolidate links between the two bodies by granting it observer status.

Action on Draft

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft on granting observer status for the OECD in the General Assembly.

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