11 May 2007
Economic and Social Council
ENV/DEV/938

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Sustainable Development

Fifteenth Session

11th & 12th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION CONCLUDES FIFTEENTH SESSION WITHOUT POLICY


DECISIONS ON ENERGY, INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT, AIR POLLUTION, CLIMATE CHANGE


The Commission on Sustainable Development ended its fifteenth session late Friday night, unable to agree on policy decisions on practical measures to advance long-term energy solutions that can fuel economic and social development while reducing air pollution and the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.


While the representatives of Pakistan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United States, Mexico and Canada made statements in favour of the 21-page draft outcome document on the session’s four main themes -- energy, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change -- the representatives of Germany (on behalf of the European Union) and Switzerland said they were not ready to adopt it.


Commission Vice-Chairman Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado ( Brazil) said the Chairman’s summary on that debate would be published within a week.


Following the deadlock on the outcome document, the Commission adopted without a vote the draft programme of work for the 2008-2009 biennium for the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (document E/CN.17/2007/10).


It also adopted without a vote a draft decision on the dates of the Commission’s meetings during its 2008-2009 cycle (document E/CN.17/2007/L.2).  It was suggested that the sixteenth session (review session) should take place for 12 days from 5 to 20 May 2008, but the Commission voted to shorten that to 10 days from 5 to 16 May 2008.  It also decided to hold the intergovernmental preparatory meeting for the seventeenth session from 23 to 27 February 2009, and the seventeenth session (policy session) from 4 to 15 May 2009.


The Commission also adopted the provisional agenda for its sixteenth session (document E/CN.17/2007/L.3), which stated that the thematic cluster for 2008-2009 would be agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.


Commission Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur Alain Edouard Traore ( Burkina Faso) then introduced the draft report of the Commission’s fifteenth session, (document E/CN.17/2007/L.1), for submission to the forthcoming substantive session of the Economic and Social Council.  Following adoption of that draft by acclamation, the representatives of Pakistan (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and Germany (on behalf of the European Union) made statements.


Upon adjournment of the fifteenth session, the Commission convened the first meeting of its sixteenth session to elect its Chairman and other members of the Bureau.


After the European Union objected to Francis D. Nhema, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe -- the candidate endorsed by the African States Group to serve as the Chairman of the Commission’s sixteenth session -- the Commission held a secret ballot.  Mr. Nhema was then elected Chairman by a secret vote of 26 in favour to 21 against, with 3 abstentions.  After the vote, the representatives of Germany (on behalf of the European Union) and Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand) expressed their displeasure over Mr. Nhema’s election to the post.


The Commission then elected by acclamation the following Vice-Chairmen: Juan Mario Dary of Guatemala, from the Latin American and Caribbean States Group; Javad Amin Mansour of Iran, from the Asian States Group; and Daniel Carmon of Israel, from the Western European and Other States Group.  The Commission decided to postpone the election of a Vice-Chairman from the Eastern European Group, since no candidate from that Group had been proposed.


Commission Chairman Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Minister of Energy of Qatar, made closing remarks.


Also making statements during the Commission’s high-level debate earlier in the day were senior Government officials and representatives of Tonga (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Honduras, Burundi, Mauritius, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Yemen, Guatemala, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Suriname, Fiji, Paraguay, Angola, Malawi, Iran, Libya, Russian Federation, Jamaica, Spain, Sudan, Nepal, Guyana, Cuba, Kenya, Switzerland, Colombia, Solomon Islands, Syria and Indonesia.


The observer of Palestine and the representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) also spoke.


Background


The Commission on Sustainable Development met today to conclude the high-level portion of its fifteenth session, focusing on the themes of energy, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change.  Today’s discussions will be on “Turning commitments into action: working together in partnership”.


The Commission was also expected to take action on the draft programme of work for the 2008-2009 biennium for the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, as contained in document E/CN.17/2007/10; a draft decision on the dates of the meetings of the Commission during its 2008-2009 cycle, as contained in document E/CN.17/2007/L.2; the provisional agenda for its sixteenth session, as contained in document E/CN.17/2007/L.3; and the report of its fifteenth session, whose organizational chapter has been issued as document E/CN.17/2007/L.1.  The Commission was also expected to adopt its policy document.


For background on the Commission’s fifteenth session, see Press Releases ENV/DEV/925 and ENV/DEV/927 of 26 and 30 April, respectively.


Statements


LORD TUITA, Minister for Lands, Survey, Natural Resources and Environment of Tonga, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said the Commission was the primary body responsible for implementation of commitments related to small island developing States.  Development constraints faced by Pacific small island developing States were overwhelming, intensified by the unprecedented destruction of global natural resources and the increasing proportion of the global population living in poverty.  Climate change was among the most pronounced threats to the Pacific small island developing States, he added, urging the Commission to make concerted efforts to translate rhetoric into concrete action.


Addressing the thematic issues before the Commission required an integrated approach that considered social, economic and environmental dimensions, he continued.  Alternative funding modalities to support implementation of agreements was essential.  Innovative financing must also be made available to identify, prioritize and implement adaptation measures.  Regarding financing, Pacific small island developing States called on their international development partners to advance efforts to implement commitments in the Monterrey Consensus and the Millennium Declaration on realizing the 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) target for official development assistance (ODA).


MAYRA JANETH MEJIA DEL CID, Minister for Natural Resources and Environment of Honduras, discussed the impact of climate change in her country, including the rise in respiratory diseases caused in part by poor air quality and the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, which constituted some 70 per cent of its energy mix.  Such consequences were negatively impacting the quality of life, particularly among women and children.  However, Honduras also had various sources of renewable energy, including hydropower and bio combustibles, and was actively pursuing the development and use of alternative forms of energy in order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.


Honduras, she said, had set national targets for environmental conservation and sustainable development, having set aside 29 per cent of the national territory as protected areas and 1 per cent of its national budget for reforestation projects.  The Armed Forces had been charged with monitoring the agricultural border areas in an effort to reduce forest fires and illegal forest stripping.  She stressed the importance of financing for sustainable development projects, as well as strengthening national capacities for carbon capture and promoting alliances with civil society for clean energy partnerships. 


HERMAN TUYAGA, Minister for Energy and Mines of Burundi, said concerns relating to climate change had led Burundi to adhere to the Rio Declaration, the Kyoto Protocol and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  His country was faced with the huge challenge of overcoming poverty.  Drought alternated with floods, leading to famine throughout the nation.  More than 50 per cent of women in Burundi’s households must travel several kilometres to find water for their needs.


Access to energy services was essential for development, he continued, noting that Burundi’s national development strategy contained a plan for consolidating energy.  His country was expanding hydroelectric power and protecting water and other energy sources.  He believed a programme to address climate change would only succeed if countries worked together to ensure respect for commitments.  It was critical to work at national and international levels to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


ANIL KUMAR BACHOO, Minister for Environment and National Development Unit of Mauritius, said the global impacts of climate change dictated that sustainable energy management should be given top priority.  Mauritius had created an outline of energy policy that included maximum use of renewable energy sources.  However, cleaner alternatives must be accessible and affordable for its implementation to succeed.


Economic reform in Mauritius was geared towards promoting sustained growth, competitiveness and good governance in all sectors, he continued, noting an empowerment scheme aiming to establish small- to medium-size enterprises.  Regarding transport, he noted that mass-transport systems did not represent the ideal solution for small island developing States, which were facing adverse consequences of climate change with extreme weather events becoming unbearable.  The only safeguard was the Kyoto Protocol, which required the political support of all major greenhouse gas-emitting countries.  Mauritius called for establishing a special fund to enable small island developing States to rapidly implement climate change adaptation programmes.


LAURENT SEDEGO, Minster for the Environment and Quality of Life of Burkina Faso, said the international community needed tangible solutions to address global warming and climate change.  It was essential to provide access to clean and sustainable energy for the 2 billion poor people in the world who were most adversely affected by the negative impacts of climate change.  Without an urgent solution, the dry forests of arid and semiarid countries would be used up, making it difficult to ensure the basic food and water needs of their populations.  The issue was what energy should be used to promote industrialization and foster real sustainable development.  Solar energy was an option, but it was costly and could not be a viable solution unless there was firm international political will to promote it.  While solar energy would help curb greenhouse gas emissions at present and in the future, other options must also be explored.  A single hydroelectric power station sourced from the Congo River would meet all the energy needs of the nearby countries in Africa.  That energy solution was a good one that should be promoted.


IBRAHIM M. SESAY, Minister for Development and Economic Planning of Sierra Leone, said the issues being discussed were significant for Sierra Leone, where people lacked access to modern energy sources.  The population relied on energy sources derived mainly from traditional biomass, including burning animal dung for cooking and heating.  Those sources had serious implications for the population, particularly for women and children.  Energy was also crucial for water-supply systems.  Investment to expand modern energy services underpinned Sierra Leone’s social policy agenda.  A long-term energy policy had been drafted, and the Government was exploring the possibility of tapping hydroelectric potential.  Further, the country was seeking public-private partnerships for investment in the energy sector.


Climate change, he said, was an economic and social concern with the potential to threaten human existence, particularly in the developing world.  Addressing it properly required improving capacity-building and strengthening funding mechanisms.  Due to the interconnectedness of energy, industrial development, air pollution and climate change, there was a need, particularly for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States to address the four issues in a balanced manner.


AHIZI AKA DANIEL, Minister for Environment, Water and Forests of C ôte d’Ivoire, supported France’s proposal to turn the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) into the United Nations Programme for Sustainable Development.  Doing so would ensure that the agency served all countries with all their sustainable development needs.  He called for appropriate technical innovations and technology transfer to fill the information vacuum on sustainable development solutions.  The international community must also mobilize greater financial resources to operationalize sustainable development strategies.  In that regard, developed countries must respect the financing for development commitments they made at Monterrey.  International financial institutions, including the Global Environment Facility, should increase funding.  He supported setting up credit based on the carbon market, saying carbon financing could provide a win-win scenario for countries seeking to achieve sustainable development.


JEAN-PIERRE BABATOUNDE, Minister for the Environment and Environmental Protection of Benin, said the search for solutions for the issues before the Commission required an integrated approach.  He stressed the crucial role of energy in achieving sustainable development.  Benin was moving towards a double-digit growth rate, which had been difficult given the country’s chronic shortage of energy.  Indeed, adequate energy sources strengthened a country’s competitiveness and attracted investment.  Proposals in that area should take into account the need to mobilize external assistance, particularly in the form of ODA and foreign direct investment.


He called for cooperation at the regional and subregional levels in the areas of research and development and investment.  Additionally, he appealed to Benin’s development partners to continue their commitments to the least developed countries to help them develop renewable energy sources, particularly through measures to promote investment. 


ABDUL-RAHMAN FADHLE AL-ERYANI, Minister of Water and Environment of Yemen, said his country attached importance to sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals.  It had always sought to use clean sources of energy and had looked to private-sector investment in that regard.  There were many diverse opportunities for investment in Yemen in various sectors.  Yemen promoted fossil fuel production, but it acknowledged that fossil-fuel use should be reduced.  Within its limited resources, Yemen was investing in energy, sanitation, water and other areas related to sustainable development.


It was important for all ministers at the current session to work together to reach agreement to financially support programmes for sustainable development.  Without that financial support, commitments would be nothing more than empty words.  Noting that many challenges remained, he said Yemen had been among the first countries to join the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and to promote support for new mechanisms and assist developing countries.  Low-cost programmes should be supported with international assistance.  The carbon storage mechanism should be explored.  He hoped that the session would end with practical solutions for promoting capacity-building in the least developed countries.


JUAN MARIO DARY, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala, said the vulnerability of his region required enhancing institutions and ensuring the protection of biodiversity, among other things.  Guatemala had benefited from the Clean Development Mechanism, accelerated the creation of measures to control emissions and shared information on its energy initiatives.  He stressed that Guatemala understood the importance of environmental issues in promoting sustainable development.  He encouraged the international community to develop flexible mechanisms for implementation of sustainable development commitments.  Also, he cited the need to take into account public opinion, particularly in considering hydroelectricity and biofuels, since alternative energy initiatives required public support.  While Guatemala had made progress in some areas, it was backsliding in others and needed to boost domestic political support.  Moreover, attention must be devoted to the issue of pollution, which was very important for Guatemala.


HENOCK YA KASITA, Deputy Minister for Mines and Energy of Namibia, said his country was pursuing a mixed sustainable energy policy based on hydropower, fossil fuels -- including the possibility of using nuclear energy for electricity generation -- natural gas and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy.  It was also active in the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) subregional power pool.  However, Namibia faced a crucial electricity supply shortage, as increasing demand in the subregion had not been matched with corresponding development of and investment in energy supply sources.  That was having a negative impact of the rural electrification programme.


The Government’s efforts to generate hydropower on the Kunene River had been met with resistance from environmental groups and potential financial supporters, he said.  Solar and wind energy sources had proved too costly.  Namibia’s classification as a lower middle-income country had limited its access to financial resources.  Among the most arid countries in the world, Namibia continued to suffer from the effects of climate change.  He called on the international community, particularly developed partners, to fulfil their commitments to assist nations financially and technically to achieve sustainable development.


SALVADOR NAMBURETE, Minister for Energy of Mozambique, said energy was a prerequisite for social development and a catalyst for social change.  Thus, there was a need to increase access to modern and healthy energy services.  Mozambique was potentially rich in energy resources, including hydropower and natural gas.  However, only 9 per cent of its 19 million people had access to electricity.  Many relied on firewood to meet their primary energy needs in both cities and rural areas, causing deforestation and pollution.


To meet the Millennium Development Goals, Mozambique was trying to adequately exploit its national energy potential and become energy self-sufficient.  Therefore, enhancing partnerships to develop the necessary infrastructure was fundamental, as was technology transfer and the provision of financial resources.  The challenge for Africa, he noted, was to ensure availability of energy in urban and rural areas.  Mozambique hoped that, from now on, the Commission would make substantial progress on the most challenging issues in the energy sector.


FRANCIS BUTAGIRA ( Uganda), who is also Chair of the Forum of Energy Ministers of Africa (FEMA), said his country was highly vulnerable to climate change.  The increased frequency of extreme weather and climate events, such as prolonged droughts and high temperatures resulting in excessive evaporation rates, had had serious negative impacts on energy, agriculture, water resources, health and other economic sectors.  In the Great Lakes region of Africa, the levels of Lake Victoria and other water bodies had hit record lows, adversely affecting hydropower generation.  Floods had devastated the health sector, causing outbreaks of waterborne diseases, including cholera and malaria.  That had caused the significant diversion of development resources to meet emergency needs.


Uganda’s economy, he continued, relied heavily on natural-resource exploitation, which was not sustainable in the long run.  To substitute firewood as fuel with clean energy, Uganda needed to generate 22,500 megawatts of electricity to meet the citizenry’s needs.  That required support for policy actions to promote development of all forms of sustainable energy to meet demand.  In March, FEMA had issued the Maputo Declaration, which spelled out what actions African Governments must take to pursue sustainable energy supply and access, including coordination and harmonization with development partners and international agencies to secure requisite investment resources and carry out programmes.  He called on the session to endorse and support FEMA’s initiatives.


GREGORY A. RUSLAND, Minister for Natural Resources of Suriname, said his country was working to realize the millennium targets by 2015.  Last week, it had organized the first global civil society forum on the Millennium Development Goals in Paramaribo -- a partnership between Suriname, Millennium Development Goals Global Watch and the United Nations Association- Suriname.  Known for its national resources, Suriname today found itself in a position of re-evaluating the balance among economic development, environmental protection, and social well-being, he noted.  In that regard, the Government had taken steps to mainstream environmental management, notably by establishing a Ministry for Environment.  Nature conservation had been a priority for his country since the 1950s. 


As a low-lying coastal State, Suriname would be affected by climate change, he said.  Flooding last year had prompted the Government to speed up action to reduce the negative effects of climate change.  Adaptation measures such as sea-defence systems were under way, as was education on coping with climate change.  Suriname needed to increase the availability of energy to continue its 5 per cent annual growth rate.  The country was producing 75 per cent of its electricity through hydropower, and was hoping to expand hydropower facilities to meet increased energy demands through 2024.


POSECI BUNE, Minister for Public Enterprises and Public Sector Reforms of Fiji, said fossil fuels would remain a key driver for economic growth for some time.  Renewable energy and biofuels could meet Fiji’s energy needs, particularly if implemented under the Clean Development Mechanism.  However, Fiji had financial and technical constraints.  The creation of the Global Renewable Energy Fund would help Fiji with technology transfer and capacity-building for rural areas and outer islands.  The Commission’s session had been most encouraging for the Pacific small island developing States, particularly with Italy’s announcement of $10 million in financial support to help Pacific small island developing States meet the urgent need for renewable energy.  He also lauded the commitment announced by the Global Environment Facility to assist Pacific small island developing States and other developing countries in finding ways to participate fully in the protection of global commons, while striving for sustainable socio-economic development.  He sought support for funding mechanisms to implement the most appropriate and effective mitigation and adaptation measures.  The development of early warning systems and risk-insurance facilities was crucial for small island developing States, he added.


FEDERICO A. GONZALEZ, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, said the growing importance of renewable energy required concrete action, based on the rational use of such energy sources.  Energy was essential for sustainable development and had a direct impact on the energy security of countries.  That important role had prompted Paraguay to seek competitive sources of alternative energy, he said, recognizing the enormous potential of renewable energy.


The excessive increase in the cost of fossil fuels had undermined development, particularly in landlocked countries such as Paraguay.  The Government was discussing the viability of biofuels, with a view to reducing the country’s extreme dependence on external markets, and had recently endorsed a law to promote biofuels.  Although Paraguay was moving towards developing renewable fuels, financing obstacles existed.  He called for stronger cooperation from developed countries, particularly in the area of cleaner technology transfer.


GRACIANO DOMINGOS, Deputy Minister for Urban and Environmental Affairs of Angola, noted that the impacts of climate change were uniting and mobilizing the international community to ensure the survival of humanity and the planet.  Angola had implemented plans to ensure environmental protection and improve quality of life.  It was currently restructuring the energy sector, supplying potable water to poor populations and implementing poverty-alleviation programmes.  Angola had been implementing the provisions of the Climate Change Convention and had ratified the Kyoto Protocol last month.  It was now developing a national strategy for the implementation of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, which would include reducing gas flaring caused by oil exploration.  Reforestation to increase carbon-sequestration capacity was also a priority.  The Government’s poverty reduction strategy included actions for rural development and food security that would decrease the population’s dependency on forestry resources.  Angola’s investment in a new public transport system would help take obsolete vehicles and generators off the road and, thus, create better quality of life.


E. F. MALENGA, Deputy Minister for Mines, Energy and Natural Resources of Malawi, recalled that his country was a signatory to various environment-related international instruments.  Considerable progress had been made in implementing sustainable development initiatives, in line with the 1992 Earth Summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development and other related international forums.  Malawi’s National Environmental Policy, Environment Management Act and National Environmental Action Plan provided the framework for implementing Agenda 21.


He said programmes were in place to help increase the use of, and access to, hydroelectricity and renewable energy in Malawi.  To address atmospheric pollution, the country had improved its forestry management and was engaged in tree-planting for carbon sequestration.  But, increased international cooperation was needed to help Malawi and similar countries to achieve “meaningful sustainable economic growth”, through improved export markets.  He called for cooperation on trade-related capacity-building and infrastructure development, technology transfer on favourable terms and the elimination of tariffs and other barriers on developing-country goods, to allow those countries to make full use of their comparative advantages.


DAVOOD MANSOUR, Acting Deputy Minister for Energy of Iran said primary energy demand in his country grew by approximately 10 per cent annually.  Among Iran’s priorities were to diversify the nation’s energy mix, promote energy accessibility and increase energy efficiency and energy conservation.  At present, 98 per cent of Iranians had access to electricity and more than 60 per cent had access to natural gas.  The share of renewable resources, including hydropower and wind, in the total energy mix was expected to reach 20 per cent in 2012.


He said Iran was currently focusing on increasing oil and gas production, while controlling venting and flaring of associated gases.  It was introducing standards and labelling for energy appliances and conducting energy auditing to promote energy efficiency.  It was also improving the energy market, so as to facilitate the private sector’s participation.


To tackle pollution, he said Iran was instituting emissions limits, phasing out leaded gasoline, promoting catalytic converters and phasing out some vehicles.  It would also improve the public transportation system, among other things.  Developed countries should continue to realize commitments under the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, while providing developing countries with cleaner and advanced technologies on preferential and concessional terms.  Those technologies should include fossil fuel technologies, since fossil fuels continued to dominate the energy mix.


MAHMOUD S. ASSIDIK ELFALLAH, Secretary of the People’s Committee for the General Authority of Environment of Libya, noted that the current session was important because it dealt with questions that related to the daily lives of people, among them climate change and air pollution.  Libya hoped to promote dialogue to ensure that practical solutions could be found.  Future energy use should encompass all sources of energy.  Although it was still unclear whether nuclear energy was a viable option, it should, nonetheless, be considered among possible energy sources. 


Increasing regional and international cooperation was necessary to creating an environment conducive to technology transfer, he said, adding that methods for carbon storage should be explored.  The time frame for transitioning to renewable sources put pressure on developing countries, and many faced the risk of not keeping to the time frame.  He called allowing the transition to renewable sources to take place according to the capacities of each individual country.  


K. PULIKOVSKY, Head of Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of the Russian Federation, said practical actions were needed to balance economic growth in such a way that the earth’s ecosystem could be protected.  As a starting point, nations must change their attitude and learn to incorporate ecological policies into their economic development policies.  The energy sector was fast evolving and presented new challenges, and nations should ask themselves how they sought to meet those challenges.  The rate at which countries implemented changes would depend on the specific conditions faced by those countries.


He said governmental regulatory authorities bore a responsibility to ensure that global energy needs, which were constantly growing, were being met in a sustainable fashion.  They must oversee an uninterrupted energy supply, while ensuring the safety of energy installations -- including nuclear and radiation safety.  Until recently, industrial and energy safety had been regulated by different agencies in the Russian Federation, but a supervisory body had been set up at the federal level in 2004.  Improving the regulatory system was a major priority at the moment.  Countries should engage in dialogue to harmonize their regulatory structures and to contribute to effective implementation of major transboundary projects in the energy sector.  The World Bank, UNEP and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needed to play an increased role.


DEVON ROWE, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Environment of Jamaica, said Jamaica had one of the highest energy intensity rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, and was highly dependent on fossil fuels to meet its energy needs.  Although fossil fuels were a cheaper source of energy, the Government, through its energy policy, had committed to increasing the contribution of renewable energy sources to the energy mix from the current level of 6 per cent to 10 per cent by 2010 and to 15 per cent by 2020.


He said Jamaica needed the full cooperation of the international community to achieve those targets, through the expedited transfer of renewable energy technologies from developed countries to developing countries; increased competitiveness of renewable energy supplies in the marketplace; creation of a global sustainable energy programme to promote adequate, affordable and clean energy technologies in the small island developing States; and investments in renewable energy projects in small island developing States to enable them to benefit from sustainable development programmes under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.


ARTURO GONZALO AIZPIRI, Secretary-General for Pollution Prevention and Climate Change in the Ministry for Environment of Spain, said many issues were at stake, including the struggle against poverty.  It was not possible to tackle solutions separately; integrated policies were needed at the national, regional and multilateral levels to attain the Millennium Development Goals.  The Commission offered a unique opportunity to tackle problems in an integrated manner.


Spain fully supported the European Union’s integrated policy on climate change, he added, noting that target-setting was a powerful tool for change, in that it encouraged innovation.  Noting the importance of regional initiatives, he also emphasized the need for adequate technology transfer.  Spain fully endorsed the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.  It had maintained its intense economic growth while decreasing its energy consumption, demonstrating that it was possible to decouple pollution from development.


SAADELDIN IBRAHIM, Secretary-General for the High Council on Environment and Natural Resources of the Sudan, said his country was following several sustainable development policies.  The signing of peace agreements had made it possible for the Sudan to move towards development and use natural resources for sustainable development.  He also emphasized the importance of responsible environmental impact assessments, adding that, with the cooperation of UNEP, the Sudan had carried out several studies.  It had set up a national environment plan and had integrated sustainable development initiatives balanced with infrastructure development throughout the country.


The Sudan, he continued, was following balanced policies that sought to utilize oil resources responsibly and was working methodically to mitigate the negative effects of pollution.  It had enacted environmental legislation in the petroleum industry, and had been using unleaded fuel since 2002.  It was also trying to diversify the means of producing energy, and was studying the use of ethanol and liquefied petroleum gas in the Nile Basin.  The Sudan was trying to build capacity, but lacked sufficient financing.  Donors were not meeting their promises in that regard.  He called on international partners to meet their commitments, which would help curb poverty and alleviate the debt burden in the Sudan and enable the country to build capacity and use clean energy sources.


POSH RAJ PANDEY, Member of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, said the question of sustainable development was about improving people’s lives.  It was the duty of the present generation to ensure a better world.  The cluster issues of energy, industrial development, air pollution and climate change were essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and should be addressed within the context of the overarching priorities of developing and least developed countries.  Noting political developments in Nepal that had destroyed infrastructure and natural resources, he said attention should be given to countries emerging from conflict, particularly in the areas of capacity-building and technical cooperation.


Increased access to, and efficient use of, modern energy services was critical for Nepal to meet basic human needs, he said, noting that his country’s ability to tap potential hydroenergy sources was limited by a lack of financial and technical capacity.  An effective way to build partnerships could be through establishing contact and stimulating ideas among women, youth and indigenous people at all levels.  New arrangements should not sideline other commitments, including the Doha Round of trade negotiations, he added.


NAVIN CHANDARPAL, Presidential Adviser from Guyana, said variation in levels of industrial development and access to affordable energy had contributed significantly to the huge gap between developed and developing countries.  Many developing countries lacked the necessary financial resources to support renewable energy production.  Potential investors were often frustrated by high interest rates for ventures with a low rate of return.  Major financial institutions, such as the World Bank, should urgently create special mechanisms to support investments in renewable energy at reasonably low interest rates.  Such resources could supplement the Clean Development Mechanism, which had yet to provide sufficient incentive.


All countries must intensify efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said.   Guyana was doing its part through several measures to reduce the loss of forests.  Adaptation was necessary for the survival of countries where severe floods following heavy rainfall, highly destructive tsunamis or hurricanes had devastated local economies and the environment.  Small island developing States, who faced such challenges, merited priority and special consideration by the international community.


RODRIGO MALMIERCA DÍAZ ( Cuba) said his country had committed itself to shared goals, such as addressing climate change.  The world situation had deteriorated through inequity, poverty and environmental degradation.  Scientific research had shown that much of that was attributable to climate change.  The global economic and financial situation was unfair, and negatively impacted sustainable development policies.  Moreover, industrialized nations’ reliance on fossil fuels had increased greenhouse gas emissions.


Since much of the world relied on agriculture, the attempt to turn food into energy sources would undermine food security and distort world markets, he said.   Cuba’s efforts included the rational use of energy resources.  The replacement of incandescent lights, for example, had saved billions of dollars each year.  He called for increased political will to reduce carbon emissions.  At the same time, he said, solving the energy crisis should not endanger global food security.


ZACHARY D. MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) urged the international community to scale up efforts to effectively implement the global partnership for development, as set out in Agenda 21, the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, in order to enable developing countries to cope with the challenges of sustainable development, particularly poverty eradication.  In Kenya, particularly in rural areas, people lived with and experienced constant reminders of the adverse impact of global warming.  The recent outbreaks of Rift Valley fever and increase in malaria cases were stark reminders of the deteriorating situation.


He urged Member States to fulfil their commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.  He also urged the international community to address the inadequacies in financial resources, adaptation measures, technology transfer and capacity-building.  Such efforts would go a long way in mitigating the impacts of climate change.  Sustained industrial development was crucial for ensuring economic growth and the associated benefits leading to poverty eradication.  He called for better access to financial resources to address the myriad limitations to industrial development.


THOMAS KOLLY, Head of International Affairs Division of the Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland, said the international community possessed the tools to promote sustainable development and could no longer put forward the excuse that more scientific evidence was needed.  The current session of the Commission should give clear direction for implementing the Johannesburg decisions.  If the Commission did not live up to the high expectations surrounding it, it would lose legitimacy and relevance.


The interlinkages between energy production, consumption and environmental impacts were well known, and greater access to sustainable energy services was crucial for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Increased efforts were needed to provide affordable energy.  A sound approach to energy was essential to tackling climate change, humankind’s most important challenge, he continued.  Echoing the words of United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change Gro Harlem Brundtland, he said: “Nobody can hide from it.”  The Commission could stimulate the work of the Climate Change Convention by addressing the links between climate change and industrial development.  However, that work must be based on principles such as good governance.  Calling for joint efforts on sustainable development, he quoted a Swiss author, saying: “What affects all people can only be solved by all.”


CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) attached importance to the session’s discussions on energy, particularly the use of renewable energy.  Biofuels were a viable alternative in light of the numerous environmental, social and economic challenges associated with energy in the context of sustainable development.  Biofuel use could expand opportunity for rural development and the well-being of rural communities; diversify energy sources; reduce pollution and its negative effect on health; mitigate the negative impact of climate change; reduce imports of fossil fuels; and improve competitiveness and economic growth.  Colombia was embarking on biofuel development through various plans.  It had established regulatory norms and economic incentives, including through the Global Environment Facility and the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.  At present, there were five plants that produced over 1 million litres of alcohol derived from sugar cane, palm and other types of vegetables for use as fuel.  Similar initiatives were under way.


HELEN BECK ( Solomon Islands) said her country spent a third of its national budget on fossil fuels to provide energy to 20 per cent of the population.  The Solomon Islands looked to partner countries for possible cooperation in developing financing mechanisms for renewable energy technologies, especially to extend energy access to remote areas.  Italy, Taiwan and others had already provided funding to the country in the renewable energy sector, and were supporting the participation of Pacific island nations in the Commission’s current session.


She said the April tsunami that had affected her country had caused landslides, shifted fishing grounds, disrupted agriculture, damaged coastal infrastructure and disturbed water sources, among other things.  The Solomon Islands would like to see the matter of climate change discussed at a special session of the General Assembly, as well as by the Economic and Social Council.  The world must improve its disaster response capability.  Financing mechanisms were needed to facilitate implementation of mitigation and adaptation projects and a global renewable energy fund should be set up.


OSAMA ALI ( Syria) said his country, which had a gas-based and petroleum-based economy, understood the importance of energy diversification.  He stressed the need to develop and use renewable energy sources, and to promote awareness of that subject.  Responsible industrial investment must be encouraged to prevent abuse of agricultural areas.  It was also important to address the negative effects of air pollution in industrial towns.  Syria would host the fourth sustainable development conference of countries of North Africa and the Middle East from 21 to 24 July in Damascus.  The event would be held at the Centre for Energy and Research in Syria, with support from the Environment Ministry of Germany, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Turning to the situation of populations under foreign occupation, he said they had the right to sovereignty over their natural resources.  The Israeli occupation had negative environmental consequences on the Syrian Golan, overexploiting its energy resources.  There were large numbers of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees in Syria and their needs must be addressed.  The Commission’s session must address the suffering of the Arab people and come up with a balanced document reflecting strategies to assist them.


AMMAR HIJAZI, observer of Palestine, said people living under foreign occupation faced unique challenges and had specific needs.  He stressed that attempting to sidestep the special needs of people living under foreign occupation should be unthinkable to the Commission, as it aimed to address the needs of all nations without discrimination.  The Palestinian population had one of the fastest growth rates in the world, which made energy services a priority.  In that regard, the deliberate destruction of Gaza’s only power station illustrated the difficulties Palestinians faced.  Along with ordinary concerns in the energy sector, Palestinians also had to deal with issue of access to and control over its energy-producing resources.


Palestinian industrial development efforts had regressed, due to systematic acts of destruction by the occupying force, he continued.  Nipping Palestinian development in the bud was the siege of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as the construction of the separation wall and the closure of commercial and travel crossings in Gaza.  The acts of punishment undertaken by Israel against Palestinians were in grave violation of the Geneva Conventions.  Like all other people, those under occupation deserved energy access and the right to industrial development in a manner that ensured prosperity.


ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) urged developed countries to honour their financial commitments made at Monterrey and to fully implement the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-Building.  The fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that no one would be immune from climate change.  Indonesia was fully committed to ensuring the success of the Bali conference later this year and looked forward to identifying concrete measures to strengthen the international response to climate change.


She said Indonesia had identified four key priority issues: enhancing international cooperation on climate change; the transfer of environmentally friendly technologies, facilitated by a multilateral fund; incentives for developing countries to reverse deforestation; and the establishment of an institutional mechanism to manage a climate adaptation fund with special emphasis on simple, transparent procedures.


She supported the promotion of energy-efficient technologies and renewable energies to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication.  Indonesia’s national energy policy aimed to achieve high energy efficiency by 2025 through an energy audit programme, reduction of fossil fuel dependence and diversifying the energy supply to include natural gas, coal and renewable energy.  By 2025, a total of 15 per cent of energy used in Indonesia would come from renewable energy sources.


PETER POSCHEN-EICHE, Senior Specialist in the Policy Integration Department of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said he was convinced that measures to halt climate change could be turned into engines of development, as the world could ill afford to invest in climate-change efforts that did not tackle the global job crisis and poverty.  Noting that huge opportunities existed to create “green jobs” through energy and industrialization policies, he said those jobs were central to the positive link that must be established between climate change and development.  Opportunities for growth that increased employment and reduced poverty were most obvious in the area of climate mitigation, but the case could be made for adaptation, as well.  The kind of broad-based growth that would benefit billions of workers and small businesses would not occur by default; deliberate policies for energy, industrialization and climate change were needed.  ILO was working with its constituents to promote good practices that had emerged in industrialized and developing countries alike, and was partnering with the United Nations system.


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For information media • not an official record