Panel II “Gearing development cooperation towards sustainable development”

Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be with you today.

Our topic, “Gearing development cooperation towards sustainable development”, is very timely.

It addresses a key priority of the United Nations and is very much in line with the upcoming Rio+20 Conference at which world leaders will renew their political commitments to sustainable development.

Key to the success of Rio+20 is an outcome that is action-oriented, anchored in implementation, and backed by international development cooperation.

Rio+20 therefore is an opportunity for reinvigorating development cooperation, and reaffirming commitments to official development assistance. As pointed out by many delegations during the preparatory process, despite the current financial crisis, which will pass, sustainable development is long-term and ODA commitments in support of sustainable development should likewise be long-term.

As the Secretary-General said during the MDG Summit, we should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor.

Two weeks ago, during the informal discussions on the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document, there were repeated calls for strengthening commitments to development cooperation at Rio.

In this connection, I think there are three aspects that merit focused discussion.
First, Rio+20 should lead to better coherence, integration and implementation in our development efforts. It is hoped that this outcome will in turn lead to a sharper focus in development assistance.

There are growing calls for the donor community to seize this opportunity offered by Rio+20.

Second, Rio+20 is expected to agree on a framework of action in advancing a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. In this regard, member States and stakeholders have identified seven plus priority areas, including:

  • poverty eradication and green jobs,
  • energy,
  • water,
  • food security,
  • urbanization,
  • disasters,
  • oceans and seas,
  • as well as climate change, biodiversity, forests, sustainable consumption, science and technology, education, and more.

In transitioning to a green economy and accelerating progress in these areas, developing countries will need enhanced support, both in terms of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building.  Such support will help developing countries to reduce poverty and to meet the additional costs in transition to a green economy.

Third, Rio+20 provides an opportunity to strengthen south-south and triangular cooperation. Many developing countries have acquired experience and lessons learned in creating green jobs, including in areas such as renewable energy, forests and biodiversity.  Rio+20 should create further opportunities for strengthening south-south and triangular cooperation.

Finally, we all agree that development cooperation programmes are supposed to be driven by recipient countries’ priorities. So to some degree the responsibility for fuller integration of the three pillars rests with those countries. After all, the primary responsibility to advance sustainable development belongs to national governments.

It is therefore imperative that donors realign their ODA allocations with the national priorities of recipient countries.

In this regard, international donors and UN bodies will also need to educate themselves so they can provide technical advice on greening economies and mainstreaming sustainable development based on specific national circumstances.

Now is the time for an in-depth discussion on how development cooperation can better support green growth and sustainable development.
The Development Cooperation Forum is the right platform to develop our understanding.   This would be a major contribution to Rio+20 and beyond.

With these observations, let me invite the panellists to address the following questions:

1.    What are the cost implications of a transitioning toward a green economy for countries at different stages of development and how should we enhance official development assistance accordingly?

2.    How can the lessons learned and principles of aid effectiveness and effective development cooperation, be used in guiding us toward sustainable development?

3.    What role can the DCF play in rethinking how development cooperation can be responsive to the challenges of sustainable development?

These questions were based on the draft concept note prepared for this meeting.

In addition, let me add two more questions for your consideration:

1.    One of the issues identified in aid review is lack of coordination.  In supporting the implementation in the seven plus priority areas, which I just outlined, how can donors and recipients work together to enhance synergies in funding?

2.    Member States and stakeholders have called for sustainable development goals to be part of the outcome of Rio+20.  How will development cooperation be geared to support the SDGs?

Thank you and I look forward to this discussion.