30 November 2012
General Assembly
GA/EF/3359

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

32nd Meeting (AM)


Second Committee Approves Draft Resolution Stressing Need to Strengthen


Scientific Base of Activities against Desertification, Drought


Members Pass Four Other Development-related Drafts, Postponing Action on One


The General Assembly would stress the importance of efforts to strengthen the scientific base of activities to address desertification and drought, according to one of five draft resolutions that the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved by consensus today.


By the terms of the draft resolution, on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the General Assembly would also stress the importance of the further development and implementation of scientifically based, sound and socially inclusive methods and indicators for monitoring and assessing the extent of desertification, land degradation and drought.  It would also call upon Member States to take urgent action to reverse desertification, land degradation and drought, with the assistance of the United Nations system, relevant regional and international organizations, multilateral agencies, major groups and other stakeholders.


Turning to other draft resolutions on sustainable development, the Committee then approved a text titled “International Day of Forests”, by which the General Assembly would encourage all Member States to organize activities relating to all types of forests and trees outside forests, such as tree-planting campaigns.  By other terms, it would request the secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests to facilitate implementation of the International Day, in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnerships on Forests as well as international, regional and subregional organizations and processes, as well as relevant major groups.


The Committee then approved a draft titled “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”.  By its terms, the General Assembly would stress the need for synergy, coherence and mutual support among all those and other processes, which were also relevant to the post-2015 development agenda.  The Assembly would also reaffirm “The future we want”, the outcome document of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, and urge its speedy implementation.


By a draft titled “International cooperation to reduce the impact of the El Nino phenomenon”, the General Assembly would underline the importance of maintaining the El Nino/Southern Oscillation observation system, continuing research into extreme weather events, improving forecasting skills and developing appropriate policies to reduce the impact of El Nino and other extreme weather events.  It would emphasize the need to further develop and strengthen institutional capacities in all countries, developing ones, in particular.  The Assembly would also call upon the Secretary-General, relevant United Nations organs, funds and programmes — those taking part in the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, in particular — and the international community to adopt the measures necessary to further strengthen the International Research Centre on El Nino.


A draft resolution on the promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection would have the General Assembly stress the need to consider, respect and promote indigenous cultures, traditions and knowledge in developing ecotourism policy, within the framework of sustainable tourism.  It would underline the importance of promoting the full and early participation and involvement of local and indigenous communities in decisions affecting them, and of indigenous and local knowledge, heritage and values in any such ecotourism initiatives, as appropriate.  Further by that draft, the Assembly would underline the importance of conducting environmental impact assessments, in accordance with national legislation, for the development of ecotourism opportunities.


The Committee postponed action on a draft resolution titled “Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twelfth special session and on the implementation of section IV.C entitled ‘Environmental pillar in the context of sustainable development’ of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”.


Speaking during today’s meetings were representatives of France, Germany, United States, Morocco and the European Union delegation.


A representative of the World Meteorological Organization also spoke.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 5 December, when it is expected to take further action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take action on draft resolutions relating to its agenda items on sustainable development, and the eradication of poverty and other development issues.


Action on Drafts


Taking up drafts on sustainable development, the Committee began with a text titled “International Day of Forests” (document A/C.2/67/L.46).


THIBAULT DEVANLAY, representing the European Union delegation, reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to the Economic and Social Council guidelines on the proclamation of international days but was happy to join the consensus.  The European Union would continue to defend the guidelines in support of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, in line with the revitalization of the General Assembly, he added.


CHARLOTTE MONTEL ( France) called attention to a discrepancy in the title and other errors in the French-language version of the text.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing a previous draft (document A/C.2/67/L.4).


Taking up drafts titled “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/67/L.45) and “International Cooperation to Reduce the Impact of the El Nino Phenomenon” (document (A/C.2/67/L.47), it approved them both without a vote, withdrawing their previous versions (documents A/C.2/67/L.18 and A/C.2/67/L.6, respectively).


The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (document (A/C.2/67/L.49).


GEORGE TALBOT ( Guyana), Committee Chair, said it would be necessary to waive rule 120 - the “24-hour rule” – of the General Assembly’s rules of procedure, since the text had only been circulated this morning.  “As a general rule, no proposal shall be discussed or put to the vote at any meeting of the Committee unless copies of it have been circulated to all delegations not later than the day preceding the meeting,” he explained.


Ms. MATHIS ( France) said that, having only just received the text, she had not had a chance to check the translation for errors or discrepancies.


ANDREAS PFAFFERNOSCHKE ( Germany) made three oral corrections to reflect agreements reached during informal consultations.


The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally corrected, withdrawing the previous version (document A/C.2/67/L.17).


Ms. ROBL ( United States) said she was pleased to join the consensus, but the term “land degradation neutral world” posed “definitional and operational problems”.  Achieving that would require national, not international, efforts, she added.


PAUL EGERTON, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), expressed concern about drought preparedness and management strategies around the world.  It was time to address national drought policies, he said, adding that the WMO had proposed the convening of a high-level meeting on that subject in March 2013.


The Committee, citing the need for more time to allow delegations to discuss possible programme budget implications with their Governments, postponed until 5 December action on the draft resolution “Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on its twelfth special session and on the implementation of section IV.C entitled ‘Environmental pillar in the context of sustainable development’ of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/67/L.44).


Turning to the eradication of poverty and other development issues, the Committee took up a draft titled “Promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection” (document A/C.2/67/L.30/Rev.1), approving it without a vote.


TARIK IZIRAREN ( Morocco) welcomed the consensus action, saying the text would strengthen the role of ecotourism in the fight against poverty and in protecting the environment.  Ecotourism generated income and promoted education and cultural heritage, he added.


KAZI AFZALUR RAHMAN (United Nations World Tourism Organization) emphasized the need for a timely response from members to a request for contributions to its report, which would be sent to them in due course.  The quality of the document that would eventually be submitted would depend substantially upon the quality of responses received from Member States, he said.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record